Choose from the menu on the left for answers to frequently asked questions about orthodontics.

What is an orthodontist?

An orthodontist is a dentist who has completed a residency program lasting 24-36 months following dental school to learn the special skills required to manage tooth movement and guide facial growth. 

What are some benefits of orthodontics?

  • A more attractive smile
  • Reduced self-consciousness regarding appearance during developmental years
  • Better function of the teeth
  • Possible increase in self-confidence
  • Increased ability to clean the teeth
  • Improved force distribution and wear patterns of the teeth
  • Better long term health of teeth and gums
  • Guides permanent teeth into more favorable positions
  • Reduced risk of injury to protruded front teeth
  • Helps provide proper spacing and alignment for those adults requiring dental implants or extensive restorative work

What are some signs that braces are needed?

  • Upper front teeth protrude horizontally over the lower teeth, or are “bucked” (overjet)
  • Upper front teeth vertically overlap the lower teeth when biting together (deep bite)
  • Upper front teeth are behind or inside the lower front teeth (underbite)
  • The upper and lower front teeth do not touch when biting together (open bite)
  • The lower jaw shifts to one side or the other when biting together (crossbite)
  • Crowded or overlapped teeth
  • The center of the upper and lower teeth do not line up
  • Finger or thumb sucking habits which continue after six or seven years old
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Teeth wearing unevenly or excessively
  • Spaces between the teeth

At what age should orthodontic treatment start?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children have an orthodontic screening as early as age 7 or earlier if a problem is detected by the parents, the family dentist, or the child’s physician.. Many orthodontic problems are easier to correct if detected at an early age before jaw growth has slowed. Early treatment may mean that a patient can avoid surgery and more serious complications.

Questions about the treatment

What is Phase I and Phase II treatment?

Phase I,  or interceptive treatment, is limited orthodontic treatment (ie: Partial braces, Expander, Headgear)before all the permanent teeth have erupted. Such treatment can occur between the ages of six and ten. This treatment is sometimes recommended to make more space for the larger permanent teeth, to correct skeletal problems such as crossbite, underbites, and overjet, or to address harmful oral habits. Phase I treatment takes advantage of early growth to turn a difficult problem into a more manageable one. If children can grow in balance from a younger age, we can reduce the risk of extraction surgical treatment options.

Phase II treatment is also called comprehensive treatment because it involves full braces when all of the permanent teeth have erupted, usually between the ages of eleven and thirteen, Most phase I patients require a phase II treatment to properly finish and achieve an ideal bite. Phase II is usually shortened and simplified by early interceptive treatment.

What is full or comprehensive orthodontic treatment?

This is another name for orthodontic treatment in the permanent dentition at any age. Comprehensive treatment is done in one longer stage of traditional braces when phase I interceptive treatment was not performed.

Would an adult patient benefit from orthodontics?

Orthodontic treatment can be successful at any age. Everyone wants a beautiful smile. Twenty to twenty-five percent of orthodontic patients are adults. We offer the latest in comfortable and esthetic brackets.

How does orthodontic treatment work?

Braces use steady gentle pressure to gradually move teeth into their proper position. The brackets that are placed on your teeth and the archwire that connects them are the main components. When the archwire is placed into the brackets, it tries to return to its original shape. As it does so, it applies constant gentle pressure to move your teeth to their new, more ideal position.

How long does treatment take?

Treatment times vary on a case by case basis but the average time is one to two years. Actual treatment time can be affected by a patient’s growth rate and the severity of their malocclusion. Treatment length is also dependent upon patient compliance, particularly in wearing elastics as directed. Maintaining good oral hygiene, avoiding hard and sticky foods that loosen braces, and keeping regular appointments are all important in keeping treatment on schedule.

What are elastics and when are they worn?

Orthodontic elastics, or “rubberbands” use gentle, constant force to pull top teeth into alignment with the bottom teeth. Most patients wear braces 4-6 months prior to starting elastics. In order for the teeth to move, they must be worn at all times except when brushing.  We will show you how to wear your elastics at the appropriate time during treatment.

Why are elastics so important?

Wearing elastics as instructed will dramatically shorten your overall treatment time. Brackets and wires produce a constant force to straighten teeth, but elastics provide the force necessary to achieve the best possible fit for your teeth. Only you can wear your elastics. Initially your teeth may be sore from your elastics,  so take some Tylenol or Advil for 3-4 days as needed for the mild discomfort while your teeth adjust to the elastics. Starting and stopping elastic wear actually creates more pain than ” toughing it out” the initial soreness and continuing your elastics.

Do braces hurt?

The placement of banded brackets on the teeth is easy and pain free. We use the most advanced orthodontic arch wires to apply gentle, continuous forces to move teeth most efficiently and produce minimal patient discomfort. As teeth move, the periodontal ligament is stretched and the teeth become slightly mobile. The mild discomfort produced by the tooth movement may require an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory, such as Tylenol or Advil, for the first few days of treatment. Each patient is given Orabase and orthodontic wax to help the lips and cheeks adapt to the braces.

Will braces interfere with sports?

No. It is recommended that patients protect their smiles by wearing a mouth guard when participating in any sport. As a courtesy, Dr. Kmentt will provide you with a comfortable mouth guard available in many colors to all patients who play sports.

Will braces interfere with playing musical instruments?

No. However, there may be an initial period of adjustment.

Should I see my general dentist while I have braces?

Yes, Since an orthodontist is no a substitute for a dentist, You should continue to see your general dentist every six months for cleanings and checkups. In between checkups, patients are encouraged to brush after every meals and before going to bed. Proper home care combined with dental checkups prevents unwanted white marks on the teeth that are visible only when the braces are removed.