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'Brace' Yourself For A Trip To The Orthodontist

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Braces are usually part of the awkward preteen years, but when should your child first see an orthodontist?

Dr. Richard Beane of the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry said around age 7 is best.

"At that point, we can begin to detect problems in tooth position, problems in growth. Growth of the jaws can be detected at any early age," he said.

You do not have to be a kid to benefit from braces. Many adults wear them to correct problems they have had for years. The length of time you have to wear braces depends on how severe the problem is.

"If they have an average problem, it's going to take anywhere from 18 to 24 months or more to take care of the problem," Beane said.

During that time, patients will see their orthodontist every four to eight weeks. Patients also need to see their regular dentist.

"The orthodontist is not going to be doing the cavities. They're not going to be cleaning the teeth," he said.

Once the braces come off, it's retainer time. Orthodontists recommend patients wear a retainer for up to a year or longer.

"The longer you wear the retainers, the straighter your teeth stay," he said.

A full set of braces usually costs between $4,000 to $5,000. Some insurance companies cover part of the cost.


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