Frequently Asked Questions
Why People Choose Us?
Children should see an orthodontist starting at 7 years old. The field of orthodontics has learned a lot in the last few decades, and the old rule of waiting for all the baby teeth to fall out no longer applies. Development issues cause most orthodontic problems, and a poor bite and misaligned teeth can lead to breathing problems, asymmetric facial growth, poor sleeping habits, jaw pain, and can even cause trouble focusing. These orthodontic problems are much more comfortable and more economical to correct between the ages of 6 and 10 years. It is important to note that most children do not need orthodontic treatment at age 7, but this is the time to catch issues that could cause more significant problems in the future. If one of our doctors identifies a problem, sometimes the solution is wiggling out a baby tooth to help the permanent tooth come into a better position and then seeing your child back for a recall appointment in 6 months. Our office believes in ideally seeing every patient by age 7, but we do not believe in putting braces on every 7-year old that walks into our door.
Because we start seeing kids at age 7, nearly all of them even have baby teeth at their first appointment. If your child needs early treatment, we work around the baby teeth to improve the space for the permanent teeth to come in or to help fix the growing jaw. If your child does not need early treatment, we will see them at regular intervals (usually every 6 months), as they lose baby teeth, until it is the ideal time for your child’s specific situation to start treatment.
For children, some need two rounds of orthodontic treatment, and some only need one. Depending on if they have significant growth or crowding issues when they are young. If they need early treatment, this is called Phase 1 treatment. Phase 1 treatment can be anywhere from 3-18 months long. After Phase 1, the child usually gets a rest period where no braces are in their mouth. During this time, we are monitoring and waiting for baby teeth to fall out. The rest period is usually anywhere from 6 months-2.5 years. Then when the time is ready, the child will do a 2nd round of orthodontic treatment called Phase 2. Depending on what was addressed in Phase 1, Phase 2 usually lasts between 6-18 months. Not every child needs 2 rounds of orthodontic treatment. If we see your child early and determine we can wait for all the baby teeth to fall out to start treatment, they will only have one round of orthodontic treatment, which we call “Full treatment.”
No, not every child needs Phase 1 treatment. Only if our doctors identify a specific issue that is best corrected at a young age (between 6-10 years old), will they recommend Phase 1 treatment. Our doctors believe several factors determine phase 1 treatment: teeth misalignment and bite issues, airway issues, psychosocial issues, child maturity, family finances, and more. We will always discuss the pros and cons of pursuing Phase 1 treatment versus waiting until more baby teeth fall out to find the best plan for your child.
Our adult patients are often surprised by how fast “retreatment” can be. If an adult had braces as a teen and has had some shifting, often, this can be corrected with braces or clear aligners in 3-6 months.
Retainers are typically worn at night only from the day braces are taken off, or clear aligner treatment is finished. Retainers are worn every night while a child is growing, or for a few years for an adult. After this time, we recommend continuing to wear the retainers a few times a week at night for the rest of your life. Teeth can shift at any time, and a retainer is the insurance policy that keeps the teeth in place. We have both glued in and removable retainer options. Also, the earlier a child starts treatment, typically, the more stable the position of their teeth will be long term
Our team will always give you written and verbal instructions for your specific retainer. If you have a removable retainer, these should be cleaned regularly by placing a retainer or denture tablet in water and using a toothbrush to scrub clean. We do not recommend using toothpaste to clean the retainer. If you have a glued in retainer, the only important aspect of cleaning is to make sure you are flossing regularly.
No, we have patients who play sports, musical instruments, and sing at every level including professionally. We do have several options for braces and clear aligners to suit your lifestyle, so feel free to ask if one orthodontic option is better for your specific activity.
I’m worried my child won’t take care of their teeth with braces, how will my child prevent cavities and white spots?
Ultimately, you know your child better than we do, and orthodontic treatment shares a mutual responsibility, whereby the patient needs to commit to proper home care. We help by providing a bag of cleaning tools at the first appointment, detailed instructions, and then we check oral hygiene and the cleanliness of the appliance at every appointment. We will always encourage our patients to take exceptional care of their teeth and will inform parents when improvement is needed. We typically find that most children rise to the occasion to be responsible for their orthodontic appliances and treatment. Our team is happy to discuss options for your child.
Smiles change lives. Nearly 40% of all orthodontic patients are adults. Professional people recognize that an attractive smile and healthy teeth are essential to self-confidence and esteem. A beautiful smile is a desirable attribute in business and personal relationships, and that smile affects the well-being of everyone around. So, when an adult chooses to have orthodontic treatment, it’s a gift for everyone else too. No one is too old. We have many patients at Dr. Gray Orthodontic Specialists over 60 years of age, and also many parents choose to get orthodontic treatment at the same time as their child.
Orthodontic treatment no longer takes forever! Many patients finish treatment in under a year, and 90% in under 18 months. There are also several treatment options such as robotically bent SureSmile wires and surgically facilitated orthodontic treatment that can shorten treatment time to as short as 3-6 months. Many of our adults who had treatment as a teen and have some teeth shifting are shocked to learn they can reclaim their smile in 3-6 months! Our doctors will always give an estimate of treatment time, and we strive to honor that treatment time with effective, efficient treatment planning.
For our patients that would like treatment to be less noticeable, we offer accelerated treatment, clear braces or clear aligners, or hidden lingual braces (behind the teeth braces).
Our office’s mission is to make orthodontic treatment affordable to everyone at Dr. Gray Orthodontic Specialists. Check out our Financial & Insurance page for details! We offer low down payments and monthly payment plans. For a smile that lasts a lifetime, orthodontic treatment is one of the best investments you can make for you or your child.
No! We know how busy you are. Orthodontic treatment should not disrupt your lifestyle. Most appointment intervals are 8-12 weeks due to the advanced technology used by Dr. Gray. The days of seeing the orthodontist every 3-4 weeks are long gone unless you choose accelerated techniques.
Usually not. We strive diligently to provide the most convenient times for school-aged children. There are only a few appointments that take more time and attention. These are usually when the braces are placed and when they are removed. The more routine appointments are best at the beginning or end of the day, so school or work is not interrupted. Wednesday afternoons are popular with our patients since most schools have early release, and we also see patients until 6 pm on Mondays.
Think about it. If braces hurt so much, you wouldn’t see so many people with braces! Braces can be uncomfortable for the first few days as you feel your teeth start to shift. This kind of feels like a headache but in your teeth. Most of our patients are still able to talk, eat, and go to school or work. Tylenol/Ibuprofen can also help with these first few days. There is also a period of time where your cheeks are getting used to the braces. Occasionally, you might get a few friction sores. But just like when you get a blister on your hand that turns into a callus, once your cheeks get used to the braces, you might not even feel them at all!
We have a 24-hour phone line for your comfort. There are two kinds of issues. The first is a broken bracket, or you have a wire that starts to poke your cheek a little after your teeth have shifted. If this happens, our team can instruct you on how to take care of this from home. Poking wires can often be clipped at home with a wire cutter or toenail clipper, to avoid coming to the office. If a back-tooth bracket breaks, this can usually be fixed at your next appointment. If a front tooth bracket breaks, we typically want to see you within 72 hours to fix it. If the issue cannot be fixed at home, our team will get you scheduled for a comfort appointment as soon as possible, usually the same day. A second issue that can happen is a real emergency where there is an infection or trauma, such as a tooth getting knocked out on the basketball court. Our team is thoroughly trained to take care of these issues if one were to arise.
If you choose clear aligners, there are no restrictions, except for making sure you only have water when the aligners are worn. Aligners are removed for all other food or drink.
For braces, yes, there are a few chewy or hard foods to avoid. In general, we recommend staying away from sticky candies, and hard foods need to be cut in small pieces. Our team will give you detailed instructions and help you with alternative options.
Yes, adults generally need to see their dentist or hygienist every 3 months while wearing braces. Children usually need to see the dentist or hygienist every 6 months. Orthodontists move your teeth while your dentist and hygienist check for cavities and do professional cleanings to remove plaque that has hardened on the teeth and cannot be removed by a toothbrush. Your dentist will ultimately determine how often professional maintenance is required.
No. While many of our patients are referred by their family dentist, equally as many take the initiative to call our office directly to schedule an assessment. The rule of thumb is if your child is over the age of 7 and hasn’t seen an orthodontist. They should schedule an appointment.