Frequently Asked Questions

At what age should I schedule an appointment for an orthodontic screening?
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends an orthodontic screening at age 7. This is the age at which the first permanent teeth begin to erupt in most children. An examination at this age does not always lead to treatment at this age. However, it allows the orthodontist to evaluate the position of the permanent incisors and molars, and plan the patient’s treatment timing accordingly.

Will my teeth straighten out as they grow?
No. The space available for the front teeth does not increase as you grow. In most people, once the permanent molars erupt, the space available for the front teeth decreases.

Will I need to have teeth extracted for braces?
Removing teeth is sometimes (but not always) required to achieve the best orthodontic result. Straight teeth, a stable, functional bite and a balanced facial profile are some of the goal of orthodontic treatment. Occasionally, it is necessary to remove some teeth to reach these goals.

How long will it take to complete treatment?
Treatment time depends on each patient’s specific orthodontic problem and their compliance once they are in treatment. In general, treatment times range from 12 to 30 months. The “average” time frame a person is in braces is approximately 22 months. However, things like frequently broken appliances, missed appointments, poor oral hygiene and poor cooperation can adversely affect treatment time.

Will I have to wear retainers?
Yes. Orthodontics is a process of moving teeth through the bone into their new position. Following active orthodontic treatment, retainers will be placed. Retainers are very important to maintain the new position of your teeth! Like all parts of the body, teeth are also constantly changing and adapting. Only conscientious retainer wear will keep your teeth straight for a life time.

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 many financing options available to accommodate your needs, and we will review these with you. We will also confirm your insurance 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 6 to 8 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. Typically long appointments, such as putting on braces, are more technique-sensitive appointments and are scheduled during the day. In general, most students miss minimal school time due to orthodontic treatment.

Can I return to school the day I receive my braces?
Yes. In general, there is no reason to miss school because of an orthodontic appointment. We will provide you with school excuses for scheduled orthodontic appointments and it is important for you to turn these in to the proper school official.

Can I drop my child off my child 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 the receptionist when you return to pick up your 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 and can be given to those patients who have no known history of adverse reactions or contraindications to these medications.

Do you give shots?
No. Shots are not necessary for orthodontic treatment.

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 (…basically, nothing hard, sticky or chewy!). Some of those foods include: ice, hard candy, gum, caramel and taffy. You can avoid most emergency appointments to repair broken or damaged braces by carefully following our instructions.

What is Phase I (early) Treatment?
Phase I treatment, if necessary, is usually initiated for children between the ages of 7 and 10. Phase I treatment lasts about 12-21 months. The primary objective of Phase I treatment is to correct some of the more severe problems early so that later comprehensive orthodontic treatment (Phase II) is less complicated and, in some cases, shorter in duration. Phase I treatment can also be successfully performed to improve self-esteem and self-image.

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.

Will my child need full braces later if he/she has Phase I treatment?
It is best to assume that 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.

Will my child need a palatal expander?

At the completion of the initial examination we will be able to determine whether a patient will benefit from a palatal 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% of all orthodontic patients are adults. Health, happiness, and self-esteem are vitally important to adults. No patient is “too old” to undergo orthodontic treatment! We have a variety of esthetic options and limited treatment options available for our adult patients.

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 (more than six years of training after college!) that enables them to provide their patients with professional, personalized treatment.