Colorado Orthodontics

Orthodontic FAQs

Expert Orthodontic Treatment in Arvada & Denver, CO

Orthodontist or Orthodontics?

While these terms are very similar, one is a thing and the other a person. Orthodontics is the dentistry specialty that deals with diagnosing, preventing and treating abnormalities of the face and teeth. An orthodontist is the doctor who actually does the treatment. Orthodontists earn their specialty by taking two or three years of additional education and experience. Our Denver orthodontists highly trained to straighten your teeth, fix a malocclusion, and give you a better smile.

What is malocclusion?

Malocclusion is the misalignment of the upper and lower jaw, usually resulting in the upper teeth overlapping the bottom jaw and teeth. It can usually be fixed with braces, but may require surgery.

How old do I have to be to visit the orthodontist?

You can visit the orthodontist at any age, but not later than the age of seven is when the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children have their first visit. Orthodontists can detect subtle problems with a child’s teeth or jaw growth and create an advanced plan to combat them. This early examination can give your child the best chance for a healthy and beautiful smile.

Can adults get braces?

Of course! More and more adults are choosing a healthy, beautiful smile and are visiting the orthodontist for braces or Invisalign treatment. In fact, about one in every five orthodontic patients is over the age of 21.

Do I have to avoid certain foods because of my braces?

Yes, you will want to stay away from certain foods that might damage your braces and that give you an increased risk of tooth decay. Specifically:

  • Avoid foods that are sticky and chewy like gum, gummy bears, caramel and the like as they can pull at your brackets and possibly dislodge them. 
  • Avoid hard foods like hard candy, nuts and ice cubes as they can break brackets or damage teeth. 
  • Stay away from foods that could get stuck in your braces like corn on the cob, ribs, taffy, or bagels. 
  • Minimize the risk of tooth decay around your braces by limiting your intake of sugar which can increase the amount of bacteria that grows in your mouth.

Do braces require brushing teeth more often?

Yes. While most dentists recommend brushing your teeth twice a day, morning and night, with braces you may want to do that and more. Brushing your teeth after every meal, three times a day, can get rid of any food particles that might be caught in your braces and improve your oral health. You should also keep flossing at least once per day to reach areas where your brush can’t. Once you get your braces on, our staff will show you the best ways to clean and floss your teeth

What are the best ways to care for my braces, Invisalign aligners or retainer?

Besides brushing and flossing and the altered food choices as mentioned above, there are several other tips you should follow to best care for your braces or retainer:

  • Use a toothpaste that contains fluoride and consider adding a fluoride rinse once daily to your dental care routine.
  • Anytime you remove your retainer or Invisalign aligner to eat or brush your teeth, store it in the provided container so that it doesn’t get lost, broken, or attract bacteria.
  • Keep your retainer and your aligners clean by gently washing and rinsing them with antibacterial soap. You can soak either of them in denture cleaner, but don’t put them in boiling water or the dishwasher.
  • Keep your regularly scheduled six-month checkup appointments with your family dentist. We will work closely with your dentist to help you make sure your teeth stay clean and healthy while you’re wearing braces. 

What are braces?

Braces are a tool that an orthodontist uses to straighten your teeth into a healthy, beautiful smile. There are several types of braces including:

  • Clear braces
  • Ceramic braces
  • Lingual braces
  • Self-ligating braces
  • Invisible braces
  • Traditional metal braces

How long does braces or Invisalign treatment take?

The amount of time that you must wear your braces depends on your individual case - both how severe your orthodontic challenge is to start with and how you respond to treatment. Braces treatment can last anywhere from six to 30 months, but the average is about 22 months, or two years. Invisalign aligners are the same - depending on seriousness, treatment response, and if you leave them on for the prescribed time each day.

Is there pain with braces or Invisalign?

For the most part, there is little pain associated with braces or Invisalign treatment. However, you will likely feel some discomfort when you first begin treatment as your mouth gets used to the foreign objects in there, as well as after each monthly adjustment or tightening of your braces and each switch of aligner trays.

Will braces interfere with school activities?

No. Wearing braces will not keep you from participating in your school activities. You just may need to make some adjustments as you get used to having braces. For example, if you sing or play a musical instrument, braces can change the way you shape your mouth. Or, if you play a contact sport, make sure you have a mouthguard that will protect your braces.

Why do we wear elastics?

Elastics are the small rubber bands that attach to hooks protruding from brackets, and they serve an important function in orthodontic treatment. While braces can straighten and realign the teeth, braces are powerless to make changes to jaw alignment on their own. The reason is structural: the top and bottom braces aren't connected, so they have no way to apply relative force to the upper and lower jaws. Elastics solve this problem by applying tension between the upper and lower jaws. Using elastics, we can help move the lower jaw forward, backward, or to the side, depending on the needs of the patient. This creates a healthier bite and a more beautiful smile, and can also help alleviate TMJ problems.

Can you use FSA money for orthodontic treatment?

Absolutely! In fact, orthodontic treatment is one of the best ways to use your leftover FSA funds. FSA funds don't roll over year on year: if you have money left in your FSA at the end of the year, you forfeit that cash. Putting it towards orthodontic treatment offers a productive way to use the money that has a lasting impact on your health and confidence for years to come.

Do you still need to see your dentist during orthodontic treatment?

Without question. Oral hygiene is doubly important while wearing braces, as your teeth are more susceptible to decay during treatment. Keeping a schedule of regular checkups with your dentist is a vital part of maintaining a healthy smile, and the same goes while you're getting orthodontic treatment.

Can you still play sports with braces?

Yes, you can play sports with braces. In fact, many of our student patients are also student-athletes, and we love to see them out on the field while wearing braces! That said, you'll need to be even more careful of safety while playing sports with braces. Wearing a custom-made athletic mouthguard is imperative when playing or practicing sports with braces. A mouthguard reduces your chances of oral injury more than 60-fold, and a custom-made mouthguard from our office can be designed to fit around your braces and protect them from damage.

What are expanders?

A palatal expander is a specialized type of oral appliance that's used to make changes to the jaw structure during early orthodontic treatment. During childhood, the two halves of the upper jaw are actually separate. This means that if we apply force to push them apart, the body will respond by growing more bone between them, effectively widening the jaw and creating more room in the dental arch. A palatal expander uses a small screw to apply a gentle force that pushes the halves apart, gradually and painlessly widening the upper jaw.

How can you keep clear braces from staining?

The ceramic brackets of clear braces are resistant to stains, but the clear plastic ties that hold the archwire in place can stain when exposed to certain foods and drinks. The best way to prevent staining is to avoid dark-colored foods and beverages like coffee, red wine, and tomato sauce. In addition to avoiding these substances, be sure to brush your teeth after every meal.

Does insurance cover Invisalign?

The truth is, there's no way to categorically answer this question: every patient's insurance plan is different, and your coverage will depend on the specifics of your plan and provider. That said, many insurance policies carry an orthodontic benefit that's entirely separate from dental insurance, which means that even if you don't have dental insurance, you may still qualify for coverage on orthodontic treatment. If you do, your insurance will cover Invisalign the same way it covers traditional metal braces.

How do I schedule or change an appointment?

That’s easy. Call the office of the location nearest you and our staff will be happy to schedule or change your next appointment. If this is your first appointment, let us know and we’ll make sure you have what you need ahead of your first visit.

If you have more questions, don’t hesitate to call one of our convenient Colorado locations and our staff will be happy to answer your questions. We look forward to addressing your orthodontic needs in a fast and friendly manner and making sure that you are comfortable with every step of your braces or Invisalign treatment. Call the office nearest you listed below for your first consultation today.


Arvada - (303) 421-2616
N. Aurora - (303) 341-5437
S. Aurora - (303) 751-5700
Denver - (303) 476-6233
Lakewood - (303) 462-1462
Thornton - (303) 452-0077

Member - AAO Board Certified - ABO Colorado Orthodontic Foundation

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