1248 East 90 North, Suite 201 | American Fork, UT 84003CALL TODAY! (801) 763-7977

Patient Education

Care Questions

What constitutes an emergency?
You should always call our office to make an appointment if…

  • A bracket is no longer attached to the tooth and wiggling on the wire.
  • A wire poke that is causing pain (otherwise you may use wax until your next visit)
  • An appliance or Herbst has come off or unattached

In these instances we will get you in as quickly as we can to fix the issue.


How do I know if a bracket is broken?
A bracket is “broken” when it wiggles up and down on the tooth or slides back and forth on the wire.

You may hear or feel a pop if you happen to bite on something hard, or you may notice that it is off of the tooth as you are brushing. If this happens please call our office to make an appointment right away so that

Your teeth don’t move too far out of alignment.



What do I do if a wire is poking me?
A wire may sometimes poke your cheeks in the back of your mouth if the wire was not cut to the proper length OR if you have a “power chain” that pulls together any gaps between your teeth and will therefore cause the wire to become longer and “poke” your cheeks.

Use the wax that was given in your kit to place over the poke until you can come into your next appointment.

If it is causing a lot of pain please phone our office to make an emergency appointment.



What are the best actions to take when I am sore after an appointment?
It is normal to be fairly sore after an appointment. It usually means your treatment is working. The soreness should subside within a few hours and usually by the next morning. If you just got your braces put on, it may  take a few days to get used to them.

The best trick is to eat cold things! Most of the wires that we use are activated by the warmth of your mouth, so if you eat something cold it will take some pressure off of your teeth. You will also want to make your diet soft until you are feeling better.



How long does it take to put braces on and will it hurt?
The initial appointment takes about 2 hours to bond the braces to your teeth. The appointment should not hurt. No shots or numbing is used or required. We have Netflix and you’ll get to hang out and watch a movie while we work.



What does it mean to “tighten” my braces?
“Tightening” your braces is a word that is commonly used but doesn’t exactly mean how it sounds.

When we “tighten” your braces we place a new wire that is thicker than the wire we used at your previous appointment. That thicker wire places a little extra pressure against the brackets which therefore nudges the teeth closer the position that we want them in.

That is why, after an appointment, your braces feel tighter.



Can my waterpik replace flossing?
A waterpik is a small water jet that projects water between your teeth. It is a great tool to flush food and plaque out of your teeth. Typically we do not recommend it to replace flossing. Unless a child struggles to brush then a Waterpik may be better than nothing.  The reason being that floss may be the only thing that can reach up underneath your gums where bacteria like to hide.



How do I use my whitening kit?
The whitening syringes should be kept in the refrigerator for longer keep. When you place the whitening solution into your retainer you’ll place a small dot on the inside of the retainer toward the front of the tooth. That small dot will surround the whole surface of your tooth. If you can taste it or it is oozing out of the top then you have used too much. Leave the trays in your mouth for about 30 minutes and then rinse them off and rinse out your mouth with water.

Repeat these steps every day (or every other day depending on your sensitivity) for about two weeks and evaluate the color of your teeth. You may choose to whiten a few more times or only every month or so.  If your teeth are very sensitive you may use an over the counter sensitivity toothpaste and reduce your whitening time.



What do I do if my Herbst appliance breaks or comes off?
The cement that we use for our Herbst appliances is very durable but in some cases biting on something hard may cause the bands to come off of the teeth or the rods (aka arms) to come off.  If this happens please call us immediately so that we can repair it and prevent any further pain.

If you happen to be out of town should this occur, you should use your “emergency” tool that we provide you to remove the “arms” of the appliance until you can come into our office.



What if my child’s appliance breaks off or is hurting?
An appliance that is cemented into a child’s mouth is typically to hold spaces or to create spaces. When these appliances “break” it usually means that the bands that are cemented around their back molars has come loose. Occasionally the actual wire attached to the bands may break. These breaks are usually caused by biting on something hard or very sticky. If this happens, please call our office to make an “emergency” appointment so that we may repair it. You may use wax if possible to cover any spots that may be sharp and causing pain.



What is a “power chain”?

A Power chain is a series of elastic loops linked together. They fit around each of the brackets and pull them closer together to close or maintain spaces between teeth. These can be used in fun colors.




What do “final wires” mean?
We refer to final wires as the last set of wires that we put you in. Instead of changing your wires at your appointments we will take that “final” wire out and add small bends to move individual teeth. Typically we repeat this process for about 4 to 5 appointments before we take the braces off.




Is it okay to double up on my elastics?
You may think that doubling up on your elastics, or wearing two bands at a time on each side, could speed up your treatment. But in fact, it may just make your mouth more sore than it needs to be.

The best way to make your time in braces go faster is to wear your elastics exactly the way the doctor prescribes. Sometimes Dr. Watson may give you some stronger elastics if you feel that you are doing everything you are supposed to and wouldn’t mind a little extra pressure.




Can I eat with my elastics in?
You may eat with elastics in your mouth but typically it can be hard to do so or just annoying. We don’t mind if you take them out to eat as long as you put new ones back in once your done.




What are bite turbos?
We refer to bite turbos as small mounds of glue that we place on the edge of just two of your teeth to prop your bite open. If you have a deep bite or overlapping teeth, this prevents you from biting on the brackets.

As you wear your elastics your bite will begin to move and your back teeth, top and bottom, will align themselves together. We keep the glue mounds on for at least a few appointments. Bite turbos are not comfortable to eat with, but don’t get discouraged, it does take a few days to get used to them.




What if my child needs after school appointments?
We try to be fair to everyone in scheduling appointments. We know school is important, so we will typically schedule an “after school” appointment and then a “during school” appointment for your next visit, and alternating so on.



Where can I buy more supplies?
Any of your supermarkets should carry a lot of your brushing supplies. Certain things such as orthodontic wax, brushes, or flossers you may retrieve from us. We are happy to give you as much as you want and need.



What if my retainer breaks or I loose it?
If your retainer breaks or turns up missing due to negligence, the charge for a new retainer is $200. A new set of upper and lower retainers would cost $400. If the retainers are worn down due to regular wear and tear we will usually replace them for you free of charge at your next retainer check.


What do I do if my permanent retainer breaks or is poking me?
A permanent retainer is a small wire glued behind your front teeth. If it happens to break, come loose, or stick into your gums, please call us so that we may repair the glue. Please know that permanent retainers are meant to stand up to most foods, but there are occasions where the glue wears down or something hard will hit it just right and in that case it’s an easy fix.


How do I floss with my permanent retainer?
Flossing with a permanent retainer is pretty simple. Please refer to our video to the right titled  “Flossing with a permanent retainer.”

All you do is use the floss threader to guide your floss underneath the permanent retainer, between your teeth, and out through the other side. When you are finished, pull the end of the floss until it is completely out. Make sure that you don’t pull the floss against the wire, this may pull it off.


What do I do if I have white spots on my teeth?
The white spots you see on teeth are decalcified areas where plaque was allowed to stay for long periods of time. Essentially these are the beginnings of cavities. The best way to prevent these white spots is to brush daily around every side of the bracket removing food from any places that it can hide. To treat these white spots, Dr. Watson may prescribe a toothpaste that will lighten the spots, re-mineralizing the areas.



Is it bad for my child to suck their thumb?
Thumb-sucking is normal in babies and young children. They may also suck on their fingers, hands, or items such as pacifiers.Little by little, most children stop on their own at age 3 to 6 years.

Children who suck their thumbs often or with great intensity around age 4 or 5, or those who are still sucking their thumbs at age 6, are at risk for dental or speech problems. Prolonged thumb-sucking may cause the teeth to become improperly aligned (malocclusion) or push the teeth outward. This usually corrects itself when the child stops thumb-sucking. But the longer thumb-sucking continues, the more likely it is that orthodontic treatment will be needed.

Simple home treatment measures can help children from sucking their thumbs. Including putting gloves on your child’s hands, wrapping the thumb with an adhesive bandage or cloth, positive incentives, etc. These may help remind your child not to suck the thumb.

If home treatment does not work and you are concerned or feel frustrated about your child’s thumb-sucking, talk to your child’s dentist or orthodontist.There may be other treatment options, such as behavioral therapy, thumb devices, or devices for the mouth. Below is an example.


Which type of retainers should I choose?
Permanent Retainers
Permanent Retainers are glued to the tongue-side of your teeth.  On the top, it goes across the front four, and on the bottom it goes across the front six.  These retainers help prevent crowding or spacing happening after getting your braces off.

Hawley Retainers 

Hawley Retainers are the traditional retainers. When you think of retainers, most likely you’ll imagine the wire across the front of your teeth and a cool color for the plastic.

Essix (Clear) Retainers
Essix (clear) retainers are newer on the orthodontic scene.  Many people notice that they look like invisalign trays.  They are made out of a clear plastic material that covers all surfaces of the teeth.


Permanent Retainers are a good option for people who aren’t super great at routines.  However, if you have a hard time keeping your teeth clean, really think about whether these retainer are for you because you’ll need to use floss-threaders to floss around the permanent retainer. Also, just because you choose permanent retainers doesn’t mean you won’t need removable retainers.  The removable retainers are what protect your bite (think about all that hard work wearing elastics). We will make you a set of removable retainers to wear at night in addition to the permanent retainers.

If you choose permanent retainers and hate them, let us know; permanent just means you can’t take them in and out, but we, or your dentist can.  Reversely, if you decide against permanent retainers now and want them later, let us know, we’ll help you out!

Hawley retainers are the preferred option for kids who are still losing baby teeth and growing in permanent teeth.  We are able to adjust them to accommodate the changes their mouth is undergoing. Hawley retainers need to be adjusted every so often (about once a year, depending on the person) to make sure they are doing their job.  The bar in the front of the teeth gets loose after taking it in and out every day and often that’s what we will tighten and adjust at the retainer check appointments. Some people don’t like the Hawley retainers because the acrylic goes across the roof of the mouth and makes them feel claustrophobic.  Most people don’t really mind that at all.

If you want to whiten your teeth, we will make whitening trays if you choose Hawley retainers, so don’t let that be too much of a factor in your choice.
Essix retainers do a good job holding teeth in that straight position that the braces left them in.  Conveniently, essix retainers can also be used as whitening trays. Essix retainers can be a great choice for people who know they grind or clench their teeth at night.  The extra layer of plastic will help protect their teeth.

Some people don’t like essix retainers because they go over the chewing/biting surface of the teeth and they feel like their mouth is propped open while they sleep.  Because most people sleep with their mouth open a little bit anyway, it’s not a big deal to most people.

**Both Essix and Hawley retainers are only worn at nighttime, regardless of permanent retainers. **

What is a Herbst Appliance?

The Herbst appliance is used to treat an overbite and is typically most effective during younger years while the jaw is still growing.

It uses a tube and rod mechanism to put pressure on the lower jaw to help it grow forward and on the upper jaw to help it grow backwards.The device is attached to the back molars on both sides of the upper and lower jaws and looks like a shock absorber.

The appliance does not interfere with the opening and closing of the mouth, so eating is not a problem. The Herbst appliance is usually worn for about 6-8 months and with proper care and use, your child or teen should see rapid results and begin to feel the benefits of having straight teeth and an aligned jaw.

See Herbst video also on this page.

Instructional Videos

Flossing with Superfloss


Flossing with a permanent retainer


Brushing Techniques


Broken Brackets


Decalcification (orthodontics)


Brushing with a Proxabrush


Damon System (Bite Turbos, Light Elastics)


Nance Appliance

FLA Appliance

Quad Helix Appliance

Herbst Appliance