When patients require orthodontic treatment, they often have many questions about the procedures, treatment methods available, and the effects they can have on their oral health. In this post, our Antigonish dentists answer 10 common questions about orthodontic treatment.
1. What is orthodontic treatment, and what does it consist of?
Some patients have dental irregularities that require orthodontic treatment. These 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 this is orthodontic treatment, which can help straighten your teeth. Treatment may involve a few different approaches depending on your needs. Your dentist will likely recommend one of these options:
- Clear aligners
- Traditional metal braces
- Clear(ceramic) braces
2. Why would I need 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.
Conversely, crooked teeth can mean you’ll be at a higher 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. By the end of your treatment, you may feel more proud to reveal it.
3. What is the best orthodontic treatment?
Orthodontic treatment is very personal and is customized to an individual’s 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, your current oral health, and how much restorative dental work you’ve had done previously.
While some people will need braces to help fix their misalignment, others may be able to use clear aligners. Personal preference and budget may also play into your decision. Your orthodontist or dentist can explain your options and the advantages and disadvantages of different types of braces, clear aligners, and more.
4. What is the fastest orthodontic treatment?
Orthodontic treatment is an investment of time and money in achieving 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.
Here are some tips to ensure your orthodontic treatment goes as quickly and smoothly as possible:
- Follow your orthodontist or dentist's instructions and 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.
- Care for your teeth. Not only is oral hygiene important, but so is ensuring your teeth receive the 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 give them an opportunity to check in to make sure treatment is progressing as planned, with no obstacles, and to answer any questions and concerns.
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 how much 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 or dentist 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. What are my options if I don't want traditional braces?
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 need to see my dentist or orthodontist during treatment?
How often you’ll need to see an orthodontist or your dentist will depend on the treatment option you and your orthodontist or dentist choose, whether you encounter any obstacles during treatment, and other factors.
In general, with braces, you’ll see 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, and see your orthodontist once every 6 to 10 weeks.
9. Can I drink pop with my braces?
Whether you have metal, ceramic or lingual braces on your teeth, we recommend avoiding pop as drinks with carbonation can stain the metal brackets of your teeth. The dyes in pop and even in juices can also stain your tooth surfaces and erode enamel.
In addition to this, the large amount of sugar typically found in these drinks can lead to tooth decay, so in general, we recommend 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 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.
Carefully brush and floss around wires and brackets if you have braces, 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 only consume 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, it's concerning 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.
It’s important to brush after each meal and floss once per day.