Frequently Asked Questions About Orthodontics

Who is qualified to put my braces on?

Technically, general dentists are licensed to place braces and some offices are equipped to perform minor orthodontic cases if the dentist feels comfortable with it. That said, a certified orthodontic specialist has attended 2 to 3 years of additional education through orthodontic residency which provides extensive training in preventing, diagnosing, and treating dental and jaw irregularities. 

Why should I get braces?

A beautiful smile is something everyone can appreciate. Orthodontic treatment can help align teeth and jaws for a smile that’s pleasing to the eye. In addition to looking great, there are functional and health-related reasons to fix misalignments as well. A good bite means teeth are coming together appropriately and working in unity. A tool with all its parts in the right place works more smoothly, is easier to maintain, and functions more efficiently. A well-balanced jaw and straight teeth help avoid undue stress on compensating areas thereby preventing pain, wear, and decay.

What are the different kinds of braces and what’s right for me?

There are so many options these days for orthodontic care. 

  • Traditional Metal
  • Clear Ceramic Brackets
  • Self-ligating Brackets
  • Lingual braces
  • Aligner systems like Invisalign

All in all, the choice is usually up to you. There are some cases in which your doctor will prefer and advise one method over another as some are more effective for certain movements and goals.

Aligners can achieve almost anything traditional braces can do with few exceptions and sometimes they are even preferable.

At RLO Dr. T will perform an extensive exam and give plenty of time for all your questions and preferences to be shared. This way he can guide you on the best choices based on your goals and his expertise.

What’s the best age to visit the orthodontist?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children first visit an orthodontist around 7 years old for an early check to rule out the need for early intervention (phase 1 treatment.) If your child has passed this age, don’t worry. In the majority of cases, early intervention is not required and even if it is, most missed opportunities for early intervention treatments can be made up for with a little more time and effort in braces later on. However, for palate expansion, you have until mid to late teenhood before bones start fusing. Once that happens, results can be subpar without requiring surgery.    

Otherwise, there’s no wrong age for an ortho visit. Exams can happen at any age and we’ll advise from there. The Red Leaf Family ranges from age 4 for early evals and trust-building to late 70s for finally closing a gap that’s bothered for years.

When Can I Start?

People of all ages can benefit from a beautiful and functional smile. You typically associate braces with the early teen years because treatment can begin once most adult teeth have erupted somewhere around age 11-12. However, I’d wager about half RLO patients are adults. There are several different reasons why people have to wait until adulthood to begin treatment with braces or aligners. It’s never too late to approach steps toward your dreamed-of smile, although, senior patients will need more extensive evaluation to ensure bone density is sufficient for orthodontic movements. After your exam, a care plan will be created for you by your doctor. You may be asked to schedule a cleaning or extractions with your regular dentist before putting braces on. In some circumstances, more invasive procedures are required in tandem with braces, but that will most likely happen after bonding. Whatever your treatment plan, we will advise and guide you along the way to coordinate care and keep you on track.

How do I care for my teeth when wearing braces?

After bonding or fitting aligners, you will be instructed in detail on hygiene and dental maintenance during treatment. Here are the basics:

  • Brush your teeth after every meal with fluoride toothpaste and floss at least once a day even if you need a floss threader or a water flosser.
  • Try to avoid foods that are difficult to clean out of your braces. Residual food hanging around increases bacteria and, therefore, plaque and the increased chance of cavities.
  • Be sure to continue your routine checkups every 6 months with your regular dentist. 
  • Our priority at RLO is the health of your teeth. There’s no point in straight teeth if they are unhealthy. Dr. T is evaluating your hygiene at every visit. If standards aren’t met, we will encourage and troubleshoot better cleaning methods. In the end, if hygiene can’t be maintained, the braces will have to be removed to prevent permanent damage to the enamel – no fun.

How long will it take?

The amount of time spent in treatment with braces or Invisalign varies from one patient to the next. Everyone is unique and each person responds a little differently to the process. Very minor movements can be achieved in a few weeks with added pressure to a retainer. Limited cases can be resolved in as few as 4-6 months. Standard, full cases usually take around 24 months on average. Aligner case length and results are dependent on patient diligence in wearing them as often as possible (ideally 22 hours a day.)

Do braces hurt?

Braces are uncomfortable at first. The worst being the couple days after bonding. Like any muscle soreness, it gets better as your body acclimates to the movements. OTC pain meds, soft foods, and applied heat can help. The skin of the mouth and gums can also take time to adjust and toughen up to new areas of irritation from braces. Saltwater swishing and dental wax can help in the interim. Irritation from aligners that isn’t solved by filing down the rough area can be a sign of a poor fit and you should see your orthodontist. If you feel a wire poke call us for guidance or to schedule an urgent visit.

Will my braces interfere with my hobbies like sports or playing an instrument?

When you first get your braces, you may find you need to adjustments here and there, but you don’t have to stop doing your favorite things. Mouth guards are essential for contact sports as metal in your mouth will cause injuries if your mouth is hit. Particularly with aligners like Invisalign, speaking or singing can be affected at first as your tongue takes time to adjust to the new sensations in the mouth. 

How Much Do Braces Cost And Will My Insurance Cover It?

The cost of braces is dependent on the findings of your consultation exam. Because everyone’s dentition is different and all have unique goals for their smile, the length and complexity of treatment can be vastly different from patient to patient.  At RLO our prices are all-inclusive. All appointment visits are included as well as bracket replacement (within reason) and retainers at the end. Sometimes procedures or cleanings need to take place before braces can be placed. These procedures are not done at your orthodontist’s office and prices are separate. When you come for your new patient exam, you will fill out paperwork that includes any insurance information. We will perform a benefits check and if your dental insurance has orthodontic coverage, whatever they contribute will be taken off the top of the price package at the beginning. Whether or not your insurance covers treatment, after a small downpayment your payments will be spread out over the course of treatment without an interest charge. This will break payments up into manageable chunks. In this way, even patients on a strict budget are pleasantly surprised to find treatment quite affordable and they can be on their way to the smile they’ve been wanting without breaking the bank!