• 330 E. Tabernacle Street, Bldg B | St. George, Utah 84770

  • (435) 628-4422

Braces 101

Types of Braces

Our office utilizes the most comfortable, efficient and technologically advanced braces available. Because we offer the latest technology in braces, more choices are available to our patients. Regular metal braces are still the most widely used, yet other types are gaining popularity.

Metal Braces

Metal braces are the most widely used type of braces. They are very strong and can withstand most types of treatment. Unlike the metal braces of the past, today’s metal braces are small, more comfortable and more attractive.

Clear Braces

Ceramic braces or clear braces are made of composite material. They are more often chosen by adult patients because they “blend in” with your teeth. Common drawbacks with the clear braces have to do with the ligatures (tiny rubber bands) that hold the arch wire to the brackets. These tend to stain between visits to your orthodontist.

Invisalign

Invisalign is “braces” that consists of strong plastic trays that are fabricated especially for you. Invisalign is for adult patients that have moderate orthodontic problems. Invisalign is truly invisible, no one will know that you are wearing braces.

FAQ

How do you know if a person needs orthodontic treatment?

It is usually difficult to know if treatment is necessary because there are many orthodontic problems that can occur even though the front teeth look straight. Asking your general dentist is good reference, but we are the best resource since orthodontics or braces is all we do. Since our initial exam is complimentary it only makes sense to get a free braces consultation with us. We will be happy to give necessary recommendations and our Orthodontist is happy to give expert answers.

What are the signs or symptoms of orthodontic problems?

Although determining if treatment is necessary is difficult for you to assess, the following may help in prompting you to seek our orthodontic advice.

Look at the teeth at any age. If you see any signs of crooked teeth, gaps between your child’s teeth or overlapping teeth, orthodontic treatment is indicated.

Bite all the way down, but keeping their lips open so you can the teeth. Do the front top teeth line up with the bottom? Do the top teeth protrude out away from the bottom teeth? Do the top front teeth cover more than 50% of the bottom teeth? Are the top teeth behind the bottom teeth? All these are indicators for potential orthodontic treatment.

Look at the alignment of the jaws. Does the jaw shift off center during biting down? If you see any misalignment or shifting of the jaw, it suggests a skeletal or jaw bone problem, which requires early orthodontic intervention.

These are only some of the obvious symptoms of orthodontic problems.

At what age should an orthodontist see my child? Do all baby teeth have to fall before initiating orthodontic treatment?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that your child be evaluated by age seven. Hence all baby teeth need not be gone before initiating orthodontic treatment. In fact, early detection of some orthodontic problems is important in order to take early preventive/interceptive treatment and avoid more difficult actions later. Early treatment also potentially prevents extraction of teeth which is needed in some cases if the teeth get very crowded. Again, since our initial consultation is complimentary, it helps to get an orthodontic consultation as soon as possible.

Can you be too old for braces?

No, age is not a factor. As long as the gums and bone which support your teeth are healthy, any age is suitable for braces or orthodontic treatment. About 30% of our orthodontic patients are adults and that number is still growing! Our oldest patient treated was 72 years old.

Will orthodontic treatment hurt?

Orthodontic treatment mechanics have advanced technologically over the last few years. Introduction of new high tech wires, smaller braces, innovative accessories and stress of preventive/interceptive treatments make today’s orthodontic treatment fairly comfortable. We do not use any anesthetic injections for any of the procedures. As a rule, braces can cause a little discomfort initially until one gets used to them. Teeth can get a little sore a day after every adjustment appointment but they are not painful. This annoyance can be relieved easily with over-the-counter pain relievers, if needed. Most of our patients do not need to take any pain relievers and staff is always on hand to answer any braces FAQs.

Can I still have braces if I have missing teeth?

Yes. When teeth are missing, adjacent teeth will drift into the empty space. This will cause a functional, esthetic or periodontal problem. Orthodontic treatment will correct and prevent these problems from happening and will also provide proper alignment for your dentist to replace the missing teeth.

What is Phase I (Early Interceptive Treatment) and Phase II treatment?

Phase I or Early Interceptive Treatment usually starts while the child has most of their baby teeth with few of their permanent teeth. The goal of Phase I treatment is to intercept any moderate or severe orthodontic problems early, in order to reduce or eliminate them. These problems include jaw bone problems, cross bites and developing crowding. This phase does not use full braces as braces are never put on baby teeth. Generally we use expanders, removable appliances, headgear and retainers during this phase. Most Phase I patients require Phase II treatment in order to achieve an ideal bite.

If Dr. Christian feels like early treatment is necessary, it can be beneficial to the long term health of your smile.

What is Full or Comprehensive Orthodontic Treatment?

Braces are on the upper and lower permanent teeth, taking care of all the problems

Does everyone need Phase I treatment?

Absolutely not! But in many cases early intervention helps a lot. We will offer Phase I treatment only if it makes a difference in the future, otherwise we keep the patients for a complimentary recall consultation every six months.

What is the length or duration of orthodontic treatment?

In our office, Phase I treatment usually lasts 6-12 months. Phase II or full braces treatment may last from 12- 36 months. In both situations, we generally see the patients every 4 to 12 weeks for their adjustment appointment.

Treatment time and its success depends on multiple factors such as, age of the patient, the severity of the problem, the patient’s cooperation and the speed of natural response of teeth movement.

What is extraction and non-extraction therapy, and what are the advantages and disadvantages of each?

Extraction therapy is a technique where some teeth are removed to make room for the other teeth in the mouth. This is in contrast to non-extraction therapy where one expands the patient’s jaw and/or slenderizes some teeth to reduce their width to make everything fit. We will make a thorough evaluation at the consultation and discuss the options to determine which procedure best suits the patient. Dr. Christian will always try to save all the teeth if possible.

About Braces

What is Orthodontics?

Orthodontics is the area of dentistry concerned with the supervision, guidance and correction of the dentofacial structures. Orthodontic treatment uses braces, retainers, and other appliances to correct any dentofacial abnormalities. Regular dental check-ups and orthodontic treatment are proven to be effective tools in helping establish and maintain good oral health for people of all ages.

What is an orthodontist?

An orthodontist is a specially trained dentist who has attended an advanced education program for a continual training period of 2 to 3 years. All members of the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) have received the appropriate training.

When should I visit the orthodontist?

It’s never too late to have a beautiful smile! Adults should visit an orthodontist to improve the appearance of their smile and their overall dental health at any time. Some orthodontic corrections need to be made as early as 3 to 5 years of age, but ordinarily children should visit an orthodontist at the time permanent teeth begin to erupt in order to detect any deficiencies in the child’s teeth formation. This is usually between 7 and 10 years of age. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children visit an orthodontist no later than age 7. At Dr. Christian’s, we treat people of all ages.

What can I expect on my first visit?

Your initial visit to the orthodontist will give you an opportunity to meet the doctor and our knowledgeable staff will answer any questions you may have. You will receive a complimentary clinical examination and panoramic x-ray to determine whether orthodontic treatment is necessary. If treatment is required, Dr. Christian will go over a treatment plan as well as an estimate of the treatment duration. Your treatment coordinator will answer any questions you may have concerning insurance, and will go over our flexible payment options. In most cases our patients are given the option to start treatment in 1 to 2 weeks. All necessary records to start your treatment can be done the same day. Our patients appreciate the fact that we are able to do everything in one appointment, so there is less time away from work or school.

Who should wear braces?

Braces may be worn by both children and adults, not only to improve the attractiveness of their smile but also because braces correct improper teeth alignment that can lead to gum disease and early tooth loss. Left untreated, crooked teeth with irregular spacing make cleaning harder and allow cavities to more easily develop. Properly aligned teeth also make it easier to chew all types of food and eliminate the headaches and pain caused by uneven chewing. Uneven teeth may result in weak enamel, gum problems and jaw misalignment.

What will my braces look like?

Braces are lighter, more comfortable and more technologically advanced today than ever before. They come in clear and a variety of color and material choices. Ask the office staff about what options are available. Other appliances include colorful bands, elastics, and retainers.

How will braces straighten my teeth?

Braces exert a gentle pressure on teeth over time to straighten them. The two main components include the braces placed on the teeth and the arch wire that connects them. The brace is a specially-shaped metal or ceramic affixed to each tooth and the arch wire is bent to reflect the bite that the patient should have after treatment. The wire threads through the braces. As the wire tries to return to its original shape, it applies pressure to move the teeth.

Are braces uncomfortable?

There have been some fantastic advances in modern orthodontics to make treatment more comfortable and quicker for patients. There are now smaller, smoother braces and gentler wires which provide a continuous small force over a long period of time rather than a strong force for only a short period. Typically there is some discomfort after the braces are first put on. Over the counter pain relievers and a soft foods diet will help alleviate this temporary discomfort.

Will braces affect playing sports?

You should be able to play just about any sport. However, it is recommended that you wear a mouth guard while participating in certain sports.

Will braces affect playing a musical instrument?

The only instrument that is affected by braces is the trumpet and it can be overcome by wearing a comforting cover. These are supplied by our office and are always available. Ask your assistant and she will be happy to give these to you.

Why are retainers so important?

Retainers help keep your teeth straight after the completion of treatment. If they are not worn as instructed, your teeth will move.

How long will my orthodontic treatment last?

Treatment may last from 12 to 36 months, though this will vary depending on your individual case. Your cooperation in keeping scheduled orthodontic appointments, maintaining proper oral hygiene and taking care of your braces may allow you to finish your orthodontic treatment early.

When should I visit the dentist?

You should continue to see your dentist every 6 months or as directed by your dentist during orthodontic treatment for routine dental check ups and cleanings.

How much does orthodontic treatment cost?

Orthodontic fees depend on the complexity of the orthodontic problem, the age of the patient and the estimated length of treatment. Since each patient is different, a visit to the office for a complimentary examination will allow you to get a better idea of the fees. We offer a variety of payment options with no down payment (OAC), 0% interest, and affordable monthly payments.

How does insurance work?

Please provide us with your insurance information at your first appointment. We accept and file most insurance

Life With Braces

Your braces will be attached quickly and easily to your teeth, but a full day is necessary for the bands to completely affix. It is a good idea to wait several hours after getting braces before eating solid food. You may find it easier to eat soft foods for the first couple of days while you are becoming accustomed to eating with your new braces. It is important to follow these simple rules to ensure you get the most out of your orthodontic treatment.

Comfort Concerns

The braces may feel a little awkward at first and the teeth may be tender or sensitive to pressure. This is completely normal and will go away soon. It may feel as though the braces are “sticking out,” but this sensation will also soon pass. Small pieces of orthodontic wax may be used if the brackets irritate cheek tissues. The orthodontic office always has extra wax in case you run out so you can call them if you need more.

Many patients will experience some discomfort at first, but the soreness will go away within the first few days or even hours of getting braces. It is impossible to predict exactly when the tenderness will end. Some patients choose to take over the counter pain relievers the first day of treatment to lessen the discomfort. To ensure the best result take the medications before your appointment. If you have comfort concerns regarding your braces, our staff will always be available to answer any questions you may have.

Eating Right

Braces are attached to your teeth with a strong adhesive, but may become loose as a result of eating certain foods. It is also possible that wires could become bent or broken without proper care. Since it is best to achieve orthodontic treatment goals with as few disruptions as possible, a well balanced diet is important to ensure a healthy environment for your teeth.

Patients should avoid foods that are sticky, hard or chewy. They should also avoid any food and drinks that are known to cause cavities. Patients should brush, floss and rinse their mouth regularly between meals.

The foods below are known to cause breakage of orthodontic appliances and are examples of what NOT to eat:

  • gum
  • beef jerky
  • nuts
  • hard or sticky candy
  • corn chips
  • crisp taco shells
  • whole apples
  • celery
  • caramel
  • taffy
  • popcorn
  • soft drinks
  • candy bars

Eating restricted foods may cause problems which will result in extra visits for repairs and will ultimately extend the length of treatment. You’ll have plenty of time to enjoy these restricted foods after completing your treatment. Any specific questions about food choices should be directed to your orthodontist and staff.

Braces Basics

Emergency

Emergency Phone Number:
435-632-5174

 

What to do in case of an Orthodontic emergency

Call our office as soon as possible if you break or loosen any of your appliances. Please do not come directly to the office – by calling us, you will allow us to create a time to see you. Even if you have a regular appointment scheduled, call us immediately to notify us if you need an appliance repaired.

Loose brackets or bands

Call our St. George office immediately for loose brackets or if a wire is loosened. The bracket may need to be re-fitted as soon as possible. You may have a situation that requires cutting a wire or sliding a bracket off a wire at night or over the weekend. If you need to cut a wire in case of emergency, you may use fingernail clippers that have been washed and sterilized in alcohol. Please call our office the next business day, so that we may schedule an appointment for you.

Wire irritations

Sometimes discomfort caused by a wire on your braces can be resolved by moving the wire away from the irritated area with a cotton swab or eraser. If the wire will not move, try covering the end of it with a small piece of cotton or a small amount of wax. If the wire is painful, you can cut it with nail clippers or scissors that have been washed and sterilized in alcohol. If you cannot resolve the wire irritation, call our office for an appointment.

Lost separators

To ensure there is enough space at the bonding appointment, separators must stay in the mouth 7 to 10 days before placing the bands. A lost separator is rarely an emergency but needs to be replaced on our next working day.

Videos


This Brushing Video will teach you how to brush your teeth with braces and illustrate how to use a proxy brush to clean in between your braces.


This Flossing Braces video will teach you how to use a floss threader or superfloss to thread floss under the archwire of the braces and properly floss your teeth.


This Braces Problem video will cover common braces problems such as braces pain, sore teeth, loose or broken braces, and sharp, poking wires and how they can be handled at home.


Separators or spacers are tiny elastic rings that are placed in between two teeth. This video will introduce you to separators and teach you how to replace a separator if it happens to fall out.


This video will illustrate the proper technique for turning the Palatal Expander screw as well as common mistakes in activating the Palatal Expander.

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