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Orthodontist Faqs

Posted on June 23, 2017

Confidence in your smile

As with any medical field, people tend to have a lot of questions about orthodontics. That’s how it should be–you should be curious about anything that has to do with your health and appearance. At Bret Johnson Orthodontics, we make patients’ understanding of the field a top priority. This being the case, we’ve put together a quick list of frequently asked questions to help you better understand what it is we do here.

What is an Orthodontist, Anyway?

An Orthodontist is a doctor who’s had around three years of intense, specialized training after graduating with a Doctor of Dental Surgery Degree (DDS). This training results in a Master of Science in Orthodontics (MS). After getting an MS, a dentist becomes an orthodontist and will focus on the prevention and treatment of bad bites (malocclusions), crooked teeth, and a host of other issues associated with dental and facial irregularities. Some orthodontists specialize in particular subfields, but most are general orthodontists who focus on treating patients of all ages.

Is it Too Late for Orthodontic Treatment?

No, it’s never too late to get your perfect smile! In fact, about 25% of our patients at Bret Johnson Orthodontics are adults. The misconception that orthodontics is only for adolescents may stem from the fact that most who get orthodontic treatment are children since it’s often best to fix orthodontic problems as the jaw bones and teeth are still developing. Early treatment isn’t always possible though since many orthodontic problems only manifest themselves in adult life or go unnoticed in adolescence. This is why it’s so important to have regular orthodontic check-ups as an adult. New technologies like Invisalign and Propel offer treatment solutions perfect for adults who don’t want to deal with traditional braces.

Do I Need a Referral from a Dentist to See an Orthodontist?

While many of our patients are referred by a dentist, it’s certainly not required. If you have crowded, crooked, or other dental problems concerning structure, it certainly can’t hurt to get a free consultation to have a professional see what’s going on.

Does Orthodontic Treatment Mean Tooth Removal?

In some cases, removing teeth is necessary for achieving a balanced, beautiful smile. However, this is increasingly less necessary as new technologies break into the field that provides noninvasive options. Need for removal is judged on a case-by-case basis, so it’s best to have an orthodontist give you personalized advice.

What’s the Deal with Traditional Braces?

Often, traditional braces are the best treatment plan for a patient’s specific situation. Patients often ask about the perceived negatives associated with metal braces: discomfort, the inability to eat certain foods, and problems playing sports. Let’s go through these to understand better the ways braces may affect your day-to-day.

Discomfort and Pain

This is a much smaller problem than it’s often made out to be. Most people don’t feel any real pain after getting their braces, but instead, have some soreness for a few days. This is often easily alleviated with an Advil and doesn’t usually last for very long.


The list of foods you shouldn’t eat with traditional braces is quite small. Gum and many sugary candies should be avoided, but beyond that, most foods are acceptable. Patients with traditional braces tell us that they get used to this more quickly than you might expect, and it doesn’t turn out to be such a major annoyance.

Playing Sports

Mouthguards are a huge key for any sport where contact is possible. While you should be wearing a mouthguard even if you don’t wear braces, those with braces are at a heightened risk for minor injuries. Brackets and wires could mean cuts and bruises if you aren’t careful. Luckily, there are inexpensive mouthguards made specifically for those with braces that don’t add too much bulk. As long as you remember to pick one of these up, you don’t have much to worry about.

So, these problems aren’t quite as big as you might think. That doesn’t mean we can’t eliminate them entirely in many situations. Often, we can offer Invisalign, which is entirely removable. An orthodontist can tell you if this could be right for you.

Won’t My Child’s Teeth Straighten Out as They Grow?

Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Because many orthodontic problems stem from genetic traits, some teeth won’t ever grow in perfect alignment. Imagine a tree growing in proximity to others, with roots and trunks pressing against one another. They’ll never be able to harmonize without some outside help. With teeth, we can use braces and aligners to point the best direction for growth gently. This results in healthy smiles that patients are excited to show off.

How Long Does the Average Treatment Take?

Treatment times vary quite a bit depending on the situation, but traditional braces and usually take between 6 and 30 months for most patients. With Invisalign, you’re looking at somewhere between 9 and 18 months. Tools like Propel can help accelerate this process by up to 60%, but being diligent with your maintenance routine is the best way to ensure the speediest process.

What’s the First Step?

The first step to getting your ideal smile is with a free consultation! Dr. Bret will lay out a treatment plan with your needs and lifestyle always in mind, and you’ll be able to ask any questions you might have in a personal, relaxed environment. With convenient locations in Spokane and Colville, we can help you quickly get on the path to a great smile. See you soon!

Ready to start smiling today?

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