Orthodontic FAQs

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions patients have about orthodontics.  If you have any other questions, or would like to schedule an appointment, we would love to hear from you.

Click on a question below to see the answer.


The American Association of Orthodontics recommends that children get an orthodontic evaluation no later than age 7. Though orthodontic treatment can be done at any age, timely treatment ensures maximum dental health.

The following are some of the most popular orthodontic braces:

  • Traditional braces – These braces are strong and tend not to stain the teeth.  They are comprised of individual brackets which are cemented to each tooth and accompanied by an archwire which constantly asserts gentle pressure on the teeth.  Traditional braces are generally metal but are also available in a clear synthetic material and “tooth colored” ceramic.  The ceramic brackets are generally more comfortable than the metal alternative, but can become discolored by coffee, wine, smoking and certain foods.

  • Invisalign® – Invisalign aligners are favored by many adults because they are both removable and invisible to onlookers.  Invisalign® aligners are clear trays, and should be worn for the recommended amount of time each day for the quickest results.  Invisalign® aligners are more comfortable and less obtrusive than traditional braces, but also tend to be more costly.  Not all patients are candidates for Invisalign®.

  • Lingual braces – These appliances are usually metal and fixed on the tongue side of the teeth, therefore not seen when a patient smiles.  Lingual braces tend to be moderately expensive and in some cases, can interfere with normal speech.

A malocclusion is an incorrect relationship between the maxilla (upper arch) and the mandible (lower arch), or a general misalignment of the teeth.  Malocclusions are so common that most individuals experience one, to some degree.  The poor alignment of the teeth is thought to be a result of genetic factors combined with poor oral habits, or other factors in the early years. Moderate malocclusion commonly requires treatment by an orthodontist. 


One of the most commonly asked questions about dental braces is whether placing them causes any pain or discomfort.  The honest answer is that braces do not hurt at all when they are applied to the teeth, so there is no reason to be anxious.  In most cases, there may be mild soreness or discomfort after the orthodontic wire is engaged into the brackets, which may last for a few days.

Absolutely! Crooked or misaligned teeth look unsightly, which in many cases leads to poor self esteem and a lack of self confidence.  Aside from poor aesthetics, improperly aligned teeth can also cause difficulties biting, chewing and articulating clearly.  Generally speaking, orthodontists agree that straight teeth tend to be healthier teeth.


A normal, healthy diet is still enjoyable while in braces.  You can still eat many of your favorite foods, but there will be some foods that you will need to stay away from.  We provide each patient with a list of foods to avoid.  This tells the patient which foods to stay away from and why.

Some cases can be completed in less than a year. More difficult cases take longer.  The average case will take from 2-3 years. Our appointment system and the Doctors' mechanics are designed to reduce the number of times you will need to be seen and the overall length of treatment.  Treatment time varies with the severity of the case, patient cooperation,and growth and development.  The Doctors will attempt to estimate treatment time at the initial appointment.

There are a few basic things to consider for proper use and maintenance of your retainer.

Don’t lose the appliance – Removable retainers are very easy to lose.  It is advisable to place your retainer in the case it came in while eating, drinking and brushing.  Leaving a retainer folded in a napkin at a restaurant or in a public restroom can be very costly if lost because a replacement must be created.  A brightly colored case serves as a great reminder.

Don’t drink while wearing a retainer – It is tempting to drink while wearing a retainer because of the unobtrusive nature of the device.  However, excess liquid trapped under the trays can vastly intensify acid exposure to teeth, increasing the probability of tooth decay.

Don’t eat while wearing a retainer – It can be difficult and awkward to eat while wearing a removable retainer and it can also damage the device.  Food can get trapped around a Hawley retainer wire or underneath the palate, causing bad breath.  When worn on the upper and lower arches simultaneously, VFR retainers do not allow the teeth to meet.  This means that chewing is almost impossible.

Clean the retainer properly – Removable retainers can become breeding grounds for calculus and bacteria.  It is essential to clean the inside and outside thoroughly as often as possible.  Hawley retainers can be cleaned with a toothbrush.  Because harsh bristles can damage the PVC surface of a VFR, denture cleaner or a specialized retainer cleaner is recommended for this type of device.

Wear the retainer as directed – This phase of treatment is critical. The hard work has been done, the braces are off and now it is tempting not to wear the retainer as often as the orthodontist recommends.  Retainers are needed to give the muscles, tissues and bones time to stabilize the teeth in their new alignment.  Failure to wear the retainer as directed can have regrettable consequences, such as teeth returning to their original position, added expense and lost time.