Miami orthodontic healthWe know many of our school-aged patients are excited about this time of year because the candy feast that is Halloween is just around the corner.

We’re excited for an entirely different reason: October is National Orthodontic Health Month! Let’s celebrate it by busting some common myths about orthodontic treatment, shall we?

Myth: Silly Grownups, Braces are for Kids!
Fact: Adults are a fast-growing demographicin the orthodontic treatment realm, due in large part to the ever-increasing number of aesthetic treatment options. Invisalign, lingual braces, and clear or ceramic braces are just a few examples of the options available today.

One in five orthodontic patients is an adult. Between 2010 and 2012, orthodontists across the country saw a 14 percent increase in the number of adult patients, according to the American Association of Orthodontists.

Myth: Orthodontic Treatment isn’t Covered by Dental Insurance
Fact: Another study conducted for the AAO found that more than half of all new orthodontic patients had dental insurance that provided benefits for orthodontic treatment. Flexible spending accounts also can be used to help finance orthodontic treatment for yourself and your children.

Myth: You Can Etch Your Treatment Time Estimate in Stonestone-tablets
Fact: One of the first questions patients ask at their initial consultation is how long will they have to be in orthodontic treatment. We always provide an estimate, but we remind our patients it’s just that- an estimate.

So many factors determine how long treatment will last, from missing an appointment or breaking a bracket or other appliance, to teeth that simply are slow to move.

The most important factor for me is that your bite is correct, not that your treatment is finished within the estimated timeframe.

Myth: It Takes Two Years or More for Braces to Achieve the Desired Result
Fact: Technological advancements have paved the way for us to correct bite and alignment issues in record time. While it’s important to keep in mind what I just said about the estimated treatment time myth, AAO members reported in 2012 that total treatment time for patients averaged 22 months. This is a decrease of one month as compared to results in a 2008 study, according to an article published in 2013.

In cases where patients require minor tooth alignment, I often use 2D Lingual Brackets. Treatment with this system can take between three and nine months to complete.

Interceptive treatment when children are young and still growing can reduce the amount of time they are in braces later in life. We can guide a child’s growth to make room for crowded teeth, correct jaw growth discrepancies, and pave the way for faster treatment when the time is right for braces.

Myth: Braces are so Painful, You’ll Lose Weight While in Orthodontic Treatment
Fact: Orthodontic treatment is not a form of fad dieting. People who think of braces as being painful often are thinking of older forms of treatment. It is true that you may experience some mild discomfort when you first get your braces on, but this goes away in a few days and it won’t affect your ability to get enough to eat each day.

Today’s orthodontic appliances are smaller, smoother and more comfortable than the braces your parents and grandparents had. So don’t let anyone fool you into thinking that orthodontic treatment is torturously painful. It isn’t.

Myth: Orthodontic Treatment Can Harm My Teeth
Fact: Orthodontic appliances of yesteryearwere banded appliances that did increase the risk of tooth decalcification and decay if patients failed to maintain good oral hygiene. But these days, we bond brackets to your teeth and those brackets cover less tooth surface than older styles. This paves the way for better brushing because you can access more tooth surface.

With orthodontic treatment options such as Invisalign with its removable aligners, oral hygiene is not an issue at all. You remove your aligners to eat or drink beverages other than water. You also remove them before brushing and flossing, so your hygiene routine doesn’t change.

Myth: If I Kiss Someone Who Has Braces, Our Appliances Can Become Stuck
Fact: It may be time to take a break from the John Hughes movies. While silly things like this may be portrayed in movies about those awkward high school years, you would have to work pretty hard to get your braces caught up in someone else’s. I don’t recommend you try to prove me wrong, though. Just trust me on this one.

Myth: You Can’t Play Wind Instruments if You Have Braces
Fact: Having braces on your teeth takes some getting used to. You may experience some mild speech difficulties when you first get your braces. But you’ll quickly adapt to the appliances. The same holds true for playing wind instruments while you’re in orthodontic treatment. Playing your instrument may be challenging for a few days, but as you adapt to your new appliances, you’ll find your groove and you’ll be making sweet music again in no time.

Hawley retainer

Hawley retainer

Myth: Once the Braces Are Removed, Your Teeth Will Remain Straight Forever
Fact: Wrong, wrong, wrong. Orthodontic treatment gets your teeth into alignment, but wearing your retainers after treatment is a necessary step in maintaining all that we accomplished through treatment.

We often place a fixed retainer behind your lower teeth because they are prone to shifting after treatment. You’ll be given a removable retainer to wear on your upper teeth, and you’ll be asked to wear it all the time immediately after having your brackets and arch wires removed. We will gradually taper this down over time, but it’s important to remember that retainers are for life.

We tell patients it is a good practice to put your retainer in before you go to sleep each night. If you don’t wear it nightly, be sure to pop it in every few days and take note of how it feels when worn. If you feel pressure when you place it over your teeth, that is a clear sign that your teeth have shifted- although likely only slightly. Wear the retainer nightly until the pressure goes away, and then you can return to wearing it at least a few nights per week.

I hope you feel more educated about orthodontic treatment now that we’ve busted these myths.