Below are some of the most frequently asked questions patients have about orthodontics, orthodontists and related oral health issues. If you have any other questions, or would like to schedule an appointment, we would love to hear from you.
Click on a question below to see the answer.
Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. The technical term for these problems is “malocclusion,” which means “bad bite.” The practice of orthodontics requires the professional skill in the design, application and control of corrective appliances (braces) to bring teeth, lips and jaws into proper alignment and achieve facial balance.
You already know that braces straighten teeth. But what you may not know is that a beautiful smile is just one of the benefits orthodontics has to offer. Bringing teeth, lips and jaws into proper alignment not only produces a great smile, but a healthy one as well. Straight teeth simply function better and are easier to clean.And last but far from least is the increased confidence and self-esteem that a healthy smile provides. This psychological benefit can be a significant factor in the decision to undergo treatment and is often listed as a patient’s #1 treatment goal. A beautiful smile is a pleasure to own and a pleasure to see.
So remember: an attractive smile is just the start. Improved oral health and general well-being are important treatment goals as well.
Your orthodontic specialist is a dental specialist in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. Orthodontic specialists, known as orthodontists, must first attend college or University to earn an undergraduate degree, then complete a 4 year professional program at a dental school in a University accredited by the Canadian Dental Association. They must then successfully complete an additional post-graduate residency program of at least two to three academic years of advanced education in orthodontics in a University, again accredited by the CDA. This advanced training includes such diverse studies as genetics, embryology, human growth and development, and biophysics. Only dentists with this advanced specialty education can present themselves as orthodontic specialists (orthodontists).
Orthodontic specialists are the dental specialists who correct dental and facial irregularities, day in and day out. An orthodontic specialist is expert at moving teeth, helping jaws develop properly and working with the patient to help make sure the teeth stay in their new positions.
Canadian Association of Orthodontists (CAO) members are uniquely qualified to correct “bad bites.” The Canadian Dental Association requires orthodontic specialists to have at least two years of post-doctoral, advanced specialty training in orthodontics in an accredited program, after graduation from college and then dental school.
At one time, most people believed braces were “just for kids.” The fact is, that of the thousands of Canadians now in orthodontic treatment, more than one of every four is over 21. Because the basic process involved in moving teeth is the same in adults as in children, orthodontic treatment can usually be successful at any age. The health of the teeth, the gums and the supporting bones will also determine the prospects for improvement.
So who can benefit? Most anyone, really. The truth is you’re never too old to be your best. Regardless of age, orthodontic treatment is always a change for the better.
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child should see an orthodontic specialist no later than age 7. In some cases, this could be as young as 2 or 3. Many orthodontic problems are easier to correct if detected early rather than waiting until jaw growth has slowed. Early treatment may mean a patient will avoid surgery or other more serious corrections later in life.
No. Because healthy teeth can be moved at any age, an orthodontic specialist can improve the smile of practically anyone – in fact, orthodontic specialists regularly treat patients in their 50s, 60s and older!
Yes, keeping your teeth and braces (or other appliances) clean requires a little more effort on your part. Your orthodontist will explain how to brush and floss, how often to brush and floss, and give you any special instructions based on the kind of orthodontic treatment you are having. Be sure to follow your orthodontist’s dental hygiene prescription to get the best results possible. Check with your orthodontist about dental products and tools that might be helpful.
In general, patients with braces must be careful to avoid hard, sticky, chewy and crunchy foods. They should also avoid chewing on hard objects like pens, pencils and fingernails. And never chew ice. It’s much too hard on your teeth – even without braces.
Also be sure to see your family dentist for a professional cleaning and check-up at least every six months during your orthodontic treatment, or more often, if recommended.
Yes, but make sure you wear a protective mouth guard. Ask your orthodontist to recommend the right kind of mouth guard while you are having orthodontic treatment. Keep your smile beautiful after treatment and wear a mouth guard at every practice and every game.
With practice and a period of adjustment, braces typically do not interfere with the playing of wind or brass instruments.
The ads you are seeing may be for veneers. They cover crooked teeth and mask the problem, but do not address the structure in the mouth or how the upper and lower teeth meet. Veneers are not permanent. Many require removal of significant amounts of tooth enamel.
Orthodontic treatment is far more than simply treating how teeth look. It’s about aligning teeth and jaws so that they meet and function effectively. It just so happens that when teeth and jaws are functioning well, they look good, too.