Frequently Asked Questions

For the Pursuit of Perfect Teeth
— Dr. Lori Smith - Board Certified Orthodontist

When is the best time for treatment?

Every person is a little different and each problem determines its own best starting time. Although treatment may not begin until much later, problems may be detected as early as age 7, when the permanent teeth are beginning to erupt.

Is age 7 too early to be seen by the orthodontist?

No.  Most orthodontic problems are inherited and cannot be prevented. However, early diagnosis and treatment by a specialist can frequently help guide facial growth and tooth eruption, and thereby prevent more serious problems from developing.  The American Association of Orthodontists recommends an orthodontic screening at age 7. By this age, several permanent teeth have usually erupted, allowing us to effectively evaluate your child’s orthodontic condition.

Is a referral from my dentist necessary?

No, it is not. Although many of our patients are referred by their family dentist, a substantial number of our patients come from satisfied patients.  The greatest compliment we can receive is your referral of friends and loved ones to our office, as it shows us the confidence you have in our practice.

In any case, we are careful to make sure we work with your family dentist to coordinate total dental care.

What are some problems to look for that indicate my child needs to see an orthodontic specialist?

  • Thumb or finger sucking habit
  • Missing or extra teeth
  • Overlapping or crowding of erupting permanent teeth
  • Deep Overbite
  • Impacted tooth
  • Spacing between the teeth
  • Protruded upper front teeth
  • Protruded upper and lower front teeth
  • Difficulty in chewing
  • Mouth breathing
  • Crossbite
  • Underbite
  • Unusual facial profile
  • Inability to close your lips without straining them

If in doubt, call our office for an appointment.  There is no charge to come in and find out how we can help you or your child.

Won’t my teeth straighten out as my child’s jaw grows?

No, they will not. The space available for the front teeth does not increase as you grow. In most people, once the permanent molars (six year molars) erupt most, the space available for the front teeth will not increase.  Space for the teeth tends to decrease with age.

What are some of the benefits of orthodontic treatment?

Properly positioned, straight teeth are much easier to clean and can have a tremendous impact on overall dental health. Correction of the bite not only helps with improved chewing and speech, but also plays an important role in reducing future wear of the teeth and stress on the supporting bone and jaw joints. Orthodontics often improves an individual’s self-image.

How can orthodontics improve one’s self-image?

There is little doubt that an attractive facial appearance and smile can improve the quality of life. It has been shown by many scientific studies that the mouth and face are the focal points of social communication.  Interaction with others can become more enjoyable and successful if one’s self-esteem is at a high level.  An attractive smile enhances self-esteem and confidence, thereby enhancing a person’s social or vocational growth and improving the quality of life itself. Both dental and facial esthetics are considered when planning an individual’s treatment.

Can orthodontic correction occur while my child has baby teeth?

Absolutely.  Some orthodontic problems are significant enough that early treatment is required when baby teeth are still present. Braces are typically attached to the permanent teeth, but sometimes they attach to the baby teeth as well.  If a baby tooth is lost during treatment, we then can put the braces on the permanent tooth once it erupts into the mouth.

What is Phase One Treatment?

Phase One treatment is early treatment that occurs when a child typically has a mixture of permanent teeth and baby teeth, usually between the ages of 7 and 10.  It may be necessary to have this first phase to address significant problems to prevent them from becoming more severe, or to improve self-esteem and self-image.  Not all children need Phase One Treatment and Dr. Smith is very conservative about this additional treatment—she will only recommend it if she feels strongly it is necessary.  The need for Phase I Treatment will be determined at the Initial Examination.

Will my child need full braces if he/she has Phase I Treatment?

Phase I Treatment is designed to treat problems in a limited way.  Because we cannot predict absolutely how the remainder of the permanent teeth will erupt, it is best to assume that your child will need full braces at a later date when the remainder of the teeth have erupted. There is typically a “resting period” between the two phases of treatment during which time growth and tooth eruption are closely monitored. Throughout this period, parents and patients will be kept informed of future treatment recommendations.

Will my child need an expander?

At the initial examination, Dr. Smith will determine whether your child will need an expander.

I see more adults with braces these days. Why?

The number of adults who receive orthodontic treatment has increased tremendously in the last ten years, with about 30% of our practice presently consisting of adults.  Orthodontics in the past was once viewed more as a luxury rather than as an adjunct to dental health.  Most adults are now being treated for orthodontic problems that were not corrected during childhood.

As our society has become more health conscious by exercising, eating properly, and receiving preventive medical and dental treatment, adults are becoming more aware of the benefits of orthodontics in achieving optimal dental health and have chosen to seek orthodontic care.

Am I too old for orthodontics?

No!  Age is not a factor in orthodontic care.  No patient is ever “too old” to wear braces.

Can I wear braces even though I have crowns, root canals, or missing teeth?

Yes. A tooth with a crown or root canal will move just like a tooth with a simple filling. When teeth are missing, orthodontic treatment will aid in the alignment of the remaining teeth, and sometimes space can be closed where a tooth is missing.

Will braces interfere with my lifestyle?

Contrary to popular belief, wearing braces does not have to interfere with your lifestyle.  Patients can make business presentations, sing, play a musical instrument, play sports, dine out and even kiss!

What can happen if orthodontic problems go untreated?

Untreated orthodontic problems may contribute to tooth decay, diseased gums, bone destruction, temporomandibular joint problems, and loss of teeth.  Protruding teeth are not only unattractive, but are more susceptible to accidental chipping and other forms of dental injury.  Crowded teeth are extremely difficult to clean, making them more prone to decay.  Early loss or extraction of teeth may result in healthy teeth tipping into open spaces, resulting in difficulty in cleaning and deterioration of the supporting bone.  If the teeth don’t meet properly, excess stress may be placed on supporting bone, gum tissue and on the jaw joints, and can result in abnormal wear of tooth surfaces, difficulty in chewing, and eventual tooth loss.

What will happen on my first visit (initial examination) to the office?

On your first visit to our office, Dr. Smith will perform a thorough and complete evaluation of your face and teeth to determine any problems that exist, as well as the type of treatment that may be needed.  Any problems, treatment (if necessary), an estimated time and fee for treatment will all be discussed with you.  If it is determined that treatment is necessary, another appointment will be scheduled to take records.  There is no fee for this initial examination.

How do I schedule an appointment for a no fee initial exam?

If you or your child can potentially benefit from orthodontic treatment, simply call our office and 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 from you.  If necessary, we will then mail a package to you with information about our office and medical forms for you to review and fill out prior to your appointment.

What are diagnostic records?

Orthodontic records usually include radiographs, photographs of the teeth and face, and models of the teeth.  These records enable Dr. Smith to develop a customized, appropriate treatment plan that will be needed to correct you or your child’s orthodontic problems.

Isn’t orthodontic treatment expensive?

Our orthodontic fees are in line with the services we render.  Health care experts often cite orthodontics as being, dollar-for-dollar, one of the best health care values.  Orthodontics is an integral part of optimal dental care and brings long-term health benefits which may help patients avoid costly, serious problems later in life.  When you consider the life-long benefits of a beautiful, healthy smile, you can understand the real value of orthodontic treatment.

How much will braces cost?

Are financing options available?  How does my insurance work? An examination is required before we can give you a quote for treatment cost. The fee and payment options will be discussed with you as part of your initial examination. We are sensitive to your financial circumstances and will try to provide you with a flexible payment plan that is within your comfort level.  The fee for treatment is usually financed by our office.  A downpayment is determined and the remainder of the balance is broken down into monthly installments.  Many dental insurance plans now include orthodontic benefits for just a few dollars a month.  This has helped many people offset the cost of treatment.  Payments are usually spread over an extended time for further convenience.

We will also review your insurance policy and help to maximize your benefit. Additionally, we will file you insurance once treatment starts.  Please remember that most plans only pay a portion of your fee and you are responsible for any amount not covered by your plan.

How is your office handling sterilization?

It is our policy to adhere to the highest standards of sterilization and patient protection. For your peace of mind, we take a variety of precautions with each of our patients. These precautions include the use of disposable, single-use materials, as well as heat sterilization of our instruments.

How long does orthodontic treatment take?

Treatment time obviously depends on each patient’s specific orthodontic problem. In general, treatment times range from 18 to 30 months. (Phase I treatment has limited goals and may take even less time)  Treatment time obviously depends on treatment goals, complexity, patient cooperation, as well as other factors.  If a patient requires two phases of treatment, the estimated time for each phase will be determined prior to the start of each treatment.

What can I expect from your office?

We measure our success by long-term results.  Orthodontics is a combination of art and science, and that comes with many years of experience.  We focus on meticulous, state-of-the-art care in orthodontics.  Dr. Smith performs the fitting of the braces.  It is not delegated.  It is one of our goals that you feel comfortable in our office that you recommend us to your friends and family. 26.  Do I need to see my family dentist while in braces? Absolutely!  Maintaining dental visits helps in prevention of problems with tooth decay and the structures supporting the teeth.  We will work you’re your family dentist to determine intervals between cleaning appointments while you are in braces so that we can help to maintain your optimal dental health.