Top Ten Orthodontic Questions to Ask Your Dentist

Are you wondering how to tell if you (or your child) might need braces? Curious about new and different ways of treating a bad bite or crooked teeth? Concerned about how long treatment may take, and what it could cost? Why not start out by asking someone you trust: your family dentist! Here are the top ten questions people ask their dentists about orthodontics, and some general information about each one. While orthodontic treatment is different for each individual, these points can help get the discussion started.

1) What are the signs that I might need (or my child might need) braces?

Generally, teeth that look crooked, are crowded too closely together, or don’t meet normally are signs that braces may be needed. Other symptoms include difficulty chewing, biting or speaking; jaws that shift or make sounds when opening or closing; or the late, early or uneven loss of baby teeth.

2) At what age should my child have an orthodontic screening?

Children should be screened for potential orthodontic problems whenever they appear, but no later than age 7; this usually gives plenty of notice before orthodontic treatment begins. In some cases, however, interceptive treatment may start right away, to take advantage of a child’s rapidly developing mouth.

3) What are the options for treating orthodontic problems?

Although traditional silver braces remain the most popular option, modern orthodontics offers several treatment alternatives. Depending on your individual circumstances, you may be able to choose from hard-to-notice ceramic braces, invisible lingual (tongue-side) braces, or clear plastic aligners.

4) What are the pros and cons of each of these methods?

Each type of treatment has its own pluses and minuses in terms of its suitability, convenience, and cost.  Here’s where a sit-down discussion with your dentist or orthodontist can really help you understand which of the alternatives may be best for you.

5) Do I need to see an orthodontist for these treatments?

Orthodontists are dentists who have special training and experience in treating malocclusions (bad bites). Most of the time, they perform any treatment that involves braces. However, general dentists may offer certain orthodontic treatments, such as clear aligners.

6) I’ve heard of some other dental appliances besides braces – what are they?

Sometimes, specialized orthodontic appliances may be recommended. Designed to make orthodontic treatment shorter and/or more effective, they include palatal expanders (to guide the palate’s growth in pre-teen kids) and headgear (to apply gentle force where it’s needed, so teeth can move to better locations).

7) Is orthodontic treatment painful?

Generally, the answer is no. However, you may experience a little temporary soreness at certain times – for example, after braces are tightened. This can be relieved with over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen.

8) How long does orthodontic treatment take?

It depends on what needs to be done, when treatment is started, and how each individual progresses. In general, however, active treatment usually takes from as little as 6 to 18 months, up to perhaps 3 years.

9) What does orthodontic treatment cost?

Again, it all depends on exactly what treatment is needed. While the overall cost is generally affordable, it’s important to note that most dental insurance doesn’t cover orthodontics. That’s where a dental savings plan can really help!

10) Is there any type of orthodontic treatment I can do at home?

Have you seen those YouTube videos promoting do-it-yourself teeth straightening methods? DON’T TRY IT! There are NO safe DIY treatments for orthodontic issues! These methods don’t work – and they put you at risk for serious dental problems, including the loss of your teeth.


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