portrait of Dr. Irwin and team at Vancouver Orthodontic Specialists PLLC


Below are the answers to a few common questions related to orthodontic treatment. If you don’t find an answer to one of your own questions here, please contact us and one of our team members will be happy to assist you.

+ What Is An Orthodontist?

Orthodontists are specialists who treat dental and facial irregularities. They are dentists who, after completing dental school, continue their education for two to three years in an accredited orthodontic residency program. Being experts in this highly specialized field, they limit their practices to orthodontics only. Click here for more info on Dr. Irwin’s training and education.

+ When Should Treatment Be Started?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children have an orthodontic screening no later than age 7. Treatment During the adolescent growth spurt period provides an opportunity to favorably influence the facial profile in a growing child. Once growth of the facial bones is complete, correction of jaw discrepancies usually requires surgery. For this reason, early treatment may save considerable time, money and the need for patients to undergo surgery. Click here For more information on the benefits of early treatment.

+ How Long Does Treatment Take?

On average, orthodontic treatment can last anywhere from 12 to 30 months, although the exact time of your treatment will depend on a variety of factors, including compliance, the nature and severity of the orthodontic condition, and how fast your tissue responds to treatment. Once the type of treatment required has been established, Dr. Irwin will be able to give you a better approximation of the length of time involved.

+ How Much Does Treatment Cost?

Costs associated with orthodontic treatment vary greatly depending on what type of treatment is being used. Dr. Irwin and his team will be able to go over the specific fees, payment, and insurance options with you once the type of treatment needed is determined.

+ What Can I Expect At My First Visit?

Dr. Irwin will give you an orthodontic examination and listen to any concerns you may have. He will be able to tell you if treatment is needed and, if so, when it should be started. Fees, insurance, and payment options will also be discussed.

+ What Are The Different Types Of Braces?

While the most common types of braces attach on the cheek side of the teeth, ‘lingual’ braces attach on the tongue side. Additionally, braces are made of different materials, such as stainless steel or ceramic; and, while some are visible and may have colored bands, others are clear and nearly undetectable.

+ How Are Teeth Moved?

Orthodontists move teeth by applying gentle forces to them. While the wires and brackets that make up what are commonly known as ‘braces’ give the orthodontist complete control over the movement of teeth, it is only the wires that do the actual moving. Additionally, sometimes extra forces, such as palatal expanders, headgear, and elastics may be used help align the bite or balance the jaw structure underneath.

+ How Do I Take Care Of Braces?

Brushing slowly and carefully is even more important when you have braces; you’ll want to aim for two to three minutes, three times a day and especially after eating. Other tools, such as oral irrigators, special brush tips, and special flossing implements are available to help you keep your braces (and tooth surfaces beneath them) clean.

+ What Should I Do If Something Breaks?

Minor to serious issues may arise during the course of your orthodontic treatment, and it is important to know how to handle these problems when and if they do come up. Food caught in braces or teeth, for example, is not considered an emergency, and can be remedied by using an interproximal brush or floss to dislodge the food. Soreness, especially within the first few days, and mouth sores, while uncomfortable, are quite common conditions and can be remedied at home. Those experiencing soreness can try rinsing with warm salt water and sticking to soft foods until the sensitivity subsides. Orthodontic wax may also be used to alleviate irritation in the mouth. Mouth sores may be helped by using a topical analgesic such as Ora-gel.

If more serious issues arise, such as lost ligatures, loose wires or bands, or brackets being knocked off, you’ll need to contact Dr. Irwin; he will determine the best solution for the problem and how soon you should be seen.

If a true emergency arises you don’t want to delay in contacting Dr. Irwin. If a tooth breaks or is knocked out, you can’t open your mouth (due to swelling), or your lip gets caught in your braces, ice the affected area until you can be seen. In the case of breathing difficulty, call 911 immediately.