If you're a new orthodontics patient you are bound to have questions about various treatment methods, procedures and how these treatments will impact your oral health. Today, our Thornhill orthodontists answer 10 of the most commonly asked questions from our patients.
1. What is orthodontic treatment, and what does it entail?
Many people have dental irregularities that can be corrected with orthodontic treatment. These 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 for all of these irregularities, including crooked or crowded teeth, teeth that may be excessively spaced or have gaps between them, and impacted teeth.
The remedy for these various issues is orthodontic treatment, which can help straighten your teeth and correct bite misalignments. Treatment may involve a few different approaches depending on your needs. Your orthodontist will likely recommend one of these options:
- Traditional metal braces
- Clear(ceramic) braces
- Clear aligners
2. Why should I get orthodontic treatment?
Orthodontic treatment can help you achieve a healthier bite and a straighter smile. It can also impact your long-term oral health, as straighter teeth are easier to brush, floss and keep clean.
Crooked teeth can leave you at a higher risk of developing gum disease or cavities and a bad bite or misaligned jaw can cause headaches or jaw pain.
In addition to the functional aspects, some people feel self-conscious about the appearance of their smile. Orthodontic treatment can help improve your smile, making it more symmetrical. By the end of your treatment, you may feel more confident and smile more frequently and more openly.
3. Which orthodontic treatment is the best?
Orthodontic treatment is very personal and is customized to an individual’s unique needs and smile goals. Which orthodontic treatment is best for you will depend on a number of factors, such as the nature of your malocclusion, the current state of your oral health and how much restorative dental work you’ve had done previously.
While some people will need braces to help fix their misalignment, clear aligners may be suitable for others. Personal preference and budget may also play a role in your decision. Your orthodontist will work with you and take the time to explain your options, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of different types of braces, clear aligners and more.
4. Which orthodontic treatment is the fastest?
Orthodontic treatment is an investment of time and money in achieving your smile goals. Braces or clear aligners can help 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:
- Closely adhere to your orthodontist or dentist's instructions. Follow your treatment plan on every aspect of your orthodontic care, from oral hygiene such as brushing and flossing to what you can and can’t eat during treatment, to how much you have to wear your appliance.
- Give your teeth the care they need and deserve. Not only is oral hygiene important, but so is ensuring your teeth receive the extra TLC they need as they undergo their change in alignment. This means no grinding 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 provide your dental health team with an opportunity to monitor the progress of your treatment, make adjustments to your treatment plan if necessary and answer any questions and concerns you might have.
5. What’s the ideal age for 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 last, and what will 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 clear aligners or 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 to treat your malocclusion.
8. How often will I have to see an orthodontist while I’m being treated?
How often you’ll need to see an orthodontist will depend on the treatment option being used to correct your dental health issue, whether you encounter any obstacles during treatment, and other factors.
In general, with braces you’ll see your dentist every 4 to 8 weeks throughout 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.
With clear aligner treatment, 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 that you avoid consuming carbonated beverages while undergoing orthodontic treatment since pop can stain the metal brackets on your teeth and erode tooth enamel. The dyes in pop and even in juices can also stain ceramic brackets and your natural tooth surfaces.
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 my oral hygiene routine need to change during treatment?
While everyone needs to brush and floss daily and maintain excellent oral hygiene to prevent cavities, this is extra important for protecting the oral health of people undergoing orthodontic treatment.
Because bacteria and plaque can get stuck between your teeth and braces or clear aligners, it’s essential to be diligent about thoroughly brushing and flossing your teeth.
Carefully brush and floss around wires and brackets if you have braces, and avoid foods such as 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 it 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 proves impossible with clear aligners, which fit snugly to your teeth.
Throughout your orthodontic treatment it’s important to brush well after each meal and floss once per day.