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Will my braces set off the metal detectors in the airport?

You are cleared for takeoff – the lightweight materials used in braces will not affect metal detectors.

My orthodontist says I have a malocclusion? What is that?

“Malocclusion” is the term used in orthodontics to describe teeth that do not fit together properly.  From Latin, the term means “bad bite.”

Who can become a member of the AAO?

The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) is open exclusively to orthodontists – only orthodontists are admitted for membership. The only doctors who can call themselves “orthodon-tists” have graduated from dental school and then successfully completed the additional two-to-three years of education in an accredited orthodontic residency program.

When you choose an AAO orthodontist for orthodontic treatment, you can be assured that you have selected a specialist orthodontist, an expert in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics who possesses the skills and experience to give you your best smile. Locate AAO orthodontists through Find an Orthodontist at

For more information, read our blog, What Is an Orthodontist and Dentofacial Orthopedist?

Do I need to change my oral hygiene routine during treatment?

Yes, keeping your teeth and braces (or other appliances) clean requires a little more effort on your part. Your orthodontist will explain how to brush and floss, how often to brush and floss, and give you any special instructions based on the kind of orthodontic treatment you are having. Be sure to follow your orthodontist’s dental hygiene recommendations to get the best results possible. Check with your orthodontist about dental products and tools that might be helpful.

In general, patients with braces must be careful to avoid hard, sticky, chewy and crunchy foods. They should also avoid chewing on hard objects like pens, pencils and fingernails. And never chew ice. It’s much too hard on your teeth – even without braces.

Also be sure to see your family dentist for a professional cleaning and check-up at least every six months during your orthodontic treatment, or more often, if recommended

Can I play a musical instrument during treatment?

Yes, that is if you could play a musical instrument before you started orthodontic treatment.

Which treatment is fastest?

Thanks to advances in technology, just about every type of treatment is relatively fast. AAO orthodontists make use of the full range of orthodontic appliances – not just one or two – and will recommend the type they believe is best suited to correcting your individual orthodontic problem in the most efficient manner possible.  

To make treatment go as quickly as possible:

  • Follow your orthodontist’s instructions on brushing and flossing.
  • See your dentist for a professional cleaning at least every six months during orthodontic treatment, or more often if recommended.
  • Watch what you eat if you have braces – avoid hard, sticky, and crunchy foods. Opt for foods that are soft and easy to chew.
  • Beware of sugary, acidic soft drinks including regular and diet soda pop, fruit juices, fruit drinks and sports drinks. Tap water is recommended.
  • Wear your elastics (rubber bands) as instructed.
  • Keep scheduled appointments with your orthodontist.

Which treatment option is best?

The best treatment is the kind performed by an AAO orthodontist, who has a minimum of 3,700 hours (2 or more years) in an orthodontic residency after 4 years of dental school. Orthodontic treatment is a customized professional service performed and monitored by a highly-educated healthcare professional. 

Orthodontic treatment is not a product. Moving teeth and aligning jaws requires a comprehensive knowledge of the biological and physiological processes at play to safely and predictably move teeth into new, healthy positions. The type of treatment (such as braces or aligners) or brand of appliance is less important than the knowledge and skill of the individual who performs your treatment. 

Visit Find an Orthodontist to locate AAO orthodontists near you.

What brands of treatment are approved by the American Association of Orthodontists?

The American Association of Orthodontists does not provide product reviews or recommendations. Please talk with your orthodontist about the types or brands of treatment that you are interested in so that together you can decide what is appropriate for you.

The type or brand of “appliance” (the formal name for devices like braces, aligners, etc.) used in orthodontic treatment is not as important as the skill in the hands person using the appliance.

Do be sure to seek out an orthodontist for orthodontic treatment. Orthodontists are dentistry’s specialists in moving teeth and aligning jaws to achieve a healthy bite. Orthodontists get to be specialists by graduating from dental school, and then successfully completing an additional 2-3 years of education in orthodontics at an accredited orthodontic residency program. Only people who have attained this level of formal education may call themselves “orthodontists,” and only orthodontists are accepted for membership in the AAO. By choosing an AAO member, the public is assured that the doctor truly is an orthodontist.

Orthodontists have the training, experience and treatment options to make sure you get your best smile.

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 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.