Frequently Asked Questions


  1. What is a Board Certified Orthodontist?

  2. Am I too old to have braces?

  3. What is the appropriate age for a child to begin orthodontic treatment?

  4. How much do braces cost?

  5. What is an orthodontist?

  6. Will insurance pay for orthodontic care?

  7. Do braces hurt?

  8. Will braces affect playing sports?

  9. Is orthodontic treatment only to improve your smile?

  10. Can a retainer correct the alignment of my teeth?

  11. How long do I wear my retainers?

  12. Can I be assured that all instruments are sterilized and that there is adequate infection control?

  13. How long do I have to wear braces?

  14. What is Phase I treatment?

  15. What is Phase II orthodontic treatment?

  16. What is Surgical Orthodontics (orthognathic surgery)?


1. Q: What is a Board Certified Orthodontist? [back to top]

A: A Board Certified Orthodontist has taken a written test and has shown clinical cases to a specialty examining board approved by the American Dental Association of Orthodontists and American Association of Orthodontists. Approximately 25 percent of orthodontists in the United States are Board Certified.

2. Q: Am I too old to have braces? [back to top]

A: Believe it or not 30 percent of our patients are adults and the number is growing. Many patients think that teeth cannot be moved in adult patients. This is definitely not true. In fact some cases move even better because adults tend to be more cooperative than some of our younger patients.

3. Q: What is the appropriate age for a child to begin orthodontic treatment? [back to top]

A: The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all patients be seen for an orthodontic examination by age 7. Many severe problems can be prevented from fully developing by initiating early orthodontic treatment (age 7 to 9 years old). It is best for children to be seen by an orthodontist at approximately age 7 to determine if they have orthodontic problems and when is the appropriate time for the orthodontist to intervene with treatment of these problems.

4. Q: How much do braces cost? [back to top]

A: Costs for orthodontic treatment vary according to the severity of the problem, length and complexity of treatment. Fees and options for payments are fully discussed at the consultation appointment. We firmly believe that a beautiful, healthy smile is one of the best investments you can make for yourself or your child. The benefits last a lifetime and can be enjoyed every single day.

5. Q: What is an orthodontist? [back to top]

A: An orthodontist is a dentist who has attended a specialty educational program for advanced dental specialty training for a period of two or three years. If the orthodontist is a member of the American Association of Orthodontists, you can be assured they have received the appropriate training.

6. Q: Will insurance pay for orthodontic care? [back to top]

A: Many patients have orthodontic benefits as part of their dental plan. Please check with your insurance or benefits manager as to the extent of your coverage. Orthodontic insurance generally differs from regular dental insurance in that each insured individual usually has a lifetime maximum benefit for orthodontic services. This benefit is paid as a percentage of the orthodontic fee until the benefit maximum has been reached. Our office is glad to help your with your insurance needs.

7. Q: Do braces hurt? [back to top]

A: Dr. Mitchell is using the most current technology for orthodontic movement of teeth. These latest technological advances have made treatment more comfortable for patients. The orthodontic braces are smaller and smoother. Resilient wires provide continuous, gentle forces over a longer period of time. Typically the patient is not uncomfortable while in the office but may experience some discomfort for two or three days after an adjustment. Over the counter pain relievers and softer food help sore teeth.

8. Q: Will braces affect playing sports? [back to top]

A: You should be able to play just about any sport or activity. We highly recommend wearing a mouth guard in contact sports or any sports where there is a chance that you could be hit in the face. We have complimentary mouth guards available in our office that work well with braces.

9. Q: Is orthodontic treatment only to improve your smile?
[back to top]

A: Orthodontics will not only improve your smile but improve the alignment and the fit of your teeth. Crooked teeth can lead to cavities or gum disease and a bad bite can lead to chewing problems, possible muscle soreness and jaw joint discomfort.

10. Q: Can a retainer correct the alignment of my teeth?
[back to top]

A: It is possible to produce some slight movement of teeth with a retainer. However, retainers are designed primarily to “retain” teeth in their correct position following orthodontic treatment. When braces are removed, all patients receive a retainer to hold their teeth in position. The teeth tend to shift back towards the original problem if retainers are not worn. For those seeking a way to straighten your teeth without braces Invisalign provides a way to correct some orthodontic problems using removable, clear plastic aligners.

11. Q: How long do I wear my retainers? [back to top]

A: Throughout life your teeth are always moving, even if you have never had braces. It happens more in some people than others. For this reason we recommend wearing retainers as long as you can. Usually we have patients wear retainers full time for six to twelve months and then on a night time basis from then on.

12. Q: Can I be assured that all instruments are sterilized and that there is adequate infection control? [back to top]

A: You will notice that the doctors and chairside assistants wear rubber gloves whenever treating the patients. This is done for your protection and to minimize the risk of disease transmission. All instruments are fully heat sterilized between all patients. Our heat sterilizer is tested by an independent testing service to assure that the equipment is working effectively.

13. Q: How long do I have to wear braces? [back to top]

A: Many factors determine length of treatment such as bite problem, response to treatment and cooperation on the part of the patient. You may be surprised to hear that age is not a major factor. Although some minor tooth movement can be resolved in less than a year, complex cases may need two or three years for completion.

14. Q: What is Phase I treatment? [back to top]

A: Interceptive or early treatment is initiated at 7 to 9 years of age for severe bite problems. Some problems must be treated at a younger age to produce the best orthodontic result. If a severe problem is delayed to a later age, a complete correction may not be possible. Early orthodontic treatment can sometimes avoid extractions of permanent teeth and can produce a more stable result. Phase I treatment is typically for 12 to 18 months followed by retainers for several years until all permanent teeth erupt. Most patients require Phase II (full braces) at approximately age 12 to refine the occlusion and put other finishing touches on the esthetics.

15. Q: What is Phase II orthodontic treatment? [back to top]

A: Sixteen new permanent teeth will have erupted between the age of 10 to 12 years old. At approximately age 12, Dr. Mitchell will recommend complete diagnostic records to determine the extent, method and costs of Phase II treatment. The extent of Phase II treatment can range from just new retainers up to full braces for one to two years to finalize the positions of all of the teeth.

16. Q: What is Surgical Orthodontics (orthognathic surgery)?
[back to top]

A: Surgical orthodontics is recommended for adult patients and some teenagers with severe skeletal deformities. Sometimes the jaw position is so far off from normal that conventional orthodontic care cannot correct the skeletal deformity. Surgical orthodontics is done in combination with full-banded orthodontic care. Surgery of the jaw structure usually occurs during the middle of comprehensive orthodontic treatment approximately one year after the braces are applied to the teeth.


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