An orthodontist is one who specializes in treating alignment or orientation issues of the mouth and teeth.
This branch of dentistry is not just for cosmetic purposes. It can also help those who suffer from an incorrect jaw position or specific tooth alignment that negatively affects their eating and/or speaking habits.
Other similar issues can also receive correction through orthodontics.
Here’s what you can expect at the orthodontist:
First, your orthodontist will provide a consultation, which may or may not be free of charge (it’s free at Hawaii Family Dental). They may take molds and/or perform X-rays on the current position and alignment of your teeth and jaw. They will discuss your future plans and what type of options you may have on hand to fix your specific issues (braces, Invisalign, or other orthodontic devices).
This is a fairly easy appointment that ultimately decides what problem(s) need correction. You may require multiple consultation appointments or initial appointments before having the actual treatment.
Future appointments thereafter may consist of having your orthodontic device(s) put in place. Sometimes before one gets braces, they will have other orthodontic devices put in places such as retainers or expanders to widen the jaw before the braces can be set in place. After a few months or so, the dentist will remove the oral appliance (if applicable).
Typically, your orthodontist may apply one set of braces (either top or bottom) first. This is because applying both top and bottom braces is a little hard for patients to adjust to. Just one set of braces at a time is easy to adjust to for most and isn’t all that hard to speak or eat with.
Plus, this way, the braces application will be split into two separate appointments. Thus, this means you’ll be out of the appointment quicker. This is especially great for for students or those who work full-time and don’t want to sacrifice too much of their time at each session. The entire application, however, is not very long and goes by fairly quickly.
Patients usually get to choose the color or color combination of the bands on their braces’ brackets. At each appointment, your orthodontist will change out the bands on your braces.
Having bands placed on each individual brace is not painful. Instead, it sounds and feels like your orthodontist is “stapling” your teeth, all without the pain. Some actually like the sound and sensation of having their bands placed.
The wires on both the top and bottom braces are also typically changed out, which does not hurt. However, if the orthodontist does not cut the ends of the wire far enough (which extend to the back of the mouth), the patient may feel a slight stabbing pain from the wire into their gum tissue. For this reason, orthodontists typically give their patients a special wax to place on these areas or on other “pokey” parts of the braces to prevent “stabbing” of wires or brackets.
Tightening braces should not hurt patients. It simply feels as if your orthodontist is twisting a little bolt on each tooth. However, you may feel slight discomfort afterward.
Many orthodontists have pain relievers on hand for their patients. The discomfort feels a lot like one feels after chewing a large, thick piece of gum for the entire day. The jaw and teeth feel a little tired and overused. However, this is just the temporary discomfort one feels after their orthodontist tighens their braces.
Other orthodontic appliances, removable or nonremovable, may be necessary during orthodontic treatment. Usually, the most difficult part of orthodontic treatment is dealing with molds for those with a bad gag reflex. For others, simply waiting in the waiting room to get their appointment out of the way. Others despise having to wear rubber elastics that hook onto multiple braces brackets to aid with the movement of their teeth.
Generally, orthodontics should not be painful and is easier than one may expect to deal with.
Your orthodontist may take a mold for a retainer after the orthodontic treatment. In fact, a retainer may need to be used for life if one wants to continue having a perfect set of teeth. Emergency orthodontic appointments should be set in place for those with accidents. Losing or breaking your retainer can certainly be considered a dental emergency.
Your orthodontist will give specific guidelines and oral hygiene tips to ensure you have the quickest and best orthodontic experience possible. Be sure to follow these guidelines from the time your treatment starts and even after it ends, if applicable.