FAQ

Family friendly FAQ for Dr. Mary Kay Becher OrthodonticsWho is an orthodontist?

Orthodontists are dental specialists who diagnose, prevent and treat dental and facial irregularities.  They receive an additional two to three years of specialized education beyond dental school to learn the proper way to align and straighten teeth.  Only those who successfully complete this formal education may call themselves “orthodontists,” and only orthodontists may be members of the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO).

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.

What are the benefits of orthodontics?

Orthodontic treatment creates a better bite, making teeth fit better, and decrease the risk of future and potentially costly dental problems.  Crooked and crowded teeth are hard to clean and maintain.  A malocclusion can cause tooth enamel to wear abnormally, difficulty in chewing and/or speaking, and excess stress on supporting bone and gum tissue.  Without treatment, many problems simply become worse.   A straight and beautiful smile leads to healthier gums, greater longevity and better function of the teeth and jaws.  A great smile improves self-confidence, self-esteem and social interactions.

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.

Can my family dentist do orthodontics?

In the state of Texas, family dentists are not prohibited by law from placing braces on teeth.  However, they are not specialists in orthodontics. They have learned the techniques by attending weekend seminars tailored to non-specialists rather than attending a two to three year university program that certified orthodontic specialist are trained in.

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

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that your child get a check-up with an orthodontist at the first recognition of an orthodontic problem, but no later than age 7.  By then, your child has enough permanent teeth for an orthodontists to determine whether an orthodontic problem exists or is developing.  Putting off a check-up with an orthodontist until a child has lost all baby teeth could be a disservice.  Some orthodontic problems may be easier to correct if they are found early.  A check-up no later than age 7 gives your orthdontist the opportunity to recommend the appropriate treatment at the appropriate time.  If early treatment is in order, the orthodontist may be able to achieve results that may not be possible once the face and jaws have finished growing.

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.

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

Today, one orthodontic patient in 5 is an adult.  You are never too old to benefit from orthodontic treatment.   Health, happiness and self-esteem are vitally important to adults. Tooth-colored braces and invisible orthodontics along with other developments in techniques have made adult orthodontics cosmetically acceptable and technically simple. No matter what your age, proper alignment of teeth contributes to your good health and a beautiful smile.

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 so that we can verify insurance benefits, etc. if appropriate.

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. Following a thorough clinical examination, our doctors will discuss your treatment option in depth.

To read more about your first visit, see our First Appointment Page.

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 might the treatment take to complete?
  • How much will the treatment cost?
  • 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 18-24 months.  New technologies are substantially decreasing the amount of time needed for many cases.  For example, the average treatment time with SureSmile is almost 30% faster than traditional braces.

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

The cost of orthodontic treatment depends on m any factors, including the severity of the problem, its complexity and length of treatment.   Our Financial Coordinator will be glad to discuss fees with you before treatment begins.  We have many financing options (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.

How often will I have appointments?

Appointments are scheduled according to each patient’s needs. Most patients in braces will be seen every four to eight 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 four 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.  JUST CALL BONNIE!!!

Can I drop my child off for an appointment?

Absolutely.  We understand your busy schedule, and we are happy to help you make the most of your time. However, we welcome parent involvement.  Our clinic is set up for you to accommodate your child during his/her entire appointment.  Come on back!

Our doctors prefer to personally update every parent at every visit.  So if you are out of the office when she is ready to give you an update, she may need to touch base with you at the next appointment.  If there is an important matter to discuss, she will personally call you when she is free. Our clinical assistants are always available to give you an update also.

Do braces hurt?

There is no pain at all when braces are applied to your teeth. After a few days you will get used to having braces on your teeth. After certain visits, teeth may be sore for a few days when the wires are reactivated.   Discomfort, if any, is short-lived and can be managed using over-the-counter analgesics like Tylenol or Advil.

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 reviewing care instructions.

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

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

Can I still play sports?

Yes. Please be sure to ask us for an orthodontic mouth guard (used for all sports), compliments of our doctors.

Can I play a musical instrument 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 or have them removed just before a performance or competition. You need to allow some time to get your range back.

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

Absolutely – Without question! Regular checkups 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 checkups.

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 & Diet Restrictions page for details.

How often should I brush my teeth while in braces?

Patients should brush their teeth at least four times each day with a fluoride toothpaste- after each meal and before going to bed. We will show each patient how to floss their teeth with braces and may also provide a prescription for a special fluoride, if necessary.

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.

Can orthodontic correction occur while a child has baby teeth?

Yes. The American Association of Orthodontics recommends that your child get a checkup with an orthodontist at the first recognition of an orthodontic problem, but no later than age 7.  Putting off a check-up with an orthodontist until a child has lost all baby teeth could be a disservice.  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.

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 12-21 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.

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.

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 Appliances page for more details.

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.