miscellaneous questions

I’ve been seeing ads for straightening my teeth at home. Why not give it a shot?

Moving teeth is a complex biological process and there is a lot that goes into it. That’s why orthodontists must go to school for so many years to be licensed to practice this specialty. Many AAO orthodontists offer free or low-cost initial consultations. Isn’t your dental health worth a consultation with an orthodontist?

Are braces the only way orthodontists can move my teeth?

In addition to braces, orthodontists use appliances such as aligners to move teeth. Consult an orthodontist to learn what type of appliance can correct your orthodontic problem.

I see ads for perfect teeth in only one or two visits to the dentist. Will that give me straight teeth?

The ads may have been for veneers, which are thin, tooth-colored shells that are glued to the fronts of teeth. Veneers may improve the appearance. But they do not straighten teeth – they just cover up the problem.

If two people with braces kiss, can their braces become locked together?

With today’s smaller sleeker braces it is almost impossible to lock braces while kissing. Also, braces are not magnetic, which means any “attraction” felt is on the part of the wearers, so pucker up!

Will my braces set off the metal detectors in the airport?

You are cleared for takeoff – the lightweight materials used in braces will not affect metal detectors.

Can braces rust?

Today’s braces are made of new stronger materials, like titanium alloy, and will not rust.

Once I finish orthodontic treatment, my teeth will remain straight forever, right?

Teeth move throughout one’s lifetime, making it important to wear retainers as prescribed by your orthodontist to maintain your healthy, beautiful smile.

Will my braces interfere with radio signals or electronic devices?

Radio-loving gadget fanatics can rest easy.

I am pregnant and want to begin orthodontic treatment. Is this OK?

Pregnancy brings on bodily changes that can affect the mouth. Soft tissues such as gums become more susceptible to infection. Discuss this question with your medical practitioner/physician and orthodontist before you start orthodontic treatment.

Am I too old for braces?

Healthy teeth can be moved at any age.  Currently one in four orthodontic patients is an adult. As people live longer and healthier lives, patients in their 60s, 70s and 80s are experiencing the benefits of orthodontic treatment.

Can I play a musical instrument?

Yes, that is if you could play a musical instrument before you started orthodontic treatment.

Can I still play sports?

Yes, but be sure to wear a mouth guard.  

Will braces increase my chance of being struck by lightning?

With or without braces the chances of a lightning strike remain the same which, in the U.S. in any one year, according to nationalgeorgraphic.com, is one is 700,000.

Will my braces attract unwarranted attention from fish?

Scuba aficionados take heart: there is no need to cancel your next dive. The small brackets used in today’s braces, especially ceramic or tooth-colored brackets, will not attract attention from unsavory fish or sea life.

My family dentist said I need to have some missing teeth replaced, but I need orthodontic treatment first – why?

Your dentist is probably recommending orthodontic treatment so that you can reach optimal dental health. Many complicated tooth restorations, such as crowns, bridges and implants, can be best accomplished when the remaining teeth are properly aligned and the bite is correct.

My orthodontist wants to do something called enamel stripping to make my teeth smaller.  I have never heard of this. Is this something new? Is it safe?

This procedure goes by many names: enamel stripping; interproximal reduction; slenderizing; reproximation and selective reduction. The goal is to remove some of the outer tooth surface (enamel) to acquire more space for your teeth. 

Do I have to have insurance to have orthodontic treatment?

Insurance is not required to have orthodontic treatment.

Are orthodontic expenses tax deductible as a medical expense?

Please check with your tax advisor for a response specific to your circumstances. In general, orthodontic treatment falls under the IRS description of medical and dental expenses that may be deductible from taxable income if the taxpayer meets the overall limits. Some people use an employer benefit called an FSA (flexible spending account) to cover some or all of their orthodontic expenses. FSAs are funded by pre-tax dollars and have an annual limit. Check with your employer to see if you can take advantage of this benefit.

If I wear extra rubber bands, will that speed up my treatment?

Wearing extra rubber bands will NOT speed up treatment. In fact, you could prolong your treatment by wearing extra rubber bands because the extra force could move your teeth in an undesirable way.

I’m considering getting my tongue or lip pierced. Are there any dangers?

There are numerous potential problems from oral piercings that can affect the tongue, cheeks, lips or uvula (the tissue at the back of the throat). Particularly with tongue piercing, you can permanently damage your teeth by wearing away the enamel, or by chipping or cracking teeth. There is risk of abrasion or recession of gum tissue if it is constantly hit by the piercing. Piercing can interfere with basic functions like chewing, swallowing, talking and the sense of taste. A hole from a piercing can be a path for germs into the body and bloodstream. Talk to your orthodontist or dentist for more information.