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What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics is the term for the division of dentistry related to diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and facial irregularities, technically known as malocclusion, or incorrect bite.
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What is the origin of the word orthodontics?

Orthodontics comes from two Greek words: “orthos” meaning right or correct, and “dons” meaning tooth. Therefore, having orthodontic treatment translates to having “correct teeth”.


Why is orthodontic treatment important?

There are several reasons why orthodontic treatment is important. The obvious being an attractive and aligned smile. Aside from appearances, there are health-related problems that may occur without treatment including tooth decay, the development of gum disease, and destruction of the bone (typically the jaw). Chewing and digestion difficulties can also occur. An incorrect bite can also lead to speech impairments, as well as eventual tooth wear, and other dental issues.


What is involved in Orthodontic Treatment?

First, the orthodontist examines your mouth and determines what is required. Records are taken (i.e. X-rays, models, photographs of face and teeth) to reconfirm the initial examination. Then, the orthodontist applies braces, removable appliances or other fixed devices to change, as gently as possible, the positioning of the jaws and/or teeth.

Typically, orthodontic treatment will require anywhere from 10 to 24 months, but sometimes more, depending on complexity and cooperation. During that time, the orthodontist will make adjustments to the orthodontic appliances about once every 8 weeks. These are usually short appointments, lasting 10 to 15 minutes.

When the braces are removed, your orthodontist will provide either removable and/or fixed wire retainers depending on the requirements of the individual case. Typically, removable retainers are worn full time for 6 months, during which time they can be taken out for eating, brushing, sports and special occasions. After that, they need to be worn only at night time.


Has the look of braces changed over the years?

Braces have changed a lot in the last 20 years. You do not have to get a 'metal mouth' when you get braces. They are very different than they were in the past. The following are the most commonly used orthodontic appliances:

Metal braces

The original orthodontic brace covered approximately 70 per cent of the tooth. Brace size has now been reduced by up to 40 percent or more. Coloured elastics can also be used to secure the wire into the braces which add a bit of variety and fun to treatment.

Invisible or ceramic braces

Created in tooth-coloured material, these are difficult to notice from a distance and, therefore, may be more appropriate for adult patients who find the low visibility appealing.

In addition, a limited number of adult patients may benefit from the new Invisalign® system which straightens teeth without wires and brackets, using a series of clear customized removable appliances called aligners. Invisalign® certified orthodontist, Dr. Raffi Aynaciyan, will diagnose your problem to determine whether you are a candidate for this virtually undetectable appliance. For more information, you can visit


How much does an orthodontic procedure cost?

Orthodontic fees vary depending on the complexity and duration of treatment. Commonly, payment plans are spread over the course of treatment which we find are most acceptable and convenient to patients. In addition, those with orthodontic coverage in their dental insurance plans may have a portion of the costs of treatment covered. Please consult with your insurance carrier.


What are the benefits of early orthodontic treatment?

To sum it up, benefits will:

  • Encourage the jaws to grow properly
  • Improve the width and form of dental arches
  • Avoid potential extraction of permanent teeth
  • Avoid the need for jaw surgery
  • Lessen the potential of jeopardizing protruding teeth
  • Eliminate poor oral habits
  • Increase confidence
  • Reduce the need for full treatment later in life
  • Achieve optimal final results
  • Reduce likelihood of affecting other teeth
  • Improve speech development
  • Provide proper space for new adult teeth
  • Improve lip closure
  • Reduce likelihood of future jaw joint issues

How long do I have to wear retainers?

Typically, removable retainers are worn full time for six months, during which time they can be taken out for eating, brushing, sports and special occasions. After that, they need to be worn only at night time. Bondable retainers can be worn longer-term if necessary. We will determine your specific needs during your follow-up appointments.


What causes teeth to shift?

Small changes that sometimes occur after braces are removed are due to a “settling in” phase as you use your teeth for biting and chewing. Some of the more serious changes may be traced to genetics or due to later-than-normal growth, which is unpredictable. Movement is typically most common in lower front teeth. This is particularly true if teeth were very crowded prior to treatment. Changes in tooth position are a lifelong, naturally occurring phenomenon. The best way to keep teeth from shifting is to wear your retainers as prescribed. If you notice movement in your teeth after your braces have been removed, please contact us.


Is there a limit to the length of time retainers can be worn?

Simply put, no. Retainers stabilize and preserve the alignment of teeth and jaws that orthodontic treatment has achieved. Many people wear removable retainers nightly for the rest of their lives. Achieving your healthy, beautiful smile has been a team effort involving you, your orthodontist, your dentist, and other dental specialists as needed. Because dental hygiene is so important to your good dental health, be sure to continue to visit your family dentist regularly and brush and floss as instructed by your dentist. If you have questions about long-term retainer wear, give us a call.


I had orthodontic treatment as a teen. Now as an adult, my teeth are out of place. What can I do?

If you notice an unwanted change in your smile or bite, contact us for information. An orthodontic tune up may be necessary to regain proper alignment.

Will wisdom teeth cause teeth to shift?

Research suggests that wisdom teeth do not necessarily cause teeth to shift. In most cases, removal of wisdom teeth is done for general dental health reasons rather than for orthodontic health. Visit our office or your family dentist for an assessment of your wisdom teeth. If you have concerns about your wisdom teeth, visit your family dentist for guidance, or call our clinic.


If I am missing some teeth, can I still receive orthodontic care?

Yes, in fact, missing teeth is a good reason to seek orthodontic treatment. Since teeth can slowly shift over time, mainly due to bone density loss as we age, the gap where you tooth or teeth once were can be reason for your teeth to shift more freely than they would if the gap wasn’t present. We will work with your dental specialist who will provide an implant replacement of the missing tooth or teeth to achieve best results.


Can my teeth be straightened if I have been treated for gum disease?

Depending on the health and condition of your gums, we will determine if orthodontic treatment is right for you. We will consult with your dentist, and after a detailed examination, you may possibly be a candidate. If you are, you will need to continue regular management with your dentist and periodontist to ensure a comprehensive approach to your dental needs.

If you have questions for us that are not answered here, give us a call.

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