Our orthodontists have prepared this orthodontic FAQ page to help answer some basic questions or concerns you may have about orthodontic treatment and planning.
Q: Why do I want an orthodontist instead of a dentist when I’m looking for orthodontic treatment?
Dentistry covers many practices, but some are specialized. Orthodontics is a specialized area for a few reasons. First, orthodontics is best utilized at specific ages. Therefore, age must factor into the treatment. Accurate growth indicators and growth factors must be considered to ensure that permanent damage is not done to the facial structure or the mouth. Second, orthodontists are trained not only in implementing orthodontic appliances, but also in aligning teeth and restructuring the mouth and related areas, including the jaw. Third, at Miles of Smiles, we are only orthodontists. We don’t practice any other dental procedures. This gives us unique skills, a focus that is geared specifically to your success in orthodontic treatment, and the ability to give you a personal, comfortable treatment experience.
Q: What age is appropriate to investigate orthodontics for my children?
At around age 7, we start seeing key indicators in the growth and development of children that signal that the opportunity for analysis exists. That doesn’t mean it’s inappropriate to start treatment at 5 or 6, or slightly later than 7 years old. It does mean that, optimally, we would want to track the growth and changes in your child’s mouth. At 6 or 7 years, we can begin to see what goals we can set for the months and years ahead and make appropriate, accurate determinations for treatment timelines and cycles. This age is ideal to start looking at whether there is a need for orthodontia. If there isn’t, we’ve made a policy of informing parents and patients, so they can stay proactive and avoid unnecessary treatments. In fact, the American Association of Orthodontists® recommends age 7 for screenings.
Q: But won’t my teeth naturally straighten out as I grow older?
Teeth generally don’t change their eruption pattern unless proper procedures and appliances are implemented. After the permanent molars come in or erupt, the available area in the mouth for the permanent teeth is limited. Identifying orthodontic needs early is a perfect way to determine the best treatment options for natural growth and development.
Q: I’m an adult. Is it too late for braces or other orthodontic treatments?
While it’s great to be able to take advantage of growth and development as it naturally occurs, often that is not a luxury we are afforded. No patient is too old for orthodontics if they can provide a life changing outcome for the patient. We often find some of our most thankful patients are adults. About a quarter of all orthodontic patients are classified as adults. An increase in self-esteem and comfort, or addressing life-long mouth issues, are important factors in determining the suitability for adult braces.
Q: How long does typical orthodontic treatment take?
You can generally expect between 12 and 32 months for orthodontic treatments, but this is a specialty practice and every patient is different and has different needs. Generally speaking, braces require two years for a full treatment.
Q: How many appointments will I have to go to?
Each patient is different, and we cater to the individual and the established treatment plan. You can probably expect to see us about every five to 10 weeks for general braces and similar treatments. More severe conditions may require more visits. In a typical case, you would probably expect to see the doctor about 12-25 times, depending on the treatment.
Q: Can my child be seen alone/can I drop my child off for an orthodontic treatment appointment?
A standard visit would be a perfect time for this type of scenario, but some meetings will require a parent, such as when decisions will be made about the treatment. We know your life can get busy, and you might have errands to run or other children to tend to. On most occasions, we request that parents check in with the patient manager before your child leaves to ensure your child’s safety.
Q: Do braces hurt?
Braces don’t hurt, per se, but there are times where the teeth may be sore for a few days after an adjustment. We recommend using OTC (over-the-counter) pain relievers. This will minimize the pain. We utilize best practices and understand the process you’ll be going through, so we do what we can clinically to minimize pain during our procedures. Often there won’t be any soreness after a visit. Our patients know pain doesn’t equal effectiveness. We can do better than that.
Q: What about playing sports or playing an instrument while having braces?
Both sports and musical endeavors are possibilities, though we recommend you take some time to get used to your braces and utilize mouthguards for sports. We also suggest that you give yourself a bit of time to ease into playing instruments when you first get braces, so you can adequately prepare for subtle changes in your capabilities as a musician.
Q: Do I still go to the dentist while I have braces?
Of course. Oral health is extremely important. We encourage you to continue your normal, routine checkups with your general dentist and can recommend some excellent general dentists for you if you desire. Your dentist will generally determine the best intervals for cleanings and treatments while you wear braces.
Q: How many times a day do I need to brush if I have braces?
Once after each meal and once before going to bed is the minimum for best results. Flossing is also important, and we will make sure to teach you how to floss with braces. We can also provide specialty fluoride treatments if needed. Brushing and general oral hygiene are incredibly important to maintain a beautiful smile and have a healthy mouth, as well as healthy teeth and gums.
Q: What foods can I NOT EAT while I have braces?
Sticky and chewy foods can be difficult with braces, as well as ice, hard candies, vegetables that are uncooked, and certain other foods. Some foods are completely off limits to ensure you can keep your braces in working order and to minimize pain. We want to make sure you only see us for progress, not for repairs or other negative visits. We provide a bit of training and some lists of foods to avoid once treatment starts.
If you have any questions about wearing braces, please do not hesitate to contact one of our orthodontic offices serving Temecula and Hemet, California. Dr. Tal Jergensen, Dr. Scott Hope, and their teams are looking forward to assisting you!