FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. Does my dentist need to make a referral if I want to have an orthodontic assessment?
Your family dentist does not need to make a specific referral for you to come to our office. In fact, we welcome referrals from our other patients. Whichever way you may learn of our office we would be pleased to meet with you for an orthodontic consultation to discuss your concerns and make recommendations. However, we do require that all of our patients see their dentist for regular check-up visits during orthodontic treatment.
2. When should I bring in my child for an orthodontic assessment?
The American and Canadian Association of Orthodontists suggest that the ideal time to consider an orthodontic screening, or consultation, for your child occurs when the permanent front teeth and first molars erupt into the mouth (i.e. by age 7). For some children, a timely screening, may lead to immediate treatment since many orthodontic problems are easier to correct if detected early. This type of early intervention can help to minimize or simplify future treatment needs. For others, whose treatment may be months or years away, a screening will help the family establish a relationship with our office, and plan for personal and financial implications of treatment. Or, an early screening may suggest that treatment is not indicated, which can help to put parents’ minds at ease.
3. 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.
4. How do I schedule an appointment for an initial exam?
If you or your child can potentially benefit from orthodontic treatment, simply call our office, send us an e-mail or 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.
5. What will happen at the 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.
To read more about your first visit, see our First Visit Page.
6. What will I learn from the 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 will the treatment cost?
7. 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.
8. 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 30 months. The “average” time frame a person is in braces is approximately 18-24 months.
9. How much does orthodontics cost?
The cost of orthodontics relates to the complexity of the treatment that is required. Since every person’s bite and smile is unique, the cost of providing the appropriate treatment will vary. However, the cost of orthodontic treatment is much more affordable than you might think. Our staff will work with you to set up a flexible payment arrangement that will extend over your treatment time. Please feel free to talk to us about how we can set up a manageable payment plan that suits your needs. If you have dental insurance that includes orthodontics, we will try to help you understand your benefit package. In addition, we will assist with the completion and filing of the necessary forms. When we consider that the psychological and physical benefits of orthodontics last a lifetime, treatment of this nature is not only affordable but also a wonderful investment in your health.
10. How often do I have to come in for appointments?
Generally we see our patients for routine adjustments every eight weeks. Depending on the nature of the treatment, this may vary. Typical appointments are approximately 15 minutes in length. We recognize that our patients’ time is valuable and we work very hard to see everyone on schedule.
11. Can I schedule all of my appointments after school?
Unfortunately, we cannot schedule all appointments for students during after-school hours. However, because most appointments are scheduled 5 to 10 weeks apart, most patients will miss minimal school due to their orthodontic treatments. We will, however, make a sincere effort to meet your scheduling needs.
12. Can I drop my child off for an appointment?
Yes. We understand your busy schedule, and we are happy to help you make the most of your time. On some occasions, we may request to speak with a parent when they return, so we ask that parents check in with their patient manager before dropping off their child.
13. 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!”
14. Can I return to school the day I receive my braces?
Yes. There is no reason to miss school because of an orthodontic appointment.
15. Do you give shots?
No. Shots are not necessary in orthodontic treatment.
16. Do you use recycled braces?
Absolutely not! It is our belief that each patient should be provided with their own braces to achieve the best orthodontic result possible.
17. Can I still play sports?
Yes. We recommend a mouth guard for all sports.
18. 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). You can avoid most emergency appointments to repair broken or damaged braces by carefully following our instructions.
19. How often should I brush my teeth while in braces?
Patients should brush their teeth at least four 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.
20. 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.
21. Are children being treated at a younger age than in the past?
No. Although some orthodontic problems have been shown to be treated more effectively at an early age, most orthodontic patients are still treated once all of the primary teeth have fallen out.
22. When is the ideal time to start treatment?
It is difficult to suggest an ideal time that would apply to everyone since every case is unique and not all orthodontic problems are treated in the same manner. However, orthodontic treatment is most commonly initiated during adolescence when most, if not all, of the permanent teeth have erupted into the mouth. It is perhaps during this stage of development, as children enter their teenage years that the psychological and social implications of orthodontics may be most beneficial; giving children the confidence to express themselves and interact in a positive manner.
23. What is Phase One (early) Treatment?
Phase One treatment, if necessary, is usually initiated on children between the ages of 7 and 10. 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 and to improve self-esteem and self-image.
24. 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. 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.
25. Will my child need an expander?
At the completion of the initial examination, we will determine whether a patient will need an expander.
26. Will I need to wear retainers when my treatment is finished?
Yes. During the retention period the teeth will settle into their new positions. There is always some individualization of the teeth both during and after the retention period. Throughout life, the position of our teeth is constantly changing. This is true with all individuals regardless of whether they have had orthodontic treatment or not. In addition, our teeth have a memory and may tend to shift back towards their original position. This is particularly true if your teeth were extremely crowded prior to treatment. Therefore, you MUST wear your retainers as instructed in order to minimize any post-treatment developmental crowding.
27. Can adults straighten their teeth?
It is never too late to pursue orthodontic treatment as an adult, since healthy teeth can be moved at any age. In fact, adult orthodontic treatment has never been more popular. Nearly 1 million adults are wearing braces today- twice as many as 10 years ago. Many adults who may not have had the opportunity to receive orthodontic treatment as children are deciding to correct that bothersome smile, or those crowded and difficult-to-clean teeth.
People should expect to keep their teeth for a lifetime and orthodontics can play a key role in reaching this goal. Today, with the significant technological advances in the field of orthodontics, treatment can progress more easily and comfortably for patients and in less time than in the past. There are “braces to suit all faces”, coming in silver, gold, clear, and even invisible braces. As a team, together with your dentist, we can achieve beautiful and healthy smiles that can last a lifetime.
28. 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.
29. Why should I 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.