Frequently Asked Questions


Does everybody need braces?

The short answer is no! Some people never need braces. However, it can be difficult for you to determine if treatment is necessary because there are many problems that can occur even though the front teeth look straight. Also, there are some problems that look intimidating and complex which will resolve on their own. Asking your general dentist is good reference, but we are your best resource since orthodontics is all we do. Our initial exam is complimentary and we would be more than happy to see you or your child and make any recommendations necessary.

How long will treatment typically take?

Your time in braces will largely depend on the type of problem you have. However, simple solutions can often take no more 4-6 months. Most commonly, Phase I treatment typically takes 8-10 months and Phase II treatment typically takes 14-16 months. Dr. Carlson is dedicated to accurate treatment time estimates. In fact, we evaluate this monthly. Currently, we finish more than 97% of our patients on time or ahead of schedule.

Can I get “Invisible Braces?

Dr. Carlson offers treatment using Invisalign technology. This technology combines three-dimensional computer graphics to design and manufacture custom orthodontic appliances called “Aligners”. They are virtually undetectable, easy-to-use and comfortable to wear. This new technology is not suitable for everyone. If you are interested in Invisalign please call our office.

Why do I see so many younger children with braces these days?

When younger children (3rd or 4th grade) have braces, this usually means they are undergoing interceptive orthodontics, or early intervention (Phase I). This almost always implies a second phase of orthodontics later (Phase II). Orthodontists' philosophies on early treatment vary greatly. Dr. Carlson feels early treatment is warranted only if failing to treat early will result in a compromised adult smile and bite. Usually, this means children that have severe jaw discrepancies or severe crowding. In our office, less than 30% of our younger patients (7-10 years old) actually require early treatment. This is far less than the national average.

Is there a difference between orthodontists?

We think there is a difference. Although all orthodontists strive for an excellent bite and smile, how they get there varies greatly. We feel successful orthodontic treatment comes down to two elements. 1) Efficient treatment and 2) Excellent service. Dr. Carlson has refined the systems in our office to offer the highest standards in both. We measure these elements monthly to ensure we are performing in the top tier of orthodontists worldwide. Although we measure dozens of factors, two numbers that truly stand out are shorter than normal treatment times and higher than normal "finish on time" rate (97%).

Will my child have to miss school for treatment?

School is always a priority. Although we might have to schedule major appointments (for installation or removal of appliances, for example) during school hours, we work hard to accommodate students' schedules and find appointment times outside of school whenever possible.

How much do braces hurt?

Orthodontic treatment has improved dramatically. As a rule, braces make your teeth sore for a few days, but it are not painful. This annoyance can be relieved with an over-the-counter pain reliever. Today's braces are smaller, more comfortable and use technology that reduces the discomfort. We use the latest in miniature braces and the highest quality of orthodontic materials in order to reduce discomfort and treatment time.

How much do braces cost?

Unfortunately this is a difficult question to answer, as cost is hugely affected by each patient's unique needs, as well as by different insurance coverage. Once we have determined the treatment plan for a patient, however, we can determine a cost that will never have any added fees or surprise charges. We will also work with you to tailor a payment plan. We truly believe that finances should never be an obstacle to a beautiful smile.

Do you take Insurance?

Although we do not deal directly with the insurance companies, we will help you to claim your maximum benefit. Please bring your insurance information with you to the examination appointment so that we can expedite your reimbursement.

How soon can I get started?

Usually within weeks of your initial examination appointment. Ideal orthodontic treatment requires careful planning. Therefore, we never jump right into braces. Our detailed treatment planning and consultation stage ensures that your orthodontic plan is customized to your specific needs. This planning process usually can be done in 1-2 weeks.

Do braces damage your teeth?

No. Braces are attached your teeth using micro-porosities that exist naturally on the surface of enamel (outer tooth layer). With proper oral hygiene, your teeth will look and feel exactly the same before and after your braces. Although the braces will not damage your teeth, poor oral hygiene will. This can cause decalcification (enamel damage) that can sometimes be irreversible. We're big on proper brushing techniques in our office, so if your hygiene is not as good as it can be we will let you know long before damage can occur.