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What is an Orthodontist?

An orthodontist is a dentist who has completed an additional 2-3 years of schooling beyond dental school to become a specialist. This means that all orthodontists are dentists first, but out of 100 dental school graduates only 6 go on to become orthodontists.  It is a highly competitive field with about 15 applicants for each open position.  Dr. Hocking completed 3 years of additional specialty education after dental school.  


Am I required to have my dentist refer me to see an orthodontist?

No, unlike with medical care you do not need a referral to see an orthodontist.  Many patients are referred by their general dentist, but many others take the initiative to schedule an orthodontic examination themselves.  Either way, the consultation is free!  


When should a child see an orthodontist?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children get an orthodontic examination by the age of 7.  By this time most children have grown several adult teeth and Dr. Hocking will be able to evaluate if there are subtle issues with jaw growth or position as well as the eruption of teeth.  Most children do not need treatment at this stage and will simply be observed over time.  At Hocking Orthodontics there is no cost for observation check-ups for all our Junior Observation patients.


For other children there may be issues that can be best corrected at an early age.  This treatment is called Phase I treatment and may involve expanders, space maintainers, retainers, headgear, or a few braces.


Will my child still need a full set of braces if they have had Phase I treatment (expander, space maintainer retainer, headgear, a few braces)?

Often times they will.  Phase I treatment is very helpful to take certain aspects of a patient's bite and alignment, but it cannot correct everything.  During the time period after Phase I treatment is complete Dr. Hocking will continue to monitor growth and development as well as tooth eruption.  As things develop we will keep you informed of any future treatment recommendations.  This is called the patient's observation period.  


Can adults have orthodontic treatment?

Absolutely.  Orthodontic treatment can be successful at almost any age.  Approximately 20% of all orthodontic patients are adults.  In fact, Dr. Hocking was an adult orthodontic patient herself about 10 years ago, and wishes she would have done it sooner!  


What caused my orthodontic problems (crooked teeth, imperfect bite)?

Most orthodontic issues are inherited.  So, it is very likely that if you have a large overbite or underbite, crowding, spacing, or missing teeth, there is someone in your family with the same issues.  It could be a parent or grandparent.  Other orthodontic issues can arise from the early or late loss of baby teeth or habits such as sucking your thumb.  


If baby teeth come out earlier than ideal, sometimes the adult tooth is not ready to grow into place yet.  This can allow the neighboring teeth to drift into the open space, therefore creating crowding or bite issues down the road.  This is why it is important to come in for junior observation check-ups even if a young patient may not have needed any treatment upon initial consultation.  We can often catch issues early and prevent negative effects.


What are the benefits of having orthodontic treatment?

It is difficult to brush and floss crooked, crowded teeth.  Straight teeth are easier to clean, and healthy teeth and gums are always better.  A poor bite may lead to inappropriate wear on the teeth and can affect periodontal health down the road.


How long will treatment last?

The length of treatment varies depending upon the complexity of the case.  It can also vary depending upon the patient's cooperation.  A patient who brushes well and follows instructions will keep their treatment time on track.  On average treatment lasts about 18 - 24 months.  With that being said, we do have patients who start off with a bite that is close to ideal, but may only need alignment of a few teeth, and for these patients treatment can be as short as a handful of months.  This is why it is important to have a consultation to evaluate your particular needs.  


How long does it take to put on braces?

In order to have enough time to place the braces and also be able to review instructions on the care of braces and answer your questions, we ask for about an hour and a half of your time.  This is typically the longest appointment, and the other visits will be much shorter.  The great news is that most patients are pleasantly surprised at how painless the process is.  We do not use shots, and the braces stick on the teeth like stickers.


Can I return to school or work the day I receive my braces?

Yes, you should be able to return to school or work after getting braces.


How often will I have appointments?

Typically patients will be seen every 4 to 8 weeks.  Most regular adjustment appointments are only 20-30 minutes.  


Do braces hurt?

For the most part having braces on is not painful.  There is no sharp pain like in a cavity.  However, it is not uncommon to have soreness for the first few days after the braces are placed, and for a couple of days following regular adjustment appointments.  The lips, tongue, and cheek may also feel a little funny as they get used to the appliances.  The amount of soreness varies patient by patient with some feeling little to no discomfort, and others needing to take Advil for a couple of days to feel comfortable.  If you do feel soreness, keep in mind that it is a temporary sensation and you will become comfortable soon!


What is Invisalign?

Invisalign is orthodontic treatment that uses a series of clear aligners to straighten teeth without the use of braces or wires.  The benefit of Invisalign is that it is very esthetic and can be removed for eating and brushing.  If you are interested, ask the doctor to see if you are a good candidate for Invisalign.  Dr. Hocking has had braces and Invisalign, and can not only give you information from the doctor's perspective, but also as a former patient!


How much does treatment cost?

Treatment fees are based upon the treatment complexity/length of treatment as well as the type of treatment being rendered.  If you have insurance or other benefits, that can also be factored in.  It is important to examine you in order to give you accurate treatment fee information. 


Can I still play sports while in treatment?

Yes!  But we do recommend wearing a mouthguard for most sports.


Will braces interfere with my ability to play an instruments?

No, but it may take a week or so to get used to playing with the braces on.


Do I have to get a shot?

No!  Isn't that great?!


Can I chew gum with braces?

It is recommended to avoid gum while in braces because gum can stick to braces and wires and may cause un-intended bends in the wires. Sugary gum is not recommended with or without braces because they can cause cavities.


Why do some people need rubber bands?

Rubber bands are used to correct bites.  They are a common part of treatment, and generally are incorporated a few visits into treatment. 


If I don't wear my rubber bands how will that impact my treatment?

It is important to wear your rubber bands well!  If you do not follow instructions, and do not wear your rubber bands it can prolong your treatment time or compromise your result.


Do I still need to see my dentist while in orthodontic treatment?

Yes, it is important to continue to see your general dentist for regular cleanings and check-ups.


How often do I brush with braces?

Ideally, it would be great to brush after each meal, and floss once a day.  However, we understand that during school or work it can be difficult, so if that is not possible, we advise brushing 3 times daily, with the middle of the day brushing to be done when you get home from school or work.  


What happens if a bracket comes off?

Generally this is not an emergency that needs immediate attention.  If a bracket comes loose, it will often stay attached to the wire but be loosened off of the tooth.  This is not painful.  You can leave it alone until you can next come in for an appointment.  In the meantime if the wiggling of the loose bracket is annoying you can either remove the bracket, or if that is not possible, you can place a little ball of wax over the loose bracket.  Most patients are not very bothered by a loose bracket.


Do I have to wear a retainer?

Yes, it is important to wear retainers as instructed.  Retainers keep teeth from the natural movement and shifting process and keep them looking great.


Do wisdom teeth cause my other teeth to shift?

Research has shown that wisdom teeth are not to blame for teeth shifting.  With or without wisdom teeth much like how skin naturally shifts and sags, there is a natural tendency for teeth to move forward and in, thus creating crowding.  In order to avoid this natural movement it is important to wear retainers.  


Will teeth continue to shift/move even after orthodontic treatment?

Wearing retainers as instructed will prevent the natural forward and inward movement and crowding of teeth.  But, there are some settling movements that occur in the bite once braces are removed.  These are most often undetectable but are important for the settling of a bite.


How do I get started?

Getting started is easy!  Call, email, or just pop in to schedule your Initial Consultation!  


Call: (925) 275-5800



156 Sunset Drive, San Ramon, CA in The Shops at Bishop Ranch

directly across from Whole Foods, and neighboring Target.















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