Orthodontic FAQs

What is the difference between an orthodontist and a dentist?

In Texas a dentist is allowed to perform any type of treatment he or she feels capable of handling. An orthodontist is a dental specialist who has the same degree as a dentist plus a certification that requires at least two years of advanced education in orthodontics from a school approved by the American Dental Association. Only a specialist who has successfully completed the approved course is called an orthodontist, and only an orthodontist may belong to the American Association of Orthodontists.

What are some of the benefits of orthodontics?

There are numerous benefits to orthodontics. They range from minor aesthetic changes to physical and emotional health.

For the longest time, braces were only considered for children and teens. That has changed, and more adults than ever have decided to join the movement to enhance their smile and protect their teeth.

When the upper and lower teeth are aligned properly, the tremendous forces of chewing and grinding are more easily absorbed by the teeth, jaw bones and jaw joint. This provides a person with a bite that will add to the long-term health and attractiveness of his or her teeth and smile.

Some of the benefits of orthodontics are:

  • More attractive smile
  • Reduced appearance-consciousness during critical development years
  • Increased self-confidence
  • More rapid promotion advancement
  • Improved dental function
  • Guide permanent teeth into better positions

Most often the reason for orthodontics will be one or more of the following:

  • Protrusion of the upper and or lower teeth
  • Misaligned, overlapping or crowded teeth
  • Gaps or spacing
  • Excessive tooth wear or breakage
  • Underbite or excess overbite
  • Poor jaw alignment
  • Unattractive smile
  • Difficulty in cleaning teeth
  • Difficulty in eating/chewing certain foods
  • Large teeth in a small jaw
  • Premature loss of teeth (baby teeth are space savers for permanent teeth)

FYI! Do you know that the first thing most people notice is your smile?


Two-Phase Orthodontics (early interceptive treatment)

There are times when children exhibit signs of crowding teeth or jaw problems as they are growing. Jaws may grow too much or too little. Sometimes they may be much too narrow or wide. These children (over the age of 4) may be excellent candidates for early orthodontic care.

Because children grow at a rapid rate, appliances can be utilized to direct growth to improve the jaw and teeth alignment. Most often it is simply creating enough room to have all the permanent teeth erupt without the need for extractions. With some cases, if this early care is not provided, corrections may involve more comprehensive resolutions. Early treatment may decrease the treatment time required for the second phase. Often, at the end of the first phase, the teeth are not in their final position, as this will be accomplished during the second phase. The primary goal of the first phase is to develop a solid foundation for the teeth. Periodic recall appointments are set in order to check the progression of jaw growth and permanent tooth eruption. Second-phase treatment most often consists of straightforward orthodontic therapy that will accomplish the final alignment of the teeth.

The major advantage of two-phase therapy is to maximize the opportunity to guide jaw growth and tooth eruption. Optimizing the treatment with the correct timing of the child’s growth and development is of utmost importance in these cases. The main disadvantage of waiting for permanent tooth eruption is a final result that may not be functionally healthy or stable. Tooth extraction or corrective jaw surgery (orthognathic surgery) may be required as well.

Signs You May Need Braces

There are numerous signs that braces may be needed. The American Association of Orthodontists suggests that all children receive an orthodontic evaluation by age seven. An evaluation in our office is complimentary. Below are some of the more common signs that orthodontics may be needed:

  • Upper front teeth protrude excessively over the lower, or are “bucked”
  • Upper front teeth cover the majority of the lower teeth when biting together (deep bite)
  • Upper front teeth are behind or inside the lower front teeth (underbite)
  • The upper and lower front teeth do not touch when biting together (open bite)
  • Crowded or overlapped teeth
  • The centers of the upper and lower teeth do not line up
  • Finger or thumb sucking habit which continues after 6 or 7 years old
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Teeth wearing unevenly or excessively
  • The lower jaw shifts to one side or the other when biting together
  • Spaces between the teeth


Infection Control

Our office practices the most stringent level of infection control suggested for orthodontics. We steam-sterilize our handpieces (drills), dry heat-sterilize our hand instruments, chemically disinfect all our counter tops, and employ single-use disposable items whenever possible. Look around when you visit us. Ask questions! Your health and safety is a primary goal.

Playing a musical (wind) instrument

Although braces do affect some musical instruments, the effect is only for a short period of time. Usually you will be back to your level of play in two weeks. In most cases, it would be advised to have your braces put on far in advance of any recital or competition.

Playing Sports

We have not experienced any significant problems associated with any type of athletic competition. If the sport you are participating in normally uses a mouthguard, we recommend you continue to use one. If you do not normally wear a mouthguard for a particular sport (such as soccer), then it not necessary to start wearing one because you have gotten braces. Your teeth are actually very protected by the braces if you should have a contact injury.

What foods can I not eat?

You should not eat hard or sticky foods or candy. They will damage the braces and cause extended treatment time.

You should not eat popcorn. Popcorn causes infections if the hulls get between the teeth and gums. The space between the teeth and gums becomes larger when you wear braces, or as the teeth move to their new position.

Think of your braces as having a fine Swiss watch in your mouth. They are an investment, and you’ll want to take care of them.

How long does the average patient wear braces?

The average orthodontic treatment time is 15 to 20 months. Of course, some treatments will be slightly longer, or shorter, depending on the individual.

If I break a bracket, or part of my braces, what should I do?

Broken braces should be fixed as soon as possible in most cases. If you or your child is in pain, please use the emergency paging instructions you receive when you call our primary phone number ((512) 331-7900). If there is no discomfort involved, and you feel waiting for normal business hours is appropriate, please call then. If you are not sure what to do, CALL the emergency number.

Please call ahead of your next scheduled appointment if something is loose or broken. This ensures we can allow time to do all the necessary work and save you an extra trip.

My teeth are sensitive to temperature, what can I do?

If you have general sensitivity you can try over-the-counter sensitivity toothpaste, such as Sensodyne. These are usually helpful. General sensitivity associated with orthodontics is usually only short term.

Are invisible braces better than regular braces?

Invisalign® Orthodontic System and iBraces, as well as conventional braces, produce an equally good end result as long as the case is chosen and diagnosed correctly.

There are cases where Invisalign® is actually the chosen treatment modality, and there are cases where Invisalign will not work at all. With iBraces most cases that can be treated with conventional braces can be treated with iBraces. Again it depends on case selection and diagnosis. During your initial consultation with us, an evaluation as to whether or not you are a candidate for the Invisalign system will be discussed. Read more information about Invisalign on our Invisalign page.

Can adults get the same results as children by having braces?

YES! Adults will usually require more treatment time and more long-term retention. But adults can receive the same quality result as children. In fact, the adult demographic of orthodontics is the fastest growing segment of the industry.

Do I need retainers?

Retainers are an extremely important part of orthodontics. Retainers should be worn at least 10 hours a day, for as many months/years instructed when given the retainers.

Please remember to bring your retainers with you to any of your follow-up appointments.

Do not see your question?

E-mail your question: info@austinorthodontics.com