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What is the purpose of orthodontic treatment?

The purpose of orthodontic treatment is to create a healthy, functional “bite,” which is part tooth alignment and part jaw position. When jaws and teeth line up correctly, they are able to function as nature intended. This promotes oral health and general physical health. That orthodontic treatment also brings about an attractive smile is an added bonus.

I see ads for perfect teeth in only one or two visits to the dentist. Will that give me straight teeth?

The ads may have been for veneers, which are thin, tooth-colored shells that are glued to the fronts of teeth. But they do not alter an improper arrangement of teeth – they just cover up the problem. Veneers are easier to place and last longer when teeth are straight, and the bite has been corrected.

I’m considering getting my tongue or lip pierced. Are there any dangers?

There are numerous potential problems from oral piercings that can affect the tongue, cheeks, lips or uvula (the tissue at the back of the throat). Particularly with tongue piercing, you can permanently damage your teeth by wearing away the enamel, or by chipping or cracking teeth. There is risk of abrasion or recession of gum tissue if it is constantly hit by the piercing. Piercing can interfere with basic functions like chewing, swallowing, talking and the sense of taste. A hole from a piercing can be a path for germs into the body and bloodstream. Talk to your orthodontist or dentist for more information.

Can I play a musical instrument during treatment?

Yes, that is if you could play a musical instrument before you started orthodontic treatment.

Which treatment is fastest?

Thanks to advances in technology, just about every type of treatment is relatively fast. 48ͼ orthodontists make use of the full range of orthodontic appliances – not just one or two – and will recommend the type they believe is best suited to correcting your individual orthodontic problem in the most efficient manner possible.  

To make treatment go as quickly as possible:

  • Follow your orthodontist’s instructions on brushing and flossing.
  • See your dentist for a professional cleaning at least every six months during orthodontic treatment, or more often if recommended.
  • Watch what you eat if you have braces – avoid hard, sticky, and crunchy foods. Opt for foods that are soft and easy to chew.
  • Beware of sugary, acidic soft drinks including regular and diet soda pop, fruit juices, fruit drinks and sports drinks. Tap water is recommended.
  • Wear your elastics (rubber bands) as instructed.
  • Keep scheduled appointments with your orthodontist.

Which treatment option is best?

The best treatment is the kind performed by an 48ͼ orthodontist, who has a minimum of 3,700 hours (2 or more years) in an orthodontic residency after 4 years of dental school. Orthodontic treatment is a customized professional service performed and monitored by a highly-educated healthcare professional. 

Orthodontic treatment is not a product. Moving teeth and aligning jaws requires a comprehensive knowledge of the biological and physiological processes at play to safely and predictably move teeth into new, healthy positions. The type of treatment (such as braces or aligners) or brand of appliance is less important than the knowledge and skill of the individual who performs your treatment. 

Visit Find an Orthodontist to locate 48ͼ orthodontists near you.

I’ve seen three orthodontists and I have three treatment plans suggested. Which one is right?

There is not a single “right way” to perform orthodontic treatment. Different orthodontists use various bracket systems and appliances. As long as all of the doctors you have consulted are 48ͼ orthodontists, all of the suggested treatment plans can help your child develop a healthy and beautiful smile. 

When you consult a member of the 48ͼ (48ͼ), you can be assured that the doctor truly is an orthodontist. That’s because membership in the 48ͼ is open exclusively to orthodontists, meaning those who first graduated from dental school, and then went on to successfully complete a 2-3 year orthodontic residency at an accredited orthodontic program.

How long will treatment last?

The length of treatment is different for each patient because each patient has a unique problem. Your 48ͼ orthodontist will give you an estimated length of treatment.   Here are five tips to make your treatment go as quickly as possible:

  • Follow your orthodontist’s instructions on the frequency of brushing and flossing, and see your dentist for a professional cleaning at least every six months during orthodontic treatment, or more often if recommended.
  • Watch what you eat if you have braces. Stay away from hard, sticky, and crunchy foods. Opt for foods that are soft and easy to chew. If you have aligners, be sure to remove them before you eat or drink anything besides tap water, and put them back in after you’re done eating or drinking and you have thoroughly cleaned your teeth.
  • Beware of sugary, acidic soft drinks including regular and diet soda pop, fruit juices, fruit drinks and sports drinks. Tap water is recommended.
  • If prescribed, wear your elastics (rubber bands) as instructed.
  • Keep scheduled appointments with your orthodontist.

I am pregnant and want to begin orthodontic treatment. Is this OK?

Pregnancy brings on bodily changes that can affect the mouth. Soft tissues such as gums become more susceptible to infection. Discuss this question with your medical practitioner/physician and orthodontist before you start orthodontic treatment.