Common Braces Questions

kid with dental braces

Getting braces is a big decision and we know you have a lot of questions.

We found that often people have the similar FAQ’s when it comes to getting braces on their teeth, so we have compiled a list of our most commonly asked questions about dental braces and we answered them here.

Simply click on your question below and it will take you to the answer.

  1. Why should you choose an orthodontic specialist?
  2. Is it required that my family dentist schedule my appointment with the orthodontist?
  3. At what age should I schedule an appointment for orthodontic screening?
  4. Does the office have video games or a movie theater?
  5. Will my teeth straighten out as they grow?
  6. How do I schedule an appointment for an initial exam?
  7. What will happen at the initial examination appointment?
  8. Will I need to have teeth extracted for braces?
  9. How long will it take to complete treatment?
  10. What if I have a really tough case?
  11. How much will braces cost?
  12. How often will I have appointments?
  13. Can I schedule all of my appointments after school?
  14. What if I can’t keep my appointment?
  15. Do braces hurt?
  16. Can I return to school the day I receive my braces?
  17. Do you give shots?
  18. Do you use recycled braces?
  19. Can I still play sports?
  20. Do I need to see my family dentist while in braces?
  21. Are there foods I cannot eat while I have braces?
  22. How often should I brush my teeth while in braces?
  23. What is an emergency appointment?
  24. Can orthodontic correction occur while a child has baby teeth?
  25. Is it too late to have braces if I am already an adult?
  26. Can I wear braces even though I have crowns and missing teeth?

Braces Answers


1. 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. Dr. McGarrell received an additional 3 years of training after dental school to specialize in orthodontics.


2. 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.


3. At what age should I schedule an appointment for 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 the orthodontist to effectively evaluate the orthodontic condition. While the majority of patients will be placed on “recall” (please see our Treatment Philosophy regarding early treatment,) it may be beneficial for some young patients to begin orthodontic treatment.


4. Does the office have video games or a movie theater?

No, we do not. We instead focus on what we do best, and that is providing orthodontic care in a friendly, caring, cost-effective environment. We pride ourselves on keeping appointments on time so that you or your child can be seen, when scheduled. We avoided the technological babysitter. While patients are in our practice, we authentically want to get to know our patients and build rapport and trust throughout each appointment. In the end, this will create a much more fun, memorable experience. For adult patients and parents only, we offer a wireless internet connection and a refreshment bar.


5. Will my teeth straighten out as they grow??

Wishful thinking is usually not enough to make teeth straight. Dr. McGarrell can explain how sometimes teeth can move on their own—for better, or possibly for worse.


6. How do I schedule an appointment for an initial exam??

If you or your child can potentially benefit from orthodontic treatment, call our office and ask for a “new patient appointment.” Our front desk staff will be happy to schedule a convenient time. Please have any insurance information available; this allows us to help submit a pre-approval. We want to do everything we can to make this visit as informative and productive as possible; there will be a questionnaire to help us accomplish this. . We ask for your patience when gathering the pertinent information required to begin treatment. To learn more, please read our First Visit Page.


7. What will happen at the initial examination appointment??

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


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 treatment.


9. How long will it take to complete treatment??

Every treatment plan is different as no two people have exactly the same bite. Patient cooperation with keeping scheduled appointments, oral hygiene, and appliance wear as instructed, will ensure that treatment goes according to the estimated time.


10. What if I have a really tough case?

Dr. McGarrell attended a hospital-based orthodontics program for her residency training. Here she had experience with a variety of different surgical and non-surgical cases, including many with cleft lip and palate. She also has extensive experience with adults wanting a “smile makeover” and coordinating with cosmetic dentists and other specialists to achieve the best results possible. She feels like it is the responsibility of the orthodontist to diagnose each case, educate the patient, and give options as appropriate.


11. 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. Often, different treatment options are available with various treatment fees. 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.


12. How often will I have appointments??

Appointments are scheduled according to each patient’s needs. Most patients in braces will be seen every 5-10 weeks. If there are specific situations that require more frequent monitoring, we will schedule appointments accordingly.


13. 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 5 to 10 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. Our office makes a commitment to have extra appointments on school holidays so that your child can miss as little school as possible. Longer appointments are usually scheduled in the late morning/lunch hours so that we can maximize the number of appointments in the late afternoon or early mornings before school or work


14. What if I can’t keep my appointment??

In order to complete your treatment on time, it is very important for you to keep your regular scheduled appointments. We understand that busy schedules and unforeseen circumstances can sometimes make this difficult. Please call our office as soon as you realize you are unable to keep the appointment and one will be rescheduled as soon as possible for you.


15. 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 sore. We often remind our patients, “It does not have to hurt to work!”


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

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


17. Do you give shots??

No, shots are not necessary in orthodontic treatment.


18. 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.


19. Can I still play sports??

Yes, we recommend a mouth guard for all sports.


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

Yes, regular checkups with your family dentist are important while in braces. Your family dentist will determine the intervals between cleaning appointments while you are in braces.


21. 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.


22. 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 with braces, and may also provide a prescription for a special fluoride if necessary.


23. 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.


24. 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.


25. 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!


26. 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.