FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
- When should my child see an orthodontist?
- What are the early warning signs of a bad bite?
- What is early or interceptive treatment?
- Are there other advantages to interceptive treatment?
- What is comprehensive treatment?
- Does everyone need early/interceptive treatment?
- Will my child need full braces later if he/she has early/interceptive treatment?
- Why don’t we wait to start orthodontic treatment until all the permanent teeth are in and just “do it once”?
- What’s the difference between orthodontics and facial orthopedics?
- Can treatment really affect my child’s adult facial appearance?
- Can interceptive treatment have an effect on the need to extract permanent teeth?
- Will interceptive treatment followed by a later stage of comprehensive treatment be more expensive?
- Am I too old for braces?
- Can I wear braces even though I have crowns, root canals, or missing teeth?
- What are some possible benefits of orthodontics?
- Do you extract teeth as part of orthodontic treatment?
- If I already have an appointment, do I need to notify the office if I have something broken?
- How long does orthodontic treatment take?
- Do braces hurt?
- Why should I choose an orthodontic specialist?
- How do I schedule an appointment for an initial examination?
- Is it required that my family dentist refer me to your office?
- What will I learn from the initial examination?
- How much will braces cost?
- What are orthodontic records?
- How often will I have appointments?
- Can I schedule all of my appointments after school?
- Will my teeth become straight as I grow, or will my bite problem self-correct with time?
- Are there foods that I cannot eat while I have braces?
- Can I still play sports while wearing braces?
- How often should I brush my teeth while wearing braces?
- Do I need to see my family dentist while in braces?
- Will my child need an expander?
- What is considered an emergency? How are they handled?
- Will I need retainers?
1. When should my child see an orthodontist? (back to top)
The current guidelines of the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommend that every child be evaluated by an orthodontist by age 7, or when the front permanent teeth have erupted.
At this age, many developing bite problems can already be detected and may be more easily corrected before jaw growth has slowed or is complete. Intercepting these developing problems at an early age will often prevent them from becoming more significant problems later on and decrease time spent in braces when all the permanent teeth have erupted.
Most adolescents who require braces start between the ages of 11 and 13. Orthodontic treatment, however, can be very effective at any age - it's never too late!
2. What are the early warning signs of a bad bite? (back to top)
- Early or late loss of individual baby teeth
- Difficulty chewing or biting into food
- Crowded or poorly positioned teeth
- Frequently biting the cheeks, lips, or the roof of the mouth
- Upper and lower teeth that do not touch at all
- Finger-sucking or thumb-sucking habits
- Jaws and teeth that are out of proportion relative to the face or that deviate to one side
3. What is early or interceptive treatment? (back to top)
The primary objective is to address significant developmental problems and guide the growth of the jaw bones and teeth to the correct path. In some circumstances, braces are placed on the four upper or lower front teeth for a short time. If deemed necessary, early/interceptive treatment is usually initiated between the ages of seven and ten.
4. Are there other advantages to interceptive treatment? (back to top)
Yes. First, patient compliance with certain appliances is often much better in children before they reach their teen years. Excellent patient cooperation is necessary for great results. Second, if poor habits are left alone, they become more difficult to change later on and may become permanent. This means that they could continue to cause problems after the braces are removed, thereby affecting the stability of our results. Third, speech development can be enhanced by proper development of jaws and teeth.
5. What is comprehensive treatment? (back to top)
Comprehensive treatment involves the use of braces on all the adult teeth to guide them into their most optimal positions. Aesthetics, function, and stability of the final tooth positions are all key components in determining each patient’s treatment plan.
6. Does everyone need early/interceptive treatment? (back to top)
No. Only certain bite or tooth eruption problems require early orthodontic intervention. The problems of each patient must be assessed individually to determine the specific treatment options and the appropriate timing of the treatment.
It is best to assume your child will eventually need full braces after early/interceptive treatment is complete and when all of the permanent teeth have erupted. The period following interceptive treatment is an observation period, during which growth and permanent tooth eruption are closely monitored. Throughout this period, we will keep you informed of future treatment recommendations. Comprehensive treatment is usually necessary to achieve a proper bite and a beautiful smile. Please don’t get the idea that this is “doing it over.”
8. Why don’t we wait to start orthodontic treatment until all the permanent teeth are in and just “do it once”? (back to top)
The goals of the early interceptive phase are oriented toward proper development of facial bones and eruption of permanent teeth, while later treatment is more focused on proper tooth alignment, smile and facial aesthetics, and function. After all the permanent teeth have erupted, growth may be completed and many treatment options may no longer be available.
9. What’s the difference between orthodontics and facial orthopedics? (back to top)
Orthodontics means “normal teeth.” Facial orthopedics, on the other hand, means “normal face and bones,” and therefore implies more than simply straight teeth.
10. Can treatment really affect my child’s adult facial appearance? (back to top)
Although genetics plays a significant role in the look, shape, and appearance of the face, improper oral habits, misaligned jaws and teeth, and posture can negatively influence the facial characteristics of a growing child. Orthodontic treatment can have a positive influence on lip shape, lip fullness, chin prominence, and other facial features.
11. Can interceptive treatment have an effect on the need to extract permanent teeth? (back to top)
The need for extraction is often reduced by encouraging proper jaw development and creating more (or maintaining existing) space during the growth years. In many cases, avoiding tooth extraction can also result in a fuller smile and a more attractive facial appearance.
12. Will interceptive treatment followed by a later stage of comprehensive treatment be more expensive? (back to top)
Because this approach to treatment involves more time and materials, total fees will be higher for two phases of treatment. However, we hope you will be comfortable with your added investment in the best possible treatment for your child.
13. Am I too old for braces? (back to top)
You are never too old to benefit from orthodontic treatment! Orthodontics can be very successful at any age in helping you achieve a beautiful and healthy smile. In fact, 25% of all orthodontic patients today are adults. Now more then ever, grownups are realizing the benefits of orthodontic treatment and have options that are more aesthetic, including clear braces and Invisalign®.
14. Can I wear braces even though I have crowns, root canals, or missing teeth? (back to top)
Yes, you can. A tooth with a crown or root canal will move just like any other tooth. When teeth are missing, orthodontic treatment will help to align the remaining teeth to prepare for restoration of the missing teeth.
15. What are some possible benefits of orthodontics? (back to top)
- A more attractive smile
- Increased self-confidence
- Better long-term health of teeth and gums
- Better function of teeth
- Increased ability to clean teeth
- Improved force distribution and prevention of excessive wear of teeth
- Reduced risk of injury to protruded front teeth
- Optimization of other restorative dental treatment, such as implants, bridges, crowns, or veneers
16. Do you extract teeth as part of orthodontic treatment? (back to top)
In our office, teeth are extracted only as a last resort. The best way to avoid having teeth extracted as part of orthodontic treatment is to have your child evaluated by an orthodontist early, before all the permanent teeth have erupted and growth is complete. At early ages, interceptive treatment can help guide proper eruption of permanent or adult teeth and preserve critical space that would otherwise be lost during the transition from primary (baby) to permanent teeth. This is why timely orthodontic evaluation and treatment is crucial.
Extraction of teeth may be necessary in certain instances. Teeth may be extracted for the following reasons:
- Tooth is severely impacted and surgical exposure to bring it into position is very risky
- Tooth is badly decayed
- Tooth has been traumatized and has fractured roots
- Inadequate bone support exists around the tooth
- There is severe crowding and inadequate space for all of the teeth
- Dental midlines are asymmetrical
- The teeth fit poorly and do not function properly
- There is a skeletal discrepancy that needs to be dentally compensated for
- There is concern over the fullness of the facial profile
17. If I already have an appointment, do I need to notify the office if I have something broken? (back to top)
Yes. Please call us immediately to allow us to allot more time for your appointment. Fixing broken appliances often takes more time than your regular appointments. If you do not notify us ahead of time, we may need to reschedule your appointment.
18. How long does orthodontic treatment take? (back to top)
Treatment times vary on a case-by-case basis, but most cases are completed in one to two years. Actual treatment time can be affected by rate of growth and severity of the correction needed. Patient cooperation, however, is the single best way to keep the treatment progressing so as to finish on time! Frequently, patients who have the fastest treatment results and remain on schedule are those who keep their teeth clean, cooperate by wearing rubber bands or other appliances as instructed, and are careful not to damage their braces.
19. Do braces hurt? (back to top)
The placement of orthodontic brackets on your teeth does not hurt. Several hours after your braces are connected with the arch wires, your teeth will feel sore for a few days as they adjust to the pressure. Your lips, tongue, and cheeks may also need a few weeks to get used to the braces.
20. Why should I choose an orthodontic specialist? (back to top)
Teeth, and sometimes entire facial structures, can be permanently changed by orthodontic treatment. It is important that the diagnosis is appropriate and that treatment is properly carried out. Dr. Schabel and Dr. Chan completed an additional three years of advanced specialty (orthodontic) training following dental school to specialize in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial irregularities.
21. How do I schedule an appointment for an initial examination? (back to top)
Simply call our office and we would be happy to schedule an examination appointment for you. A member of our front office team will request some basic information from you so we may begin to take care of your orthodontic needs most efficiently.
22. Is it required that my family dentist refer me to your office? (back to top)
No. Although many of our patients are referred by their family dentists, many others take the initiative to schedule an examination themselves. Orthodontic insurance coverage is not affected by how you become a patient in our office.
23. What will I learn from the initial examination? (back to top)
There are five essential questions we cover during the initial examination:
- Is there an orthodontic problem, and if so, what is it?
- Is treatment indicated now?
- What are some different treatment options available to correct the problem and what are the pros and cons of each?
- How long will the recommended treatment take to complete?
- How much will the treatment cost, what portion will insurance cover, and what financial arrangement options are available?
24. How much will braces cost? (back to top)
It is impossible to give an exact cost for treatment until we have performed a thorough clinical examination. We have many financing options available to accommodate your needs — including a bookkeeping discount for payments in full at the start of treatment, interest-free office payment plans, and no-down payment financing with low monthly payments extending up to five years. Rest assured that we will explain all your options to you during your initial consultation with us. We will also review your insurance policy information and help to maximize your benefit, and we will be happy to file your insurance claims.
25. What are orthodontic records? (back to top)
Orthodontic records consist of digital photographs of the face and teeth, a panoramic X-ray of the teeth and jaws, a cephalometric X-ray of the head in profile, study models of the teeth, and an accurate bite registration. These records provide the working data from which Dr. Schabel and Dr. Chan can analyze your individual orthodontic needs and develop a thorough and individualized treatment plan to achieve the desired results.
26. How often will I have appointments? (back to top)
Appointments are scheduled according to each patient’s needs and stage in treatment. Most patients in braces will be seen every eight to ten weeks for the majority of their treatment and then on shorter intervals (four to six weeks) as needed to finish detailing the bite. If there are specific situations that require more or less frequent monitoring, we will schedule appointments accordingly.
27. Can I schedule all of my appointments after work or school? (back to top)
Shorter appointments can be scheduled during before- or after-school and work hours. Longer appointments, such as those needed to deliver appliances or place braces, typically occur in the morning and early afternoon. Many appointments can also be scheduled during lunch hour. Because most appointments occur eight to ten weeks apart, and a large majority of these appointments are shorter in duration, most patients will miss minimal school due to orthodontic treatment. We will always make a sincere effort to meet your scheduling needs.
28. Will my teeth become straight as I grow, or will my bite problem self-correct with time? (back to top)
Usually, no. The space available for the front teeth does not increase as you grow. In fact, after the permanent molars erupt, the space available for the front teeth usually decreases with age. In addition, facial and jaw growth usually continue with the existing pattern and tend not to change on their own without orthodontic or orthopedic intervention.
29. Are there foods that I cannot eat while I have braces? (back to top)
Yes. Once treatment begins, we will provide complete instructions and a comprehensive list of foods you should avoid. Some of those foods include ice, hard or sticky candy, corn on the cob, and raw carrots or apples that are not cut into small pieces. You can avoid most emergency appointments to repair broken braces by carefully following our instructions.
30. Can I still play sports while wearing braces? (back to top)
Yes. We recommend wearing a mouthguard to protect your teeth, especially when playing contact sports. While in treatment, do not use a custom mouthguard that specifically molds to your teeth, however, because those will prevent the tooth movements we are trying to achieve.
31. How often should I brush my teeth while wearing braces? (back to top)
Patients should brush their teeth at least three times a day: in the morning following breakfast, after lunch or immediately upon arriving home from school or work, and before going to bed. We also strongly urge you to floss between all of your teeth at least once a day.
32. Do I need to see my family dentist while in braces? (back to top)
YES! Regular checkups with your family dentist are very important. We recommend you have your teeth professionally cleaned every three months while you are in braces. Before and after your active orthodontic treatment, you should maintain a six-month cleaning schedule. Please note that your insurance may not cover cleanings at three-month intervals; however, healthy teeth and gums are worth the additional expense.
33. Will my child need an expander? (back to top)
An expander is indicated where there is a deficiency in the width of the upper jaw that is contributing to crowding, crossbite(s), or impaction of permanent teeth. Only after a thorough examination would Dr. Schabel or Dr. Chan be able to determine whether your child would benefit from an expander.
34. What is considered an emergency? How are they handled? (back to top)
If your braces are causing extreme pain or if something breaks or becomes loose, please call our office as soon as possible. After hours, you can get helpful information on our website or our YouTube channel on how to handle most problems yourself. You may also
In many cases, we are able to address the problem over the phone. If necessary, we will address your problem immediately or schedule an emergency appointment to have you come into the office. If you have a broken bracket or band and you have an appointment coming up in the next week or so, call the office in advance so we can accommodate you. If in doubt, it is best to call ahead of time.
35. Will I need retainers? (back to top)
All patients receive retainers as part of their orthodontic treatment. In our office, we typically use clear retainers that are barely visible while you’re wearing them. They prevent your teeth from shifting out of their final positions while the bone around your teeth stabilizes. The positions of the teeth are constantly affected by lip, tongue, and chewing forces; therefore, wearing retainers is the only sure way to prevent unwanted shifting of the teeth. We recommend full-time (24-hour) wear of the retainers for the first six months after your braces are removed. After this initial period, wearing your retainers during sleeping hours should be adequate to maintain the position of your teeth. We will be happy to check the fit of your retainers long after the braces are gone to ensure a proper fit.