Answering your common Orthodontic questions

Common Orthodontic Questions

What's the best age to first visit the orthodontist?

If you want to improve the look and feel of your smile, then any age can be a great age to see the orthodontist. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children first visit an orthodontist around the age of 7. Although treatment is typically not needed at this age, there are certain conditions where it is better to catch early on rather than later. I have seen several patients where the parents and I both wish we had seen their child about 4 years earlier. Also, orthodontic treatment is not exclusive to children and teens, with about one in every five orthodontic patients being over the age of 21. Whether you’re considering treatment for yourself, or for a child, any time is a good time to visit the orthodontist.

How can I take care of my teeth if I'm wearing braces or a retainer?

  • Always remember to brush your teeth after every meal and floss at least once a day.
  • Spend 2 minutes brushing. Most of us brush about 30 seconds. Get at the gum line, too!  Turn the brush at an angle to push the bristles under the wires.
  • Avoid sticky and chewy foods (caramel, Now & Later), hard foods (hard candy, nuts, ice cubes) or any foods that could possibly get stuck in your braces (corn on the cob, soft bagels, ribs, taffy, etc). See our complete lists of foods to avoid and foods you can eat.
  • During your treatment, try to avoid foods with a lot of sugar (sugar increases the amount of bacteria that grows in your mouth causing more plaque and possibly cavities).
  • Make sure to use toothpaste that contains fluoride.  We also give fluoride gel to all of our patients in treatment.
  • If you take out your retainer to eat, brush your teeth, and floss, then remember to keep it safe in its container so that it does not get lost, broken, or thrown away so that you have to dumpster dive. I have seen many a dumpster divers in my time!
  • Keep your retainer clean, too, by brushing it gently with a toothbrush. You may also use denture cleaner every now and again.
  • Do not use hot, boiling water or the dishwasher.
  • Be sure to schedule your routine checkups with your family dentist. It is recommended that you continue to visit the dentist every six months.

What are braces?

Braces are used by your orthodontist to help you improve the look and feel of your smile! At Jennings Orthodontics, we specialize in the following brace systems:

  • Clear Damon braces
  • Metal Damon braces
  • Invisalign
  • Invisalign Teen

If I get braces, how long do I have to wear them?

The amount of time spent in braces can vary depending on the individual patient. Every smile responds differently to treatment. Early treatment (7-10 years of age) lasts approximately 6-12 months.  Full braces usually lasts about 20 months.  Invisalign is about 12 months.

Things that increase treatment times:  broken brackets, not wearing rubber bands, or missed appointments. The most common reason is not wearing your rubber bands. Your parents and I are on the same team so please wear them so I don’t have to drag out your treatment any longer than it has to be.

Do braces hurt?

Braces do not often hurt; however, you may feel a small amount of discomfort for a couple days as your teeth, gums, cheeks, and mouth get used to your new braces. When you get your braces on, we will show you how to use your chew wafer. This makes a huge difference in whether you get sore or not.  You have 3 hours before soreness kicks. This is when the chew wafer is critical.  When you teeth start to get sore, you can switch to sugarless gum to work the soreness out. Yep, I said gum cause we’re awesome!  Tylenol and ibuprofen are also a good idea.

Do I need to brush my teeth more often if I have braces?

With braces, you should brush your teeth a minimum of two times a day to keep your teeth, gums, and mouth healthy and clean. Brushing regularly will help remove any food that may be caught between the braces. You should also floss daily to get in between your braces where your brush isn’t able to reach. We will happily show you how to properly brush and floss once your braces are placed. Anyway who wants their breath to smell like hot garbage? I assure you I do not!

If I have braces, do I still need dental checkups every six months?

Yes! In fact, it’s even more important that patients receiving orthodontic treatment visit their dentist regularly. With braces, food may be caught in places that your toothbrush can’t reach. This causes bacteria to build up and can lead to cavities, gingivitis, and gum disease. Your dentist will work closely with your orthodontist to make sure that your teeth stay clean and healthy while wearing braces.

Will my braces interfere with my school activities; like sports, playing an instrument, or singing?

Playing an instrument or a contact sport may require some adjustment when you first get your braces, but wearing braces will not stop you from participating in any of your school activities. If you play a contact sport, it is recommended that you wear a mouth-guard to protect your braces or appliance.

How do I schedule my next appointment?

Simply call our office! Our front desk staff will be happy to help schedule your next appointment in our Houston Memorial or Katy clinic at your convenience. If you are a new patient or have been referred to our practice, please let us know, and we will provide you with all of the information you need and answer all your orthodontic questions.