What Are Dental Braces?

Dental braces (or just “braces”) are the standard in orthodontic treatment used to straighten teeth, correct bites, and fix other orthodontic issues. Braces are the most traditional orthodontic treatment with decades of success that has cemented their popularity and trustworthiness in the modern world.

With numerous proven health benefits, braces (as well as other types of orthodontic treatment like Invisalign) are becoming increasingly supported by many insurance plans, making them more available and affordable than ever.

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How Braces Work

Traditional dental braces are comprised of brackets and wires that are cemented to the outside of teeth (most commonly), but can also be placed on the inside of teeth to avoid having the hardware be noticeable. Dental braces straighten teeth by applying pressure on the teeth to move towards the current wire’s curve.

This process is very gradual and takes months, as the bone and tooth roots have to adjust to the movement. Although variations in appliances and wires exist, and we’ll get into those in a bit, the general premise in how they work is the same.

how dental braces work

Types of Braces

Discover your smile through the perfect braces solution for you at OoLi Orthodontics. Thanks to modern developments in orthodontic technology, there are more options for braces than ever. During your complimentary consultation, we will show you the best options for you and help you make the right choice so that you can smile with confidence!

Traditional Metal Braces

Traditional braces are still by far the most popular orthodontic treatment option for children and teenagers. Modern improvements have made them more affordable, comfortable and effective than ever before, and they’re still a great way achieve your ideal smile.

Traditional metal braces in Phoenix

Damon Braces

Although newer than traditional braces, Damon braces have established themselves as a popular dental braces variation. This kind of braces treatment can help move your teeth more comfortably than other kinds of braces, due to their self-ligating (or “floating”) nature: Damon braces use a slide mechanism to hold the wire, as opposed to elastic ties that come with traditional braces, eliminating some common friction and discomfort. Sometimes Damon braces also allow for faster treatment times.

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Ceramic “Clear” Braces

Ceramic braces are available as a bracket alternative for both traditional metal and Damon braces. In both cases, the metal bracket attached to the tooth is replaced with a tooth-colored ceramic bracket, which makes the braces much less noticeable. Traditional braces can also use clear/white colored bands to further conceal treatment.

Clear ceramic braces in Phoenix

Invisalign

Invisalign is an innovation in orthodontic treatment that allows you to align your teeth with removable clear aligners, making braces a more comfortable and hygienic experience. A popular alternative to bracket-based braces, Invisalign is a completely different treatment experience, and has its own pros and cons. We have an entirely separate guide to Invisalign as well.

Invisalign braces in Phoenix

The Cost of Braces and Insurance

Traditional metal braces from a board-certified orthodontist like Dr. Park at OoLi Orthodontics start at $3,000. Depending on severity of treatment needed, they can cost as much as $7,000, although such cases are much less common, and most of our patients fall in the $3,000-$5,000 range. Braces variants, including Invisalign, fall into this same average range.

Although $3,000+ may seem like a lot, we make affording braces as easy as possible. We offer 0% interest financing with no down payment required and we accept all major credit cards. We are also so confident our treatment is affordable that we will price-match the treatment quote from any other board-certified orthodontist in Arizona!

At OoLi Orthodontics there are no hidden fees. Everything that you need for your confident smile is included in your financial package. Only the procedures performed by your preferred dentist (and other any other specialists if needed) are not included. The details of all necessary procedures, whether performed by OoLi Orthodontics or any other dental specialist, will be presented to you at your free consultation.

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Insurance and Payment Assistance

Many dental insurance plans now cover traditional braces. It is recommended to check with your insurance provider to see how much of your braces treatment will be covered. At OoLi Orthodontics, we’re happy to check with your insurance for you if you’re unsure if braces are covered by your plan or provider. Our staff will help you determine your benefits and will process the forms you submit. We will do all we can to ensure you receive maximum coverage.

HSA, FSA, and other flexible spending accounts, including those that take advantage of using pre-tax money to pay for medical treatment, can often be used to help pay for braces as well. If you have one, we will work with you to help make payment arrangements so that you can take advantage of your program. We do ask that you know your plan’s terms and limitations when payment is due because some of these plans are very specific. We recommend calling your provider if you are unsure.

Financial FAQ

How does Orthodontics Insurance Work?

At various times of the year many employers offer their annual open season where employees have the option of changing, adding, or even dropping medical and dental coverage. Understanding orthodontic benefits can often times be a little bit trickier to figure out than regular dental and medical benefits. For your convenience, OoLi Orthodontics participates with many insurance plans and we will happily file the insurance on your behalf. Here are a few tips to help you understand your coverage and a few questions you may want to ask when considering changing or adding dental plans as it relates to Orthodontic Coverage.

Do I have orthodontic coverage if I have dental coverage?

Just because you have Dental Insurance does not mean you have orthodontic coverage. Be sure to ask if your plan covers both.

Also be sure to ask if the coverage is for adults and children or just for children. Sometimes there are higher premiums for both dental and orthodontic Coverage but often times there are not. Each company is different. You want to make sure you are not paying more for the insurance than what you are getting in benefits.

Will orthodontic coverage completely pay for braces?

Orthodontic coverage typically involves a Lifetime Maximum Benefit (LTM) that pays out at 50% of the total case fee. There are a few plans that pay more or less than 50%. This means they will pay for braces 1 time and once you have used all of the LTM they won’t pay any more. If your LTM benefit is $3000, then braces would have to cost $6000 in order for you to use your full benefit. You would pay the difference between what your insurance covers and the total case fee.

Your out of pocket expenses can vary depending on whether or not you choose an in network provider. If your employer changes plans while you or your child are still in treatment the orthodontic payment history will typically follow you. However, if you take out a new plan with a completely different company often times, the history does not follow you and this can result in additional benefits. Anytime your insurance changes be sure to let your providers know.

How do I receive orthodontic coverage if I have it?

Orthodontic benefits pay out over the course of treatment not in one lump sum payment. If your benefit is estimated at $3000, the Insurance Company generally pays you or the orthodontist an initial payment when the braces are placed and then monthly, quarterly, or annual installments for the remaining months of treatment.

If the orthodontist estimates that you will be in braces for 2 years then you would want to make sure you keep you dental plan during those 2 years. If you drop your dental/orthodontic insurance before your benefit has finished paying this can result more out of pocket expenses for you.

Does your plan have a waiting period for orthodontic coverage?

Some dental plans require a waiting period before they will pay for braces. They might cover cleanings and general dentistry immediately, but sometimes will have you wait as long as 2 years before orthodontic coverage is active. Be sure to ask you dental plan if there is a waiting period for braces.

Can I have dual coverage for braces?

The answer is yes in most cases but there are a few rules insurance companies follow when determining primary vs. secondary and you want to make sure your plan allows for standard coordination of benefits. The birthday rule determines whose plan is primary and looks at what month the person is born in. For example if mom’s birthday is 2/14/73 and dad’s birthday is 11/20/1968, mom’s plan, in most cases, would be considered the primary insurance plan because her birthday falls first in the calendar year.

Overall age or who is older does not generally determine who is primary. Be sure to ask if your plan allows for standard coordination of benefits or has a non-duplicating clause. A non-duplicating clause means benefits will not be duplicated. So if both plans have a LTM of $1500 then with a non-duplicating clause your total benefit is $1500. When coordination of benefits is allowed your benefit could be as high as $3000 if the LTM for both plans is $1500.

What happens if I get Orthodontic Coverage after my child has already started treatment?

Sometimes an employer will increase their plan benefits or you might even change employers and find yourself with orthodontic benefits that you did not have when you or your child first started treatment. The question to ask your new plan is if they cover work in progress. If they do cover work in progress, then generally your benefit is pro-rated based on how long you have been in treatment and how long you have left in treatment.

There may be an age limit to receive benefits from your insurance company. For example, with some insurance coverage, the age limit for orthodontic benefit is 19 years old.

How do Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) work?

Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) are a benefit offered by many employers, and are funded with employees’ pre-tax dollars. FSAs help Americans pay for a variety of out-of-pocket health care costs such as co-pays, deductibles, prescription drugs, vision care, hearing aids, and dental services – including orthodontic treatment. FSAs are limited to $2,600 per year as of 2017.

What is included in the fee for braces at OoLi Orthodontics?

The fee that is presented to you at the consultation includes everything that you will need for your braces. All treatment rendered at OoLi Orthodontics is considered in this fee. However, be aware that any services rendered by a dentist outside of our office will incur additional fees.

Living Your Daily Life with Braces

Braces will require some small compromises while you wait for your new smile to emerge. First, after each adjustment appointment, your teeth will be a bit sore for a few days or so. We recommend eating soft foods during this time to avoid discomfort during meals. You may also take non-aspirin pain relievers like Advil, Tylonel and Ibuprofen if the discomfort is bothersome. if the braces are poking you anywhere, you may apply the wax we give you, and be sure to let us know during your next visit if it persists.

In addition to choosing soft foods for comfort on occasion, you will need to avoid certain hard and sticky foods for the sake of the appliances themselves. Broken brackets need to be avoided, as they increase treatment time and require extra emergency appointments to correct.

Foods you have to bite into like apples, carrots, corn-on-the-cob and chicken wings should be avoided. Even stiff chewy foods like bagels and hard breads can break brackets. Hard foods like nuts, pretzels, and even just ice should also be avoided. We will give you a more extensive rundown during your consultation and when you begin treatment. Just use common sense when eating to avoid anything that can put pressure or pull on your brackets.

Food Choices with Braces is Important!

Because braces can trap food easily, we strongly recommend you brush your teeth after every meal. This will minimize the chances of accelerated plaque buildup and help avoid tooth decay. We will give you some nifty special cleaning brushes and tools to help make your more frequent cleanings easier and more thorough. The good news is, you will likely build some very healthy hygiene habits while you have braces!

Why You Should Invest In Braces

The goal of orthodontic treatment is to create a beautiful smile and a good bite, meaning straight teeth that look great and mesh well with the teeth in the opposite jaw. A good bite makes it easier for you to bite, chew and speak. Many people find a beautiful smile adds to self-esteem, self-confidence and contributes toward career advancement. We live in a competitive world and a great smile can give you an advantage.

Orthodontic treatment is often part of a comprehensive dental health care plan. With good care, including orthodontic treatment when necessary, teeth can last a lifetime.

Even though adults are no longer growing, they can enjoy improvements that come from orthodontic treatment. A healthy bite and good looking smile is as important at age 60 as it is at age 16. Your age is not a consideration for orthodontic treatment, because healthy teeth can be moved at any age.

Orthodontic treatment is a smart investment in your family and your smile, as well as in your dental, physical and emotional well-being.

If you have any reservations about braces and orthodontic treatment, we encourage you to reach out and ask us! We love educating our community. We also offer free consultations. If braces aren’t the right fit for you, we will tell you! But almost everyone is a candidate for some form of orthodontic treatment, it’s just a matter of which route you can or want to take.

Braces FAQ

Although we answer some of these questions elsewhere on our site, we figure it never hurts to have a simple FAQ to help answer common questions we get. If you have a question we haven’t answered here, please reach out and ask us!

My top teeth aren’t that crooked. Is it possible to get braces just on the bottom?

Whether orthodontic treatment focused on your bottom teeth will properly align those teeth with your upper teeth is something that can only be answered by visiting an orthodontist for an exam and consultation.

Orthodontic treatment is designed to develop teeth that fit well and, as a result, wear better over an individual’s life. Think of the teeth in the mouth as a “gear” system. Teeth, like gears, must intermesh well to help avoid excessive wear throughout a lifetime of use.

I have seen three orthodontists and they each offer a different treatment plan. Which one is right for me?

There is no single “right way” to perform orthodontic treatment. As long as all of the doctors you have consulted are orthodontists, all offer valid treatment plans.

How long does treatment last?

The average length of orthodontic treatment is 22 months, according to a 2014 survey among members of the American Association of Orthodontists.

Depending on the individual’s needs, treatment can range from 12 months to 36 months or more.

I had braces before, or I don’t want old-fashioned braces. What are my options?

Thanks to advances in technology, your next-to-invisible treatment options may include ceramic (tooth-colored) braces, lingual braces – which are placed behind the teeth, or clear aligner trays.

Today’s standard metal braces are much smaller and sleeker than those of even a generation ago, and less obvious than the braces you may have had previously.

Please review your options with Dr. Park by scheduling an in-person consultation to determine what type of treatment will be best suited to your needs.

Can I get braces if I’m missing some teeth?

It may be possible for you to have successful orthodontic treatment if you are missing some teeth, depending on your circumstances and your treatment goals. Orthodontic treatment may be able to close the space of a missing tooth, or may be able to create or save sufficient space for a replacement tooth. Consult an orthodontist to discuss what is right for you. Your orthodontist may need to work with your primary care dentist and/or other dental specialists to help you achieve optimal dental health.

Can I get braces if my teeth have crowns or root canals?

It may be possible for you to have successful orthodontic treatment if your teeth have crowns or root canals. Consult an orthodontist for answers that are specific to you and your circumstances.

I met with an orthodontist. Should I get a second opinion?

Whether to seek a second opinion is your choice. You may have had more than one orthodontist recommended to you by family, friends, or by your dentist. Ultimately, you should feel confident in the recommendations made by the orthodontist you select for your orthodontic treatment, and trust the ability of your orthodontist and his/her staff to provide you with the best possible care.

I am a senior citizen and considering orthodontic treatment. Is there an orthodontist in my area that specializes in treating seniors?

Members of the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) regularly treat adult patients. About one patient in five is an adult. Many patients are in their 50s, 60s, and 70s.

Healthy teeth can be moved at any age. Depending on your circumstances, your orthodontist may work with your primary care dentist and other dental specialists as necessary to help you achieve optimal dental health.

Can I use a rubber band to align a turned tooth?

Self-treatment is not advisable. Dental and orthodontic treatment should always be conducted under the supervision of a licensed healthcare professional.

Patients should be aware that “do-it-yourself” treatments substantially increase the risk of irreparable damage.

For example, rubber bands can work their way under the gumline, and if forgotten or not promptly removed, they can strangle the root of the tooth and kill it. That could lead to the need for an extraction.

If a tooth has rotated, something within the oral cavity is the cause. Please consult an orthodontist to understand what has caused your tooth to turn and how it can be corrected.

Get a Free Consultation for Braces in Phoenix with Dr. Park

If you happen to be a resident of Arizona and are interested in getting braces, Dr. Park would be happy to offer you a free consultation to see if some form of braces or Invisalign is possible for you and your smile.

During your consultation Dr. Park will discuss your orthodontic concerns, goals, do a quick examination, and then discuss any treatment options that are a good fit for your smile.

You can also fill out the necessary forms on our website and skip most of the paperwork when you arrive! You can also schedule your free consultation by calling us at:

(602) 249-1937 (Phoenix) or (480) 777-7759 (Tempe)

Although most of our patients reside in the Phoenix valley, we do have some patients that are farther away, across the state of Arizona in places like Tucson and Prescott, who come into the Phoenix area every 6-8 weeks for their appointments. We consider it a huge compliment when patients move away but continue to use OoLi for their treatment, but we can also transfer your patient info to another orthodontist, should you happen to move away before your treatment concludes.

Dr. Park is the owner of OoLi Orthodontics in Phoenix

OoLi currently has braces patients in Phoenix, Tempe, Mesa, Chandler, Glendale, Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Gilbert, Peoria, Surprise, Avondale, Goodyear, Buckeye, Apache Junction, Fountain Hills, Casa Grande, Maricopa, Tucson, Prescott and Prescott Valley – so no matter where in Arizona you live, we will still happily provide you the best orthodontic treatment possible!

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