Why You Should Add Orthodontic Care to Your New Year's Resolutions

Making (or maintaining) orthodontic care a New Year’s resolution can be a transformative commitment to your overall well-being. Not only can straightening your teeth enhance your smile, but it can boost your confidence and self-esteem! We sat down with Dr. Godley of Godley Family Orthodontics to learn more about why you should add orthodontic care to your New Year’s Resolutions.

Q: How can orthodontic treatment help me achieve my smile and confidence?

A: The journey of self-improvement and transforming your smile can be life-changing. Even small changes to a smile or tooth positioning can make a big impact on appearance, the way someone feels, and your overall health. Crooked teeth or a misaligned bite can often cause embarrassment, anxiety, and discomfort. I remember as a teen what a huge impact it made on my own life. As an orthodontist, I love seeing confidence transform in my patients – whether we are simply doing a touch-up for a tooth that has moved, or we are making big changes to someone’s jaw or bite position.  

Q: What specific orthodontic appliances or treatments do you recommend to support my resolution of achieving straighter teeth and proper alignment?

A: Orthodontic treatment looks different for each individual. The great thing is that with modern technology, patients have more options, and more esthetic options than ever before. I love getting to know each patient’s goals and educating them on what problems we see and how we can reach their goals.  In addition to classic metal braces, some orthodontists also offer esthetic options such as clear aligners, clear braces, and hidden braces. So it’s easy to find something that fits your needs and lifestyle. At our office, we also treat with an airway focus and see kids and teens who might benefit from orthopedic bite correctors. Full treatment might not be for everyone, and that’s okay too.  

​​Q: Can you provide guidance on maintaining good oral hygiene and taking care of my braces or aligners?

A: It is crucial to maintain visits with your general or pediatric dentist during orthodontic treatment. When any sort of braces, appliance, or attachments are bonded to teeth, it creates even more areas where bacteria like to hide. So having great oral hygiene and having a good dental team monitoring for cavities and gum disease is truly important. I often recommend an electric toothbrush, and we review how to brush and floss differently when you have braces.  With appliances, such as upper jaw expanders, many of our patients invest in water flossers that can help keep the mouth and appliance clean. 

Cavities are 100% preventable with good oral hygiene. Here are some hygiene recommendations to ensure a healthy smile during orthodontic treatment:

1)  Brush your teeth properly. 

If you are in orthodontic treatment with braces or aligners, ideally you should brush after every meal. This won’t always be feasible, and that’s okay. At a minimum, you must brush at least 2 times a day for at least 2 minutes. Night-time brushing is the most important time to brush your teeth to remove all the food and bacteria from your teeth before going to sleep. 

2)  Use an electric toothbrush.  

It’s a fact that electric toothbrushes remove more plaque than manual brushes. The vibration can also loosen the bacteria that are harder to reach in all the nooks and crannies around braces. It does not matter what brand of toothbrush you buy. We recommend a rechargeable brush as opposed to a battery-powered brush.

3)  Don’t skip flossing.  

No matter which type of toothbrush you use, a toothbrush can never clean well in between your teeth, especially with braces and wires on your teeth. Try using floss threaders or a water flosser every day to clean your teeth. Water flossers are great tools to help wash out food and plaque from around braces and in between teeth. They are an effective, gentle alternative to floss.

4)  Stay hydrated and drink lots of water.  

This is one of the easiest and most beneficial things you can do. Drinking water helps in both preventing dry mouth and rinsing away harmful bacteria and food debris from your mouth.

5)  Visit your dentist regularly.  

Because braces and Invisalign attachments place teeth at a higher risk for gum disease and cavities, it is crucial to maintain your regular dental check-ups and cleanings with your general dentist during orthodontic treatment. Orthodontists specialize in moving teeth and jaws and do not typically provide dental cleanings. 

Q: What is the expected timeline for my orthodontic treatment and how can I stay on track to improve my dental alignment and bite?

A: Because each person presents with different problems, needs, and goals, treatment timelines are going to vary from individual to individual. People often assume that orthodontic treatment will take years. Fortunately, that is most often not the case! Many factors determine the length of treatment with braces or aligners here are some of the main factors:

1.  Option Chosen

The length of your treatment first depends on the orthodontic option selected. Minor cases can sometimes be treated with a retainer, limited aligners, or limited braces. This generally takes less than a year (sometimes only a few months) to achieve results. A more comprehensive approach, involving treatment of a misaligned bite, for example, may take 18 months to 2 years to achieve ideal results.

2.  Complexity of Treatment

Some patients seek braces or aligners to help align just a few front teeth. Others need orthodontic treatment for issues such as overbite, crossbite, impacted teeth, severe misalignment, or a jaw imbalance. The more complex the issue to be treated, the longer treatment will take. 

Braces or clear aligners (such as Invisalign) typically last 6 months or fewer for very minor or limited cases, 12-18 months in most moderate cases, and 24 months or longer for more complex cases.

3.  Age

As we age, our teeth and gums sometimes become more resistant to moving into a new position and less likely to adapt to that new position. Adults can and do obtain beautiful results with braces and clear aligners, it just might take a little longer.

4. Compliance

With invisible clear aligner treatment, the trays must be worn daytime and nighttime to be successful.  If trays are not worn for enough time, teeth will not track properly, which can delay your treatment, and lead to compromised results. If bite correction is a part of your customized treatment, it may require a bite corrector or elastics to correct. If Dr. Godley prescribes elastics as part of your treatment, they are a must to achieve treatment goals. Not wearing your appliance, clear aligner trays or elastics correctly can significantly prolong your orthodontic treatment.

Generally speaking, there are 3 main types of orthodontic treatments, which each have their own subcategories of options. They include:

BRACES

The trusted classic. Luckily things have changed from the old days!  Metal braces are now smaller, lower profile, and much more esthetic. They come in silver and gold options. Braces also come in clear, transparent options – in which brackets are made of a porcelain sapphire material that is extremely esthetic. Clear braces can even be custom-designed now. The advantage of braces is that the orthodontist does the work for you. You don’t have the hassle of taking clear aligners in and out. Braces are bonded to your teeth and you see your orthodontist regularly for adjustments. They are also a great option for those looking to express their style with color ties on their brackets. The downside to braces is that they are visible and can make your teeth sore for the first 3-4 days after placement, and slightly tender after some adjustment visits.

INVISALIGN, SPARK, CLARITY, CUSTOM ALIGNERS, ETC.

Another option to consider is clear aligners. Invisalign® tends to be the most well-known since they have been around the longest, but technology has allowed other companies to design alternative aligner systems such as Spark.