FAQ

"Dr. Hullings and his staff are knowledgeable, skilled, attentive, supportive and respectful. The office is well organized and the administrative staff is incredibly courteous and helpful. Our visits to the office are efficient, but never rushed. Yes, orthodontic treatment is an investment, but the quality of the patient care and the exceptional customer service makes the investment easier to accept. We highly recommend Dr. Hullings to our family and friends!" - Ann Marie D.

  1. Do I need a referral to schedule my appointment with the orthodontist?
  2. Why should I choose a board Certified orthodontic specialist?
  3. At what age should I schedule an appointment for an orthodontic screening?
  4. Will my child’s teeth straighten out as he/she grows?
  5. How do I schedule an appointment for an initial exam?
  6. What will happen at the initial examination appointment?
  7. Will I need to have teeth extracted for braces?
  8. How long will it take to complete treatment?
  9. How much will braces cost? Are financing options available? How does my insurance work?
  10. How often will I have appointments?
  11. Can I schedule all of my appointments after school?
  12. Can I return to school the day I receive my braces or have adjustments?
  13. Do braces hurt?
  14. Can I drop my child off for an appointment?
  15. Can I accompany my child to the treatment area?
  16. Do you use recycled braces?
  17. Can I still play sports?
  18. Can I still play my musical instrument?
  19. Do I need to see my family dentist while in braces?
  20. Are there foods I cannot eat while I have braces?
  21. How often should I brush my teeth while in braces?
  22. Do braces cause cavities?
  23. What is an orthodontic emergency? How are those handled?
  24. Can orthodontic correction occur while a child has baby teeth?
  25. What is Phase One (early) Treatment?
  26. Will my child need full braces if he/she has Phase One treatment?
  27. Is it too late to have braces if I am already an adult?
  28. Is orthodontic treatment ever medically necessary?
  29. Will I have to wear retainers after braces?

1. Do I need a referral to schedule my appointment with the orthodontist?

Many of our patients are referred by their family dentist, while many other patients take the initiative to schedule an examination themselves. A direct referral is not necessary.

2. Why should I choose a board certified orthodontic specialist?

Teeth, and sometimes entire facial structures, are permanently changed by orthodontic treatment. It is important that the treatment be appropriate and properly completed. Board Certified Orthodontic specialists have extensive and specialized training that enables them to provide patients with professional, personalized treatments.  Only 1 in 3 orthodontists is board certified.

3. At what age should I schedule an appointment for an orthodontic screening?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends an orthodontic screening at age 7 or when the permanent first molars and incisors (four front teeth) are in. At this early age, orthodontic treatment may not be needed, but Dr. Hullings will carefully monitor growth and development to determine the best time to begin. Early evaluation provides both timely detection of problems and a greater opportunity for more effective treatment.

4. Will my child’s teeth straighten out as he/she grows?

No, they will not. The space available for the front teeth does not increase as you grow. In most people, after the permanent molars erupt, the space available for the front teeth decreases with age.

5. How do I schedule an appointment for an initial exam?

If you think you or your child may benefit from orthodontic treatment, simply call our office, send us an e-mail or use the appointment request form on this website. We will be happy to schedule an appointment for you.

6. What will happen at the initial examination appointment?

So that Dr. Hullings has the information necessary to give you his preliminary treatment recommendations, we will be taking a digital panoramic X-ray and photographs at your first appointment. After reviewing the X-ray and completing a thorough clinical exam, Dr. Hullings will discuss whether orthodontic treatment is necessary. He will describe your treatment options and be able to estimate how long it will last. Our treatment coordinator will review the financial aspects of orthodontic care, including payment options.

If Dr. Hullings determines that treatment is indicated, we will take the additional diagnostic records (X-rays and impressions of your teeth) that he will need to thoroughly diagnose and plan your orthodontic treatment.

It is very important to us that you come away from the first visit with a clear understanding of your individual orthodontic needs, how these needs will be met, how long it will take and how much it will cost. We always want you to feel comfortable asking any questions that you may have about any part of the orthodontic treatment process.

7. Will I need to have teeth extracted for braces?

Proper alignment of the teeth and bite, as well as a balanced facial profile, are the goals of orthodontics. Removing teeth is sometimes required to achieve the best orthodontic result. However, because new technology has provided advanced orthodontic procedures, removing teeth is not always necessary for orthodontic treatment.

8. How long will it take to complete treatment?

Treatment time obviously depends on each patient’s specific orthodontic problem. In general, treatment time lasts anywhere from 8 to 30 months. The "average" time frame a person is in braces is approximately 18 to 24 months.

9. How much will braces cost? Are financing options available? How does my insurance work?

It is impossible to give an exact cost for treatment until Dr. Hullings has examined you. We will cover the exact cost and financial options during the initial examination. We have several financing options available to accommodate your needs, and we will review these with you. We will also review your insurance policy and help to maximize your benefit and file your claims.

10. How often will I have appointments?

Appointments are scheduled according to each patient's needs. Most patients in braces will be seen every four to ten weeks.

11. Can I schedule all of my appointments after school?

Unfortunately, we cannot schedule all appointments for students during after-school hours. However, because most appointments are scheduled 6 to 8 weeks apart, most patients will miss minimal school due to their orthodontic treatment. We will, however, make a sincere effort to meet your scheduling needs.

12. Can I return to school the day I receive my braces or have adjustments?

Yes. There is no reason you cannot return to school the same day.

13. Do braces hurt?

Generally, braces do not "hurt." After certain visits, teeth may be sore for a few days. In these situations, over-the-counter pain medications such as Advil or Tylenol will ease the discomfort.

14. Can I drop my child off for an appointment?

Sure.  We understand your busy schedule, and we are happy to help you make the most of your time. When you return, we will be able to update you on your child's treatment progress and schedule the next appointment.

15. Can I accompany my child to the treatment area?

Of course! You are always welcome in the treatment area, especially if you have any questions or concerns.

16. Do you use recycled braces?

Never!

17. Can I still play sports?

Yes. We recommend a mouth guard for all sports.

18. Can I still play my musical instrument?

Although it may take a period of adjustment, braces should not interfere with making beautiful music!

19. Do I need to see my family dentist while in braces?

Absolutely! Regular check-ups with your family dentist are an essential part of orthodontic treatment. Your family dentist will determine the intervals between cleaning appointments while you are in braces.

20. Are there foods I cannot eat while I have braces?

Yes. Once treatment begins, we will explain the complete instructions and provide a comprehensive list of foods to avoid. We will ask that you avoid very hard and very sticky foods. We’ll also ask that you never chew ice! You can avoid most emergency appointments to repair broken or damaged braces by carefully following our instructions. We also ask our patients in braces to avoid soda and other carbonated beverages while in braces. These drinks are very acidic and have a propensity to adhere to the tooth enamel and cause decalcification (permanent scarring).

21. How often should I brush my teeth while in braces?

You should brush your teeth after each meal or snack and before going to bed. We will provide you with an electric toothbrush the day your appliances are placed and give you special instructions for brushing with braces. We will also show you how to floss with braces and may provide a prescription for a special fluoride, if necessary.

22. Do braces cause cavities?

Braces do not cause cavities, but braces can trap food and plaque which can cause cavities. You must be committed to excellent oral hygiene as part of your orthodontic treatment.

23. What is an orthodontic emergency? How are those handled?

If your braces are causing extreme pain or if something breaks, you should call our office right away. In most cases, we can address these issues over the telephone. If you require an emergency appointment, we will set aside time for you. If you have an emergency that occurs outside of our office hours, just call our regular office number and follow the instructions to have Dr. Hullings or a staff member paged.

24. Can orthodontic correction occur while a child has baby teeth?

Some orthodontic problems are significant enough to require early intervention. However, if a patient is not yet ready for treatment, we will follow that patient's growth and development until the time is right for treatment to begin.

25. What is Phase One (early) Treatment?

Phase One treatment may be indicated for children with more severe orthodontic problems. Dr. Hullings will recommend interceptive treatment only when the same result cannot be achieved if treatment is delayed until all of the permanent teeth are in place. The most common objectives for Phase One treatment are to improve jaw relationships, correct crossbite and/or to create adequate space to accommodate the permanent teeth.

26. Will my child need full braces if he/she has Phase One treatment?

It is best to assume that your child will need full braces to align all of the permanent teeth and detail how they fit together, even after Phase One treatment. Following Phase One treatment, there is a period of rest and observation during which growth and tooth eruption are closely monitored. Throughout this period, parents and patients will be kept informed of future treatment recommendations.

27. Is it too late to have braces if I am already an adult?

Orthodontic treatment can be beneficial at any age, and adults especially appreciate the benefits of a beautiful smile. Twenty percent of all orthodontic patients are adults, and that number is growing. In our office, many parents have been so impressed with the changes they’ve see in their own children that they have decided to pursue orthodontic treatment for themselves.

28. Is orthodontic treatment ever medically necessary?

Orthodontic treatment has many health benefits, but it is almost always considered an elective procedure.

29. Will I have to wear retainers after braces?

Yes, you will. Dr. Hullings will discuss this important part of your orthodontic treatment with you when your active treatment is complete. Plan on at least part-time retainer wear for your lifetime to preserve the benefits of treatment.