What age should my child first visit an orthodontist?
The recommended age for the first orthodontic consultation is seven. While most people conjure up an image of a teenager in braces, seven is the ideal age for the first visit for several reasons. First, at this age most children will have a good mix of both baby and permanent teeth. That allows the orthodontist to see how the smile is beginning to take shape. But this is also ideal because the jaw will still be growing. If the orthodontist observes any issues with the way the jaw is growing there will be plenty of time to intervene to help guide jaw growth. That can then make braces treatment more efficient and effective. Taking care of issues at this age may prevent the need for future extractions, surgery, or other complex treatments later.
My dentist offers braces and Invisalign. Can’t we just use him for braces?
While there is an increase in more general dentists offering some form of braces treatment in their offices, it isn’t recommended to use a dentist for orthodontic treatment. While some may be very good, the fact remains that they don’t have the experience or training of an orthodontist. Orthodontists provide braces treatment all day, every day. They’ve most likely treated hundreds, if not thousands, of patients and therefore have seen it all. But not only that, they have dedicated their lives to orthodontics, beginning with earning the specialty distinction in the first place.
Dentist and orthodontists begin in the same place – dental school. But after graduating, orthodontists go on to complete at least two to three more years of additional training in their specialty. They learn everything they need to know about straightening teeth and will have the experience and knowledge to treat any malocclusion.
Do I really need braces? I don’t really care if my smile is perfectly straight.
A straight smile is only one of the benefits of orthodontic treatment. The most important benefits are healthy teeth and a properly functioning bite. Crooked and crowded teeth are harder to keep clean which can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. And a poorly functioning bite can lead to teeth breaking and chipping. Braces can give you a picture perfect smile on a healthy foundation to ensure that your teeth will be around for many years if not forever.
How long will I have to wear braces?
This is probably the most common question that is asked. Unfortunately there is no magic answer. Your orthodontist will be able to give you an estimate of how long you’ll be in braces but can’t give you an exact time frame. That is for several reasons. First, your orthodontist can’t know prior to treatment how your teeth and mouth will respond to treatment. Some people see their teeth move very efficiently while others are a bit more stubborn. Treatment length can also depend on the type of treatment you choose (some options offer more efficient tooth movement), your age at treatment (older or non-growing patients may take longer to achieve their ideal smiles), and your compliance. Patient compliance is an important factor in treatment – you must be sure to follow all of your orthodontist’s recommendations, such as avoiding certain foods and wearing elastics as directed. You also need to come to your appointments as scheduled. The average amount of time spent in braces, however, is around 12-18 months.
Will my braces hurt?
Your braces experience shouldn’t be painful but there may be some periods of discomfort. Having your braces put on is not painful but you may notice some discomfort in the days immediately following, as well as after some adjustment appointments. For patients wearing clear aligners (such as Invisalign), you may notice your mouth feels ‘tighter’ on the days you switch to a new aligner set. Additionally, for patients wearing traditional braces it can take the inside of the mouth a bit of time to get used to the feeling of the brackets and wires. You can use orthodontic wax to cover any areas that are irritating and rinsing your mouth with warm salt water can help. You may want to stick to soft foods in the beginning and if necessary you can take an over-the-counter pain medication.
How do I take care of my teeth while wearing braces?
Taking proper care of your smile is crucial during orthodontic treatment. Cavities or other dental work can impact your treatment time. You should continue to brush your teeth at least twice a day, floss at least once, and be sure to use a fluoride rinse as directed. We recommend that patients brush after eating but realize this isn’t always possible. We encourage patients to take their ‘care kits’ with them (at Ladera Orthodontics we provide a kit the day we place the braces). The kit includes a travel toothbrush and toothpaste, floss, orthodontic wax, and some will add anything else they may need to care for their braces while out and about. If you wear Invisalign you can simply remove your aligners and brush and floss as normal. We recommend brushing after eating or at the very least, rinsing your mouth out with water well before placing the aligners back in. Patients in standard metal braces may find using a floss threader to be helpful in getting between their brackets and wires.
Do I still need to see my dentist while I’m in braces?
Yes – as mentioned above, any dental issues can impact your treatment times. It is important to continue to visit your general dentist every six months, even while in treatment, so we can be sure your smile is healthy. Some general dentists may even recommend seeing their braces patients more frequently, such as every three to four months.
Can I still play sports and participate in other activities while in braces?
Yes! Braces shouldn’t negatively impact your daily life. If you play sports we recommend wearing a mouthguard – even if you don’t play a direct contact sport. A Mouthguard will protect your teeth as well as your lips and cheeks should an accident occur.
Do I need to change my diet while in braces?
That depends on which treatment option you choose. If you choose a clear aligner therapy such as Invisalign, the aligners are removable. That means you can enjoy all of your favorite foods! But, if you choose a different form of braces, you will need to make some adjustments to your diet. To avoid breaking your brackets or damaging your wires, you’ll need to stay away from any foods that are too hard, chewy, crunchy, or sticky.
How much do braces cost?
This depends on several factors – the extent of your malocclusion, the type of treatment you choose, and your age. But, at Ladera Orthodontics we never want anyone to feel as if braces treatment is out of reach. Drs. Gire and Salmassian work incredibly hard to offer exceptional treatment that is also affordable. And if you have dental insurance, a financial coordinator will help ensure you get all the benefits you are entitled to.
There are many questions regarding orthodontic treatment, and the staff at Ladera Orthodontics are always happy to answer any questions or address any concerns. Call today at 949-272-8782.