Cardinal Orthodontics FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions about Braces

Read Cardinal Orthodontic’s frequently asked questions about orthodontic treatment and dental health to learn more about the benefits of braces. We answer the most common questions you may have about orthodontic treatment.

If you don’t see your specific question answered here, please contact us to ask anything about your orthodontic treatment. For additional information about orthodontic treatment, check out our blog.

When do we see Cardinal Orthodontics again?

We are happy to see our post-braces patients for any ongoing needs. Whenever you feel the need to see us, or if you feel that you need to have something checked, just make an appointment. Most of our post-braces patients come to us for issues regarding lost or broken retainers. As part of our ongoing service, we provide lifetime retainer checks at no charge.

What do I need to know about retainers?

The team at Cardinal Orthodontics is committed to helping you achieve your smile goals.  That’s why we offer free retainers for life!

We’re here to help educate you on retainer wear to ensure your smile lasts a lifetime.

After you get your braces off, your teeth may feel a little mobile. The retainers help keep the teeth in proper alignment. Our patients receive one set of retainers the day that the braces come off and a second set is given a few weeks later.


What should I expect when my braces come off?

Braces can be removed very quickly.

Usually, there is no discomfort, although some of the lower front teeth may be a little sore from treatment. After the glue is removed, impressions will be made for two sets of retainers (two upper and two lower), and a new set of x-rays, including a panoramic x-ray, will be taken to make sure that everything is healthy and in alignment. You are then ready to go and flash your brand-new smile to your friends, family, and co-workers.

When are my braces coming off?

We don’t set a treatment plan that cannot be attained. Our orthodontist and our staff know exactly when a patient expects their braces to come off and this information is checked and verified as part of the treatment plan.

We work with you to set a realistic time frame so you know exactly when to expect your braces to come off. Every time you visit our office, we’ll verify the treatment plan and keep you up to date throughout the process.

If treatment looks like it may run past an estimated due date, there will be full disclosure and numerous conversations about this concern with the patient. We will fully explain why it may have taken longer than initially expected, as we strive to make sure that each patient has their goals and objectives met. And, if you finish ahead of schedule, which frequently happens, we will all celebrate together!

Why is it necessary to change wires periodically?

During treatment for braces, orthodontic wires progress from very light, flexible wires to heavier, more rigid wires depending on the initial alignment of the teeth. At Cardinal Orthodontics we primarily use three wires throughout your braces treatment that provide a special force to the teeth to keep them progressing toward the finished result.

The first wire is a very light wire that allows deflection towards the teeth that are most crooked. Once that wire has performed the initial alignment, a second larger wire is used. This larger wire is thicker and stiffer, and it completes most of the work. The third and final wire is the largest, stiffest, and has the ability to be bent. This wire allows for fine detailing through minor wire bends.

How can we be assured that your team is highly trained?

The team members at Cardinal Orthodontics are unconditionally committed to providing quality and exceptional service to their patients. These team members participate in rigorous training and continuing education and each patient manager has completed an advanced orthodontic assisting training program.

What does your team do?

Our highly-trained patient care team assists our doctor in making your appointment fast, efficient, and comfortable. Our patient managers and front desk team perform at a high level with great professionalism and competency.

The team members in our office are trained to place and remove wires as well as give a thorough explanation of what is done at each visit. They all have orthodontic assistant certifications and have won awards for their work, customer service, and  professionalism. Patient Managers assist our patients with any questions or concerns that may arise. We could not perform the quality of work that we do without our outstanding team members.

Should I see my general dentist while I have braces?

Yes, absolutely! In order to maintain a beautiful smile, frequently visiting both your general dentist and orthodontist will help ensure a healthy smile.

Some patients struggle with proper oral hygiene and brushing with braces. You should continue to see your general dentist every 4-6 months for regular cleaning and check-ups. Normally, a general dental check-up is performed every six months, but Cardinal Orthodontics actively promotes more frequent visits to your general dentist for cleanings.

How often will I need to be seen for treatment?

New advances in orthodontics such as improved brackets, wires and techniques allow for quicker treatment plans.

During the first 6 months to a year, you can expect to be seen a lot less frequently, about every 6-8 weeks. We see patients less frequently at this time because we want the braces and wires to have time to do their job. At this early period, most appointments have intervals of 8 weeks. Toward the end of treatment, the appointment interval decreases because the braces are receiving fine tuning that takes a shorter period to complete. At the end of treatment, the appointment interval may decrease to every 2-4 weeks.

Will braces interfere with playing musical instruments?

There have been a number of research studies related to orthodontics and musical instruments.

Every musician seems to adapt very well to playing with braces after a week or two of practice. Some of them find that placing wax on the brackets is helpful during the initial adjustment period. If a patient is a “First Chair” player, some extra practice will ensure that they are conditioned to playing with braces and maintain that high level.

Will braces interfere with playing sports?

No, they will not. At Cardinal Orthodontics, we treat wrestlers, hockey players, soccer players, lacrosse players, football players, and players in all other types of sports.

A good number of parents are interested in how braces and sports work together. Some parents may think that a child with braces on their teeth must refrain from any of the more active sports, due to the notion that any kind of serious impact may be detrimental to the mouth and teeth. Our kid friendly orthodontists will tell you this is simply not true.

Braces can sometimes help keep the teeth in place when a player has a mouth injury.  We always advise our patients to wear a mouthpiece or a mouth guard if they can. We provide these standard, orthodontic flat mouth guards to our patients at no charge.

Do braces hurt?

Once your braces are in place and connected with the archwires, it generally takes 12-24 hours to start feeling some discomfort (if any).

Our high-tech brackets and light wires are much more comfortable than the traditional orthodontic experience. You may feel some soreness of your teeth for a couple of days after a new wire is installed, but this is completely normal! If you experience discomfort, try taking over the counter pain medication and eat softer foods for a couple of days.

How long will each appointment take?

You will always know how long each visit will take because we will print the length of your next visit on your appointment ticket. Most appointments vary between 20-40 minutes.

If it’s your first visit, we will take photos and x-rays of your teeth to be able to recommend the right treatment plan for you. This appointment is approximately one hour.

The actual appointment to get the braces placed on the teeth takes a little over an hour. Each appointment thereafter is 40 minutes on average. The other longer appointment comes when the braces are removed. This removal appointment is scheduled to last an hour.

Note: Invisalign patients usually have appointments that are much shorter and less frequent.

How long will my orthodontic treatment take?

Each individual’s needs are unique and different, but the average length of a traditional orthodontic treatment is 16 months.

Although it is difficult to predict the exact duration of an orthodontic treatment to get straight teeth, it is possible to estimate an average treatment length for each individual situation.

At Cardinal Orthodontics our patients know that it really doesn’t take that long. It takes a much shorter period of time than we have traditionally thought that orthodontics should take. If you go about it in a very systematic way, straightening teeth can be done very quickly.

How does orthodontic treatment work?

The process of moving teeth into proper alignment is part of a very natural bone turnover process that happens in nearly every part of the body. The bone surrounding the teeth, like any other bone is a dynamic tissue that is constantly being reshaped by cells in the body. In this process, bone is continually being taken away, added to and grown over time. It is a cycle that is facilitated by osteoblasts (molecules that add bone) and osteoclasts (that take away bone).

Braces produce light, continuous pressure that gradually moves teeth into their proper positions. Your teeth can easily move due to a force that is applied by the braces, or brackets that are placed on the teeth and the wire that is inserted into the brackets. As the wire tries to return to its original shape against the brackets, it creates a very light pressure on the teeth, and the natural, physiological process takes over and the teeth begin to move.

Has anyone ever locked braces by kissing someone else with braces?

No, fortunately not.

How old is too old for braces?

Any age is a good age to make your smile beautiful! Whether you’re a teen or an adult, Cardinal Orthodontics is proud to have patients in our office that chose to improve their smiles even at age 80!

Would an adult benefit from orthodontics?

Orthodontic treatment can be beneficial at any age!

The most common benefit comes from being happy about your teeth and your smile. Properly aligned teeth are easier to clean and less likely to suffer from problems of the teeth, gums, and bones that support the teeth. Additionally, it has been shown that there is a link between properly aligned teeth and whole-body health.

When you have crooked teeth, or teeth with extensive crowding, periodontal disease is more prevalent because crooked and crowded teeth are hard to clean and maintain. Untreated, periodontal disease may result in bad breath, bleeding gums, loose teeth, and even tooth loss. Additionally, many scientific studies have shown a strong link also exists between periodontal disease and diabetes and heart disease. Many adults choose low-profile or aesthetically pleasing treatment options such as clear braces or Invisalign.

What is Phase I and Phase II treatment?

Phase I and Phase II refers to a specific treatment plan in which the patient is going through braces twice to get straight teeth. If somebody is young, between seven and ten years old, and they have a certain bite problem that could get progressively worse without early treatment, an orthodontist will recommend an early set of braces to help fix that bite problem.

This treatment is sometimes recommended to make more space for developing teeth, correction of a crossbite, overbite, underbite, or harmful oral habits. This is Phase I. After a short time, the braces will be removed and the teeth will be allowed to grow naturally. Once most of the permanent teeth are in place, usually between the ages of 11-13, Phase II begins with a full set of braces. Phase I is considered to be “interceptive orthodontics” and Phase II is considered “comprehensive” orthodontics.

At what age should I get braces?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends a child should visit an orthodontist by age seven.

Cardinal Orthodontics is ready to improve your smile at any time! The majority of patients are going to be best treated once most of the permanent teeth are in place. It is important to provide treatment to correct problems before jaw growth has slowed, or these problems may lead to a need for surgery or extraction of teeth. Every patient is unique, and it’s always best to be evaluated by an orthodontist if a problem is detected by parents, the family dentist, or the child’s physician.

We’re happy to provide an initial exam at no cost to help parents evaluate concerns and the best time for youth orthodontics treatment.

What are some signs that braces may be needed?

The need for orthodontics begins with a desire to straighten teeth and make smiles more beautiful, confident, and healthy.

Treatment is recommended when the bite is misaligned and doesn’t allow the teeth to come together in a position that is healthy for the teeth, gums, and bones around the teeth. A proper bite shouldn’t cause the teeth to wear unevenly or excessively. Orthodontists will also evaluate how crowded or spaced the teeth are and will check to make sure that the upper front teeth do not protrude excessively over the lower teeth. In children, they may look for finger or thumb sucking habits which can cause damage after the permanent teeth erupt at age 6-7. If someone has difficulty chewing or their jaw shifts to one side or another when biting together, then orthodontic treatment is certainly warranted.

At the free initial exam, we’ll evaluate your bite and the position of the teeth and you will be able to learn more about how we can help you achieve your smile goals.

What are some possible risks of not seeking orthodontic treatment?

Crowded teeth are more difficult to keep clean, which can lead to decay. Research indicates that certain bite conditions can cause gum disease and that most tooth alignment problems worsen with time if not treated. Some deep overbites can cause significant wear on the front teeth, and many believe that an adverse bite can cause or worsen head and neck pains. New research shows more incidences of adverse heart conditions with periodontal disease, which is more likely to occur when teeth are not properly aligned. Most tooth alignment problems are handled more predictably in younger, growing patients and that treatment completed at the correct age may eliminate the need for costly future treatments or surgeries to correct worsening conditions in adulthood.

What are some possible benefits of orthodontics?

There are numerous benefits to orthodontic treatment and properly-aligned teeth. Obviously, an attractive and confident smile is a great benefit. Research is very clear that people with a pleasing smile are treated better in social and work relationships. Properly-aligned teeth provide a greater overall functionality of the teeth, are easier to clean, and are less likely to be fractured.

What is an orthodontist?

An orthodontist is a specialist who has special skills in managing tooth movement and facial development. To become an orthodontist, you must complete 11 years of additional education following high school: a standard four-year baccalaureate program, then four years of dental school (thus becoming a dentist), and then a two or three-year orthodontics program.

What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial irregularities.