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12 Questions to ask your Orthodontist

Houston is fortunate to have many great Orthodontists, but did you know that the average person might not distinguish between an orthodontist and a dentist. To make matters more complicated, a recent court ruling has blurred the lines for the public to distinguish between an orthodontic specialist and a general dentist. Recently, I saw two transfer patients who thought they were being treated by an orthodontist, whereas they were being seen by their dentist – and the results of their case was sub-par to say the least. In some circumstances, there are exceptions to the rule, as some general dentists can treat simple cases with Invisalign, but generally, you should visit an orthodontist if you’re seeking the highest quality results.

1.) Are you an orthodontist?

This is a very important question to ask your doctor, and one that could make a huge difference in the results of your smile.  First, a dentist and orthodontist will likely have started their education in similar paths. Both will have a bachelor’s degree and applied to dental school. After a four year doctoral program in Dental school, a general dentist may begin to practice dentistry, while an orthodontist must serve an additional three year residency in an accredited Orthodontics program. Ideally an Orthodontist, including Dr. Jennings may also get certified by the American Board of Orthodontics-the only orthodontic specialty board certified by the American Dental Association.  Upon graduation, an orthodontist will typically tag his or her name with D.D.S. or D.M.D., as well as “M.S.”, for Master of Science.

In clinical terms, dentistry mainly deals with issues surrounding the gum and teeth, while orthodontists specialize in correcting the movement of teeth into their optimal position.

2.) How many patients do you treat with Invisalign per year?

Invisalign by itself does not straighten your teeth. It is a plastic aligner that is designed by an orthodontist who has studied your case and identified the exact path for your teeth to move into their optimum position.  Think of Invisalign as a car, and the doctor as your driver.  As we know, there are all kinds of drivers out there.  Do you want a doctor that only drives 5-10 times a year or one that drives 100+ times a year?  Another way to think of this analogy is:  Invisalign is the guitar, and the doctor is the player.  Do you want a beginner guitarist or Eddie Van Halen?  Of course, you know this is my favorite analogy!

3.) What type of braces may I choose from?

Today, you have many choices on the types of treatment for correcting your smile. After your initial exam and evaluation, you may choose from Damon braces or Invisalign. Each treatment has certain pros and cons associated with them, but overall, both are quite effective in helping you achieve your desired outcome.

4.) What is “6 Month Smiles” or “Fastbraces”?  Why wouldn’t I just choose that?

Excellent question.  Six month smiles or Fastbraces are currently marketed as a cutting-edge technology that allows faster, safer movement of teeth – in as little 6 months using a triangular shaped brace.  I don’t want to tell you what to think, but just want to plant this seed in your mind:  If there were a type of brace that would allow me to treat a patient in 6 months vs 20 months, why wouldn’t I or any other orthodontist want to use it for all my cases?  I mean that’s pure profit!  But the main reason why I’m not a fan of Six Month Smiles and Fastbraces is their focus on the “social six” (aka the six teeth you see when you smile).  This treatment does not address some of the primary issues of orthodontics. They are akin to what the orthodontist refers to as “initial alignment”.  Plus, these “fast” treatments cost almost as much as comprehensive, well planned orthodontic treatment that includes bite correction.

5.) How long do I have to wear braces?

Usually, orthodontic treatment takes anywhere from 12 to 24 months depending on the severity of your case as well as how compliant you are in following your treatment instructions. After your free orthodontic consultation, Dr. Jennings will be able to provide you with a close estimate for your case.

6.) How many orthodontic visits are needed while in treatment?

On average, you can expect to visit an Orthodontist every 6-10 weeks. Of course, this can also vary depending on the type of braces that you are wearing and if you need special appointments in the event one of your brackets accidentally breaks.

7.) Will extractions be needed?

At times, some patients do need to have extractions to make room for teeth to move into their correct positions.  After evaluating your teeth and bite, Dr. Jennings will let you know if extractions will be needed.  Dr. Jennings has greatly reduced the number of patients needing extractions by using Damon System braces.

8.) What about oral hygiene?

Keeping your teeth and gums clean is imperative to achieving the best results from your Orthodontic treatment. If you’re wearing braces, you must brush after every meal. Also, there are special flossing instructions that can help you floss your teeth while wearing braces. If you’re wearing Invisalign, you can remove your aligners and brush and floss as you normally would.

9.) Can someone with braces still play sports?

Yes. You can enjoy your favorite sports, however, you will need to wear a special mouth guard that will protect your teeth, tongue, gums and cheeks in the event of a fall or contact.

10.) Do braces hurt?

Each year, new technological advancements make braces more effective and comfortable than ever. Overall, there should be minimal discomfort involved while in treatment. The only time you might feel a mild discomfort is following your check-ups or right after your braces are placed on your teeth. In almost all cases, over the counter pain relievers may be used.

11.) Will I need to wear a retainer?

In nearly every case, we recommend you wear a retainer following your treatment. The job of a retainer is to ensure that your teeth don’t shift to their original position after being straightened.

12.) What is the cost of braces or Invisalign?

At Jennings Orthodontics Houston, we offer competitive pricing for treatment and you won’t have to pay extra if you want Invisalign. Best of all, we will work with you to create a custom payment plan that fits your budget and one that puts you in control. If you have insurance that covers any portion of your orthodontic treatment, we will gladly file your insurance as a special bonus to you!

Dr. Brad Jennings is a board certified Houston orthodontic specialist. He has performed hundreds of successful Invisalign cases for teens and adults. If you’re interested in learning how Invisalign Teen can help straighten your smile, give us a call at 281-497-7920 or visit https://drjenningsortho.com