Frequently Asked Questions
A list of our most asked questions. You’ll find answers to general questions, what to do when you are experiencing an orthodontic emergency and how to care for your braces and oral health while you are in treatment.
What is Orthodontics?
Orthodontics (also referred to as dentofacial orthopedics) is a specialized form of dentistry that focuses on the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial abnormalities.
What is an Orthodontist?
An orthodontist is a dental specialist who has received two to three years of additional training and experience. Dr. McMinn is able to straighten teeth, correct misaligned jaw structure, and improve the function of your smile.
What is the best age to visit an orthodontist?
If you want to improve the look and feel of your smile, then any age can be a great time to see the orthodontist. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children first visit an orthodontist around the age of seven; however, orthodontic treatment is not exclusive to children and teens.
About one in every five orthodontic patients is over the age of 21. Whether you’re considering treatment for yourself or for a child, any age is a good time to visit the orthodontist.
How can I care for my teeth if I’m wearing braces or a retainer?
- ALWAYS remember to brush your teeth after every meal and floss at least once a day.
- Make sure to use toothpaste that contains fluoride, and ask Dr. McMinn or your family dentist if you need a fluoride rinse. This will help prevent cavities!
- If you take out your retainer to eat, make sure you brush your teeth, floss, and remember to keep the retainer safe in its container so it does not get lost or broken.
- Keep your retainer clean, too, by brushing it gently with a toothbrush and toothpaste. You may also soak it in denture cleaner as instructed by our office. Do not put your retainer in boiling water or in the dishwasher.
- During your treatment, try to avoid foods with a lot of sugar, which increases the amount of bacteria that grows in your mouth, and can cause more plaque and potential cavities.
- Avoid sticky and chewy foods (caramel, chewing gum, gummy bears), hard foods (hard candy, nuts, ice cubes), or any foods that could possibly get stuck in your braces (corn on the cob, soft bagels, ribs, taffy, etc.).
- Be sure to schedule your routine checkups with your family dentist. It is recommended that you continue to visit the dentist every six months.
What are braces?
Braces are used by orthodontists to help you improve the look and feel of your smile. There are several different types of braces to choose from, including:
- Clear braces
- Invisible braces
- Traditional metal braces
If I get braces, how long do I have to wear them?
The amount of time spent in braces will vary, depending on the individual patient, because every smile responds differently to treatment. Treatment times can last anywhere from six to 30 months, but most standard treatments take about 22 months.
Do braces hurt?
Braces do not often hurt, though you may feel a small amount of discomfort for a couple days as your teeth, gums, cheeks, and mouth get used to your new braces.
Do I need to brush my teeth more often if I have braces?
With braces, you should brush your teeth at least three times a day to keep your teeth, gums, and mouth healthy and clean. Brushing regularly will help remove any food that may be caught between the braces.
You should also floss daily to get between your braces where your brush isn’t able to reach. Dr. McMcinn can show you how to brush and floss properly once your braces are placed.
If I have braces, do I still need dental checkups every six months?
Yes! In fact, it’s even more important that patients receiving orthodontic treatment visit their dentist regularly. With braces, food may be caught in places your toothbrush can’t reach. This causes bacteria to build up and can lead to cavities, gingivitis, and gum disease. We will work closely with your dentist to make sure your teeth stay clean and healthy while you’re wearing braces.
Will my braces interfere with my school activities like sports, playing an instruments, or singing?
Playing an instrument or a contact sport may require some adjustment when you first get your braces, but wearing braces will not stop you from participating in any of your school activities. If you play a contact sport, it is recommended that you wear a mouthguard to protect your braces or appliance.
How do I schedule my next appointment?
Simply call our practice! Our front desk staff will be happy to schedule your next appointment at your convenience. If you are a new patient or have been referred to our practice, please let us know and we will provide you with all the information you need.
Do you accept insurance?
All patients or parents are ultimately responsible for the entire amount of their treatment fee. Our office is dedicated to providing a positive orthodontic experience for every patient. That’s why we’re happy to guide you every step of the way through orthodontic insurance. This gives all of us something to smile about! There are many different types of dental insurance plans, with various types of coverage. Orthodontic insurance can be very complex, and sometimes difficult for patients or parents to fully understand the benefits to which they’re entitled. We will work with you to help you receive the reimbursement you deserve.
Do you have payment plans?
Payment in Full
When an account is paid in full at the time of initial banding, or within 60 days after treatment commences there will be a bookkeeping courtesy discount given when paid by cash, check, or credit card.
Office Payment Plan
When treatment begins, an initial banding fee of $1,000 or 1/3 of the total treatment fee (whichever is less) is the down payment. The balance of the treatment fee is placed on an interest free monthly installment plan. The monthly payment can be set to automatically pay from a debit or credit card if desired. Payments are due anytime from the 1st of the month through the 25th day of the month. Finance charges are imposed on balances not paid within sixty (60) days of the due date.
Co-Payments and Payment Plans
Since orthodontic insurance covers a portion of the total fee, our office will, in good faith, “extend an initial credit” to each patient or parent in the amount that we estimate your primary insurance plan will pay toward treatment.
Do you offer family discounts for siblings?
We offer discounts for patient’s family members continuing treatment in our office.
Most orthodontic emergencies can be remedied at home with orthodontic wax or clipping a wire with a small nail clipper. Please call our emergency phone to get some assistance (208) 726-3132. Please keep in mind that the assistant covering the phone cannot answer any scheduling or financial questions.
What do I do in case of emergency?
Call our office as soon as possible if you break or loosen any of your appliances. Please do not come directly to the office – by calling us, you will allow us to create a time to see you. Even if you have a regular appointment scheduled, call us immediately to notify us if you need an appliance repaired.
I have a loose bracket or band. What do I do?
Call our office immediately for advice if a bracket or wire is loosened. The bracket my need to be re-fitted as soon as possible. You may have a situation that requires cutting a wire or sliding a bracket off a wire at night or over the weekend. If you need to cuta. wire in case of emergency, you may use a fingernail clipper that has been washed and sterilized in alcohol. Please call our office the next business day, that we we may schedule an appointment for you.
My wire is irritating me!
Sometimes discomfort caused by a wire on your braces can be resolved by moving the wire away from the irritated area with a cotton swab or eraser. If the wire will not move, try covering the end of it with a small pieces of cotton or a small amount of wax. If the wire is painful, you can cut it with a nail clipper or scissors that have been washed and sterilized with alcohol. If you cannot resolve the wire irritation, call our office for an appointment.
Oh No! I lost my seperator.
Most patients lose a separator during their treatment. Do not worry about losing a separator, but call our office to see if it needs to be replaced.
I’m experienced discomfort with my orthodontic treatment.
During the first week after your braces are in place and routine adjustments are complete, you will likely feel some pain, soreness, or discomfort. You my take acetaminophen or other non-aspirin pain relievers while you adjust to your new braces. A warm washcloth or heating pad may reduce the soreness in your jaws.
How to Care for your Teeth during Treatment
Brushing and Flossing.
The best way to ensure a clean and healthy smile is brushing and flossing. Food particles can accumulate on teeth and in braces, and over time, turn into plaque. The bacteria that results from this accumulation can lead to gum disease, tooth decay and even loss of teeth. To avoid these problems while you are in orthodontic treatment, take special care of your braces, teeth and gums to ensure you will have the best possible result.
How to brush well with braces.
Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small strip of fluoride toothpaste. When you brush your teeth, move the brush in small circular motions to reach food particles that may be under your gum line. Hold the toothbrush at an angle and brush slowly and carefully, covering all areas between teeth, between braces and the surface of each tooth. It will take you several minutes to thoroughly brush your teeth. Brush up on the lower teeth, down on the upper teeth and the outside, inside and chewing surface of your front and back teeth. Brush your tongue and the roof of your mouth before you rinse.
Especially during orthodontic treatment, brush your teeth four times daily to avoid the accumulation of food particles in your teeth and braces:
- In the morning after breakfast
- After lunch or right after school
- After supper
- At bedtime
You will need to replace your toothbrush more often due to your appliances. As soon as the bristles start to wear down or fray, replace your toothbrush with a new one. It may be difficult for your toothbrush with a new one. It my be difficult for your toothbrush to reach some areas under your archwire. Do not swallow and toothpaste: rinse your mouth thoroughly with water and you finish brushing. It is important to floss and use an antibacterial mouthwash and fluoride treatment throughout your orthodontic treatment and beyond for optimal oral hygiene.
How to brush with an interdental toothbrush.
A Proxabrush is an interdental (between the teeth) toothbrush that you may use to clean underneath and around your wires and braces. Use the Proxabrush gently to avoid damaging your wires. The Proxabrush will help you to clean your braces while maintaining healthy teeth and gums.
How to floss while in treatment.
For areas between the teeth that a toothbrush can’t reach, use dental floss to remove particles and plaque. Flossing takes more time and patience when you are wearing braces, but it is important to floss your teeth every day.
Ue the reusable floss threader provided by our office to floss under your archwire daily. Pull a small length of floss from this dispenser through the treader and slide it up and down along the front of each tooth. You will be able to feel when the tooth is clean and hear the squeak of the floss against your clean teeth. Use care around your archwire and do not floss too forcefully around it or put too much pressure on it. After you floss between your archwire and braces, floss between your other teeth and gums.
If you are flossing without the floss threader, pull small length of floss from the dispenser. Wrap the ends of the floss tightly around your middle fingers. Guide the floss between all teeth to the gum line, pulling out food particles or plaque. Unwrap clean floss from around your fingers as you go, so that you have used the floss from beginning to end when you finish. Floss behind all your teeth.
Floss at night to make sure your teeth are clean before you go to bed. When you first begin flossing around your braces, your gums may bleed a little. If the bleeding does not go away after the first few times, inform a staff member at your next appointment.
Import Braces Info to Keep in Mind.
It’s important to regularly check your braces for bent or loose wires and brackets. In the event of a loose/broken wire or bracket, call our office immediately to arrange an appointment for repair
Are there foods I need to avoid?
For most situations, common sense will tell you what to avoid. Hard foods, sticky foods, and food high in sugar MUST be avoided. Hard foods can break or damage wires and brackets and wires. Minimize sugary foods; they cause tooth decay and related problems. Nail biting, pencil and pen chewing on foreign objects should be avoided.
Sticky Foods to Avoid: just a few examples
- Gum (sugar-free or regular)
- Sugar Daddies
- Tootsie Rolls
- Chew Candy
Hard Foods to Avoid: just a few examples
- Hard taco shells
- French bread crust/rolls
- Corn on the cob
- Apples and carrots (unless cut into small pieces)
- Jolly Ranchers
- Pizza Crust
Minimize Sugary Foods: just a few examples
- Ice Cream
Only Once A Day
- Sweetened Tea
- Drinks with sugar