FAQ

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Q. Why should an orthodontic specialist complete my treatment?

A. Orthodontists are specialists in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics and they limit their practices to orthodontics alone, allowing them to become experts and leaders in their field.  General and pediatric dentists do sometimes perform orthodontic treatment, but they are not orthodontists.  Orthodontists have three years of specialized training after completing four years of dental school.  This extensive and specialized training enables us to provide the very best quality orthodontic treatment to our patients with professional and individualized treatment plans.  Teeth, and sometimes entire facial structures, are permanently changed by orthodontic treatment so it is important that the treatment be appropriate and properly completed. 

Q. At what age should I schedule an appointment for an orthodontic screening?

A. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends an orthodontic screening between 7-8 years old. For most children, several permanent teeth have erupted by this age, allowing the orthodontist to effectively evaluate the patient’s orthodontic condition.  While active treatment at this age is unlikely, this examination will allow us to identify specific problems that we will monitor and suggest treatment at the right time.  And remember, we do not charge for your first appointment.

Q. Will my teeth straighten out as I grow and get older?

A. Most likely 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.

Q. Is it too late to have braces if I’m already an adult?

A. No patient is "too old" to wear braces!  A surprising percentage of our patients are adults. In fact, about 25% of all orthodontic patients are adults.  We offer a variety of treatment options tailored to our adult patients, including Invisalign clear aligners, braces hidden behind the teeth so they can't be seen, and ceramic braces that are much less noticeable than traditional metal braces.  Health and happiness are important to adults and orthodontic treatment can increase your self-esteem at any age!

Q. How long will it take to complete treatment?

A. Overall treatment time depends on each patient's specific orthodontic problem(s) and expectations. In general, treatment times can range from 6 to 30 months.  The "average" adolescent can expect approximately 24 months in treatment.

Q. How often will I have an appointment?

A. Appointments are scheduled according to each patient's needs and treatment progress.  In our office, most patients in braces will be seen every 6-8 weeks and Invisalign patients approximately every 8-12 weeks.  If there are specific situations that require more frequent monitoring, we will schedule appointments accordingly.

Q. Can I drop my child off for an appointment?

A. We often need the parents present so we can update them on treatment progress, so we discourage a child being dropped-off.  However, we understand your schedule is busy and we are happy to help you make the most of your time.  If you need to be somewhere else during your child's appointment, please let us know.  We can make the proper arrangements. 

Q. Does wearing braces hurt?

A. Braces themselves do not hurt, but the teeth can become sore when they start to move, especially during the first 3-5 days of having the braces placed.  After certain adjustment appointments, you might feel some discomfort.  In these situations, over-the-counter pain medications, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), 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!”

Q. Can I still play sports or play my instrument while wearing braces?

A. Definitely!  We recommend that patients wear mouthguards while playing sports.  Musicians will likely experience an adjustment period until they are comfortable playing while wearing braces.

Q. Do I need to see my general dentist while wearing braces?

A. Yes.  Regular check-ups with your general dentist are important while in braces. Your dentist will determine the intervals between each cleaning appointment while you have your braces. Remember, we do not clean your teeth or actively check for cavities here, but if we see anything in your mouth that is a concern, we will advise you and be happy to contact your dentist.

Q. How often should I brush my teeth while I have braces?

A. Patients in braces should brush their teeth at least two times each day – after breakfast and before going to bed.  We strongly encourage also brushing after lunch or a snack.  You should floss at least once a day.  We will show you how to brush and floss your teeth with braces, and we may provide a prescription for a special fluoride treatment if we think it is necessary.

Q. Are there any foods I cannot eat while I have braces?

A. Once treatment begins, we will explain our complete instructions and provide you with 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 repair appointments by carefully following our instructions!