Many people have questions about orthodontics. To give you a better understanding of your treatments, Dr. Claudia Torok and our team have provided this page of answers to frequently asked questions. If you have more questions, and to make your appointment with our friendly orthodontist in Los Angeles and Santa Monica, California, please call us today.

What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics is one of the nine recognized fields of dental specialties. It focuses on diagnosing, preventing, and treating dental and facial irregularities, also known as malocclusions (bad bites). Dentists who become orthodontists have received additional training to learn how to bring teeth, lips, and jaws into proper alignment to create a balanced facial profile.

What is an orthodontist?

All orthodontists are dentists. An orthodontist receives 2-3 years of additional training following the completion of dental school to learn the skills required to manage tooth movement (orthodontics) and guide facial development (dentofacial orthopedics).

Why is orthodontic treatment important?

Orthodontic treatment helps you achieve a healthier smile. Crooked and crowded teeth are hard to clean and maintain, and can contribute to conditions that cause tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss. Other orthodontic problems can also lead to excessively worn teeth, poor chewing abilities, excessive stress to the gum tissue and supporting bone structures, and misalignment of the jaw joints.

Orthodontic treatments help you enjoy better oral and overall health, and prevent more serious problems from developing later in life. It also provides you with a more attractive smile, which in turn boosts your self-confidence.

At what age should my child meet with an orthodontist?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children receive their initial screening with an orthodontist at about age 7. At that time, the orthodontist can determine whether or not early treatment is necessary, and when any other type of treatment should begin.

How much does orthodontic treatment cost?

The cost of your treatment will depend on the severity of the problem that needs to be corrected and the treatment provided. After your initial consultation, our orthodontist will be able to provide you with an estimated cost, and we will thoroughly discuss your payment options with you prior to your treatment.

How long will my orthodontic treatment take?

On average, traditional braces take 12-36 months to complete treatment. Some treatments provide faster results, and the condition of your mouth can also be a contributing factor – no two mouths are the same, and some individuals respond faster to treatment than others, or have milder issues that can be corrected more easily.

Do braces hurt?

No. You may feel some aching and discomfort when you first receive braces, and following any adjustments to your appliance, but this is normal and should disappear within a few days at most. If you experience severe or lasting pain or irritation, please contact our office and make an appointment with our orthodontist so that we can fix the problem.

How do I take care of my teeth while wearing braces?

We recommend that you floss daily, and that you brush at least three times a day. Food and other debris can become trapped in your braces and act as a food source for the bacteria that contributes to tooth decay and gum disease. Our orthodontist will be able to help you learn the best way to take care of your teeth while wearing braces.

Do I still need to visit my dentist if I’m wearing braces?

Yes! In fact, it’s even more important that you visit your general or family dentist while wearing braces. Keeping your regular cleaning and exam appointments ensures that there isn’t food or other debris trapped in your braces, and that your teeth and gums remain healthy throughout your orthodontic treatment.

Can I still participate in normal activities (sports, playing an instrument, etc.) while wearing braces?

Yes. You may need to adjust a little bit to get used to playing sports or instruments, but you will be able to do all the same activities while wearing braces that you did before you got them. We strongly recommend that patients who participate in sports or any kind of athletic activity wear a sports mouth guard to protect their braces, teeth, gums, and other soft tissues from injury.

What is a retainer?

Following orthodontic treatment, you will be fitted with a retainer. This appliance helps keep your teeth in their correct positions until they are no longer in danger of moving back to their original positions in your mouth, keeping your smile healthy and beautiful.

Will my teeth straighten out as they grow?

No. The space available for your front teeth does not increase as you grow, and after the permanent molars erupt, the space available may even decrease as you age. The only way to straighten your teeth is through orthodontic treatment.

What happens at my initial orthodontic consultation?

When you arrive at our office, you will be met by our doctor and team, and we will carefully evaluate the condition of your mouth. We will take images of your teeth and supporting structures, and thoroughly examine your mouth. Our orthodontist and team will also make sure that you feel comfortable and understand both your oral condition and the available treatments.

Will I need to have teeth extracted for braces?

This is a possibility. Sometimes teeth need to be removed to achieve the best orthodontic results. However, thanks to advances in technology and orthodontic techniques, removing teeth is not always, or even often, necessary for orthodontic treatment.

How often will I need to meet with my orthodontist?

The frequency of your appointments will depend on your individual needs. Most patients who wear braces will need to meet with our orthodontist every 5-10 weeks. Some treatments may require more frequent visits.

Are there foods I cannot eat while wearing braces?

Yes. Our orthodontist can provide you with specific information about the types of foods you should avoid while wearing braces. This list will include ice, hard candy, raw vegetables, and all sticky foods (such as caramel and taffy). We ask you to avoid eating these types of foods so that you can avoid breaking or damaging your braces and adding more time onto your treatment as a result.

Can I wear braces even though I have crowns and missing teeth?

Yes. A tooth with a crown will move just like a whole tooth or a tooth with a simple filling. When your teeth are missing, orthodontic treatments will aid in correcting or improving the alignment of the remaining teeth.

I’m an adult, is it too late to get braces?

No. As long as your teeth and supporting structures are healthy, you can receive orthodontic treatment. In fact, about 25% of all orthodontic patients are adults.