About Dr. Tom Bietsch, Orthodontist

Bietsch Orthodontics

Orthodontic FAQs

What is the difference between an orthodontist and a dentist?

An orthodontist is a dental specialist who has the same degree as a dentist but has 2-3 years of advanced education in orthodontics from a school approved by the American Dental Association. Only a specialist who has successfully completed the approved course is called an orthodontist, and only an orthodontist may belong to the American Association of Orthodontists.

What are some of the benefits of orthodontics?

There are multiple benefits to orthodontics and braces. Some of them are physical changes and some benefits are intangible. These include:

  • More attractive smileI
  • Increased self-confidence
  • Improved dental function
  • Guide permanent teeth into better positions

Orthodontics can improve the following:

  • Upper teeth are excessively forward of lower teeth
  • Lower teeth are in front of upper teeth when biting (underbite)
  • Upper teeth cover most of the lower teeth when biting (deep bite)
  • Upper and lower teeth do not touch when biting (open bite)
  • Crowded teeth
  • Spaces between teeth
  • Excessive tooth wear or breakage
  • Finger and thumb habits
  • Poor jaw alignment
  • Unattractive smile
  • Difficulty in cleaning teeth
  • Difficulty eating or chewing
  • Lower jaw shifts when closing
  • Premature loss of baby or permanent teeth

What's the best age to visit the orthodontist?

Just about everyone can benefit from orthodontic treatment at some point in their life. There is no wrong age to see an orthodontist to be evaluated to improve the look and feel of your smile or improve your bite.

The American Association of Orthodontists and American Dental Association recommends that children be seen by an orthodontist by the age of seven to be sure that the teeth and bone are developing properly.

What is “two-phase” orthodontic treatment?

This refers to two separate times when a child receives orthodontic treatment

The first phase of treatment is done when the child still has baby teeth and the focus is on bone changes, growth modification and tooth guidance. This generally includes orthodontic appliances and may or may not include braces on the permanent teeth. The advantages to doing phase I treatment include:

  • influence jaw growth in a positive manner
  • improve the width of the dental arches
  • reduce the need to extract permanent teeth
  • reduce or eliminate the need for jaw surgery
  • lower the risk of trauma to protruded front teeth
  • correct harmful oral habits
  • improve esthetics and self-esteem
  • simplify and shorten treatment time for definitive orthodontic treatment (phase II)
  • increase stability of final treatment results
  • reduce likelihood of impacted permanent teeth
  • improve speech development
  • improve position of first molars
  • guide permanent teeth into more favorable positions
  • improve lip competence
  • preserve or gain space for erupting teeth
  • improve compliance before the busy teenage years

The second phase of treatment is started when the child has most or all of their permanent teeth. This entails moving all the teeth either with braces or aligners and sometimes includes appliances.

Will my braces interfere with my school activities like sports, playing an instrument, or singing?

Braces will not interfere with any school activities, however there is an adjustment period of getting use to them when playing an instrument and singing. When playing most sports, a mouthguard to protect your teeth and braces is recommended and will not prevent you from participating.

What foods can I not eat?

A simple rule to follow is to avoid anything that is hard, sticky or chewy. These foods can can cause damabe to the braces can cause treatment time to be extended. Examples of foods to avoid are candy, popcorn, hard pizza crust, ribs on the bone, gum.

How long does the average patient wear braces?

Every treatment plan is different and eveyone’s teeth move a little differently, however most treatment times are from 15-24 months.

If I break a part of my braces or have an emergency, what should I do?

Rarely do true orthodontic emergencies occur, however when they do we are here to make sure they are taken care of for you. Call our office and we make arrangements to see you and make you comfortable.

There are some things than can be done to make your braces feel better until we see you.

Broken/loose bracket: Remove the bracket if possible and place into a bag and bring with you to you next appointment.

Pokey wire: Use wax to stick on the area until we see you. If the wire has moved to one side or has come out of the bracket in the back, use needle-nose pliers to put wire back in back bracket or shift it back to the other side. If that does not work cut the wire with fingernail cutters or wire cutters and pull the wire out to make yourself comfortable.

After alleviating your discomfort, it is very important that you still call our office as soon as possible to schedule a time to repair the problem. Allowing your appliance to remain damaged for an extended period of time may result in disruptions to your treatment plan.

Do I need retainers?

Teeth are moving throughout life regardless if you have had braces or not due to the extrodinary amount of pressure we put on our teeth. Therefore, retainers are vital to maintaining the position of your teeth after braces are removed and beyond. It is recommended to wear them all the time once braces are removed and eventually you can wear them just at night once instructed.

Do braces hurt?

You will feel soreness with your new braces due to the small amount of discomfort as your teeth, gums, cheeks, and mouth get used to your new braces. It generally a few days depending on the patient.

Do I need to brush my teeth more often if I have braces?

With braces, you should brush your teeth at least three times a day to keep your teeth, gums, and mouth healthy and clean. You should also floss daily to get in between your braces where your brush isn't able to reach. Electric toothbrushes, such as Sonicare, and waterpicks are excellent and helping to keep your teeth and gums cleans and healthy.

If I have braces, do I still need dental checkups every six months?

You should continue with regular dental visits and cleanings every 6 months. Some patients will need to increase the number of times they receive professional cleanings to every 3-4 months to help maintain good gum health since it is slightly more difficult to keep teeth and gums clean with braces.