Frequently Asked Questions

IS AN ORTHODONTIST DIFFERENT FROM A GENERAL DENTIST?

Orthodontists and dentists undertake the same training initially, but orthodontists complete a specialty residency after they graduate dental school. The situation is similar to a physician who completes additional training after medical school to become a surgeon. Approximately 6 percent of dentists are orthodontists. Orthodontic courses go beyond basic dental training and have a more specific focus. The additional education includes a two- or three-year residency and more than 4,800 hours of orthodontic training

WHEN SHOULD I SEE AN ORTHODONTIST?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that most children have an orthodontic screening by age 7. This allows the orthodontist to determine if orthodontic treatment is indicated and the best time for the patient to be treated.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF ORTHODONTICS?

Aside from looking and feeling great, there are many other benefits to having straight teeth and proper jaw alignment. Crooked and crowded teeth are a hassle to clean and care for which is a gateway to a world of problems including tooth decay and possible tooth loss. Additionally orthodontic issues can lead to abnormal wearing of the teeth, damage to jaw joints, and excessive stress on the gums and bones supporting your teeth.

HOW DO BRACES WORK?

Braces work by applying constant light pressure over a period of time to slowly move teeth in a specific direction. During the first half of treatment the goal is to straighten each tooth, correcting crowded and rotated teeth. During this time spaces may open up as the teeth are aligned to the wire and made parallel to each other. In the middle and final stages of treatment the focus is to close spaces and correct the position of the teeth. Braces are composed of brackets, bands, archwires, spacers, and metal or elastic ties. For a more detailed overview of the process and components of braces please click here.

HOW DOES INVISALIGN WORK?

Clear aligners are a series of custom made, removable, plastic trays programmed to move your teeth into alignment over time. Each aligner moves your teeth about 0.25mm and is worn for one to two weeks before switching to the next aligner in the series. Aligners must be worn a minimum of 22 hours per day. This is the most aesthetic treatment option as they are practically invisible.

CAN I PLAY SPORTS DURING ORTHODONTIC TREATMENT?

Yes, any contact sport can be played while wearing braces. For patients playing sports, an orthodontic mouthguard is recommended to protect your teeth and bite.

CAN I PLAY AN INSTRUMENT DURING TREATMENT?

Yes. Woodwind instrument players adjust more easily to playing with braces because the area of the teeth that the braces are applied to do not come in direct contact with the mouthpiece. For brass instrument players playing with braces can be a little more challenging simply because their lips are pressed between a metal mouthpiece and their teeth, which will have braces on them.

WHAT HAPPENS IF I LOSE MY RETAINER?

If you have misplaced or lost your retainer it is imperative that you return as soon as possible for a replacement. Being without a retainer for several days will likely result in undesired tooth movement and the need for additional treatment.

WHAT IS AN IMPACTED TOOTH?

An impacted tooth is a tooth that is trapped in the bone and gums due to crowding, abnormal position, or genetics. After the wisdom teeth (3rd molars), the upper canines are the teeth most commonly impacted. Often the preceding baby tooth is still present. For more information on impacted canine please click here.

WHAT ARE PHASE I AND PHASE II THERAPIES?

Early or Phase I treatment usually occurs between 7 and 10 years of age when the majority of the primary teeth are still present and most of a patients permanent teeth are still developing. While most young children will not need a phase I, for some it is necessary to prevent more severe problems in the future and alleviate issues that cannot be corrected once the jaw bones have matured. Most often, final tooth alignment is not achieved during phase I and a phase II is required in order to finalize the position of all the patients teeth. Comprehensive or Phase II treatment occurs when a patient has majority permanent teeth (typically ages 12 and older). The goal of Phase II is to position all the permanent teeth as well as maximize their appearance and function. This is best accomplished with traditional braces or Invisalign.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO COMPLETE TREATMENT?

Comprehensive orthodontic treatment usually takes 18 to 24 months. Healthy and stable tooth movement is best achieved by application of light to moderate forces over a time frame that allows the body to adapt and remodel your bone and gum tissue. Unless the required tooth movement is minimal, most often a treatment time less than 12 months is not recommended.

WHAT IS A FRENECTOMY?

The term “frenum” refers to the piece of tissue that connects the lips, cheeks or tongue to the gums. A frenectomy is most often performed for patients who have a gap between their upper two front teeth that may be caused by the frenum. The procedure repositions or removes some of the tissue to allow the diastema to close and stabilizes the teeth so the space can remain closed. A frenectomy may be recommended to achieve optimal results from orthodontic treatment. The orthodontist will inform you when a frenectomy should be performed and will refer you to a gum specialist (periodontist) to have this procedure. For more information of frenectomies please click here.

HOW OFTEN WILL I HAVE TO COME IN FOR VISITS?

Most of the time you will need to return every 4 to 6 weeks to have your braces adjusted or your Invisalign trays evaluated and dispersed.

DOES WEARING BRACES HURT?

As your teeth are relocated and aligned you may experience occasional mild discomfort or soreness. Additionally, spacers may cause temporary soreness. Usually any discomfort can be remedied with whatever over the counter pain medication you typically take for a headache. You should never be in severe pain during your treatment. If this is the case please return to our office immediately so the situation can be evaluated. No appointment is needed.

HOW DO I CARE FOR MY TEETH WHILE IN BRACES?

It is even more important to brush and floss regularly when you have braces on. Once your braces have been placed, a member of our team will review the proper methods for brushing and flossing around your braces. Flossing with a floss threader and brushing with a soft bristle toothbrush two to three times daily will keep your teeth healthy throughout your treatment.

HOW OFTEN DO I SEE MY GENERAL DENTIST?

You must return to your general dentist for cleanings and checkups every 4 to 6 months during your treatment. If you have periodontal disease or compromised teeth you may be required to see the general dentist every 3 months. Failure to do so may result in a compromised result, gum disease, tooth decay, and permanent marks/staining on teeth when the braces are removed.

WHAT IS AN OVERBITE?

An overbite is the vertical overlap of your upper anterior six teeth and your lower anterior six teeth. An overbite is a necessary feature of a healthy bite and should be 1-3mm range. An excessive overbite or the absence of an overbite (an openbite) are issues that need to be corrected during your orthodontic treatment.

WHAT IS A GINGIVECTOMY?

A gingivectomy is the removal of excessive gum tissue. Gum overgrowth is often caused by poor oral hygiene or certain medications. Occasionally, patients may also experience gum overgrowth and irritation when wearing braces. This is more likely to happen if the teeth appear short before the braces are placed. A gingivectomy can be done to remove gum tissue that interferes with braces, to balance uneven gum heights, or to correct a smile that displays an excessive amount of gum tissue. Your orthodontist may recommend a gingivectomy during or after orthodontic treatment. For more information on gingivectomies please click here.

Contact Us

An in-person consult will give you an opportunity to discuss your treatment goals with Dr. Moody, as well as tour our state-of-the-art office. At your consult, Dr. Moody will review your medical and dental histories and examine your teeth. He will then recommend a treatment type, explain the treatment plan, and provide an estimated treatment length. During the visit we will also review all financial info, insurance coverages, and provide flexible payment plans. If desired, most patients can start treatment the same day.