Orthodontic FAQ’s

Answers to common questions about braces and orthodontics

? What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics (also referred to as dentofacial orthodontics) is a specialized form of dentistry focusing on the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial abnormalities.


? What is an orthodontist?

An orthodontist is a dental specialist who has received two to three years of additional training and experience. Your orthodontist is able to straighten teeth, correct misaligned jaw structure, and improve the function of your smile.


? What's the best age to visit the orthodontist?

If you want to improve the look and feel of your smile, then any age can be a great age to see the orthodontist. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children first visit an orthodontist around the age of seven; however, orthodontic treatment is not exclusive to children and teens, with about one in every five orthodontic patients being over the age of 21. Whether you’re considering treatment for yourself or for a child, any time is a good time to visit the orthodontist.

5 Things to Consider When Choosing an Orthodontist for Your Child

? What causes crooked teeth?

Crowded teeth, thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, premature loss of baby teeth, a poor breathing airway caused by enlarged adenoids or tonsils can all contribute to poor tooth positioning. And then there are the hereditary factors. Extra teeth, large teeth, missing teeth, wide spacing, and small jaws – all can be causes of crowded teeth or malocclusion.


? What are braces?

Braces are an appliance installed by an orthodontist to correct teeth that are crowded, out of alignment (crooked), protruding or have unequal spacing. Braces are used by your orthodontist to help you improve the look and feel of your smile.


? If I get braces, how long do I have to wear them?

The amount of time spent in braces will vary depending on the individual patient, because every smile responds differently to treatment. Treatment times can take anywhere between six and 30 months, but most standard treatments take about 22 months.

How Long do Kids Have to Wear Braces?

? Do braces hurt?

Braces do not often hurt though you may feel a small amount of discomfort for a couple days as your teeth, gums, cheeks, and mouth get used to your new braces.


? What types of braces are available?

Children & Teen Dental offers a wide variety of braces, from standard metal brackets to clear ceramic brackets. We also offer the complete array of treatment options, from standard treatments for children, to two-phase treatments or partial treatments, we offer everything a child or adult would need in orthodontics.

What are the Most Popular Orthodontic Treatments for Kids?

? What age is right to start braces?

A child’s pediatric dentist will recommend an orthodontist consultation when they believe it’s best for the patient. All patients are different, so some children may start treatment earlier to correct more severe cases of malocclusion. The benefit of being a patient of Children & Teen Dental is that when the time comes for a consultation, both the pediatric dentist and the orthodontist are in-house at your Children & Teen Dental clinic, not across town from each other.


? How do teeth move?

Tooth movement is a natural response to light pressure over a period of time. Pressure is applied by using a variety of orthodontic hardware (appliances), the most common being a brace or bracket attached to the teeth and connected by an arch wire. Periodic changing of these arch wires puts pressure on the teeth. At different stages of treatment your child may wear a headgear, elastics, a positioner or a retainer. Most orthodontic appointments are scheduled four to eight weeks apart to give the teeth time to move.


? Do I need to brush my teeth more often if I have braces?

With braces, you should brush your teeth at least three times a day to keep your teeth, gums, and mouth healthy and clean. Brushing regularly will help remove any food that may be caught between the braces. You should also floss daily to get in between your braces where your brush isn’t able to reach. Your orthodontist can show you how to properly brush and floss once your braces are placed.


? Are there foods to avoid wearing braces?

Yes, there are plenty of foods that you will want to avoid while wearing braces for fear that you may negatively impact your braces components.

  • Popcorn
  • Nuts
  • Hard taco shells
  • Sticky and hard candy
  • Gum
  • Ice
  • Corn chips
  • Pretzels
  • Hard cookies or crackers
  • Sticky or hard chocolate

Also avoid biting into hard foods with your front teeth. Cut or break up hard foods such as:

  • Raw vegetables
  • Croutons
  • French/Italian bread
  • Fruit
  • Hard rolls
  • Thin crust pizza
  • Meat
  • Burgers
  • Sub sandwiches
  • Corn on the cob

? What do you do if a braces bracket or wire comes loose?

First, don’t panic, everything will be fine. If a braces bracket detaches or one of your braces wires comes loose, it’s most likely not an emergency and can be taken care of with a follow-up visit to Children & Teen Dental. Simply contact Children & Teen Dental during normal business hours and explain the situation. In the meantime, you can visit our Orthodontics Emergency Care page for temporary solutions.


? If I have braces, do I still need dental checkups every six months?

Yes! In fact, it’s even more important that patients receiving orthodontic treatment have four cleanings per year.. With braces, food may be caught in places that your toothbrush can’t reach. This causes bacteria to build up that can lead to cavities, gingivitis, and gum disease. The doctors and staff at Children & Teen Dental want to make sure that your teeth stay clean and healthy while wearing braces.


? Will my braces interfere with my school activities like sports, playing an instrument, or singing?

Playing an instrument or a contact sport may require some adjustment when you first get your braces, but wearing braces will not stop you from participating in any of your school activities. If you play a contact sport, it is recommended that you wear a mouth guard to protect your braces or appliance.


? What is "two-phase" orthodontic treatment?

In some cases, a pediatric dentist will consult with an orthodontist and recommend a two-phase orthodontic treatment. This consists of two separate periods when a child receives orthodontic treatment. The first phase of treatment is done while the child still has many or most of their baby teeth. Braces may or may not be used during a first phase of treatment. Rather, other orthodontic appliances may be used in this early phase. The second phase of treatment happens once the child has most or all of their permanent teeth. For more information, please see our Two-Phase Orthodontics Treatment page.


? How much will braces cost? Are financing options available? How does my insurance work?

It is impossible to give an exact cost for treatment until we have examined you. We will cover the exact cost and financial options during the initial examination. We have many financing options available to accommodate your needs, and we will review these with you. We will also review your insurance policy and help to maximize your benefit and file your claims.


? Will my teeth straighten out as they grow?

No, they will not. The space available for the front teeth does not increase as you grow. In most people, after the permanent molars erupt, the space available for the front teeth decreases with age.


? Can I drop my child off for an appointment?

Yes. We understand your busy schedule, and we are happy to help you make the most of your time. On some occasions, we may request to speak with a parent when they return, so we ask that parents check in with their patient manager before dropping off their child.


? What is an emergency appointment? How are those handled?

If your braces are causing extreme pain or if something breaks, you should call our office. In most cases, we can address these issues over the telephone. If you require an emergency appointment, we will set aside time for you.


? How can I take care of my teeth if I'm wearing braces or a retainer?

  • ALWAYS remember to brush your teeth after every meal and floss at least once a day.
  • Make sure to use toothpaste that contains fluoride, and ask your orthodontist or family dentist if you need a fluoride rinse. This will help prevent cavities!
  • If you take out your retainer to eat, make sure you brush your teeth, floss, and remember to keep it safe in its container so that it does not get lost or broken.
  • Keep your retainer clean, by brushing it gently with a toothbrush and toothpaste. You may also soak it in denture cleaner as instructed by your orthodontist. Do not put your retainer in boiling water or in the dishwasher.
  • During your treatment, try to avoid foods with a lot of sugar (sugar increases the amount of bacteria that grows in your mouth, causing more plaque and possibly cavities).
  • Avoid sticky and chewy foods (caramel, chewing gum, gummy bears), hard foods (hard candy, nuts, ice cubes) or any foods that could possibly get stuck in your braces (corn on the cob, soft bagels, ribs, taffy, etc.).
  • Be sure to schedule your routine checkups with your family dentist. It is recommended that you continue to visit the dentist every six months.

If you have any other questions, please call us at 205-758-3341.

We look forward to working with you!
Children & Teen Dental


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Children & Teen Dental, provides specialized, comprehensive oral health care for infants, children, and adolescents in a fun, stress-free environment that focuses on prevention and education. Our goal is to help your child be healthy and enter adulthood free of dental diseases and dental fears – with good oral health habits that will last a lifetime.

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Children & Teen Dental is a group of dedicated professionals who believe in building lasting relationships in our communities and with our patients. Our priority is to make a positive impact in your child’s life by enhancing self-confidence, self-esteem and overall dental health.

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