Orthodontist Pasadena Los Angeles Inglewood CA

The Essential Guide to Orthodontic Maintenance and Care

Understanding Orthodontic Treatment

Orthodontics is a specialized branch of dentistry that aims to correct teeth and jaw irregularities by applying targeted pressure on them to properly align and straighten them over time. Dental issues that can be addressed through orthodontic treatment include crooked, overcrowded, misaligned, malpositioned, or misplaced teeth, as well as improper jaw positioning and incorrect relationships between the teeth of the two dental arches.

There are several reasons why people opt for orthodontic treatment. The first and most common reason is to achieve a more aesthetically pleasing smile. Aligned teeth often have a significant impact on boosting self-esteem, self-confidence, and overall appearance. Another important reason for seeking orthodontic treatment lies in improving oral health. Properly aligned teeth are less susceptible to dental problems such as gum diseases, tooth decay, and cavities. Furthermore, having correctly positioned teeth can alleviate issues with chewing, biting, speaking, and even breathing. Finally, orthodontic treatment can reduce the risk of injury to protruding or misaligned teeth and contribute to overall oral health.

Orthodontic treatment can be performed using various orthodontic appliances, each designed to serve a specific purpose or address a specific dental issue:

  • Braces: Traditional metal or ceramic braces consist of brackets bonded to the teeth with a wire running through them. These braces use metal wires and elastic bands to exert gentle pressure on teeth and guide them into the correct position.
  • Retainers: A removable or fixed dental appliance usually worn after the removal of braces to maintain the teeth’s position and prevent them from shifting back to their original places.
  • Aligners: Clear, removable orthodontic appliances that apply gradual pressure to move teeth into the desired positions. Common examples of aligners include Invisalign, ClearCorrect, and SmileDirectClub.
  • Headgear: A custom-fitted removable device used in conjunction with braces to correct excessive overbite or underbite; the headgear applies extra force to move the teeth or jaw into the proper position.

Before undergoing orthodontic treatment, potential patients should discuss their concerns and goals with their orthodontist to determine the most appropriate treatment plan. Treatment options will vary depending on the patient’s specific needs, budget, and personal preferences. It is crucial to have a well-informed opinion on the available treatment options to ensure the optimal results are achieved.

Preparing for Orthodontic Treatment

Embarking on the journey of orthodontic treatment involves careful planning and preparation. To ensure a smooth process, it’s crucial to find the right orthodontist who understands your needs and is experienced in providing the type of treatment you require. Here’s a guide to help you through the preparation phase.

Finding the Right Orthodontist

The first step in preparing for orthodontic treatment is selecting a qualified and experienced orthodontist. You can start by seeking referrals from your general dentist or asking friends and family for recommendations. Once you have a list of potential orthodontists, it’s important to do your research. Look at their credentials, read reviews from past patients, and check if their practice specializes in the type of treatment you need. It’s also beneficial to visit the orthodontist’s office and have a consultation to discuss your treatment goals and evaluate their approach and environment.

Oral Examination and Treatment Options

Upon choosing an orthodontist, the next step is to undergo a comprehensive oral examination. This typically includes:

  • X-rays: These provide valuable information about the position of teeth and jawbones and help identify any underlying dental issues that need to be addressed prior to orthodontic treatment.
  • Photographs: Orthodontists often take photographs of your face and teeth to track progress and plan treatment.
  • Impressions or digital scans: These create a model of your teeth, which helps the orthodontist plan your treatment accurately.
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Based on the examination results and your treatment goals, the orthodontist will discuss the best treatment options available. Factors that may influence treatment choice include your age, budget, and personal preferences. For instance, an adult may prefer clear aligners for their discreteness, while a child might be given traditional metal braces.

Diagnostic Tools Used

Orthodontists use various diagnostic tools to assess your needs and plan your treatment effectively. These tools can include:

  • Panoramic X-rays: These provide a broad view of your mouth, allowing the orthodontist to assess the status of your wisdom teeth, temporomandibular joints, and sinuses.
  • Cephalometric X-rays: These X-rays provide a side view of your head and neck, helping to analyze the relationship between your jaws and teeth, particularly for complex orthodontic cases.
  • Intraoral cameras: These capture detailed images of the inside of your mouth, aiding in the detection of dental issues that might not be visible to the naked eye.

By understanding the preparation process, you can approach orthodontic treatment with confidence and ensure the best possible outcome for your smile.

Continue to Essential Practices During Orthodontic Treatment for further guidance on maintaining proper oral hygiene and care during your journey to a straighter, healthier smile.

Essential Practices During Orthodontic Treatment

Maintaining good oral hygiene and following a balanced diet are crucial for successful orthodontic treatment. This section will help you develop a comprehensive dental care routine that includes proper brushing, flossing, and diet management tailored to your specific orthodontic appliance. Remember to consult your orthodontist for personalized advice.

Creating a Comprehensive Dental Care Routine

Brushing Tips:

  • Brush your teeth twice daily for at least 2 minutes, using fluoride toothpaste.
  • Gently brush at a 45-degree angle to your gums, moving the toothbrush in small circular motions.
  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to avoid damaging your appliance or tooth enamel.
  • Clean under your wires and around your brackets using a proxabrush or interdental brush.
  • Replace your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months, or as soon as the bristles become frayed.

Flossing Tips:

  • Floss at least once daily with waxed floss or an orthodontic floss threader to prevent food debris between teeth and appliance.
  • Use a floss threader to slide the floss under the wire and guide it around appliances.
  • Be gentle around brackets and wires to avoid causing damage.

Special Techniques and Products for Braces

  • Orthodontic toothbrush: Soft bristles with a V-shaped or wedge-shaped head, specially designed for braces wearers.
  • Interdental brush: A small, cone-shaped brush used for cleaning under orthodontic wires.
  • Dental picks: A disposable interdental cleaning tool for braces.
  • Mouthwash: Over-the-counter fluoride or antibacterial mouthwash can help reduce plaque.

Diet Management Tips

Foods to Avoid: Avoid sticky, sugary, and hard foods that could damage your orthodontic appliance or increase the risk of cavities. This includes candy, chewing gum, nuts, hard pretzels, and ice.
Foods to Enjoy: Opt for softer, nutritious foods in place of hard or sticky ones. Good choices include cooked veggies, soft fruits (like bananas), and lean proteins like chicken and fish.

Maintaining a Regular Checkup Schedule

  • Visit your orthodontist every 4 to 6 weeks for adjustments and monitor your appliance and oral health.
  • Schedule regular checkups with your general dentist to monitor overall oral health.

By incorporating these essential practices during orthodontic treatment, you are better equipped to maintain optimal oral health and ensure a successful treatment outcome.

Handling Common Issues and Emergencies

During orthodontic treatment, you may experience some discomfort or face minor emergencies. It is essential to know how to handle these issues to ensure proper appliance function and oral health. This section will provide detailed instructions on addressing common concerns and seeking professional help when required.

Common Discomfort

To begin with, you may experience mild discomfort and soreness after getting your braces or aligners. To alleviate the pain, use over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. You can also use orthodontic relief wax to prevent the brackets and wires from irritating your cheeks and lips.

In case of irritation, rinse your mouth with warm salt water to clean the affected area and provide relief. Additionally, use dental wax or a small piece of gauze to cover the irritating spot on the appliance.

Emergency Care

  1. Loose Brackets or Wires:
    If you notice that a bracket has become loose, carefully cover it with orthodontic wax to protect your cheeks and gums. If a wire is causing irritation, use a blunt instrument like a pencil eraser or the back of a spoon to gently push it away from the gums. Place wax over the end of the wire to create a barrier between the wire and your mouth.
  2. Broken Brackets or Wires:
    Make an appointment with your orthodontist to have broken brackets or wires repaired as soon as possible. In the meantime, use orthodontic wax to cover any sharp edges and protect the soft tissue of your mouth.
  3. Sore Teeth:
    It is normal for teeth to feel sore when first undergoing orthodontic treatment or after adjustments. This is a result of the teeth moving into their new positions. Over-the-counter pain relievers can be used to alleviate the discomfort.
  4. Sore Gums or Cheeks:
    If braces or aligners cause irritation to your gums or cheeks, you can apply oral anesthetic gels directly to the affected area to help soothe the discomfort. You can also use orthodontic wax to cover any sharp edges of the appliance.
  5. Misplaced Aligners or Retainers:
    If you lose an aligner or retainer, it’s essential to contact your orthodontist as soon as possible. They will advise you on whether it’s necessary to order a replacement or simply move on to the next set of aligners in the series. Be sure not to jump to the next set without consulting your orthodontist, as this can negatively affect treatment outcomes.
  6. Damaged Aligners or Retainers:
  7. If your aligner or retainer gets damaged, don’t attempt to fix it yourself. See your orthodontist to replace the appliance and prevent any interruptions in your treatment.
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Remember that these guidelines are for minor issues. If you are experiencing severe pain or have a significant appliance problem, seek professional dental care immediately. Communication with your orthodontist is key to a successful treatment. Don’t hesitate to reach out with any concerns or questions you may have during the process.

When to Seek Professional Help

When faced with braces or aligner issues, it’s crucial to know when to handle the problem yourself and when to seek professional help from your orthodontist. The following situations require a visit to the orthodontist:

  • Severe pain that does not respond to over-the-counter pain relievers
  • Difficulty biting or speaking
  • Swelling, redness, or infection in or around the mouth
  • Broken or severely damaged parts of the appliances

By being proactive with your orthodontic care and maintaining open communication with your orthodontist, you can ensure a smooth and successful treatment process. Remember, these guidelines are intended for informational purposes only and do not replace professional advice.

Care and Maintenance of Orthodontic Appliances

To achieve the best results from your orthodontic treatment, proper care and maintenance of your appliances is crucial.

Care for Fixed Braces

  • Brush your teeth twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush.
  • Floss daily to remove plaque from braces and help prevent tooth decay and gum disease.
  • Use an interdental brush or proxy brush to clean around brackets and wires.
  • Avoid sugary, sticky, or hard foods that may damage or loosen your braces.
  • When playing sports, wear a mouthguard to protect your teeth and braces.

Care for Removable Appliances


  • Remove aligners before eating or drinking, except for water.
  • Brush your teeth before putting the aligners back in to avoid trapping bacteria and food particles between your teeth and the aligners.
  • Clean your aligners daily with a soft toothbrush, clear antibacterial soap, and lukewarm water.
  • Avoid using hot water, as it can warp your aligners.
  • Always store aligners in their protective case when not in use.


  • Brush and floss your teeth before putting your retainer back in.
  • Clean your retainer as instructed by your orthodontist, which may include using a denture cleaner, Retainer Brite, or a mild dish soap and warm water.
  • Rinse your retainer with cool water when not in your mouth to prevent bacteria growth.
  • Store your retainer in its protective case when not in use.
  • Avoid exposing your retainer to heat sources, such as hot water or direct sunlight, as it can warp or damage the appliance.

Regular Orthodontic Checkups

Throughout your orthodontic treatment, it’s essential to attend regular checkups and follow-up appointments with your orthodontist. These appointments allow your orthodontist to monitor your progress, adjust your appliances as needed, and ensure you’re following the care instructions provided.

By diligently caring for your orthodontic appliances, you not only promote the health and appearance of your teeth but also contribute to a successful treatment outcome.

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Transitioning to Life Post-Orthodontic Treatment

When nearing the end of orthodontic treatment, it is crucial to understand the importance of maintaining the new smile achieved through proper dental care and the use of long-term retainers. This section will explain the retention period and the role of retainers in preventing relapse, as well as providing tips for adjusting to life without orthodontic appliances and maintaining good oral hygiene.

Retention Period and Retainers

After completing orthodontic treatment, a retention period is required to ensure that the teeth do not shift back into their previous positions. During this period, patients will be given retainers to wear, which can either be removable or fixed.

  • Removable Retainers: These are made of clear plastic and a wire that fits against the teeth, maintaining their position. They are typically worn full-time for the first few months, gradually decreasing to nighttime wear only.
  • Fixed Retainers: Also known as bonded retainers, these are small wires attached to the backside of the lower or upper front teeth, permanently holding them in place.

Depending on the individual case, orthodontists will advise how long to wear the retainers, keeping in mind that teeth may always have a natural tendency to move. In some instances, retainers might need to be worn indefinitely (source: American Association of Orthodontists).

Adapting to Life Without Orthodontic Appliances

It can take some time to adjust to life without braces or aligners, but with a few essential tips, the transition can be smooth and comfortable:

  • Stick to Good Oral Hygiene: Continue to brush and floss regularly, maintaining a dental care routine that has been established during the orthodontic treatment.
  • Pay Attention to Diet: Continue to avoid hard, sticky, or sugary foods to prevent tooth decay and maintain the alignment achieved through treatment.
  • Visit the Dentist Regularly: Regular dental check-ups and cleanings will ensure any early signs of tooth movement or dental problems are addressed promptly.
  • Follow Orthodontist Recommendations: Even after treatment completion, it is crucial to follow the orthodontist’s recommendations for retainer use and any other guidance they provide.

Maintaining Good Oral Hygiene

Transitioning to life without orthodontic appliances means reestablishing good oral hygiene habits. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  1. Brush regularly, at least twice a day, using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.
  2. Floss daily to remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth.
  3. If wearing retainers, remember to clean them daily as well to prevent bacteria buildup.
  4. Rinse your mouth with an antimicrobial mouthwash to kill bacteria and freshen breath.
  5. Limit sugary and acidic foods and drinks that can harm tooth enamel and lead to cavities.

In summary, transitioning to life post-orthodontic treatment requires attention to dental care, retainer use, and adapting to new habits. By following these guidelines, patients can enjoy the benefits of their orthodontic treatment and maintain a beautiful, healthy smile for years to come (source: Invisalign).

Collaborating with Your Orthodontist for Optimal Treatment Results

Having a strong working relationship with your orthodontist not only improves communication but also ensures the highest quality of care. In order to achieve optimal results, it is essential to establish trust, understanding, and open dialogue with your orthodontist. In this section, we will discuss effective communication strategies and factors that influence the treatment outcome.

Effective Communication with Your Orthodontist

Effective and clear communication is vital in orthodontic care. Listed below are some strategies for open communication with your orthodontist:

  • Ask questions: If you have concerns or are unsure about any aspect of your treatment, don’t hesitate to ask questions. Trustworthy orthodontists appreciate knowledge-seeking patients and are always willing to address concerns.
  • Give feedback: Inform your orthodontist about any discomfort, pain, or unexpected changes in your oral health. Your feedback will better inform adjustments made to your treatment plan.
  • Share your goals: Openly discuss your expectations and desired results with your orthodontist. This will enable them to assess your individual needs and provide tailored treatment options.
  • Follow treatment guidelines: Compliance with specific treatment guidelines is crucial for optimal results. Your orthodontist will convey these expectations and rely on your commitment to achieve the best outcome.

Factors Influencing Treatment Outcomes

Several factors influence the results of orthodontic treatment. Understanding these factors is essential to ensure the collaboration with your orthodontist is effective and fruitful:

  • Treatment plan compliance: Following your orthodontist’s instructions is vital, and it includes consistently wearing appliances, attending appointments, and adhering to care recommendations.
  • Attending follow-up appointments: Frequent visits with your orthodontist allows for adjustments and monitoring progress. These appointments play a pivotal role in ensuring the alignment process is progressing as planned.
  • Expressing personal concerns: Open communication about your specific concerns will enable your orthodontist to address any challenges or areas of improvement within your treatment plan.
  • Communication of overall health: Certain conditions like diabetes or gum disease can influence orthodontic treatment. Discussing your overall health is crucial to ensure the best treatment options for you.

By adequately addressing these factors, you are actively participating in the improvement and maintenance of your oral health. A strong working relationship with your orthodontist not only ensures optimal treatment outcomes but also contributes to the achievement of a beautiful smile and overall well-being.

Category: Orthodontics