Answers to common questions about braces and orthodontics

About Braces

What are braces?

Braces are an appliance installed by an orthodontist to correct teeth that are crowded, out of alignment (crooked), protruding or have unequal spacing. Braces are used by your orthodontist to help you improve the look and feel of your smile.

If I get braces, how long do I have to wear them?

The amount of time spent in braces will vary depending on the individual patient, because every smile responds differently to treatment. Treatment times can take anywhere between six and 30 months, but most standard treatments take about 24 months.


What types of braces are available?

Chattahoochee Family Orthodontics offers a wide variety of braces, from standard metal brackets and clear ceramic brackets to Invisalign® teen.

Will my braces interfere with my school activities like sports, playing an instrument, or singing?

Playing an instrument or a contact sport may require some adjustment when you first get your braces, but wearing braces will not stop you from participating in any of your school activities. If you play a contact sport, it is recommended that you wear a mouth guard to protect your braces or appliance.

Care of Your Braces

Do I need to brush more often?

Patients should brush their teeth at least four times each day – after each meal and before going to bed. We will show each patient how to floss their teeth with braces and may also provide a prescription for a special fluoride, if necessary.

Also avoid biting into hard foods with your front teeth. Cut or break up hard foods such as:

  • Raw vegetables

  • Croutons

  • French/Italian bread

  • Fruit

  • Hard rolls

  • Thin crust pizza

  • Meat

  • Burgers

  • Sub sandwiches

  • Corn on the cob

Foods to avoid

Yes, there are plenty of foods that you will want to avoid while wearing braces for fear that you may negatively impact your braces components.

  • Popcorn

  • Nuts

  • Hard taco shells

  • Sticky and hard candy

  • Gum

  • Ice

  • Corn chips

  • Pretzels

  • Hard cookies or crackers

  • Sticky or hard chocolate

What do you do if a bracket or wire comes loose?

First, don’t panic, everything will be fine. If a braces bracket detaches or one of your braces wires comes loose, it’s most likely not an emergency and can be taken care of with a follow-up visit to your Chattahoochee Family Orthodontics orthodontist. Simply contact your orthodontist during normal business hours and explain the situation. In the meantime, you can visit our Orthodontics Emergency Care page for temporary solutions.

How can I take care of my teeth?

  • ALWAYS remember to brush your teeth after every meal and floss at least once a day.

  • Make sure to use toothpaste that contains fluoride, and ask your orthodontist or family dentist if you need a fluoride rinse. This will help prevent cavities!

  • If you take out your retainer to eat, make sure you brush your teeth, floss, and remember to keep it safe in its container so that it does not get lost or broken.

  • Keep your retainer clean, by brushing it gently with a toothbrush and toothpaste. You may also soak it in denture cleaner as instructed by your orthodontist. Do not put your retainer in boiling water or in the dishwasher.

  • During your treatment, try to avoid foods with a lot of sugar (sugar increases the amount of bacteria that grows in your mouth, causing more plaque and possibly cavities).

  • Avoid sticky and chewy foods (caramel, chewing gum, gummy bears), hard foods (hard candy, nuts, ice cubes) or any foods that could possibly get stuck in your braces (corn on the cob, soft bagels, ribs, taffy, etc.).

  • Be sure to schedule your routine checkups with your family dentist. It is recommended that you continue to visit the dentist every six months.

Do I still need dental check-ups?

Yes! Regular checkups with your family dentist are important while in braces. Your family dentist will determine the intervals between cleaning appointments while you are in braces.

Treatment Options

What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics (also referred to as dentofacial orthodontics) is a specialized form of dentistry focusing on the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial abnormalities.

What is an orthodontist?

An orthodontist is a dental specialist who has received two to three years of additional training after dental school. Your orthodontist is able to straighten teeth, correct misaligned jaw structure, and improve the function of your smile.

What’s the best age to visit the orthodontist?

If you want to improve the look and feel of your smile, then any age can be a great age to see the orthodontist. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children first visit an orthodontist around the age of seven; however, orthodontic treatment is not exclusive to children and teens, with about one in every five orthodontic patients being over the age of 21. Whether you’re considering treatment for yourself or for a child, any time is a good time to visit the orthodontist.

What causes crooked teeth?

Crowded teeth, thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, premature loss of baby teeth, a poor breathing airway caused by enlarged adenoids or tonsils can all contribute to poor tooth positioning. Then there are the hereditary factors. Extra teeth, large teeth, missing teeth, wide spacing, and small jaws – all can be causes of crowded teeth or malocclusion.

How do teeth move?

Tooth movement is a natural response to light pressure over a period of time. Pressure is applied by using a variety of orthodontic appliances, the most common being a brace or bracket attached to the teeth and connected by an arch wire. Periodic changing of these arch wires puts pressure on the teeth. At different stages of treatment your child may wear a headgear, elastics, a positioner or a retainer. Most orthodontic appointments are scheduled four to eight weeks apart to give the teeth time to move.

What is “two-phase” orthodontic treatment?

In some cases we may recommend a two-phase treatment plan. This consists of two separate periods when a child receives orthodontic treatment. The first phase of treatment is done while the child still has many or most of their baby teeth. Braces may or may not be used during a first phase of treatment. Rather, other orthodontic appliances may be used in this early phase. The second phase of treatment happens once the child has most or all of their permanent teeth.

Office Policies

Can I drop my child off for an appointment?

Yes. We understand your busy schedule, and we are happy to help you make the most of your time. On some occasions, we may request to speak with a parent when they return, so we ask that parents check in with their patient manager before dropping off their child.

What is an emergency appointment? How are those handled?

If your braces are causing extreme pain or if something breaks, you should call our office. In most cases, we can address these issues over the telephone. If you require an emergency appointment, we will set aside time for you.

How much will braces cost? Are financing options available? How does my insurance work?

It is impossible to give an exact cost for treatment until we have examined you. We will cover the exact cost and financial options during the initial examination. We have many financing options available to accommodate your needs, and we will review these with you. We will also review your insurance policy and help to maximize your benefit and file your claims.