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Q & A

We know you have many questions about orthodontic treatment. Remember the old saying: "The only bad question is the one you don't ask!" To help answer those "good" questions, we've put together this section of our website. Simply click on your area of interest along the left side of this page to open up question-and-answer pages. Of course, if you don't find exactly what you need to know, be sure to call our office and we'll get you the information you need

Do I need a referral from my dentist to be able to schedule an initial visit? 
No, if you feel your child needs to see the orthodontist, but has not been referred by the dentist, you can still call and make an appointment for a no cost initial consultation. This is true for adults as well. Our office will send a report to you child’s or your dentist after this initial consultation with our diagnosis and any treatment recommendations.

What is the difference between braces and Invisalign? 
Both braces and Invisalign can straighten teeth. Braces are attached to the teeth and are therefore not removable. A wire that connects the braces is changed or adjusted to move the teeth. Invisalign is a series of computer generated clear plastic aligners. Each aligner moves the teeth a little bit. The aligners are changed every 2-3 weeks to keep the movement progressing. They are removable. 

What are the advantages and disadvantages of Invisalign vs. braces? 
Advantages: Invisalign aligners are clear and virtually invisible. They are smoother to the tongue and cheeks than braces. Eating is easier because they are removable. Because they are a “low power” appliance, Invisalign aligners don’t make the teeth as sore as braces can. 

Disadvantages: Since Invisalign aligners are removable, you can lose them. Some tooth movements aren't handled well by Invisalign. It's a little more expensive than metal braces (but about the same cost as clear braces

How do I know if my problem can be treated with Invisalign? 

If you have mild to moderate crowding or spacing and the bite of the back teeth fits well, then Invisalign might work for you. To find out for sure, schedule a complimentary Initial Consultation by calling our office.

At what ages are children's orthodontic problems generally treated? 

There are two different age windows where orthodontic treatment is beneficial. In the early window, from ages 7-10 years, problems like overbite, crossbite, and severe crowding are corrected. This is referred to as a Phase One (I) or Mixed Dentition treatment. If none of these problems exist, then treatment of any remaining problems like crowding, spacing, mild overbite/underbite, and alignment issues are best handled after all the permanent teeth have erupted, or around ages 11-14. This is usually referred to as Comprehensive or Phase Two (II) treatment.

How can I tell if my insurance covers orthodontics? 
There are several ways for you to check your coverage. First, you may have been given an “Explanation of Benefits” booklet from your employer that showa coverage for all areas of dental treatment. Be sure to look specifically in the section for Orthodontics since coverage is usually different than that for General Dentistry. Second, you can check with your Human Resources Department at work. They are usually familiar with the type and extent of benefits your company provides. Lastly, if you provide us with your current information we will attempt to reach your carrier to confirm benefits.

My insurance covers braces, but will it cover Invisalign? 
If your insurance covers conventional braces then it usually will cover Invisalign treatment to the same degree. Because Invisalign can cost about 10% more than conventional braces some carriers will require the patient to cover the difference as a “cosmetic add on fee”. If you are unsure, check with your benefits manager in your Human Resources Department at work. 

What should I do if my jaw hurts? 
There are a number of reasons that you jaw can hurt. The most common reason is an overuse injury cased by clenching or grinding the teeth at night. This is known as nocturnal bruxism. This will make the muscles that control jaw closure sore. The best immediate solution is to try to rest the jaws. This means avoiding chewing gum and foods that are hard or difficult to chew. Sometimes Advil or Tylenol taken regularly several times a day can break the pain cycle in an especially painful case. 

What happens to my treatment if I need to move away? 
Because orthodontic treatment occurs over an extended period of time it is not uncommon that patients will have to relocate. There are procedures in place to handle this. As long as you are not relocating to an extremely rural area there will most likely be orthodontists present to carry on the treatment. We will prepare a transfer-out package that includes copies of the original records, our treatment plan and the progress made to date. In addition, the total fee would be prorated to reflect only the portion completed before transfer. If you have questions about this see the Financial Coordinator. 

What should do if my gums bleed when I brush? 
It is not normal for your gums to bleed when you brush. If this occurs, it is a sign that you may have gingivitis, more commonly know as inflammation of the gums. This can be an early stage of a true gum infection if it is not resolved. More thorough brushing combined with careful flossing can remove the plaque and bacteria that are causing the gingivitis and thus resolve the bleeding. 

My gum hurts in a specific spot. What should I do? 
There are several reasons that the gums can hurt in a localized area. The most common is a canker sore. These sores are actually caused by a virus and will usually resolve on their own in about three to four days. The second most common sore spot is caused by a local irritation like a rough or sharp spot on a brace or retainer. The best solution is to place some wax over the rough spot until you can get into the office to have it resolved. The third most common sore spot is a true localized gum infection. Usually a red, tender area is very swollen. If infected, the gum will need immediate attention. So, be sure to call the office right away. 

What can I do to heal cold sores? 
Cold sores, also known as canker sores, are caused by a variation of the Herpes virus. Once they have blistered out the healing is self-limiting and usually takes three to four days. During this time the virus is transmittable, so be careful to not infect others while open sores are present. There are some medications that will reduce the pain of the cold sore, but most will not cause it to heal faster. If you suffer from frequent cold sores there is a prescription medication that can be used before the sore blisters out. This medicine can reduce the size of the sore or even prevent it from breaking out. 

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