Frequently Asked Questions About Orthodontic Treatment

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

No, while many patients are referred by their family dentist, most are referred by family, friends and co-workers. It is most important to get your complimentary baseline screening as early as possible. We encourage you to make this examination priority . Timing conservative treatment is very strategic and should be determined by the orthodontist.

At what age should I schedule an appointment for an orthodontic screening?

Dr. Harman follows the guidelines of The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) who recommends orthodontic screenings occur at age 7 when front teeth are beginning to erupt allowing us to effectively evaluate your orthodontic condition. Again, we offer free screenings with complimentary digital panorex and photographs. It is better to be proactive to avoid hidden complications.

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 around age 6 the space available for the front teeth decreases with age. Another reason for early screening and detection at age 7, as Dr. Harman strives for a conservative non-extraction treatment approach.

What will I learn from the initial examination?

You will be greeted by our treatment coordinator, once you arrive Dr. Harman will review patients images and address the common questions such as:

  • Is there an orthodontic problem? What is it? When should treatment start?
  • What must be done to correct the problem?
  • Can we avoid tooth extractions? Surgeries?
  • How long will the treatment take to complete?
  • How much will the treatment cost?
  • How does my insurance or flexible spending accounts fit in?
  • What payment arrangements are possible?

How often will I have appointments?

Appointment intervals are scheduled according to the stage of treatment. With our high-tech appliances, appointments average 6-10 weeks apart, rather than the standard “monthly" visits of yesteryear. Therefore, routine appointments will greatly reduce loss of time from school or work.

Can I schedule all of my appointments after school?

We, at Heidi Harman Orthodontics, make a sincere effort to meet your scheduling needs. Once appliances are placed routine visits will be scheduled at your convenience if you schedule your next appointment before leaving the office. Waiting 1 or 2 weeks after your last appointment to schedule your next office visit lessens the option of available times. Postponing appointments is a significant contribution to extended treatment.

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 before departure from the office. Because the success of orthodontic treatment requires family involvement, Dr. Harman encourages parents to remain involved in the treatment progress and welcomes questions as they arise, especially during your appointed time.

Do braces hurt?

Initially braces feel like they "stick out". This is normal. As you become accustomed to your braces and tooth alignment improves, this sensation will cease. The brackets have rounded and smoothed edges. Until your cheek tissue toughens up you may want to use a warm salt water rinse 2-3 times a day. Then apply your orthodontic wax we supplied to you.

If your teeth are sensitive or tender, you may wish to take a non-prescription pain remedy that you know you tolerate.

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

Yes. There is no reason to miss school because of an orthodontic appointment. Returning to school or work is a great distraction from your new appliances.

Do you give shots?

No. Shots are not necessary in orthodontic treatment.

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.

Can I still play sports?

Yes. We recommend a mouth guard for all contact sports.

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

Yes, it is absolutely mandatory to receive regular dental cleanings with orthodontic appliances in place. Your daily brushing can only reach the surfaces above the gumline, your dentist or hygienist needs to get the hidden, deeper areas around the appliances and under the gum line to avoid the bacterial damage of plaque. Ask your dentist how often you should be seen while in braces.

Are there foods I cannot eat while I have braces?

Dr. Harman will explain that all orthodontic appliances are fragile and care must be taken not to weaken the bonding cements, bend wires, or break appliances. To avoid excessive breakage or loss of time, take care when chewing foods and avoid anything excessively hard or sticky such as ice, hard candy, caramel, taffy, etc…. Avoid frequent exposure to carbonated drinks, fruit juices, sodas (diet or regular) and sports drinks, as these items cause acid erosion to the enamel surfaces adjacent to orthodontic appliances.

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 will show each patient how to floss their teeth and massage the gumlines with toothbrush bristles. We may also provide a prescription for a special fluoride, if necessary.

What is an emergency appointment? How are those handled?

There are very few true “emergency” events while in orthodontic treatment. If you receive direct injury to your mouth or teeth whether undergoing orthodontic care or not, you should be seen by your family dentist as soon as possible. Usually a dental x-ray is necessary to determine the extent of injury. If a tooth is knocked out, obtain the tooth, rinse only and transport it under the patients tongue or in milk for immediate reimplantation by your dentist.

Should appliances loosen, dislodge, or break, keep all loose parts, simply notify our office, after hours you may leave a message. We will return your call, address the concern, and determine if any additional action is necessary. Most issues may be handled over the phone. If an additional appointment is necessary, we will set aside time for you. In case of extreme damage, there is an after hours contact available by calling the office phone number 78-BRACE.

Can orthodontic correction occur while a child has baby teeth?

Yes. Significant orthodontic problems require early intervention. Being pro-active reduces many complications later.

What is Phase One (early) treatment?

Phase one treatment, if necessary, is usually indicated in children at age 7. Phase One treatment lasts about 12 months. The primary objective for Phase One treatment is to address significant problems to prevent them from becoming more severe. Dr. Harman’s primary objective for Phase one treatment is to reverse existing problems: to regain space, avoid tooth removal, avoid impaction of permanent teeth, improve jaw growth and facial balance. Dr. Harman estimates that one-third of the 7 year olds require Phase one treatment. Don’t delay; make your complimentary early screening appointment now. We want to save your teeth!

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 several years after the Phase One treatment to finalize the bite for proper appearance and function. The period following Phase One treatment is called the "resting period," during which growth and tooth eruption are closely monitored. Parents and patients will be kept informed of future treatment recommendations.

Will my child need an expander?

At the completion of the initial examination, we will determine whether a patient will need an expander. Expansion is a strategic way to regain space, reduce airway restrictions, and save teeth! recommendations.

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

Dr. Harman treats adults and has dedicated a large portion of her practice to adults and their specific needs. For the purpose of cosmetic dentistry, major dental restoration, temporomandibular dysfunction(TMD/TMJ), headaches/migraines, or facial/profile imbalances. There really is no age limit for orthodontic therapy. Adults often have many treatment options so Dr. Harman encourages any adult to visit her and explore the possibilities. Again, these visits are complementary, so you may relax and gather information.

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 prior to replacement of absent teeth.

Why should you 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, efficient and more lasting treatment plans.


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