Stages of Treatment
The two most common stages of orthodontic treatment include a corrective stage to actively move teeth followed by a retention stage designed to maintain results achieved during the corrective stage. Occasionally patients will benefit from an additional interceptive stage of treatment. The goals of each stage should be discussed with the doctor to best understand any limitations of treatment.
Common Orthodontic Appliances
BRACES – Most orthodontic braces are made from stainless steel materials and are “bonded” to each tooth using special adhesives specific for this purpose. Braces made from translucent, ceramic materials are popular with adult patients and can be less noticeable than those made of stainless steel. While both types of braces are equally comfortable, the advantages and disadvantages of each should be discussed with the orthodontist to select the best option for your particular circumstances.
EXPANDERS – Several methods can be considered to create additional space helpful in straightening misaligned teeth. Orthodontic expander appliances are sometimes chosen to assist with the alignment process. If needed, the design of the expander is determined by evaluation of a number of variables including patient age and the degree of bite or alignment problems. Each unique problem deserves a unique solution tailored to the individual patient’s needs.
ELASTICS – Small rubber bands are often used assist in improving how teeth bite together. Elastics are most effective when worn 24 hours a day – or as much as possible. They may be removed when eating, brushing or special activities, but should be replaced immediately afterward. Changing elastics often helps keep them fresh and effective. Although elastics may make teeth tender at first, continuing to wear them will enable their use to become comfortable in a short time. Wearing elastics as recommended, you will be surprised how quickly your treatment will progress.
HERBST – The Herbst appliance is designed to assist with some types of needed improvements in jaw growth. When used in combination with braces, remarkable changes in the bite and facial appearance can occur in a relatively short time. Changes in jaw growth accomplished with the Herbst appliance as the face and teeth are developing can create pleasing results and help avoid treatment that may be more complicated if considered at a later time as a non-growing adult.
RETAINERS – Following completion of orthodontic corrections and removal of appliances designed to move the teeth, retainers are nearly always used to discourage significant adverse movement from occurring. Retainers are custom made for each patient using appropriate wires or other materials. Some retainers are removable while others work best by being attached to the teeth.
Removable Appliances – Do’s and Don’ts
Do wear removable appliance as much time as you possibly can unless otherwise instructed.
Do keep appliances clean.
Do follow instructions for wear carefully. If you are unable to do so, please contact the office for an appointment.
Do bring appliances to every appointment.
Do keep appliances in the protective case provided whenever not in use.
Do not play with the appliance with your hands or tongue. Allow it to remain seated at all times.
Do not place appliances in your pocket or purse as they may become bent or broken.
Do not wrap appliances in tissue or a paper napkin as they may accidentally be thrown away.
Do not place appliances where pets can reach them. They have a natural curiosity and may chew the appliance.
Do not microwave or boil appliances to sterilize them as such heat will probably warp the appliance and affect its fit. Sterilizing can instead be accomplished with a diluted bleach solution. Rinse thoroughly.
Minor Orthodontic Emergencies and Concerns
Elastics - Minor discomfort should be expected during the initial use of elastics. Use of mild analgesics such as Tylenol or Ibuprofen during the first few days of elastic wear can be of help.
Irritating Wires – If a wire protrudes and is irritating, use a blunt instrument (back of a spoon or eraser end of a pencil) to carefully tuck the irritating wire out of the way until you can return to the office.
Loose Wire, Band or Bracket – If a wire or a band/bracket is loose, please call the office to schedule an appointment to check your appliances. If any piece comes off, place it in an envelope and bring it with you.
Irritating Sore or Tenderness in Mouth – If an area is noticed which is sore or irritated, the wear of any removable appliance may be discontinued if necessary. Please call the office for an appointment and wear the appliance several hours prior to the appointment if possible so help make the problem more easy to identify.
Additional Help – If you are unable to resolve a problem and need assistance, please contact our office at 852-2646. If unable to reach us please contact your family dentist to request his/her assistance.
Appointments of all types are scheduled during various times of the day for optimum care and efficiency. Although office hours often permit appointments before and after work or school, it may be necessary to schedule at other times as well. Our office is pleased to communicate with your school or place of employment about your appointment should this be helpful to you. Every effort is made to use your time effectively by maintaining appointment times as closely as possible. However, unexpected events may at times create delays. Should this occur, please let us know if you would prefer to reschedule your appointment to a mutually convenient time. If you anticipate being late for your appointment, please call ahead to determine if the delay might result in any unusual waiting time or if you might prefer to reschedule.
What to expect
General Soreness – Patients may experience some soreness due to placement or adjustment of appliances. Application of wax on areas of irritation may reduce discomfort. The use of over the counter pain relievers can also be helpful.
Separators – Small elastic separators may be placed between teeth to create small spaces between teeth to make placement of bands more comfortable. These separators may make teeth tender during the first few days. Over the counter pain relievers can be helpful. As teeth move, separators can become loose and may be lost. This usually indicates that they have served their purpose. It would be best not to encourage separators to be lost by flossing teeth where separators are located or by chewing sticky foods such as gum, caramels or taffy.
Mobility of Teeth – Slight loosening of teeth is a common occurrence throughout the time braces are moving your teeth. This mobility typically subsides after braces are removed.
Types of Food – Care should be taken to protect you orthodontic appliances. Please avoid hard or crunchy foods throughout treatment. Cut raw vegetables and fruits into small portions before eating. IT IS IMPORTANT TO USE CAUTION REGARDING THE FIRMNESS OF FOODS EATEN WHILE BRACES ARE ON YOUR TEETH! Carbonated beverages and fruit juices can be highly acidic and may contribute to demineralization of tooth surfaces. Excessive intake of these products may lead to tooth discoloration or cavities. Encouraging water intake during treatment is important.
Athletics – Be sure to consult with Dr. Sommers about precautions that should be taken when engaging in athletic activities. If an accident occurs in which a blow to the face is recieved, check appliances immediately. If loosening of teeth or appliances has occurred, please call for an appointment.
Musical Instruments – Some patients with braces may wish to place wax over them when playing wind instruments until lips and the inside of the mouth become accustomed to appliances. Patients with retainers or other removable appliances may remove such appliances when playing wind instruments being careful to place them in a protective case. Please replace your appliance in the mouth promptly when finished playing your instrument