Frequently Asked Questions about
Orthodontics and Orthodontic Treatment
When you’re considering orthodontic treatment here in Calgary, you may find yourself asking a lot of questions. You’re in the right place! These are some of our most frequently asked questions about braces, Invisalign, and more.
What is Orthodontic Treatment?
You may be wondering what the difference is between regular dental care and orthodontic treatment. In a nutshell, orthodontics is about treating and correcting malocclusion, and this is quite different from the scope of services a dentist offers. Malocclusions include, but are not limited to:
- Crowded teeth: When there is not enough space in the jaw for the teeth to fit symmetrically, the teeth will “crowd” or cluster together unevenly.
- Teeth with wide spaces or gaps: This is the opposite of crowding. The space in the jaw is more generous than the teeth require, leaving gaps and spaces.
- Crooked teeth: Crooked teeth may be crowded, widely spaced, overlapping, asymmetrical, etc.
- Impacted teeth: Impacted teeth are unable to emerge from the gumline completely due to a lack of space. Impaction can be a painful orthodontic problem.
- Bite problems: When the top and bottom teeth do not fit together properly, it can result in a wide array of problems such as underbites, overbites, deep bites, open bites, crossbites, etc.
Orthodontists treat malocclusions with various approaches. The most well-known treatment is metal braces, but ceramic braces (which are clear and less noticeable) are also common, along with retainers, clear aligners (Invisalign), and more. A dentist will treat other issues such as cavities, tooth decay, plaque, and other general dentistry.
How Can I Benefit from Orthodontic Treatment?
The goal of orthodontic treatment isn’t just to achieve a “prettier” smile! While it’s true that orthodontic treatment is often touted as a way to achieve a more symmetrical, attractive smile, proper orthodontic care can also improve your overall oral health.
By correcting issues like crowding and misalignment, orthodontic treatment makes your teeth easier to care for and reduces your risk of problems such as gum disease, damage to your teeth’s enamel, and complications like TMJ-associated pain. Consider having a brief initial consultation to determine and recommend the right treatment plan and whether orthodontic treatment is required.
Which Orthodontic Treatment is Right for Me?
The best orthodontic treatment for you is the treatment that helps you achieve optimal oral health, and turn your smile goals into reality, with maximum efficiency and safety. You can discuss your personal goals for orthodontic treatment with your orthodontist, who will be able to assess your oral health and your specific needs as a patient.
From there, your orthodontist may recommend one or more of these options:
- Metal Braces. Metal braces are a safe, effective, and common choice for correcting malocclusions. Tiny brackets are glued to your teeth, and an archwire is attached to the brackets. Over time, your teeth conform to the symmetrical shape of the archwire, which can be tightened every 6-8 weeks in order to close gaps or straighten crooked teeth.
- Ceramic Braces. Ceramic braces work just like metal braces, but they are made of ceramics, which can be clear or tinted to match the shade of the teeth. Some patients prefer ceramic braces, because they are less noticeable than metal braces, especially from a distance.
- Clear Aligners (Invisalign): Like metal braces and ceramic braces, this technology works by exerting gentle pressure on your teeth over time. In this case, however, the pressure is delivered by custom-made, clear, removable aligners that fit over your teeth. Every 1-2 weeks, patients change to a new set of aligners, moving the teeth incrementally until they are aligned.
- Other Orthodontic Treatments: Orthodontists may also recommend lingual braces, space maintainers, palatal expanders, retainers, headgear, and other treatments to beautify your smile and correct malocclusions. If you are wondering what types of treatment are offered by your local Calgary orthodontists, we recommend you call to find out.
Which Orthodontic Treatment Gives the Fastest Results?
Orthodontic treatment takes time, and most patients will use braces or Invisalign for 1-3 years. However, the actual time frame depends on a number of factors: how complex your case is, how thoroughly you follow your treatment plan, and which treatments are available to you.
For example, a patient with a very simple case may only need a year or so of braces to correct malocclusion, followed by nightly retainer use to prevent her teeth from shifting afterward. On the other hand, a patient with severe over or underbite, very misaligned teeth, or other complications may need multiple therapies and treatments, lengthening his treatment time. Based on your oral health and treatment needs, your orthodontist will be able to estimate how long each treatment will take, and help you find your most effective options.
What Is the Ideal Age for Treatment?
In the past, most patients began their orthodontic treatment around 12 to 13 years of age. However, this norm is rapidly changing: for one thing, many adults are now seeking treatment to correct oral health issues and improve the aesthetics of their smile. In fact, many orthodontists are seeing increasing numbers of patients over the age of thirty seeking braces and clear aligners and the category of adult orthodontic treatment has been growing.
Conversely, younger patients are also candidates for orthodontic treatment. Early orthodontic treatment is generally preventative, correcting malocclusions such as underbite, overbite, or habits such as thumb sucking or pacifier use – before the problem gets worse.
In general, younger patients see faster results with fewer complications than adult patients, whose teeth and gums may have more problems and are more difficult to adjust.
How Much Does Orthodontic Treatment Cost?
The cost of your treatment will vary depending on the complexity of your orthodontic needs, the type of treatment, and the length of time that the treatment lasts. The total cost usually falls somewhere between $2,000 and $6,500. Invisalign is typically the most cost-effective option, with alternatives like metal braces, ceramic braces, and lingual braces costing more.
Insurance may cover some or all of your cost, regardless of whether the treatment is being done with braces or Invisalign. Check with your orthodontist and insurance company for more information on the actual costs and insurance coverage for your specific case.
I Am Interested in Alternatives to Traditional Braces. What Are My Options?
The most common alternatives for traditional braces are ceramic braces and Invisalign.
- Ceramic braces are very similar to traditional braces, except they are made of a special ceramic material that is clear or tooth-colored. These have the advantage of being less noticeable than metal braces, which is an important consideration for some patients.
- Invisalign is a system of clear, custom-fitted aligners that are molded to your teeth. They are less noticeable than metal braces and ceramic braces and are a very popular choice. Invisalign also has the benefit of being much more comfortable than traditional braces.
- Lingual braces are fastened to the back of the teeth rather than the front of the teeth. These braces are virtually invisible but may cause considerable discomfort and some difficulty in speaking, at first. Lingual braces may not be suitable for all patients.
- Surgery, retainers, and more: For special cases, orthodontists may recommend surgical procedures, permanent retainers, and other treatments based on the individual needs of the patient.
How Frequently Should I See My Orthodontist?
Most patients with metal or ceramic braces will see their orthodontist every 6-8 weeks, to check on their progress and adjust their braces as needed. Additionally, these appointments are opportunities to assess overall oral health and discuss additional treatment options such as elastics, etc.
For patients using Invisalign, checkups every 12-16 weeks are routine. The aligners themselves are typically changed every 1-2 weeks.
What Foods Should Orthodontic Patients Avoid?
Hard, sticky, crunchy, and sugary foods (and drinks) may damage your braces and your teeth, so it’s best to avoid them while wearing braces or using other orthodontic treatments. These are some of the most common items to avoid:
- Crunchy Foods: Peanuts, hard pretzels, crunchy crackers, and raw carrots are good examples of crunchy foods that can damage your braces.
- Gum and Chewy Candies: Bubble gum, taffy, gummy candies, licorice, and jelly beans are just a few of the sweets that can harm your teeth and wreak havoc on your orthodontic treatments.
- Hard Candies: Peppermints, butterscotch discs, Jolly Ranchers, and other hard candies should be avoided.
- Dense or Crusty Bread: Bagels, crusty artisan bread, and chewy pizza crusts can cause brackets to detach, wires to come loose, and more.
- Soda: Occasionally enjoying soda, especially with a straw, will not necessarily damage your braces. However, soda is very acidic and sugary, and is prone to staining and damaging your teeth. Most orthodontists recommend avoiding soda for optimal oral health.
How Do You Maintain Oral Hygiene with Braces?
Maintaining your oral health while wearing braces is very similar to good oral hygiene for those without braces. Brushing, flossing, and eating right all play an important role.
It is especially important to brush your teeth gently but thoroughly every day, preferably after every meal. Do not brush your teeth too harshly, or you could harm your gum tissue. While wearing braces, it can be helpful to use small, specialty brushes designed to reach underneath arch wires and around brackets.
Additionally, flossing with braces can be a bit of a challenge. Floss threaders are helpful for navigating around your arch wires.
If you use Invisalign, make sure to remove your aligners every time you eat or drink. This will prevent food and drink from being trapped under the aligners, damaging your teeth and gums. With Invisalign, it is not necessary to brush after every meal. Instead, you can brush twice per day – first thing in the morning and at the end of the day right before you go to bed.
For both braces or Invisalign, your orthodontist may recommend using a tool like a WaterPik or a specialty mouthwash in addition to brushing and flossing.
Contact Us Today
If you have questions regarding orthodontic treatment, we hope you’ll reach out as patients are the number one priority for us. Book a consultation at Family Braces and see how our orthodontic treatments can help you!