Orthodontics FAQ

What age should my child have an orthodontic evaluation?

Most children should have an orthodontic screening around 7 years old. At this point, the teeth and jaws are developed to a point where any potential issues can be seen more clearly. 

orthodontics faq

What causes crooked teeth?

A number of issues can cause crookedness – including crowded teeth, thumb or pacifier sucking, baby teeth that were lost too early, enlarged tonsils, and even hereditary factors. 

How do teeth move?

Teeth are moved in the presence of light pressure over extended amounts of time. Naturally, especially due to crowding or other issues, teeth can be moved in undesirable directions. Orthodontic appliances, on the other hand, are a controlled way of pushing the teeth back into a correct or more desirable position. There are several different types of orthodontic treatment that may best suit your child’s needs. 

Does Orthodontic treatment hurt?

Initially, there may be some discomfort when getting used to a brand new orthodontic appliance. This may last a couple of days, but will lessen as the patient gets more comfortable in the appliance. 

Orthodontic Terms

Orthodontic Terms

Arch Wire

The part of metal braces that do the work in moving teeth 


Brackets are the actual “Braces” that bond to the tooth surfaces. The arch wire is attached to these brackets. 

Elastics (Rubber Bands)

Elastics coordinate the upper and lower teeth and perfect the bite as your teeth move into position. 


Headgear is used to correct a protrusion of the upper or lower jaw. 


Poor tooth positioning, with several types:

>>Class I

The bite is ok, and the upper and lower teeth meet properly, but the teeth are crooked or skewed. 

>>Class II

Upper teeth sticking out over the bottom teeth

>>Class III

Lower teeth sticking out under the upper teeth – or “underbite”


The alignment and spacing of your upper and lower teeth as you bite them together, with several types:

Openbite - Occlusion
An opening between the upper and lower teeth
Overbite - Occlusion
An overlap of the upper teeth over the lower. 
Overjet - Occlusion

Projection of the upper teeth beyond the lower.

Crossbite - Occlusion
Top teeth biting into the lower teeth, in either the front or rear of the mouth.

O Rings

Small rings that are used to attach the arch wire to brackets.



A small donut shaped piece of plastic or rubber that is used to make space between your teeth in order to place bands.

Fixed and Removable Appliances

Band & Loop

Band & Loop (B & L)

Used to hold space for a missing baby tooth until it’s permanent replacement erupts.



An appliance used to help the lower jaw grow and “catch up” to an upper jaw that is growing more quickly.

Lower Lingual Arch (LLA)

Lower Lingual Arch

A lower lingual arch is a space maintainer for the lower teeth, used to maintain the molars and keep them where they are.

Palatal Expander

Palatal Expander

An appliance placed in the roof of the mouth which widens the upper dental arch. 

Quad Helix

Quad Helix

An appliance that provides pressure in up to four directions, intended to move molars, arches, and more.

Bi Helix

Bi Helix

An appliance used in the expansion of the lower arch.




A universally used retainer appliance.



Used to maintain the position of the maxillary molars.


The key to maintaining orthodontic results after completion of treatment. The retainers hold the teeth in their new positions while the mouth adjusts to the new changes. Without a retainer, teeth will gradually shift back to their old positions. 

Orthodontic Care

Caring for Braces

You will be provided explicit and clear details and instructions on caring for your braces when your treatment begins.
You must remember to properly clean your mouth before and after you eat, as braces can easily trap food, which can damage your enamel and even lead to gum disease. 

Braces Care

Be sure to brush your teeth 4-5 times per day, at minimum: 

  • Brush back, forth, and across – between the wires and gums. 
  • Then brush as if you would without braces on
  • Start on your upper teeth, and scrub in a circular motion. 2 or three teeth at a time, for about 10 strokes before moving on. 
  • Repeat the process for the inner surfaces
  • Repeat the steps for the bottom teeth 
  • Be sure to check in the mirror for any food particles you may have missed

Note: Do not avoid brushing if you notice bleeding – but rather continue stimulating the area with the bristles. Be sure to angle your toothbrush so that the area under your gum line is cleaned. After 3 or 4 days of proper brushing, the bleeding should stop and your gums should be healthy again.

FLOSSING: Use a special floss threader to floss with your braces on. Be sure to floss at least once per day.

FLUORIDE RINSE OR GEL: May be recommended for preventive measures.

Appliance Care

Your retainer can be cleaned by brushing it with toothpaste. Always place the retainer in its plastic case when not in use. Do not wrap it in any paper product, as someone could accidentally throw it away. Do not put it into your pocket, or leave it in excessive heat – these practices could result in extreme damage to the appliance.

Elastics Care

Eslastics ‘shock’ the teeth and may cause soreness if they are worn intermittently. Soreness can be an indication of improper use of the appliances – or poor hygiene. Elastics should be worn correctly, and we’re happy to give you a refresher if necessary. 

Proper Diet

Avoid Sticky Foods, Including but Not Limited to:


Candy bars

Fruit Snacks


Candy Apples

Hard or Chewy Candy

Avoid Hard or Tough Foods, Including but Not Limited to:

Pizza Crusts




Ice Cubes


Popcorn Kernels

The following foods can be cut up and chewed with your back teeth:



Corn on the Cob




Chicken Wings

Spare Ribs

Orthodontic Emergencies or Problems

Our office is always happy to assist with any issues you may have. In the event of a “quick fix” please see the following steps: 

Loose Bracket

Brackets can occasionally become loosened. The loose bracket can be carefully removed and secured in an envelope until you’re able to make it into the office. 

Poking Wire

For wires that are poking into your mouth, you may want to try and use a nail clipper to cut the excess wire. You may also be able to simply turn the wire down so it is out of range using a pencil eraser or other smooth object. 

Wire Out of Back Brace

Hard or sticky foods may bend wires or cause them to come out of the back braces, so please be sure to avoid them. A needle or nose pliers can be used to insert the wire back into the brace if it becomes loose. Please call the office as soon as possible for a proper replacement.

Poking Elastic (Rubber Band) Hook

Some brackets have hooks that may be irritating – you may use a pencil eraser or other smooth object to push these hooks in. 

Sore Teeth

  1. Rinse with warm water and eat a soft diet. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen may be taken. 
  2. Chewing can cause further discomfort, but may reduce the total amount of time the soreness is felt. 
  3. Call our office for pain that persists for more than a few days.