Orthodontic FAQs

As a parent or guardian, navigating through the world of orthodontics for your child can be challenging. We understand the importance of having all the necessary information at your fingertips to make the best decisions for your child’s oral health. Below, you’ll find answers to commonly asked questions about orthodontics—from understanding what orthodontics is and why an orthodontist should complete your child’s treatment, to details about various orthodontic options like braces and Invisalign. 

We hope this comprehensive guide will help clarify any queries you might have about your child’s journey to a healthier smile. Call our San Diego, CA office today if you have any further questions!

Orthodontics is a branch of dentistry that focuses on issues relating to your child’s teeth and facial structure. It aims to diagnose, prevent, and treat dental and facial irregularities.

An orthodontist is a dentist who has received extra training for two to three years to become a specialist in straightening teeth, fixing jaw alignment problems, and improving the overall appearance and function of the smile.

Orthodontic treatment can permanently alter teeth and even the facial structure. Hence, it’s critical to ensure that the treatment is performed correctly. Orthodontic specialists possess specialized training and skills that enable them to provide personalized and professional treatment options to their patients.

To ensure a healthier smile, your child can visit an orthodontist at any age. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children have their first orthodontic visit around the age of seven. However, individuals of all ages, including adults, can benefit from orthodontic treatment. Approximately one in five orthodontic patients are above 21 years of age. Whether considering treatment for yourself or your child, it’s always an opportune time to visit the orthodontist.

Invisalign clear aligners are an alternative to traditional braces for your teenager. These are a series of clear, removable aligners custom-made for the patient, gradually moving the teeth to the desired position.

Both traditional braces and Invisalign clear aligners might cause some discomfort as your child’s teeth are adjusted to the desired position. However, some kids may find Invisalign aligners more comfortable than traditional braces as they lack metal brackets or wires that could irritate the mouth.

Both traditional braces and Invisalign clear aligners effectively straighten teeth, but the optimal choice for your child depends on the severity of their orthodontic problems. Generally, traditional braces may be more effective for complex cases, while Invisalign aligners may be better suited for mild to moderate cases.

Traditional braces require more maintenance than Invisalign clear aligners as they can’t be removed during meals or brushing. Children with traditional braces need to be cautious about their food choices to prevent damage to the brackets and wires, and they need to spend more time cleaning around the braces to prevent plaque buildup. In contrast, Invisalign aligners can be removed for eating and brushing, requiring less maintenance overall.

As your child ages, their teeth won’t naturally straighten. The mouth doesn’t grow sufficiently to create more space for the teeth. In fact, as your child ages, the space in their mouth may actually decrease, making it even more challenging for their teeth to straighten out.

Orthodontic treatment is available for individuals of all ages, including adults. In fact, about a quarter of all orthodontic patients are adults. Enhancing health and happiness is important at any age, and braces can boost self-confidence and improve smiles regardless of age.

The frequency of appointments varies based on your child’s specific needs. Generally, patients with braces are seen every five to ten weeks. If there are any issues that require more frequent check-ups, we will schedule appointments accordingly.

  • It is crucial that your child brushes their teeth after each meal and flosses at least once daily. Using fluoride toothpaste can help prevent cavities. 
  • If needed, your child’s orthodontist or family dentist may recommend a fluoride rinse. 
  • When your child removes their retainer to eat, remind them to brush and floss before putting it back. 
  • The retainer should be stored in its case to prevent loss or damage. 
  • To clean the retainer, your child can gently brush it with a toothbrush and toothpaste, or use a denture cleaner as recommended by the orthodontist. Avoid cleaning retainers in boiling water or a dishwasher. 
  • While undergoing treatment, it’s best for your child to avoid sugary foods, as this can increase bacterial growth and plaque formation in the mouth, potentially leading to cavities. 
  • Sticky or chewy foods, like caramel, chewing gum, and gummy bears, as well as hard foods like nuts and ice cubes, should also be avoided, as they could get stuck in the braces. 
  • Regular appointments with the family dentist are essential; we recommend a dental checkup every six months.

Braces are devices that your child’s orthodontist uses to improve the appearance and function of their smile. There are various types of braces available, such as:

  • Traditional metal braces
  • Self-ligating braces
  • Clear braces
  • Ceramic braces
  • Lingual braces
  • Invisible braces

The length of time your child needs to wear braces will vary, as everyone’s teeth respond differently to treatment. The duration can range from 6 to 30 months, but on average, most children wear braces for around 18 months.

Typically, wearing braces doesn’t cause pain, but your child may experience some discomfort for a few days as they adjust to them or after adjustments. This discomfort can include pain, soreness, or discomfort in their teeth, gums, cheeks, or mouth. During the first week after getting braces or after routine adjustments, they may feel more pain or soreness. Non-aspirin pain relievers like acetaminophen can help manage this, and using a warm washcloth or heating pad can reduce jaw soreness.

To maintain good oral hygiene while wearing braces, your child should brush their teeth at least three times a day. This will help dislodge any food particles stuck in the braces. Daily flossing is also crucial to clean between braces where the brush can’t reach. The orthodontist can teach your child the correct brushing and flossing techniques after they get their braces.

Regular brushing and cleaning are crucial when your child has braces. In addition, they should see their dentist at least every six months. Braces can trap food and foster bacterial growth, leading to cavities and other problems. The dentist will work in conjunction with the orthodontist to maintain your child’s oral health while they have braces.

Your child can still engage in sports and play musical instruments while wearing braces. It may take some time to adjust, but braces won’t prevent them from pursuing their hobbies. If they participate in contact sports, wearing a special mouthguard over the braces is recommended to protect them.

To schedule an appointment, simply give us a call! Our friendly front desk team will help you find a suitable time. If you are new to our practice or were referred to us, please let us know so we can provide all the necessary information.

If your child’s braces or any other orthodontic appliances break or become loose, please call us immediately. Avoid going directly to the office without calling first, as we need to schedule an appointment to see your child. If your child has a regular appointment scheduled but requires an appliance repair, please notify us as soon as possible.

If a brace or wire becomes loose, contact us right away for advice. It might need to be fixed promptly. Occasionally, you may need to cut a wire or remove a bracket from a wire if it occurs during a weekend or at night. If you need to cut a wire, you can use clean nail clippers that have been soaked in alcohol. But make sure to call us the next business day to schedule an appointment.

Occasionally, a wire on your child’s braces may cause discomfort. Try using a cotton swab or eraser to move the wire away from the sore area. If that doesn’t work, place a small piece of cotton or wax on the end of the wire. If the wire is causing pain, you can use nail clippers or scissors to cut it, but make sure they have been cleaned with alcohol first. If you can’t fix the wire yourself, call our office to schedule an appointment.

It’s normal for patients to lose a separator during their treatment, so it’s not a major concern. However, it’s still important to call our office to check if the separator needs to be replaced.

Our dedicated team is always here to help answer any further questions and guide you and your child through this important phase. After all, nothing is more rewarding than seeing your child’s smile grow healthier and brighter. Please don’t hesitate to contact us to schedule an appointment or to discuss any concerns. We’re looking forward to partnering with you in creating a beautiful smile for your child!

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