Frequently Asked Questions

Learn the Answers

Everything you wanted to know but were afraid to ask about orthodontics! Find the answers below!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. At what age should I schedule an appointment for an orthodontic screening?

Answer: The American Association of Orthodontists recommends an orthodontic screening at age 7. By this age, several permanent teeth in most children have erupted, allowing us to effectively evaluate your orthodontic condition. However, if you want to improve the look and feel of your smile, then any age can be a great age to see the orthodontist. Orthodontic treatment is not exclusive to children and teens so whether you’re considering treatment for yourself, or for a child, any time is a good time to visit the orthodontist.

2. Will my teeth straighten out as they grow?

Answer: No, they will not. The space available for the front teeth does not increase as you grow. In most people, after the permanent molars erupt, the space available for the front teeth decreases with age.

3. What will happen at the initial examination appointment?

Answer: Upon arriving, each patient and parent will be greeted by the staff. Dr. Gelb will explain all of the steps needed to achieve your perfect smile.

4. What will I learn from the initial examination?

Answer: There are five essential questions that we will cover during the initial examination:

  • Is there an orthodontic problem, and if so, what is it?
  • What must be done to correct the problem?
  • Will any teeth need to be removed?
  • How long will the treatment take to complete?
  • How much will the treatment cost?

5. Will I need to have teeth extracted for braces?

Answer: Removing teeth is sometimes required to achieve the best orthodontic result. Straight teeth and a balanced facial profile are the goal of orthodontics. However, because new technology has provided advanced orthodontic procedures, removing teeth is not usually necessary for orthodontic treatment.

6. How often will I have appointments?

Answer: Appointments are scheduled according to each patient's needs. Most patients in braces will be seen every 6 to 8 weeks. If there are specific situations that require more frequent monitoring, we will schedule appointments accordingly.

7. Do braces hurt?

Answer: Generally, braces do not "hurt." After certain visits, teeth may be sore for a few days. In these situations, pain medications such as Advil or Tylenol will ease the discomfort. However, after most visits, patients do not feel any soreness at all! We often remind our patients, “It does not have to hurt for it to work!”

8. Can I return to school/work the day I receive my braces?

Answer: Yes. There is no reason to miss school/work because of an orthodontic appointment.

9. Do you give shots?

Answer: No. Shots are not necessary in orthodontic treatment.

10. Can I still play sports?

Answer: Yes. We recommend a mouth guard for all sports.

11. Do I need to see my family dentist while in braces?

Answer: Yes! Regular checkups with your family dentist are important while in braces. Your family dentist will determine the intervals between cleaning appointments while you are in braces.

12. Are there foods I cannot eat while I have braces?

Answer: Yes. Once treatment begins, we will explain the complete instructions and provide a comprehensive list of foods to avoid. Some of those foods include: ice, hard candy, raw vegetables and all sticky foods (i.e. caramel and taffy). You can avoid most emergency appointments to repair broken or damaged braces by carefully following our instructions.

13. How often should I brush my teeth while in braces?

Answer: Patients should brush their teeth at least three times each day. We will show each patient how to floss their teeth with braces and recommend a fluoridated toothpaste and mouth rinse that will help to keep teeth healthy and strong.

14. What is an emergency appointment? How are those handled?

Answer: If your braces are causing extreme pain or if something breaks, you should call our office. In most cases, we can address these issues over the telephone. If you require an emergency appointment, we will set aside time for you.

15. Can orthodontic correction occur while a child has baby teeth?

Answer: Yes. Some orthodontic problems are significant enough to require early intervention. However, if a patient is not yet ready for treatment, we will follow that patient's growth and development until the time is right for treatment to begin.

16. What is Phase One (Early) Treatment?

Answer: Phase One treatment, if necessary, is usually initiated on children between the ages of 7 and 10. Phase One treatment lasts about 6-12 months. The primary objective for Phase One treatment is to address significant problems to prevent them from becoming more severe and to improve self-esteem and self-image.

17. Will my child need full braces if he/she has Phase One treatment?

Answer: It is best to assume that your child will need full braces even after Phase One treatment. The period following Phase One treatment is called the "resting period," during which growth and tooth eruption are closely monitored. Throughout this period, parents and patients will be kept informed of future treatment recommendations.

18. Will my child need an expander?

Answer: At the completion of the initial examination, we will determine whether a patient will need an expander.

19. Is it too late to have braces if I am already an adult?

Answer: A surprising percentage of our patients are adults. In fact, 25 percent of all orthodontic patients are adults. Health, happiness and self-esteem are vitally important to adults. No patient is "too old" to wear braces! Many adults are also very interested in Invisalign which is a clear way to straighten teeth without the look of braces.

20. Can I wear braces/Invisalign even though I have crowns and missing teeth?

Answer: Yes. A tooth with a crown will move just like a tooth with a simple filling. When teeth are missing, orthodontic treatment will aid in the alignment of the remaining teeth.

21. Why should you choose an orthodontic specialist?

Answer: Just as there are specialists in medicine (such as cardiologists, gastroenterologists, neurologists, etc.), there are specialists in dentistry. Orthodontists are dental specialists who dedicate their professional lives to correcting misaligned teeth and jaws.

Orthodontists are qualified dentists, who after graduating from dental school, go on to additional full-time university-based education in an accredited orthodontic residency program supervised by orthodontists. By learning about tooth movement (orthodontics) and guidance of facial development (dentofacial orthopedics), orthodontists are the uniquely trained experts in dentistry to straighten teeth and align jaws.

Orthodontists diagnose, prevent and treat dental and facial irregularities. The majority of members of the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) limit their practices to orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics. Orthodontists treat a wide variety of malocclusions (improperly aligned teeth and/or jaws). They regularly treat young children, teens and adults.

Selecting an orthodontist who is a member of the AAO is your assurance that you have chosen an orthodontist: the dental specialist with at least two years of post-doctoral, advanced specialty training in orthodontics in a university-based program accredited by the American Dental Association. Specialty education includes the study of subjects in biomedical, behavioral and basic sciences; oral biology; and biomechanics. Only orthodontists may be members of the American Association of Orthodontists.

Should I see my general dentist while I have braces?

Answer:Yes, you should continue to see your general dentist every six months for cleanings and dental checkups.