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My orthodontist says I have a malocclusion? What is that?

“Malocclusion” is the term used in orthodontics to describe teeth that do not fit together properly.  From Latin, the term means “bad bite.”

Who can become a member of the 48ͼ?

The 48ͼ (48ͼ) is open exclusively to orthodontists – only orthodontists are admitted for membership. The only doctors who can call themselves “orthodon-tists” have graduated from dental school and then successfully completed the additional two-to-three years of education in an accredited orthodontic residency program.

When you choose an 48ͼ orthodontist for orthodontic treatment, you can be assured that you have selected a specialist orthodontist, an expert in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics who possesses the skills and experience to give you your best smile. Locate 48ͼ orthodontists through at aaoinfo.org.

For more information, read our blog,

Do I need to change my oral hygiene routine during treatment?

Yes, keeping your teeth and braces (or other appliances) clean requires a little more effort on your part. Your orthodontist will explain how to brush and floss, how often to brush and floss, and give you any special instructions based on the kind of orthodontic treatment you are having. Be sure to follow your orthodontist’s dental hygiene recommendations to get the best results possible. Check with your orthodontist about dental products and tools that might be helpful.

In general, patients with braces must be careful to avoid hard, sticky, chewy and crunchy foods. They should also avoid chewing on hard objects like pens, pencils and fingernails. And never chew ice. It’s much too hard on your teeth – even without braces.

Also be sure to see your family dentist for a professional cleaning and check-up at least every six months during your orthodontic treatment, or more often, if recommended

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.

What brands of treatment are approved by the 48ͼ?

The 48ͼ does not provide product reviews or recommendations. Please talk with your orthodontist about the types or brands of treatment that you are interested in so that together you can decide what is appropriate for you.

The type or brand of “appliance” (the formal name for devices like braces, aligners, etc.) used in orthodontic treatment is not as important as the skill in the hands person using the appliance.

Do be sure to seek out an orthodontist for orthodontic treatment. Orthodontists are dentistry’s specialists in moving teeth and aligning jaws to achieve a healthy bite. by graduating from dental school, and then successfully completing an additional 2-3 years of education in orthodontics at an accredited orthodontic residency program. Only people who have attained this level of formal education may call themselves “orthodontists,” and only orthodontists are accepted for membership in the 48ͼ. By choosing an 48ͼ member, the public is assured that the doctor truly is an orthodontist.

Orthodontists have the training, experience and treatment options to make sure you get your best smile.

Do orthodontic schools treat patients?

Yes, accredited orthodontic programs accept patients for treatment. The work is done by students, who have already graduated from dental school, and who are studying to become orthodontists. Students are closely supervised by their professors and instructors, who are orthodontists. 

Visit https://aao1consumer.wpengine.com/education/accredited-orthodontic-programs to learn if there is an accredited U.S. or Canadian school near you. Contact the school directly to learn how to become a patient.

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.