9 Things Your Orthodontist Wants You to Know

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
  • Happy Woman with Perfect Smile
    Secrets to a Better Smile
    Orthodontists—specialty dentists with additional years of training—are experts in jaw and bite issues, not to mention making your smile beautiful. But even if you wore braces as a kid, there’s probably a lot you don’t know about orthodontics today. Here’s what practicing orthodontists have to say.
  • Dentist talking with Patient and Parent
    1. “It’s not as expensive as you think.”
    Ask any parent what he or she dreads most about braces, and it’s probably the cost. But this fear is often unfounded. “Decades ago, parents had to choose between buying a new car and getting their child braces. Not anymore,” says orthodontist Morris Poole, DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery). “My patient families are relieved to learn how affordable it’s become.”
  • Adult Woman with Braces
    2. “Adults get braces, too.”
    Think braces are just for kids? Think again. “More than one million U.S. adults are having orthodontic treatment. Most are able to achieve excellent results,” says orthodontist Nahid Maleki, DDS, MS. “I’ve treated adults ages 70 and older who wanted to improve their smiles. It’s never too late.”
  • Happy Child at Dentist
    3. “Get your child checked early.”
    One of the most important things you can do is bring your child for an orthodontic check around age seven or eight. “This initial checkup—before all a child’s permanent teeth are in—allows us to identify problems early on, when they can be more easily corrected,” says Dr. Maleki. “Early treatment can help reduce treatment time down the line.”
  • Dentist Examining Girls Teeth
    4. “Treatment isn’t always necessary.”
    Some parents assume that orthodontists will always recommend braces. “If a patient doesn’t need orthodontic treatment, we will not recommend it,” says Dr. Poole. “In fact, we often suggest non-orthodontic treatment to help reduce the need for braces. For example, simply removing a few baby teeth can prevent overcrowding and allow permanent teeth to come in straight.”
  • Young Girls teeth close-up
    5. “It’s not all about looks.”
    If your children have perfectly straight teeth, you may think they’ll skate through childhood without braces. But sometimes orthodontics are necessary even for people with seemingly perfect smiles. “Orthodontics is not just about aesthetics. That’s a by-product of creating function,” says orthodontist DeWayne McCamish, DDS, MS. “If teeth don’t fit together correctly, this can affect the long-term health of your bone and gums.”
  • Girl Wearing Braces
    6. “Braces have come a long way.”
    Remember kids flashing a mouthful of silver? Those days are over. “Braces are now one-third the size they used to be,” says Dr. Maleki. “Plus, there are a lot more options, such as tooth-colored ceramic braces and lingual braces, which are hidden from view on the inside (tongue side) of the teeth.”
  • Dental Retainer
    7. “Follow-through is necessary.”
    When your orthodontist gives you instructions on how to care for your teeth, it’s important to follow them exactly. “We know right away if you’re not brushing like you should,” says Dr. McCamish. “And when your braces come off, it’s critical you wear your retainer as instructed. Teeth are continually moving; they aren’t set in concrete. Wearing the retainer will help keep them in their ideal positions.”
  • Calendar
    8. “Missing appointments hurts progress.”
    You may feel like you’re constantly driving your child back and forth to the orthodontist, but it’s important to keep those appointments. “Delaying or skipping visits can stall progress and extend treatment time,” says Dr. Poole. “In some cases, it can also lead to overcorrection. We develop a treatment plan and then make adjustments at each appointment.”
  • Working with Braces
    9. “Don’t try to fix teeth yourself.”
    The internet is filled with do-it-yourself techniques to correct crooked or protruding teeth—from rubber bands designed to pull your teeth together to “custom” trays that promise to align your teeth. But these can often do more harm than good. “Successful treatment is best accomplished with a plan by a trained professional,” says Dr. McCamish. “Patients have lost their front teeth using do-it-yourself treatments.”
9 Things Your Orthodontist Wants You to Know
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Last Review Date: 2021 Apr 11
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.