Carl Walker Orthodontics
Sunday, July 21, 2024

Q & A

Straight Answers about Orthodontics

Orthodontics is the specialized treatment of a facial, dental or functional condition that may cause one to be unhappy with his appearance, bite, or smile.  The orthodontist’s primary objective is NOT to straighten teeth; rather the major concern is the entire facial function and appearance.  Harmony and balance of the face are produced by proper relationships between muscles, bone, joint, and teeth.  The desired results not only include straight teeth, but also pleasing facial aesthetics, good bite, improved speech, a winning smile, and an appropriate self image.

Why do you like coming to Dr. Walker’s office?
“You get to learn how to shoot gloves into the trash.”
“They give away cool prizes.”
“They have the coolest staff.”
“They have scented gloves.”
“They treat you like family.”

How much do braces cost? Is financing available?  How does my insurance work?  

Until Dr. Walker examines you or your child, it’s impossible to give the exact cost as every treatment is different.  The exact cost and financial arrangements will be discussed in detail at the first visit (remember it’s free!).  Discounts are offered for fees paid in full or for patients whose siblings have had treatment.

Do I need a referral from a dentist?

In a word, no. 

What age should my child first be seen for an orthodontic evaluation?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child be seen by age seven.  Early detection and treatment of growth and dental problems can provide results that will not be achieved at a later age, even sometimes avoiding braces and/or surgery later in life.

Shouldn’t I just wait until all my child’s adult teeth come in before we see an orthodontist?

A thousand times no. It’s important for your child to be checked early in order to avoid any potential problems.  Early intervention can often prevent having permanent teeth taken out or improper jaw growth.  

How long do I have to wear braces?

That will depend on you! If you wear your elastics consistently and make every effort at good oral hygiene, then your teeth and bite will move on schedule.  Rarely, the teeth can be stubborn and not move as quickly as estimated, but if you do everything you are asked and care for your braces/appliances as you should stay right on track.

Are braces the only form of orthodontic treatment?

No, for some issues there are other options – sometimes braces are not needed to achieve noticeable improvements in the way teeth are aligned.  Whether or not this is true for you would be determined at your initial evaluation. 

Am I too old for orthodontics?  What if I don’t want to wear braces?

You’re never too old to have straight teeth!  About twenty five percent of our practice is adults, largely due to the importance today’s society places on aesthetics.  Having a great smile is more important than ever, and there are many adults who were unable to have treatment as children. Adults who decide to have treatment are super-motivated and willing to do whatever it takes to obtain results, especially now that they are spending their own money! With new technology, there are more ways than ever to improve your smile – it only takes an hour of your time and zero cash to explore the options.

Can I play sports while I have braces?

Only if you could play before you had them (ba da bing, ba da boom). Of course you can play, but you must wear a mouth guard!  A line drive or an elbow during a basketball game could knock out unprotected teeth, so kids who have braces have the advantage of their wires and brackets actually holding the teeth in place when an injury happens. Without a mouth guard, the gums, lips and tongue get torn up and leave a bloody mess. We are happy to provide a mouth guard especially for our athletes with braces at no charge – but you have to tell us you need one!!

Can I still play my mouth instrument while I have braces?  

It will be affected temporarily, but you can play as well as you did before braces by doing the same thing it takes to get to Carnegie Hall – practice, practice, practice.  Having braces does take some adjustment, but most of our patients say it only takes a week or so. 

Are there any foods or activities I should avoid when I have braces?

Oh, yeah.

        DO NOTS:

          Hard, brittle food (hard candy, hard cereal bars, sunflower seeds in shells, ice, popcorn, etc.)
          Chewy & Sticky food (bubble gum, caramels, taffy, airheads, gummies, etc.)
          Pens, pencils & fingernails are off limits for chewing – if you eat these, we may have other issues.


          Cut in smaller pieces and chew on back teeth (apples, carrots, hard bread, pizza crusts, Doritos, etc.)
          Cut corn off the cob.

Why do I have to wear rubber bands?  They hurt, so I take them out.  

Rubber bands are usually given to you during the latter part of your treatment and provide the extra sumpin sumpin your teeth need to move into proper place.  Granted, the teeth get sore when you first start wearing them.  But if you can just hang in there through the first day or two, the discomfort will lessen, then go away.  If you take them off when they hurt, you end up taking one step forward and two steps back  - back to the starting line where they hurt all over again when you wear them. If you wanna finish the race and get those braces off quickly, you will wear those rubber bands 24/7 (or every night- however Dr. Walker tells you to wear them), taking them off only to eat.  Bottom line? If you don’t wear them, your teeth won’t move, then you will not be able to get your braces off on schedule.  

Will I have to wear a retainer when I get my braces off?

The day your braces come off, you may receive "permanent" retainers on the backside of your front teeth, and we will take an impression for a removable upper retainer that you will wear only at night. The most important thing you can do in order to keep your smile looking fabulous is wear your retainer!!

My permanent retainer is broken. Can I just have it removed?

The better question is how long do you want your teeth to stay straight? Teeth move and shift your entire life, so Dr. Walker recommends leaving them in place.  If it breaks, we can repair it easily. Wearing a removable retainer instead of a permanent one increases the odds it will be lost (mo’money!) and also increases the chances that you will forget to wear it.  We can remove fixed retainers and give you removable ones to wear every night, however we do prefer the fixed retainers.  Dr. Walker will recommend what he feels will work best for you, but the ultimate choice is yours.