About Orthodontics

What is an orthodontist?

Orthodontics is the branch of dental medicine which aims to prevent, diagnose and treat dental and facial irregularities. It is one of 9 recognized dental specialties in Canada.

In much the same way as doctors choose to specialize in areas of medicine such as cardiology and neurology, dentists can also choose to specialize. An orthodontist is a dentist that has specialized in orthodontics by successfully completing an accredited post-graduate training program that is typically an additional 3 years beyond dental school. Additionally, to practice in Canada, an orthodontist must successfully complete the Royal Dental College’s National Dental Specialty Examination in Orthodontics.

There’s a reason orthodontists attend additional years of highly competitive orthodontic school – to learn and perfect their ability in the specialty.  Many dentists offer orthodontic treatment plans, but have not received thorough training or education in the area. A general dentist is ideal for providing regular oral health check-ups, comparable to your family doctor. Orthodontics is not just about straightening teeth, but about creating a healthy, stable and esthetic occlusion (bite). Orthodontists understand the complexity of growth, development and facial form. Regardless of whether there are misaligned teeth, missing teeth, impacted teeth, extra teeth, or skeletal disharmonies, an orthodontist is the specialist to see.

An FAQ list to help you understand how it works.

What’s the best age to visit the orthodontist?

If you want to improve the look and feel of your smile, then any age can be a great time to see an orthodontist. The Canadian Association of Orthodontists recommends that children first visit an orthodontist around the age of seven; however, orthodontic treatment is not exclusive to children and teens.

About one in every five orthodontic patients is over the age of 21. Whether you’re considering treatment for yourself or for a child, any age is a good time to visit the orthodontist.

How long does orthodontic treatment take?

The amount of time spent in orthodontic treatment will vary depending on the individual patient. Every smile responds differently to treatment, and every person has unique treatment needs. Treatment times can take anywhere from six months up to 3 years, but most standard treatments take 20-22 months.

Will I be able to eat with braces?

For the first day or so, stick to soft foods, but moving your teeth frequently by chewing will reduce the degree of pain and its duration. Avoid tough meats, hard breads, and raw vegetables. Before long, you’ll be able to bite a cucumber again. But you’ll need to protect your orthodontic appliances when you eat for as long as you’re wearing braces, which means you will need to avoid sticky and chewy foods (caramel, chewing gum, gummy bears), hard foods (hard candy, nuts, ice cubes), or any foods that could possibly get stuck in your braces (corn on the cob, soft bagels, ribs, taffy, etc.).

During your treatment, try to avoid foods with a lot of sugar, which increases the amount of bacteria that grows in your mouth, and can cause more plaque and potential cavities.

Will my braces interfere with sports, playing an instrument, or singing?

Playing an instrument or a contact sport may require some adjustment when you first get your braces, but wearing braces will not stop you from participating in any of your school activities.

If you play sports, it’s important that you consult us for special precautions. A protective mouth guard is advised for playing contact sports.

In case of an accident involving the face, check your mouth and appliances immediately. If your teeth are loosened or your appliances are damaged, call immediately to have a team member contact you. In the case of bleeding or trauma to the lip or face, stay calm, place ice to control bleeding/swelling area, and seek help from us or the Emergency Department of the hospital.

Do braces hurt?

When you first get your braces, you may feel general soreness in your mouth and your teeth may be tender to biting pressures for two to four days. Rinsing your mouth with a warm saltwater mouthwash can relieve this soreness. Dissolve one teaspoonful of salt in eight ounces of warm water and rinse your mouth vigorously.

If your tenderness is severe, take an over the counter pain reliever in the recommended dosage every four to six hours. Your lips, cheeks, and tongue may also become irritated for one to two weeks as they toughen and become accustomed to the surface of the braces. You may use wax on the braces to lessen this, and we’ll show you how.

A feeling of loose teeth is to be expected throughout treatment. Don’t worry–this is normal. Your teeth must loosen first so they can move. Your teeth will become rigidly fixed in their new corrected positions.

How can I take care of my teeth if I’m wearing braces or aligners?

  • ALWAYS remember to brush your teeth after every meal and floss at least once a day.
  • Make sure to use toothpaste that contains fluoride, and considering adding in an over the counter 0.05%NaF rinse. This will help prevent cavities!
  • When you take your aligners or retainers out to eat, make sure you brush your teeth, floss, and remember to keep the appliances safe in their container.
  • Keep your appliances clean, too, by brushing them gently with a toothbrush and toothpaste. You may also soak it in denture cleaner as instructed by our office. Do not put your appliances in boiling water, in the dishwasher or use strong chemicals.
  • Be sure to schedule your routine checkups with your family dentist. It is recommended that you continue to visit the dentist every six months.

Do I need to brush my teeth more often if I have braces?

It’s more important than ever to brush and floss regularly when you have braces so your teeth and gums stay healthy after orthodontic treatment With braces, you should brush your teeth at least three times a day to keep your teeth, gums, and mouth healthy and clean. Brushing regularly will help remove any food that may be caught between the braces.

You should also floss daily to get between your braces where your brush isn’t able to reach. Our staff at West Shore Orthodontics will show you how to brush and floss properly once your braces are placed.

Patients who do not keep their teeth clean may require more frequent visits to their dentist for a professional cleaning.

If I have braces, do I still need dental checkups every six months?

Yes! In fact, it’s even more essential that patients receiving orthodontic treatment visit their dentist regularly. With braces, food may be caught in places your toothbrush can’t reach. This causes bacteria to build up and can lead to cavities, gingivitis, and gum disease. We will work closely with your dentist to make sure your teeth stay clean and healthy while you’re wearing braces.

Orthodontic emergencies

While true orthodontic emergencies are rare, West Shore Orthodontics is here for our patients.

Don’t be alarmed if a wire or band comes loose. This happens occasionally. Please call our office to describe the situation and receive instruction. In the meantime, here are some helpful tips to get you by until the pros can take care of you.

  • Missing elastic o-ring
    You can use a piece of floss to secure the wire into place until you can return to the office; tie the floss around the bracket in place of the missing elastic o-ring.
  • Broken bracket
    Call our office immediately! We’ll arrange for a repair visit or at least a comfort visit. You can place wax on the broken brace to stabilize it (if it’s still attached to the orthodontic wire) or bring it in to us for repair or replacement.
  • Broken appliance
    Call our office as soon as possible for an appointment to check and repair the appliances. If any piece comes off, save it and bring it with you to the office.
  • Poking wire
    If a wire around the bracket protrudes and is irritating, use a blunt instrument (the back of a spoon or the eraser end of a pencil) and gently push the irritating wire under the arch wire. If irritation to the lips or mouth continues, place orthodontic wax over the wire to reduce irritation. Make sure you dry the area first or the wax won’t stick well.

    • If the wire has slid to one side, you can pull it back to the other side with a clean pair of needle-nosed pliers, replacing it in the tube on the back tooth.
    • If you cannot put the wire into a comfortable position, and covering the end with wax doesn’t help, you can use a small fingernail clipper or other wire cutter as a last resort. Clip the wire behind the last tooth to which it is securely fastened and place wax as needed
  • Lost retainer
    Life happens, but losing or breaking your retainer can result in your teeth shifting positions, especially if you’ve recently completed treatment. Be sure to call our office immediately to minimize the time where you are not wearing it.
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History of Orthodontics

Crowded, irregular, and protruding teeth have been a problem for some individuals since ancient times, and attempts to correct this disorder go back thousands of years. Primitive (and surprisingly well-designed) orthodontic appliances have been found in both Greek and Etruscan materials. As dentistry developed in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a number of devices for the “regulation” of the teeth were described by various authors and apparently used sporadically by the dentists of that era.

To make good prosthetic replacement teeth, it was necessary to develop a concept of occlusion (the relationship and contact between upper and lower teeth), and this occurred in the late 1800s. As the concepts of occlusion developed and were refined, they were then extended to the natural dentition. Edward H. Angle, whose influence began to be felt about 1890, can be credited with much of the development of a concept of occlusion in the natural dentition. His increasing interest in dental occlusion and in the treatment necessary to obtain normal occlusion led directly to his development of orthodontics as a specialty, with himself as the “father of modern orthodontics.” While tremendous advances in orthodontics have been made in the 21st century, it is important that orthodontists remember their profession’s past, as we have learned a tremendous amount from their successes and challenges.