Frequently Asked Questions About Orthodontics
Find out everything you ever wanted to know about braces, spacers, and more with help from Dentistry for Children, P.C.. Our orthodontics FAQs in Weymouth, MA, have all the information you need to make an informed decision for yourself or your child. For all other questions, you’re welcome to reach out to our staff any time - we’re happy to help.
Q. Is my family dentist required to schedule my appointment with Dentistry for Children, P.C.?
A. No, it is not. Some of our patients are referred by their family dentist, yet many other patients take the initiative to schedule an examination themselves.
Q. At what age should I schedule my child’s appointment for an orthodontic screening?
A. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends an orthodontic screening no later than age 7. By this age, several permanent teeth in most children have erupted, allowing us to effectively evaluate your child’s orthodontic condition. Some problems can be most effectively treated even earlier. However, no child is too young for an orthodontic exam.
Q. Will teeth straighten out as they grow?
A. No, they generally will not. The space available for the front teeth does not increase as you grow. In fact, in most people, after the permanent molars erupt, the space available for the front teeth decreases with age.
Q. How do I schedule an appointment with an orthodontist?
A. If you feel that you or your child can potentially benefit from orthodontic treatment, simply call our office, send us an e-mail or fill out our appointment request form online. We will be happy to schedule an appointment for you. When you call to schedule your appointment, our front office staff will request some basic information.
Q. What will happen during the initial orthodontic appointment?
A. Upon arriving, each patient and parent will be seen by the staff and a doctor, who will carry out a brief but thorough examination. The orthodontist will then discuss the exam findings with you. We may also take some photographs, x-rays, and impressions that will assist us in making the most complete diagnosis possible during this same visit.
Q. What will I learn from the initial examination with the orthodontist?
A. There are five essential questions that we will cover during the initial examination:
- Is there an orthodontic problem, and if so, what is it?
- What must be done to correct the problem?
- Will any teeth need to be removed?
- How long will the treatment take to complete?
- How much will the treatment cost?
Q. Will my child need to have teeth extracted for braces?
A. Removing teeth is sometimes required to achieve the best orthodontic result. The goal of orthodontic treatment is to straighten teeth and create a more balanced facial profile. However, because new technology has made available more advanced orthodontic procedures, removing teeth is not always necessary for orthodontic treatment.
Q. How long will it take to complete treatment?
A. Treatment time is dependent upon each patient’s specific orthodontic problem. In general, treatment time lasts from 8 to 30 months. The “average” timeframe a person wears braces is approximately 18 to 24 months.
Q. How much will braces cost? Are financing options available? How does my insurance work?
A. It is impossible to give an exact cost for treatment until we have examined your child’s teeth. However, rest assured we will cover the exact cost and financial options during the initial examination. We have several financing options available to accommodate your needs, and we will review these with you. We will also review your insurance policy in order to assist you in maximizing your benefit and filing your claims. You can read more about financial options available to patients here.
Q. How frequent are orthodontic appointments?
A. Appointments are scheduled according to each patient’s needs. Most patients in braces will be seen every 4 to 8 weeks. When we encounter situations that require more frequent monitoring, we will schedule appointments accordingly.
Q. Can I schedule all of my appointments after school?
A. Unfortunately, we cannot schedule all appointments for students during after-school hours. Usually we schedule lengthier appointments, such as initial placement of braces, earlier in the day so we that can reserve after-school hours for shorter appointments. This helps us maximize the availability of after school appointments for the greatest number of patients. Because appointments are scheduled 4 to 8 weeks apart, most patients will miss minimal school due to their orthodontic treatments. Within these guidelines, we make every effort to meet your scheduling needs.
Q. Can I drop my child off for an appointment?
A. Most orthodontic appointments are not very long, and we prefer that children not be dropped off. There are times when the orthodontist needs to obtain additional information from the parent or to discuss a child’s treatment. Our orthodontic assistants generally speak to every parent at the end of each orthodontic visit to give an update on treatment progress. To help you make the most productive use of your time during your child’s orthodontic visits, we’ve equipped our reception rooms with free Wi-Fi access.
Q. Do braces hurt?
A. Generally, braces do not “hurt.” After certain visits, teeth may be sore for a few days. In these situations, pain medications such as Advil or Tylenol 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 my child return to school the day braces are placed?
A. Yes. There is no reason to miss school because of an orthodontic appointment.
Q. Does the orthodontist give “shots?”
A. No. “Shots” are not necessary in orthodontic treatment.
Q. Do you use recycled braces?
A. Absolutely not! It is our belief that each patient should be provided with their own braces to achieve the best orthodontic result possible.
Q. Can my child still play sports with braces?
A. Yes. We recommend a mouth guard for all sports and provide every orthodontic patient with a free orthodontic mouth guard.
Q. Does my child need to have regular checkups while in braces?
A. Absolutely. Regular pediatric dental checkups are even more essential while in braces. Since braces make brushing somewhat more difficult, excellent oral hygiene becomes critical in maintaining healthy gums and decay free teeth. We therefore urge all our orthodontic patients to have dental cleanings three times a year instead of the usual two while in braces.
Q. Are there foods my child cannot eat while in braces?
A. Yes. Once treatment begins, we will explain the complete instructions and provide 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 emergency appointments to repair broken or damaged braces by carefully following our instructions.
Q. How often should teeth be brushed while in braces?
A. Patients should brush their teeth at least three times each day – in the morning, after dinner, and before going to bed. We will show each patient how to floss their teeth with braces, as well as provide a special prescription fluoride to brush with every night.
Q. What is an emergency appointment? How are those handled?
A. If braces are causing extreme pain, or if something breaks, you should reach out to our office right away. In most cases, we can address these issues over the telephone. If you require an emergency appointment, we will set aside time for you.
Q. Can orthodontic correction occur while a child has baby teeth?
A. Yes. Some orthodontic problems are significant enough to require early intervention. However, if a patient is not yet ready for treatment, we will follow that patient’s growth and development until the time is right for treatment to begin.
Q. What is Phase One (early) Treatment?
A. Phase One treatment, if necessary, is usually initiated on children at an early age using orthodontic appliances that do not necessarily include braces. The primary objective for Phase One treatment is to address significant problems, prevent them from becoming more severe, and improve self-esteem and self-image.
Q. Will my child need full braces if he/she has Phase One treatment?
A. It is best to assume that your child will need full braces even after Phase One treatment. The period following Phase One treatment is called the “resting period,” during which we monitor growth and tooth eruption closely. Throughout this period, parents and patients will be kept informed of future treatment recommendations.
Q. Will my child need an expander?
A. At the completion of the initial examination, we will determine whether a patient needs an expander.
Q. Is it too late to have braces if I am already an adult?
A. A surprising percentage of our patients are adults. In fact, 25% of all orthodontic patients are adults. Health, happiness, and self-esteem are as important to adults as they are to children. No patient is “too old” to wear braces.
Q. Can I wear braces even though I have crowns and missing teeth?
A. Yes. A tooth with a crown will move just like a tooth with a simple filling. When teeth are missing, orthodontic treatment aids in the alignment of remaining teeth.
Q. Why should I choose an orthodontic and pediatric dental specialist?
A. Teeth, and sometimes entire facial structures, are permanently changed by orthodontic treatment. It is important that the treatment be appropriate and properly completed. The orthodontic and pediatric dental specialists at our clinic have extensive, specialized training that enables them to provide patients with state-of-the-art, comprehensive, and personalized care.
Q. What are spacers?
A. Spacers – also known as separators – are small elastics that fit snugly between certain teeth. Their purpose is to move teeth slightly, making it easier to place bands around them later. Separators can fall out on their own if enough space has already been created. If a separator falls out more than a day prior to the scheduled band fitting appointment, reach out to our office to arrange to have it replaced as soon as possible. Gum and sticky candy must be avoided while wearing separators.
Q. What food should my child avoid while wearing braces?
A. For most situations, common sense will help you and your child know what to avoid. Hard foods, sticky foods, and foods high in sugar must be avoided. Hard foods can damage and even break wires and brackets, and sticky foods can get caught between them. We recommend avoiding sugary foods in general – they cause tooth decay and related problems. Nail biting, pencil/pen chewing, and chewing on foreign objects should also be avoided.
Sticky Foods to Avoid: Gum (both sugar-free and regular), licorice, Swedish Fish, toffee, Tootsie Rolls, caramels, and Starbursts
Hard Foods to Avoid: Ice, nuts, hard taco shells, French bread crust/rolls, corn on the cob, apples and carrots (unless cut into small pieces), bagels, chips, and Jolly Ranchers
Sugary Foods to Minimize: Cake, ice cream, cookies, pie, and candy
Foods to Have Once a Day: Soda, sweetened tea, Gatorade, Powerade, Kool-Aid, and most drinks with sugar
as well as those throughout the South Shore.