Here are four facts to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about braces:

Can I get my teeth cleaned at the dentist during orthodontic treatment?

Yes, you most definitely can. A dental hygienist can work around wires, brackets, and appliances to provide a thorough cleaning. It is recommended to have your teeth cleaned and a check-up from your dentist before beginning orthodontic treatment. After that, keep up with those routine cleanings and check-ups every six months to help with a healthy smile. Also, don’t forget to mention to your ortho assistant at Carter & Higgins Orthodontics when you’ve had a cleaning and check-up and a cavity-free visit to your dentist, as this is worth mega points on your rewards card!!

How important is it to floss while wearing braces?

Flossing is essential while wearing braces. Food particles and other buildup get trapped between the teeth, along the gum line, and even under the gums that our toothbrushes can’t reach. Flossing carefully between each tooth and up into the gum line helps prevent cavities, tooth discoloration, gum disease, and gingivitis. Flossing with regular floss while wearing braces can be difficult and time-consuming. Air flossers, water flossers (waterpik), and floss threaders have made flossing much easier for our orthodontic patients.

Do braces hurt?

The actual process of putting braces on does not hurt at all. After getting their braces on, most of our patients do not experience any pain or discomfort for the first few hours. However, it is important to know that the braces begin doing their job pretty quickly, which means the teeth will move. It’s the movement of the teeth that causes pain or discomfort. Patients have reported feeling uncomfortable or sore two to five days after their initial bonding appointment. We recommend having on-hand soft foods like pudding, yogurt, smoothies, soup, mashed potatoes, and jello for the first few days after getting braces. Our patients are also sent home with soft, orthodontic wax to combat any irritation created by the brackets and wires that might be felt in the inner cheeks, lips, and gums. Over time, our mouths get used to the wires and brackets, and rarely will the wax be needed.

How long do I have to wear a retainer?

Our teeth move and shift throughout our lifetime, so the simple answer to this question is as long as you want straight teeth, wear your retainer. Years ago, it was believed one only needed to wear a retainer for the first 1.5 to 2 yrs after having braces and then throw it out. As our teeth tend to want to go back to their original position, causing what is known as an orthodontic relapse, many patients who stopped wearing their retainers found their teeth rotating, crowding, and even their bite changing years after having received orthodontic treatment. It is recommended to wear a retainer for life, although the frequency of retainer wear tapers off over time. Ask your orthodontist for the instructions on retainer wear for your specific case. An example of lifetime retainer wear might look like this: At home or full-time wear for the first six months, nighttime wear for the next six months, every other night while sleeping for six months, and then one or two nights a week ongoing.

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