FAQ

Initial Visit

Do you charge for an initial visit?

No. As a courtesy to you and your family dentist, we will always discuss the feasibility of braces or tooth straightening without charging a fee. There may be a co-payment for X-rays and other diagnostic procedures.

At what age do you start seeing patients?

As a rule of thumb, we like to evaluate young patients after the 6-year molars erupt and the front permanent teeth just start to appear. This is usually between the ages of 6 and 8. The American Association of Orthodontics recommends that all children be examined by age 7.

Why do you evaluate patients so young?

The purpose of early evaluation is to inform, observe, and if necessary, to start treatment.  At this early age, the eventual needs and problematic habits may be identified and discussed.   Although 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 orthodontic treatment may mean that a patient can avoid extractions, surgery and more serious complications.

How long will the first visit take?

The first visit can last anywhere between 30 minutes and 1 hour depending on how ready the patient is for treatment. We may just do a visual exam and explain the situation or we may suggest one or more X-rays and complete diagnostics including casts of the teeth with photographs.

Do you take patients transferring from out of town?

Yes we do. We handle a patient transferring into our office from another city just like a new patient. We gather complete diagnostic records to show the current status and propose treatment to complete the work that has been started.

Do you have any adult patients?

Absolutely. About 25% of orthodontic patients today are adults, including many who are 60+ years of age.  New, more cosmetic appliances are making adult treatment much more comfortable and convenient.  Many adults are correcting problems that were never treated when they were children. Everyone deserves to experience the satisfaction of a comfortable bite and a more esthetically pleasing smile.

What is the difference between an orthodontist and a dentist?

An orthodontist is a general dentist that has had at least 2 more years of full-time training in orthodontics resulting in a nationally accepted specialty certificate.  An orthodontist then limits the practice to straightening teeth and dentofacial orthopedics.

Can I make all my appointments in the afternoon after school/work and late in the day?

We will do our best to work with your schedules and accommodate your family needs.  The majority of our patients are students or working adults and we understand the importance of minimizing time away from school and work.   Unfortunately, we cannot schedule all appointments during the popular late afternoon and early evening hours.  Shorter appointments can be  scheduled later in the day whereas longer appointment most often need to be scheduled during the morning or early afternoon.  However, because most appointments are scheduled six to ten weeks apart, most patients miss very little school/work because of orthodontic appointments.

Do you see patients for emergencies?

We hope that our patients never will experience an orthodontic emergency, but given the chance that that might happen, we always are available to help. A team member is always on call in case a problem arises.  Emergency contact information can be found on our phone answering machine after hours.

Financial

Can we make payments?

Yes.  Whether or not you have insurance or a dental plan, we will structure a convenient payment plan that will allow you to pay for necessary services over a period of time that usually coincides with your treatment plan.

Do you take credit cards?

Yes, we accept VISA and MasterCard.  We are happy to set up an automatic monthly payment plan on your credit card.

Do you charge interest?

No we do not.  We offer an in-office interest-free payment plan, which consists of a down payment of approximately 30%, plus a monthly payment through the proposed length of treatment.  If you pay the treatment fee in full at the start of treatment, we offer a 2% bookkeeping discount for credit card payment and 4% discount for cash or check payment.

Do you give family discounts?

We have special programs and fees for multiple patients from the same family.

Types of Treatment

What is Phase 1 Treatment?

Phase 1 treatment is delivered early and before all permanent teeth have erupted. The purpose of this early care is to start correcting harmful malocclusions that may be more difficult or impossible to correct later. Phase 1 treatment does not eliminate the need for conventional orthodontics done during adolescence. Examples of phase 1 treatment include correcting individual tooth or jaw crossbites and severe underbites and overbites where function, esthetic or psychological concerns are identified.

What is phase 2 Treatment?

Phase 2 treatment is conventional orthodontic treatment. It may start while the last baby teeth are falling out and continue until the 12 year molars have been evaluated or straightened. This treatment usually lasts between 2 and 3 years.

How do I know if Phase 1, 2 or both type of treatments are necessary?

An early visit is suggested. About 10 to 20 percent of young patients may benefit from phase 1 treatment. Most other patients are observed until the appropriate time to initiate care.

Does early treatment ensure a better result?

Not always. Experience and research shows that early treatment achieves meaningful goals but the quality of the result is determined at the end of care. For this reason, we do not encourage early treatment unless significant benefits can be achieved.

Moving of teeth (Mechanics)

I need to be pre-medicated for the dentist. Do I need to take my medicine for the orthodontist?

Yes.  We follow the American Heart Association guidelines regarding SBE prophylaxis prior to dental treatment.  There are certain orthodontic procedures that do require pre-medication with antibiotics for high risk patients.

How long do braces take?

This will vary for each patient. It always depends on how much your jaw needs to change and how far your teeth must move. We are committed to making your treatment as swift and effective as possible. Complete treatment can usually be accomplished in 2 years of active tooth movement. Sometimes, this active movement is divided into two or more periods of time with a rest of 6 to 18 months in between. (See phase 1 and 2 treatment above).

How do braces work?

Quite simply, crooked teeth are gradually moved into desired positions by taking shaped wires and attaching them to brackets on the teeth.

Do you use recycled braces?

No.

Retainers

Do retainers need to be worn after braces?

Yes, retainers are worn full-time for about 12 months followed by nighttime wear indefinitely.

Why do teeth get crooked after wearing braces or aligners?

Teeth move throughout life whether you have worn braces or not.  It is part of the natural aging process. This is why retainer wear is recommended indefinitely to maintain your orthodontic results over  lifetime.

How about retainers glued to the backs of teeth?

For some patients, permanent retainers are attached to the back of lower teeth to keep them in place. This requires special hygiene procedures and regular recalls to the family dentist.

Wisdom teeth (Third Molars)/TMJ

Do wisdom teeth cause teeth to get crooked?

Research has shown this not to be true.

Why do wisdom teeth need to be removed?

Wisdom teeth do not cause crooked teeth but they can cause gum problems, swelling if impacted, and trap food below the gum tissue causing infection. It is much nicer to plan for their removal rather than have them removed under emergency conditions.

Can braces or orthodontic treatment treat or cause TMJ problems?

Scientific literature has documented that there is not a direct link between orthodontic treatment or occlusion and TMJ. Problems with TMJ can be present or absent in the presence of all types of good and bad bites.