Not sure if orthodontic treatment is for you? Or maybe the process is a bit unclear. Here a few common questions and answers, but as always we are available to talk through all of your concerns when you call our office, or submit the form below and someone will contact you as soon as possible.

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What are the first steps I take towards getting braces?

The first thing that you need to do is call our office and set up a new patient examination. This is a thirty minute appointment that allows Dr. Keeling to examine your teeth and get to know you. He will let you know what he sees in your mouth and will answer any questions that you have at that time. If you are ready to begin treatment and your schedule allows for it, we can usually go ahead and complete the records appointment directly after your new patient exam. During this time, we will take panoramic and cephalometric x-rays, pictures, and impressions of your teeth. Dr. Keeling will use these to complete a final diagnosis and treatment plan for you. The next step is a consultation with Dr. Keeling in which he will discuss the specific treatment plan and cost of treatment with you. Then we will begin your orthodontic treatment when you are ready.

How much does orthodontics cost?

The treatment fee is based upon the time it takes to correct the malocclusion, so the more severe the case the more costly it is. You will be quoted an exact fee at the consultation visit.

Does it hurt to get braces?

The actual process of putting braces on does not hurt. However, your teeth will be sore for two to three days afterward. This soreness can be controlled with Tylenol or Advil. There are no shots before putting on braces or at any time during your treatment!

When can I schedule my appointments?

Our office is open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and 7:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Thursdays. You can schedule your appointments during these hours. We are closed for lunch from 12:00 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, but someone will be available to answer your calls then and all day on Fridays.

How long are the appointments?

The appointments for putting on braces or taking them off last about an hour to an hour and a half. Routine adjustment appointments last 15 to 30 minutes.

How far apart are the appointments?

Most appointments are spaced at 4 to 6 week intervals. Depending on what we are doing at the time, some appointments may be as short as 2 to 3 weeks apart, or as long as 8 weeks apart—but usually 4 to 6 weeks.

Do I have to be referred to an orthodontist?

You do not have to be referred by a general dentist to see an orthodontist. In fact, word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and families of satisfied patients are often the primary way orthodontists meet new patients. We offer several new patient visit appointments each day.

How long does orthodontic treatment take?

The length of treatment depends on the severity of the problem. Some cases can be finished in six months, while others take up to three years. We will give you an estimate of treatment time at the consultation.

Why should I have orthodontic treatment?

The benefits of orthodontics are numerous. There is an improvement in the appearance of the teeth, smile, and face. It reduces the risk of injury to protruding front teeth. It improves teeth and jaw alignment. It makes the teeth easier to clean, and results in a more even bite.

Am I too old for orthodontics?

Teeth can be moved at any age. As long as your teeth and gums are healthy, orthodontics can be successful.

Will I have to have teeth pulled before orthodontics?

Naturally, we prefer to treat patients without extracting any permanent teeth. However, if the teeth are very crowded or protrude too far, removing teeth is a treatment option. If teeth are removed, we typically extract two upper bicuspid teeth and two lower bicuspid teeth which are located toward the back of the mouth. This relieves the crowding or protrusion, thus enhancing the profile.

Are braces hard to keep clean?

Yes. It is more difficult to keep your teeth clean and your gums healthy because braces are harder to clean around. We will instruct you on just how to do this, and we will give you some special things that you will use at home everyday for oral hygiene. It does take more time to clean your braces, but with a little extra effort, your teeth and gums will remain healthy.

What about retainers?

After your braces are removed, we will make retainers to hold the treatment result. The lower retainer is a small wire that is permanently bonded to the back of your lower front teeth, and the upper retainer is clear and removable. We ask that the top retainer be worn full-time for two months, then at night only after that. The longer you wear retainers, the more stable the treatment result becomes.

What is the proper age for a first visit?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends the first orthodontic exam be made at age 7. If treatment is not indicated at that time, the appointment serves as a baseline from which we can monitor future changes in growth and development.

Post-Procedure Information

When your teeth become sore after an appointment, we recommend that you take an over the counter analgesic such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) as you would for a headache. As always, follow directions given on the bottle, and do not use them if you have a known allergy to them. Rinsing with a glass of warm salt water can also be very soothing to the teeth and gum tissues.

If the main archwire has come out of the very back brace, you can try to put the wire back in using a pair of tweezers or small needle-nosed pliers. If this does not work, try placing a piece of wax over the end of the wire until you can see us. The wire can be cut with a small wire cutter or fingernail clipper close to the back of the last brace with the wire in it. If you are unsuccessful, call us for professional help.

If a band or bracket is loose, most of the time it will stay tied to the main archwire. Tweezers can be used to reposition a bracket if it has flipped around on the archwire and is causing irritation. We will replace the bracket at your next appointment. If the bracket is irritating or causing a problem with chewing, then call our office for professional help.

If you experience an accident or trauma to your mouth, call the office.

In case of an emergency after business hours, call the office at 798-1043 for instructions.

Herbst Appliance Related Info

If a screw comes loose on your Herbst appliance, you can replace it using the small hex-head wrench we gave to you. If a crown comes loose and is in the way of chewing or is irritating, call us for professional help.

If the lower screws are irritating the inside of the mouth, place cotton rolls on them at bedtime until you get used to them.

Remember, the first few days with your Herbst are the worst.

Do I continue to see my regular dentist while I am wearing braces?

Yes. It is important that you see your family dentist for cleanings and checkups at least twice a year while you are wearing braces. It’s also best to have a thorough cleaning and checkup before your braces are placed, and right after they come off.

Will my dental insurance cover the cost of braces?

Some dental plans will cover a portion of the treatment fee. If you call our office with your insurance information, we will be happy to check on it for you to find out what your policy covers.

How often should I brush my teeth now that I have braces?

You should brush your teeth after each meal or snack in order to prevent plaque build-up and tooth decay. We will provide you with an orthodontic toothbrush to use at home and a travel one that you can take to school. It is very important to brush often because the brackets and wires trap food particles and result in plaque, a sticky layer of harmful bacteria that attacks your teeth and gums.

How do I brush my teeth with my braces on?

Begin by running some warm water on your toothbrush in order to soften the bristles. Add toothpaste and start brushing in a circular motion over the brackets on each tooth. Tilt the brush so that the bristles are angled towards your gums and gently massage the gum tissue in a circular motion. Brush the chewing and inside surfaces of your teeth with a normal back-and-forth motion. Using your christmas tree brush, brush in between the brackets and your teeth four or five times. If you brushed correctly, your teeth and braces should sparkle!

How do I floss around my braces?

We will provide you with floss that is made for people to use with braces. It is called Superfloss, and it has a stiff end that makes it very easy to thread between the arch wires. Simply thread it up between the wire and your braces, pull it between the contacts of your teeth, and then slide it gently under the gum tissue. Work your way around the entire arch until you have flossed between each of your teeth. Do this once a day to keep your teeth and gums healthy.

What can I eat now that I have braces?

You will still be able to eat many of the things that you enjoyed before you got your braces. We simply ask that you try to avoid any foods that are very sticky or hard. These include but are not limited to: bubble gum, ice, carameled apples, Starbursts, taffy, gummy bears, Tootsie Rolls, suckers, Jolly Ranchers, sunflower seeds, Milk Duds, and peanut brittle. All of these things can damage your braces by pulling off tie wires and loosening brackets. The more often this happens, the longer your treatment time will be.