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Patient Information

Common Questions

All about orthodontic care

  • What are the signs or symptoms of orthodontic problems?

    Orthodontic treatment may be necessary if you see:

    • Crooked teeth, gaps between the teeth or overlapping teeth 
    • Problems with the “bite.” After biting down, top teeth protrude out away from the bottom teeth, cover more than 50% of the bottom teeth, or go behind the bottom teeth. 
    • Misalignment or shifting of the jaw when biting down., it suggests a skeletal or jaw bone problem, which requires early orthodontic intervention. These are some of the obvious symptoms of orthodontic problems, but an exam with a specialist is the only way to determine possible issues confidently.
  • At what age should my child be screened?

    The American Association of Orthodontists recommends an evaluation by age seven.

  • How does orthodontic treatment work?

    Braces use steady gentle pressure to gradually move teeth into their proper positions. The brackets that are placed on your teeth and the archwire that connects them are the main components. When the archwire is placed into the brackets, it tries to return to its original shape. As it does so, it applies pressure to move your teeth to their new, more ideal positions.

  • Will teeth straighten out as they grow? 

    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.

  • Can you be too old for braces?

    No patient is too old to wear braces! As long as the gums and bone that support your teeth are healthy, anyone can get orthodontic treatment at any age.

  • Can orthodontic correction occur while a child has baby teeth?

    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.

  • Why should I choose an orthodontic specialist?

    Teeth, and sometimes entire facial structures, are permanently changed by orthodontic treatment. It is important that the treatment be appropriate and properly completed. Orthodontic specialists have extensive and specialized training that enables them to provide their patients with professional, personalized treatments.

  • Does my family dentist have to schedule my appointment with the orthodontist?

    No. While many of our patients are referred by a family dentist, others seek out a consultation themselves.

  • How do I schedule an appointment for an initial exam?

    If you or your child can potentially benefit from orthodontic treatment, simply call our office for an evaluation. When you call to schedule an appointment, our front office staff will request some basic information. You can also print out the initial exam form, fill out at your convenience and bring to your appointment.

  • What will happen at the initial examination appointment?

    To read all about your first visit, read Your First Visit page.

  • What are the phases of treatment?

    Phase I (Early Interceptive Treatment) usually starts when a child has most of their baby teeth with few of their permanent teeth. The goal of Phase I treatment is to intercept moderate or severe orthodontic problems early in order to reduce or eliminate them. These problems include jawbone problems, cross bites and developing crowding. This phase does not use full braces, as braces are never put on baby teeth. Generally we use expanders, removable appliances, an Herbst appliance (instead of headgear), and retainers during this phase. These treatment approaches take advantage of active growth to change the jawbone structure to either make extra room or address jaw bone discrepancies. This helps reduce the need for extractions or jaw surgery and delivers better long-term results and treatment options.

    Most Phase I patients require Phase II treatment in order to achieve an ideal bite, although there can be a gap of some time between phases. Phase II treatment most commonly occurs around age 12 or 13, when all permanent teeth are present. It involves use of full braces, with a goal to finish shaping the bite.

  • Will my child need full braces if he/she has Phase I treatment?

    It is best to assume that your child will need full braces even after Phase I treatment. The period following Phase I treatment is an important time during which growth and tooth eruption are closely monitored. Throughout this period, parents and patients will be kept informed of future treatment recommendations.

  • Will my child need a palate expander?

    During the initial examination, Dr. DuClos will determine whether a patient will benefit from a palatal expander, which widens the upper jaw.

  • Will I need to have teeth extracted for braces?

    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 always necessary for orthodontic treatment.

  • Can I still have braces if I have missing teeth or crowns?

    Yes. When teeth are missing, adjacent teeth may drift into the empty space. This can cause a functional, aesthetic or periodontal problem. Orthodontic treatment will prevent and/or correct these problems and will also provide proper alignment for your dentist to replace the missing teeth.

  • Does orthodontic treatment hurt?

    Braces typically cause little discomfort initially. Placement of bands and brackets on your teeth does not hurt. Once your braces are placed and connected with archwires, you may feel some tooth soreness for one to four days. Your lips and cheeks may need one to two weeks to get used to the braces on your teeth. Teeth may also get a little sore a day after every adjustment appointment, but they should not be painful. This annoyance can be relieved easily with over-the-counter pain relievers, if needed. Most of our patients do not need to take any pain relievers.

  • What is full, or comprehensive, orthodontic treatment?

    This is another name for orthodontic treatment of permanent teeth at any age. 

  • How long does orthodontic treatment take?

    Treatment times vary on a case-by-case basis, but the average time is from one to two years. Actual treatment time can be affected by rate of growth and severity of the correction necessary. Treatment length is also dependent upon patient compliance. Maintaining good oral hygiene and keeping regular appointments are important in keeping treatment time on schedule.

  • How much will braces cost? Are financing options available? How does my insurance work?

    We will cover the exact cost and financial options during the initial examination, after Dr. DuClos has been able to determine a treatment plan. We have many financing options available to accommodate your needs. We will review these and your insurance policy to help you maximize your benefit and file your claims.

  • How often will I have appointments?

    Appointments are scheduled according to each patient's needs. Most patients in braces will be seen every 4 to 6 weeks. If there are specific situations that require more frequent monitoring, we will schedule appointments accordingly.

  • Can I schedule all of my appointments after school?

    Unfortunately, we cannot schedule all appointments for students during after-school hours. However, because most appointments are scheduled 4 to 6 weeks apart, most patients will miss minimal school due to their orthodontic treatments. We will, however, make a sincere effort to meet your scheduling needs.

  • Can I drop my child off for an appointment?

    Yes. We understand your busy schedule, and we are happy to help you make the most of your time. On some occasions, we may request to speak with a parent when they return, so we ask that parents check in with their patient manager before dropping off their child.

  • Can I return to school the day I receive my braces?

    Yes. There is no reason to miss school because of an orthodontic appointment.

  • Do you give shots?

    No. Shots are not necessary in orthodontic treatment.

  • Will braces interfere with playing sports

    No. It is recommended, however, that patients protect their smiles by wearing a mouthguard when participating in any sporting activity.  Just let Dr. DuClos know what type of sport you are playing and he will make sure you have the proper mouthguard you need.

  • Will braces interfere with playing musical instruments?

    No. However, there may be an initial period of adjustment. In addition, brace covers can be provided to prevent discomfort.

  • Do you use recycled braces?

    No. We achieve the best orthodontic result possible by providing each patient with their own set of braces.

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

    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.

  • Are there foods I cannot eat while I have braces?

    Yes. Once treatment begins, we will explain the complete instructions and provide a comprehensive list of foods to avoid. You can avoid most emergency appointments to repair broken or damaged brackets by carefully following our instructions.

  • How often should I brush my teeth while in braces?

    Patients should maintain good oral hygiene being sure to brush their teeth after each meal, in the morning and before going to bed. We will show each patient how to properly brush and floss their teeth with braces and or appliances.

  • What is an emergency appointment? How are those handled?

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