Getting Started with Braces

“Am I a good candidate for braces?”  That’s a question that more and more people are asking themselves. Teeth straightening can be a daunting task.  Many adults believe that the time for braces is behind them, and they are stuck with the smile they have. Younger people may be put off by the dreaded metal-mouth.

If you think that you could benefit from having straighter teeth, then the easy answer to whether you are a good candidate is “Yes”. With more options than ever before, people of all ages can discuss every alternative with their orthodontist to find the right solution. All ranges of malocclusion, mild to extreme, can be addressed by braces. If you are reading this material, then you already have teeth straightening on your mind. Most orthodontists will provide a free consultation; take advantage of this option to speak with a professional about what you’d like to accomplish and what your concerns may be.

There are several points to consider before undertaking all of this.

Different Types of Braces

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Adult Braces

Orthodontia professionals tend to agree that younger people are better suited for braces because their bones are still growing, and teeth are easier to manipulate before the adult jaw bones develop. However, adults are making up more and more of the brace wearing population.

Adult Braces Options

Great advances have been made in the field of orthodontia and there have never been this many different types of treatment options available. Read the rest of this entry »

Cheap Retainers

Congratulations! The braces are off, and you got your retainer. Unfortunately, the cost of retainers is an additional expense to your treatment. Luckily, there are ways to save money on them, particularly on Essix retainers. (Refer to Types of Retainers if you need a primer.)

1. Choose an Essix Retainer

Essix vs. Hawley is a common retainer debate. For the purpose of cost, Essix is certainly cheaper. However, it can be a flimsier retainer, so if you aren’t a careful wearer, many replacements may cost you more in the long run. Luckily, it will require less initial outlay of cash, and also provides more opportunities for savings not available with the Hawley. Of course, while you may want an Essix retainer, your orthodontist may think the Hawley is better suited for your mouth, so make sure to always go with his professional recommendation over aesthetics or cost.

2. Negotiate with your orthodontist

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All About Retainers

Upon concluding your orthodontic treatment, you will likely need to wear retainers. Retainers will hold your teeth in place and finish the work done by braces, Invisalign, or dental surgery.

Fittings for Retainers

Your retainer will be uniquely fitted for your mouth, and will help keep your teeth in place as well as the gum and bone that were also shifted during treatment. Three types of retainers exist: Hawley, Essix, and Bonded. The first two are removable, while the last is permanent. You can read more in depth material on the Types of Retainers article. Depending which type you get, the retainer will either be a molded plastic piece to hold in your mouth or a wire fixed to your teeth.

Wearing Your Retainer

At first, you may need to wear your retainer 24 x 7. This is a sensitive time for your teeth to settle, and it is crucial to follow the doctor’s orders. Eventually, this will lessen, and you will likely reduce the number of hours of wear. Read the rest of this entry »

How to Find a Dentist

The search for a dentist, or any medical professional, can be daunting. Luckily, many resources are at your fingertips. After you find a potential candidate, make sure to ask some key questions.

How to Find a Dentist

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Top 4 Ways to Find a Dentist

1. Personal Recommendations

Start by asking those you know well for a recommendation. Does your friend’s dentist have that magic touch? Does your sister know a dentist that gives out the best goodies? Did your coworker find a great dentist that accepts your company’s insurance?

2. Professional Recommendations

Your primary care physician is also a good source for recommendations, as is a pharmacist. If you’re moving, ask your current dentist for a recommendation in the new area. Also, if you’ve ever had any dental work done in your area by another dental professional, such as an orthodontist or oral surgeon, ask him or her. Make sure that when you go on professional recommendation, you let the provider know who the referring physician was. You might get “extra credit” for bringing in business.

3. Insurance Company Directory

Most insurance companies have an online search feature that allows you to find a physician by specialty based on your network coverage and local area. This can apply to your regular health insurance, which may have a search feature even if dental isn’t covered. Of course, if you have dental insurance, that would be the best place to start. Your insurance company may even provide access to a free rating system, so you can see what others are saying about a particular dentist you’re scoping out.

If you can’t find this feature online, call the customer service number on the back of your insurance card; you can also contact your Human Resources rep or Benefits coordinator if this is a company-provided insurance. Read the rest of this entry »

Teeth Straightening Surgery

In some, usually more extreme, cases you may need work done to your teeth prior to being fitted for braces. If you do find yourself in need of surgery, there are some great books out there which can help you through the process.

It isn’t terribly uncommon to have molars that are too far apart. Your orthodontist may place spacers between them for up to two weeks, before installing bracers. There is often some amount of irritation or pain associated with spacers, however it can normally be controlled through a combination of drinking cold water, eating ice cream and taking over the counter anti-inflammatory and pain killers. This is the most common “surgery” most people will ever run into.

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Top Ways to Save Money on Braces

Given the high cost of teeth straightening, if may be worthwhile to look for ways to save money.  Try to take advantage of any and all discounts that you may be eligible for to make braces more affordable.

Dental Insurance

Some dental insurance plans offer some coverage for orthodontic services.  Often, insurance will cover either a certain percentage of the cost of services or a certain dollar amount.  There may be age restrictions, such as only being eligible for children who start orthodontic services by age 19.  Be sure to speak with your insurance provider to see what benefits you may have.

Dental Discount Plan

Depending on the area that you live in and your dental provider, you may be able to take advantage of a dental discount plan.  Dental discount plans work similarly to insurance.  You pay a yearly membership fee, and participating providers will give discounts for services.  Before enrolling in a plan, ask your dentist or orthodontist what programs he or she may accept.  Make sure to ask what dollar amount you would save if you use such a plan to ensure that the savings is worth the membership fee.

HSA and Medical FSA

The HSA (Health Savings Account) and Medical FSA (Flexible Spending Account) are tax-advantaged accounts offered by employers that allow you to set a portion of your earnings to be used only for medical expenses, including teeth straightening services.  Read the rest of this entry »

Types of Retainers

Retainers are the last, and sometimes most important, part of your orthodontic treatment for teeth straightening. They help to keep your teeth in place, and sometimes even move them to their permanent location.

Three types of retainers exist: Hawley, Essix, and Bonded.


Most popular of all is the Hawley style retainer, also known as the Hawley bow. This is the one you may think of first, a traditional metal wire attached to an arched acrylic piece that fits in the roof of your mouth. It is removable and often worn nightly. The Hawley provides the option of adjusting the wire via two omega loops, which helps to finish the treatment of braces and keep the teeth moving if needed, or fixed while they heal. In some more modern types of Hawley retainers, a clear wire is used, called ASTICS. The retainer type is named after its inventor, Dr. Charles Hawley.


The Essix retainer is the common brand name for the VFR, or vacuum formed retainer. It is made of PVC between .02 and .03 inches thick, which is made from a mold. It can either fit the entire arch of teeth, or in a clip on style, just the span of the canines. Read the rest of this entry »

Types of Braces

There are several different options for braces, which vary not just on looks, but also material, time of treatment, cost, and location on the teeth or mouth.

Traditional Metal Braces

Traditional braces are the standard metal type most people think of when they hear the term “braces”. Traditional braces are made of stainless steel and are fixed to each individual tooth, through a process called bonding, where the bracket is adhered to the front of the tooth. They are the cheapest types of braces.  More recent innovations in this style including mixing the metal with nickel titanium, instead of solely stainless steel. A problem with traditional braces is that they may stain the tooth, and they are also very visible. If you are allergic to nickel, you can get gold plated braces (just as you might do for fillings).

Ceramic Braces

Ceramic braces are applied with the same method as traditional braces, where the brace is individually bonded to each tooth. The difference is the type of material and subsequent look; because they use a natural color they cannot be seen as easily. Read the rest of this entry »

Cost of Teeth Straightening

$5000 – $6000 is a very good number range to plan around. However there are numerous factors which can change the cost of your braces. You’ll come across people saying braces can cost as little as $3000 to well over $10,000.

Here are some cost considerations:

1. Are braces or teeth straightening dental visits covered by your insurance?
It is not uncommon for insurance to provide some minimal level of coverage for braces for your children, if you’re lucky enough to have dental insurance. Read the rest of this entry »