Frequently Asked Questions

What age should I bring my child in for their first orthodontic exam?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends an orthodontic check-up no later than age 7.

What is an Orthodontist?

An orthodontist is a dentist with two to three years of advanced specialty training from an accredited orthodontic program.

How do I know if an orthodontist is right for me or my child?

At Dougherty Orthodontics, we feel that you should be able to form a lasting relationship with your orthodontist and their team. You should feel welcomed from the first phone call.  The orthodontist should spend time with you and make sure that all of your questions are answered. The office hours should be convenient for you and your family. Lastly, the orthodontic office needs to keep your family dentist informed about your treatment and progress.

Is Orthodontic Treatment only to improve my smile?

No. Optimal alignment and a healthy bite are the primary reasons for treatment. It will improve your overall dental and physical health as well as your smile!

What is Two Phase Treatment?

Two-phase orthodontic treatment provides substantial benefits for many patients but can be very confusing. The two-phase orthodontic approach actually involves three separate phases, two treatment phases often separated by a period of observation.

Early treatment (also known as Phase One) typically begins around age eight or nine (Phase Two will begin around age 11 or older). The goal of early treatment is to correct the growth of the jaw and certain bite problems such as underbite or crossbite. Early treatment also helps to make room for the permanent teeth to come in properly, lessening the chance for extractions or more complicated treatment in the future.

The goal of the second phase is to make sure your teeth are positioned correctly in your mouth so that they are in harmony with the lips, cheeks, tongue, and face. Phase two usually involves full upper and lower braces. The second phase begins when nearly all permanent teeth are in. Retainers are worn after this phase to ensure you retain your beautiful smile indefinitely.

It should be understood at the outset of treatment that the approach requires more visits and will be extended over a longer period of time. Dr. Dougherty believes in giving you the most efficient treatment at the most appropriate time which means that sometimes a first phase of treatment is necessary and sometimes it’s not.

When you bring your child into Dougherty Orthodontics for a consultation we will tell you which types of orthodontic problems should be treated in two phases, and which problems can and should be delayed until all of the permanent teeth have come in.

Do braces hurt?

Typically, the patient is comfortable during treatment, but there is a short period immediately following the placement of your braces or after appliance activation when your teeth will be sensitive. The sensitivity during this adjustment period will only last a few days. Over-the-counter anti-inflamatory medication along with a soft diet is usually sufficient to relieve any discomfort.

How long will I have to wear my braces?

It depends on the individual. Although minor tooth movement may be resolved in a year or less, complex cases may take two or more years. Dr. Dougherty will customize your treatment plan. Timing of treatment, your cooperation, and the use of the latest technology will ensure you do not have to wear your braces any longer than necessary.

Do I have to see my dentist while I have braces?

Yes. Regular visits with your dentist are essential and may need to occur more frequently. Be sure to check with your dentist.  Ask us about our Gorgeous Grins Program where you get rewarded for visiting your dentist for cleanings!

What can happen if I do not have orthodontic treatment?

According to studies by the American Association of Orthodontists, untreated malocclusions can result in a variety of problems. Crowded teeth are more difficult to properly brush and floss, which may contribute to tooth decay and/or gum disease. Protruding teeth are more susceptible to accidental chipping. Problems such as cross-bites and open–bites can result in unfavorable growth, uneven tooth wear, tongue-thrusting habits, and speech issues.

How much do braces cost?

The fee for orthodontic treatment varies depending on the severity of the problem and length and complexity of treatment. We are pleased to offer several payment options commensurate with individual needs.

Will insurance pay for orthodontic treatment?

Many dental insurance policies do cover orthodontic treatment. Our practice understands that insurance is a contract between the patient and the insurance company, not between the doctor and the insurance company. We will do everything possible to help our patients receive due benefits from their insurance carrier.

Can I play sports with braces?

Yes. We recommend wearing a mouth guard for contact sports or other rough activities. Mouth guards are available at our office.

Can I sing or play an instrument with my braces?

Yes. Braces should not interfere with playing an instrument, though there may be a period of adjustment. Orthodontic wax will be provided to prevent discomfort. Practicing will ease the transition.

Can a retainer correct the alignment of my teeth?

No. Retainers are designed to keep teeth in their new positions after active orthodontic treatment. They are not meant to move teeth. There are removable appliance options that can move the teeth, which Dr. Dougherty will discuss with you if you are a candidate.

Why do I need to wear a retainer when my braces come off?

Retainers hold your teeth in place after your orthodontic treatment and prevent them from shifting toward their original positions.

How long do I have to wear a retainer?

Typically, you will wear your retainer full-time for three months following the removal of your braces and nightly thereafter. Dr. Dougherty will instruct you on proper retainer wear and monitor you through your retention phase.

Are your instruments sterilized?

Yes. All of our instruments are sterilized after each and every use, and pre-packaged for your use, according to OSHA standards. You will see our state-of-the art sterilization area when you tour our office.

Does your office follow OSHA guidelines?

Yes. Our office meets all of the OSHA standards for infection control. We protect our patients from disease transmission by meeting or exceeding sterilization standards and using universal precautions such as masks, gloves and eye protection. Also, our staff is re-certified annually to ensure the latest in infection control procedures.