Frequently Asked Questions

To help you understand the language of orthodontia, we’ve included a glossary of terms:

  • Archwire: a wire running between braces, which exerts a force to direct teeth to move in a desired direction
  • Ball Hook: a part of the bracket used for hooking the rubber bands
  • Bracket: a small brace glued to the teeth to hold the arch wire
  • Coil Spring: a small spring placed around the arch wire to either maintain or increase space between teeth
  • Crossbite: occurs when upper teeth are positioned inside of the lower teeth; ideally all the teeth of the upper arch should be positioned slightly outside of the lower arch
  • Elastics: a rubber band used to move teeth in a prescribed direction
  • Expansion Appliance: a device used to widen the top jaw
  • Gingiva: the soft tissue around and between the teeth
  • Orthodontic Band: a stainless steel ring placed around back teeth to hold the arch wire
  • Overbite: the amount the upper front teeth overlap the lower front teeth in a vertical direction
  • Overjet: the amount the upper front teeth protrude out in front of the lower front teeth
  • Rubber Tie: a grey, colored, or clear tie used to secure the arch wire to the bracket
  • Steel Tie: a small steel wire that secures the arch wire to the bracket

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an orthodontist?

Orthodontists are specialists in moving teeth and aligning jaws for both children and adults. All orthodontists are dentists first. Out of 100 dental school graduates, only six go on to become orthodontists, by completing their Master’s degree and an orthodontic residency program. Orthodontists use a variety of “appliances,” including braces, clear aligner trays and retainers, to move teeth or hold them in their new positions. Because of orthodontists’ advanced education and clinical experience, they have the knowledge and skills necessary to recommend the best kind of appliance to meet every individual patient’s treatment goals. (Source: American Association of Orthodontists)

What does it mean to be board certified?

A board certified orthodontist signifies a unique achievement beyond the two or three years of advanced education required for a dentist to become a specialist in orthodontics. Board certification is a 5 – 10 year process requiring great preparation and the completion of three phases of an exam process.

Why braces?

For most people, a beautiful smile is the most obvious benefit of orthodontics. A confident smile positively affects our self-image and self-assurance.

Additionally, properly aligned teeth play a huge role in overall long-term dental health. Your dentist may have discussed with you the benefits of having healthy teeth and proper jaw alignment. Crooked and crowded teeth are hard to clean and maintain. This can result in tooth decay, worsen gum disease and lead to tooth loss. Other orthodontic problems can contribute to abnormal wear of tooth surfaces, inefficient chewing function, excessive stress on gum tissue and the bone that supports the teeth, or misalignment of the jaw joints. These can lead to chronic headaches and face or neck pain.

Why is the adolescent growth spurt so important in orthodontics?

This is a time when much of the growth of the face occurs. Treatment during this period provides an opportunity to favorably influence the facial profile in a growing child. Once facial bone growth is complete, correction of jaw discrepancies becomes more complicated and may require surgery. For this reason, early treatment may save considerable time and money.

Do many adults get braces?

Almost 30% of our patients getting braces are over 20 years old. Adults are often hesitant at first when making the decision to get braces, but after they are in appliances, they find it is not as difficult as they expected. They also discover that wearing braces has no effect on how others perceive them.

What are the benefits of orthodontic treatment?

  • Better function of the teeth
  • Increases ability to clean teeth
  • A more attractive smile
  • Reduces self-consciousness during critical development years
  • Possible increase in self-confidence and interpersonal effectiveness
  • Prevents breakage of protruding front teeth
  • Improves force distribution and more even wear of teeth
  • Guides permanent teeth into more favorable positions
  • Aids in optimizing other dental treatment

Do braces hurt?

Most of our patients are surprised that braces do not hurt as much as they expect.

The first 48 hours in braces are typically the most difficult time of the entire treatment. Your mouth will start to feel better on day three, but you may be sore for up to a week. Feel free to take Tylenol or Advil every four hours to help with tooth discomfort. Additionally, your cheeks will need time to “toughen” up and get used to the brackets. To give your cheeks some relief, you may find it helpful to use a small piece of wax around brackets.

After your mouth adapts to braces, you will be happy to learn that only about half of the adjustment appointments lead to any discomfort. More good news – adjustment discomfort usually only lasts a couple of days. We like to think of it this way: half of your visits will be basically pain-free!

Can I just wear a retainer to fix my bite?

Retainers are usually used at the end of treatment to hold the teeth in their new position. Retainer type appliances can sometimes be used to correct bite problems. Dr. Haeger can evaluate your bite to see if a retainer is all that is needed.