Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Who is an orthodontist and what is orthodontics?
An orthodontist is a specialist who has studied orthodontics for a further 4 years after completing their dental degree. Orthodontics is a branch of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities such a crooked teeth or malpositioned jaws usually with braces or growth modification appliances.
Do I need a referral from my dentist to make an appointment?
No you do not need one. You can just phone in and make an appointment. We do welcome referrals from dentists as well, and it is vital to have a dentist that will look after your teeth while you are undergoing treatment.
When should a child see an orthodontist?
It is recommended that every child first visit an orthodontist by age seven, or earlier if a problem is detected by parents, the family dentist, or the child’s physician. Early orthodontic treatment in some cases can prevent major orthodontic treatment later on. In some instances, children need two phases, or stages, of orthodontic treatment. For many children, orthodontic treatment can be postponed to a later time.
Can adults have orthodontic treatment?
Yes. Orthodontic treatment can be successful at almost any age. 20 – 25% of orthodontic patients are adults. With the availability of clear and invisible braces more and more adults are accepting treatment.
How do I know if I need braces? And will they be beneficial?
The number one reason to choose braces is the desire to improve your smile. The need for treatment is very subjective. If you feel that your smile can be improved by correcting the positions of your teeth or jaws then you do need braces. Orthodontic care can also address functional problems such as open bites or cross bites, which can make chewing food more difficult. If you or your child has a habit such as thumb or finger sucking then interceptive orthodontic treatment can help to break the habit. All of the orthodontic treatments offered are aimed at either improving your appearance, assisting you to attain better function or breaking habits-so it is definitely beneficial to you or your child.
How long will treatment last?
Treatment time in orthodontics is quite variable depending on difficulty and also patient cooperation. Typically for comprehensive cases requiring a full set of braces on both jaws, the range of treatment time is anywhere from 12 to 24 months. Keeping your appointments, following your orthodontist’s instructions, caring for your braces and practicing good oral hygiene is the best method of completing your treatment on time, or in some cases, earlier than anticipated.
What kinds of braces are available?
There are standard metal braces, i.e. the ones that the wires are tied in with colour elastics. These braces can also be tied in with silver or clear elastics if you choose not to have the colours on your braces. Then there are clear or ceramic braces that work similar to the metal braces and are less visible since they are a similar colour to your teeth. In addition, to these you also get lingual braces that are bonded to the inner surfaces of your teeth so they are not visible. In some cases where the teeth are not very crooked a plate can be given, but the range of movement of teeth is limited. The choice of appliance is somewhat dependent on the arrangement of the crooked teeth.
How long does it take to apply braces?
It depends on the individual case, but typically 60 minutes is the time required.
Will getting my braces on hurt?
Modern braces are designed to minimize any discomfort. However, your mouth will usually be sore the first few days after you get braces and for a day or two each time they’re tightened. This varies from patient to patient. You can take a painkiller for the pain.
Do I need to brush more with braces?
With braces you will need to brush more often – at least 3 to 4 times a day or after every meal and you will need to floss once a day. You can also use a mouthwash daily.
What foods should I eat?
You will need to eat softer foods and cut out sweet items from your diet. If you eat the wrong foods, the braces may come loose or the wire may get bent and delay your treatment progress. If you eat and drink items high in sugar, your teeth may decay resulting in white or brown spots on your teeth. You should avoid chewing gum and harder food such as meat and hard fruits and vegetables should be cut into smaller pieces before you eat them.
Can I play sports?
Yes. However, plan to wear a mouth guard for protection.
Should I see my general dentist while I have braces?
Yes, you should continue to see your general dentist at least every six months for cleanings and regular dental check ups.
Will I need to wear a retainer?
Yes. Once you have completed orthodontic treatment with a full set of braces, you will need to wear an upper and lower retainer full time (all the time except eating, drinking and brushing) for at least a year, and thereafter at nights. The purpose of the retainer is to hold the teeth in their new positions while the bone around the teeth stabilizes. Teeth have “a memory”, that make the teeth want to move back toward their original positions. Retainers prevent this unwanted movement. Some patients may need to have a permanent retainer stuck to the back of their teeth if their teeth were extremely crooked when they started treatment.