Q: Do I need to change my oral hygiene routine during orthodontic treatment?

A: Yes, keeping your teeth and braces (or other appliances) clean requires a little more effort on your part. Your orthodontist will explain how to brush and floss, how often to brush and floss, and give you any special instructions based on the kind of orthodontic treatment you are having. Be sure to follow your orthodontist’s dental hygiene prescription to get the best results possible. Check with your orthodontist about dental products and tools that might be helpful.

In general, patients with braces must be careful to avoid hard, sticky, chewy and crunchy foods. They should also avoid chewing on hard objects like pens, pencils and fingernails. And never chew ice. It’s much too hard on your teeth – even without braces.

Also be sure to see your family dentist for a professional cleaning and check-up at least every six months during your orthodontic treatment, or more often, if recommended.

Q: What are my options if I don’t want braces that show?

A: Ceramic braces are an another option to lessen the visibility of braces; they blend in with the teeth for a more natural effect. Additionally, the use of a series of clear aligner trays (invisible braces) instead of traditional braces may be used to correct some problems. Talk with your orthodontist about less visible treatment options that will help you reach your treatment goals.

Q: I am pregnant and want to begin orthodontic treatment. Is this OK?

A: Discuss this question with your OBGYN/physician/healthcare professional and orthodontist before you start any orthodontic treatment, as pregnancy brings on bodily changes that may affect the mouth. Soft tissues such as gums become much more susceptible to infection.

Q: Can I play sports while wearing braces?

A: Yes, but make sure you wear a protective mouth guard. Ask your orthodontist to recommend the right kind of mouth guard while you are having orthodontic treatment. Keep your smile beautiful after treatment and wear a mouth guard at every practice and every game.

Q: Can I play musical instruments while wearing braces?

A: With practice and a period of adjustment, braces typically do not interfere with the playing of wind or brass instruments.

Q: Can I use money from my flexible spending account (FSA) to pay for orthodontic treatment?

Yes, you can use flexible spending account (FSA) funds to pay for part or all of your orthodontic treatment. If you have insurance, an FSA can bridge the gap to pay what insurance does not cover. If you do not have insurance, an FSA can be used to pay the entire fee (up to the annual cap of $2,500 that took effect January 1, 2013). FSAs are generally offered as part of an employer’s “cafeteria plan.” If you do not have an FSA, check with your employer about offering this tax-advantaged benefit.

Q: Is free orthodontic care available for patients in need?

There are several programs that offer orthodontic treatment to patients in need at little or no cost.

Donated Orthodontic Services (DOS), a pilot program of the American Association of Orthodontists, is offered to patients in need in Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, New Jersey and Rhode Island. For information about eligibility, contact the DOS coordinator at the Dental Lifeline Network at 866-572-9390.

Smiles Change Lives and Smile for a Lifetime Foundation provide orthodontic treatment in many regions of the U.S.

Also check with your state or local dental society to ask if they are aware of any programs that exist in your area.

FAQs content provide with permission from the American Association of Orthodontists’ consumer website, www.mylifemysmile.org.