Things Your Orthodontist Won’t Tell You

Close up macro shot of a male mouth laughing and showing his straight teethicsnaps/ShutterstockYour smile is one of the first things somebody notices about you, and seeing an orthodontist practically ensures you’ll always have straight, pearly whites. At least, that’s the idea. But as with any other doctor, your orthodontist has some things they wish you knew, but probably won’t ever tell you. (By the way, you’ll definitely want to follow these 10 golden rules for white, healthy teeth.)

Someone else might’ve used your braces before you

Beautiful young woman with brackets on teeth close upVP Photo Studio/ShutterstockBefore you get grossed out, this isn’t always the case—and if it is, it’s not actually as skeevy as you might think. According to foxnews.com, some orthodontists professionally sterilize and remanufacture used braces through companies like Ortho-Cycle, which saves up to 50 percent on costs. This process “is based upon the dissolution of polymerized acrylates at temperatures at which simultaneous sterilization occurs,” according to orthocycle.com.

We know when you haven’t been wearing your Invisalign

Close-up Of Woman's Hand Putting Transparent Aligner In TeethAndrey_Popov/ShutterstockDespite how persistent you are when you tell your orthodontist you’ve been actively wearing your Invisalign, they’ll know the truth right away. “We know if you haven’t been wearing your Invisalign because of a cool feature [on the aligners] (not just because of your answer to our question or the way your teeth look),” says Dr. Matthew LoPresti, DDS, a cosmetic dentist in Stamford, CT. “There are little blue marks towards the back of your aligners that should wear away as you wear the Invisalign. If the blue mark looks untouched, we know you haven’t been wearing the aligners.” (Here are some things your dentists NEEDS you to start doing differently.)

Your treatment will probably take longer than what we initially tell you

Close up of smiling black woman at dentistRocketclips, Inc./ShutterstockYour orthodontist might tell you your treatment will only take a year and a half to two years, but that’s a rough estimate. A lot of treatments take much longer than expected. “Delays in the process may occur like a misdiagnosis of your case, patient’s neglect, or unanticipated movement of the teeth,” says Danica Lacson, a representative for Hawaii Family Dental.

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Our fees might be negotiable

Credit cards close upsumire8/ShutterstockLet’s be honest, a trip to the orthodontist is anything but cheap. “The good news, though, is that orthodontists offer a variety of payment plans. Many allow patients to pay through monthly installments with no interest, and with some orthodontists, you can negotiate the fee itself,” according to foxnews.com. “Some orthodontists will give a discount, usually 5 to 10 percent, if you pay the total in cash or with a credit card at the beginning of treatment.” (You won’t believe these shocking diseases that dentists find first.)

You have to wear retainers after you complete your treatment—forever

teeth with retainerOlga Miltsova/ShutterstockIf you think you’re done with orthodontics after you finish your treatment—think again. “A retainer holds your teeth in place. After you complete Invisalign or any orthodontics, it is necessary to hold those teeth in place,” says Dr. LoPresti. “There are different options which include a removable clear retainer that is worn at night or a permanent fixed retainer that gets bonded to the back of your teeth.”

We know when you’re lying about wearing your retainer

Dentist holding Retainer, Orthodontics Dental concept backgroundponsulak/ShutterstockNot only do you have to wear a retainer after you complete your treatment, but your orthodontist will definitely know if you’ve really been keeping up with it. “Patients that complete their advised treatment and achieve their desired result but then fail to wear their retainers, generally have teeth that drift apart,” says Dr. Timothy Chase, co-founder of SmilesNY. “This can cause a relapse such as crowding, spacing or flaring of the teeth.” (Whatever you do, never, ever ignore these symptoms of a cavity.)

We know when you eat or drink with your Invisalign in

Macro close up of healthy female teeth biting raspberry.karelnoppe/ShutterstockIt might seem harmless to eat or drink with your aligners in, but you won’t be fooling your orthodontist. “When patients eat or drink liquids (other than water) come in to see me, their Invisalign trays are often slimy, dirty, and stained,” says Dr. Chase. “Not only does this result in a cosmetically undesirable appearance to the aligners but it also damages them and can lead to decay.”

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Braces aren’t just a cosmetic treatment

Close-up of ceramic and metallic braces on teeth. Orthodontic Treatment. Dental Care Conceptsalajean/ShutterstockIt might seem like people go to the orthodontist just to straighten out their teeth, but there are tons of other reasons, too. While some people can go through life with crooked teeth and be just fine, others actually require fixture in order to chew and speak properly. “While we do want everyone to have a perfect smile, the reality is not everyone requires orthodontics,” says Seth Newman, DDS, a board-certified orthodontic specialist. (You’ll never catch your dentist eating these 15 foods—and you shouldn’t be snacking on them, either.)

We know you don’t floss or brush as much as you say you do

Close-up Of Young African Woman Flossing TeethAndrey_Popov/ShutterstockRemember all those times you lied to your dentist or orthodontist when they asked if you’ve been flossing? Yeah… they knew you weren’t. “Those who do not brush and floss properly generally have a higher incidence of plaque calculus, gingivitis, and tooth decay,” says Dr. Chase. “A single day of forgetting to floss is damaging but a week or a month of poor hygiene will result in swelling of the gums, bleeding and a foul odor.” (This is the easiest way to get rid of bad breath, according to a dentist.)

Even if you don’t think your child needs orthodontics, get them checked out anyway

retainer for teeth - Beautiful smiling girl with retainer for teethpattara puttiwong/ ShutterstockEven if your child doesn’t show any signs of needing to see an orthodontist, you should really bring them in for a check-up no later than age seven. “If we see a patient early, we can remove baby teeth and the canine has a good possibility of coming in properly,” according to Dr. Jackie Miller, an orthodontist in Washington, MO, and member of the American Association of Orthodontists. “An early visit to the orthodontist can prevent and help detect future problems.” (Here are some dental etiquette rules everyone should follow.)

If you smoke, your treatment might take longer

Beauty & SmokeQuinn Martin/ShutterstockIn case you needed more of a reason to not smoke, it might actually cause you to need to make more trips to your orthodontist’s office. “Smokers give away their habit because of the excessive plaque that builds up on their teeth,” according to Dr. Chase. “This can have a big impact orthodontic appliances used to straighten teeth and result in a longer treatment period.”

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