Boy smilingYou have questions? We have answers.

We have included answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about orthodontics and braces to help you make informed dental care decisions. If you have a specific question you would like answered, contact us.

1. Who is an orthodontist?

An orthodontist is a dentist who has “SPECIALIZED” in the field of orthodontics. After becoming a dentist, orthodontists attend a post-doctoral residency for two to three extra years of specialized training in the art and science of moving teeth, jaws and changing facial growth. Membership in the American Association of Orthodontists indicates certification in the specialty of orthodontics.

2. 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. Only Orthodontic specialists have extensive and specialized training that enables them to provide their patients with professional, personalized treatments.

3. What are the benefits of orthodontics?

Benefits of orthodontic treatment include a straight and beautiful smile leading to healthier gums, greater longevity and better function of the teeth and jaws. In younger patients, orthodontics can modify the facial bone structure and improve the growth pattern of the jaws. Interceptive or preventive orthodontics can shorten the time spent in full braces. Also, in some young patients with severe crowding, early treatment can eliminate the need for having teeth extracted. A great smile improves self-confidence, self-esteem and social interactions.

4. Do I need a referral from my dentist before seeing the orthodontist?

No, you do not need a referral from your dentist in order to see us. Many of our patients are referred by their family dentist; however, many others take the initiative to schedule an examination themselves.

5. At what age should my child be seen for an orthodontic screening?

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. This early screening allows for prevention or more successful correction of growth and development problems since a child’s bone structure is still growing. Early orthodontic screening and treatment can help those patients with severe crowding that would otherwise need extraction of permanent teeth for correction.

6. Will my 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. Most dental or skeletal problems are not self-correcting. Just waiting for a patient to grow out of a harmful pattern wastes precious treatment time. Once a patient has reached late adolescence, removal of teeth or surgery may be needed to correct the problems. Common causes of dental or skeletal problems include genetic inheritance, missing or extra teeth, medical problems such as mouth breathing due to chronic allergies or asthma, and bad habits such as thumb sucking. Patients suffering from any of these conditions need to be seen by an orthodontist at age 7.

7. What about adult orthodontics? Is it too late? What are the benefits?

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! Tooth-colored braces and invisible orthodontics along with other developments in techniques have made adult orthodontics cosmetically acceptable and technically feasible. More adults are accepting orthodontic treatment these days, knowing that a beautiful smile is a healthier smile and looking great at any age may improve your personal, social and professional life.

8. 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, send us an e-mail or fill out our Appointment Request form online. We will be happy to schedule an appointment for you. When you call to schedule your appointment, our front office team will request some basic information from you.

9. What will happen at the initial examination appointment?

During this complimentary examination you will meet our Treatment Coordinator who will take the necessary photographs and X-rays to allow us to make a proper diagnosis. Dr. Engstrom will discuss your treatment options in depth, following a thorough clinical examination.

To read more, see our First Visit page.

10. What will I learn from the initial examination?

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?

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

Dr. Engstrom is especially trained in non-extraction treatment. However, 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.

12. How long will it take to complete treatment?

Treatment time obviously depends on each patient's specific orthodontic problem. In general, treatment times range from 12 to 24 months.

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

It is impossible to give an exact cost for treatment until we have examined you. Orthodontic fees depend on the complexity of your treatment. During your complimentary exam, we will cover the exact cost and financial options. We have many financing options available (including interest free financing) available to accommodate your needs. We will also review your insurance policy and help to maximize your benefit and file your claims.

14. How often will I have appointments?

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

15. 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 six to eight 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.

16. 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 the front office team before picking up their child.

17. Do braces hurt?

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 to work!”

18. How long does it take to put braces on?

We usually schedule an hour to an hour and a half for application of braces and going over care instructions.

19. Can I return to school the day I receive my braces?

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

20. Do you give shots?

No. Shots are not necessary in orthodontic treatment.

21. How are instruments cleaned?

We follow the strictest sterilization guidelines mandated by the CDC, OSHA, and the state of North Carolina. We employ disposable tools and materials whenever feasible, and what tools must be re-used are always thoroughly cleaned and sterilized in between each patient.

22. Do you use recycled braces?

Absolutely not! It is our belief that each patient should be provided with their own braces to achieve the best orthodontic result possible.

23. How are the assistants trained?

Our team members have multiple certifications, and continue to improve and update their many skills through continuing education throughout the year. Dr. Engstrom only hires experienced employees certified and registered by the state of North Carolina. Our assistants have all been trained in advanced orthodontic assisting, CPR, sterilization and taking X-rays.

24. Can I still play sports?

Yes. Please be sure to ask us for an orthodontic mouthguard (used for all sports), compliments of Dr. Engstrom.

25. Can I play musical instruments with braces?

Yes, after a short period of adjustment you will be playing the instrument of your choice just as well with braces on your teeth. We recommend that you do not get braces on the same day before a performance or competition.

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

Yes! Regular check-ups with your family dentist are important while in braces. We recommend that you continue to see your family dentist every three to six months for cleanings and every six months for check-ups.

27. 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. 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.

Please see our Oral Hygiene page for details.

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

Patients should brush their teeth at least four times each day – after each meal and before going to bed. We provide each patient with full braces an Oral B Precision 5000 kit for brushing specifically designed for orthodontic patients. We will show you how to floss your teeth with braces and may also provide a prescription for a special fluoride, if necessary.

29. 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. In most cases, we can address these issues over the telephone. If you require an emergency appointment, we will set aside time for you.

Please see our Emergency page for details.

30. 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.

31. What is Phase One (early) treatment?

Phase One treatment, if necessary, is usually initiated on children between the ages of 7 and 10. Phase One treatment lasts about 12 to 21 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.

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

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.

33. What are retainers?

Retainers prevent the teeth from moving back to their original position and prevent changes that occur naturally as part of the aging process. If you want to keep your teeth straight, like the day your braces were removed, you will need to wear your retainers regularly.

Please visit our Retention page for more details.

34. Can I wear braces even though I have crowns and missing teeth?

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.

35. Can I wear clear aligners (Invisalign) instead?

Clear aligner therapy is a good treatment option for patients who have all of their permanent teeth (at least 12-13 years old) and who are responsible enough to wear them at least 20 hours per day. Although they have some limitations that only braces can correct, they are good at correcting teeth that are crowded or spaced. Most people won’t even know you are wearing them!

Engstrom & Hamilton Orthodontics

  • Raleigh Office - 7200 Falls of Neuse Rd., Suite 201, Raleigh, NC 27615 Phone: 919.870.4443 Fax: 919.870.9434
  • Fuquay Varina Office - 421 Old Honeycutt Rd., Fuquay Varina, NC 27526 Phone: 919.870.4443 Fax: 919.552.9931

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