The field of orthodontics is no exception to common misconceptions. Below are some of the common misconceptions we often hear at our practice:
Misconception 1 – Orthodontists and dentists are the same
Truth – Both dentists and orthodontists go to dental school, but orthodontics is a specialty within the field of dentistry. Orthodontists spend an additional two to three years after dental school studying the complexities of moving teeth and correcting malocclusions (misaligned bites), and once they begin practicing, that’s all they do. Meanwhile, dentists are often called “general dentists” because they handle the non-specialized tasks for maintaining oral health such as doing check-ups, filling cavities, and cleaning teeth.
Misconception 2 – Only kids get braces
Truth – This misconception is going away, because according to the American Association of Orthodontists, around 20% of people with braces are over age 18, and some statistics put that figure much higher. Meanwhile, the number of adult orthodontic patients keeps going up every year.
Misconception 3 – Only kids with all their adult teeth should see an orthodontist
Truth – The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that visits to an orthodontist begin at age 7. For patients at that age, the orthodontist can foresee problems in the future. Also, young children have more malleable facial bones. The orthodontist may want to use devices to reshape the dental arch to avoid the need to pull teeth later on.
Misconception 4 – Braces will make you have a “metal mouth”
Truth – Braces used to involve a lot more metal than they do today. Now, the brackets are much smaller, lightweight, and discreet than ever before. Patients can also choose lingual, or behind-the-teeth braces. Treatments like Invisalign involve no metal at all.
Misconception 5 – Braces are out of reach financially
Truth – Orthodontic treatment can be expensive, it’s true, but our practice offers various payment plans and work with patients to find ways to make braces affordable. We feel it is important to make orthodontic care accessible to all.
Misconception 6 – Braces are only for cosmetic purposes
Truth – People with straight teeth and aligned bites have decreased risk of plaque build-up, tartar, cavities and gum disease. Teeth also wear more evenly which helps them remain strong and resistant against infection. The cosmetic aspect shouldn’t be discounted either, as an attractive smile correlates to higher self-esteem and psychological health.
Misconception 7 – Braces are painful
Truth – When patients periodically have their braces tightened, their teeth may feel sore for a day or two, but medical advances have made braces so comfortable that patients typically forget they have them on.
Misconception 8 – Treatment takes a long time
Truth – Depending on a patient’s medical situation, treatment in braces can take as little as one year and rarely longer than three. “Long” is a relative term, but treatment times are demonstrably short when measured against a lifetime of benefits. Patients who keep their orthodontic appointments and follow their orthodontist’s instructions will see results the most quickly.