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Who Needs Orthodontics?

Your dentist may have discussed with you the benefits of having healthy teeth and proper jaw alignment. Crooked and crowded teeth are hard to clean and maintain. This can result in tooth decay, worsen gum disease and lead to tooth loss. Other orthodontic problems can contribute to abnormal wear of tooth surfaces, inefficient chewing function, excessive stress on gum tissue and the bone that supports the teeth, or misalignment of the jaw joints. These can lead to chronic headaches and face or neck pain. Treatment by an orthodontist can be less costly than the additional care required to treat dental problems arising as a result of orthodontic problems. For most people, a beautiful smile is the most obvious benefit of orthodontics. After your braces come off, you'll feel more self-confidence and social acceptance.

Braces for All Ages

Adults

Orthodontic treatment can be successful at any age, and adults especially appreciate the benefits of a beautiful smile. One of every five patients in orthodontic treatment is over 21. Jaw surgery is more often required for adult orthodontic patients because their jaws are not growing. Adults also may have experienced some breakdown or loss of their teeth and bone that supports the teeth and may require periodontal treatment before, during and/or after orthodontic treatment. Bone loss can also limit the amount and direction of tooth movement that is advisable.

Kids

It's best for the orthodontist to see children by age 7 to advise if orthodontic treatment is required and the best time for that patient to be treated. The first permanent molars and incisors have usually come in by that time and crossbites, crowding and other problems can be evaluated. When treatment is begun early, the orthodontist can guide the growth of the jaw and guide incoming permanent teeth. Early treatment can also regulate the width of the upper and lower dental arches, gain space for permanent teeth, avoid the need for permanent tooth extractions, reduce likelihood of impacted permanent teeth, correct thumb-sucking, and eliminate abnormal swallowing or speech problems. In other words, early treatment can simplify later treatment.

How Orthodontic Treatment Works

Orthodontic appliances can be made of metal, ceramic or plastic. They may be removable or they may be brackets bonded to the teeth. By placing a constant, gentle force in a carefully controlled direction, braces slowly move teeth to a corrected position. This is a great time to wear braces! Gone are the days when a metal band with a bracket was placed around each tooth. You can choose brackets that are clear or metallic color. You can choose the color of the ties that hold the wire in brackets. Wires are also less noticeable than they used to be and the latest materials move teeth faster with less discomfort to patients.

Life with Braces

Eating with Braces

What can you eat? Let's talk about what you should not eat! For the first day or so, stick to soft foods. Avoid tough meat, hard breads, and raw vegetables. Before long, you will be able to bite a cucumber again. But you'll need to protect your orthodontic appliances when you eat for as long as you're wearing braces.

Avoid:

Chewy foods: bagels, hard rolls, pizza crust, beef jerky
Crunchy foods: popcorn, ice
Sticky foods: caramels, taffy, licorice
Hard foods: hard fruits such as apples unless they are cut very thin, raw vegetables, peanut brittle, hard pretzels, crackers, corn chips and taco shells
Chewing on hard things (i.e. pens, pencils or fingernails) can damage the braces. Broken appliances will prolong overall treatment time.

General Soreness

When you get your braces on, you may feel general soreness in your mouth and the teeth may be tender to biting pressures for one to five days. Ibuprofen and acetaminophen are very helpful for relieving tooth tenderness following adjustment appointments. The lips, cheeks and tongue also can become irritated for one to two weeks as they toughen and become accustomed to the surface of the braces. Our special orthodontic wax can be applied to the braces to lessen this temporary discomfort. 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. They will again become firm in their new corrected positions.

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. Patients who do not keep their teeth clean may require more frequent visits to the dentist for a professional cleaning. If plaque accumulates around the braces, tooth enamel may weaken, causing unaesthetic white spot lesions. Adults who have a history of gum disease should see their dentist or periodontist more often.

Athletics

A protective mouth guard is advised for playing contact sports. In case of an accident involving the face, check your mouth and appliances immediately. If teeth are loosened or the appliances damaged, phone our office at once for an appointment.

Loose Wire or Band

Don't be alarmed if a wire or band comes loose. This happens occasionally. If a wire protrudes and is irritating, use a blunt instrument (back of spoon or eraser end of pencil) and carefully, gently push the irritating wire under the archwire. Simply get it out of the way. If irritation to the lips or mouth continues, place wax on the wire to reduce the annoyance. Call our office as soon as possible for an appointment to check and repair the appliances.

Emergency Care

As a general rule, an emergency appointment may be made when there is severe pain, a loose band, a broken wire or something sticking out that you can't take care of.

 

   
 

Dr. Steve K. Davis Inc.
B.Sc., D.M.D., M.Sc., M.R.C.D.(C)

Certified Orthodontic Specialist for Adults, Teens and Children (No Referral Necessary)