About the Expert
Dr. Laurie Parks graduated magna cum laude from the University of North Texas with a major in biology. She earned her Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from Baylor College of Dentistry where she also completed an orthodontics residency and was involved in research and teaching while earning her Master of Science in oral biology and certificate in orthodontics.
How do I keep my teeth clean while wearing braces or clear aligners?
We give our patients with braces a goody bag containing floss threaders to floss around braces, Proxabrushes to clean underneath wires and around each bracket, a timer to make sure they’re brushing long enough, and toothpaste. We also recommend dental floss picks that help floss around braces. Many of our patients use water flossers and electric toothbrushes. Both are great, but you don’t have to spend a lot of money on your toothbrush and floss to keep your teeth healthy.
If you use a water flosser, you still need to floss with real floss daily. Aligners can be removed to floss and brush your teeth as you normally would. Just make sure your teeth are really clean before you put them back on. You don’t want to trap food and plaque against your teeth under your aligners.
Do I still have to go to the dentist every six months during orthodontic treatment?
Biannual dental checkups are even more important while you’re in orthodontic treatment because it’s harder to keep your teeth clean. Also, when we’re moving teeth, we want to make sure they’re healthy or we could do harm. Your general or pediatric dentist will take detailed X-rays and look closely for any tiny fractures or areas of decay that pop up and treat them in a timely fashion.
Should orthodontic treatment wait until all baby teeth are gone?
No. It’s important to see the orthodontist around age seven or eight to begin looking for growth issues and jaw discrepancies that need to be addressed. If you’re above a certain age and still have some baby teeth, it may be due to missing or impacted permanent teeth. Most children don’t need anything done at age seven, but we want to begin monitoring tooth and jaw development at that time.
Do I need to have teeth extracted for orthodontic treatment?
Only if absolutely necessary. We try everything we can to avoid having to extract teeth, but sometimes there is not enough room in the bone for all of the teeth to fit safely or the bite won’t fit together without extractions.
Will braces interfere with band or sports?
They shouldn’t, but I recommend an adjustment period before a big recital or competition. Let’s plan to put your braces on a couple of weeks before an important performance or wait until right after. As far as sports, we have special mouth guards made for braces and we can recommend over-the-counter versions. You’ll definitely want a special sports mouth guard designed specifically for braces.
Will my teeth be crooked again after my treatment is finished?
Absolutely not. As long as you wear your retainer as instructed, your smile comes with a lifetime guarantee. We provide comfortable retainers, but it’s up to you to wear them and keep your teeth straight.