Answers to your common orthodontic questions
The following are the most frequently asked questions about braces and orthodontic care. If you have additional questions, please contact us so that we may fully answer all of your questions.
Is it required that my family dentist schedule my complimentary appointment with the orthodontist?
No, it is not. Many of our patients are referred by their family dentist, yet many other patients take the initiative to schedule a complimentary examination themselves.
At what age should I schedule a complimentary appointment for an orthodontic screening?
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends an orthodontic screening at age 7. By this age, several permanent teeth in most children have erupted, allowing us to effectively evaluate your orthodontic condition.
Will my teeth straighten out as they grow?
No, they will not. The space available for the front teeth does not increase as you grow. In most people, after the permanent molars erupt, the space available for the front teeth decreases with age.
How do I schedule a complimentary appointment for an initial exam?
If you or your child can potentially benefit from orthodontic treatment, simply call our office, or please fill out our appointment request form online. We will be happy to schedule an appointment for you. When you call to schedule your appointment, our front office staff will request some basic information from you.
What will happen at the complimentary initial examination appointment?
Upon arriving, each patient and parent will be seen by the staff and doctor who will acclimate you to our office and prepare for the initial exam. We will take the necessary photographs and X-rays to allow us to make a proper diagnosis. The doctor will then complete a brief, but thorough, exam.
What will I learn from the complimentary initial examination?
There are five essential questions that we will cover during the initial examination:
- Is there an orthodontic problem, and if so, what is it?
- What must be done to correct the problem?
- Will any teeth need to be removed?
- How long will the treatment take to complete?
- How much approximate cost be?
Will I need to have teeth extracted for braces?
Removing teeth is sometimes required to achieve the best orthodontic result. Straight teeth and a balanced facial profile are the goal of orthodontics. However, because new technology has provided advanced orthodontic procedures, removing teeth is not always necessary for orthodontic treatment.
How long will it take to complete treatment?
Treatment time obviously depends on each patient’s specific orthodontic problem. In general, treatment time lasts from 8 months to 27 months. The “average” time frame a person is in braces is approximately 18-24 months.
How much will braces cost? Are financing options available? How does my insurance work?
It is impossible to give an exact cost for treatment until we have examined you. We will cover the exact cost and financial options during the initial examination. We have several financing options available to accommodate your needs, and we will review these with you. We will also review your insurance policy and help to maximize your benefit and file your claims.
How often will I have appointments?
Appointments are scheduled according to each patient’s needs. Most patients in braces will be seen every 4 to 6 weeks. If there are specific situations that require more frequent monitoring, we will schedule appointments accordingly.
Do braces hurt?
Generally, braces do not “hurt.” After certain visits, teeth may be sore for a few days. In these situations, pain medications such as Advil or Tylenol will ease the discomfort. However, after most visits, patients do not feel any soreness at all! We often remind our patients, “It does not have to hurt to work!”
Can I return to school the day I receive my braces?
Yes. There is no reason to miss school because of an orthodontic appointment.
Do you give shots?
No. Shots are not necessary in orthodontic treatment.
Can I still play sports?
Yes. We recommend a mouth guard for all sports.
Do I need to see my family dentist while in braces?
Yes! Regular check-ups with your family dentist are important while in braces. Your family dentist will determine the intervals between cleaning appointments while you are in braces.
Are there foods I cannot eat while I have braces?
Yes. Once treatment begins, we will explain the complete instructions and provide a comprehensive list of foods to avoid. Some of those foods include: ice, hard candy, raw vegetables and all sticky foods (i.e. caramel and taffy). Some good foods can be cut up and chewed on the back teeth. You can avoid most emergency appointments to repair broken or damaged braces by carefully following our instructions.
How often should I brush my teeth while in braces?
Patients should brush their teeth at least three times each day – after each meal and before going to bed. We will show each patient how to floss their teeth with braces and may also provide a prescription for a special fluoride, if necessary.
What is an emergency appointment? How are those handled?
If your braces are causing extreme pain or if something breaks, you should call our office. In most cases, we can address these issues over the telephone. If you require an emergency appointment, we will set aside time for you.
Can orthodontic correction occur while a child has baby teeth?
Yes. Some orthodontic problems are significant enough to require early intervention. However, if a patient is not yet ready for treatment, we will follow that patient’s growth and development until the time is right for treatment to begin.
What is Phase One (early) Treatment?
Phase One treatment, if necessary, is usually initiated on children between the ages of 7 and 10. It is recommended that you visit a board certified orthodontist to evaluate your son or daughter. Phase One treatment usually lasts about 16-21 months. The primary objective for Phase One treatment is to address significant problems to prevent them from becoming more severe. Some bite problems must be addressed before age 9 in order to assure successful treatment. Phase One treatment is not recommended for every child. It is important that all children get screen by a board certified orthodontist by age 7. Unfortunately, majority of orthodontists are NOT board certified therefore it is important to confirm that your orthodontist is in fact, board certified.
Will my child need full braces if he/she has Phase One treatment?
It is best to assume that your child will need full braces even after Phase One treatment. This is because the first phase of treatment does not focus on esthetics. Most of the patients who have completed a phase one treatment will not NEED braces. With that said, many will WANT braces or Invisalign to perfect their smile.
The period following Phase One treatment is called the “resting period,” during which growth and tooth eruption are closely monitored. Throughout this period, parents and patients will be kept informed of future treatment recommendations.
Will my child need an expander?
At the completion of the initial examination, we will determine whether a patient will need an expander.
Is it too late to have braces if I am already an adult?
A surprising percentage of our patients are adults. In fact, 25 percent of all orthodontic patients are adults. Health, happiness and self-esteem are vitally important to adults. No patient is “too old” to wear braces!
Can I wear braces even though I have crowns and missing teeth?
Yes. A tooth with a crown will move just like a tooth with a simple filling. When teeth are missing, orthodontic treatment will aid in the alignment of the remaining teeth.
Why should you choose an orthodontic specialist?
Teeth, and sometimes entire facial structures, are permanently changed by orthodontic treatment. It is important that the treatment be appropriate and properly completed. Orthodontic specialists have extensive and specialized training that enables them to provide their patients with professional, personalized treatments.