Your Common Orthodontic Questions Answered
Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial irregularities.
An orthodontist is a specialist who has special skills in managing tooth movement and facial development. To become an orthodontist, one must complete 10-11 years of additional education following high school: a standard 4-year baccalaureate program, then four years of dental school (thus becoming a dentist), and then a 2- or 3-year orthodontic residency-program.
There are numerous benefits to orthodontic treatment and properly-aligned teeth. Obviously, an attractive and confident smile is a great benefit. Research is very clear that people with a pleasing smile are treated better in social and work relationships. Properly-aligned teeth provide a greater overall functionality of the teeth, are easier to clean, and are less likely to fracture.
Crowded teeth are more difficult to keep clean, which can lead to decay. Research indicates that certain bite conditions can cause gum disease and that most tooth alignment problems worsen with time if not treated. Some deep overbites can cause significant wear on the front teeth, and many believe that an adverse bite can cause or worsen head and neck pains. New research shows more incidences of adverse heart conditions with periodontal disease, which is more likely to occur when teeth are not properly aligned.
Orthodontists know that most tooth alignment problems are handled more predictably in younger, growing patients and that treatment completed at the correct age may eliminate the need for costly future treatments or surgeries to correct worsening conditions in adulthood.
The need for orthodontics begins with a desire to straighten teeth and make smiles more beautiful, confident, and healthy. At the free initial exam, the doctors at Fry Orthodontic Specialists will evaluate your bite and the position of the teeth and jaw. Treatment is recommended when the bite is misaligned and doesn’t allow the teeth to come together in a position that is healthy for the teeth, gums, and bones around the teeth. A proper bite shouldn’t cause the teeth to wear unevenly or excessively.
Orthodontists will also evaluate how crowded or spaced the teeth are and will check to make sure that the upper front teeth do not protrude excessively over the lower teeth. In children, they may look for finger or thumb sucking habits which can cause damage after the permanent teeth erupt at age 6 or 7. If someone has difficulty chewing or their jaw shifts to one side or another when biting together, orthodontic treatment is certainly warranted.
Youth orthodontic treatment can be started at any age. At Fry Orthodontic Specialists, our kid-friendly orthodontists are ready at any time to improve your child’s smile! The majority of patients are treated once most of the permanent teeth are in place. It is important to provide treatment to correct problems before jaw growth has slowed, or these problems may lead to a need for surgery or extraction of teeth.
Every patient is unique, and it’s always best to be evaluated by an orthodontist if a problem is detected by parents, the family dentist, or the child’s physician. At Fry Orthodontic Specialists, our kid-friendly orthodontists are happy to provide an initial exam at no cost to help parents evaluate concerns and the best time for youth orthodontics treatment. Note: The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child first visit an orthodontist by age seven.
Phase I and Phase II refers to a specific treatment plan in which the patient is going through braces twice to get straight teeth.
If someone is young, between seven and 10 years old, and has a certain bite problem that could get progressively worse without early treatment, an orthodontist will recommend an early set of braces to help fix the bite problem. This treatment is sometimes recommended to make more space for developing teeth, correction of a crossbite, overbite, underbite, or harmful oral habits. This is Phase I, which is considered “interceptive orthodontics”. After a short time, the braces will be removed and the teeth will grow naturally.
Once most of the permanent teeth are in place, usually between the ages of 11-13, Phase II, which is considered “comprehensive” orthodontics, begins with a full set of braces.
Orthodontic treatment can be beneficial at any age. The most common benefit comes from being happy about your teeth and your smile. Fry Orthodontic Specialists is proud that over 30% of our patients are enjoying the benefits of adult orthodontics to get straight teeth. One of the more important health benefits comes from the fact that properly-aligned teeth are easier to clean and less likely to suffer from problems of the teeth, gums, and bones that support the teeth.
Additionally, it has been shown that there is a link between properly-aligned teeth and whole-body health. When you have crooked teeth, or teeth with extensive crowding, periodontal disease is more prevalent because crooked and crowded teeth are hard to clean and maintain. Untreated, periodontal disease may result in bad breath, bleeding gums, loose teeth, and even tooth loss. Additionally, many scientific studies have shown a strong link also exists between periodontal disease and diabetes and heart disease. Many adults choose low-profile or aesthetically pleasing treatment options such as clear braces or Invisalign.
Any age is a good age to make your smile beautiful! The doctors at Fry Orthodontic Specialists have treated patients who chose to improve their smiles even at age 80!
Braces produce light, continuous pressure that gradually moves teeth into their proper positions. The process of moving teeth into alignment is part of a very natural bone turnover process that happens in nearly every part of the body. The bone surrounding the teeth, like any other bone, is a dynamic tissue that is constantly being reshaped by cells in the body. In this process, bone is continually being taken away, added to and grown over time.
It is a cycle that is facilitated by osteoblasts (molecules that add bone) and osteoclasts (that take away bone). Your teeth can easily move due to a force that is applied by the braces, or brackets that are placed on the teeth and wire inserted into the brackets. As the wire tries to return to its original shape against the brackets, it creates a very light pressure on the teeth, and the natural, physiological process takes over and the teeth begin to move.
The average length of a traditional orthodontic treatment is 18 months, but each individual’s needs are unique and different. Although it is difficult to predict the exact duration of an orthodontic treatment, it is possible to estimate an average treatment length for each individual.
It takes a much shorter period of time than what was traditionally expected. If approached in a systematic way, straightening teeth can be done very quickly.
Most appointments vary between 20-40 minutes. At Fry Orthodontic Specialists, you will always know how long each visit will take because we will print the length of your next visit on your appointment ticket. A patient’s experience begins with an initial examination that takes an hour. The actual appointment to get the braces placed on the teeth takes a little over an hour. The other longer appointment comes when the braces are removed.
This removal appointment is scheduled to last an hour. Note: Invisalign patients usually have appointments that are much shorter and less frequent. After the initial exam, the impressions are taken of the teeth, and this appointment is approximately one hour. Each appointment thereafter is 20 minutes on average at Fry Orthodontic Specialists.
Surprisingly to most patients, it does not hurt to place the bands and brackets on your teeth. Once your braces are in place and connected with the archwires, it generally takes 12-24 hours to start feeling some discomfort.
The lighter wires are much more comfortable than the traditional orthodontic experience. You may feel some soreness of your teeth for a couple of days after a new wire is placed. If you experience any discomfort, you may choose to eat softer foods for a couple of days.
No. Some parents may think that a child with braces on their teeth must refrain from any of the more active sports, due to the notion that any kind of serious impact may be detrimental to the mouth and teeth.
Our kid-friendly orthodontists will tell you this is simply not true. Braces can sometimes help keep the teeth in place when a player has a mouth injury. At Fry Orthodontic Specialists, we treat wrestlers, hockey players, soccer players, lacrosse players, football players, and others in all other types of sports. We always advise our patients to wear a mouthpiece or a mouth guard if possible. We provide standard, orthodontic flat mouth guards to our patients at no charge.
Braces and musical instruments generate many questions, but several patients at Fry Orthodontic Specialists are musicians of every discipline. There have been a number of research studies related to orthodontics and musical instruments. We inform our instrument-playing patients that woodwind players may have slightly more difficulty than brass instrument players.
Every musician seems to adapt very well to playing with braces after a week or two of practice. Some of them find that placing wax on the brackets is helpful during the initial adjustment period. If a patient is a “First Chair” player, some extra practice will ensure that they are conditioned to playing with braces and maintain that high level.
With the new advances in orthodontics (i.e. improved wires and techniques), you can expect appointments every 8 weeks. During the first 6 months to a year, you can expect to be seen a lot less frequently. We see patients less frequently at this time because we want the braces and wires to have time to do their job. At this early period, most appointments have intervals of 8-12 weeks.
Toward the end of treatment, the appointment interval decreases because the braces are receiving fine tuning that takes a shorter period to complete. At the end of treatment, the appointment interval may decrease to every 2-4 weeks. Overall, most Fry Orthodontic Specialists patients find it easy to work orthodontics into their busy schedules.
Yes, absolutely. Some patients struggle with proper oral hygiene and brushing with braces. You should continue to see your general dentist every 4-6 months for regular cleaning and check-ups. Normally, a general dental check-up is performed every six months, but Fry Orthodontic Specialists actively promotes more frequent visits to your general dentist for cleanings.
Our office is a very systematic office. Our highly-trained team assists our doctors in making your appointment fast, efficient, and comfortable. Our patient managers and front desk team perform at a high level with great professionalism and competency.
The team members in our office are trained to place and remove wires as well as give a thorough explanation of what is done at each visit. They all have orthodontic assistant certifications and have won awards for their work, customer service, and professionalism. Fry Orthodontic Specialists’ Patient Managers assist with any questions or concerns that may arise. We could not perform the quality of work that we do without our outstanding team members!
Our kid-friendly orthodontists and team work hand-in-hand to ensure that patients get quality, personalized treatment that exceeds their expectations. The team members at Fry Orthodontic Specialists are unconditionally committed to providing quality and exceptional service to our patients.
These team members participate in rigorous training and continuing education, and each Patient Manager has completed an advanced orthodontic assisting training program.
As a general rule, orthodontic wires progress from very light, flexible wires to heavier, more rigid wires depending on the initial alignment of your teeth. Fry Orthodontic Specialists primarily uses three wires during your braces treatment. Each wire is designed to provide a special force to the teeth to keep them progressing toward the finished result.
The first wire is a very light wire that allows deflection towards the teeth that are most crooked. Once that wire has performed the initial alignment, a second larger wire is used. This wire is thicker and stiffer, and it completes most of the work. The third final wire is the largest, stiffest, and has the ability to be bent. This wire allows for fine detailing through minor wire bends.
At Fry Orthodontic Specialists, we don’t set a treatment plan that cannot be attained. Our orthodontists and our staff know exactly when a patient expects their braces to come off, and this information is checked and verified as part of the regular treatment every time they visit the office. There are always exceptions to when braces come off, and those exceptions are usually early, rather than late. It is very rare to have treatment go past an estimated completion date.
If treatment looks like it may run past an estimated due date, there will be full disclosure and numerous conversations about this concern with the patient. We will fully explain why it may have taken longer than initially expected, as we strive to make sure that each patient has their goals and objectives met at Fry Orthodontic Specialists. And, if you finish ahead of schedule, which frequently happens, we will all celebrate together!
Braces can be removed very quickly. We simply squeeze the braces, and they pop off the teeth. Usually, there is no discomfort, although some of the lower front teeth may be a little sore from treatment.
After the glue is removed, impressions will be made for two sets of retainers (two upper and two lower), and a new set of x-rays, including a panoramic x-ray will be taken to make sure that everything is healthy and in alignment. You are then ready to go and flash your brand-new smile to your friends, family, and co-workers.
It is our goal at Fry Orthodontic Specialists to ensure that our patients enjoy their beautiful smile for a lifetime. In doing this, we offer free retainers for life! Any orthodontic result relies on follow-up retainer wear. Retainer wear it is a lifetime commitment. Immediately after you get your braces off, your teeth may feel a little mobile and the retainers help keep the teeth in proper alignment. Our patients receive one set of retainers the day that the braces come off and a second set is given a few weeks later.
All of our patients receive their second set of retainers during a planned office visit where they meet with the doctor and talk about how to keep their teeth straight for life. Of all of the appointments, this may be the single most important visit for each of our patients!
We are happy to see our post-braces patients for any ongoing needs. Whenever you feel the need to see the doctors and staff at Fry Orthodontic Specialists, or if you feel that you need to have something checked, just make an appointment. Most of our post-braces patients come to us for issues regarding lost or broken retainers. As part of our ongoing service, we provide lifetime retainer checks at no charge.
No, fortunately not!