There are aspects of orthodontic treatment, such as growth of the jaws and how the teeth move, that are beyond the control of both the orthodontist and the patient. Cooperation, which is within the control of the patient, is by far one of the most important aspects of a successful orthodontic treatment plan. It is important both in how long the braces are needed, as well as the final outcome. Cooperation may include the following:
Oral hygiene – Brushing, flossing, use of a fluoride rinse
Rubber band wear – elastics are used to correct the bite
Headgear wear – to help correct the bite
Avoiding appliance breakage – avoiding hard/sticky foods
Retainer wear – avoid relapse and movement after braces are removed
Other removable appliances – a removable appliance will only work when it is worn
Depending on the treatment plan and the original problems that require correction, the extent of the cooperation may be quite variable. In fact, many times a treatment plan will be developed that will try to minimize the extent of cooperation required as much as possible. Unfortunately, the need for help from the patient cannot be totally eliminated.
Similar to medical advice relating to the health and well being of a patient (i.e. smoking, diet, and exercise), the importance of cooperation to the final outcome and success of orthodontic treatment cannot be overemphasized.