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Dental Braces FAQ

Q. What do they do?

A. Dental braces correct teeth that are crowded, crooked, protruding, out of alignment or have irregular spacing. By moving the teeth into the ideal position, they help to create a more attractive and healthier smile for both children and adults.

Q. What are they made of?

A. Brace wires are made of materials that reposition the teeth and underlying roots more readily and with less discomfort than in the past. Titanium implants may be anchored in the bone on the side of the mouth or palate to help shift teeth back and allow for more room if necessary.

Q. Are there different types?

A. Yes. There are clear aligners (such as Invisalign and ClearCorrect) that gradually move your teeth to correct spacing and crowding issues. There also are tooth-colored brackets and wires that are less noticeable, as well as braces that can be placed on the lingual (back side) of the teeth.

(Read more about invisible braces)

Q. How much do they cost?

A. The cost of dental braces is approximately $3,000 to $8,000. The cost of invisible braces is approximately the same or higher than traditional orthodontic treatment, which ranges from $2,500 to $8,000. Products such as Invisalign Full may cost more than traditional braces, but they typically range from $3,500 to $8,000. The national average cost is approximately $5,000.

Q. What is a retainer?

A. A retainer is a small, custom-fit removable appliance made of plastic and metal most often used after wearing dental braces to hold teeth in position. Upper retainers fit in the roof of the mouth and lower retainers can be removed or permanently fixed to lower teeth. Removable retainers also can be worn to close gaps or spaces between teeth, or to move a single tooth when full braces aren't necessary.

Q. How much do retainers cost?

A. A retainer usually is included in the overall fee for braces. When retainers are recommended to correct a minor overbite without the need for braces, retainer costs may range from $500 to $1,000. This cost incorporates office visits, X-rays and fittings.

(Read more about dental retainers)

Q. How long do you keep braces on for?

A. The standard treatment phase is two years. The duration of treatment varies based on age, the extensiveness of the procedure (some people require more work than others) and how closely the treatment plan is followed. Some orthodontic options, such as Six Month Smiles, provide teeth straightening of the front teeth only in approximately six months if certain criteria are met.

Q. What causes crooked teeth?

A. There are several factors that may contribute to misalignment, crooked teeth, and crowded teeth, including supernumerary teeth (extra teeth; also called hyperdontia), missing teeth, tongue thrusting, thumb sucking and jaw function problems.

Q. What's the right age to have braces?

A. Orthodontic treatment with dental braces should usually begin between the ages of eight and 14 in order to achieve the best results. It is ideal to have an orthodontic evaluation no later than the age of seven, since this is when there is a good mix of primary (baby) and adult teeth in the mouth. Dentists are better able to spot developing teeth and jaw growth at this time in a child's life, which enables them to anticipate problems that may arise and plan braces treatment accordingly.

Q. Are they painful?

A. When braces are first placed and later adjusted, there may be some tightness, which typically progresses to soreness, for approximately four to six hours after the appointment. This soreness directly results from the dentist tightening the arch wires so the teeth continue to move into the correct position. Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers are recommended to help relieve this pain. The soreness will decrease in about three to five days.

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    Kenneth A Ingber, DMD

    Washington, DC 20006
    (202) 331-7474

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    Dr. Ivory Hancock

    Washington, DC 20036
    (202) 737-7025

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    Dr. Scott Shalit

    Garnet Valley, PA 19060
    (610) 459-5859

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    Dr. Lance Panarello

    Aston, PA 19014
    (484) 498-2132

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    Dr. Dan David

    Phoenixville, PA 19460
    (610) 935-1015