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Orthodontic FAQs

Below is a list of frequently asked questions regarding orthodontics and the various forms of treatments. If you have a question that is not addressed below, please feel free to contact us.

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General FAQs

What are the benefits of orthodontics?

  • A more attractive smile
  • Better function of the teeth
  • Increase in self-confidence
  • Reduced appearance-consciousness during critical development years
  • Increased ability to clean the teeth
  • Improved force distribution and wear patterns of the teeth
  • Better long-term health of teeth and gums
  • Guide permanent teeth into more favorable positions
  • Reduce the risk of injury to protruding front teeth
  • Aid in optimizing other dental treatment

What are some signs that braces may be needed?

  • Upper-front teeth protrude excessively over the lower teeth, or are bucked
  • Upper-front teeth cover the majority of the lower teeth when biting together (deep bite)
  • Upper-front teeth are behind or inside the lower-front teeth (underbite)
  • The upper and lower-front teeth do not touch when biting together (open bite)
  • Crowded or overlapped teeth
  • The center of the upper and lower teeth do not line up
  • Finger- or thumb-sucking habits which continue after six or seven years old
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Teeth wearing unevenly or excessively
  • The lower jaw shifts to one side or the other when biting together
  • Spaces between the teeth

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.

Should I see my general dentist while I have braces?

Yes, you should continue to see your general dentist every six months for cleanings and dental checkups.

At what age should orthodontic treatment occur?

Orthodontic treatment can be started at any age. Many orthodontic problems are easier to correct if detected at an early age before jaw growth has slowed. Early treatment may mean that a patient can avoid surgery and more serious complications. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child first visit an orthodontist by age seven or earlier if a problem is detected by parents, the family dentist or the child’s physician.

Is it too late to have braces if I am already an adult?

A surprising percentage of our patients are adults. In fact, 25 percent of all orthodontic patients are over 18 years of age. Health, happiness and self-esteem are vitally important to adults. No patient is “too old” to wear braces!

How does orthodontic treatment work?

Braces use steady gentle pressure to gradually move teeth into their proper positions. The brackets that are placed on your teeth and the arch wire that connects them are the main components. When the arch wire is placed into the brackets, it tries to return to its original shape. As it does so, it applies pressure to move your teeth to their new, more ideal positions.

How long does orthodontic treatment take?

Treatment times vary on a case-by-case basis, but the average time is from one to two years. Actual treatment time can be affected by rate of growth, and severity of the correction necessary. Treatment length is also dependent upon patient compliance. Maintaining good oral hygiene and keeping regular appointments are important in keeping treatment time on schedule.

What is Phase I Treatment?

Phase I, or early interceptive treatment, is limited orthodontic treatment (i.e. expander or partial braces) before all of the permanent teeth have erupted. Such treatment can occur between the ages of six and ten. This treatment is sometimes recommended to make more space for developing teeth, correction of cross bites, overbites, under bites, or harmful oral habits and sometimes to reduce spacing. Phase II treatment is also called comprehensive treatment, because it involves full braces when all of the permanent teeth have erupted, usually between the ages of eleven and thirteen.

Will my child need full braces if he/she has Phase One treatment?

It is best to assume that your child will need full braces even after Phase One treatment. The period following Phase One treatment is called the “growth and developmental phase” during which growth and tooth eruption are closely monitored. Throughout this period, parents and patients will be kept informed of future treatment recommendations.

Why should I 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. Szymanowski has extensive and specialized training that enables him to provide professional, personalized treatments.

Early Treatment

When should I begin orthodontic treatment?

While orthodontic treatment can begin at any age, there is definitely a recommended time to begin your treatment. Starting at an early age ensures the best possible result with the least amount of cost and expense. The AAO (American Association of Orthodontists) has recommended that children receive their first orthodontic evaluation at the first sign of a problem, usually between ages 7 and 8. At such an early stage of development, treatment may not even be necessary, but being vigilant from an early age can ensure a long future with a happy, healthy smile.

What are some benefits to early orthodontic care?

By evaluating potential problems early in a child’s development, you create a greater opportunity for effective treatment. Vigilance and early intervention will help guide healthy growth and development. This will help to prevent serious problems down the roar. Even if intervention isn’t necessary, Dr. Damon can monitor your child’s development and better call for treatment when it may be necessary.

Why so young?

As early as age 7, a child’s first adult molars have begun to come through, establishing the position of the backbite. It’s at this time an orthodontist can begin to assess the relationships between the child’s teeth. Early, vigilant screening decreases the chance of future problems developing.

What are the advantages of early treatment?

There are numerous advantages to starting treatment early in a child’s development. Some of these advantages include making room for crowded teeth that are just beginning to erupt, influencing jaw growth to ensure facial symmetry, leaving space for teeth that have yet to erupt, and reducing the risk of facial trauma due to protruding front teeth. Early treatment with braces also greatly reduces the amount of time and money spent as compared to an adult.

Is my child a candidate for early treatment?

There is more to orthodontics than just improving the smile. Treatment also improves bad bites, which can lead to larger medical problems later in life. A bad bite is known as a malocclusion, which can occur as a result of misalignment in the teeth or jaw. These malocclusions can have a negative effect on not only smile, but the way you chew, your ability to clean, and your overall self esteem.

Why is it so important that malocclusions are treated?

The AAO states that untreated orthodontic issues like malocclusions can result in litany of other problems. With crowded teeth, cleaning and maintenance efficiency can drop, and you may not be able to floss effectively. This can contribute to issues like tooth decay and gum disease. With protruding teeth, you’re more prone to accidental chipping. From speech impediments to tooth wear, malocclusions need to be handled quickly, the earlier the better.


Is it going to hurt?

The placement of your braces will not hurt at all, although there may be some soreness or discomfort in the hours and days immediately placement. Over-the-counter medications can help with soreness or muscle ache, but make sure to consult the doctor before you take anything.

How long does treatment last?

The length of your treatment will depend on the plan decided upon between you and the doctor. Factors affecting the length of treatment can include the severity of your misalignment, patient compliance, age, and even height! That said, a typical round of orthodontic treatment can last between 12- 24 months.

How often will I have to see the doctor?

Appointments for adjustments are generally scheduled 6-8 weeks apart.

When should a child begin treatment?

Dr. Damon recommends monitoring as early as age 7, though treatment may not be necessary.

Am I too old for orthodontic treatment?

Nobody is too old for a beautiful smile!

Are metal braces my only option?

With advances in technology, your options are as diverse as you are! From traditional metal wire-and-bracket braces to the more concealed lingual and Invisalign options, you can choose whatever treatment fits best for you.

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.

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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 his or her teeth with braces and may also provide a prescription for a special fluoride, if necessary.

Will braces interfere with playing sports?

No. It is recommended, however, that patients protect their smiles by wearing a mouth guard when participating in any sporting activity. Mouth guards are inexpensive, comfortable, and come in a variety of colors and patterns.

Will braces interfere with playing musical instruments?

No. However, there may be an initial period of adjustment. In addition, brace covers can be provided to prevent discomfort.


What are aligners made of, and what do they look like?

The virtually invisible aligners, which are made of a thermoplastic material uniquely developed for the Invisalign treatment plan, look similar to teeth-whitening trays. A series of Invisalign aligners are custom-made for you, to move your teeth in the sequence determined by your doctor.

How do the aligners straighten teeth?

Over the course of treatment, you will be supplied with a series of aligners. Each aligner will make slight adjustments to tooth position, a process that is mapped out in advance by your doctor, specifically for your situation. When the aligners are placed on the teeth, they cause the teeth to gradually shift from their current position. After approximately two weeks, you will begin using the next set of aligners, which will continue the teeth straightening process.

How long will treatment last?

While the specific length of treatment will depend on the severity of your case, and should of course be determined by Dr. Damon, the average length of treatment for adults is right around one year. For teens that amount of time can vary drastically, so be sure to consult Dr. Damon.

How often should I wear my aligner trays?

It is recommended that aligners are worn 20-22 hours/day to maximize effective treatment. Only remove your trays when eating, brushing, and flossing.

How often should I go see the doctor during my treatment?

You and Dr. Damon will work out a specialized treatment plan personalized to your needs, though generally speaking you will see your doctor every four to six weeks.

How many people have been treated using Invisalign?

So far over 2.5 million patients around the world have been treated with Invisalign! And with so many people seeing great results, that number is growing daily.

Invisalign for Teens

What are aligners made of, and what do they look like?

The virtually invisible aligners, which are made of a thermoplastic material uniquely developed for the Invisalign treatment plan, look similar to teeth-whitening trays. A series of Invisalign aligners are custom-made for you, to move your teeth in the sequence determined by your doctor.

What are the primary benefits of Invisalign?

Invisalign aligners are virtually invisible. No one may even notice that you’re wearing them, making Invisalign a seamless fit with your lifestyle. Invisalign aligners are removable. For the best results and a timely outcome, aligners should be worn for 20 to 22 hours per day. However, unlike with braces, you have the flexibility to remove your aligners to eat and drink what you want during treatment. And you can also remove the aligners to brush and floss as you normally would, for fresh breath and good oral hygiene.

There are no metal brackets or wires that could cause irritation to your mouth, an advantage over traditional braces. Plus, since your office visits during treatment don’t involve metal or wire adjustments, you’ll likely spend less time in the doctor’s chair. Invisalign allows you to view your virtual results and treatment plan before you start so you can see how your straightened teeth will look when your treatment is complete. Instead of imagining how much better it can be, you’ll be able to see it for yourself.

How long will treatment take?

The length of treatment depends on the severity of your case and can only be determined by your doctor; however, the average case takes about 12 months for adults. The length of time necessary for a teen patient may vary and can be determined by your doctor.

What's the best way to clean my aligners?

The best way to clean your aligners is to use the Invisalign Cleaning system, available for order at As a secondary method, however, your aligners can also be cleaned by brushing them and rinsing them in lukewarm water.

What happens after treatment to prevent my teeth from moving again?

This varies from person to person and depends on the outcome of the treatment. Some patients might need a positioner, or conventional retainer. Other patients might need a clear plastic retainer similar to the ones Invisalign makes, such as Align Technology’s Vivera Retainer, which is worn at night. Discuss this with your dentist. Every patient is different, and outcomes vary.

How much does Invisalign cost?

We know cost is a big question for anyone considering orthodontic work. In most cases, Invisalign treatment is comparable to the cost of traditional braces. However, as with other medical treatments, only your doctor can determine the cost, based on your specific needs. Other factors may include your treatment goals, the difficulty of your case, how long you are in treatment, where you live, your orthodontic insurance coverage, and additional factors determined by your dentist or orthodontist. In the U.S., the cost of Invisalign treatment ranges from $3,500 to $8,000, with the national average at about $5,000.

Adult Treatment

Do Adults Need Orthodontic Treatment?

Of course adults can need orthodontic treatment! Untreated childhood issues with the jaw and teeth as a child can create developmental problems in adulthood. Other times adults may have received treatment as children and not worn prescribed retainers to hold the new position of the teeth. The result of this can be crooked and misaligned teeth. Regardless of your age, orthodontics is a wonderful solution to adults who want their smile to shine.

Is there an age limit?

Of course not! Orthodontic treatment is blind to age. The myth that treatment is only for kids has been proven increasingly wrong. Today more adults are getting their teeth straightened with braces than ever before. Whether it’s a health concern or merely cosmetic, braces are for people of all ages.

Why would an adult get braces?

The bigger question is why wouldn’t an adult get braces? Reasons can range drastically, a new job, a wedding, or just a want to improve your confidence and self-esteem; your reasons are your own. Orthodontic treatment will give you a healthy bite, a rejuvenated smile, and help you keep your teeth for life. With amazing advances in orthodontics, your can be sure that your beautiful smile will last a lifetime.

Are there orthodontists that specialize in adult treatment?

There are some orthodontists that specialize in treating adults, but most are qualified to treat patients of all ages.

Why are my teeth crooked?

Orthodontic problems can be caused by many things. It all depends on the type of malocclusion. Most people can be classified between 1-3, depending on the severity of the problem.

Will braces have an impact on my oral hygiene?

Good oral hygiene is extremely important to a healthy orthodontic plan. You must brush your teeth after every meal to avoid the buildup of plaque and also to avoid decalcification. Try using disclosing tabs to see spots you may be missing, and before you know it you’ll be an expert!


Who can wear Incognito braces?

Incognito braces are suitable for all age groups, children, adolescents and adults who want to correct their tooth position. Your orthodontist will be glad to provide you with more information. In most cases people opt for Incognito braces as they do not want their braces to be visible for professional or aesthetic reasons.

What will the braces look like?

Incognito braces have a very unique design. The bases of the brackets are formed to fit the tongue-side surfaces of your teeth, creating a higher performing function and an optimal fit. Their low profile design means they are much less likely to be seen or for you to hear any effect on your speech. Custom-made archwires are also precisely designed to your orthodontic plan to ensure the most efficient adjustment of your teeth.

How are Incognito braces different than other braces?

As opposed to traditional braces, Incognito braces are fit to the lingual sides of your teeth, creating a low profile solution to your orthodontic plan. They are custom-created and fit to your mouth, utilizing the latest in CAD/CAM imaging and robotic prototyping.

How long will treatment last?

Length of treatment can vary for everyone depending on the severity of correction and the plan Dr. Damon has laid out with you. Consult with the doctor to receive an accurate timeframe.

Will it affect my speech?

Though every patient will have a different reaction, Incognito braces generally do not affect out patients’ speech. Occasionally our patients will experience a minor impediment in the first week or two, but we’ve found that this improves day by day. Dr. Damon can also provide you with speech exercises to assist.

Will there be any discomfort?

There is no pain when the braces are being installed, however your mouth will need to adjust to its new friends. For the first couple of weeks after the braces are put on, you may experience soreness in your tongue, lips, and gums. This is normal for all braces, and the discomfort will subside. Dr. Damon will provide you with tips on how to adjust to your new braces.


What is Acceledent and how does it work?

AcceleDent utilizes micropulse technology to speed up the orthodontic process. By placing the mouthpiece, which has been formed to fit around your existing orthodontics, in your mouth and turning on the activator for 20 minutes a day, you can speed up the process of getting a beautiful smile by up to 50%, with the added bonus of making your treatment schedule more comfortable as well.

Is it safe?

Of course! AcceleDent has been demonstrated as safe and reliable in clinical trials in the U.S. It has been classified as a Class II medical device by the FDA and fully approved for use.

Will using Acceledent decrease my treatment time?

Clinical trials an research have shown that by augmenting your orthodontic treatment with AcceleDent, you can speed up your tooth movement time by 50%, drastically cutting down total treatment time as well as the number of appointments you’ll have to attend.

Can I wear it overnight?

No. You should NOT wear or try to use AcceleDent while sleeping.

When should I recharge my Acceledent unit?

Recharge your AcceleDent Activator every three days, or when the battery indicator lights are no longer visible.

Is this treatment eligible under my HSA?

Though AcceleDent may be eligible under your HSA, consult your HSA administrator to be sure.


How long do I have to wear my retainers?

That all depends on you! The answer can vary based on your length of treatment, how well you’re keeping up with your appointments, and your tendency for relapse. Dr. Damon will develop a specific set of instructions for wear. Make sure you follow them!

Why do I need to wear a retainer after treatment but others don't?

They do. Take a look at their teeth and see if they’re perfectly aligned. Odds are the teeth have shifted after treatment. By wearing a retainer you ensure that your teeth will look perfect for years to come.

What do I do with my old, temporary retainers?

Hold on to them! They can come in handy if you break or lose your primary retainer.

Should I bring my retainer to Dr. Damon's office with me?

Absolutely! How else are we going to make necessary adjustments?

How do I keep these things clean?

Make sure to brush your retainer whenever you brush your teeth. Give them a rinse with mild soap and water as well.

How do retainers break?

Your retainer will be custom-fit and created to fit your mouth and your mouth alone, but teeth can shift, and a retainer can break if it is forced onto your teeth after a shift has occurred. Retainers are also susceptible to explosions and fire, as well as curious pets. Keep your retainer safe!

Orthognathic Surgery

What is orthognathic surgery?

Orthognathic surgery involves a single or double jaw operation to to correct jaw alignment. Malocclusion can result in jaw pain, headaches, neck pain, and a misaligned facial profile. Once the jaws are placed back in alignment, the health of your soft tissue increases greatly.

What is malocclusion?

A malocclusion is a misalignment or incorrect relation between the teeth of the two dental arches when they approach each other as the jaws close.

Why would I need surgery?

Proper jaw function is affected by malocclusion, and can result in the improper chewing of food. Contact between the upper and lower jaws are impeded and can cause negative influence on things like digestion and overall body health. When your teeth are crowded, as happens with malocclusion, food can accumulate, leading to tooth decay and poor overall oral hygiene.

How much does it cost?

Specific cost can vary drastically for different clients. Dr. Damon is available to answer all of your questions!