Frequently Asked Questions

Photo of orthodontic patient in a chair, talking with a member of Team Tendler

What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics is the first specialty of dentistry that is concerned with the study, diagnosis and treatment of malocclusions or improper bites. These may be the result of tooth irregularity, disproportionate jaw relationships or both. Orthodontic treatment can focus on tooth movement only, or can deal with the control and modification of facial growth, which is called Dentofacial orthopedics.

Why do I need to see an orthodontist?

An orthodontist, like Dr. Tendler has received additional years of formal orthodontic training after completing dental school and received a Certificate in Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics. This training is focused on the study of improper bites, tooth irregularity, jaw relationships and facial balance and esthetics.

At what age am I supposed to start treatment?

The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that every child get a check-up with an orthodontist no later than age 7 or when the first permanent teeth have come in. This does not mean the patient will need to have orthodontic treatment right away. Dr. Tendler will perform an exam and will inform you if you are ready to start treatment.

What is the cost of braces?

The cost of orthodontic treatment is associated with the severity of the problem. Our financial coordinator will be very happy to discuss all the financial options available to you.

Does my insurance pay for it?

Insurance plans often cover a portion of the orthodontic treatment. We are providers for most dental insurance plans. Please bring all your insurance information to your first visit so we can verify your insurance benefit and provide you with more accurate information.

Do braces hurt?

It is common to feel discomfort or pressure when braces are first placed. This feeling will last for a couple of days. You might get a similar sensation when your braces are adjusted or tightened, but again, that will fade shortly thereafter.

Am I too old for braces?

No patient is too old to improve his/her smile. Provided your teeth have good bone support and you maintain good oral hygiene, orthodontic treatment can be successful at any age.

What is the average treatment time?

Orthodontic treatment time can range anywhere between 12 to 36 months, with most treatments averaging at 24 months. The orthodontic problem list and the patient compliance throughout the treatment are the most important determinants of treatment time.

Do I need impressions for dental molds?

At Tendler Orthodontics we no longer take alginate or goop impressions as part of our records. We now use the iTero digital scanner to make digital models of the teeth before and after treatment.

What is the iTero?

The iTero is a digital scanner that produces a highly accurate, digital three-dimensional image of the individual characteristics of every patient’s teeth and gum tissue. That means no more goop or gagging while taking impressions for records before and after braces or for Invisalign. There is no exposure to radiation with the iTero.

Am I a candidate for Invisalign treatment?

Invisalign is a system of removable aligners that will progressively straighten your teeth as the patient changes aligners. The “candidate question” stems from initial limitations in the system when it was first developed. Invisalign is one of the most researched orthodontic systems and is constantly being improved to provide better and more stable results. The possibilities have broadened over time, and Dr. Tendler will gladly do an exam and determine if Invisalign is the right option for you.

Why are x-rays needed for treatment?

Orthodontists require at least two different x-rays: the panoramic x-ray (a dental x-ray of the upper and lower jaw) and the cephalometric x-ray (which takes a side-view of the head). Occasionally, a three-dimensional image called Cone-beam CT scan may be necessary to diagnose and/or treatment plan specific orthodontic situations. All of these x-rays together with other records will allow Dr. Tendler to develop the best orthodontic treatment plan to fit your needs.

How do I adjust to life with braces?

You probably will experience some discomfort or difficulty speaking or eating at first. While wearing braces, keep your teeth and brackets clean. Plaque and sugar combine to make acid, which can cause decalcification (white spots) on teeth and tooth decay if left behind. Also, make sure you adhere to the food list recommendations so you can reduce the incidence of broken appliances.

Which foods should I avoid?

It’s a good idea not to eat foods that can damage or dislodge braces. Hard foods such as candy, raw carrots, corn on the cob, pretzels, nuts, popcorn and crushed ice are off limits. Sticky foods to avoid include caramel, taffy and gum. These foods can get stuck between teeth and gums or bend wires and knock bands or brackets loose. If this results in damage to braces, treatment may be extended.

How do I brush my teeth and floss with braces?

Our team is dedicated to help you succeed in achieving a beautiful smile, and that includes healthy teeth and gums. We will gladly explain how to position your toothbrush around the brackets, how to massage the gums and get the floss underneath the wires. We do recommend the use of an electric toothbrush while in braces, and require that you brush at least three times a day and floss daily.

How often do I need to come to the office for an appointment?

Typically, the interval between adjustment appointments when in braces is every 4-6 weeks, depending on the type of orthodontic treatment. Patients undergoing treatment with Invisalign have appointments every 8-10 weeks.

What are the rubber bands for? Will I need them?

Rubber bands or elastics are used to control the direction of tooth movement. They assist and empower the braces, which is why most patients in braces will wear them at various points throughout their treatment. Please pay attention to Dr. Tendler when she directs you on how to use them and be aware that they come in different sizes and can be placed in various directions. Also, good compliance with elastics can reduce treatment time.

What if something breaks?

Please call the office the moment you notice something is broken or poking. We will gladly assist you over the phone or schedule an emergency visit in the office as soon as possible. In the meantime, feel free to place some orthodontic wax over anything that is digging in to your cheek or lip until we are able to assist you.

Will braces stain my teeth?

Braces do not stain the teeth. There are cases where the patient may develop white spots (decalcification of enamel) due to prolonged exposure of the tooth surface to dental plaque. Proper oral hygiene throughout the orthodontic treatment is imperative and will reduce the appearance of these stains.

Do I need to see my dentist during orthodontic treatment?

Yes. Remember that going to the orthodontist is not a substitute for regular dental checkups. The dentist needs to perform a dental exam periodically to be able to notice any irregularities with your teeth. Also, food can accumulate in ways that only the dental hygienist can remove. We recommend that while in braces, you see your dental hygienist every 4 months to ensure proper oral hygiene.

How long will I have to wear my retainers?

After the removal of braces, retainers are fitted and placed to maintain the orthodontic correction as the bone is allowed to reorganize to stabilize the results. Initially, you will have to wear your retainers all day long and eventually, you will only wear them to sleep. Dr. Tendler will continue evaluating your teeth and your retainers following the removal of your braces. Teeth have the potential to shift throughout life. Therefore, long term retention is necessary to prevent undesirable shifting associated with the normal aging process.