Most people aren't born with a perfect smile. Orthodontics can correct a wide range of conditions that may cause discomfort or dissatisfaction with your smile. With modern advancements in orthodontics, treatment is now widely available for patients of all ages without causing disruption to your lifestyle.
Patients throughout the Twin Cities trust The Dental Specialists for orthodontics because of our experience, our patient-centered approach and our variety of treatment options. Depending on your needs, we may recommend one of the following treatments:
Metal braces are made of high-grade stainless steel and are still the most common orthodontic treatment. Fortunately, today's metal braces are smaller, more comfortable and more attractive than the traditional metal braces of years ago.
Ceramic braces are made of translucent (clear) material. They are most popular with adult patients due to their cosmetic appeal. The only drawbacks to ceramic brackets are that they are more fragile, and the elastic ties can discolor between orthodontic visits.
The Invisalign® system is a series of clear overlay templates—called aligners—that have been generated by computer simulation to gradually move the teeth. This system is available to adult patients with certain orthodontic bite problems. Ask us if you are a candidate for the Invisalign® system.
Your initial appointment will consist of a thorough examination and a discussion of potential treatment options. This visit typically lasts 45 minutes and gives us valuable insight into your orthodontic needs.
To expedite treatment, we may reserve time following the exam for diagnostic records that include digital radiographs, photos and impressions. These study models are necessary for developing the appropriate treatment plan.
During the initial examination, we will address a variety of questions that cover the basics of orthodontic treatment. We encourage you to ask questions as well.
During your appointment, we will analyze all your records and develop the best treatment plan for your unique needs. We will discuss all the options and details with you including how long treatment will take and how much it will cost.
Caring for Your Braces
It’s always important to eat a well-rounded, healthy diet. Orthodontic treatment doesn’t have to prohibit you from receiving proper nutrition as long as you know what foods you can and can’t eat while wearing your braces. We encourage you to continue eating from all five major food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy and meat.
Hard fruits, such as apples, and hard raw vegetables, such as carrots, broccoli and cauliflower, should be cut into bite-size pieces. If you bite into one of these harder foods, a bracket could pop off your tooth. Soft fruits, such as bananas, blueberries and strawberries, and cooked vegetables are usually safer to eat.
Many breads are soft, but please avoid biting into hard crusts, such as pizza crust and pretzels. Always make sure to break or cut these foods into bite-size pieces. You may also heat these grain items to make them softer to chew.
Most dairy products are soft, which means they are safe and easy to eat while wearing braces. Cheese is a great snack, but make sure to cut it into bite-size pieces as some cheese may get stuck on your brackets. Sometimes cold frozen yogurt and ice cream can alleviate any soreness after an adjustment appointment, but please brush your teeth thoroughly to get rid of the sugar!
Meat can sometimes cause problems because it’s typically hard to chew and sometimes tough. Lean meats are easier to eat, such as fish, chicken, lean beef and lean pork. Always cut your meat into small, bite-size pieces, and please do not eat meat from the bone, such as a chicken wing.
For most situations, common sense will tell you what to avoid. Hard foods, sticky foods and foods high in sugar must be avoided. Hard foods can break or damage wires and brackets. Sticky foods can get caught between brackets and wires. Minimize sugary foods; they cause tooth decay and related problems. Nail biting, pencil and pen chewing and chewing on foreign objects should be avoided.
Examples of Sticky Foods to Avoid:
Gum (sugar-free or regular)
Examples of Hard Foods to Avoid:
Nuts & seeds
Hard taco shells
French bread crust/rolls
Corn on the cob
It’s important to regularly check your braces for bent or loose wires and brackets. In the event of a loose/broken wire or bracket, call our office to arrange an appointment for repair.
The best way to ensure a clean and healthy smile is brushing and flossing. Food particles can accumulate on teeth and in braces, and over time, turn into plaque. The bacteria that results from this accumulation can lead to gum disease, tooth decay and even loss of teeth. To avoid these problems while you are in orthodontic treatment, take special care of your braces, teeth and gums to ensure you will have the best possible result.
Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small strip of fluoride toothpaste. When you brush your teeth, move the brush in small, circular motions to reach food particles that may be under your gum line. Hold the toothbrush at an angle and brush slowly and carefully, covering all areas between teeth, between braces and the surface of each tooth. It will take you several minutes to thoroughly brush your teeth. Brush up on the lower teeth, down on the upper teeth and the outside, inside and chewing surface of your front and back teeth. Brush your tongue and the roof of your mouth before you rinse.
Especially during orthodontic treatment, brush your teeth four times daily to avoid the accumulation of food particles in your teeth and braces:
In the morning after breakfast
After lunch or right after school
You will need to replace your toothbrush more often due to your appliances. As soon as the bristles start to wear down or fray, replace your toothbrush with a new one. It may be difficult for your toothbrush to reach some areas under your archwire. Do not swallow any toothpaste; rinse your mouth thoroughly with water after you finish brushing. It is important to floss and use an antibacterial mouthwash and fluoride treatment throughout your orthodontic treatment and beyond for optimal oral hygiene.
For areas between the teeth that a toothbrush can’t reach, use dental floss to remove food particles and plaque. Flossing takes more time and patience when you are wearing braces, but it is important to floss your teeth every day.
Use the reusable floss threader provided by our office to floss under your archwire daily. Pull a small length of floss from the dispenser through the threader and slide it up and down along the front of each tooth. You will be able to feel when the tooth is clean and hear the squeak of the floss against your clean teeth. Use care around your archwire and do not floss too forcefully around it or put too much pressure on it. After you floss between your archwire and braces, floss between your other teeth and gums.
If you are flossing without the floss threader, pull a small length of floss from the dispenser. Wrap the ends of the floss tightly around your middle fingers. Guide the floss between all teeth to the gum line, pulling out food particles or plaque. Unwrap clean floss from around your fingers as you go, so that you have used the floss from beginning to end when you finish. Floss behind all of your back teeth.
Floss at night to make sure your teeth are clean before you go to bed. When you first begin flossing around your braces, your gums may bleed a little. If the bleeding does not go away after the first few times, inform a staff member at your next appointment.
What to Do in Case of Emergency
Call our office as soon as possible if you break or loosen any of your appliances. Please do not come directly to the office – by calling us, you will allow us to create a time to see you. Even if you have a regular appointment scheduled, call us to notify us if you need an appliance repaired.
Loose Brackets or Bands
Call our office for advice if a bracket or wire is loosened. The bracket may need to be re-fitted as soon as possible. You may have a situation that requires cutting a wire or sliding a bracket off a wire at night or over the weekend. If you need to cut a wire in case of emergency, you may use fingernail clippers that have been washed and sterilized in alcohol. Please call our office the next business day, so that we may schedule an appointment for you.
Sometimes discomfort caused by a wire on your braces can be resolved by moving the wire away from the irritated area with a cotton swab or eraser. If the wire will not move, try covering the end of it with a small piece of cotton or a small amount of wax. If the wire is painful, you can cut it with nail clippers or scissors that have been washed and sterilized in alcohol. If you cannot resolve the wire irritation, call our office for an appointment.
Most patients lose a separator during their treatment. Do not worry about losing a separator, but call our office to see if it needs to be replaced.
Discomfort with Orthodontic Treatment
During the first week after your braces are in place and routine adjustments are complete, you will likely feel some pain, soreness or discomfort. You may take ibuprofen or other non-aspirin pain relievers while you adjust to your new braces. A warm wash cloth or heating pad may reduce the soreness in your jaws.
Is it required that my family dentist schedule my appointment with the orthodontist?
No. Many of our patients are referred by their family dentist, yet many other patients take the initiative to schedule an examination themselves.
At what age should I schedule an appointment for an orthodontic screening?
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends an orthodontic screening at age 7. By this age, several permanent teeth in most children have erupted, allowing us to effectively evaluate your orthodontic condition.
Will my teeth straighten out as they grow?
No. The space available for the front teeth does not increase as you grow. In most people, after the permanent molars erupt, the space available for the front teeth decreases with age.
How do I schedule an appointment for an initial exam?
If you or your child can potentially benefit from orthodontic treatment, simply call our office, send us an e-mail or fill out our consultation request form online. We will be happy to schedule an appointment for you. When you call to schedule your appointment, our front office staff will request some basic information from you.
What will happen at the initial examination appointment?
Upon arriving, each patient and parent will be seen by the staff and doctor who will acclimate you to our office and prepare for the initial exam. We will take the necessary photographs and X-rays to allow us to make a proper diagnosis. The doctor will then complete a brief, but thorough, exam.
What will I learn from the initial examination?
There are five essential questions that we will cover during the initial examination:
Is there an orthodontic problem, and if so, what is it?
What must be done to correct the problem?
Will any teeth need to be removed?
How long will the treatment take to complete?
How much will the treatment cost?
Will I need to have teeth extracted for braces?
Removing teeth is sometimes required to achieve the best orthodontic result. Straight teeth and a balanced facial profile are the goal of orthodontics. However, because new technology has provided advanced orthodontic procedures, removing teeth is not always necessary for orthodontic treatment.
How long will it take to complete treatment?
Treatment time obviously depends on each patient’s specific orthodontic problem. In general, treatment times range from 12 to 30 months. The “average” time frame a person is in braces is approximately 22 months.
How much will braces cost? Are financing options available? How does my insurance work?
It is impossible to give an exact cost for treatment until we have examined you. We will cover the exact cost and financial options during the initial examination. We have many financing options available to accommodate your needs, and we will review these with you. We will also review your insurance policy and help to maximize your benefit and file your claims.
How often will I have appointments?
Appointments are scheduled according to each patient’s needs. Most patients in braces will be seen every five to 10 weeks. If there are specific situations that require more frequent monitoring, we will schedule appointments accordingly.
Can I schedule all of my appointments after school?
Unfortunately, we cannot schedule all appointments for students during after-school hours. However, because most appointments are scheduled five to 10 weeks apart, most patients will miss minimal school due to their orthodontic treatments. We will, however, make a sincere effort to meet your scheduling needs.
Can I drop my child off for an appointment?
Yes. We understand your busy schedule, and we are happy to help you make the most of your time. On some occasions, we may request to speak with a parent when they return, so we ask that parents check in with their patient manager before dropping off their child.
Do braces hurt?
Generally, braces do not “hurt.” After certain visits, teeth may be sore for a few days. In these situations, pain medications such as Advil or Tylenol will ease the discomfort. However, after most visits, patients do not feel any soreness at all! We often remind our patients, “It does not have to hurt to work!”
Can I return to school the day I receive my braces?
Yes. There is no reason to miss school because of an orthodontic appointment.
Do you give shots?
No. Shots are not necessary in orthodontic treatment.
Do you use recycled braces?
Absolutely not! It is our belief that each patient should be provided with their own braces to achieve the best orthodontic result possible.
Can I still play sports?
Yes. We recommend a mouth guard for all sports.
Do I need to see my family dentist while in braces?
Yes! Regular checkups with your family dentist are important while in braces. Your family dentist will determine the intervals between cleaning appointments while you are in braces.
Are there foods I cannot eat while I have braces?
Yes. Once treatment begins, we will explain the complete instructions and provide a comprehensive list of foods to avoid. Some of those foods include: ice, hard candy, raw vegetables and all sticky foods (i.e. caramel and taffy). You can avoid most emergency appointments to repair broken or damaged braces by carefully following our instructions.
How often should I brush my teeth while in braces?
Patients should brush their teeth at least four times each day – after each meal and before going to bed. We will show each patient how to floss their teeth with braces and may also provide a prescription for a special fluoride, if necessary.
What is an emergency appointment? How are those handled?
If your braces are causing extreme pain or if something breaks, you should call our office. In most cases, we can address these issues over the telephone. If you require an emergency appointment, we will set aside time for you.
Can orthodontic correction occur while a child has baby teeth?
Yes. Some orthodontic problems are significant enough to require early intervention. However, if a patient is not yet ready for treatment, we will follow that patient’s growth and development until the time is right for treatment to begin.
What is Phase One (early) treatment?
Phase One treatment, if necessary, is usually initiated on children between the ages of 7 and 10. Phase One treatment lasts about 12-21 months. The primary objective for Phase One treatment is to address significant problems to prevent them from becoming more severe and to improve self-esteem and self-image.
Will my child need full braces if he/she has Phase One treatment?
It is best to assume that your child will need full braces even after Phase One treatment. The period following Phase One treatment is called the “resting period,” during which growth and tooth eruption are closely monitored. Throughout this period, parents and patients will be kept informed of future treatment recommendations.
Will my child need an expander?
At the completion of the initial examination, we will determine whether a patient will need an expander.
Is it too late to have braces if I am already an adult?
A surprising percentage of our patients are adults. In fact, 25 percent of all orthodontic patients are adults. Health, happiness and self-esteem are vitally important to adults. No patient is “too old” to wear braces!
Can I wear braces even though I have crowns and missing teeth?
Yes. A tooth with a crown will move just like a tooth with a simple filling. When teeth are missing, orthodontic treatment will aid in the alignment of the remaining teeth.
Why should I choose an orthodontic specialist?
Teeth, and sometimes entire facial structures, are permanently changed by orthodontic treatment. It is important that the treatment be appropriate and properly completed. Orthodontic specialists have extensive and specialized training that enables them to provide their patients with professional, personalized treatments.