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Should I wait for our dentist to refer my child to an orthodontist?

No. Parents may be the first to realize that something is “off” about their child’s teeth or jaws. If you have a concern, contact an AAO orthodontist to schedule a visit. Many AAO orthodontists offer such check-ups at no cost and with no obligation.

Won’t my child’s teeth straighten out as they grow?

Unfortunately, your child’s teeth will not straighten out as he or she grows. The space available for permanent front teeth will not increase as one grows. For most people, after the permanent (12 year) molars come in, there is even less space available for the front teeth which can lead to orthodontic problems such as protruding or crooked teeth.

Untreated orthodontic problems can become worse, and more difficult to treat as a child gets older. Untreated problems may lead to tooth decay, gum disease, broken front teeth and loss of bone tissue that holds teeth in place.

Where did my child’s orthodontic problems come from?

Most orthodontic problems are inherited. Some are “acquired,” developing over time by sucking the thumb or fingers, mouth breathing, dental disease, abnormal swallowing, poor dental hygiene, or early or late loss of baby teeth, accidents and poor nutrition. Sometimes an inherited orthodontic problem is complicated by an acquired problem. Whatever the cause, orthodontists are usually able to treat most conditions successfully.

I lost my retainer. What should I do?

Call your orthodontist right away to make arrangements for replacement retainers. Without retainers, there can be unwanted movement of teeth.

For more information on retainers, check out our blog, Taking Care of Your Retainer, or watch this video.

What do the initials mean after an orthodontist’s name?

DDS stands for “Doctor of Dental Surgery.”  DMD stands for “Doctor of Dental Medicine.” These are the degrees awarded by U.S. and Canadian dental schools. The American Dental Association considers them to be equivalent degrees. There is not a set of initials that mean that someone has graduated from an orthodontic program, so orthodontists may or may not have additional initials after their DDS or DMD. 

Some accredited orthodontic programs confer a certificate upon graduation. Others confer a degree. There are many variations of post-graduate degrees. Common ones include MS, MSc, and MSD. When you select a member of the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) for orthodontic treatment, you can be assured that the doctor truly is an orthodontist. That’s because the AAO only admits orthodontists as members.

My child has a wire poking his cheek. What do I do?

Use a Q-tip or pencil eraser to push the wire so that it is flat against the tooth.  If the wire cannot be moved into a comfortable position, cover it with orthodontic wax.  Contact your orthodontist to make him/her aware of the problem and determine whether your child needs to be seen.

I’m considering getting my tongue or lip pierced. Are there any dangers?

There are numerous potential problems from oral piercings that can affect the tongue, cheeks, lips or uvula (the tissue at the back of the throat). Particularly with tongue piercing, you can permanently damage your teeth by wearing away the enamel, or by chipping or cracking teeth. There is risk of abrasion or recession of gum tissue if it is constantly hit by the piercing. Piercing can interfere with basic functions like chewing, swallowing, talking and the sense of taste. A hole from a piercing can be a path for germs into the body and bloodstream. Talk to your orthodontist or dentist for more information.

Are there board-certified orthodontists?

Yes. These orthodontists have completed the American Board of Orthodontics Specialty Certification exams. Board-certified orthodontists are known as Diplomates of the American Board of Orthodontics. The American Board of Orthodontics is the only orthodontic specialty certifying board that is recognized by the American Dental Association. Board certification is voluntary for orthodontists In Canada, specialists are certified by the Royal College of Dentists of Canada (RCDC). All specialists in Canada must meet the standards set by the RCDC in order to call themselves specialists.

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.