Orthodontic FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions About Orthodontics


What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics (also referred to as dentofacial orthopedics) is a specialized form of dentistry focusing on the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial abnormalities.

What is an orthodontist?

An orthodontist is a dental specialist who has pursued additional training and experience beyond dental school. Your orthodontist is able to straighten teeth, correct misaligned jaw structures, and improve the function of your smile.

How does orthodontic treatment work?

Orthodontic appliances are made of metal, ceramic or plastic.  They may be removable or they may be brackets bonded to the teeth.  By placing a constant, gentle force in a carefully controlled direction, the teeth slowly move to the proper position.

What's the best age to visit the orthodontist?

If you want to improve the look and feel of your smile, then any age can be a great age to see the orthodontist. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children first visit an orthodontist around the age of seven.  Orthodontic treatment, however, is not exclusive to children and teens, with about one in every five orthodontic patients being an adult. Whether you're considering treatment for yourself or for a child, any time is a good time to visit the orthodontist.

How long is orthodontic treatment?

The amount of time in treatment varies and usually lasts between one to two years depending on several factors including age, treatment method and severity of malocclusion.   We now offer ways to shorten your treatment time up to 50%.  A big factor in successful treatment is you!  The more involved and diligent you are, the more efficient your treatment will be.

I was told that I am not a candidate for Invisalign treatment and I can only be treated by braces.

Invisalign treatment is very different in every office.  Dr. Kathleen Tavarez can treat most patients that have been told by other practitioners that they are not candidates for Invisalign.  Dr. Kathleen Tavarez was one of the first practictioners to embrace this technology.  She is very experienced with Invisalign in developing the proper prescription and adjunctive treatment to make Invisalign a viable option for many different types of malocclusions.

Will my teeth still move when I am done with treatment?

Teeth will always want to move throughout your lifetime whether or not you have had orthodontic treatment. Teeth want to move the quickest within the first year after completion of orthodontic treatment. It is very important to wear your retainers as prescribed by the office to avoid unwanted tooth movement. After a while, teeth move more slowly and the wear of the retainers can be decreased. It is important, however, to always wear your retainers regularly as instructed by our office throughout your life to maintain the healthy beautiful smile created through orthodontic treatment.

Do braces hurt?

Braces do not often hurt though you may feel some discomfort for a couple days as your teeth, gums, cheeks, and mouth get used to your new appliances.

Do I need to brush my teeth more during orthodontic treatment?

With braces or Invisalign, 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 clean the areas where your toothbrush isn't able to reach. Our team can show you how to properly brush and floss once your appliances are placed.

If I am in orthodontic treatment, do I still need dental checkups every six months?

Yes! In fact, it's even more important that patients receiving orthodontic treatment, whether braces or Invisalign, visit their dentist regularly.   We recommend seeing your dentist every four months during orthodontic treatment. Inadequate oral hygiene allows bacteria to build up leading to cavities, gingivitis, and gum disease. Your dentist and Dr. Kathleen Tavarez will work closely to make sure that your teeth stay clean and healthy while in orthodontic treatment.

Will orthodontic treatment interfere with my school activities like sports or playing an instrument?

Playing an instrument or a contact sport may require some adjustment when you first get your appliances, but orthodontic treatment will not stop you from participating in any of your school activities. If you play a contact sport, it is recommended that you wear a mouthguard to protect your braces. We are happy to provide you with a braces compatable mouthguard.  The Invisalign aligners can serve as a mouthguard for some sports.

How do I schedule my next appointment?

Call our office and our front desk team will be happy to help schedule your next appointment at your convenience. If you are a new patient or have been referred to our practice, please let us know and we will provide you with all of the information you need.  At your initial consultation, Dr. Kathleen Tavarez will discuss all of your options and provide an estimate for how long your orthodontic treatment may take.