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Frequently Asked Questions

We have compiled the most frequently asked questions that we have received over the years to help you better understand our orthodontic practice and treatment offerings. Click on each of the questions below to find the answers. If you have any questions not listed below, please reach out to us and we'll be happy to get you the information you need.

What areas do you serve?

Haymarket (6 minutes)
Broad Run (13 minutes)
Centreville (15 minutes)
Bristow (18 minutes)
Manassas (19 minutes)
Marshall (19 minutes)
Nokesville (20 minutes)
Warrenton (23 minutes)

What do orthodontists do?

Orthodontists are dental specialists who diagnose and treat problems with the position, alignment or spacing of the teeth, and related irregularities in the face and the jaw. We use a number of special treatments, including braces and other oral appliances, to correct these problems.

How can I tell if my child needs orthodontic treatment?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends children first be seen by an orthodontist at age 7. This is when the first adult teeth typically begin erupting.

Many times tooth or bite issues can be more comfortably corrected at a younger age and that allows for healthier growth and development. For example, in cases of severe crowding an early treatment can help to eliminate the need for future extraction of permanent teeth.

Our doctors review every individual and if possible will wait until all of the adult teeth have erupted to recommend comprehensive orthodontic treatment.

Is orthodontic care expensive?

We don’t want your experience at Dunegan & Cole Orthodontics to feel transactional. We know it’s about a relationship, so we offer straightforward and inclusive financing options. At your free initial consultation, our experienced financial coordinators can help to maximize any insurance benefit and create an interest-free payment plan designed just for your budget. To see some real numbers, please see our cost calculator for an example of what to expect.

Will I wear a retainer when my braces come off?

Almost always, the answer is yes: If you don’t wear a retainer, your teeth can rapidly shift out of position — and then all the effort put into your treatment is lost! Your retainer helps you maintain that good-looking smile for a lifetime.

Will I be able to play sports/play my instrument?

In a word: Yes. Of course, whether you wear braces or not, we recommend you wear a mouthguard when playing most sports. Musicians are generally able to play their instruments just as they did before, but they may need a short adjustment period after getting braces.

Will I have to watch what I eat?

Yes — you should pass up the types of foods that could damage or become trapped in your braces. Some of these include raw vegetables, hard candy, caramel, taffy and ice cubes (fortunately, ice cream is OK). We will give you a list of foods to avoid.

Will I need to have any teeth extracted?

If your teeth are severely crowded (because your mouth is too small to properly accommodate all of them) — or if you have impacted teeth (teeth that are trapped beneath the gum line by other teeth) — then extraction may be necessary. In the case of younger patients, early treatment may make extraction unnecessary. Each case will be evaluated individually so that the best decision can be made for each patient.

How often will I come in for an appointment?

It depends on what’s being done, and how often you need to be monitored. During active treatment, you’ll typically come in to our office once every 4 to 10 weeks.

How long will treatment take?

It’s different for each person, but generally the active stage of treatment (that is, wearing braces or other appliances) may take from 6-30 months. After that, a retainer is worn for at least several months more.

Does getting braces hurt? What about wearing them?

Having braces put on is generally painless. Some people experience minor aches and pains in the first couple of days or so, as they adjust to wearing their appliances; periodic adjustments may sometimes cause soreness as well, though it typically lasts only a short time. Over-the-counter pain relievers can be used to alleviate any discomfort, but are usually unnecessary.

How can I recognize a potential bite problem?

Teeth that are protruding, crowded together or erupting out of position are clear indications that treatment is needed. Less obvious signs are mouth breathing, frequent biting of the cheek or palate, speech difficulties, and thumb sucking that goes past 3-4 years of age. If teeth don’t meet properly when the mouth closes, or if jaw makes a sound or shifts as it moves, this may also indicate an orthodontic problem.

When should orthodontic treatment be started?

You’re never too old to begin orthodontic treatment — but if you start at an earlier age, your problems may be easier to treat. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that a child who may need orthodontic treatment should come in for a first visit around age 7.

Why should I get orthodontic treatment?

There are two good reasons: aesthetics and function. Having an attractive smile not only changes the way people see you — it enhances your own self-image as well. Orthodontic treatment also allows your teeth to function better and makes it easier to keep them clean, which can improve your overall health.

How long do I have to wear my retainer?

Retainers must be worn every night for the first year in order to hold your teeth in their proper, new position while your gums, ligaments, and bones adapt. Typically, after one year, Dr. Dunegan or Dr. Cole will recommend you switch to every other night.

Can I get Invisalign treatment on just my top or bottom teeth?

Yes – treatment options for Invisalign are available for just top or bottom teeth. However, you should always consult Dr. Dunegan or Dr. Cole for your individual needs.

Can I get Invisalign if I’ve already had braces?

Yes, many people who find that their teeth have shifted back after having braces choose Invisalign treatment as the discrete solution to improve their smile.

What payment and financing options are available?

Dunegan & Cole Orthodontics offers flexible in-house financing and down payment options. We’ll work with you to find a payment plan that fits your needs and your family’s situation. Some plans include a down payment and affordable monthly payments. Other plans include zero down payment and no interest charged over the payment and treatment schedule. Discounts also may be available when multiple family members have treatment in our office.

Our treatment coordinator will go over all your options during your new patient exam.

Check out our cost calculator to get a rough idea of how different payment plans can work and schedule your free in-office consultation to get exact pricing and insurance information.

Does my insurance cover Invisalign?

Dunegan & Cole Orthodontics accepts and works with all dental insurance providers, so we’re happy to talk with your insurance company to determine your exact benefits for orthodontic treatment. Usually if your insurance covers braces, it also will cover Invisalign and other types of orthodontic treatment.

If you’re already paying for those dental benefits — or your employer has provided them for you — then why not take full advantage of them? Schedule your free consultation today, and we’ll evaluate your insurance coverage before your initial appointment.

What is a Vivera Retainer?

From the makers of Invisalign, Vivera retainers are clear, comfortable plastic retainers designed to hold your smile in place after orthodontic treatment. Whether you wore Invisalign or traditional braces, Vivera retainers are custom-made to fit your teeth and preserve your smile after orthodontic treatment. When it is time to get your braces off, we will give you 4 sets of Vivera retainers. We understand that occasionally patients lose retainers or they get broken. You will always have backups with the Vivera retainer program. Clear, plastic retainers also dull over time. When this happens, you can replace your old retainer with a new clear one — without the hassle of an office visit.

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