Orthodontic FAQs

orthodontic faqs

Frequently Asked Questions About Orthodontics

What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics (also referred to as dentofacial orthopedics) is a specialized form of dentistry focusing on the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial abnormalities.

What is an orthodontist?

An orthodontist is a dental specialist who has received two to three years of additional training and experience. Your orthodontist is able to straighten teeth, correct misaligned jaw structure, and improve the function of your teeth.

What's the best age to visit the orthodontist?

If you want to improve the aesthetics and function of your smile, then any age is a great age to see the orthodontist. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children first visit an orthodontist around the age of seven; however, orthodontic treatment is not exclusive to children and teens, with about one in every five orthodontic patients being over the age of 21. Whether you're considering treatment for yourself or for a child, any time is a good time to visit the orthodontist.

Will it hurt to get braces?

One of the most commonly asked questions is, "Will it hurt to get braces?" Absolutely not! The procedure to get braces is completely painless.

A gradual soreness will begin about three hours after the braces are placed and last about three to five days. Braces are adjusted every eight weeks, and will again be sore for a few days following adjustments.

Will my braces interfere with my school activities like sports, playing an instrument, or singing?

Playing an instrument or a contact sport may require some adjustment when you first get your braces, but wearing braces will not stop you from participating in any of your school activities. If you play a contact sport, it is recommended that you wear a mouthguard to protect your braces or appliance.

If I get braces, how long do I have to wear them?

The amount of time spent in braces will vary depending on the individual patient, because every smile responds differently to treatment. Treatment times can take anywhere between six and 36 months, but most standard treatments take about 22 months.

Do I need to brush my teeth more often if I have braces?

With braces, you should brush your teeth at least three times a day to keep your teeth, gums, and mouth healthy and clean. Brushing regularly will help remove any food that may be caught between the braces and prevent permanent scar marks in the enamel. You should also floss daily to get in between your braces where your brush isn't able to reach. Dr. Cottingham can show you how to properly brush and floss once your braces are placed.

If I have braces, do I still need dental checkups every six months?

Yes! In fact, it's even more important that patients receiving orthodontic treatment visit their dentist regularly. With braces, food may be caught in places that your toothbrush can't reach. This causes bacteria to build up that can lead to cavities, gingivitis, and gum disease. Your dentist will work closely with you and Dr. Cottingham to make sure that your teeth stay clean and healthy while wearing braces.

My child is eight years old...why does he/she need braces now?

In most cases, he/she won't. Dr. Cottingham will help you carefully weigh the cost/benefit ratio of early or two-phase treatment. Most cases can be managed through the use of simple space maintainers instead of two sets of braces. However, early evaluation can make the difference in having to remove permanent teeth or not.

How can I take care of my teeth if I'm wearing braces or a retainer?

  • ALWAYS remember to brush your teeth after every meal and floss at least once a day.
  • Make sure to use toothpaste that contains fluoride, and ask your orthodontist or family dentist if you need a fluoride rinse. This will help prevent cavities!
  • Take out your retainer to eat and make sure you brush your teeth and floss. Remember to keep it safe in its container so that it does not get lost or broken.
  • Keep your retainer clean, too, by brushing it gently with a toothbrush and toothpaste. You may also soak it in denture cleaner as instructed by your orthodontist. Do not put your retainer in boiling water or in the dishwasher.
  • During your treatment, try to avoid foods with a lot of sugar, which increases the amount of bacteria that grows in your mouth, causing more plaque and possibly cavities.
  • Avoid sticky and chewy foods (caramel, chewing gum, gummy bears), hard foods (hard candy, nuts, ice cubes), or any foods that could possibly get stuck in your braces (corn on the cob, soft bagels, ribs, taffy, etc.).
  • Be sure to schedule your routine checkups with your family dentist. It is recommended that you continue to visit the dentist every six months.

How do I schedule my next appointment?

Simply call Cottingham Orthodontics at 317-299-0576. Our front desk staff is happy to help schedule your next appointment at your convenience. If you are a new patient or have been referred to our practice, please let us know and we will provide you with all of the information you need.

American Association of Orthodontics American Board of Orthodontics Smiles Change Lives

a few kind words...

  • "Dr. Cottingham and her staff were very kind and professional. I had a great experience and without a doubt would go there again!" ~ Trisha B
  • "My overall experience was outstanding. Dr. Cottingham and her staff are outstanding in making you comfortable and confident."~ Johnny B.
  • "Wonderful results for my son! Professional, fun, caring staff! Will be back with my youngest soon! Thanks so much for taking such great care of us!"~ Lisa R.
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