Living Well - Q&A with a local orthodontist

Dr. Hilary Neiberg Baskin
Posted 2/23/18

Q: What are the steps I can take to take care of my teeth and oral health while wearing braces? A: It is especially important to maintain good oral hygiene habits while wearing braces. This includes …

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Living Well - Q&A with a local orthodontist


Q: What are the steps I can take to take care of my teeth and oral health while wearing braces?
A: It is especially important to maintain good oral hygiene habits while wearing braces. This includes daily brushing and flossing. Aids like superfloss and floss threaders are important tools. Waterpiks or waterflossers are also great with braces. A daily fluoride rinse is also advised. Braces also means more frequent cleaning visits to your regular dentist. Rather than every 6-12 months, I recommend seeing your dentist every 3-6 months. Keeping your teeth clean is always important and can take a bit more time with braces, with the effort to prevent white spots, cavities or periodontal issues.
Q: How have options changed for choosing braces over the years for both children and adults?
A: While many of the options available today (clear aligners, clear braces, metal braces, customer aligners, lingual braces) have been available for many years, the technology employed for each of these options has advanced significantly. Unfortunately, along with these reliable methods used by orthodontists around the world, there has been an increase in do-it-yourself and gimmick products, making unproven claims. It’s important for safety and best practice reasons to speak to your orthodontist about options he/she has available that have been academically proven.
Q: Should I get braces for my child before all of their permanent teeth have come in?
A: It depends. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that you have your child see an orthodontist at age 7. That does not mean that all 7-year-olds should be treated. It does mean they should be examined by a specialist. Some children do benefit greatly from early orthodontic care if they exhibit one of a handful of conditions. For others, it’s best to wait until all the permanent teeth are in. Your orthodontist can work with you to identify and determine what would be best for your child. Many orthodontists provide complimentary exams and consultations.
Q: If I don’t get braces, will my teeth straighten out naturally as I get older?
A: Likely not. While it is true that teeth continue to move and shift throughout our lives, they rarely move in a way that improves the situation. Left untreated, many conditions that require treatment continue to worsen, possibly contributing to periodontal disease, joint pain or chipping and wear of teeth.
Q: Are choices increasing for adults to get braces? How long do adults generally wear braces?
A: As noted earlier, while in the broad context the “choices” for orthodontic treatment have been around for a while now, each of them have improved significantly, making many of them now available to a far broader range of patients. Currently, the national average for wearing braces is 27 months. Treatment time fluctuates greatly based on bite, difficulty of correction and patient compliance. In our practice, we hope to complete treatment anywhere from 6 months to 20 months. We also work with other health care specialists to address joint pain, sleep apnea, periodontal concerns and, of course, aesthetic concerns.
Q: At what age is best to see an orthodontist for the first time?
A: The American Association of Orthodontics recommends that you first see your orthodontist at age 7.
Q: What are the benefits of early intervention?
A: Early orthodontic care (often called interceptive, or phase 1 orthodontics) can help avoid far more serious conditions and the potential need for surgical intervention down the road. As children are still growing, we can affect jaws and skeletal structure more easily and comfortably before puberty. Growth allows an orthodontist to address more significant developmental and dental issues at an early age as well such as crossbites and impactions. Q: What are the food restrictions with braces? What happens if you ignore them? Broadly speaking, while wearing braces you should avoid foods that are hard, sticky or chewy. These types of foods can break the braces off of your teeth. Chewy foods have the added risk of getting stuck in your braces, where you may be unable to brush them away, creating an added risk for plaque and cavities.
Q: What are some common misconceptions about braces and orthodontists?
A: People get nervous about getting braces put on. Although there is some pressure felt hours after the braces are placed, often far less than most patients expect, getting braces put on is not an uncomfortable process. People also do not always realize how an orthodontist is different from a general dentist. An orthodontist spends an additional 2 or 3 years after dental school to specialize in growth and development, misaligned teeth, bite concerns and tooth movement. We work in partnership with general dentists, pediatric dentists, oral surgeons, periodontists, endodontists as well as physicians to optimize oral, and physical health.
Q: What advice do you give parents who are looking at options for their children?
A: Follow professional guidelines for having your child seen by a specialist by age 7. You do not need a referral from your general dentist to see an orthodontist. Like any health decision, you may want a second opinion before finalizing a decision on treatment. There is significant variability in price, treatment techniques and reputation across the market. While the orthodontist your dentist recommends may be fantastic, given these factors, a second consultation is prudent. Then you can select the practice your family is most comfortable with and provides you with the best value for your investment. The most important factor is to make sure that you are choosing a specialist, a member of the American Association of Orthodontics.
(About the doctor: Dr. Hilary Neiberg Baskin was named “Top Orthodontist” by 5280 Magazine, the #1 orthodontist by Colorado Parent Magazine and was listed in the 2018 «Best of the Best» magazine published by Colorado Community Media. She is a board member of the Colorado Orthodontic Association and a member of the American Association of Orthodontics. All About Braces and Colorado Orthodontics has six locations throughout Metro Denver. Learn more about All About Braces at


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