About Orthodontics Important Things to Know

What is an Orthodontist? Orthodontists Are Dental Specialists

While there’s some instruction regarding orthodontics in dental school, it is limited. It’s in the orthodontic residency program that orthodontists receive intensive instruction to learn proper, safe tooth movement (orthodontics) and the guidance of dental, jaw and facial development (dentofacial orthopedics). These extra years of schooling make the orthodontist the dental specialist in moving teeth and aligning jaws. This is the ONLY focus of their practice.

The Canadian Association of Orthodontists (CAO) and the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) is open exclusively to orthodontists – only orthodontists are admitted for membership. The only doctors who can call themselves orthodontists have graduated from dental school and then successfully completed the additional three years of education in an accredited orthodontic residency program.

General Information

Children are typically ready for braces as they are approaching their pubertal growth spurt which for girls can be from ages 11 - 13 and for boys from 13 - 15. Each child is different and it is recommended that a child visit an orthodontist by the age 8 to assess if future treatment is needed. An orthodontist can monitor developing teeth through interceptive orthodontics and assess your child to determine if he or she would benefit from braces.

Adult braces are increasingly common, making up around 35% of orthodontic treatments. If your teeth and gums are healthy, you are likely eligible to enjoy the cosmetic and preventative health benefits of braces. We offer a variety of options for adult braces, including discreet and invisible braces that are low maintenance and require fewer follow-up visits.

No, you should continue to see your dentist every six months for regular check-ups and cleanings to make sure your teeth stay healthy while undergoing orthodontic treatment. With braces and orthodontic appliances, food may be caught in places that your toothbrush can't reach. This causes bacteria to build up that can lead to cavities, gingivitis, and gum disease so it’s very important you still visit your dentist.

Kamloops Orthodontics provides complimentary consultation exam to first time patients. Treatment plans are specialized and unique to each patient so the cost of braces and Invisalign® varies. Our team are happy to work with you and your benefits provider to help assess your eligible coverage. Ask about our convenient payment plans!

Throughout your life, your teeth move.

Though you can’t see it happening, your teeth are always on the move. Even after you’ve had braces or other dental work, your teeth will continue to shift ever so slightly throughout your life. This movement is due to several factors, including the natural age-related changes to the jaw and soft tissues that occur throughout our lives.

What causes teeth to move as you age?

As you get older, your lower teeth move forward. This is known as mesial drift. At the same time, your lower jaw becomes more narrow.

Do wisdom teeth cause my teeth to shift?

Research shows that even if people have their wisdom teeth removed, teeth continue to crowd as we age. Especially the lower front teeth. This is the case whether a person has had braces or not or whether the wisdom teeth have been removed or not. Teeth drift forward throughout life, even in the absence of posterior teeth or molars.

About the Technology

Retainers are the final and MOST IMPORTANT phase of orthodontic treatment.They hold the teeth in their new position or “RETAIN” them where they are.

An orthodontic retainer is an “appliance” that is custom made for your teeth after the orthodontic ACTIVE treatment has been completed. This means it is after any movement of teeth and they are in their new position, whether it was braces, Invisalign, or palatal expansion that has been achieved.

Everyone who has had their teeth moved, needs a retainer!

As your teeth move, they leave behind gaps in the surrounding bone and other tissue. Retainers hold your teeth in place while your tissue catches up. This is why it’s important to wear your retainers full-time for the first 6 months.

There are different types of retainers to hold the teeth so they don’t move back to their initial position.

Hawley retainers are the most common as they not only hold teeth that have been aligned they hold arch expansion, (for individuals who had expansion), they prevent a patients bite from getting “deeper”, where bite depth has been decreased.

Essix retainers are clear retainers similar to an aligner. They are used in a number of cases where alignment was an initial concern.

Lingual Bonded retainers are typically used on the lower teeth, but very seldom on the upper teeth. The patients that are best suited for upper bonded retainer are individuals who initially had a space between their front teeth (a gap called a diastema). The bonded wire helps the teeth from spreading apart again.

We understand most parents wish to have their children have a bonded retainer (so there isn’t a struggle with keeping it in the mouth, and not lost, or broken). As previously mentioned, this is typically not the type of retainer that will prevent the teeth from relapse.

We will decide on what is the best retainer for each individual treatment plan.

How long do I need to wear my retainer for?
This varies from patient to patient, but generally speaking, retainer wear is to be FULLTIME for 6 months, then NIGHTTIME for a lifetime.

We will see each patient 3 times in the year following active orthodontic treatment to monitor this final phase called Retention.

We typically schedule the RETENTION check appointments:

  • 2 months after braces are removed
  • 6 months after braces are removed
  • 1 year after braces are removed

At these appointments, we check the fit of the retainers. THE PATIENT SHOULD WEAR THEIR RETAINER to all these Retainer check appointments.

Why Forever?
The bad news is your teeth are always moving. This process is called mesial drift, meaning your pearly whites are always on the move. Your retainers will help prevent this from happening as you age.

The good news is that you’ve spend lots of time and effort to get your teeth to a beautiful position and beautiful smile, and we are sure you want to keep them this way. And all you have to do, is wear your retainers. 😊

To maintain a straight smile for a lifetime, you’re going to need to wear your retainers nightly for the rest of your life.

Teeth will want to return to their original position even years later.

Invisalign is a modality to move teeth. Invisalign is a series of removable aligners that are worn for 20-22 hrs/day EVERY DAY for the duration of treatment. Invisalign treatment is typically the same length of time it would take to move teeth with braces.

A: Our doctors takes great pride in being a clinical expert with Invisalign. As board certified orthodontists, we can determine the ideal course of action to give you the best outcome.

A: Any dentist “can provide aligners such as Invisalign”, but there is a wide range of experience, expertise and skill among dentists that officer Invisalign to their patients. Satisfaction and quality to your result will greatly vary. Orthodontic specialists exist for a reason, so it would only make sense to entrust your orthodontic treatment is handled by a qualified specialist. Questions you may want to ask the dentist include, "Are you a board certified orthodontist?” “How many Invisalign or orthodontic cases have you completed?” “How many years have you been doing orthodontic treatment?” Will you just fix the alignment of my teeth or will you correct the bite as well? (This means you will have to wear elastics during Invisalign treatment also). All of these questions will give you a good idea how qualified your dentist is with Invisalign.

A: You MUST wear your aligners 20-22 hours per day. If you do not, they simply will not work. You only take them out when eating or brushing your teeth.

A: The experience with Invisalign is very different than what you experience with braces. When you put in a new set of aligners, your teeth can be slightly sensitive for a day or two, which means the treatment is working. It is not common for patients to report pain from the pressure of the aligners.

A: You will typically be issued enough aligners to allow you to come in approximately every two months. However, the frequency of visits is case dependant.

A: At each patient’s appointment, your computer imaging of your tooth movement is brought up on the screen in front of you, and then we assess the “tracking” of your teeth. For a precise result, we ensure your teeth are moving as he programmed the movement in his prescription to Invisalign.

A: In most treatment plans, we want to be sure the end result is exactly as he prescribed and the teeth are moving as intended on the computer prescription of each individuals tooth movement. This is called tracking.

A: At your first Invisalign appointment, we will go over the instructions of how to wear your aligners, how to take them out, and how to be sure they track as prescribed. We will provide you with “chewies” or rubber rolls to bite on as you “seat” or place your aligners in your mouth. Chewies ensure that the aligners are pushed on as tightly as possible (in particular) the front teeth in order for the aligner to grab hold of the teeth and move them.

Even if one tooth is “not tracking”, we will do a revision scan for new aligners. What this accomplishes, is that the aligners now fit again, and with precise instruction to the patient about wearing the aligners, you continue on with your treatment until both the orthodontist and you are pleased with the end result.

A: I.P.R. stands for Interproximal Reduction. Interproximal is the place on the tooth where they touch each other. In specific orthodontic treatments, we will remove a slight amount of tooth “mass” on each side of a specific tooth. He also ensures this is only done once initial alignment is done, so the “smoothing” or “slimming” of the tooth is done with a straight tooth, not a rotated tooth (as is unfortunately done if an orthodontist is not doing the Invisalign treatment). The amount that were referring to is 0.2mm (which is the thickness of a piece of paper) and is very similar to “smoothing” a person’s fingernails with an emery board. The process of IPR takes 10-30seconds in total. It does not hurt, and there is no freezing.

Expanders are an orthodontic “appliance” or device used to create a wider space in the upper jaw.

This can be done easily in a growing patient by widening the bone in the upper arch. This allows the palate to widen and create more room for the adult teeth or widen the arch to allow for a better fit of the upper and lower jaws, correcting a narrow arch or crossbite.

What does it feel like?
Palatal expanders do not usually cause pain. Some patients feel a tingling feeling on the roof of the mouth or in their nose (as the base of the nose is the connected to roof of the mouth (the palate)).

You may experience a slight lisp initially as speech is achieved by placement of your tongue on the roof of your mouth. With practice (typically a week) the lisp goes away. Hint: the more you practice talking or reading aloud the quicker the lisp goes away.

When you first have the expander placed, your mouth may produce more saliva. If this occurs, make a conscious effort to swallow normally by closing your lips and pushing your tongue up against the roof of your mouth. With practice and patience, you will get better. (typically one week can make a huge difference.)

How does it work?


  • You will be given a key to activate the expander.
  • Place key in anterior hole of appliance, towards the front teeth.
  • There is an etched arrow in the appliance pointing in the direction the key should be pushed, towards the throat.

The frequency and number of turns is dependant on each individual case. Please activate as directed by our Doctors. If you have any questions, please call our office to clarify.

Turning WILL NOT HURT. Each turn is 1/4mm. Never turn the expander more than one turn/2nd day. If you miss a day, please don’t panic. Do NOT try and make up a missed day by doing an extra turn.

Cleaning under the expander is VERY important. Removing the food particles and plaque is necessary to prevent inflammation on the roof of the mouth. This can be done by a combination of a water flosser and proxy brush.

At first, eating will be more difficult. Take small bites and eat soft foods, then you will gradually become more comfortable to the eating and swallowing process. You will figure out which foods are more difficult to clean under the expander (the space between the expander and the roof of your mouth) and due to the difficulty and time to clean under the expander, patients typically avoid these foods.

How long is it in my mouth?
Palatal expanders usually don’t take very long to do their work. Average time is 2 months. BUT, once the expansion is done, this does not mean the expander comes out. It will need to stay in the mouth 4-6 months AFTER the last of the turns is completed. So total time is around 9 months. Of course there are cases where it is in for a shorter amount of time, and cases in which it is in longer.

The Orthodontic Process What to Expect

No, having braces will not prevent you from participating in school activities. If you play a musical instrument with a mouthpiece you may have an adjustment period with your new braces or may need to obtain brace covers to prevent discomfort. Athletes are advised to wear mouth guards when playing to protect their braces.

Braces are worn for an average of 1-2 years, but each case is individual. Treatment time may be affected by the severity of correction necessary and regular maintenance.

Your braces may have brackets, bands, and arch wires that can all be damaged by certain foods. Avoiding very hard or sticky food is a big priority. Along with avoiding certain foods, having proper hygiene is essential to making sure cavities do not form around the braces. If the teeth and braces are not properly cleaned of food debris, tartar and plaque can accumulate which can cause white spots on the surfaces of the teeth.

Watch Video on Foods to Avoid

With braces on, your teeth are more difficult to clean as food and plaque tends to get stuck around the metal appliance. Brushing your teeth properly after every snack and meal will reduce the risk of decay and gum disease. We will provide you with the brushing essentials you need for at home cleaning and while on the go at work or school. Flossing is also recommended at least once a day with super or regular floss and a floss threader to get into those hard to reach places. Watch the videos below on some samples of brushing and cleaning techniques while wearing braces.


Brushing Techniques Brushing With Proxabrush Flossing with Super Floss Oral Irrigation


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