Orthodontic Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some Frequently asked questions PearlFection Dentistry gets about Orthodontic Treatment.
- I'm an adult over 50, am I too old for orthodontic treatment?
No one is too old for orthodontic treatment. The benefits of a straight healthy smile last a lifetime, no matter what age you begin treatment. As long as your gums are healthy, you too can have a beautiful smile! And remember, orthodontics is not just for aesthetics. Crowded teeth are hard to clean and can contribute to periodontal disease. Many patients, over 50, choose to enter orthodontic treatment, some for cosmetic reasons and some for cosmetic and clinical reasons. Adults make up a large part of our patients getting orthodontic treatment at Pearlfection.
- My general dentist says that he can do orthodontics, even braces, wouldn't it be better to use a trained orthodontist? Is there a difference in cost?
An orthodontist is a trained specialist that has a minimum of two years and usually three years of advanced training AFTER four years of dental school. We are specialists in dentofacial orthopedics, meaning we not only move teeth but can alter jaw growth. A general dentist is simply not qualified or trained in this manner. Many dentists take a one day or one weekend course to be able to move teeth with an aligner company that uses a computer algorithm to move the teeth. A one day course is not a substitute for a qualified orthodontist that is overseeing your case, step by step. Remember, an orthodontist was a dentist first then became an orthodontic specialist. Orthodontics is all orthodontists do, even though they are fully trained in all aspects of general dentistry and graduated dental school with the same degree as all dentists. Our strong advice is that anyone considering orthodontics, including Invisalign or clear aligners, seek out a licensed orthodontist to ensure the best possible care of your teeth straightening! Oh and one more things, usually orthodontists don’t charge more for the same treatment as a general dentist for clear aligners, including Invisalign, but unlike a general dentist, an orthodontist will give you lots of options.
- What is faster traditionally braces or Invisalign?
Each individual case should be looked at uniquely. Many times braces or an aligner system, like Invisalign or 3M, can achieve the same result in the same amount of time. Consult you orthodontist to see what is right for you.
- Is Invisalign or clear aligners cheaper than traditionally brace?
Cost of braces or aligner system depends on each individual case. Costs for traditional braces and clear aligners are usually very similar. Costs are often a function of how long a patient needs the braces or aligners on. An orthodontist should be monitoring your progress with office visits on a periodic basis during your treatment and often times after your treatment is completed. The longer you’re in treatment, typically the higher the cost for orthodontics.
- When do orthodontists recommend Invisalign or clear braces over traditional braces?
Orthodontists may recommend traditional braces over an aligner system depending on the person and the case. Each treatment plan should be tailored to the individual. Many times, a patient may have a choice between the two systems. It really depends on the patient's preference. Sometimes braces must be used, for example, in a surgical case. Often younger patients have a hard time keeping up with removable aligners, so their parents opt for traditional braces. But invisible aligners, whether they be 3M or Invisalign, can do almost everything traditional braces can do.
- Are there any concerns about a child having removable clear aligners instead of traditional braces?
Younger children usually do better with their treatment if they have traditional braces. With braces, much of the responsibility is on the orthodontist to provide the treatment because they can’t be removed….at least not easily. With aligners, almost all of the responsibility falls on the child. i.e. keeping track of wearing the aligners 20 hours a day and not losing them, or forget to wear them, etc. There is nothing wrong with a child having removable clear aligners, but they need to be responsible. It is sometimes hard for parents to monitor their kids and kids don’t always tell the truth about how much they are actually wearing the aligners. This can lead to treatment lasting longer than planned and lead to frustration for the patient and the parents.
- What do braces cost?
Braces vary in cost depending on the severity of the case and the length of treatment time. There is also a cost difference between a phase one treatment (younger children) and comprehensive treatment (teenagers and adults) Clear aligner treatment cost varies depending on the length of treatment time and area the patient resides in. Some patients simply want very slight movements of their teeth to correct or adjust something minor and only require orthodontic treatment for a few months. That can cost around $1000 or even less. While orthodontic cases that might last several years, when extensive movement of the teeth is required. Cases lasting long periods of time can cost more than $6000.
- How long will my orthodontic treatment take?
Orthodontic treatment time may vary in length depending on the severity of the case. Many times treatment can take a year or less! However, with extensive movement of teeth, we have seen cases lasting longer than 2 years. And most, if not all, orthodontic work requires long term retainers to keep teeth from shifting back to their original position.
- What's an orthodontist and how do you become one?
An orthodontist is a specialist in dentofacial orthopedics and orthodontics. Meaning we have the ability to alter jaw growth and move teeth within the jaw structure
In order to become an orthodontist in the United States, one must complete four years of college, then four years of dental school, and THEN three years of orthodontic residency. This is the same amount of time your pediatrician or your general internist physician spent in school! Many general dentists these days can prescribe aligners, like Invisalign, but very few have the extensive experience that a trained and licensed orthodontist has.
- Why is it important to have your general dentist and orthodontist communicating? Why is PearlFection better in the communication area than other general dentists?
It is always important to have your general dentist and orthodontist keep an open line of communication in regard to your treatment plan. Whether a case is simple or complex it is imperative the dentist and orthodontist understand the patient's needs, the overall treatment plan, and the expected outcomes. This allows for a smooth and enjoyable treatment process. Orthodontists usually want a general dentist to agree that the patient’s dentition is healthy enough for orthodontic treatment and if it is not, get the teeth and gums healthy before orthodontic work is begun. This usually involves getting any infection under control and address decay. At Pearlfection, with multiple general dentists and an array of specialists, all needs can usually be met, keeping the treatment in house with a close knit community of general practitioners, hygienists and specialists. At Pearlfection Dentistry, all your notes, both from general dentists, hygienists, and specialists are in one place, allowing for efficient communication between general dentists and your orthodontist.
- Does dental insurance usually cover orthodontics treatment? Does PearlFection help me file a claim?
Dental insurances vary greatly. Some cover orthodontic treatment for all ages and others only cover orthodontic care up to a certain age, say 18. It’s important to understand your insurance to maximize your benefits. Most dental insurance have a lifetime benefit up to a certain amount and usually cover about 50% of the treatment up to that amount. But all insurance companies look at orthodontic treatment differently. At PearlFection Dentistry we will assign a case manager to you who will help you navigate the world of dental insurance. We will also determine your benefits before you begin treatment so there are no surprises. We will submit your claim to your insurance company and we can even submit a predetermination claim before treatment begins so we have a commitment from the Insurance company about how much they will pay.
- Does medical insurance usually cover orthodontic treatment?
No, medical insurance does not cover orthodontic treatment unless in certain situations like trauma that results in orthodontic treatment being necessary, but that is extremely rare. Do not expect your medical insurance to cover any orthodontic care.
- Do braces hurt when they get put on? Do they hurt when they are tightened?
Sometimes braces and aligners are uncomfortable when they first go on. Remember we are trying to move teeth through bone, albeit slowly, so that pressure can be uncomfortable sometimes. If it's very painful or extremely uncomfortable, talk to your orthodontist and they will likely slow things down a bit. Orthodontic treatment should never be painful.
- Does a consultation cost anything?
At PearlFection Dentistry, orthodontic consultations are free, sending predeterminations to determine if insurance will cover anything is free and applying for financing is free. We usually give a full half hour free consultation without orthodontist to answer any questions and determine what the patient’s options are.
- At PearlFection Dentistry, can I pay in installments? How much every month?
Sure, we at PearlFection are very willing to allow payment plans, sometimes extending out beyond when your treatment ends. We want to do our best to make orthodontic treatment affordable. Sometimes monthly payments are pretty low, under $100 per month, but it depends on the extent of treatment and the length of time in treatment.
- Can I get different color braces?
Yes, you can get almost any color you want for your brackets. Pink, Green, Purple, Red…..whatever you want…within reason. Just give us a little time to special order. These days, most people want braces and aligners clear. We can of course do that.
- My friend threw away her invisible aligner? What happens if I do that?
If you throw away your orthodontic aligner, try to find it, but if you can’t it’s not the end of the world. We can get you a new one and usually there is no cost……within limits. We usually recommend you go back to your last aligner until we get the new one. It will delay your treatment a little but not by much. The aligner suppliers are pretty good these days to get us a replacement quickly.
- How often do I need to come to the office after we start?
After you start Orthodontics, we typically have patients come back about every month or every 6 weeks, sometimes less often. We want to make sure things are tracking appropriately and make any mid-course corrections as necessary.
- If I don't wear my retainer, will my teeth move back to where they started?
Yes, yes, yes!!! You need to wear your retainer. Teeth have a natural tendency to move back, at least partway, to their original location. You need to be diligent about wearing your retainer. Over time, your teeth get used to being in the new location but a retainer is essential, especially right after you complete your treatment, to keep teeth where we want them. Over time, a retainer can usually just be worn at night.