First-time orthodontic patients often have questions about different treatment methods and procedures, and how their treatment will benefit their oral health. Read on to see answers to 10 commonly asked questions our Sydney River dentists have been asked by patients.
1. What is orthodontic treatment?
Dental irregularities caused by genetics, injuries or accidents, environmental factors, improper teeth or jaw positioning, and other factors can require orthodontic treatment. The umbrella term for these dental irregularities is "malocclusion," and it includes issues like crooked or crowded teeth, teeth that may be excessively spaced or have gaps between them, and impacted teeth.
The remedy for this is orthodontic treatment, which can help straighten your teeth. Treatment may involve a few different approaches depending on your needs, but your dentist is likely to recommend one of these options:
- Traditional metal braces
- Clear (ceramic) braces
- Clear aligners
2. Why should I get orthodontic treatment?
If your goals include a healthier bite and a straighter smile, orthodontic treatment could be a good choice for you. Orthodontic treatment can have a positive impact on your long-term oral health, because straighter teeth are easier to brush, floss, and keep clean.
Conversely, misaligned teeth could increase the risk of developing gum disease or cavities. A bad bite or misaligned jaw can even cause headaches or jaw pain.
In addition to the functional aspects, some people have aesthetic concerns with the appearance of their smiles. Orthodontic treatment can help improve your smile, making it more symmetrical. Upon successful completion of your treatment, you could have a smile that you're proud to show off.
3. Which orthodontic treatment is the best?
The treatment option that best suits you is customized to your unique needs and smile goals. Which orthodontic treatment is best for you will depend on a number of factors, such as the extent of malocclusion, your current oral health and how much restorative dental work has been done previously.
While some people will need braces to help fix their misalignment, others may be candidates for clear aligners. Personal preference and budget may also impact your decision, and your orthodontist will explain your options and the advantages and disadvantages of different types of braces, clear aligners, and other treatments.
4. Which orthodontic treatment is the fastest?
Orthodontic treatment means an investment of time and money in order to achieve your smile goals. Braces or clear aligners can help fix the misalignment of teeth and jaw – and set you on the path to a straighter smile and better oral health.
To ensure that your orthodontic treatment goes smoothly and quickly, here are some tips:
- Follow your orthodontist or dentist's instructions – from oral hygiene like brushing and flossing to following dietary changes, to how much or how often you must wear your dental appliance.
- Care for your teeth – oral hygiene is extremely important generally, as is taking care of your teeth as they undergo realignment. This means no grinding or biting down hard, as this can cause extra pressure in addition to wear and tear.
- Attend your appointments with your orthodontist and/or dentist – your dental professional uses this opportunity to check in to make sure treatment is progressing as planned with no obstacles. They can also answer any questions and concerns.
5. What’s the ideal age for orthodontic treatment?
Generally, the earlier that orthodontic issues can be addressed, the better and more effective treatment could be. In the past, orthodontic treatment would usually begin between the ages of 12 to 14; now, however, it’s 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, starting orthodontic treatment in adulthood is a common tendency, and if your teeth are generally healthy you could be a candidate for orthodontic treatment whatever your age! Keep in mind 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 several factors such as the nature of your orthodontic issue, the treatment option you and your orthodontist choose, your age, your general health, and how well you follow 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 comprehend treatment options and financing opportunities.
7. If I don’t want traditional braces, what are my options?
Traditional metal braces are no longer the only type of braces used to straighten teeth anymore! From clear aligners or ceramic braces to lingual braces (which are attached to the back of your teeth), advances in orthodontic technology mean that 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 you and your orthodontist or dentist choose, whether you encounter any obstacles during treatment and other factors.
Generally, treatment with traditional braces requires seeing your dentist every 4 to 8 weeks during 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.
For clear aligners, there are no elastics to adjust so you may be able to go longer between appointments. You can expect to see your orthodontist once every 6 to 10 weeks.
Can I drink pop while wearing braces?
Whether you have metal, ceramic or lingual braces on your teeth, we recommend avoiding pop. Carbonated drinks can stain the metal brackets of your braces, and the colourants in pop and even juices can stain and erode your tooth enamel.
In addition, these drinks typically contain a large amount of sugar, which can lead to tooth decay, so in general, we advise avoiding pop entirely, whether you are undergoing orthodontic treatment or not!
9. Will my oral hygiene routine need to change during treatment?
Everyone should brush and floss daily and maintain excellent oral hygiene to prevent cavities, but this goes double if you are undergoing orthodontic treatment so you can make sure you preserve your oral health.
Because bacteria and plaque can get stuck between your teeth and braces or clear aligners, it’s important to be diligent in brushing and flossing your teeth.
If you have metal braces, make sure to carefully brush and floss around wires and brackets and avoid foods like 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 restrict yourself to drinking water while wearing them. This is because food and bacteria can become trapped between your clear aligners and teeth.
While it can have an immediate visual effect on your smile, more concerning is that tooth decay and plaque buildup can flourish when trapped for hours behind clear aligners. Usually, your saliva would remove some of the food particles, but this is not possible with clear aligners, which fit snugly to your teeth.
It’s important to brush after each meal and floss once per day to preserve your oral health.