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Stormberg Orthodontics’ Common Orthodontic Questions


At Stormberg Orthodontics, it’s safe to say we love getting questions from our patients! We encourage questions throughout the treatment process, and some questions get asked more often than others. Below, you’ll find 10 of the most common questions we get at our La Mesa office, and our answers.

Why do I have to wear retainers?

You need to wear your retainers for life!  Your body is dynamic, always moving and shifting.  Your retainers will hold your teeth in position forever, as long as you wear your retainer regularly and they fit properly.  Most retainers will last between 5-20 years, depending on your dental habits (grinding, clenching), proper care and storage of your retainers.  You may need to get new retainers in the future, so be sure to contact us as soon as you need us.  You can also visit our page about Retainers to learn more about the importance of retainers and how to care for them.

Don’t wait a few weeks, months or years to replace retainers. Your smile will last a lifetime!

Why can’t I have all my appointments after school/work?

Most of your visits/appointments will be before or after school for your convenience, but occasionally a longer appointment will be needed for more complex procedures. Those appointments are usually the beginning of your treatment (placing braces or attachments, instructions for the care and feeding of an orthodontic patient), repositioning or refining your treatment midway into treatment or finishing your treatment (removing your braces or attachments, final instructions). Those appointments are done in the morning or early afternoon to give you appropriate time and attention to those procedures.

The quicker adjustments, usually 15-30 minute appointments, can be done before or after school or work.  The intervals of appointments can be every 1-3 weeks to get started and stretch out to every 4-12 weeks, depending on the type of orthodontic care you need.  Our treatment coordinators will be reviewing your individual appointments with you.

Why do you need to change the wire?

The wire that Dr. Stormberg uses is called an arch wire.  The arch wire is held in place with an elastic tie that can come in different colors. Before you visit our office, you can use our Braces Color Chooser to decide what color you’d like on your braces. Many patients are excited about what colors they are going to pick.

Arch wires come in different sizes and materials.  In the very beginning of treatment, the orthodontist will want to rotate the teeth and start to align the tops of the teeth (occlusal surfaces) into one plane.  We use light wires that deflect easily but do not obtain permanent deformation.  As the wire, that is deflected, goes back to its original shape, it moves the tooth into a better position.  Some of these light wires are made of nickel titanium.

A tooth moves best when light forces are used.  It is the exact opposite of what you would think. Dr. Stormberg uses a wire that can move up and down and in and out easily to help align your teeth as smoothly and safely as possible.

You will notice that orthodontists change wires often.  We slowly move from small wires that are round in cross section to heavy thick wires that are rectangular.  We are slowly filling up the slot of the bracket with each change of the wire until the bracket and wire moves the tooth into its predetermined position.  We can’t use a heavy wire in the beginning because it won’t fit into the slot and the patient would experience a lot of discomfort.

Does getting braces/Invisalign hurt?

Placing braces or attachments on your teeth does not hurt.  We clean and prepare your teeth for the braces or attachments with pumice (professional toothpaste), a cleaning agent and a sealant to protect/seal your teeth to prevent food from getting under the braces.  Once the teeth are clean and dry, the braces or attachments are glued directly to the front surface of your teeth. After the glue is set (just seconds with a high intensity light), arch wires or Invisalign trays are put into place.  Your teeth will take a few hours to start moving and may become tender as they are moving through bone into a better position.

During that time, you may find ibuprofen or acetaminophen to relieve any discomfort you may have.  We encourage you to eat a softer diet, as chewing helps to stimulate blood flow around your teeth and speed up recovery.  For example, you run laps at school or go to the gym.  You may be sore the next day, but continuing to exercise will help with the soreness of the muscle to heal more quickly.  Chewing is exercising the muscle/bone tissue around the teeth into their new position and allowing the blood flow to wash out the inflammatory byproducts.

For coping with braces discomfort, please visit our Emergencies page. Overall, most discomfort will subside within a couple of days.

What are your hours?

Our office hours vary to help accommodate our busy patients and families.


  • On Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, we are open from 8 am-5 pm, and during lunch from 12 pm-1:30 pm
  • On Tuesday, our hours are 7am-4 pm, and during lunch from 11 am-12:30 pm.
  • On Friday, we are open from 7am to 11am. The earlier hours helps our athletes and teachers with busy after school activities.
  • We have appointments at 12:30 on Tuesday to help those who want to make lunchtime appointments.

Can I eat right away?

You can eat as soon as you leave our office.  The braces and attachments we use are light sensitive and set up in just seconds!

When will I get my braces off?

You will be updated each appointment as to your progress to date, how long your current appointment is, what we expect to do the next visit and approximately how much treatment is left to complete.  By following instructions prescribed by Dr. Stormberg and complying with brushing, eating proper foods, wearing appliances and rubber bands as instructed, your treatment will go as planned and be very successful.

Do you take insurances?

We accept many forms of insurance, but each policy varies, so we will review your policy to help you determine the best course of treatment. Most insurance offers an orthodontic benefit, so prior to your new patient evaluation and with the pertinent information provided, we can obtain an estimate of your individual coverage. To learn more about the financial and insurance specifics, visit our Financial Info page.

Why do I have to wear rubber bands and how long do I have to wear them?

Dr. Stormberg will initially be straightening the upper and lower teeth independently.  Once the teeth are aligned or straightened, Dr. Stormberg will evaluate how the teeth fit together.  You may think your teeth look straight in the front, but the actual fit and function are the most critical part of your treatment.

Rubber bands help move the teeth into proper biting position. For example, our teeth are like puzzle pieces and if put into proper position, they will fit, wear and function properly for a long time.

Certain braces have hooks where the elastics are stretched in various directions. These hooks can be used for various attachments like springs and rubber bands to help move the teeth into proper position.

Rubber bands can be used in many different configurations. Normally, they are used inter arch which can be from top to bottom, side to side or front to back.

When a patient is asked to wear rubber bands, it is usually for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  The only time rubber bands are taken out of the mouth is when the patient eats or brushes their teeth.  The patient will wear them while sleeping; sports, school, work and you will replace them with new rubber bands every time you remove them for eating and brushing. If the rubber bands are breaking or snapping, change them more often.

Once the correction has occurred, the rubber bands are not worn as much and the hours are reduced per your individual need. The better you wear your elastics, the faster the teeth move, the treatment continues to progress and a beautiful smile is achieved.

When is my next appointment?

At your initial examination, our treatment coordinators will go over necessary treatment for your individual needs, including necessary appointments. She will help you set up appointment times that work with your busy schedule. We have options to help remind you of your appointments, email, phone and texting abilities. Our reminders normally go out two days prior to your appointment. That gives you time to evaluate or change your appointment, if need be.  Please call our office as soon as you know you need to change to help get the time and day that works best for you.

Can I choose a color for my braces?

As a patient, you have so many choices!  Initially you can choose if you want clear (Clarity) or metal (Low Profile Victory) braces. You can browse our different types of braces before coming to our office.

All the braces will have tiny elastics or wire ties placed on them to hold the wire into place.  We have so many braces colors and combinations to choose, and you can check them out before coming in for your appointment..  Each visit they will be changed.  Some patients pick colors for sports, schools, special events like dances or weddings.  We strive to make orthodontics something to look forward to each visit.

Can I play sports or instruments with braces or Invisalign?

Yes you can!  During sports, we highly recommend a mouth guard designed for braces. We have Shock Doctor in our office and include one mouth guard with your treatment.  Be sure to ask one of our team members to get one for you.  Do not boil and custom fit the mouth guard because your teeth are constantly moving into proper position and the mouth guard can quickly not fit properly and/or bump off your braces.

Musical instruments can be played and may take a week or so to get use to mouth, lip and instrument position.  That is what practice is for!  Some patients who play horn-type instruments may ask for more wax to cover their braces initially to protect your lip from the pressure needed to play.  We have numerous professional musicians in our practice and they have continued to play their instruments.

Do I still have to see my dentist?

This is a resounding YES!  We strongly encourage our patients to continue their normal cleanings and checkups every four to six months, as prescribed by your dentist.  We will initially send your beginning photos and x-rays to your dentist to keep their records up to date.  As progress records are taken, a report and x-ray will be forward to them with your progress.  Upon completion of your orthodontic treatment, beginning and final photos and x-rays will be sent to your dentist for review.

Dr. Stormberg works very closely with all of our patient’s dentists to ensure your best interest is accomplished.  If you need a referral for a great general dentist or specialist, Dr. Stormberg will be happy to assist you with your choice.

Am I too old for orthodontic care?

NO! We have cared for patients from 4 years old to 80+ years young. We asked an 80 year old gentleman once why he sought out orthodontic treatment.  His response was “My wife loved me the way I was for all these years, but once she passed, I always wanted my teeth fixed and my smile better.  I figured I had another good 10-20 years left!”

You’re never too old to enjoy a better smile, teeth easier to clean and better self-confidence.

Still have more questions? Feel free to give us a call at (619) 462-4462 or ask at your next appointment. We look forward to seeing you soon!

What are you waiting for?

Smile Brighter Today!

We have treatments to bring out the best in any smile. Learn about your options at your complimentary visit.

What are you waiting for?

Smile Brighter Today!

We have treatments to bring out the best in any smile. Learn about your options at your complimentary visit.