If your dentist has recommended braces for your child or yourself, Dr. Greg Greenberg suggests these Top 10 Questions to Ask Your Orthodontist. Oftentimes, this is a patient’s and a parent’s first encounter with an orthodontist, so it is only natural to have questions. Orthodontists are accustomed to answering questions from parents, so you should be candid about your concerns and feel free to ask any questions that you have. Being informed and educated about the orthodontic process will help you and your orthodontist start and maintain a long, healthy relationship and straight teeth. While you most likely have your own, below are some common questions to ask an orthodontist that you may want to start with on your first orthodontic visit.

Top 10 Questions to Ask Your Orthodontist

1. Are you a board certified orthodontic specialist?
This is actually two questions. Board certified means that your orthodontist has achieved certification from the American Board of Orthodontics by demonstrating skill and knowledge in the specialty field of orthodontics by passing clinical and written exams. If an orthodontist is not board certified, you should make sure that he or she is at least board eligible, which means that the necessary courses have been completed, but the subsequent orthodontic testing has not.

Orthodontic specialist means that your doctor has completed all of the necessary education to receive a Master of Orthodontics after graduating from dental school. While general dentists can provide orthodontic services, it is important to know the difference between an orthodontic specialist vs. dentist. Orthodontic treatment is a long-term endeavor, so making sure your doctor is completely skilled and experienced in all manners of orthodontia will set your mind at ease from the beginning.

2. What types of dental braces do you offer and recommend for my orthodontic needs?
Dental braces come in several different styles, and a skilled orthodontist can tell you the pros and cons of each type of treatment option for your unique dental circumstances. Remember that not all orthodontic options are appropriate for every patient. Ask your orthodontist what he or she recommends and why, then use that information to help you make the best orthodontic decision for your needs and budget.

At RxSmile, we offer traditional metal dental braces, clear dental aligners (Invisalign® Removable Braces), clear (ceramic) dental braces, and self-ligating dental braces (Damon® Braces).

3. How long does my child need to wear braces?
Braces may be worn from as little as 6 months to over 2 years. Length of orthodontic treatment will vary depending on several factors:

  • Complexity of orthodontic problem
  • Type of orthodontic treatment chosen
  • Patient compliance
  • Patient growth
  • Adult teeth eruption
  • Unexpected or repeated damage to orthodontic appliance

Your orthodontist can give you an educated estimate on treatment length after conducting an oral evaluation. In addition, some orthodontic treatments depend on jaw growth and position which can be unpredictable.

4. How often will we need to visit the orthodontist during treatment?
Typically, orthodontic patients are seen every 4-8 weeks during active treatment, which means that the appliances used are actively moving teeth the entire time they are in the mouth. Some dental appliances need more monitoring or cleaning than others, so how frequently you need to be seen by the orthodontist will largely depend on the type of treatment and appliance you have. Your orthodontist can give you a fairly accurate estimate of how often you will need to schedule appointments, however, you should remember that making adjustments is part of a good orthodontic plan.

5. Will there be any restrictions on activities or food while wearing braces?
Patients with braces have no limitations on what kind of activities or sports in which they can participate. Your orthodontist will likely recommend a mouth guard for sports involving more potential contact, such as football, wrestling, soccer, or basketball. You should consult your doctor if you are concerned about a particular activity. Your orthodontist can recommend the best mouth guard for you or your child, as well as make a custom mouth guard if you prefer.

Most braces do require some food avoidance, such as sticky and gooey foods or hard foods that can damage or break the wires and brackets of your braces. Your orthodontist will supply you with a list of items that should not be eaten (or should be cut into small pieces) while wearing braces, as well as suggest some enjoyable alternatives to the food that are temporarily off-limits.

6. How will dental hygiene habits need to change while wearing braces?
Dental braces do make it more difficult to effectively keep the teeth clean and free from plaque and food debris. Diligently brushing under the wire of your braces will remove bacteria and any food that may be stuck. It is important to pay special attention to keeping your teeth clean while wearing braces to avoid decalcification (loss of calcium due to plaque accumulation, appearing as white spots on teeth).

A dental floss threader and a special brush called a proxabrush can also be used to clean between the teeth and behind the archwire. Your orthodontist will provide you with all the information you need to properly care for your teeth while wearing braces, as well as give you some supplies you may need, such as orthodontic wax, floss threaders, and a proxabrush. Following your doctor’s instructions on caring for your orthodontic appliance will help you keep your smile healthy. Read Orthodontic Braces Terminology.

7. Will teeth need to be extracted before getting braces?
Usually, there is no need to extract teeth before placing dental braces, however, sometimes permanent teeth need to be extracted in order to create room for the teeth to be properly aligned. Extraction may be recommended if the patient has severe overcrowding of teeth or if his or her jaw is too small to accommodate the teeth that have erupted. In other cases, primary teeth mat need to be extracted to help a permanent tooth or teeth erupt properly.

8. What happens if the dental appliance breaks or gets lost?
Loose brackets or wires are not uncommon during orthodontic treatment. If this should happen, you should contact your doctor’s office as soon as possible so that you can schedule an appointment to get your appliance back into proper working order as quickly as possible. Your orthodontist will give you instructions on what to do about a bothersome wire until it can be fixed, as well as what to do in case of an orthodontic emergency.

If your appliance (such as a retainer) gets lost, your orthodontist can make you a replacement, however, it can be costly. Make sure that your child understands the importance of treating his or her appliance with care and to keep removable appliances in a case when not in use.

9. Will a retainer be necessary when the braces are removed?
Your orthodontic treatment plan is not over just because your braces are removed. Most treatment plans require wearing a retainer once the dental braces come off. This is because teeth need to settle into their new positions and are most susceptible to moving out of alignment right after the braces are taken off.

Retention visits will be scheduled in order for your orthodontist to make sure your teeth stay in place in proper functioning positions. These visits will eventually be spread out over longer periods of time but, until then, you should continue with follow-up visits and treatment to maintain the alignment you invested so much time in.

10. How much will braces cost?
The cost of dental braces usually ranges from $3,000 – $10,000, depending on the type of braces worn and extent of treatment. Most orthodontists offer payment plans interest-free. If you have dental insurance, make sure that the orthodontist accepts your plan and find out from your insurance company how much your portion will be.

Being prepared and knowing your responsibility before treatment starts will help make the process go smoothly. Also make sure that the price quoted for braces includes:

  • Appointments
  • Appliances
  • X-rays
  • Photographs
  • Molds
  • Retainers
  • All follow-up visits

Our goal at the RxSmile Frisco orthodontics office with Dr. Greg Greenberg is to provide highly personalized and comprehensive orthodontic care for our families in the Frisco-Plano metropolitan area. If you have questions about braces and would like to make an appointment with our orthodontist, Dr. Greg Greenberg, please call 972 335 1300 Monday through Thursday, or submit an online appointment request and we will respond within one business day.