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F A Q
Glossary
 
Orthodontic frequently asked questions
What is orthodontics?
Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. Braces are appliances or devices used to make these corrections.
 
What is an orthodontist?

Orthodontists are qualified dentists, who after graduating from dental school, go on to additional two to three years of full-time university-based education in an accredited orthodontic residency program supervised by orthodontists. By learning about tooth movement (orthodontics) and guidance of facial development (dentofacial orthopedics), orthodontists are the uniquely trained experts in dentistry to straighten teeth and align jaws. An orthodontist not only straightens teeth but also is interested in the bite, facial profile, and oral growth.

 
What is the duration of treatment?

Treatment time typically ranges from one to three years, depending on the growth of the patient and the severity of the problem. Early interceptive treatment may take as few as six months to 1 year.

 
Should I see my general dentist while I have braces?

Yes, you should continue to see your general dentist every six months for cleanings and dental checkups.

 
Will braces interfere with playing sports?

No. It is recommended. However, patients need to protect their teeth by wearing a mouth guard.

 
Will braces interfere with playing musical instruments?

No. However, there may be an initial period of adjustment. In addition, brace covers can be provided to prevent discomfort.

 
Why should I have my teeth straightened?

Orthodontic treatment improves your smile and your health. Your smile is the most striking part of your face. Look in the mirror. Do you like your smile now? Can your smile be improved? Think about how you react to someone with a pretty smile. Do you find them more attractive? Will you be more attractive with an appealing smile? Orthodontic treatment will make your smile look very friendly. Think about how a fabulous smile will improve your life. Orthodontic treatment will also make your face look delightful. Wouldn't a delightful face be wonderful?

Your health is also affected by poorly arranged teeth that may break easily and trap food particles that may cause tooth decay and gum disease. They may also lead to poor chewing and digestion which can be bad for your overall health.

Crooked teeth are harder to clean so that people with crooked teeth tend to have more cavities and gum problems than people who have orthodontic treatment. Crooked teeth wear in ways that they should not. This puts extra stress on your teeth, gums and jaw which can lead to problems later on.

 
How do braces straighten crooked teeth?

Braces use steady, gentle pressure over time to move teeth into their proper positions. The brackets we place on your teeth and the main wire that connects them, are the two main components. The bracket is a metal or ceramic that we glue to each tooth. Then we bend the arch wire to reflect your "ideal" bite - what we want you to look like after treatment. The wire threads through the brackets and, as the wire tries to return to its original shape, it applies pressure to actually move your teeth. Thanks to new materials and procedures, all this happens much quicker than ever before. It's kind of an engineering feat.

 
Can I be too old for braces?

No. If the bone and gum tissue around the teeth are healthy, age is not a factor. About 20% of orthodontic patients are adults.

 
Will additional jaw growth allow self correction of crowded teeth?

No. The space available for the front teeth does not increase after the permanent 6 year molars erupt. In most people, the space available for the front teeth decreases with increasing age

 
Is treatment more difficult for adults?

Adults can be treated successfully at any time. However, treatment options using growth are no longer available. Therefore, it can be more difficult for a doctor to treat an adult.

 
What causes crooked teeth?

Just as we inherit eye color from our parents, mouth and jaw features are also inherited. Local factors such as finger sucking, high cavity rate, gum disease, trauma and premature loss of baby teeth can also contribute to a bad bite.

 
Can I have my teeth straightened without having braces glued to my teeth?

Yes, if you are an adult with only 1 - 6 millimeters of crowding or spacing of your front teeth and no missing or severely tipped teeth. A series of 3-D computer generated invisible aligners may allow creation of a beautiful smile for you without glued on braces. This advanced technology is not for growing children.

 
What do rubber bands do?

Rubber bands or elastics contribute a lot to straighter teeth. They are marvels of physics. Attached to your braces, elastics exert the force that creates the right amount of pressure to move teeth in directions that the braces alone can't. It's important to wear your elastics as prescribed and change them every day so the force is constant which the teeth like. A lack of consistency in wearing rubber bands can bring treatment to a standstill. Teeth never fail to move when elastics are worn consistently as directed. As for bouncing an elastic off someone across the room, it will happen (don't worry, your aim will improve).

 
Will braces correct TMD or jaw joint problems?

Braces may or may not improve jaw joint problems. More conservative approaches should be tried first.

 
How long do you have to wear braces?

That depends a lot on you and how bad your bite is to begin with. The better you are about wearing and taking care of your braces, the sooner your teeth will improve

 
Will any teeth be pulled?

Only if there's not enough room for all your teeth. Don't worry, if you have teeth pulled, the spaces will be closed and no one will even notice.

 
Are braces uncomfortable?

Each person finds braces quite different. Placing braces takes a long time (about an hour). However, it is a relatively painless procedure. The following several days the teeth may be uncomfortable. However, they soon settle down and you get used to the new feeling. Patients generally adjust very quickly to the braces and it becomes just another part of everyday life.

 
If poor orthodontia causes so many health problems, why didn't evolution/natural
      selection eliminate orthodontic problems?

According to Alex Duncan of the Anthropology Department at the University of Texas, "with very few exceptions, fossil hominids (cave men) had nearly perfect bites." Crooked teeth developed mainly over the last 10,000 years. As people's diets improved, people got bigger. The average height of an adult male increased from 4 ft (1.2m) 10,000 years ago to about 5 1/2 feet (1.67m) today. Human mouths and human teeth did not grow at the same rate. In many cases your child's teeth will be larger than your child's mouth. In that case, your child will need orthodontic treatment.

 
Why can't the orthodontist attach the braces strongly enough that the braces don't
      come off during eating?

The orthodontist needs to remove your braces at the end of the orthodontic treatment. If the orthodontist attaches your braces too firmly, the braces will not come off again at the end of your orthodontic treatment. Therefore, we have to use weaker glue than general dentist's glue to put braces on.

 
Why is a retainer needed? Do teeth move after orthodontic treatment?

Usually, when braces are first removed, your teeth will all be in perfect alignment, but your gums, bones, etc. will not have completely shifted into their new positions. The retainer holds your teeth in position until their gums, bones etc. settle in to their new positions. Every part of your body changes as time goes on for worse. Retainers will help keep your teeth from moving into undesirable position.

 
What happens if I do not use the retainer?

If you do not wear retainers, your gums and bones will not fully settle into their new positions. Eventually, the incorrectly shaped bones will push your teeth causing the teeth to move out of good alignment.

 
What happens if my child swallows a ligating (o-ring) module?

Orthodontic ligating modules are made of medical grade polyurethane which is similar to the grade of polyurethane used in medical implants. The polyurethane is thought to be safe for human consumption. If your child swallows a ligating module, it just passes through your child's digestive system and leaves in your child's feces.

 
Is there any chance that the sharp edges at the ends of the braces will hurt the insides
      of my child's cheeks?

This is a hard question. In the beginning part of orthodontic treatment, your child's teeth will move a lot. Sometimes the end of the wire will stick out past the end of the tube, and create a sharp edge. We recommend that you ask the orthodontist to trim the sharp edge before the edge cuts your child's inner cheek.

 
I have heard about latex allergy? How common is it, and do I have anything to fear?

There are two kinds of latex allergies. Class IV allergy, which is not very serious, and a Class I allergy, which can be life threatening. The Class IV allergy causes a slight inflammation of the patient's mouth, but it goes away after the latex is removed. Class I latex allergy is quite similar to penicillin allergy. He or she might break into hives when exposed to a rubber glove. Blooming Smile Orthodontics uses non-latex, Nitrile gloves only. Non-latex, silicone elastics are also available.

 
How is TMJ problem related to an Orthodontic treament?

Please refer to these sites:
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001227.htm
http://www.ada.org/public/topics/tmd_tmj.asp
http://health.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/tmj-disorders/overview.html

 
 
 
 
 
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