FAQ

1. Is it required that my family dentist schedule my appointment with the orthodontist?

No, it is not. Many of our patients are referred by their family dentist, yet many other patients take the initiative to schedule an examination themselves.

2. At what age should I schedule an appointment 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. The initial examination is complimentary as a service to your dentist. Some orthodontic problems are best treated at an early age with the aid of growth to help make the correction, while other treatments are best left until all the permanent teeth have erupted.

3. 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.

4. 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 staff will request some basic information from you. If the office is not currently open, you can leave a message with your name, phone number, and a convenient time to return your call during our regular business hours.

5. What will happen at the initial examination appointment?

The first visit is designed to answer all your questions about potential orthodontic treatment. You will not get any braces or retainers at that time. Before you arrive, please fill out and submit our online patient/medical history form. It will collect information about insurance so we can process coverage properly for you. You may also print the form, fill it out and bring it with you to the first visit. Please arrive a few minutes early for the appointment. Dr. Wang will look at your teeth and tell you what she sees. If orthodontic treatment is indicated, we will try to give you an estimate of the approximate treatment time, the appliances needed, the fees associated with treatment, and what insurance coverage may be applicable.

6. Is there any charge for the first visit to the office?

No. The initial examination is complimentary. This is done as a courtesy to your general dentist and also so that you can find out about treatment options before you are committed to proceeding with any treatment.

7. Can I get a second opinion on treatment recommended by another orthodontist?

Second opinions are welcomed, and there is no charge for this initial examination; however, a complete consultation with full records and a treatment plan is charged the usual and customary fee. Orthodontic treatment, while based on scientific principles, contains a certain amount of artistry. Each orthodontist may see the problems and treatment with slight differences, and he/she will be happy to discuss them with you.

8. 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.

9. 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 30 months. The "average" time frame a person is in braces is approximately 20 months.

10. 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. We will cover the approximate cost and financial options during the initial examination. We have many financing options available to accommodate your needs, and we will review these with you. We will also review your insurance policy and help to maximize your benefit and file your claims. Our office accepts Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover credit cards. Your card or an automatic debit from your checking account can be set up monthly through OrthoBanc. Call Tayazin, our Financial Coordinator, or e-mail info@islandbraces.com from this website to get answers to your financial questions.

11. How often will I have appointments?

Appointments are scheduled according to each patient's needs. Most patients in braces will be seen every 5 to 8 weeks. If there are specific situations that require more frequent monitoring, we will schedule appointments accordingly.

12. Can I schedule all of my appointments after school?

We are very conscious that no parent wants to have their child miss school for an orthodontic appointment. In order to have children miss the least amount of school throughout treatment and to be fair to all patients and parents, we schedule starting appointments, appliance placement, repairs and removals before 3:00 p.m. when school is in session. This leaves the after-school hours available for all routine appliance adjustment visits, which account for about 70% of the treatment visits.

13. 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 receptionist before dropping off their child.

14. Do braces hurt?

Yes, but the pain is manageable. The first few days after getting braces will be the most difficult during your treatment. A soft diet and aspirin or Tylenol will help to ease the discomfort. We will give you a "survival kit" when you get your braces that will contain many things you will need to keep you happy and your teeth healthy during treatment.

Emergencies do happen, and it is not uncommon that as teeth move, so does the archwire that guides them. The result becomes a "poking wire." Temporarily, you can place a small piece of wax from your "survival kit" over the end, but please call the office and ask for a "pokey wire" appointment to clip the long end or reposition the wire.

Sometimes your cheeks next to the braces have not toughened up after you get new braces, and you will have to use your wax for a day or two while the cheeks and lips build up a tougher layer of skin.

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

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

16. How do braces work?

The braces bonded to your teeth are really just handles used to hold onto each tooth. An archwire acts like a highway, and each brace is attached to it while the archwire guides the teeth. The archwires come in various sizes and degrees of stiffness. The forces to guide your teeth start out very light and gentle to get your teeth started moving and aligning. Stiffer and thicker archwires are used as your teeth move toward their destination and fit better together. The orthodontist makes individual bends in the wires or may use rubber bands to help position individual teeth for a better occlusion. Once the teeth have been placed in the correct position, they must be held there with braces for a few months to lessen the chance of relapse. The braces are removed, and retainers are made to minimize relapse while the bone fills in around the roots for stability.

17. 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.

18. Can I still play sports?

Yes. We recommend a mouthguard for all contact sports. We can make a custom-fitted mouthguard from a model that will give you the most protection for your teeth and jaw.

19. Do I need to see my family dentist while in braces? Do the wires need to be removed?

Yes! Regular check-ups with your family dentist are important while in braces. Your family dentist will determine the intervals between cleaning appointments while you are in braces.

Your dentist may determine that you need to have your archwires removed when he or she cleans your teeth. We are happy to do this provided we are given several weeks notice. Please call the office to schedule a removal and replacement appointment when you first know the cleaning date. These appointments are best scheduled in the morning or early afternoon to allow time to replace and adjust each archwire.

20. 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.

For most situations, common sense will tell you what to avoid. Hard foods, sticky foods, and foods high in sugar must be avoided. Hard foods can break or damage wires and brackets. Sticky foods can get caught between brackets and wires. Minimize sugary foods; they cause tooth decay and related problems. Nail biting, pencil and pen chewing and chewing on foreign objects should be avoided.

Examples of Sticky Foods to Avoid:

  • Gum (sugar-free or regular)
  • Licorice
  • Sugar Daddies
  • Toffee
  • Tootsie Rolls
  • Caramels
  • Starburst

Examples of Hard Foods to Avoid:

  • Ice
  • Nuts
  • Hard taco shells
  • French bread crust/rolls
  • Corn on the cob
  • Apples and carrots (unless cut into small pieces)
  • Bagels
  • Chips
  • Jolly Ranchers
  • Pizza crust
  • Uncooked carrots (unless cut)

Minimize Sugary Foods like:

  • Cake
  • Ice Cream
  • Cookies
  • Pie
  • Candy

Only Once a Day:

  • Soda
  • Sweetened tea
  • Gatorade
  • Kool-Aid
  • Drinks with sugar

It's important to regularly check your braces for bent or loose wires and brackets. In the event of a loose/broken wire or bracket, call our office immediately to arrange an appointment for repair.

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

Patients should brush their teeth at least 4 times each day – after each meal or snack and before going to bed. We will show each patient how to brush and floss their teeth with braces.

22. 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 appointment, we will set aside time for you. Please call the office at (510) 522-4462. If the office is closed, please call emergency at (510) 649-5669 if it is a real emergency, and you will reach the 24/7 answering service.

23. 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.

24. 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 14 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.

25. 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 "interim" period, during which growth and tooth eruption are closely monitored. Throughout this period, parents and patients will be kept informed of future treatment recommendations.

26. Will my child need an expander or headgear?

At the completion of the initial examination, we will determine whether a patient will need an expander to widen the bones of the upper jaw or a headgear to move the upper bones back or forward while the lower jaw continues to grow. The use of these appliances is dependent on the bony positions and not on the positions of the teeth on the bone that supports them.

27. Do habits like thumb sucking cause a problem?

Prolonged habits can indeed affect the way the teeth and bones grow and ultimately affect the bite. Other habits, such as mouth breathing, finger sucking, or lip biting, can also cause complications. Early examination by an orthodontist will determine the extent of the problem and the treatment necessary to correct it.

28. Will I have to wear retainers after I have braces?

Orthodontics is a process of moving teeth through bone to new positions. The fibers attached to the teeth for support will try to return them to their old positions before new fibers and bone are produced. Following active orthodontic treatment, retainers will be placed to maintain the new positions of the teeth. Once stabilization occurs, continued retainer wear is recommended. Like all parts of the body, teeth and bone are constantly changing and adapting. Only conscientious wear of the retainers will keep movement to a minimum.

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

A surprising percentage of our patients are adults. In fact, 25% of all orthodontic patients are adults. Health, happiness and self-esteem are vitally important to adults. No patient is "too old" to wear braces!

30. 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.

31. 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.

Vicki Wang Orthodontics

  • Vicki Wang Orthodontics - 1740 Santa Clara Ave., Alameda, CA 94501 Phone: 510-522-4462

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