Frequently Asked Questions

Our Most Common Orthodontic Questions And The Terms We Use, Defined.

Use the links below to answer common questions from our orthodontic patients—perhaps yours is already there. If not? We encourage you to contact us at any of our three locations with your question or concern.

We’ve also provided a basic Orthodontic dictionary to help you better understand the terms we use when it comes to restoring healthier, better smiles.

What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics is a branch of dentistry dealing with the correction of irregularities of the teeth.

What is an orthodontist?

An orthodontist is a dentist who has received specialty training in orthodontics by attending an accredited, dental specialty program that includes academic instruction and residency training.

Programs are typically two to three years. Orthodontists who are members of the Association of Orthodontists have received appropriate training. Learn more about Dr. Doerfler’s Orthodontic background. (links to ABOUT)

Why is orthodontics important?

An attractive smile and improved self-image are just two of the benefits of orthodontic treatment. Physical health is also an important consideration. Many problems can be alleviated and prevented by proper orthodontic care.

Without treatment, orthodontic problems can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, bone destruction, chewing and digestive difficulties, speech impairments, tooth loss and other dental injuries. 

Will braces keep me from playing sports?

No. It is recommended, however, that patients protect their smiles by wearing a mouth guard when participating in any sporting activity.

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.

How long do I have to wear braces?

Many factors determine length of treatment, such as bite problems 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.

What is the appropriate age to begin orthodontic care?

Children should see Dr. Doerfler for the first time no later than age seven, as recommended by the American Association of Orthodontists. Dr. Doerfler can improve most tooth and jaw alignment problems for patients of any age. One in five of our orthodontics patients is an adult. Learn more about appropriate ages and vital first steps as a patient. (links to FOR PATIENTS)

Will braces hurt?

Dr. Doerfler 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, plus gentle wires provide continuous light forces over a longer period of time.

Typically the patient is not uncomfortable while in the office but will experience some discomfort for two to three days after each adjustment. Over-the-counter pain relievers relieve the soreness in most cases.

How do I know that all instruments are sterilized and that there is adequate infection control?

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 functioning properly and thoroughly for all of our patients.

You will notice that the doctors and chair-side assistants wear rubber gloves whenever treating the patients. This is done for the patient’s protection and to minimize the risk of disease transmission.

What do braces cost?

Costs for orthodontic treatment vary according to the severity of the problem and length and complexity of treatment. Fees and payment arrangements are fully discussed at the consultation appointment.

Usually we request an initial fee when treatment begins. The remainder is divided into monthly payments for the duration of treatment. Special arrangements can be made. Learn more about our insurance and payment options. (links to finance page in patient section)

What is TMJ?

TMJ Dysfunction is a condition of the jaw that occurs when the temporomandibular joint (the joint where the lower and upper jaw meet) is misaligned or malfunctioning in a way that subjects the joint to excess pressure.

TMJ can seriously affect how your mouth works and often includes side-effects such as neck pain, headaches and difficulty chewing.

What is malocclusion? 

The technical term for teeth that do not fit together correctly is “malocclusion.” Most malocclusions are inherited, however, it is possible to acquire a bad bite from habits such as tongue-thrusting and thumb-sucking.

The premature loss of baby teeth or the extraction of adult teeth can cause the development of malocclusion. Inherited malocclusions are usually caused by a difference between the size of the teeth and the size of the jaw structure. Whether inherited or acquired, malocclusions affect not only the alignment of the teeth, but also the appearance of the face.

Are retainers necessary and how long will I have to wear one?

A retainer is a device worn full- or part-time after braces have been removed. The retainer is designed to prevent your teeth from drifting or moving while the bone around your teeth hardens and stabilizes. The longer you wear your retainer, the better your chances that your teeth will not relapse. Retainers provide assurance that your teeth will stay in alignment while your jaw continues to grow or develop.

What is Phase I treatment? 

“Interceptive” or “early” treatment, also known as Phase I, begins 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 typically lasts 12 to 18 months followed by retainers for several years until all permanent teeth erupt. Some patients require Phase II (full braces) at approximately age 12 to finish the correction of the bite problem.

What is Phase II treatment? 

Sixteen new permanent teeth will have erupted between the ages of 10 to 12 years old. At approximately age 12, Dr. Doerfler 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 new retainers up to full braces for one to two years to finish correction of the bite problem.

What is Surgical Orthodontics (orthognathic surgery)? 

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.

What are some of the terms and definitions used in orthodontic care?

Please see our basic list of orthodontic terms and definitions here.

Have More Questions? Let Us Answer Them Personally!

Call us today to discuss your individual orthodontic concerns in confidence -- at any one of our three locations!