What is Orthodontics?

Orthodontics is the specialty of dentistry that is devoted to bringing the teeth, jawbones, and facial profile into proper alignment. An orthodontist is a dentist who has completed an additional two to three years of graduate education in an ADA approved, university affiliated orthodontic specialty program. They are truly specialists in dentistry.

What can one expect from orthodontic care?

  • An attractive smile!
  • Increased self-esteem resulting from an improved appearance.
  • Teeth that fit together properly which will provide for improved function and long-term health of the teeth and gums.
  • More efficient chewing which will allow for improved digestion and overall health.
  • Reduced chance of developing gum disease and premature loss of teeth by relieving stress on gums and bones which result when teeth do not meet properly.
  • Correction of speech problems caused by protruding or misaligned teeth.
  • Possibly help reduce and help treat jaw joint difficulties (see TMJ).
  • Lower the incidence of decay in crowded, overlapping teeth which can become food trap areas.
  • Help the jawbone develop so there is less need to remove adult teeth.

Do I need braces?

If you have crooked, irregular or protruding teeth or an incorrect relation between the top and bottom teeth and jaws, you should visit our office for a complimentary consultation. Dr. Alizadeh or Dr. Schreiner will do a thorough evaluation and determine whether you would benefit from orthodontic treatment.

What can I expect after I get my braces on?

There might be some general soreness of the teeth and mouth. Usually this is not enough to interfere with your daily routine, but if tenderness is severe, Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen is the safest form of pain reliever for children (but please consult Dr. Alizadeh, Dr. Schreiner, or your dentist first). Try to avoid harder foods that require chewing while the teeth are tender. Stick to soft, nutritious foods such as pastas, soups, etc. Discomfort is usually worse on the first few days after braces are first placed and then gradually resolves. The teeth may even appear loose which is a normal reaction so “don’t panic”. Teeth must loosen first so they can move but they will firm up again.

When is the best time to begin orthodontic treatment?

Dr. Alizadeh and Dr. Schreiner like to see patients at a young age. Between the ages of 5 and 7, the front permanent teeth begin to come in. At this time, potential bite and crowding problems become noticeable to the orthodontist. This is also an ideal time, when indicated, to begin early treatment to take advantage of the child’s growing facial bones to achieve the best treatment results. Because 75% of a child’s growth occurs before the age of 10, early treatment expands and directs moldable, growing bones to produce a greatly improved profile and a healthy, properly functioning mouth. However, it is never too late to receive orthodontic treatment. Even adults can benefit from treatment.

How do I take care of my braces?

Now that you have your orthodontic appliances or braces in place, keeping your teeth, gums and appliances clean is most important. Braces, wires, bands and retainers all can trap food particles and make it difficult to brush or floss away plaque. Plaque is a sticky layer of harmful bacteria, food, saliva and debris which, if allowed to build up, can attack your teeth and gums, causing cavities and gum disease. Brushing and flossing after every meal and snack is the only way to prevent plaque build up, tooth decay, and gum disease.

Tips for excellent oral hygiene:

  • Use a fluoride containing toothpaste when you brush.
  • A soft bristled brush is also recommended——change every three months.
  • Continue to use all hygiene aids (such as waterpics, electric toothbrushes, perioaids, proxybrushes, fluoride mouth rinses, etc.) that have been part of your regular routine. Remember, however, these cannot substitute for good brushing and flossing!
  • A fluoride rinse may be prescribed if needed to help prevent cavities and decalcification(scarring of the teeth).
  • Use an egg timer or watch to measure your brushing time. A minimum of two minutes is needed to brush correctly.
  • Use waxed floss to help prevent fraying. A floss threader or Super floss (threader attached) is helpful in flossing under orthodontic wires.
  • Floss, brushes, Super floss, mouth rinses, auxiliary aids, etc. are all available at the local drug store or super market. Keep a supply on hand at home, work, school or when you travel so you may clean your teeth after every meal.
  • Maintain regular three to six month checkups with your family dentist throughout your orthodontic treatment.
  • Avoid eating hard foods such as ice, popcorn, nuts, spare ribs or corn chips. If you eat hard fruit, vegetables or french bread, it’s a good idea to cut them into bite size pieces first.
  • Avoid sticky foods and foods high in added sugar such as caramel, bubble gum, taffy, gummy bears, now and laters, etc.
  • When ever you have something sweet, brush your teeth and braces immediately afterward. Don’t wait!

Tips for brushing with braces:

  • Brush the braces and teeth first. Start brushing the outside surfaces of the teeth with braces in a back and forth motion, try to brush each tooth 10 times. Continue around the outside, then the inside and finally the tops of the teeth.
  • Repeat this sequence, this time concentrating your brushing along the gum line (where the tooth and gum meet.) Brush in a small gentle circular motion, about ten times per tooth. Avoid hard scrubbing which can cause the gums to recede.
  • Don’t forget to brush your tongue.
  • Rinse your mouth thoroughly.

Tips for flossing with braces:

  • Use the floss threader, as a needle and thread, and lace the floss under the wire between the teeth. Remove the floss threader, and holding the floss with the fingers of both hands, gently wipe up and down the surface of each tooth a minimum of five times. The tooth will feel “squeaky” when clean. Without removing the floss from between the teeth, move the floss to a clean section and repeat for the other surface of the adjacent tooth. Remove the floss, re-thread, and repeat for each tooth. After practice, you may be able to thread the floss without the help of the floss threader.
  • Floss all teeth at least once a day. Remember, flossing is the best way to prevent plaque build-up between the teeth and gums. Without daily plaque removal from between your teeth, your gums will bleed, a first sign of gum infection, gingivitis or periodontal (gum) disease.

What foods should I avoid while wearing braces?

Dr. Alizadeh and Dr. Schreiner want you to protect your braces by avoiding the foods mentioned below. Loose braces or bands are not only uncomfortable but also delay treatment. Eating these foods will loosen the braces, but you may not discover the problem until hours or days later. The end result(s) can be loose bands, broken wires, and detached brackets.

  • Ice – A thousand times no! It will destroy your braces.
  • Pizza Crust – The hard crust bends wires.
  • Hard Pretzels – Bends wires, loosens bands, knocks off brackets.
  • Doritos, Tacos, Tostitos, Cheetos, Fritos, etc. – These will form a hard ball and break your braces.
  • Caramel, Candy, Bubble Gum – Sticky goo which pulls off wires and feeds the bacteria in your mouth.
  • Hard Rolls, Bagels, Bones – Bends the wire and knocks off brackets.
  • Beef Jerky – Tough as nails.
  • Suckers – You might weaken and bite.
  • Nuts – No nuts of any kind.
  • Ribs – Knocks off brackets.
  • Pens and Pencils – Favorite exam time food, breaks everything.
  • Popcorn – The little shells get between the gum and band – hurts like crazy.
  • Raw Carrots – Hard as rocks.

What is TMJ?

TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint/muscle dysfunction. Many patients experience pain or limitation of movement in their jaw joint (TMJ) at different times of their lives. Clicking or “popping” of the joint, along with pain, when opening or chewing is another common problem. Sometimes pain of the TMJ will mimic ear pain. Headaches can also result from the jaw joint not functioning properly. If you suspect a TMJ problem, you should consult your dentist or Alizadeh and Schreiner Orthodontics today.