Make the most of your treatment.

Fast answers to frequently asked questions.

What is an orthodontist and how are they different from my dentist?
Like dentists, orthodontists go to dental school. The difference lies in what happens after dental school. Orthodontists have another leg of education to complete—orthodontic school— where they complete a multi-year residency program. In that program, orthodontists receive in-depth training on how to safely move teeth and guide dental, jaw, and facial development.
When should orthodontic treatment be started?
You’re never too old to begin orthodontic treatment — but if you start at an earlier age, your problems may be easier to treat. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that a child who may need orthodontic treatment should come in for a first visit around age 7.
Does getting braces hurt? What about wearing them?
Having braces put on is generally painless. Some people experience minor aches and pains in the first couple of days or so, as they adjust to wearing their appliances; periodic adjustments may sometimes cause soreness as well, though it typically lasts only a short time. Over-the-counter pain relievers can be used to alleviate any discomfort, but are usually unnecessary.
How long will treatment take?
It’s different for each person, but generally, the active stage of treatment (that is, wearing braces or other appliances) may take from 6-30 months. After that, a retainer is worn for at least several months more.
How often will I come in for an appointment?
It depends on what’s being done, and how often you need to be monitored. During active treatment, you’ll typically come into our office once every 4 to 12 weeks.
Will I be able to play sports and play my instrument?
In a word: Yes. Of course, whether you wear braces or not, we recommend you wear a mouthguard when playing most sports. Musicians are generally able to play their instruments just as they did before, but they may need a short adjustment period after getting braces.
Do I still need to see my regular dentist while I’m getting orthodontic treatment?
You do—in fact, it’s more important than ever! Keeping teeth free of plaque (and potentially, decay) can be challenging when you’re wearing braces. Your dentist can help you avoid these problems with frequent cleanings and exams.
Will I wear a retainer when my braces come off?
Almost always, the answer is yes: If you don’t wear a retainer, your teeth can rapidly shift out of position—and then all the effort put into your treatment is lost! Your retainer helps you maintain that good-looking smile for a lifetime.

The basics of brushing and flossing with braces.

Keeping up dental hygiene is always important, but braces present some added challenges. To be sure your teeth are clean and cavity-free by the end of your treatment, follow these tips.

Brushing with braces.

what to brush with
Go for either a soft-bristle brush or a bi-level brush that has shorter bristles in the middle and longer bristles at the edges. Used gently, an electric toothbrush can work as well, but be sure it’s set to a moderate power level and that the back of the brush steers clear of your braces.

Beyond your toothbrush, there are a couple of special tools that can help keep your teeth extra clean. One an interdental toothbrush, or proxabrush, which has a small tuft of bristles that stick up all around, like a pipe cleaner. Use it gently to clean the tiny spaces under wires and around bands and brackets.
how to brush
Beginning at the outside surfaces, place the tips of the bristles flat against your teeth. Use small circular motions to gently polish them clean.

For areas between braces and gums, tilt the brush toward the gum line (down for the bottom teeth, up for the top) while keeping up the circular motions. Next, move on to the chewing surfaces of upper and lower teeth, using a firm back-and-forth motion. Finish up by carefully brushing the inside surfaces of the teeth the same way you did the outside surfaces.
when to brush
Brush with a fluoride toothpaste at least two times per day (preferably after meals), for at least two minutes each time.

Flossing with braces.

what to floss with
Getting floss between the wires of your braces can be difficult with regular floss, but a floss threader will make all the difference.
How to floss
Using a floss threader is somewhat like threading a needle: Pull one end of floss through the threader, and then push the threader—carrying with it the free end of the floss—under the archwire. Now grasp the floss on each end and slide it up and down the sides of both teeth and under the gums until you hear a squeaky sound. Finally, pull it out and use a new section of floss for the next area.
when to floss
Floss at least once a day, but ideally every time you brush.

Foods to forget about.

OK, OK, only for a little while. Like any new health endeavor, orthodontic treatment comes with a few rules, specifically around foods that can damage your brackets, or worse, your teeth.

Here’s a list of foods to avoid while you have braces. If you have questions about any type of food, just ask your orthodontist.

Sticky foods.

Gum (sugar-free or regular)
Any Chewy Candy

Hard foods.

Hard Taco Shells
French Bread Crust
Corn on the Cob
Apples (unless cut into small pieces)
Hard Candy
Pizza Crust
Raw Carrots (unless cut into small pieces)

Sugary foods.

Ice Cream

Once-a-day foods.

Sweetened Tea
Sweetened Sports Drinks
Any drinks with sugar