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About Orthodontics

About Orthodontics

The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends an orthodontic screening for children by age 7. Why so young? By this age the teeth and jaws are developed enough for the orthodontist to see whether there are any serious bite problems, but the child still has lots of growing left to do. Most of the time treatment is not necessary at this age, but early identification of a growth-related problem gives the doctor time to monitor the patient's development and intervene.

Parts of Braces

Appliance: Anything your orthodontist attaches to your teeth which moves your teeth or changes the shape of your jaw.
Archwire: The metal wire that guides your teeth as they move. It is changed periodically throughout treatment as the teeth move.
Band: A metal ring that is cemented to your tooth and goes completely around your tooth. Bands provide a way to attach brackets to your back teeth.
Bond: The seal created by orthodontic cement that holds your appliance in place.
Bracket: A metal or ceramic part cemented (“bonded”) to your tooth that holds your archwire in place.
Coil Spring: A spring that fits between your brackets and over your archwire to open space between your teeth.
Elastic (Rubber Band): A small rubber band that is hooked between different points on your braces to move your teeth.
Elastic Tie: The rubber band that fits around your bracket to hold the archwire in place. They come in a variety of colors.
Hook: A welded or removable arm to which elastics are attached.
Ligature: A thin wire that holds your archwire into your bracket.
Mouthguard: A device that protects your mouth from injury when you participate in sports or rigorous activities.
Palatal Expander: A device that widens your upper jaw.
Retainer: An appliance that is worn after your braces are removed. The retainer attaches to your upper or lower teeth to hold them in place. Some retainers are removable and others are bonded to the tongue-side of several teeth.
Separator (or spacer): A small rubber ring that creates space between your teeth before the bands are fitted.
Tie Wire: A fine wire that is twisted around your bracket to hold the archwire in place.
Wax: Wax is used to stop your braces from irritating your lips.

Orthodontic Procedures

Banding: The process of fitting and cementing orthodontic bands to your teeth.
Bonding: The process of attaching brackets to your teeth using special orthodontic cement.
Cephalometic X-ray: An x-ray of your head which shows the relative positions and growth of the face, jaws, and teeth.
Consultation: A meeting with your orthodontist to discuss a treatment plan.
Debanding or Debonding: The process of removing cemented orthodontic bands from your teeth.
Impressions: The process of making a model of your teeth with a soft material that hardens into a mold of your teeth. Your orthodontist will use these impressions to prepare your treatment plan.
Invisalign®: An alternative to traditional braces, Invisalign straightens your teeth with a series of clear custom-molded aligners. Invisalign can correct some, but not all, orthodontic problems.
Ligation: The process of attaching archwire to the brackets on your teeth.
Panoramic X-ray: An x-ray that rotates around your head to take pictures of your teeth, jaw and other parts of your face.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Can I Eat With Braces On?
The good news is that you can eat most foods with your braces on. But, you’ll need to use common sense and be careful!
Foods to Avoid
  • Chewy foods: bagels, hard rolls, licorice
  • Crunchy foods: popcorn, ice, chips
  • Sticky foods: caramels, gum
  • Hard foods: nuts, candy
  • Foods you have to bite into: corn on the cob, apples, carrots
  • Chewing on hard things (for example, pens, pencils or fingernails) can damage the braces.
     Damaged braces will cause treatment to take longer.
  • Sugary or starchy foods: Be sure to brush well after any treats!

How Will My Teeth Feel?
General Soreness: When you get your braces on, you may feel soreness in your mouth and teeth may be tender to biting pressure for three to five days. Usually Advil or Tylenol is helpful. The lips, cheeks and tongue may also become irritated for one to two weeks as they toughen up and become accustomed to the surface of the braces. You can put wax on the braces to help. We'll show you how!
Loosening of Teeth: This is to be expected throughout treatment. Don't worry! It's normal. Teeth must loosen first so they can be moved. The teeth will again become rigidly fixed in their new-corrected-positions.

What If Something Breaks?
Loose Wire or Band: Don't be alarmed if a wire or band comes loose. This happens occasionally. If wire protrudes and is irritating, use a blunt instrument, like the eraser end of a pencil, and carefully push the irritating wire under the archwire. Simply get it out of the way. If irritation to the lips or mouth continues, place wax or wet cotton on the wire to reduce the annoyance. Call our office as soon as possible for an appointment to check and repair the appliance. If any piece comes off, save it and bring it with you to the office.

What Else Do I Need To Do?
Care of Appliances: To successfully complete the treatment plan, the patient must work together with the orthodontist. The teeth and jaws can only move toward their corrected positions if the patient consistently wears the rubber bands, headgear or other appliances as prescribed. Damaged appliances lengthen the treatment time.
Brushing: It's more important than ever to brush and floss regularly when you have braces, so the teeth and gums are healthy after orthodontic treatment. Make sure to visit your general dentist for regular cleanings and check-ups. Adults who have a history of gum disease should also see a periodontist during orthodontic treatment.

What About Sports?
Athletics: If you play sports, it's important that you consult us for special precautions. A protective mouthguard is advised for playing contact sports. In case of any accident involving the face, check your mouth and the appliances immediately. If teeth are loosened or the appliances damaged, phone us at once for an appointment. In the meantime, treat your discomfort as you would treat any general soreness.


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