Orthodontic care is key for lifelong oral health, which supports overall well-being and quality of life. Unfortunately, people sometimes postpone seeking dental or orthodontic care because it causes them stress. It is estimated that up to 36% of people have “dental anxiety.” We think that the key to getting rid of the uncertainty around orthodontic care is important for helping patients feel comfortable and confident in the treatment process. 

Braces are one of the most common types of orthodontic treatment because, over time, they can provide dramatic, permanent cosmetic improvements while making dental care easier. However, because treatment with braces can seem long and involved, patients are reluctant to consider this option – this is especially true for adults. 

Understanding exactly what’s involved with braces can help significantly reduce apprehension to the point that patients are actually excited about the results that braces can provide. Let’s dig into the process and answer some of the most frequently asked questions about braces.


Our Answers to The Most Frequently Asked Questions About Braces


What can braces help fix?

Braces are used to correct a wide variety of issues from misalignment to gaps. Some of the most common problems treated with braces include:

  • Bite correction (overbites and underbites).
  • Tooth crowding.
  • Gaps between teeth.
  • Tooth misalignment. 

Throughout the course of treatment, braces apply steady, even pressure to slowly move teeth to their correct position.


How long do I need to wear braces?

The length of a treatment period will depend on several factors, including:

  • Patient age.
  • The severity of orthodontic issues.
  • Whether you’ve previously had braces.
  • Compliance with previous orthodontic treatments.


Should I brush my teeth more often with braces?

Proper oral care is extremely important while you’re wearing braces. Orthodontists recommend following all best practices for cleaning your teeth while braces are worn. Although your cleaning routines might take a little bit longer, they won’t change that much. 

In general, patients with braces should do the following:

  • Twice-daily brushing.
  • Once-daily flossing.
  • Mouth rinsing multiple times daily.


Do braces hurt?

Pain is one of the biggest concerns patients have before receiving braces. The short answer is: no, not after the first day or two. While braces might cause discomfort when they’re first applied, they should not be painful throughout the course of treatment. Any irritation beyond mild, period aches should be discussed with your orthodontist. Other issues, including poking wires, can easily be fixed with adjustments.


Do I need a referral from a dentist to get braces?

You can schedule an initial visit with your preferred orthodontist at any time – no referrals required. Our office sees and treats many patients who are not referred to us by a dentist, but who have found out about us through their own word of mouth or online research.


Should I go to the dentist when my braces are still on?

Yes. Regular dental cleanings are critical for keeping your teeth healthy while braces are worn. Dental hygienists are professionals at working around braces and ensuring that your teeth and gums are properly cleaned throughout the treatment period. Regular plaque removal and fluoride treatments help prevent tooth decay when you’re unable to reach certain areas with a toothbrush.


Will braces change the way I talk or activities like singing and playing instruments?

You will likely notice changes to your behavior when braces are first applied. However, over time you should easily be able to adapt to the way that braces affect the way you speak or play instruments. Most patients quickly forget that the braces are even on!


How often should I visit the orthodontist when I have braces?

Your orthodontist will set up a regular cadence of check-ups. Depending on the type of treatment, you can expect to visit the orthodontist approximately once every month to two months.


Can my teeth move after braces?

Yes. In almost every case, your orthodontist will recommend a device for keeping your teeth from moving. One of the distinctives about our practice is that because of our in-house lab, we offer same-day retainers which help preserve your bite and alignment from the moment your braces are removed. Compliance with retainers can help preserve your masterpiece smile for a lifetime.


Does insurance cover the cost of braces?

Coverage for orthodontic care varies widely between different insurers. Some insurance providers do cover significant costs associated with braces if they are medically necessary. Other insurers may cover portions of the treatment cost depending on the patient’s plan. 

To learn what benefits might be available, work with your orthodontist and insurance provider to clearly communicate when braces will be applied and why.


Do I need insurance to schedule a visit to the orthodontist?

No. You can schedule an initial consultation with providers like Oppenhuizen Orthodontics at any time. Our team is happy to provide detailed consultations at no cost to you. During the consultation, we’ll learn about your specific needs and do a cursory examination to help outline potential treatment plans before taking any next steps.


Are braces eligible for HSA?

Braces are a qualified medical expense, which makes them eligible for funds from an HSA or similar type of tax-advantaged healthcare account.


What is the best age to start braces?

Braces can be applied at almost any age, depending on the patient’s oral health. However, most orthodontists recommend starting regular orthodontic check-ups starting around age 6 or 7. Identifying issues early on can help you plan for starting treatments before problems become serious. Additionally, an earlier treatment plan can help kids with the self-consciousness of a smile that makes them feel awkward.  


Do I have to avoid certain foods with braces?

Yes. It is recommended to avoid crunchy, hard, and very chewy foods while wearing braces. These types of foods can damage teeth and braces; they can also get stuck in braces, causing tooth decay and cavities. The most common foods to avoid can include:

  • Popcorn.
  • Peanut brittle.
  • Gum.
  • Pretzels.
  • Nuts.
  • Sticky and chewy candy.

What happens after braces?

After treatment with braces is completed, your orthodontist will recommend a plan for keeping your newly aligned teeth in place. This can look different depending on each patient’s situation, but some type of permanent retainer will likely be used to prevent teeth from moving. Periodic check-ups and compliance with your orthodontist’s plan will help you keep your masterpiece smile for life!


Is it Time to Start Braces?

If you’re wondering whether now is the right time to start braces but you haven’t selected a care provider yet, Dr. Oppenhuizen has several helpful suggestions about how to evaluate orthodontists.

We’d invite you to schedule a free consultation with our office today. Our expert, compassionate staff will listen to your concerns, get a whole mouth x-ray, and we’ll develop a treatment plan that works best for your family’s situation. It’s free to start, and you’ll learn a lot about the way your bite works, and your best options moving forward.

On average, patients should plan to wear braces for 12-18 months. Some courses of treatment might last for only 6 months, while others might last for about 2 years. Your orthodontist can clearly explain the expected duration of treatment during your initial consultation.