Braces FAQ

At Heller Orthodontics, we work hard to find an orthodontic solution for every patient. For a majority of patients, that means creating an orthodontic treatment plan with braces. Dr. Heller, our local Bethesda and Laurel orthodontist, will discuss your treatment options and answer any questions you may have. Together, you will choose an orthodontic treatment that will be the most appropriate for you and your orthodontic needs. Our team understands that choosing to get braces can be a big decision. For that reason, we have put together a list of frequently asked braces questions for your convenience.

When Should You Start Orthodontic Treatment?

You're never too old to begin orthodontic treatment, however, if you start at an earlier age, your orthodontic issues may be easier to treat. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that a child should come in for their first visit around age 7. At this time, an orthodontist will be able to tell if there are any underlying issues that may cause orthodontic problems in the future.

How Can I Recognize a Potential Bite Problem?

Teeth that are protruding, crowded together, or erupting out of position are clear indications that orthodontic treatment is needed. Less obvious signs include mouth breathing, frequent biting of the cheek or palate, speech difficulties, and thumb sucking that continues past 3-4 years of age. If teeth do not meet properly when the mouth closes, or if jaws make sounds or shift as they move, this may also indicate an orthodontic problem. It is best for an orthodontist to assess your teeth and analyze if a potential bite problem exists.

Does Getting Braces Hurt?

Having braces put on is generally painless. Some people experience minor pain in the first couple of days as they adjust to wearing their appliances. Periodic adjustments may sometimes cause soreness as well, though it typically lasts for only a short time. Over-the-counter pain relievers can be used to alleviate any discomfort, but are usually unnecessary.

How Often Will I Come in for an Appointment?

How Long is Orthodontic Treatment with Braces?

It's different for each person, but generally the active stage of treatment (wearing braces or other appliances) may take from 6-30 months. After that, a retainer is worn for at least several months more.

How Often Will I Come in for an Appointment?

It depends on what's being done, and how often you need to be monitored. During active treatment, you'll typically come into the Heller Orthodontics office once every 4 to 10 weeks.

Will I Need to Have any Teeth Extracted?

If your teeth are severely crowded (because your mouth is too small to properly accommodate all of them), or if you have impacted teeth (teeth that are trapped beneath the gum line by other teeth), then extraction may be necessary. In the case of younger patients, early treatment may make extraction unnecessary. Extraction will be different for each individual patient.

Will I Have to Eat Certain Foods?

If you have traditional braces, yes, you should pass on the types of foods that could damage or become trapped in your braces. Some of these include raw vegetables, hard candy, caramel, taffy and ice cubes. We will give you a list of foods to avoid. But, if you have Invisalign in Laurel, you can eat all the foods you normally eat because you will take out your plastic aligners at mealtimes.

Will I be Able to Play Sports or an Instrument?

Yes! Of course, whether you wear braces or not, we recommend you wear a mouthguard when playing most sports. Musicians are generally able to play their instruments just as they did before, but they may need a short adjustment period after getting braces.

Do I Still Need to See My Regular Dentist While I’m Getting Orthodontic Treatment?

Yes, you do, it's more important than ever! Keeping your teeth free of plaque (and potential decay) can be challenging when you're wearing braces. Your dentist can help you avoid these problems with frequent cleanings and exams.

Will I Wear a Retainer When My Braces Come Off?

Will I Wear a Retainer When My Braces Come Off?

Almost always, the answer is yes. If you don't wear a retainer, your teeth can rapidly shift out of position, and then all the effort put into your treatment is lost! Your retainer helps you maintain that good-looking and functional smile for a lifetime.

Are Braces & Orthodontic Care Expensive?

Orthodontic care is a long-term investment in your health and well-being. Yet its cost hasn't increased as fast as many other consumer prices, and many financing options are available that make orthodontic care affordable. Weighed against the true cost of living with problem teeth, however, orthodontic treatment can be a wise investment indeed.

Schedule Your First Appointment for Braces with Heller Orthodontics!

If you are interested in orthodontic treatment for yourself or your child, contact Heller Orthodontics in Laurel and Bethesda. Our team will be happy to discuss our options with you and answer any questions you may have about braces or Invisalign in Bethesda. Additionally, Heller Orthodontics offers Sure Smile, a new comprehensive orthodontic plan that makes treatment even quicker! Call our Laurel or Bethesda office directly or schedule an appointment online. We can’t wait to see you and begin your orthodontic journey!

Heller Orthodontics

  • Bethesda Office - 4350 East West Hwy. Suite 120, Bethesda, MD 20814 Phone: (301) 654-5433 Fax: (301) 657-8403
  • Laurel Office - 9811 Mallard Drive Suite 201, Laurel, MD 20708 Phone: (301) 490-2882 Fax: (301) 490-2882

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