Dr. Haeger and the Haeger Orthodontics team will coach you every step of the way through your treatment, but here are answers to some of the most common orthodontic questions.
The length of treatment varies, but for most people orthodontia takes about two years. To finish as quickly as possible, patients need to play by the rules: follow instructions, keep teeth clean, stick with appointments and wear rubber bands.
It takes a few appointments at the beginning to get treatment started. Once treatment is underway, appointments are usually 4 – 8 weeks apart.
Yes, the rumors are true. For the length of your treatment, it is important to avoid foods that will damage (crack, break, tweak or “sprong”) your braces. The foods that damage the braces are often thought of as chewy, crunchy, sticky, and/or hard. Instead of biting into a whole apple, for example, cut it into easy-to-eat slices.
While you are wearing braces, it is important to avoid food that will break brackets and loosen bands. Sometimes you may not discover something is broken until hours later. When in doubt, just say “no” and walk away.
Here are some of Dr. Haeger’s thoughts on No-No foods:
Excellent care of your teeth is essential for improving your smile. Brushing three times per day and flossing at least once per day will really help make the orthodontic treatment successful. The videos listed below demonstrate proper brushing and flossing technique. If you are a child and having difficulty, please ask your parent for help. For further instruction, please ask at your next appointment.
The answer is yes. We require each patient’s teeth to be cleaned and all cavities filled before starting orthodontic treatment. We recommend seeing your family dentist at least every 6 months (sometimes every 3 or 4 months) for cleanings and cavity checks during the entire orthodontic treatment.
If you play sports, it’s important that you check in with us for special precautions. A protective mouth guard is advised for playing contact sports. Please ask us for a mouth piece. In the event of any accident involving the mouth or jaw area, check for any loose appliances immediately. If teeth are loose or the appliances are damaged, call us at once for an appointment. In the meantime, treat your discomfort as you would treat any general soreness.
If you have been prescribed to wear rubber bands, please understand they a very important part of your orthodontic treatment — especially if you would like to have your braces removed on schedule. Rubber bands move teeth in ways Dr. Haeger is not able to do very easily. With proper rubber band wear, your treatment almost always finishes on time, with superior results.
At your appointment, we demonstrate and give you a sheet showing how to hook up the rubber bands. If you have any concerns or questions, please call our office right away. We’d rather not wait until your next appointment to find out that the rubber bands may have been moving the teeth in the wrong direction.
Rubber bands will likely make your teeth sore. If necessary, gradually build up time over the first week until you’re wearing them 24 hours per day, seven days per week. If you take them out before eating, be sure to replace them right away after your meals. Rubber bands need to be changed approximately three times each day, because they lose their stretch as they are left in your mouth during the day. It’s a good idea to change your rubber bands after each meal.
Continuous wearing is important for success. Keep an extra pack with you at school, work, or anywhere else away from home. If you run out of rubber bands, call our office right away. We will gladly mail them to you.
You have been given a specific type of rubber band to use. Don’t use any other type of rubber band unless otherwise instructed. Also, “doubling up” the rubber bands (unless instructed) will not accelerate your treatment.
Many times when our patients have worn their rubber bands as requested, their treatment time has been significantly reduced. Our number one goal is for you to achieve your best possible smile.
If you have been prescribed to wear headgear as a part of your orthodontic treatment, it is usually for one of two reasons. First, headgear can slow down the growth of the top jaw so that the lower jaw can “catch up” in growth. Second, headgear can move the top teeth back so they will fit better with the lower teeth.
When hooking up your headgear, slide one side into a molar tube, then slightly pinch the headgear bow before placing the other side. While holding the face bow with one hand, hook up your strap to the hole, as demonstrated at your appointment. When removing your headgear face bow, remember not to pull both sides out at once. This will usually bend the face bow and make it difficult to place in the molar tube the next day. Also, do not rock the face bow up and down when removing it. This can loosen bands.
Headgear should be worn 12-14 hours per day. This is often difficult to achieve but necessary for the headgear to work properly. At first, “build up” time wearing the headgear by using it for shorter intervals. You may also loosen the strap on both sides for a limited time. When you first begin wearing headgear, your molar teeth may become sore. This is normal. As you get used to your headgear, you’ll notice your teeth will not be nearly as sore as they were at first.
We do not recommend wearing headgear to school. Headgear can be worn in the late afternoon and when sleeping. It can be removed for meals. Most importantly, headgear should be worn every day. Inconsistent headgear wear is like not wearing headgear at all. If you have trouble fitting your headgear, please call our office for an appointment. And don’t forget to bring your headgear to your orthodontic appointment for adjustments.
Congratulations! Your braces have been removed and it is now time to wear retainers.
Please follow the retainer timeline below to keep your beautiful teeth on track and in position for the rest of your life.
Initially, you may find it difficult to talk with a retainer. You might want to practice speaking, reading, or singing out loud to get used to them faster.
Please note: if you cut back on the time you wear your retainers and they feel tight when you put them in, it means you need to wear them more often.
With proper care, retainers will last for years.
These can be left in place indefinitely, provided your dentist inspects them at your twice yearly visits. It is common to see patients 10 – 20 years later with their cemented wire still intact. We will repair or replace your cemented wire at no charge for two years. If you decide that you would like to switch to a removable retainer, there is no charge to do so within the first two years.
If you have any questions or concerns about your retainers, or your retainers need adjusting, call us. Please do not try to adjust them yourself. And don’t forget to bring your retainers to your appointments so we can ensure they are fitting properly.