FAQs & Common Problems
Orthodontic treatment includes diagnosis and correction of teeth and jaws that are not positioned correctly. The bite problems that orthodontists treat include:
Upper Teeth Protrusion
These problems are related to how the upper and lower teeth connect (or don’t) and the spacing between the teeth within the jaw.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What do orthodontists do?
A: Orthodontists are dental specialists who diagnose and treat problems with the position, alignment or spacing of the teeth, and related irregularities in the face and the jaw. We use a number of special treatments, including braces and other oral appliances, to correct these problems.
Q: Why should I (or my loved ones) get orthodontic treatment?
A: There are two good reasons: aesthetics and function. Having an attractive smile not only changes the way people see you — it enhances your own self-image as well. Orthodontic treatment also allows your teeth to function better and makes it easier to keep them clean, which can improve your overall health.
Q: When should orthodontic treatment be started?
A: You’re never too old to begin orthodontic treatment — but if you start at an earlier age, your problems may be easier to treat. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that a child who may need orthodontic treatment should come in for a first visit around age 7.
Q: How can I recognize a potential bite problem?
Q: Does getting braces hurt? What about wearing them?
A: Having braces put on is generally painless. Some people experience minor aches and pains in the first couple of days or so, as they adjust to wearing their appliances; periodic adjustments may sometimes cause soreness as well, though it typically lasts only a short time. Over-the-counter pain relievers can be used to alleviate any discomfort, but are usually unnecessary.
Q: How long will treatment take?
Q: How often will I come in for an appointment?
A: It depends on what’s being done, and how often you need to be monitored. During active treatment, you’ll typically come in to our office once every 4 to 10 weeks.
Q: Will I need to have any teeth extracted?
A: If your teeth are severely crowded (because your mouth is too small to properly accommodate all of them) — or if you have impacted teeth (teeth that are trapped beneath the gum line by other teeth) — then extraction may be necessary. In the case of younger patients, early treatment may make extraction unnecessary.
Q: Will I have to watch what I eat?
A: Yes — you should pass up the types of foods that could damage or become trapped in your braces. Some of these include raw vegetables, hard candy, caramel, taffy and ice cubes (fortunately, ice cream is OK). We will give you a list of foods to avoid.
Q: Will I be able to play sports/ play my instrument?
A: In a word: Yes. Of course, whether you wear braces or not, we recommend you wear a mouthguard when playing most sports. Musicians are generally able to play their instruments just as they did before, but they may need a short adjustment period after getting braces.
Q: Do I still need to see my regular dentist while I'm getting orthodontic treatment?
A: You do — in fact, it’s more important than ever! Keeping teeth free of plaque (and potentially, decay) can be challenging when you’re wearing braces. Your dentist can help you avoid these problems with frequent cleanings and exams.
Q: Will I wear a retainer when my braces come off?
A: Almost always, the answer is yes: If you don’t wear a retainer, your teeth can rapidly shift out of position — and then all the effort put into your treatment is lost! Your retainer helps you maintain that good-looking smile for a lifetime.
Q: Is orthodontic care very expensive?
The major enemy of oral health is plaque. Food that becomes trapped near tooth surfaces can lead to the formation of plaque — a thin coating of microorganisms and organic debris (biofilm) containing potentially harmful bacteria. Braces or other appliances make it harder to remove plaque. The bacteria in plaque digest the sugars in food, producing acids that may erode teeth and irritate gums. This can cause cavities, white spots on teeth, gum disease, and bad breath.
Keeping plaque under control is one of the most effective means of maintaining strong, healthy teeth and gums. There are three general ways to do it: through diet, daily maintenance, and regular professional care. Taken all together, they’re your teeth’s best defense.
Diet and Decay
Foods that are very hard or extremely sticky can also cause physical damage to orthodontic appliances. Certainly, braces or retainers with broken wires or loose brackets aren’t working to straighten your teeth! You should avoid foods like hard candies or nuts, beef jerky and hard pizza crust. Keep eating healthy foods like carrots and apples — but cut them into bite-sized pieces first! And don’t chew on ice, pencils, or your nails: these habits can cause damage to your appliances, and even result in chipped teeth!
Either a soft-bristled or a bi-level toothbrush (one with longer bristles on the edges and shorter ones in the middle) can be effective in plaque removal — even with braces. An electric toothbrush can also be used, on a moderate setting. For hard-to-clean areas, try an interdental brush. The small bristles of this special tooth-cleaning aid, which is shaped like a pipe cleaner, can get in between wires, brackets and teeth. With gentle and persistent effort, it’s possible to reach into the smallest nooks and crannies, and control plaque buildup.
You should floss at least once a day during orthodontic treatment. While it’s a little harder to do with braces, there are some special products available — including floss threaders and particular kinds of floss — that can help you get the floss between wires and gum line. Our staff will review proper brushing and flossing techniques with you when your braces are put on — but if you ever have questions, don’t hesitate to ask!
Depending on your situation, we may recommend an in-office or at-home supplemental fluoride treatment to boost your cavity resistance. An antiseptic rinse may also be recommended, to ease minor gum inflammation or irritation.
If you have a retainer, it should be cleaned daily. We may also recommend using a cleaning solution — but never put hot water on your retainer, because it can distort the soft plastic and make it unusable! And always keep it in a case when it’s not in your mouth.
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408 Chatham Square Office Park
Fredericksburg, VA 22405
35 Walpole St #203
Stafford, VA 22554