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FAQs About Orthodontics

Following are the answers to our most FAQs about orthodontics. Drs. Savage, Sabol & Visser strive to provide our patients living in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake and Virginia’s eastern shore, as well as the surrounding communities, with all the information they need to make an informed decision about getting braces.

What is an orthodontist?

A: An orthodontist is a dentist who has attended four years of dental training at an ADA accredited  dental school and has graduated from a 2 to 3 year advanced university based specialty training program in orthodontics that is necessary for the treatment and correction of misaligned teeth and jaws. If the orthodontist is a member of the American Association of Orthodontists, like all of our doctors, you can be assured they have received the appropriate training.

What is the appropriate age for a child to begin orthodontic treatment?

A: The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all patients be seen for an orthodontic examination by age 7. Many severe problems can be prevented from fully developing by initiating early orthodontic treatment (age 7 to 9 years old). It is best to be seen by an orthodontist at or before age 7 to determine if they have orthodontic problems and when would be the appropriate time for the orthodontist to intervene with treatment of these problems.

Am I too old to have braces?

A: Believe it or not, 30 percent of our patients are adults and the number is growing. Many adult patients think that their teeth cannot be moved. This is definitely not true. In fact, in many cases they move even better, because adult patients tend to be more cooperative than some of our younger patients.

How much do braces costs?

A: Costs for orthodontic treatment vary according to the severity of the problem and length and complexity of treatment. Fees plus arrangements for payments are fully discussed at the consultation appointment. Our practice offers several different payment options, including financing. We can assist you in choosing the one most suitable for you. We can arrange for financing with low initial payment, in-office financing with a good credit standing or a discounted option for those who pay in full at the start of treatment. We also accept Visa, Mastercard and debit cards for your convenience.

If you have orthodontic insurance coverage, our insurance manager will process the forms for you. We will call to find out what your benefit is and proceed in filing the claims. It is helpful if the patient and/or parents have all the necessary policy numbers and forms available for processing at the initial visit to ensure that we can identify your lowest out-of-pocket costs.

Will insurance pay for orthodontic care?

A: Many patients have orthodontic benefits as part of their dental plan. Please check with your insurance or benefits manager as to the extent of your coverage. Not all patients with dental coverage have orthodontic coverage. This is dependent on the employer’s decision as to the extent of dental coverage they wish to purchase. Orthodontic insurance generally differs from regular dental insurance in that each insured individual usually has a lifetime maximum benefit for orthodontic services. This benefit is paid as a percentage of the orthodontic fee until the benefit maximum has been reached. Our office is glad to help you with your insurance needs.

Do braces hurt?

A: Drs. Savage, Sabol & Visser are 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 minor discomfort for two to three days after each adjustment. Over the counter pain relievers can be taken for sore teeth.

Will braces effect playing sports?

A: You should be able to play just about any sport or activity. Although we highly recommend wearing a mouth guard in contact sports or any sports where there is a chance that you could be hit in the face.

Is orthodontic treatment only to improve your smile?

A: Orthodontics will not only improve the smile but will improve the alignment and the fit of the teeth to improve any misalignment of the jaw and improve the overall function of your bite. Crooked teeth can lead to cavities or gum disease and a bad bite can lead to chewing problems and possible muscle soreness and jaw joint discomfort.

Can a retainer correct the alignment of my teeth?

A: Retainers are designed primarily to “retain” teeth in the position they have been moved to following orthodontic treatment. It is possible to produce some slight movement of teeth with a retainer. When braces are removed all patients receive a retainer to hold their teeth in position. The teeth tend to shift back towards the original problem without wearing retainers.

How long do I wear my retainers?

A: Throughout life your teeth are always moving, even if you have never had braces. It happens more in some people than others. For this reason, we recommend wearing retainers as long as you can. Usually we have patients wear retainers 12 hours per day for 3 months and then while sleeping thereafter.

Can I be assured that all instruments are sterilized and that there is adequate infection control?

Yes. Our offices use one of the most sophisticated instrument sterilization techniques available. Our sterilization procedures comply with the standards developed by the Center for Disease Control, the American Dental Association, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The effectiveness of our sterilization protocol is independently monitored on a regular basis. We want you to rest assured that your health is our foremost concern.

How long do I have to wear braces?

A: Many factors determine length of treatment, such as bite problem, 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 18-24 months for completion.

What is phase I treatment?

A: Interceptive or early treatment is initiated 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 is typically for 12 to 18 months followed by retainers for several years until all permanent teeth erupt. Most patients require Phase II (full braces) at approximately age 12 to finish the correction of the bite problem.

What is phase II orthodontic treatment?

A: Sixteen new permanent teeth will have erupted between the age of 10 to 12 years old. At approximately age 12 Drs. Savage, Sabol & Visser 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 following a Phase I treatment.

What is surgical orthodontics (orthognathic surgery)?

A: Surgical orthodontics are 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 orthodontic appliances. 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.

If you live in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake or Virginia’s eastern shore, and are considering orthodontics, the doctors at Savage, Sabol, & Visser Orthodontics provide state-of-the-art orthodontic treatment to create a fantastic and bright smile. Contact us to schedule a complimentary consultation.