Our team at Bates Family Orthodontics is here to help answer any questions you may have before, during, and after your orthodontic treatment. Here are some answers to common questions related to orthodontic treatment. Feel free to reach out to us with any additional questions by emailing us at info@batesfamilyortho.com or calling us at (434) 846-4014.

What is an orthodontist?

An orthodontist is a dental specialist who went to 2-3 years of additional specialty training after completing dental school. Orthodontists focus on diagnosing and treating problems related to the position of teeth, relation of jaws, and how the teeth come together (“occlusion” or your “bite”). Orthodontists are also experts on growth/development of the jaws and eruption of permanent teeth. Orthodontists typically use braces or Invisalign to correct these issues, leading to an improvement in your overall oral health and smile/facial esthetics.

Why should I pursue treatment with an orthodontist as opposed to a regular dentist?

Orthodontists pursue several years of additional specialty training specific to the diagnosis and treatment of malocclusions (improper alignment of the teeth and bite related issues). They are experts on growth/development and ensuring that any changes to your teeth, bite, or facial structures are done in a healthy manner. They solely focus on orthodontic treatment, rather than a variety of dental procedures.

Though there are many general dentists who offer orthodontic treatment, they have not received this advanced training and are not licensed as an orthodontic specialist. Would you want your family doctor performing your heart surgery?

Why is seeing a board-certified orthodontist important?

Board Certification by the American Board of Orthodontics is a voluntary credential that represents an orthodontist’s personal and public commitment to the highest standards of speciality practice and lifelong learning. The ABO certification process requires rigorous study and the completion of peer-developed, externally validated written and clinical examinations. 

Board Certification is confirmation of an orthodontist’s personal commitment to providing the highest quality of patient care.

At what age should my child have their first orthodontic exam?

The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that all children be seen for their first orthodontic examination at age 7. By this age, your child typically will have the permanent first molars and all four incisors in both the upper and lower arches. Seeing an orthodontist for a check-up at this age allows the early identification of any problems that may warrant limited intervention to prevent them from becoming bigger and more complex problems later on. Most of the time your child will simply be placed on yearly recall observation, allowing Dr. Bates to make recommendations that are best timed with your child’s unique growth and development.

Do I need a referral to visit Bates Family Orthodontics?

NO! Just give us a call or visit us online to schedule your complimentary consultation.

We do ask that you continue to see your regular dentist for regular examination/cleanings throughout your orthodontic treatment however.

Why not just straighten my teeth with aligners I can order online?

Your teeth and their surrounding structures are very intricately related. The teeth have nerves and blood vessels inside of them, are connected to the bone around them by the periodontal ligament, and are surrounded by a band of soft tissue called gingiva (your “gums”). Additionally, your teeth fit together in a very specific way and prior to orthodontic treatment, the position of your teeth is often a compensation for the relationship of your jaws. Orthodontic treatment is the purposely decompensation and rearrangement of the teeth in a very specific way. In order to ensure the health of your teeth, their surrounding structures, and your jaw joints, it is important that this process be done under the care of an orthodontic specialist who is monitoring clinically and radiographically (with x-rays).

While the fancy marketing of these mail-order aligner companies is alluring, for most cases, it is ill-advised to attempt to treat yourself from home. We have had to “rescue” many patients from their failed at-home treatments messing up their bite. This often leads to lengthier and more costly treatment overall, which is typically the primary reason the mail-order treatment was pursued. For minor touch-ups, you’d be quite surprised at the efficiency and affordability of treatment with your orthodontist due to improvements in technology.

Is orthodontic treatment really necessary?

While aspects of orthodontic treatment are cosmetic in nature, there is much more benefit to orthodontic treatment. Though Dr. Bates will certainly design your smile to improve your facial aesthetics, aligning your teeth and correcting your bite can lead to significant improvements in your dental health, function of your teeth, and prevention of long-term issues. You only get one set of permanent teeth so it’s important to take care of them so you can keep on enjoying your favorite foods for a lifetime! At Bates Family Orthodontics we believe in honesty and transparency so rest assured that Dr. Bates will let you know if the benefits of your treatment will be purely cosmetic, however MOST of the time there are much more benefits to pursuing orthodontic treatment.

What is “smile design”?

At Bates Family Orthodontics, Dr. Bates will focus on designing your smile to best fit your unique facial esthetics. He is focusing on the smallest details to ensure that your orthodontic treatment doesn’t simply result in straight teeth, but rather a beautiful and pleasing smile. In addition to improving your alignment and bite, Dr. Bates also focuses on the aesthetic aspects of your smile, which include the width of your smile, your smile arc (how the upper front teeth gradually follow the curvature of your lower lip when you smile), midlines, tooth shape, and even the shape of the gum tissue around your teeth.

Is orthodontic treatment expensive?

We feel that orthodontic treatment is a health benefit that should be attainable for everyone. We offer flexible financing plans and are transparent with our fees so that there are as few barriers as possible to you being able to start your smile journey. The cost of your orthodontic treatment is determined by a number of factors such as case complexity and length of treatment. Once Dr. Bates makes a treatment recommendation, we will present you with a detailed breakdown of the cost of your individualized treatment plan and work with you to find a payment plan that fits your monthly budget. We do offer discounts for paying for 50%, 75%, and 100% of treatment up front.

Is Invisalign more expensive than braces?

No! At our office we do not charge a higher fee for choosing to pursue orthodontic treatment with Invisalign. Dr. Bates wants you to be able to choose whatever treatment modality fits your lifestyle and goals best without finances being a factor.

Does my insurance cover Invisalign?

As long as your insurance covers orthodontic treatment, it does not matter what appliance we use for treatment. We accept all insurances and offer a complimentary benefits check to make sure you get the maximum insurance benefit available to you.

What payment and financing options are available?

We offer flexible financing through a third party platform called OrthoFi. Everything from initial forms to monthly automatic payments is super easy and flexible with OrthoFi. If you find yourself in a challenging financial situation during your orthodontic treatment just let us know and our financial coordinator would be happy to see if we can refinance your contract to terms that better fit your individual needs. We don’t want anything to stand in the way of pursuing your dream smile!

How often will I need to come in for appointments?

Appointment intervals will vary depending on what appliances we are using, where you’re at in treatment, and what needs to be done. On average, Dr. Bates likes to see his braces patients every 6-8 weeks and his Invisalign patients every 12 weeks. Patients who pursue treatment with Invisalign typically have fewer and quicker visits!

How long will treatment take?

Treatment length is totally dependent upon the specific goals of your personalized orthodontic treatment plan. The average length of treatment with braces in our office is around 20-22 months. The average length of treatment with Invisalign in our office is 14-18 months.

Does orthodontic treatment hurt?

Most procedures that will occur during your orthodontic treatment will be very comfortable and pain-free. You will experience soreness of the teeth (similar to a bruise) for several days after your orthodontic treatment begins, and with subsequent adjustment appointments where new wires are placed, however this soreness is indication that the teeth are moving! Tylenol or Ibuprofen can be taken to help ease any significant discomfort that may occur, but this is not usually necessary. We aim to make your orthodontic treatment as comfortable as possible!

Our patients generally report that orthodontic treatment with Invisalign is more comfortable than braces, but neither should cause any drastic level of discomfort.

Will I be able to play an instrument or participate in contact sports while in treatment?

Absolutely! We still recommend wearing a mouthguard (we like Shock Doctor braces mouthguards) while playing contact sports, especially for our braces patients. Due to the position of your teeth changing throughout treatment, we generally recommend a mouth guard with generic “channels/slots” for your teeth, as opposed to a custom molded mouthguard

Musicians may find that there is a period of adaptation necessary for their lips and cheeks to get used to braces, which can affect their ability to play their instrument for a short period of time (generally a couple of days to a week).

Dr. Bates loves the ease and comfort of Invisalign treatment for athletes and musicians.

Will I have to wear a retainer after my orthodontic treatment?

YES! Retainers are SUPER IMPORTANT! Your teeth are surrounded by a network of fibers (periodontal ligament) and soft tissues (gums) that take time to adjust to their new position. Depending on the degree of movement, this adaptation period can take years. Because of this, your teeth will want to move back to where they were initially – we call this “relapse”. The potential for relapse does decrease gradually over time, however it never fully goes away. Significant rotations, spacing, and open bites present some of the highest risks of relapse. Additionally, natural changes to the position of our teeth occur as we age, such as crowding of the lower front teeth, if they aren’t prevented.

Your retainers are not only preventing relapse, but also preventing natural changes in the position of your teeth as you age. Lifetime retention will be necessary to prevent these changes.

How long will I need to wear a retainer after orthodontic treatment?

Dr. Bates typically recommends full-time (night and day, except when eating) wear of your retainers for 4-8 weeks, depending on the case. After this, you will be instructed to wear your retainer nightly for as long as you want your teeth to stay in their final position after orthodontic treatment. Nighttime for a lifetime is our mantra!

Where are you located?

Our orthodontic office is located in Lynchburg, Virginia in the Tate Springs area near the hospital.

Are you taking new patients?

Yes! We welcome patients of all ages and backgrounds!