COMMON QUESTIONS

Do I need a referral to visit the Orthodontist?

You do not need a referral to visit our office. Simply call 507-258-5400.

Do braces hurt?

If you have ever tried googling the words “dentist” and “pain” then I’m sure you have seen pictures of a dentist holding one of two items – a drill or a needle. Nobody loves those things, but why? It’s because people associate pain with the dentist needing to give them a “shot” and then drilling on their teeth.

The great news is, braces don’t generally require drilling on teeth or the need for shots! In fact, braces really are not painful at all. Over time your mouth will adjust to the new braces and you will barely notice they are even in your mouth.

That being said, there is one time during your braces in which you may experience some mild discomfort, and that will be during the first few days in your braces. With some people, it lasts a couple of hours. With others, it can last up to a week or more.

So after I tell people they will feel some mild discomfort during the first few days in braces, they often times want to know more –is it like “a tiny bit of pressure” or is it more like “a pile of bricks are being dropped on my head?”

Here is the best analogy for the discomfort you may feel – imagine that you haven’t exercised for a while and then you decide you’re going to go out for a five-mile run and maybe hit the weight room afterward. You feel pretty good during the workout, but later that night your body may be a bit sore. It’s the same idea with braces. It’s not going to be extremely painful, but you’re going to be in some discomfort and achiness.

With some people, it’s hardly noticeable and lasts just a day. With others, it may last a few days. Everyone responds a little differently. The good news is that A.) The discomfort often goes away within a few days so the remainder of your braces experience is great, and B.) You can plan for the initial discomfort by using over-the-counter pain medications on the day you get your braces.

In fact, we often recommend a combination of Advil® and Tylenol® (provided you do not have any contraindications to these medications) before you get your braces on, and then again later that night. These two drug types work differently and can be taken together to alleviate the initial discomfort from your braces.

The bottom line is that you may have some initial discomfort from the braces, but it should not be very painful and it will go away with time.

Do you have to give up certain foods with braces?

With braces, there are some foods that you will need to avoid to make sure you do not break appliances. Most foods that are sticky and/or hard may cause issues. That being said, there are tons of foods that you may enjoy during your time in braces. In fact, if you haven’t checked out the Collins Orthodontics Braces Friendly Recipe channel, then I highly recommend you go check it out here: www.BracesFriendlyEats.com

Do you have to give up playing sports or instruments?

You do not! After a few days adjusting to your braces, instruments and sports will not be a problem at all during your time in braces! If you play a contact sport, you can wear a special mouth guard that will protect your mouth and your appliance. That being said, you will want a “braces friendly” mouth guard that will accommodate the braces. You may get these types of mouth guards at most sporting good stores, or we do sell this specific type of mouth guard at our office as a convenience to our patients.

How much do braces cost?

Braces will range anywhere between $3,000 to $5,000 for limited treatment and $5,000 to $8,000 for comprehensive care. At your free exam, our doctors will analyze your smile and bite and determine a number of options for you. At that time, you can decide which option best fits your specific concerns in order to make an informed decision.

Also, be sure to ask our treatment coordinators about our flexible financing program. We offer discounts for payment in full or multiple family members in treatment; and then low monthly payment options for those looking to find something affordable with their budgets.

We try to make orthodontic treatment accessible and affordable to all. Also, be sure to bring in your insurance information so we can help do a free benefits check for you. Many people have great orthodontic benefits that will help with payments!

When should you bring your child to an orthodontist?

The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that your child first see an orthodontist at the age of seven. You do not need a referral from your primary care dentist in order to set up your child’s screening with an orthodontist.

Many times your primary care dentist will recognize problems that need to be seen by an orthodontist and then place a referral to our office. We absolutely love it when dentists do this because it allows us to evaluate the problem to determine if treatment is needed, and when the best time will be to begin treatment.

However, seeing an orthodontist for a screening at age 7 will make sure that nothing is overlooked and that all of the teeth are erupting and developing properly. So, your child should see an orthodontist by the age of seven. I know what you are thinking –“why in the world would my child need braces at age 7? That seems way too young!”

Here is the deal – you are right that most seven-year-olds will not be getting braces. In fact, we found that it’s quite the opposite. The overwhelming majority of patients who come in for a screening do not need early treatment. However, the American Association of Orthodontists does recommend a screening at the age of 7 in order to catch and rule out some potentially very serious situations that are difficult to detect to the untrained eye.

What types of braces are there for adults?

Adult braces is becoming incredibly common and popular. Whether you had braces as a kid and your teeth have shifted, or maybe you never had braces and finally want to do something about your smile, then you are not alone – 52% of our practice at Collins Orthodontics consists of adult patients! Although we do offer traditional (colored) braces to adults, the two most popular options are our Radiance Clear Braces (clearest braces offered in the orthodontic industry) or invisalign.

How long will you have to wear braces?

Most cases range between 12-24 months – some are longer, and some are shorter. It is important to know that your mouth is unique, so length of treatment varies from person to person. Collins Orthodontics offers current technology that allows you to have faster overall treatment times with better results.

Will you have to wear a retainer for the rest of your life?

Yes, you do. But it won’t be as bad as you think, I promise (keep reading to find out why). What is important is that you understand when to wear your retainer and when it’s okay not to wear your retainer.

Here is how it works – when you get your braces off, your teeth will immediately want to go back to their original positions. The bone surrounding your teeth is essentially what is holding them in place. That bone is soft at the end of treatment because it has been remodeled many times to allow your teeth to move to their new positions.

Much like wet cement, your bone just needs time to harden around the teeth. Obviously there are many other biological processes going on that make the process much more complicated than cement drying, but the idea is very much the same. For that reason, your orthodontist will initially want you to wear your retainers at a much higher frequency and longer duration immediately after you get your braces off.

Over time, your orthodontist should gradually decrease the amount of time you’ll need to wear your retainers. After several years, it should be okay for you to wear your retainers only several nights a week. I wish I could tell you that your teeth will stay put without needing retainers, but I would just be leading you down a road of frustration and disappointment. If you currently have a retainer, then you will likely fall into one of the categories listed below. It is important for you to know what you should do when you fall into one of the following categories:

  • Retainers fitting well and not tight – You should continue to wear your retainer 2 to 4 nights per week.
  • Retainers fitting okay (i.e. they can be fully seated on your teeth), but they are very tight – You must increase the use of your retainers to every night or even every day for a period of several weeks. The retainer can be used to actively “push” your teeth back to their original positions, but only if you are able to fully seat the retainer in your mouth. Once the retainer does not feel tight anymore, then you can decrease the use to 2 to 4 nights per week.
  • Retainers do not fit at all – If you cannot fully seat your retainers, then you should call your orthodontist immediately. Your teeth have shifted BEYOND the point of using your old retainers to push them back into place. When you meet with your orthodontist, you will have three main options:
    1. Do nothing. Even though this is an option, the main risk is that your teeth will continue to shift over time.
    2. Make a new retainer. Making a new retainer will hold the CURRENT position of your teeth. It will NOT push your teeth back to where they were at the end of your orthodontic treatment (that’s what your old retainer could have done if you were able to fully seat it), but it WILL prevent your teeth from continuing to shift into worse positions.
    3. Get treatment to correct the shifted teeth. This will likely be in the form of braces or invisalign. If it’s just one tooth out of alignment, there may even be some limited treatment options with shorter treatment times. If you fall into one of the above categories, or you have specific questions regarding retainer care and maintenance, feel free to call our office at any time.