October is National Orthodontic Health Month and, just in time for Halloween, we have a harvest of helpful ortho information to share. Really, we like sharing this kind of information throughout the year because orthodontic health can also impact your overall health, in addition to helping you enjoy a healthier, happier, and straighter smile.
What Is Orthodontics?
As defined by the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO), orthodontics is a specialty of dentistry that prevents, diagnoses, and treats dental and facial irregularities. If you need orthodontic treatment, your family dentist will usually refer you to an orthodontist.
What Is An Orthodontist?
Similar to becoming a medical specialist, such as a surgeon or an internist, orthodontists complete an orthodontic residency program for two to three years after dental school. These extra years of schooling make the orthodontist the dental specialist in moving teeth and aligning jaws.
What Exactly Do Orthodontists Do?
Orthodontists mainly prevent or fix crooked teeth and/or correct misaligned bites, also known as malocclusions. To do this, they have several tools available:
- Braces consist of metal or ceramic brackets that are placed on your teeth with an adhesive and connected by wire, which are periodically adjusted to gradually move teeth into the desired positions.
- Clear Aligners, like Invisalign®, are removable clear plastic trays that put gentle pressure on the teeth, ever-so-slightly repositioning them. The patient switches out trays every couple of weeks, each one moving your teeth closer to their proper positions.
- Retainers are prescribed after orthodontic treatment and keep teeth in their new positions by preventing movement into their old positions. The success of your orthodontic treatment depends on your ability to diligently wear retainers.
How much does orthodontic treatment cost?
Naturally, the cost varies based on the specific needs of each patient. On average, traditional braces and aligners run between $3,500 and $5,500. A retainer can cost anywhere from $300 to $600 and are often included in the cost of orthodontic treatment.
How can you save on orthodontic treatment?
Smile Generation-trusted offices offer two easy ways to save. My Smile Dental Plan is a membership plan that lets you save up to 50% off different treatments. You can also get financing through Smile Generation Financial, which offers no interest if paid in full within 18 months on purchases of $500 or more* with your Smile Generation Financial credit card.
Is it harder to brush your teeth with braces?
Braces will require special attention when brushing and flossing around brackets and wires. Patients will need to keep teeth, gums and braces free of plaque and food debris so bacteria can’t attack tooth enamel or cause inflamed gums.
Do I still need to see the dentist during orthodontic treatment?
Yes! Whether you have braces or clear aligners, regularly scheduled dental visits are an important part of your oral health regimen. See your dentist for a professional cleaning at least every six months during orthodontic treatment. Maintaining good oral hygiene helps to minimize your time in treatment and contributes to a healthy result.
Should I avoid certain foods during orthodontic treatment?
Watch what you eat if you have braces. Stay away from foods that are hard, sticky, crunchy or chewy for the duration of treatment. Sugary and starchy foods should be avoided, too. Opt for foods that are soft and easy to chew.
If you have clear aligners, be sure to remove them before you eat or drink anything besides tap water and put them back in after you’re done eating or drinking and you have thoroughly cleaned your teeth.
How can orthodontic treatment help improve overall health?
Oral health is a window into your overall health. Orthodontic treatment helps ensure proper function of teeth and create healthy smiles. A good bite makes it easier for you to bite, chew and speak. Teeth that are misaligned are harder to clean, which can contribute to tooth enamel loss and inflamed gums. And research has long known that inflammation is the root cause of all major diseases, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and even Alzheimer’s.* The link between oral and overall health is so important, we’ve even given it a name: The Mouth-Body Connection® .
Is there an orthodontist near me?
At Smile Generation, you can ﬁnd trusted orthodontists near you, view staff proﬁles, and even read patient reviews.
*Time Magazine, 2004