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Orthodontic Questions/FAQs

Why is orthodontic treatment important?

Orthodontic treatment is important because it helps ensure proper function and create healthy, beautiful smiles. Teeth that are misaligned are harder to clean and can cause abnormal wear of tooth enamel which can lead to extensive and expensive dental procedures.

Should I go to an orthodontist or a dentist for braces or Invisalign?

Choosing an orthodontist instead of a dentist for braces or Invisalign is important because dentists get very limited training on the “How to” of tooth movement and skeletal diagnosis in dental school. Orthodontist attend an extra 2 to 3 years of residency purely focused on moving teeth properly. Orthodontists are dental professionals with the skills and experience to best treat orthodontic problems. Aligning teeth to function properly and look great, too, is what an orthodontic specialist does best.

What causes orthodontic problems?

Most problems are inherited – such as crowding, spacing, protrusion, extra or missing teeth and some jaw growth problems. Others can be a result of thumb- or finger-sucking, dental disease, accidents, the early or late loss of baby teeth or other causes.

Do I need orthodontic treatment?

There are a variety of reasons to receive orthodontic treatment. Your teeth and your smile is one of the first characteristics people recognize and remember about you after they meet you. Having a beautiful smile and a stable bite can be life changing. It’s best to schedule a visit with an orthodontist to determine your specific needs. Click here for more information. 

What’s the cost of orthodontic treatment?

Orthodontic specialists customize both treatments and fees. After a face-to-face consultation, you can determine what type of treatment, appliances and results might work best for you. A flexible payment plan, which can include dental insurances, FSAs and HSAs, may be used to construct an affordable plan.  

How long does orthodontic treatment take?

It depends on the complexity of the case and what the patient wants to achieve. A short-term touch up can be as little as several months while comprehensive treatment could last several years.

Am I too old for braces?

Age doesn’t matter. The key factor in determining a good candidate for treatment is the health of teeth and gums.

When should my child see an orthodontist?


It is recommended to have your child see an orthodontist at 7yrs of age. Although treatment may not start at this time, your orthodontist can keep an eye on the eruption of permanent teeth and intervene when necessary. Click here for more info.

What is two phase orthodontic treatment?

Some patients may require two phases of orthodontic treatment. Early interceptive, Phase I treatment is when baby teeth and permanent teeth are present. This phase addresses more serious issues early and takes advantage of a patient’s growth spurt. Addressing necessary issues in Phase I, helps Phase II treatment be faster and less severe. Phase II is completed only when all the permanent teeth have erupted (or close to erupted) on patients who have received Phase I. A patient who never received Phase I treatment could not receive Phase II treatment, rather it is considered full treatment. Click here for more information.

How often are braces adjusted?

How often your braces are adjusted is determined by your orthodontist. It is individualized and may be 2 weeks, 5 weeks, or even longer. Everything is determined by your treatment plan and progress.

What can I drink with braces?

You can drink anything with braces but it’s important to avoid carbonated, sugary drinks. Check out this article for more information.

What are common orthodontic emergencies?

Some common orthodontic emergencies are broken brackets and pokey wires. Wax can be applied to pokey wires or to brackets causing irritation. Calling your orthodontist is always advised. Review how to place wax on a bracket or pokey wire below. 

What are retainers?

Retainers given to you at the end of your active orthodontic treatment. Teeth are more susceptible to relapse when braces are first removed because the new bone supporting your teeth is still maturing. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends wearing retainers for a lifetime or for as long as you would like to have straight teeth. More info available here.

How do I brush and floss with braces?


Brushing and flossing can take more time when you have braces in place. Your oral hygiene habits will need to change significantly. The usual brushing time of 2 minutes with no braces will be doubled to 4 minutes. We recommend putting on your favorite song and brushing all surfaces of your teeth. Especially using a 45 degree angle between braces and toothbrush (shown in video).  Flossing will also be more tedious due to the presence of the wire that connects each tooth. We have provided two videos that review brushing and flossing with braces for your review. Brushing and flossing is extremely important while you are in orthodontic treatment and should be made one your priorities. 

Brushing Video

Flossing Video

For a free initial evaluation, call 925.828.6972 today!

Jesus I. Patiño Jr. DDS, MS

Beautiful smiles are created in the details

San Ramon

9301 Fircrest Ln #1
San Ramon, CA 94583



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