Knowledge is power...
Frequently Asked Questions
In an effort to to help you understand the many aspects of orthodontic treatment, here we have compiled a list of the questions most commonly asked by our patients.
Of course, if you have a question about orthodontic treatment and dental health not listed below, don’t be afraid to ask us!
Click on any question to reveal the answer.
(Clicking on the question again will toggle the answer closed.)
- Is orthodontics purely cosmetic?
No — that is a common misconception. Orthodontic treatment can boost a person’s self-image as the teeth, jaws, and lips become properly aligned; but an attractive smile is just one of the benefits.
The prevention of physical health problems is just as important. Without treatment, orthodontic problems may lead to tooth decay, gum disease, bone destruction, and chewing and digestive difficulties. A “bad bite” can contribute to speech impairments, tooth loss, chipped teeth, and other dental injuries.
- How do I know I need braces?
Your dentist may have discussed with you the benefits of having healthy teeth and proper jaw alignment. Crooked and crowded teeth are hard to clean and maintain. This can result in tooth decay and gum disease, and ultimately lead to tooth loss.
Other orthodontic problems can contribute to:
- abnormal wear of tooth surfaces
- inefficient chewing function
- excessive stress on gum tissue and the bone that supports the teeth
- hyperactive jaw muscles
In addition, some of these problems can cause chronic headaches and face or neck pain. It is important to note that treatment for these issues by an orthodontist can be less costly than the additional care required to treat dental problems arising as a result of long-term orthodontic problems.
For most people, however, a beautiful smile is the most obvious benefit of orthodontics. After your braces come off, you’ll feel so self-confident that you’ll want to smile all the time!
- Why start orthodontics now?
- Orthodontic treatment can be started at any age. Many orthodontic problems are easier to correct if detected at an early age, before jaw growth has slowed. Early treatment may mean that a patient can avoid surgery and more serious complications later on. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child first visit an orthodontist by age 7 or earlier if a problem is detected by parents, the family dentist, or the child’s physician.
- But aren’t I too old?!
There are no age limits when it comes to good dental health! Orthodontic treatment can easily be done at an older age, if the patient’s dental and gingival health is good. Many people did not get braces when they were young. Either their parents could not afford braces, or their teeth could not be straightened with the techniques of 40 years ago. Most adults get orthodontic treatment because they realize that taking care of your smile is part of taking care of yourself.
Other people did have orthodontic treatment when they were young, but they did not wear their retainers faithfully. The result is that their teeth are now a little bit crooked. Now they are unhappy with their smile, so they get braces too.
- Won’t it take too long?
- Orthodontic treatment does take longer when you are older. It also feels a little different. Still, people as old as 90 are getting braces! More than most, people who live to that age know how important it is to take care of their teeth — and orthodontic treatment is a very effective way of accomplishing that.
- How do I know it will work for me?
- Orthodontic treatment can be successful at any age. There are many more benefits to straight teeth than just aesthetics. Straight teeth are easier to clean and keep healthy. A good bite can prevent potential wear and tear on the enamel of the teeth and help the jaw muscles function better together.
- Come on! How many adults really get braces?
- Almost 15% of our patients at Capital Region Braces are adults. We enjoy working with our adult patients and have a range of options that work with their busy lifestyles. Many of our adult patients have chosen treatment with “low-friction” braces (which work faster and are more comfortable); some have tooth-colored ceramic braces; and many are enjoying the cosmetic benefits that Invisalign offers.
- What is Invisalign?
- Invisalign uses a series of invisible, comfortable, and removable aligners that no one can tell you’re wearing. So you can smile more during treatment as well as after. Invisalign is made with 3D computer imaging technology, and has been proven effective. More than 70% of orthodontists in the U.S. and Canada are certified to treat patients with Invisalign.
- Why would I want Invisalign?
- Not only are the aligners invisible, they are removable, so you can eat and drink what you want while in treatment; furthermore, brushing and flossing are no problem. They are also comfortable, with no metal to cause mouth abrasions during treatment. The absence of metal and wires usually means you spend less time in your doctor’s office getting adjustments. Invisalign also allows you to view your own “virtual treatment plan” when you start, so you can see how your straight teeth will look when the treatment is complete.
- How does Invisalign work?
- You wear each set of aligners for about two weeks, removing them only to eat, drink, brush, and floss. As you replace each aligner with the next in the series, your teeth will move little by little, week by week, until they have straightened to the final position that your orthodontist has prescribed. You’ll come to see us every six weeks to ensure that your treatment is progressing as planned.
- What are “low-friction” braces?
Low-friction braces, also known as self-ligating braces, are the most technologically advanced braces available today. Each brace utilizes an innovative door or clip that holds the archwire into the brace without the need for the elastic O-ring required with conventional braces. The O-ring presses against the archwire connecting the braces, which causes a great deal of resistance to the brace’s ability to slide. This means that in order for the tooth to move, enough force must be applied to the brace to overcome the brace’s resistance to sliding on the archwire. Unfortunately, the amount of force necessary for sliding with conventional braces is enough to cause compression of the ligament between the tooth and adjacent bone. This compression results in compromised blood flow, inflammation, discomfort, and slower tooth movements.
Low-friction braces slide very freely along the archwire, so that extremely light forces move the teeth faster and with greater comfort. While these braces cost more, the savings from fewer appointments needed (due to shorter treatment times) offsets this cost. If desired, decorative, colored O-rings can be applied to these braces without causing friction.
Because these braces are so much better, all orthodontists will eventually use them someday. We have been using them for years and are experts in treating children and adults using this method.
- What about clear braces?
Most patients can have clear braces, but the cost is usually slightly higher because the teeth may move more slowly, and elastic ties may discolor (depending on the diet), requiring more frequent visits to change them.
Although clear braces require more care, they continue to improve with technological advances in materials and provide an excellent alternative to metal braces.
- What about my wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, develop during your teen years in the back of the jaw behind the twelve-year molars. Many times there is insufficient space in the jaws for these teeth. The wisdom teeth will try to erupt and cause a forward pressure, which may be a factor in causing lower-incisor crowding.
If there is insufficient space available for eruption, we usually suggest removal of your wisdom teeth between the ages of 14 and 17, while the roots are still small and removal is easy.
- What about routine care of my teeth?
Maintaining your teeth with regular checkups and cleanings during orthodontic treatment is extremely important to maintain a healthy mouth.
You can use several things to help maintain the health of your mouth, such as dental floss, a soft toothbrush, a Waterpik, a Sonicare toothbrush, and a “pre-brush” rinse.
Chronically poor brushing leads to plaque accumulation, acid production, and dissolving away of the tooth enamel. This can result in the white spots you sometimes see on teeth. Better brushing, flossing, reducing dietary sugar, and use of a fluoride gel can help prevent or sometimes even reverse this condition.
- How long will I be in braces?
- Treatment times will vary significantly from patient to patient, depending on the severity and complexity of each patient’s orthodontic needs. Most patients are in treatment for 2–4 years.
- How often do I need to come in for appointments?
- There will be periods of time when more frequent appointments are needed, and times when appointment intervals will be longer. Appointments for our younger patients (with interceptive treatment) are typically spaced 2–3 months apart. Other appointments will be every 6–7 weeks.
- How much does orthodontics cost?
- Comprehensive (full braces) treatment can range from $3,000 to $6,000, depending on the complexity of the treatment.
- Does two-phase treatment cost more than one-phase treatment?
- Two-phase orthodontics means interceptive treatment followed by braces. There is no significant difference, because in the two-phase treatment, the shortening of the braces phase (about one year) by the interceptive phase offsets the more lengthy time in braces (about 20–30 months) of a single-phase treatment.
- How are payments arranged?
- Fees are generally spread out across the length of treatment, with an initial payment when appliances are placed. We offer a 5% discount for payment in full at the beginning of treatment.
- Won’t my orthodontic insurance cover the expense?
- Most insurance programs only cover a portion. We will submit your insurance forms to help maximize your reimbursement.
- What happens if we move?
- We live in a very mobile society, and people move frequently. When our patients relocate, we adjust the fee on a pro-rated basis to cover the services rendered, help you find an orthodontist in your new town, and forward your records to help insure continuity of treatment.