Many people wonder what the difference between orthodontics and regular dental care is. Dr. Sellke and Dr. Reily have provided this page of frequently asked orthodontic questions to help our patients understand what we do at our offices in Antioch, Grayslake, and Gurnee, Illinois. We hope you find this a helpful resource. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us. Our orthodontists and team are always happy to speak with you.

What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics is a specialized field of dentistry, focused on the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial abnormalities. It is also referred to as dentofacial orthopedics, and is used largely to align teeth, lips, and jaws to create a more aesthetic appearance for your face and your smile.

What is an orthodontist?

Every orthodontist is a dentist, but not every dentist is an orthodontist. An orthodontist is a dental specialist who has received 2-3 additional years of additional training and experience. Your orthodontist can straighten teeth, correct misaligned jaw structure, and improve the function of your smile.

What is the best age to begin visiting the orthodontist?

If you are interested in improving the appearance and feel of your smile, then any age is a great age to meet with an orthodontist. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children first visit the orthodontist at age 7. However, orthodontic care and treatments are not limited to children and teens. Many of our patients are over the age of 21. Whether you are seeking treatment for yourself or for your child, any age is a great time to visit Dr. Sellke and Dr. Reily.

Am I too old for orthodontic treatment?

There is no age limit for orthodontics. The majority of orthodontic patients are children or adolescents. While many of the patients who visit Drs. Sellke & Reily are children age 8 or younger, we also provide our services to adolescents and adults. The basic process of moving the position of teeth is the same for all healthy individuals, regardless of age. It is never too late to seek orthodontic treatment to improve your oral health and your smile.

Will my teeth straighten out as they grow?

No. The space available for your front teeth does not increase as you grow. In most people, the space available for your front teeth will decrease with age.

Will I need to have teeth extracted for braces?

It may occasionally be necessary to remove teeth to achieve the best orthodontic results. However, thanks to new technology and advanced orthodontic procedures, removing teeth is not always necessary for orthodontic treatment.

How do I take care of my teeth while wearing braces or a retainer?

Taking care of your teeth while wearing braces can be tricky. However, good oral hygiene practices, combined with a few extra home care routines specific to braces, make it possible for you to enjoy good oral health even while wearing braces.

  • Always remember to brush your teeth after every meal and floss at least once a day.
  • Use toothpaste that contains fluoride, and ask your orthodontist or family dentist if you need a fluoride rinse. This will help to prevent cavities.
  • Keep your retainer clean by brushing it gentle with a toothbrush and toothpaste. You may also soak it in denture cleaner. Do not put your retainer in boiling water or in the dishwasher.
  • During your treatment, avoid foods with a lot of sugar. Sugar increases the amount of bacteria that grows in your mouth, causing more plaque and possibly more cavities.
  • Avoid sticky and chewy foods (caramel, chewing gum, gummy bears), hard foods (hard candy, nuts, ice cubes), or any foods that could possible get stuck in your braces (corn on the cob, soft bagels, ribs, taffy, etc.).
  • Remember to schedule your routine checkups with your family dentist. It is recommended that you continue to visit the dentist every six months, even while wearing braces.

What are braces?

Braces are appliances used by your orthodontists to help you improve the look and feel of your smile by correcting misaligned teeth and bad bites. There are many different types of braces to choose from, including:

  • Traditional metal braces
  • Clear ceramic braces
  • Self-ligating braces
  • Invisalign aligners

Please feel free to contact Drs. Sellke & Reily about the types of braces we offer. We will be happy to provide more information and help you select the option best for you.

How long do I need to wear my braces?

The amount of time spent in braces varies depending on the individual patient. Every smile responds differently to treatments. Treatment times can take anywhere between 6 and 21 months, but on average, standard treatments with braces take about 15-18 months.

Do braces hurt?

Braces do not often hurt. You may feel a small amount of discomfort or aching for a few days as your teeth, gums, cheeks, and mouth get used to your new braces. If you experience persistent pain, please contact Drs. Sellke & Reily immediately so that we can resolve the issue and ensure that your braces are functioning correctly.

Do I need to brush my teeth more often if I have braces?

You should brush your teeth at least 3 times each day to help keep your teeth, gums, and mouth healthy and clean. Brushing regularly will help remove any food that may be caught between your braces. You should also floss daily to get in between your braces where your toothbrush cannot reach. Your orthodontist can show you how to properly brush and floss once your braces are placed.

If I have braces, do I still need dental checkups every 6 months?

Yes! In fact, when you are wearing bracing, it is even more important that you visit your dentist regularly. Braces can cause food to be trapped in places that your toothbrush cannot reach. This causes bacteria to buildup, leading to cavities, gingivitis, and gum disease. Your dentist will work closely with your orthodontist to make sure that your teeth stay clean and healthy while wearing braces.

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

Playing an instrument or a contact sport may require some adjustment after 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 strongly recommended that you wear a sports mouth guard to protect your braces or appliances, and your mouth, teeth, jaw, and soft tissues.

Are there less noticeable braces?

There are many types of braces. Today, brackets can be clear or metal depending on your preference. Alternatives to traditional braces also include Invisalign, which is a set of clear, removable retainers that gradually shift the position of your teeth. To learn more about the types of braces provided by Drs. Sellke & Reily, please contact our office and speak with a member of our team.

How do I schedule my next appointment?

Just call our practice! Our front desk staff will be happy to help you make your next appointment at our office. If you are a new patient or have been referred to our practice, please let us know so that we can provide you with all the information you need.