Why Do I Need a Retainer? And 6 Other Orthodontic FAQs

Orthodontic care FAQ

Answers to Your Braces-Related Questions

Whether you’re currently wearing braces, have a child that might need braces, or you’re an adult considering straightening your smile, chances are you have some questions on your mind. Orthodontic care is very popular, but it’s also a form of dentistry that can feel a bit overwhelming when you don’t know what to expect.

Dr. Leslie loves to chat about orthodontic care and she eagerly invites curious patients to book a visit for a one-on-one consultation. In the meantime, here are the answers to a few common questions Dr. Leslie is often asked.

1. Why do I need a retainer and how long will I need to wear it?

After wearing braces, the last thing you want to do is worry about more orthodontic appliances. We understand where you’re coming from, but it is important to know that wearing a retainer is what prevents you from losing all of the progress you’ve made while you wore braces.

Teeth shift, even after wearing braces for a couple of years. Following Dr. Leslie’s guidelines on retainer use ensures that the time and money you invested into your smile lasts for life rather than just a few years. Think of your retainer not as a nuisance, but rather as a valuable tool that keeps your smile straight and beautiful.

2. I think I’m too old for braces. Is there an alternative?

You’re never too old for braces! The fastest-growing demographic of orthodontic patients are adults who’ve decided to straighten their smiles. Traditional braces may take some getting used to, but they are very effective and can tackle severe malocclusions. That being said, braces aren’t typically considered “attractive” in appearance.

Clear aligner systems are another option that Dr. Leslie provides. Candidacy does depend on your particular needs, and not everyone can efficiently straighten their teeth with clear aligners. You can find out if you’re a candidate for this alternative through an in-person evaluation.

3. How long will it take for me to straighten my smile?

This is easily the most popular question Dr. Leslie hears after a patient decides to pursue orthodontic care for themselves or their child. After all, seeing your new smile is the most exciting part of orthodontics!

Treatment time is highly variable and there are far too many factors to give a timeframe until Dr. Leslie sees you in person for a consultation. Mild malocclusions might be treated within 12 months while more complicated cases could take up to 36 months. The average is about 16 to 24 months.

4. I have missing or damaged teeth. Are braces even an option?

Missing teeth or teeth that need additional restorative care won’t typically prevent you from moving forward with orthodontic care. In some cases, orthodontic care can be a great way of shrinking or widening a gap from a previously missing tooth to make space for a prosthetic, such as a dental implant.

You can also still receive fillings for cavities, dental crowns, and similar restorative dental care while wearing braces. However, Dr. Leslie may recommend getting known issues taken care of before receiving braces. 

5. I had braces in my childhood but my smile’s changed. What now?

On a related note concerning retainers, it’s fairly common for adults who are now in their 30s or 40s to realize that their smile is once again becoming crooked or misaligned despite having worn braces as a child or teen. This is usually due to not wearing a retainer regularly, which is understandably not the most exciting thing for a busy teen or young adult to remember to do.

If you find yourself in this situation, don’t beat yourself up! Dr. Leslie can help you restore your smile. You’ll likely need to wear braces or clean aligners again to realign your teeth, coupled with responsible retainer habits afterward.

6. How do I know if my child will need braces now or in the future?

The only way to know for certain if your child needs braces is through an orthodontic evaluation. Your child’s first orthodontic evaluation with Dr. Leslie should happen by their seventh birthday, but if you missed this date, no worries! You can schedule an evaluation now to find out if their smile needs a helping hand.

Some kids do need early orthodontic care in the form of space maintainers for prematurely missing baby teeth or palatal expanders to make space for future adult teeth. These orthodontic appliances coupled with a second phase of care (i.e. braces in adolescence) help your child achieve the straightest smile possible.

Schedule your orthodontic consultation with Dr. Leslie today.

Dr. Leslie is often busy helping patients throughout the day, so the best way to make time to ask your questions or learn more about orthodontics is to schedule an appointment. This no-pressure consultation is a great way to get a better idea of what orthodontic care might look like in your situation and how your smile can benefit. Book a visit today by calling our Omaha, NE, office or requesting one online.