random questions

Will braces increase my child’s chance of being struck by lightning?

No. 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 1 is 700,000.

Will my child’s 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.

I can go to another country and get braces put on my child, and then go to any orthodontist for check-ups/continuation of care, right?

INCORRECT. When treatment is started with an orthodontist, that professional is “your” orthodontist. A treatment plan is developed based on the orthodontist’s diagnosis of your child’s problem. There are many treatment decisions made in a treatment plan, including the type of “appliance” (braces, aligners, etc.) to be used in the orthodontic correction. There are many types of appliances, and many manufacturers. The components are not necessarily interchangeable. Different orthodontists use different bracket systems and may not have the wires and accessories to fit another type of bracket. If someone wearing braces goes to an orthodontist who did not place the braces, the patient is considered someone else’s patient, or a “transfer” patient. Orthodontists in the U.S. are not obligated to accept transfer patients. Transferring can complicate and lengthen treatment and is not ideal. It is ideal for a patient to receive care from one orthodontist (or orthodontic practice) from start-to-finish. Visit the Find an Orthodontist service to locate nearby members of the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO). All AAO members are orthodontists, meaning they first graduated from dental school, and then went on to successfully complete a 2-3 year orthodontic residency at an accredited orthodontic program. When you select an AAO member, you can be assured that the doctor truly is an orthodontist.

My child’s teeth aren’t too crooked on top – can s/he just get braces on the bottom?

Orthodontic treatment is designed to develop teeth that fit well and, as a result, wear better over an individual’s life. Think of teeth in the mouth as a “gear” system. Teeth, like gears, must intermesh well to help avoid excessive wear throughout a lifetime of use. An ideal orthodontic result most often requires treatment of both the top and bottom teeth. Consult a member of the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) to learn what will best correct your child’s orthodontic problem. The AAO Find an Orthodontist service will help you locate AAO orthodontists near you.

We’ve seen three orthodontists and we have three treatment plans suggested. Which one is right?

There is not a single “right way” to perform orthodontic treatment. Different orthodontists use various bracket systems and appliances. As long as all of the doctors you have consulted are AAO orthodontists, all of the suggested treatment plans can help your child develop a healthy and beautiful smile. When you consult a member of the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO), you can be assured that the doctor truly is an orthodontist. That’s because membership in the AAO is open exclusively to orthodontists, meaning those who first graduated from dental school, and then went on to successfully complete a 2-3 year orthodontic residency at an accredited orthodontic program.

What do the initials mean after an orthodontist’s name?

DDS stands for “Doctor of Dental Surgery.”  DMD stands for “Doctor of Dental Medicine.” These are the degrees awarded by U.S. and Canadian dental schools.  The American Dental Association considers them to be equivalent degrees. There is not a set of initials that mean that someone has graduated from an orthodontic program, so orthodontists may or may not have additional initials after their DDS or DMD.  Some accredited orthodontic programs confer a certificate upon graduation. Others confer a degree.  There are many variations of post-graduate degrees. Common ones include MS, MSc, and MSD. When you select a member of the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) for orthodontic treatment, you can be assured that the doctor truly is an orthodontist. That’s because the AAO only admits orthodontists as members.

Is free treatment available for kids whose families can’t afford it?

There are several programs that offer orthodontic treatment to patients in need at little or no cost. The American Association of Orthodontists Donated Orthodontic Services Program (DOS) is offered to patients in need throughout the U.S. Applicants must meet financial need requirements. Smiles Change Lives and Smile for a Lifetime Foundation provide orthodontic treatment in many regions of the U.S. Other regional programs include: Advantage Smiles for Kids for children in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Colorado Orthodontic Foundation for children in Colorado. Assisting Children to Smile and Sunshyne Smiles Orthodontic Program for children in South Dakota. Also check with your state or local dental society about programs in your area. In Canada: Smiles 4 Canada – British Columbia, the Prairies, Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Newfoundland, and Labrador.

If my child wears extra rubber bands, will that speed up treatment?

No. Wearing extra rubber bands will not speed up treatment. In fact, your child’s treatment could be prolonged by wearing extra rubber bands. Rubber bands are used to deliver extra forces that braces alone cannot create, and unplanned extra forces could move your child’s teeth in an undesirable way. To finish treatment on time and with the best possible results, be sure your child follows your orthodontist’s instructions on wearing rubber bands, and any other item that they are responsible for placing and removing. Also be sure your child brushes and flosses as often as your orthodontist recommends, and see your dentist for professional cleanings and check-ups at least every three to six months during orthodontic treatment, or more often if recommended.

Do orthodontic schools treat patients?

Yes, accredited orthodontic programs accept patients for treatment. The work is done by students, who have already graduated from dental school, and who are studying to become orthodontists. Students are closely supervised by their professors and instructors, who are orthodontists. Visit https://www.aaoinfo.org/education/accredited-orthodontic-programs to learn if there is an accredited U.S. or Canadian school near you. Contact the school directly to learn how to become a patient.

How do I make an appointment with an orthodontist?

Making an appointment with an orthodontist is easy. And many AAO orthodontists offer free or low-cost initial consultations. Visit Find an Orthodontist to locate AAO orthodontists near you. When results of your search appear, they include:

  • Orthodontist’s name
  • Distance from the search parameter you entered to the orthodontists’ office
  • Street address
  • Office phone
  • Orthodontist’s website

Results Page Options Multiple orthodontists are returned based on the search parameter you enter. From the results page, you can:

  • Click on an orthodontist’s name in the result page to go to the doctor’s page (see Orthodontist’s Page Options below)
  • See the distance to the orthodontist’s office
  • See the office address and phone number
  • See the practice website address, and click the link to go to the website
  • Click the “Request an Appointment” button to send an e-mail to the orthodontist and request an appointment

If you are accessing Find an Orthodontist from a smart phone, you can click the telephone icon and place a call to the orthodontist’s office to make your appointment. Orthodontist’s Page Options Click on an orthodontist’s name in the results pages to go to the orthodontist’s page and see:

  • The degree(s) the doctor earned in dental school and the orthodontic residency program
  • A link to the practice website
  • The main office address and satellite office addresses, if any
  • The main office phone number and satellite office phone numbers, if any
  • The name of the orthodontic program from which the orthodontist graduated
  • Whether the orthodontist is a Diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics or a Fellow of the Royal College of Dentists of Canada.

Click the “Request an Appointment” button to send an e-mail to the orthodontist and request an appointment. If you are accessing Find an Orthodontist from a smart phone, you can click the telephone icon and place a call to the orthodontist’s office to make your appointment.

My child has an allergy to nickel.  Can my child still have orthodontic treatment?

Yes, there are nickel-free options available. Please tell your orthodontist if your child has any allergies.

My child wants to get his/her tongue pierced.  Will this interfere with orthodontic treatment?

Tongue-piercings may interfere with orthodontic treatment and can contribute to breakage of appliances and to tooth and gum damage from contact with the stud.

Some of my children’s friends have already started treatment, but our orthodontist says my child should wait a while.  Why is there a difference in treatment?

Each treatment plan is specific for that child and his/her specific problem as well as his/her growth and development. Children mature at different stages and interceptive treatment is indicated to prevent a more severe problem from occurring. Your orthodontist is the best person to decide the best type of treatment and its timing. If you have questions, you should discuss them with your orthodontist. See additional questions and answers in Frequently Asked Questions.