img250 748-3123
img#1-177 Fourth Street Duncan, BC
 
 
 
 
 
 

What is an orthodontist?

Orthodontists are to general dentists what medical specialists are to your family doctor. Orthodontists receive another 2 to 3 years of education after completing their dental degrees. As such it allows them the education and experience to most effectively, efficiently and successfully manage even the most complex dental and orthodontic problems. General dentists receive education regarding the diagnosis and treatment of orthodontic cases, and as such, can spot problems developing in a person's mouth during their regular scheduled exams. At this point, most dentists will refer the patient to an orthodontist for an exam.

Referrals are not necessary to make an appointment, however. The Canadian and American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children have a preventative screening exam with an orthodontist around age 7. At this age, there are usually several permanent teeth present and the orthodontist will be able to make a good assessment of their jaw relationship and teeth.

Teeth and oral tissues change a great deal over your lifetime. If ever you feel concern about the position of your teeth or jaws, no matter what stage of life you find yourself if, consider visiting your our office to receive an expert and experienced evaluation.

Why choose an orthodontist?

Orthodontists are to general dentists what medical specialists are to your family doctor. General dentists receive education regarding the diagnosis and treatment of orthodontic cases, and as such, can spot problems developing in a person's mouth during their regular scheduled exams. At this point, most dentists will refer the patient to an orthodontist for an exam.

Referrals are not necessary to make an appointment, however. The Canadian and American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children have a preventative screening exam with an orthodontist around age 7. At this age, there are usually several permanent teeth present and the orthodontist will be able to make a good assessment of their jaw relationship and teeth.

Teeth and oral tissues change a great deal over your lifetime. If ever you feel concern about the position of your teeth or jaws, no matter what stage of life you find yourself if, consider visiting your local orthodontist to receive an expert and experienced evaluation.

How do I clean my teeth while wearing braces?

Cleaning your teeth while wearing braces is much like cleaning them without. Toothbrush and floss are used, as well as a few extras which can help get into all the nooks and crannies braces create. The main difference is time. To get your teeth properly clean while wearing braces, you must spend a few extra minutes each day ensuring that plaque is not hidden and collecting under or around appliances. Some people do not take this aspect of orthodontic treatment seriously, and the result when their braces come off is decay and discolouration where plaque sat for extended periods of time.

decalcification Luckily, this condition is easily avoided, if daily oral hygiene is practiced. A regular soft tooth brush is fine, though it will likely need to be replaced more often than usual as braces are hard on the bristles. Brush all appliances and all tooth surfaces above and below appliances. Be sure that your brush gently massages the entire gumline, as this is where plaque will build up.

Floss is the ONLY way to clean plaque from in between teeth. "Waterpiks", toothpicks, etc will not reach into the areas that floss will, and so daily flossing is a must. Do not try to do your flossing when you are in a rush (i.e. in the morning before work/school). Wait until a calm point in the day and spend a few minutes in front of a mirror doing a really thorough job. Floss needs to be threaded underneath brace wires. You can get a packet of floss threaders which act like big soft sewing needles to get your regular floss under your wires. There is also Superfloss by Oral-B, which consists of pre-cut lengths of floss, each with a stiffened end for threading.

There are other tools to aid in cleaning braces (for sale at your local drug store), such as the Sulcabrushes and Butler GUM Proxabrushes shown below and to the right:

sulcabrush

Sulcabrush

 

proxabrush

Proxabrush

Sometimes it can be hard to reach a spot. Ask for help from someone like a parent or spouse, and mention problem spots to your orthodontist at your regular appointments.

What will my new braces feel like?

For the first few days, your new braces will probably annoy you a bit. The pushing/pulling forces may make your teeth feel "bruised" and tender. The braces also chafe a bit against your tongue and lips. This is a normal reaction during the first few days, and will subside quickly. Simply listen to your body, and avoid foods that feel too hard for you to chew comfortably. The chafing of appliances on tissue can be eased by applying dental wax to any parts that are rubbing. After a few days, your tissues will toughen up and you won't need the wax. It is a good idea to keep a small amount of wax at home even after the initial settling in period, to cover up poking wires and loose brackets that may occur. After each adjustment, you may notice tenderness in your teeth for a few days until they have moved into the new position.

What if my braces break?

At times during treatment, you may find that a bracket or wire comes loose or begins to poke. If this occurs, don't panic. Simply call the office and arrange a quick "emergency" appointment so we can repair your appliances. Keep any pieces that come loose and bring them into your appointment.

If you find that a wire is poking uncomfortably in your mouth, try using the back of a spoon or a pencil eraser to carefully bend it away from your tissues. You can also use the dental wax provided by the office to cover up any offending or sharp parts until you can get in to see us. If no wax is available, a bit of sugarless gum can be used to cover a poking wire until you can get some wax. Be sure to call the office quickly when something breaks...don't just wait till your next appointment. Treatment time can be affected if a patient doesn't get breaks repaired promptly.

How do I take care of my braces?

Your braces are delicate. The brackets are held to the teeth with a thin film of cement, which is easily broken when force is applied. Braces that are often loose or broken result in a longer treatment time. For these reasons, it is important for you to treat your braces gently. Avoid very hard/sticky things completely (like gum, toffee, peanut brittle, ice).

For hard foods like carrots, corn on the cob, apples, or bagels, simply cut the food up into bite-sized pieces with a knife.

Sugary foods like chocolate or pop won't knock your brackets off, but they DO subject your teeth to decay—which can leave your smile looking discoloured and damaged after your braces are removed. Limit sugary foods, and make sure you brush after eating...or if a brush isn't available, have a vigorous water rinse.

Can I have clear/white braces?

Yes! Our office offers 3M Clarity™ braces for patients who are looking for brackets that blend in. This option may affect cost, treatment time, and other factors. Not everyone is eligible for this type of treatment, as certain oral conditions may preclude their use. Come on in and we can let you know if Clarity™ is an option for you!

Can I get braces on the BACKS of my teeth (lingual braces)?

Yes! Our office offers 3M Incognito™ braces for patients who wish to keep their brackets hidden on the backs of their teeth. This option may affect cost, treatment time, and other factors. Not everyone is eligible for this type of treatment, as certain oral conditions may preclude their use. Come on in and we can let you know if Incognito™ is an option for you!

How do braces work?

Teeth do not sit directly in the jaw bone. Each one is actually suspended by a webbed hammock of tiny ligaments (see purple, right). When a brace pulls or pushes a tooth, it stretches the ligaments on one side, and squashes the ligaments on the other side. Two types of bone cells now come into play: "osteoclasts", or cells that break down bone; and "osteoblasts", or cells that lay down new bone. Where the ligaments are being compressed, osteoclasts break down the bone, and where the ligaments are being stretched, osteoblasts lay down fresh bone. Slowly, the tooth travels through the jawbone, with bone being moved out of its way as it travels, and being deposited behind it when it has passed. The forces that cause this process to happen do not need to be very strong. Even a light wire or spring can cause a tooth to move great distances, at an average rate of about 1 mm per month.

Are retainers and elastics really that important?

Yes! Read the question above, on how braces work. Each tooth movement is accomplished by breaking down and rebuilding bone. When the braces come off, the teeth are in a new position, but the bone still needs time to completely harden in the new shape. The teeth must be held in place by a retainer while this process occurs.

If you do not wear your retainer, your teeth are likely to shift quite a bit in the first few months out of braces. This relapse can only be corrected by fitting braces back on, at extended time and cost to you. Dedicated retainer wear according to your orthodontist's instructions will increase the likelihood of a stable, long-lasting result that looks great for years. At times during treatment, your orthodontist may ask you to wear removable rubber elastics such as the ones shown here:

elastics

As you can see above, over months, the elastics in this patient's mouth have helped correct her bite. This type of movement can only be achieved if the elastics are worn as directed by the orthodontist. Patients who do not wear their elastics as directed will have a much slower treatment time, and may end up with a less ideal result. Consistent elastic wear when required will ensure that your treatment progresses as quickly and smoothly as possible.

When were braces invented?

Archaeologists have found dental floss and toothpick grooves in the teeth of prehistoric humans and have also discovered ancient mummified remains with crude metal bands on teeth. Catgut or something similar was likely used on these prehistoric appliances as "wires". Today's standard orthodontics are a recent invention. Three men are considered the fathers of the modern understanding of malocclusions. Norman W. Kingsley wrote "Treatise on Oral Deformities" in 1880. Dentist J. N. Farrar, who wrote "A Treatise on the Irregularities of the Teeth and Their Corrections", designed brace appliances and was the first to suggest the use of mild force at timed intervals to move teeth. However, it was not until the 1890s that orthodontics truly evolved toward what it is today. Dr. Edward Angle, known as the "Father of Modern Orthodontics", was the first to emphasize the importance of the way teeth fit and work together, a concept known as "occlusion". The new science of orthodontics rapidly advanced in the early 1900s. In the 1940's, x-rays were used so the orthodontist could see how the bones of the face related to malocclusion. This allowed orthodontists to use the redirection of the growth of bones to straighten teeth. In the 1970's, surgical techniques were developed that allowed orthodontic corrections to the bones of the face and jaw.

But recent advances in surgery, techniques, and materials make the treatments of just a few decades ago seem almost primitive.

In the past, the process of affixing braces took hours, and the bands which fit around each tooth required painfully forcing the teeth apart to put them in position.

orthodontic progress

Today, brackets are bonded directly to the teeth and nickel-titanium, heat-activated, "memory" wires are used. There are rainbow-coloured elastics, tooth-coloured braces, and clear aligners.

Today, orthodontic X-rays and photographs are usually digital, and computers often generate a part of the treatment plan that will straighten a patient's teeth. Computers can even calculate an approximate picture of how the patient will look once his/her teeth are correctly aligned.