Frequently Asked Questions
What is an orthodontist?
An orthodontist is a specialist who has received two to three years of additional in-depth training and experience at an accredited university after dental school. Although some dentists perform orthodontic procedures, an orthodontist is someone who has focused their practice solely on straightening teeth and correcting bite and jaw problems. Canadian orthodontists must complete a National Dental Specialty Examination (NDSE) in order to register as a specialist.
What is orthodontics?
Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial irregularities.
When should I bring my child to see an orthodontist?
Both the Canadian and American Association of Orthodontists recommend an initial orthodontic assessment by the age of 7. Although treatment doesn’t usually start this early, it is important to ensure that the teeth, bite, and jaws are developing properly. We offer growth and development assessments at our office so we can help you monitor possible issues before they become more serious. These visits are free of charge.
What age does orthodontic treatment usually occur?
Orthodontic treatment typically occurs around the ages of 11-14, when most of the adult teeth have erupted and the jaws are still growing. Some concerns such as finger/thumb sucking habits, crossbites, and early loss of baby teeth may be treated at an earlier age, around 8-10 years old.
Can adults have orthodontic treatment?
Absolutely, teeth can move at any age! In fact, more than one in four Canadians in treatment are adults.
How long does orthodontic treatment take?
The length of time will depend on the scope of treatment and the type of problem(s) being corrected, as well as the patients’ compliance. Simple treatments may take less than six months to treat, while others may take two to three years. We strive to provide your treatment in the shortest amount of time possible.
Will I still be able to participate in activities like sports, singing, and playing musical instruments?
Yes! Your braces or aligners should not hold you back from being active.
If you play contact sports, we recommend that you wear a mouthguard. Ask us about our preformed mouthguards that fit over your braces. A custom mouthguard can be made once you complete your treatment.
With wind and brass instruments there will be a short adjustment period but we have many patients who successfully play instruments during their treatment. If you are still having difficulty, ask us about covers for your braces to help you play more easily.
Which foods should I eat?
Establishing a healthy diet is important during your treatment. There are many delicious meals and snacks that you can enjoy, but there are some foods that should be avoided. Certain foods can damage braces or lead to cavities and tooth decalcification marks around your braces. In general you should limit or avoid foods that are:
-Acidic or High in sugar (candies, pop, sports drinks, energy drinks, fruit juices)
-Sticky or chewy (starbursts, gum, gummies, licorice, caramels)
-Hard or crunchy (nuts, pizza crust, apples, carrots, corn on the cob)
How do I keep my braces clean?
Cleaning your teeth and gums frequently will prevent the buildup of food and dental plaque along your gumline and around your braces. This is important to prevent stains, cavities, and gum disease from developing during your treatment. We recommend brushing in the morning, before bed, and after meals, and flossing at least once a day. When you begin treatment at our office, you will receive a kit with many of the cleaning tools you will require. Additional tools such as an electric brush, water flosser, and daily anti-cavity (fluoride) rinse can also be helpful.
If I have braces, do I still see my dentist every six months?
Yes! In fact, it's even more important that patients receiving orthodontic treatment visit their dentist and hygienist regularly. Some patients may need to be seen more often than usual. We work closely with your dentist to ensure your teeth stay clean and healthy while wearing your braces.
What should I expect when I get my braces or aligners?
It’s perfectly normal to have a short adjustment period when you start your treatment, usually this will take a few days or weeks. It is common to speak a bit differently, salivate a little more, have a bit of tenderness or soreness to the teeth or mouth, or feel slight looseness to the teeth. There are some things that can make this adjustment easier. Dental wax can be used to provide comfort over areas of braces that irritate your cheeks or lip, or warm salt water rinses can help. An over-the-counter pain reliever (such as you normally take for a headache or similar pain) will help with some general soreness that is a normal part of moving your teeth. Some minor looseness is to be expected with moving teeth and will subside once your treatment is finished.
What do I do if I have an emergency?
The good news is that true orthodontic emergencies are rare, and many concerns can be fixed temporarily at home. As a general rule, you should call us if you have abnormal pain, are unable to troubleshoot the problem at home, or have a concern that cannot wait until your next appointment with us. Simply call us and we will schedule you in for a comfort visit.
Here are a few suggestions:
• Dental wax can be used to cover poky wires or stabilize loose brackets for comfort.
• A pencil eraser may help push/bend sharp ends out of the way.
• Attempt to replace loose wires or elastic donut ligatures with your fingers or a clean pair of tweezers.
• If necessary trim loose ends of poky wires with a clean nail/cuticle/small wire clipper.
• Keep one previous aligner in case of breakage or loss.
• If you run out of aligners please wear your current one until your next appointment.
• If an aligner breaks or is lost, attempt to wear your next one if it fits properly. If not, wear your previous aligner until your next appointment.
• Partly loose appliances should be maintained in place until we can repair or recement them.
• If your appliance is broken and completely loose, carefully remove it. Please SAVE IT and BRING IT WITH YOU to your next appointment.
• If due to breakage you are unable to bite properly please contact us (or your dental office if you cannot reach us) for assistance.