Frequently Asked Questions

What is an orthodontist and when should I choose one?
An orthodontist is a dentist who has attended advanced dental specialty training for a period of three years following dental school. By learning about tooth movement (orthodontics) and guidance of facial development (dentofacial orthopedics), orthodontists are the uniquely trained experts in dentistry to straighten teeth and align jaws. To complete specialty training, one must fulfill the accredited school’s original research requirement and take courses in biomedical, behavioral and basic sciences, oral biology and biomechanics.
Orthodontists diagnose, prevent and treat dental and facial irregularities. The majority of members of the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) limit their practices to orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics. They regularly treat young children, teens and adults.
Selecting a doctor who is a member of the AAO (American Association of Orthodontists) is your assurance that you have chosen an orthodontist. Only orthodontists and not general dentists may be members of the AAO.

When should my child begin treatment?
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all patients be seen for an orthodontic examination by age 7. Early evaluation determines the appropriate time to begin treatment. Some orthodontic problems can be improved or prevented by the use of growth modification therapy. Many times, early treatment can achieve results that would be unattainable once the face and jaws have completed growing. Please see our “Early Treatment” section under the heading “Orthodontics” for more information.

Why are so many kids less than 10 wearing braces?
In general, we do like to wait till all adult teeth are in the mouth prior to the start of treatment. There are circumstances, however, when we may be able to benefit by intercepting while adult teeth are still growing in. As medicine is becoming more preventative, so is dentistry. That is why you probably see more young children in braces than you used to. Please see our “Early Treatment” section under ORTHODONTICS for more information.

Do habits like thumb sucking cause a problem?
Prolonged habits can indeed affect the way the teeth grow in and may ultimately affect the bite and skeletal harmony. Other habits such as open mouth breathing, finger sucking and tongue thrusting can also cause the same complications. An early orthodontic examination will determine if treatment will aid in the cessation of harmful habits.

Am I a candidate for orthodontic treatment?
It is difficult for you to determine whether you or your child will benefit from orthodontic treatment. We advise coming in for a complimentary orthodontic examination to make that call. Orthodontic treatment serves to eliminate malocclusions (improper bites) and the wide variety of problems that malocclusions can cause. Malocclusions may affect the way you smile, chew, clean your teeth, and even how you feel about your teeth. A beautiful, healthy, sensational smile and improved self-image are just some of the benefits of orthodontics. Without treatment, the American Association of Orthodontics reports that orthodontic problems can lead to tooth decay, gum (periodontal) disease, bone loss, speech impairment, chewing and digestive disorders, unnecessary tooth loss, and other associated dental injuries. Please do not hesitate to call to make an appointment for a complimentary orthodontic exam so that we can answer your questions.

Am I a candidate for Invisalign?
Just like braces, Invisalign is a way orthodontists are able to straighten teeth and correct bites. Dr.Segal and Dr. Iyer feel that there are positives and negatives to both types of treatments. The main positives of Invisalign include amazing esthetics (you can barely see the trays), longer intervals between appointments and the ability to clean your teeth as you have always have. The main negative of Invisalign is that the system provides less control over individual tooth movements than braces do. Thus, certain tooth movements are not possible or take longer with Invisalign whereas they are possible in a shorter amount of time with braces. Depending on your individual case, Invisalign may or may not be right for you. The best way to find out is to come see us for a complimentary exam where we will identify the goals we would like to achieve and address how Invisalign will work for you.

Do adults wear braces?
YES! Dr. Segal and Dr. Iyer enjoy treating adults. In fact, adults make up about 15 to 20% of our practice. Nationally, nearly one-third (30%) of all orthodontic patients are adults, including those who are 60+ years of age. The saying “It is never too late” truly applies to orthodontics. Please do not hesitate to ask us questions if you or someone you know is interested in adult orthodontic treatment.

How much do braces cost?
The fee for orthodontic treatment varies depending on the severity of the problem and the length/complexity of the treatment. Many payment options are available to accommodate your individual needs. Today, many insurance plans provide some type of orthodontic benefit. Our knowledgeable staff will work with you to map out an affordable payment plan and to maximize your benefit so that financial concerns do not become a barrier to a healthy, lasting smile.

Do braces hurt?
Braces do not necessarily hurt. At the most, during the application of braces, you will feel a stretch in your cheek and some air squirted on each tooth as the brace goes on. After the braces are on, you will feel some general soreness in your mouth (just like if you ran extra hard in gym class or worked out hard at the gym and your muscles get sore). You feel this pressure as your teeth start slowly moving through bone to their new positions. The good news is that because of technological advancements and Drs. Segal and Iyer’s choice to use cutting edge braces and light force mechanics, this soreness is minimized and lasts for only a short time. After a couple of days, you will definitely be back on track and feeling normal.

Will braces interfere with playing sports or a wind instrument?
Not at all. We do advise wearing a mouthguard during any interactive athletic activity, which may be an adjustment for some. With wind instruments, there is an initial period when you must train your mouth, tongue and lips to play at a slightly different position. Our musicians report that it only takes a couple of days to play as they did before braces!

Do I need to see my dentist when I am in braces or Invisalign?
Of course! During braces, it's more important than ever to continue to see your general or pediatric dentist for frequent cleanings, exams, and check-ups. Dr. Segal and Dr. Iyer take great care in communicating effectively with your dentist about your progress. Your dentist will always know where you are in treatment. When we first meet, we will ask you who your dentist is and when you have seen him or her last. If you do not have a dentist, we will be glad to provide you with the names of excellent doctors that are convenient for you to go to.

How long will treatment take?
Treatment can vary depending on the severity of each case and on the motivation of each patient. Because of modern technology and advanced orthodontic systems used by Drs. Segal and Iyer, you may be surprised to hear that treatment will not last as long as you may have thought. At your first appointment, you will be given an estimate of the length of your specific treatment. We often find that with good cooperation, treatment is complete under the original estimated treatment time.

How often will I need office visits?
Dr. Segal and Dr. Iyer use the most technologically advanced braces and materials available. Because of this, routine office visits for "adjustments" can be made much more infrequently. The vast majority of visits will occur every 8 to 10 weeks. In fact, even the total number of times adjustments need to be made is reduced because of the modern technology behind the systems we use.

Do braces cause cavities?
No, braces do not cause cavities. Cavities are caused by plaque, or accumulations of bacteria that form around food that is left on teeth. Braces can sometimes make it more difficult to keep teeth clean, and it's therefore important that extra special care be taken when brushing and flossing. With proper brushing, flossing, diet and fluoride rinses, cavities can certainly be prevented.
We take great pride in our cavity prevention program. When we first place braces, we thoroughly review how to keep teeth clean. Hygiene is closely monitored at each appointment, and special instructions are given throughout treatment. As an additional incentive, patients get an extra wooden nickel (a program that gets patients excited about coming to appointments on time, maintaining proper oral hygiene and preventing any appliance breakage) at each visit for good home care. Our goal is to have all of our patients finish with not only straight teeth but healthy teeth.

How long should I wear my retainers?
Teeth will always have a tendency to move unless they are prevented from doing so. For this reason, following active orthodontic treatment, custom-designed retainers will be given to each patient. Retainers are specially-designed appliances that help prevent teeth from drifting or moving once the braces are removed. Like all parts of the body, teeth are constantly changing and adapting. Only conscientious wear of the retainers will keep movement to a minimum. If retainers are not worn as directed, it is likely for your teeth to shift. This can lead to the same esthetic and functional problems that were present before treatment. We strongly believe that the “retention” part of your treatment is just as important as the “active” part of your treatment.