Have questions about orthodontics? We’ve put together this list of frequently asked questions to help you out.

Orthodontics is a specialty branch of dentistry that treats problems with the alignment of the teeth and jaws.

Orthodontists are dental specialists who diagnose, prevent, and treat dental and facial irregularities. All orthodontists are dentists, however, orthodontists receive an additional two to three years of specialized education beyond dental school. During specialty training, they learn the proper way to align and straighten teeth and correct jaw misalignment. Only orthodontists have the proper training and skills to diagnose and comprehensively correct tooth and jaw abnormalities.

Most orthodontic problems are inherited. Examples of these genetic problems include: crowding, spacing, protrusion, extra or missing teeth, and some jaw growth problems. Other problems are acquired by thumb or finger-sucking, dental disease, accidents, the early or late loss of baby teeth, and other causes.

The AAO (American Association of Orthodontics) recommends that your child get an orthodontic check-up by age 7. By that time, orthodontists can spot subtle problems with jaw growth and emerging teeth while some baby teeth are still present. That’s important because some orthodontic problems may be easier to correct if they’re found early. Most orthodontic patients begin active treatment between the ages of 9 and 14.

Orthodontic treatment can be successful at almost any age. In fact, about 1 in every 5 orthodontic patients is over age 18. Thanks to today’s smaller, less visible, and more comfortable orthodontic appliances, adults are finding treatment more appealing. At Germantown Orthodontics, we have several cosmetic options for adults as well.

Crooked and crowded teeth are hard to clean and maintain. Also, teeth that are out of alignment with each other can cause abnormal wear of tooth surfaces, difficulty in chewing and/or speaking, and excess stress on supporting bone and gum tissue. Without treatment, many problems become worse and can require additional dental care later in life.

The length of treatment will depend on the difficulty of the tooth alignment and bite being corrected. Typically, a patient who is in full braces can expect to stay in treatment from 18-24 months. Some cases are shorter or longer and again it all depends on the difficulty of the treatment. Dr. Kopicki will give you an estimated length of treatment at your consultation appointment so that you have a better idea of how long your specific treatment may take.

Adults are excellent candidates for orthodontic treatment and it is becoming much more common for adults to receive treatment. In fact, Dr. Kopicki has treated several patients in their 70s who have wanted a nicer smile! There are many different treatment options for adults. Depending on the difficulty of the treatment needed, adults can be treated with traditional braces, ceramic braces or even Invisalign. There is no age limit to moving teeth and it is never too late to get the smile you’ve always dreamed of.

Growth – The biggest difference between children and adults is that a child’s jaws are still growing while growth is complete in adults. That being said, appliances can often be used in children to align the upper and lower jaws while adult treatment may involve extractions of permanent teeth or, in severe cases, surgery in order to fully correct the teeth and bite. However, these situations are not common and most of the time, teeth can be straightened and bites aligned in adults using less invasive methods.

Missing Teeth/Periodontal Problems – Sometimes, adults are missing permanent teeth or may have problems with the gums and bone that surround the teeth. This can add to the complexity of treatment needed. For an optimal result, treatment involving a team of dentists and dental specialists to coordinate and plan treatment for a patient may be necessary. Along with orthodontic treatment, patients may require additional periodontal, surgical or restorative procedures to get maximum functional and esthetic results. Dr. Kopicki will coordinate your treatment with a team of dentists and specialists if necessary so that your end result will be a bite and smile that will last.

As a general rule, you should avoid foods that are very hard, sticky, and/or chewy. The foods you should stay away from are:

  • Popcorn
  • Nuts
  • Hard Taco Shells
  • Sticky & Hard Candy
  • Gum
  • Ice
  • Corn Chips
  • Pretzels
  • Hard Cookies / Crackers
  • Sticky / Hard Chocolate

While there are some foods that you should stay away from, you can still eat the majority of what you were eating before. Some foods that are recommended for braces are:

  • Yogurt
  • Bananas
  • Soft Candy (Peanut Buttercups)
  • Cheese
  • Ice Cream
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Light Crackers / Cookies
  • Grapes
  • Ravioli / Pasta
  • Hulless popcorn
  • Melon

While most of your orthodontic treatment depends on the overall difficulty of correcting your bite and how quickly your teeth move, there are things that you can do to make your treatment go as smoothly as possible so you finish on time. The things that will really help you out are:

  • Keeping All Of Your Appointments – Skipping orthodontic adjustment visits will add time to your overall treatment because your braces aren’t being adjusted as often as they should. Dr. Kopicki will let you know how often you need to return to keep you on track.
  • Wearing Your Elastics – THIS IS A BIG ONE! If you wear your rubber bands as prescribed, your teeth will move much faster and your bite will be corrected much more efficiently than if you don’t. In fact, if you don’t wear your rubber bands, it is likely that your treatment will take even longer than originally estimated.
  • Not Having Loose Brackets – A loose bracket can result from eating the wrong foods or playing sports without a mouth guard. Every time a bracket comes loose from one of your teeth, that tooth stops moving with the rest of the teeth. Depending on where you are in treatment and how long the loose bracket has been there, you could potentially add time to your braces treatment. This is especially true if your brackets break on a regular basis.

We strongly recommend wearing a mouth guard while your playing sports. It is important to cover your teeth to minimize potential harm to yourself or your braces if you are to get hit in the mouth or face. As a courtesy, we will provide you with a mouth guard when you get your braces on. If you would like to purchase your own, make sure that it is an orthodontic mouth guard specifically made for braces. These types of mouth guards fit around the orthodontic appliances and allow for tooth movement while still protecting the teeth.

Do not use the “boil and bite” types of mouth guards as those are fit to your specific tooth position. Because we are moving your teeth with your orthodontic treatment, the “boil and bite” types will not fit your teeth for very long.

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