Many new orthodontic patients will have questions about various treatment options, procedures and how their treatment will impact their oral health. Here are 10 commonly asked questions our Collingwood dentists have received from patients.
1. What is orthodontic treatment, and what does it involve?
Many people have dental irregularities that can be corrected with orthodontic treatment. Irregularities can be caused by genetics, injuries or accidents, environmental factors, improper positioning of your teeth or jaw, or other circumstances.
Malocclusion is the umbrella term used by dentists for all of these irregularities, including crooked or crowded teeth, gapped teeth, and impacted teeth.
Orthodontic treatment can help to resolve these issues and straighten your teeth. Depending on your specific issue, treatment may involve a few different approaches. Your dentist will likely recommend one of these options:
- Traditional metal braces
- Clear(ceramic) braces
- Clear aligners
2. How can I benefit from orthodontic treatment?
Orthodontic treatment can help you achieve a healthier bite and a straighter smile. It can also impact your long-term oral health, since straighter teeth are easier to brush, floss and keep clean.
Crooked teeth can lead to an increased risk of developing gum disease or cavities. A bad bite or misaligned jaw can even result in issues such as headaches or jaw pain.
As well as the functional aspects, some people have aesthetic concerns regarding the appearance of their smile. Orthodontic treatment can help improve the overall appearance of your smile, making it more symmetrical. By the end of your treatment, you may feel more proud to reveal your straighter new smile.
3. Which orthodontic treatment is best for me?
Orthodontic treatment is very personal and customized to an individual’s needs and smile goals. The orthodontic treatment that is best for you will depend on a number of factors, such as the nature of your malocclusion, your current oral health and how much restorative dental work you’ve had done in the past.
Although some people will need braces to help fix their misalignment issues, others may be able to use clear aligners. Personal preference and budget are also likely to play a key role in your decision. Your orthodontist can explain your options and the advantages and disadvantages of different types of braces, clear aligners and more.
4. Which orthodontic treatment will work the fastest?
Any orthodontic treatment will require an investment of time and money to achieve your desired results. Braces or clear aligners can both help to fix the misalignment of your teeth and jaw – and set you on the path to a straighter smile and better oral health.
Here are some tips to ensure your orthodontic treatment goes as quickly and smoothly as possible:
- Follow your orthodontist or dentist's instructions and treatment plan on every aspect of your orthodontic care, from oral hygiene and what you can and can’t eat during treatment, to how much you have to wear your appliance.
- Care for your teeth. Not only is oral hygiene important, but so is ensuring your teeth receive the TLC they need as they undergo their change in alignment. Be extra careful to avoid grinding your teeth or biting down hard, as this can cause extra pressure in addition to wear and tear.
- Attend your scheduled appointments with your orthodontist and/or dentist. These appointments give them an opportunity to monitor your treatment progress, make changes in your treatment plan if required, and to answer any questions and concerns you may have.
5. What’s the best age to undergo orthodontic treatment?
In general, the earlier orthodontic treatment can commence, the more efficient it will be.
Where traditionally, orthodontic treatment would begin when patients were 12 to 14 years of age, it’s now recognized that early treatment can be key in resolving orthodontic issues efficiently.
Depending on your child’s orthodontic issue, interceptive treatment may begin between 7 to 11 years old.
That being said, many people wait until adulthood to begin orthodontic treatment. As long as your teeth are generally healthy, you could be a candidate for orthodontic treatment whatever your age! Just be aware that typically, orthodontic treatment for adults tends to take longer overall than it does for children.
6. How long does treatment take, and what does it cost?
How long your treatment lasts will depend on a number of factors such as the nature of your orthodontic issue, the treatment option you and your orthodontist decide is best for you, your age, your general health, and your compliance with your custom treatment plan.
Costs will vary depending on the treatment option chosen, the severity of your orthodontic issue, the duration of your treatment and other factors. Your orthodontist or dentist can help you weigh treatment options and financing opportunities.
7. If I don’t want traditional braces, what are my options?
Traditional braces aren’t the only type of braces people are using to straighten their teeth. From ceramic braces to lingual braces (which are attached to the back of your teeth), thanks to advances in orthodontic technology patients now have more treatment options than in decades past.
Depending on the nature of your orthodontic issue, you may also be able to use removable and transparent clear aligners such as Invisalign to treat your malocclusion.
8. How often will I have to visit my orthodontist or dentist while I’m being treated?
How often you’ll need to see an orthodontist will depend on the treatment option you and your orthodontist or dentist choose, whether you encounter any obstacles during treatment, and other factors.
In general, with braces you’ll see your dentist every 4 to 8 weeks during the duration of your treatment. These appointments can range from about 20 minutes for checkups to ensure your elastics are in place and to make any necessary adjustments, to longer initial and final appointments.
For clear aligners, there are no elastics to adjust so you may be able to go longer between appointments, and see your orthodontist once every 6 to 10 weeks.
9. Can I drink pop while wearing braces?
Whether you have metal, ceramic or lingual braces on your teeth, we recommend avoiding pop as drinks with carbonation can stain the metal brackets of your teeth. The dyes in pop and even in juices can also stain your tooth surfaces and erode enamel.
In addition, the large amount of sugar typically found in these drinks can lead to tooth decay, so in general we advise avoiding pop entirely, whether you are undergoing orthodontic treatment or not!
10. Will I need to change how I brush my teeth during treatment?
While everyone needs to brush and floss daily and maintain excellent oral hygiene to prevent cavities, this becomes even more important when you are undergoing orthodontic treatment in order to preserve your oral health.
Bacteria and plaque can get stuck between your teeth and braces or clear aligners, which is why it’s so important to be diligent about brushing and flossing your teeth.
Carefully brush and floss around wires and brackets if you have braces, and avoid foods like popcorn, gum, or others that can damage your teeth or appliances.
For clear aligners, you’ll need to brush and floss each time you remove your aligners to eat or drink, and only drink water while you have them in. This is because food and bacteria can become trapped between your clear aligners and teeth.
While poor oral hygiene can have an immediate effect on your appearance, even more concerning is that tooth decay and plaque buildup can flourish when trapped for hours behind clear aligners. Usually, your saliva would wash away some of the food particles, but this action isn't possible with clear aligners, which fit snugly to your teeth.
It’s important to brush after each meal and floss once per day.