FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions) About Orthodontic Treatment & Braces

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions patients have about dental braces, orthodontic treatment and oral hygiene issues. If you have any other questions, or would like to schedule an appointment, we would love to hear from you.

Q: What is an orthodontist?
A: An orthodontist is a dentist who has attended a specialty educational program for advanced dental specialty training for a period of two or three years. If the orthodontist is a member of the American Association of Orthodontists you can be assured they have received the appropriate training.

Q: What is the appropriate age for a child to begin orthodontic treatment?
A: The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all patients be seen for an orthodontic examination by age 7. Many severe problems can be prevented from fully developing by initiating early orthodontic treatment (age 7 to 9 years old). It is best to be seen by an orthodontist at or before age 7 to determine if they have orthodontic problems and when would be the appropriate time for the orthodontist to intervene with treatment of these problems.

Q: Am I too old to have dental braces?
A: Believe it or not, 25 percent of our patients are adults and the number is growing. Many patients think that teeth cannot be moved with adult patients. This is definitely not true. In fact, in many cases they move even better, because adults tend to be more cooperative than some of our younger patients.

Q: How much do dental braces cost?
A: Costs for orthodontic treatment vary according to the severity of the problem and length and complexity of treatment. Fees plus arrangements for payments are fully discussed at the consultation appointment. Usually we request about 1/4 of the total fee when treatment begins. The remainder is divided into monthly payments for the duration of treatment. Special arrangements can be made.

Q: Will insurance pay for orthodontic treatment?
A: Many patients have orthodontic benefits as part of their dental plan. Please check with your insurance or benefits manager as to the extent of your coverage. Not all patients with dental coverage have orthodontic coverage. This is dependent on the employer’s decision as to the extent of dental coverage they wish to purchase. Orthodontic insurance generally differs from regular dental insurance in that each insured individual usually has a lifetime maximum benefit for orthodontic services. This benefit is paid as a percentage of the orthodontic fee until the benefit maximum has been reached. Our office is glad to help you with your insurance needs.

Q: Do dental braces hurt?
A: Dr. Hulsey is using the most current technology for orthodontic movement of teeth. These latest technological advances have made treatment more comfortable for patients. The orthodontic braces are smaller and smoother, plus gentle wires provide continuous light forces over a longer period of time. Typically the patient is not uncomfortable while in the office but will experience some discomfort for two to three days after each adjustment. Over the counter pain relievers can be taken for sore teeth.

Q: Will braces effect playing sports?
A: Braces done correctly should improve your ability to play any sports. We recommend recommend wearing a mouth guard in contact sports or any sports where is a chance that you could be hit in the face. We have complimentary mouth guards available in our office that will work well with braces. In fact you could get a mouth guard to match your school colors.

Q: Is orthodontic treatment only to improve your smile?
A: Orthodontics will not only improve the smile but will improve the alignment and the fit of the teeth. Crooked teeth can lead to cavities or gum disease and a bad bite can lead to chewing problems and possible muscle soreness and jaw joint discomfort.

Q: Can a retainer correct the alignment of my teeth?
A: Retainers are designed to hold the teeth already moved into the correct position. The best retainer is a fixed one (glued to certain teeth). Removable retainers suffer from the problem of patient cooperation. When braces are removed all patients receive a retainer to hold their teeth in position. The teeth tend to shift back towards the original problem without wearing retainers.

Q: How long do I wear my retainers?
A: Throughout life your teeth are always moving, even if you have never had braces. It happens more in some people than others. For this reason, we recommend wearing retainers for as long as you want straight teeth! Your teeth will shift position throughout your life, this is why we recommend a fixed retainer.

Q: Can I be assured that all instruments are sterilized and that there is adequate infection control?
A: You will notice that the doctors and chair side assistants wear rubber gloves when ever treating the patients. This is done for your protection and to minimize the risk of disease transmission. All instruments are fully heat sterilized between all patients. Our heat sterilizer is tested by an independent testing service to assure that the equipment is functioning thoroughly on all of our patients.

Q: How long do I have to wear dental braces?
A: Many factors determine length of treatment, such as bite problem, response to treatment, and cooperation on the part of the patient. You may be surprised to hear that age is not a major factor. Although, some minor tooth movement can be resolved in less than a year, complex cases may need two or three years for completion.

Q: What is Phase I Orthodontic Treatment?
A: Interceptive or early treatment treatment is initiated at 7 to 9 years of age for severe bite problems. Some problems must be treated at a younger age to produce the best orthodontic result. If a severe problem is delayed to a later age a complete correction may not be possible. Early orthodontic treatment can sometimes avoid extractions of permanent teeth and can produce a more stable result. Phase I treatment is typically for 12 to 18 months followed by retainers for several years until all permanent teeth erupt. Most patients require Phase II (full braces) at approximately age 12 to finish the correction of the bite problem.

Q: What is Phase II Orthodontic Treatment?
A: Sixteen new permanent teeth will have erupted between the age of 10 to 12 years old. At approximately age 12 Dr. Hulsey will recommend complete diagnostic records to determine the extent, method, and costs of Phase II treatment. The extent of Phase II treatment can range from new retainers up to full braces for one to two years to finish correction of the bite problem.

Q: What is Surgical Orthodontics (orthognathic surgery)?
A: Surgical orthodontics is recommended for adult patients and some teenagers with severe skeletal deformities. Sometimes the jaw position is so far off from normal that conventional orthodontic care cannot correct the skeletal deformity. Surgical orthodontics is done in combination with full banded orthodontic care. Surgery of the jaw structure usually occurs during the middle of comprehensive orthodontic treatment approximately one year after the braces are applied to the teeth.