COMMON questions

What is an orthodontist?

Orthodontists are qualified dentists, who go on to additional, full-time, university-based education in an accredited orthodontic residency program. That training lasts at least two academic years.

Orthodontists diagnose, prevent and treat dental and facial irregularities. Orthodontists limit their practices to orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics. That means that orthodontic treatment is what they do, and that is all they do. Orthodontists treat a wide variety of malocclusions (misaligned teeth and/or jaws). They regularly treat young children, teens, and adults.

How are teeth moved?

Teeth respond to the gentle forces that are applied to them. "Braces" are a combination of "brackets" and "wires". Brackets are the part of the braces that attach to the teeth. Brackets are the "handles" that help control movement of the teeth. Braces require a wire called an "archwire" that connects the brackets and provides the forces to steer the teeth in the proper direction. It’s actually the wires that move teeth. The interaction of brackets and archwires enables the orthodontist to have three-dimensional control over the movement of the teeth. In many cases, additional forces are needed to help balance the underlying jaw structure and to help the upper and lower teeth fit properly together to make the bite right. Examples of these extra forces include: elastics (rubber bands) hooked to teeth, headgear, functional appliances and palatal expanders.

What age is the right age to consider orthodontics?

We recommend that all children receive an initial orthodontic evaluation around the age of 8, or when recommended by your dentist. Most children will not require early treatment, and will be placed on a "recall," where we can see them periodically to monitor their tooth development until it is time for full orthodontic treatment. Early interceptive treatment is sometimes indicated to address severe dental and/or skeletal problems. This early treatment is usually accomplished around the age of 8, and can minimize the severity of full orthodontic treatment after the eruption of the permanent teeth.

How long does treatment take?

The length of treatment varies depending on the complexity of the orthodontic problem, growth and tissue response to treatment, as well as the level of patient cooperation. Orthodontic care requires a team approach in which the family dentist, the orthodontist and the patient play key roles that can impact the length of treatment and the quality of the end result. Generally, the length of comprehensive orthodontic treatment can range from approximately 18 months to 30 months, depending on treatment options and individual characteristics.

Is it common to have braces twice, at two different times?

This is known as two-phase treatment. As discussed above under the "right age" question, early treatment allows us to create the space necessary to allow permanent teeth to erupt without interference and aides in the alignment and development of the jaws. Once the proper space has been created it is common to remove the braces and other orthodontic appliances and wait for the eruption of permanent teeth and then to reapply braces to straighten and align the teeth into their exact positions.

Are there options in the types and colors of braces available?

We have very small, smooth metal braces available. These braces use small elastic ties which are available in a rainbow of colors. These colors are changed every visit. We also have "clear" ceramic braces available. Invisalign treatment as well as other types of clear aligners can be a great option for teens and adults. We can discuss these treatment options with you once we have evaluated your smile and bite.

How often do I need to schedule an appointment?

Technology has greatly extended the intervals between appointments. Long acting wires and advanced brackets can move teeth with less force, faster, and with fewer appointments. The length of time required between appointments will vary with the stage of treatment, types of wires, and individual treatment needs. Visits are typically four to eight weeks apart.

How long does each appointment take?

Appointment times vary from procedure to procedure. We typically like to allocate thirty minutes for your initial examination, forty minutes for your records, Thirty minutes for your case presentation, one hour and a half for the placement of braces, and approximately 15 to 30 minutes for regular adjustment appointments.

How much will braces cost?

Fees for orthodontics vary from individual to individual based upon the level of treatment necessary. All fees are determined by the complexity of the case and individual therapeutic requirements. Various orthodontic treatment techniques and procedures require various orthodontic appliances. We will be more than happy to provide you with an estimated range of fees at your initial examination. More exact financial arrangements will be made once we are able to study and diagnose your treatment needs. We do not believe in "hidden costs". All fees will be presented and discussed in advance of treatment.

How long will treatment take?

Treatment times also vary from individual to individual. More complex treatment requires more time to achieve the intended results.

We will provide you with an estimated treatment time once we have studied your orthodontic problems and needs. Treatment time can be affected by growth, tissue response, and delayed tooth eruption.

You can help speed up the process by following the recommended guidelines on oral hygiene, and taking care not to damage your appliances. Compliance with wearing your appliances and auxiliaries (elastics, etc.) will also allow treatment to progress as quickly as possible.