Here are some frequently asked questions for orthodontic treatment. Please feel free to give us a call if you need more information.
Why might I need orthodontic treatment?
Most orthodontic treatment corrects inherited problems—if your kid has the same overbite as your mom and your grandfather, this is the kind of condition we’re talking about. Crowding, spacing, protrusion, extra or missing teeth, and some jaw growth problems are all examples of genetic traits that can be corrected through orthodontics. Orthodontics also work on non-inherited problems such as protrusion due to thumb-sucking, as well as mouth-breathing, dental disease, abnormal swallowing, or orthodontic issues caused by accidents, poor nutrition, or poor dental hygiene.
What if I’m used to the way my teeth look? Why should I spend the time and money on braces?
You might not mind the way your smile appears, but orthodontic problems can actually affect your dental and overall health. Crowded and over-lapping teeth are difficult to keep clean and if left untreated can contribute to tooth decay, gum disease and tooth loss. If the teeth do not meet together properly, there can be abnormal wear of teeth, difficulty chewing and/or speaking, excess stress on supporting bone and gum tissue, and possible jaw joint problems. Jaw joint problems can create unnecessary tension, and even affect posture. Without orthodontic treatment, these problems will worsen over time. And finally, besides improving your dental health, a beautiful smile truly is an asset to your appearance and self-image; you’ll truly be amazed once you’ve seen the difference.
When should I bring my child in for an orthodontic evaluation?
The American Association of Orthodontics recommends children have an orthodontic evaluation by age 7. While most people associate braces with awkward teenage years, the fact is some problems are best corrected while the jaw is growing rather than waiting until a patient is in his or her teens.
What is involved in an orthodontic evaluation?
At an orthodontic evaluation, the doctor and treatment coordinator review the patient’s medical, dental and orthodontic history and perform an examination of the patient’s teeth, gums, bone and jaw joints. Then we’ll discuss the most effective treatment options (and fees), and answer any questions you might have. After you decide to proceed with treatment, the next step is to take the necessary radiographs, photographs and study models of the patient’s teeth.
Is it required that my family dentist schedule my appointment with the orthodontist?
You may be referred to us by your family dentist, but if you think you could benefit from orthodontic treatment, feel free to give us a call without a referral.
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’ll be happy to schedule an appointment for you.
What will I learn from the initial examination?
There are five essential questions we will cover during the initial examination:
a. Is there an orthodontic problem, and if so, what is it?
b. What must be done to correct the problem?
c. Will any teeth need to be removed?
d. How long will the treatment take to complete?
e. How much will the treatment cost?
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 times range from 12 to 30 months. On average, a patient’s time frame for braces is about 22 months.
How much will braces cost? Are financing options available? How does my insurance work?
Unfortunately, we can’t answer that until we’ve had a look at your teeth, but we determine the exact cost as part of your initial consultation. We have many 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. In general, we see our patients with braces every five to ten weeks. If there are specific situations that require more frequent monitoring, we will schedule appointments accordingly.
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.
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.
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!” The hardest part of wearing braces is getting used to having something in your mouth. As long as you follow your orthodontist’s instructions, your braces will be relatively painless.
Will my child be able to return to school on the day the braces go on?
There is no reason to miss school due to discomfort as a result of orthodontic visits.
Do you give shots?
Shots are not necessary in orthodontic treatment.
Do you use recycled braces?
No way! Even if we wanted to, each treatment plan is unique, so recycled braces wouldn’t really work very well.
Can I still play sports?
Braces have no impact on playing sports. Sports, however, can have an impact on wearing braces, and we strongly recommend patients protect their smiles by wearing a mouthguard during any sporting activity.
Do I need to see my family dentist while in braces?
Yes! Regular checkups 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’ll 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 repair appointments by following our instructions.
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 rinse or toothpaste, 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 I (early) Treatment?
Phase I treatment, if necessary, is usually initiated on children between the ages of 7 and 10. Phase I treatment lasts about 10-14 months. The primary objective for Phase I treatment is to address significant problems to prevent them from becoming more severe and to improve self-esteem and self-image. It is easier to correct moderate problems before they become severe and Phase I treatment makes any subsequent orthodontic treatment significantly easier, faster and provides you with an enhanced final result.
Will my child need full braces if he/she has Phase I treatment?
It is best to assume your child will need full braces even after Phase I treatment. The period following Phase I 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. Phase I treatment is intended to make future treatments faster and more ideal, sometimes minimizing the need to extract permanent teeth. The corrections made during Phase I treatment cannot be accomplished once all of the permanent teeth have erupted.
Will my child need an expander?
Expanders can be used in Phase I treatment to create more room for crowded teeth. At the completion of the initial examination, we will determine whether a patient will benefit from an expander.
Is it too late to have braces if I am already an adult?
It’s never too late to get a beautiful smile! A surprising percentage of our patients are adults, and 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 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.