Orthodontic FAQ

Rapid-fire reads chock-full of helpful info.

Check out our answers to common orthodontic questions.

Got a question? Just ask! Our team is happy to help you understand everything you need to know about orthodontics and what to expect on your journey to a beautiful smile.

What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics, also known as dentofacial orthopedics, is a specialized form of dentistry that focuses on diagnosing, preventing, and treating dental and facial abnormalities using braces, clear aligners and various oral appliances. To become an orthodontist, general dentists must go through an extra two to four years of specialty training after dental school!

What is the best age to first go see the orthodontist?

Age 7 is the ideal time to bring your child in for a complimentary consultation. Our orthodontist, Dr. Kirby Nelson, will assess the potential orthodontic needs of each patient and explain all of the treatment options. Early, or “interceptive,” treatment can sometimes help to circumvent issues like narrow palates, crossbites, overbites and underbites that are more difficult to correct as an adult.

No matter your age, we encourage you to come in for your complimentary consultation so you can start your journey towards the beautiful, healthy smile you have always wanted!

How can I take care of my teeth while wearing braces or aligners?

Brushing is the most important part of your dental care while wearing braces or aligners. Healthy gums encourage your teeth to move effectively, while gums that are red and puffy will slow the process of your treatment. Brushing after each meal will keep your teeth clean and gums healthy for the best result possible.

Use fluoride toothpaste, but avoid toothpaste with whitening agents.

Avoiding sugary foods or drinks is very important while wearing braces. After eating or drinking anything sugary, we encourage our patients to brush or, at least, rinse with water to help prevent cavities.

Avoid eating sticky, hard or chewy foods that could break or get stuck in the brackets.

Continue to see your family dentist every six months for regular cleanings.

Do braces hurt?

Change always takes a little getting used to, but at Kirby Nelson Orthodontics we do everything we can to make your experience comfortable and pain-free! A few hours after your braces are placed, you may begin to feel some pressure on your teeth as the wires begin to do their job. You might also experience a little bit of soreness as your lips and cheeks adjust to the brackets. Warm salt water rinses will help alleviate that discomfort quickly. We encourage you to eat softer food the first few days after your braces go on, and after adjustment appointments, but eventually, you will forget you even have braces (we promise)!

Will my braces get in the way of school activities like playing sports, playing an instrument or singing?

Braces will not interfere with your everyday life, including actively participating in sports, playing an instrument or singing. However, some special steps may be required to help you adjust to certain changes.

If your sport requires a mouth guard, our office is able to create a custom mouth guard that will be comfortable and will not impact your braces. Orthodontic-specific mouth guards can be purchased online or at your local drug store. Please feel free to ask Dr. Kirby and associates any questions you may have.

Playing a musical instrument or singing with braces may require some adjustment and extra practice, but you should make the transition quickly. We promise your braces will not stop you from doing the things you love!

How should I take care of my retainer?

Frequently clean your retainer by brushing it gently with your toothbrush and toothpaste. You can also soak it in a denture cleaner to deeply clean any remaining bacteria.

If you take your retainer out to eat, make sure to keep it safe in its container so you do not break or lose it. Definitely do not wrap your retainer in a napkin — dumpster diving outside the school cafeteria is no fun for anyone!

If you have any further questions about orthodontics, please visit us in our two convenient locations in Maple Valley and Enumclaw.

Get in Touch!

(425) 413-2121

26250 238th Ln SE #102,
Maple Valley, WA 98038

(360) 625-9868

2817 Griffin Ave,
Enumclaw, WA 98022

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