An orthodontist is one who specializes in treating alignment or orientation-related issues of the mouth and teeth.
This branch of dentistry is not just for cosmetic purposes, but also to help those who suffer with incorrect jaw position or hard-to-clean tooth alignment that negatively affects their eating and/or speaking habits.
Other similar issues can also be corrected through orthodontics.
Here’s what you can expect at the orthodontist:
First, your orthodontist will provide a consultation and may take molds and/or perform x-rays on the current position and alignment of your teeth and jaw. They will discuss with you future plans and what type of options you may have at 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 to be corrected. You may require multiple consultation appointments or initial appointments before having treatment done.
Future appointments there afterwards may consist of having your orthodontist device(s) put in place. Sometimes before one gets braces, they will have other orthodontic devices put in place such as retainers or expanders to widen the jaw or provide a simple movement in the mouth necessary before the braces can be set in place.
Afterward a few months or so, the oral appliance (if applicable) is removed, and typically one set of braces (either top or bottom) are placed first. Applying both top and bottom braces is a little hard for patients to adjust to in terms of how it feels to speak and eat and in terms of slight oral discomfort for a while, which is why one set is typically done first.
Just one set is very easily to adjust to for most and isn’t completely strange feeling or hard to speak or eat with. Plus, this way, the braces application can be split into two separate appointments and much quicker to get out of. 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, and often, patients will have to have little rubber bands to connect to certain parts of their braces to aid with the movement of their teeth. At each appointment after the braces are put in, bands will be changed out on the braces and will be tightened.
Having your bands placed on each individual brace is not painful, but sounds and feels like your tooth is being “stapled,” with the pressure but not any pain. Some actually like the sound and sensation of having their bands placed in.
The wire on both top and bottom braces is 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 backs of the mouth), the patient may feel a slight stabbing pain from the wire into their gum tissue which can cause an infection. 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.
Having braces tightened should not hurt either and feels as if you have a little bolt on your teeth that is being twisted (with no pain). However, slight discomfort will be felt afterwards.
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, but this is just the temporary discomfort one feels after having their braces tightened.
Other orthodontic appliances, removable or nonremovable, may be used during orthodontic treatment. Usually the most difficult part of orthodontic treatment is dealing with molds for those with a bad gag reflex, and for others, simply waiting in the waiting room to get their appointment out of the way. Orthodontics should not be painful and is easier than one may expect to deal with.
Molds for retainers after the orthodontic treatment may be used, and a retainer may need to be used for life if one wants to continue having a perfect set of properly-aligned teeth. Emergency orthodontic appointments should be set in place for those with accidents or a breakage of their orthodontic device (which can be fairly rare). Specific guidelines and oral hygiene tips are given to patients to have the quickest and best orthodontic experience as possible, and most have a positive experience with little to no complications.