Orthodontic Questions and Answers

Orthodontics is the oldest specialty of dentistry. It involves treatment of tooth malposition, bite distortion and growth imbalances of the jaws. Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about orthodontics:

woman peeking2What is an Orthodontic Specialist?

Just as there are specialists in medicine (cardiologists, neurologists) there are specialists in dentistry. Orthodontists are dental specialists who dedicate their professional lives to correcting misaligned teeth and jaws. Following graduation from dental school an orthodontist will then go to a university based residency program for at least two to three additional academic years. By learning about tooth movement and guidance of facial development, orthodontists are uniquely trained experts in dentistry to straighten teeth and align jaws.

What are the causes of crooked teeth?

In most cases crooked teeth are inherited. For example, if a patient inherits large teeth from one parent and a small jaw from the other, a problem will result. Additionally, habits such as thumb sucking and tongue thrust can cause malocclusion. Accidents which cause damage to the jaw while the teeth are developing also contribute to crooked teeth.

What is the benefit of orthodontic treatment?

Here are some of the benefits of orthodontic treatment:

  • Better appearance of the teeth, smile and face
  • Improved self esteem and self confidence during critical developmental years
  • Cleaner and healthier teeth
  • Less strain on muscles and joints
  • Improved speech/swallowing
  • An even bite for improved jaw alignment and function
  • Better lip closure and reduced risk of injury for protruding teeth
  • Reduced wear and increased life of the teeth
  • Aids in optimizing other dental treatment such as crowns and implants 

If treatment is started early, will all of the teeth move back out of alignment?

We intercept many orthodontic problems now by using better techniques for harnessing growth and development, which means we get better and more stable results. When treatment is completed our patients wear retainers to maintain the results they have obtained.

Does treatment hurt?

Although there is some minor discomfort at times, orthodontic treatment does not hurt like it used to. We have accomplished this with the use of new space-age materials such as body heat activated wires and Damon™ Comfort System Braces. Since nothing hurts, we do not need to use any forms of anesthesia.

Do we have to take out teeth?

We had to remove teeth in approximately 80% of patients 20 years ago. Today, we remove teeth in fewer than 5% of our patients. We can do this by starting at an early interceptive age and by utilizing our knowledge of growth and development.

What does treatment involve?

Usually treatment involves wearing braces or other appliances fixed to your teeth for 12 to 24 months. The procedure is painless, although some tenderness may be felt as the teeth start to move. During treatment time the teeth and braces should be kept scrupulously clean, and there are a few foods to avoid such as hard, chewy and sticky things. Full instruction will be given when you have your braces fitted.

Are there special things patients have to do while wearing braces?


  1. Keep your teeth and gums healthy with proper brushing and flossing. Clean teeth actually move faster!
  2. Keep your braces attached to your teeth — no broken braces or bent archwires.
  3. Avoid appointment interruptions (missed, late, or rescheduled). Patients with the best attendance in their treatment sequences and fewest interruptions experience the finest treatment results. 

Should certain foods be avoided?

Sweets and soft drinks should be kept to a minimum. Gum, popcorn and ice cubes or foods that are sticky, hard or gooey should be avoided.

Do braces damage teeth?

No. However, if a patient fails to keep his/her braces adequately clean, there is a chance of decalcification or decay. This can cause unsightly markings on the enamel surface of the tooth. The result will be extra costs to repair the damage. To avoid problems like this, it is important to remember to keep your teeth and braces "squeaky" clean.

How long will I have to wear a retainer?

To one degree or another, the rest of your life. Retainers are very important to keep your teeth in their new position. Our bodies are constantly changing throughout our lifetimes, and retainers will help to keep your teeth in their corrected position through these change


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