Orthodontics and Braces FAQ

Orthodontics is the branch in dentistry concerned with correcting the alignment and appearance of teeth to achieve the optimal combination of form and function. Although most people associate orthodontics (or “braces,” colloquially) with cosmetics, fact of the matter is that proper alignment of teeth are also closely associated with gum and teeth health as well. Having straight and properly aligned teeth not only makes a person look good, but also provide real, tangible benefits in other areas as well. Our general dentist office in Spring, TX sees a lot of patients wanting or needing orthodontic treatment and below we outline some of the most common questions we hear from patients in this area.

Do you have to be young or a teenager in order to get braces?

It seems like many more kids than adults get braces.

I am just wondering if as an adult I might stand out in the wrong way if I get braces.

While it is true that many more kids than “grown-ups” get braces, the truth is that anyone can get braces anytime provided that the teeth and supporting tissues are healthy enough to undergo the treatment. If appearance during treatment is a concern, there are white or porcelain brackets that can be used in lieu of the more traditional metal ones to allow for a more camouflaged appearance.

Adult and Teen Braces

How long does orthodontic treatment take?

This can vary greatly among individuals depending on their case difficulty, growth differentials, and patient compliance. Usually, orthodontic treatment takes about 18-24 months to ensure proper and safe movement of teeth to the desired destination.

Average Orthodontic Treatment Time Frame

How does orthodontic treatment work?

Braces work by applying pressure to teeth to “push” them in the desired direction. This pushing motion dissolves bone in the direction being pushed and bone reforms behind the tooth from where it is being pushed. The result is that teeth are visibly shifted but bone level remains constant and in safe conditions. It is important to not have the teeth moved too aggressively or else root resorption might occur and lead to permanent damage for the teeth.

Orthodontic Movement

My orthodontist says that in order for me to get orthodontic treatment

I also need to address a skeletal abnormality since I have an Overbite.

What does this mean and what treatment is necessary to address this condition?

Proper teeth alignment requires that the skeletal components (jaws) are in proper alignment as well. Sometimes, there is disharmony in this area and this leads to either crooked teeth or a poor bite. There are 3 classes of jaw relationship: Class I (Normal), Class II (Overbite), and Class III (Underbite). To correct the undesirable skeletal relationships in Class II and Class III patients, headgears are often necessary during the growth years while in adults orthognathic surgery would be necessary to reset/realign the jaw correctly.

Overbite and Underbite

I hear that wearing braces can be painful. Is this true?

When braces are first put on or when wires are switched out, for the first few days of movement the teeth can feel quite “tight” and a bit sore from the movement that is taking place. However, for most people the discomfort can be well controlled with Advil/Tylenol and after a few days the soreness goes away for most people. Another source of common discomfort can come from the brackets scratching the gum/cheek tissues. This can be alleviated with wax pellets covering the metallic surfaces of orthodontic brackets or patients letting their soft tissues getting used to the devices though the formation of callous tissues.

Are Braces Painful?

What is the difference between the old-fashioned metal braces and Invisalign?

I have heard that Invisalign braces are not visible and much more comfortable to wear.

Invisalign is a modern approach to braces where no metal brackets or wires are used. Instead a series of sports-guard aligners are used to slowly push and align teeth to the desired position. Because no metal is used, there are no cosmetic concerns and patients are less worried in that area. However, Invisalign is appropriate in only mild and moderate cases and in severe cases where a lot of teeth movement is needed, the more traditional wires and bracket systems are still the desired and necessary system to achieve the desired result.

Invisalign vs Braces