Q. Why should an orthodontic specialist complete my treatment?

A. Teeth, and sometimes entire facial structures, are permanently changed by orthodontic treatment. It is important that the treatment be appropriate and properly completed. Dr. Barkley's extensive and specialized training and experience enable her to provide her patients with professional, personalized treatments.

Q. At what age should I schedule an appointment for an orthodontic screening?

A. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends an orthodontic screening at age 7. For most children, several permanent teeth have erupted by this age, allowing Dr. Barkley to effectively evaluate your child's orthodontic condition.

Q. Will my child's teeth straighten out as he or she grows?

A. Maybe! Some problems will improve as a child grows, but other problems will get worse.  Dr. Barkley will be happy to discuss what you should expect as your child grows.

Q. Is it too late to have straight teeth if I’m already an adult?

A. No patient is "too old" for orthodontic treatment! A surprising percentage of our patients are adults. In fact, 25 percent of all orthodontic patients are adults. Health and happiness are vitally important to adults, and orthodontic treatment can increase your self-esteem at any age!

Q. How long will it take to complete treatment?

A. Overall treatment time depends on each patient's specific orthodontic problem(s). In general, treatment times range from 12 to 30 months. The average orthodontic treatment lasts 20 months.

Q. How often will I have an appointment?

A. Appointments are scheduled according to each patient's needs. Most patients in braces will be seen every 6 to 8 weeks. Patients in treatment with Invisalign are generally seen every 8 to 10 weeks.  If there are specific situations that require more frequent monitoring, we will schedule appointments accordingly.

Q. Can I drop my child off for an appointment?

A. Yes. We understand your schedule is busy, and we are happy to help you make the most of your time. If you're in the office, we will update you on your child's orthodontic progress after each appointment.

Q. Does orthodontic treatment hurt?

A. Dr. Barkley says that the first time that your teeth start moving, you will generally have some tooth tenderness. When your orthodontic appliance is first delivered, Dr. Barkley recommends that you take whatever you take for a headache (Tylenol, Advil, Motrin, etc.) for the next 48 hours. The great majority of our patients will never need pain medication after the start of treatment.

Q. Can I still play sports or play my instrument while wearing braces?

A. Yes! We recommend that patients wear mouthguards while playing sports. Musicians will likely experience an adjustment period until they are comfortable playing while wearing braces. Many of our patients (especially those who play brass instruments) like our Comfort Covers, which fit over your braces while you play.

Q. Do I need to see my general dentist while wearing braces?

A. Yes! Regular check-ups with your general dentist are important while in braces. Your dentist will determine the intervals between each cleaning appointment while you have your braces.

Q. How often should I brush my teeth while I have braces?

A. Patients should brush their teeth four times each day – after each meal and before going to bed. We will also show you how to floss your teeth with braces, and we may provide a prescription for a special fluoride treatment, if necessary. We will also give you replacement toothbrushes for home.

Q. Are there any foods I cannot eat while I have braces?

A. Yes -- see our Foods to Avoid list. Many people ask about chewing gum; generally, small pieces of sugarless gum do not interfere with your orthodontic treatment. Popcorn? Dr. Barkley thinks it's a great snack -- just be careful of the unpopped kernels!  Pizza and peanut butter are also fine.