Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that deals with straightening and correcting the tooth alignment and the dental specialist who does this is called an "Orthodontist".

When to See an Orthodontist

If you recognize any of these signs or concerns in your child or yourself, it might be time to schedule a consultation with an orthodontist.

  • You want a beautiful smile
  • You feel a great smile will improve your self-esteem and self-confidence
  • You want the best for your family
  • Early or late loss of baby teeth
  • Difficulty chewing or biting
  • Mouth breathing
  • Sucking the thumb or fingers, or other oral habits
  • Crowded, misplaced or blocked-out teeth
  • Jaws that shift, make sounds, protrude or are recessed
  • Speech difficulty
  • Biting the cheek or biting into the roof of the mouth
  • Protruding teeth
  • Teeth that meet in an abnormal way or don’t meet at all
  • Facial imbalance or asymmetry (features out of proportion to the rest of the face)
  • Grinding or clenching of teeth
  • Inability to comfortably close lips

Who Needs Orthodontic Treatment?

Today children as well as adults are choosing to have orthodontic treatment since age is no longer a factor that governs the feasibility of the treatment. But as you grow older the duration of the treatment is increased since it is easier to shift and align teeth during the growth phase of the jaws. Orthodontic treatment corrects
-malocclusion (bite or occlusion is off)
-tooth malalignment (crooked teeth)

There are a lot of treatment options these days, from retainers to clear aligners to invisible, metal, ceramic and micro braces. They each have their uses. Orthodontists have the specialized knowledge to consider all possibilities, based on variables like your age, possible jaw imbalances, differences in the size of your teeth, and more. They know what to use and when to use it, and will work with you to make the best decision – for your best smile.


Traditional Braces

Traditional braces are comprised of brackets that are affixed to teeth and wires that are threaded through slots in the brackets. Some patients may also have metal bands encircling back teeth. Wires are held to brackets by tiny rubber bands called “ligatures” or “o-rings.” Brackets are generally made of stainless steel. Wires are made of metal alloys and deliver a constant, gentle force to move teeth.

Traditional Ceramic Braces

Traditional ceramic braces are tooth-colored, making them next-to-invisible. They are affixed to teeth, and wires are threaded through slots in the brackets. Wires are held to brackets by tiny rubber bands called “ligatures” or “o-rings.” Brackets are made of ceramic or porcelain materials. Wires are made of metal alloys and deliver a constant, gentle force to move teeth.

Self-Ligating Ceramic Braces

Self-ligating ceramic braces are tooth-colored, making them next-to-invisible. They are affixed to teeth, and wires are threaded through slots in the brackets. Built-in clips hold the wires to the brackets. Brackets are made of ceramic or porcelain materials. Wires are made of metal alloys and deliver a constant, gentle force to move teeth.

Self-Ligating Metal Braces

Self-ligating metal braces are comprised of brackets that are affixed to teeth and wires that are threaded through slots in the brackets. Some patients may also have metal bands encircling back teeth. Built-in clips hold the wires to the brackets. Metal brackets are generally made of stainless steel. Wires are made of metal alloys and deliver a constant, gentle force to move teeth.

Clear Aligners

Clear Aligners

Aligners are clear, thin, plastic-like trays that are formed to fit an individual’s teeth. Patients are responsible for putting in and removing their aligners. A series of aligners is created to move teeth. Each aligner is worn for 2-3 weeks, and moves teeth a fraction of a millimeter at a time. Patients must remove aligners for meals and when brushing/flossing. The number of aligners needed to correct misaligned teeth varies based on the individual’s orthodontic problem and its correction. See your orthodontic specialist for the treatment option that is best for your individual needs.


Clear Retainers

removable retainers are clear, thin, slightly flexible, and made of a plastic-like material. They fit the exact shape and placement of the teeth. Not only are there removable retainers, but there are also fixed retainers. Both types of retainers hold teeth in their new positions after “active” orthodontic treatment is completed. This allows newly formed bone to harden around the teeth. Wearing retainers as instructed is the key to maintaining the success of orthodontic treatment. Patients may be advised to wear retainers full-time for the first six months after “active” treatment ends, with subsequent wear time reduced to night-time only. When not in the mouth, removable retainers should be kept in the case provided by the orthodontist.



Elastics are tiny rubber bands that apply extra force to a tooth or teeth in ways that braces alone cannot, so that teeth move into their ideal positions. Tiny hooks on selected upper and lower brackets as used as attachment points. The configuration of the elastics can be vertical or diagonal, depending on the individual’s need. Patients are responsible for placing and removing their elastics. Elastics should be worn as prescribed by the orthodontist. Do not wear more elastics than prescribed. Doing so places excessive force on the teeth and can be harmful.

Other Devices


A mouth guard is used by athletes of all ages to protect teeth from trauma during competitive and individual sporting activities. They are made of a variety of materials, some relatively flexible and others relatively rigid. Custom-made mouth guards deliver the greatest protection. Over-the-counter mouth guards are available in “boil and bite” versions, which are formed to the individual’s mouth, and “ready to wear” versions, which cannot be customized and offer the least protection.

Sleep Apnea Appliance

A sleep apnea appliance is a custom-made device that slips over top and bottom teeth to help patients who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea and/or who snore keep their airways open when they sleep. They hold the lower jaw slightly open and slightly forward.


Life during orthodontic treatment will include periodic visits to the orthodontist, possibly some minor changes in diet for the duration of treatment, and more frequent toothbrushing along with daily flossing.

Braces diagram

This diagram below illustrates and names the parts of a typical set of braces.

A. Ligature The archwire is held to each bracket with a ligature, which can be either a tiny rubber band or a twisted wire.

B. Archwire The archwire is fastened to all of the brackets and creates force to move teeth into proper alignment.

C. Brackets Brackets are bonded directly onto each tooth.The archwire is held in place by a series of brackets.

D. Molar Bands A metal band with a bracket attached is wrapped around select molars for additional anchorage.

E. Bracket with Hook and Ball Hook Hooks and ball hooks, each attached to a bracket, are used for the attachment of rubber bands (elastics), which help move teeth toward their final position.

F. Rubber Bands Rubber bands (elastics) are used to temporarily connect brackets between the upper and lower jaw to add force for additional tooth movement.

How often will we see the orthodontist?
Visits to the orthodontist to adjust braces or to pick up new aligners, at which time your orthodontist will evaluate the progress of treatment and assess the health of the teeth and gums, will be scheduled about every 6 to 10 weeks.

How long will treatment last?
The length of treatment is different for each patient because each patient has a unique problem. Your orthodontist will give you an estimated length of treatment. Here are five tips to make your treatment go as quickly as possible:

  • Follow your orthodontist’s instructions on the frequency of brushing and flossing, and see your dentist for a professional cleaning at least every six months during orthodontic treatment, or more often if recommended.
  • Watch what you eat if you have braces. Stay away from hard, sticky, and crunchy foods. Opt for foods that are soft and easy to chew. If you have 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.
  • Beware of sugary, acidic soft drinks including regular and diet soda pop, fruit juices, fruit drinks and sports drinks. Tap water is recommended.
  • If prescribed, wear your elastics (rubber bands) as instructed.
  • Keep scheduled appointments with your orthodontist.
  • What do I do if a bracket or wire comes loose, or if I misplace an aligner?
    If a bracket or wire comes loose, or if you lose or break an aligner, let your orthodontist know right away. Broken braces cannot deliver the right forces to move your teeth, and that could prolong treatment. Aligners should be worn in a particular sequence. Your orthodontist is the best person to call for advice about next steps, and to advise whether a lost aligner will extend your treatment time.

    We have a special event coming up – can braces be removed?
    Discuss this with your orthodontist. But be aware that premature removal of braces may not be in your best interests for a stable, functional result from orthodontic treatment.

    We won’t need to see the dentist during orthodontic treatment, right?
    It’s critical that you continue seeing your family dentist during orthodontic treatment. Your dentist will provide professional cleanings and check-ups, and like your orthodontist, will keep an eye on oral health. Visit your dentist at least every six months during orthodontic treatment, or more often, if recommended.

    Do braces cause discomfort?
    There can be some initial discomfort when braces are placed, or for a short time after braces are adjusted, but this is temporary. Overall, orthodontic discomfort is short-lived and easily managed. Once patients become accustomed to their braces, they may even forget they have them on.

    How much work/school will we miss?
    There may be some time away from work or school during your orthodontic treatment, but your orthodontist will do his/her best to minimize it. If you have braces, the longest appointments will be to place and remove your braces, and will likely be scheduled during the work day. Appointments to adjust braces or pick up a new set of aligners, scheduled every 6 to 10 weeks, are usually short.

    How often should you brush?
    Your orthodontist will give specific instructions, but in general, you should brush for two minutes after every meal or snack, and before bed. Carry a travel toothbrush and small tube of toothpaste with you so you can brush when you’re away from home. Bring along floss and an interproximal brush, too. If you’re in a pinch and absolutely are not in a position to brush after eating or drinking at the very least rinse with plain water. It can help you get rid of some food particles or traces of beverages

    What kind of toothpaste should you use?
    Fluoride toothpaste is recommended, preferably without any whitening.

    How often should you floss?
    A minimum of once a day.

    I don’t like to floss.
    Flossing is crucial to successful orthodontic treatment, and to on-going oral health. Flossing removes plaque from parts of your teeth that brushing alone can’t reach. Plaque is the enemy – it’s the source of disease processes in teeth and gums.

    Why is all this brushing and flossing necessary?
    Brushing and flossing keep teeth and gums clean by removing plaque and food debris. When plaque and trapped food are left on the teeth and around braces, the outcome can be cavities, swollen gums, bad breath and permanent white marks on the teeth. Maintaining good oral hygiene helps to minimize your time in treatment, and contributes to a healthy result.

    Manual toothbrush or a power toothbrush?
    Use the toothbrush that works best for you. Make sure you brush for two minutes each time you brush! Change the toothbrush or power toothbrush head at the first sign of wear, or at least every three months.

    Are there other tools we can use to help with oral hygiene?
    Here are three handy oral hygiene tools:

    • Interproximal brushes – these are great at dislodging plaque and food particles trapped between teeth, and to clear out debris that catches on brackets and wires.
    • Water irrigators – these can flush out food particles in a jif!
    • Fluoride mouth rinse – whether over-the-counter or prescription strength, a daily fluoride rinse can strengthen tooth enamel and help prevent white marks (decalcification). Your orthodontist may suggest dipping an interproximal brush in a capful of fluoride rinse to deliver fluoride protection between the teeth, or using a fluoride rinse instead of water in an irrigator.

    What can you eat with braces?
    A healthy diet supports the body as it undergoes the biological changes that occur during orthodontic treatment. You are encouraged to enjoy a variety of healthful, easy-to-chew foods during orthodontic treatment. Soups, stews, casseroles, pasta, scrambled eggs and smoothies can be good choices. You can enjoy fresh fruits like apples and pears, but they should be sliced rather than bitten into. Similarly, sandwiches and pizza are OK, but they should be cut into bite-sized pieces. Cut corn off the cob before serving.

    What can’t you eat?
    Stay away from foods that are hard, sticky, crunchy or chewy for the duration of treatment. Sugary and starchy foods should be avoided, too. Ban foods such as hard pretzels, hard pizza crust, crusty bread, taco chips, caramels, popcorn, hard candies or mints and nuts for the duration of your treatment.

    What about drinks?
    Tap water and milk are your best choices for drinks while braces are on. Beverages like coffee, tea and red wine can stain teeth. Try to avoid these, or keep them to a minimum. Avoid regular and diet soft drinks when wearing braces. These drinks include soda pop, sports drinks/energy drinks, flavored bubbly waters and fruit drinks (juices, punch). These drinks contain acids and/or sugars that dissolve tooth enamel and can lead to cavities. Be sure to brush right away after drinking a soft drink. If brushing is not possible, rinse thoroughly with water.

    What can you eat with aligners?
    A healthy diet supports the body as it undergoes the biological changes that occur during orthodontic treatment. You are encouraged to enjoy a variety of healthful foods during orthodontic treatment. Just be sure to take your aligners out before you eat, and before you put them back in, clean your teeth thoroughly.

    What can’t you eat?
    Nothing is off-limits. Just be conscious of the need to take out aligners to eat, and to clean your teeth before putting your aligners back in.

    What about drinks? Tap water is the only beverage that is safe to drink when your aligners are in. When wearing your aligners, avoid everything except tap water. You can remove your aligners to drink anything other than tap water. You’ll need to brush your teeth before putting your aligners back in. Except for tap water, remove aligners when drinking. After drinking, brush right away before putting your aligners back in.

    Are there orthodontic emergencies?
    Occasionally things happen to braces or aligners during orthodontic treatment. They may require a call or an unforeseen visit to the orthodontist – what your orthodontist will consider an “emergency visit.”

    Will we have to see the orthodontist?
    Whether you will need to be seen by the orthodontist will depend on what has happened to your appliance. Contact your orthodontist’s office to explain the problem and determine if you need to be seen.

    When does the orthodontist need to know something has happened?
    If you notice a bracket is loose or if a wire has worked itself out of place, or if there is unusual discomfort, notify your orthodontist.

    Are there things I can do at home to treat discomfort?
    Keep supplies on hand to address possible situations. Here are six suggestions:

    • Orthodontic wax.
    • Dental floss.
    • Interproximal brushes.
    • Topical anesthetic (such as Orabase or Ora-Gel).
    • Over the counter pain relievers (such as one taken for a headache). A warm salt water rinse can be soothing, as well (1 tsp. salt to 8 oz. warm water).

    Can sports be played during orthodontic treatment?
    Yes. But talk to your orthodontist about the type of mouth guard to wear.


Why Treat Malocclusion?

Orthodontics is not only used to improve your appearance. Malocclusion or malaligned teeth can have long term effects, such as: interference with normal growth and development of the jaws

  • abnormal swallowing patterns
  • abnormal facial muscle function
  • impairment of chewing
  • speech defects
  • susceptibility to cavities due to the difficulty of removing plaque from crooked teeth vulnerability to accidents or fractured teeth (if your front teeth stick out, they may be more easily injured)

How Do Braces Work?
Teeth can slowly be moved and shifted into proper position by applying pressure in certain directions. Bands, wires and elastics are placed on the teeth to move them in the right direction. This takes place slowly and carefully over an extended period of time. Shifting teeth back into a functional position can take months to years, but eventually you'll have a new and improved mouth! Retainers are often used after the braces, to hold the teeth in their new position until they are stable. It is important to wear the braces or an appliance for however long it takes. If you quit at any point during treatment, the teeth can shift back into their old position..

What are the early symptoms of orthodontic problems?
Although determining if treatment is necessary is difficult for you to assess, the following symptoms may help in prompting you to seek our orthodontic advice.
Ask your child to open their mouth, and let you look at their teeth. If you see any signs of crooked teeth, gaps between your child’s teeth or overlapping teeth, your child may need orthodontic treatment.

Ask your child to bite all the way down, but keeping their lips open so you can see their 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?
Look at the alignment of your child’s jaw. Does the jaw shift off center when your child bites down?

What age should my child be seen by an orthodontist?
Orthodontists recommend that your child be evaluated by age seven. Early detection of some orthodontic problems is important in order to take early corrective action and avoid more difficult treatment later.

Will it hurt?
Orthodontic Treatments has improved dramatically. As a rule, braces make your teeth sore for a few days, but it is not painful. This annoyance can be relieved with an over-the-counter pain reliever