Are Braces Really Needed?

Updated on September 27, 2007
A.W. asks from Euless, TX
28 answers

Hello. I have a question about something that has been bothering me and I just don't know what to do. You all give such great advice I thought I'd ask you before I make another decision.

The week before school started I took my girls in to the dentist for their 6 month check up. My middle daughter's x-ray (she's 12) showed 2 adult teeth still up in her gum, 1 tooth is laying completely horizontal and will not come down on it's own and the other tooth is sitting vertical directly on top of the horizontal tooth...so it's blocked and will not come down on it's own either. The dentist said I needed to take her to an orthodontist so he can take a look at it and get those teeth to come down. Taking her to an orthodontist for this issue didn't make since to me in the fist place but I took her to one.

Ok, here's the process he wants to do: #1 she needs to have a CAT scan of her head so he can see a 3D x-ray of her mouth because he needs to know exactly where the nerves of the 2 teeth are laying. He said this will cost about $300 but insurance might pay part of it. #2 she then needs to come back to his office and have full braces put on her teeth...another $4,200 'out-of-pocket' money. #3 she then will go see an oral surgeon about having those 2 teeth 'exposed' and brought down into place....who knows how much this is going to cost.

My question is, why do I need to even see an orthodontist if all I want to take care of right now is having those 2 teeth brought down into place? I didn't want to get her braces right now, her teeth aren't 'orthodontic perfect' but I think they're pretty...and we were planning on having her evaluated for braces eventually but not yet. My oldest daughter has braces and she really had to have them, her teeth were all over the place.

What do you all think?

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B.

answers from Dallas on

Since you didn't think she needed to see the orthodontist in the first place, I don't think a second opinion makes much sense. Either follow the orthodontist's advice or don't and move on.

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S.B.

answers from Dallas on

Kelly:

Where do you live? I have an awesome orthodontist in Plano, Dr. Mark Geller. He's one of the best. You can go see him and he'll do a consultation with you free of charge. He is not an aggressive ortho like so many out there are. He'll give you an honest opinion!!! Second opinions always work for me. Then if he says the samething you'll know there is a good reason. I took my son to 2 others before him and I went with Him!!! If you want his phone number it is ###-###-####. Tell them S. Brewer recommended you. We get credit for referals there which is also great!

Hope that helps some!
S.

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S.A.

answers from Dallas on

Hi Kelly! I can tell you that as a dentist what you have been advised to do is best. I am a general dentist. The problem is that the two teeth that are not erupting, especially the one that is impacted, have changed the positioning/spacing of all of her teeth. The orthodontist may be able to bring down (extrude) one or more teeth. The orthodontist also is also the one who will determine which teeth need to be removed. Her situtation will become more difficult to correct later. I hope this advice helps! Dr. S. Austin

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J.W.

answers from Dallas on

Well the reason for having the braces is so that there is room to maneuver the teeth that have not come down without damaging the other teeth. While 12 years old is young to have teeth simply for cosmetic reasons, I would not consider this cosmetic. I personally am not sure of the need for a cat-scan although I could see it being useful. I have nerve damage from the oral surgeon not being able to free the nerve from the bone easily. Yes, he is a good surgeon and I would not have gone anywhere else, it was just one of those risks of surgery. I would go ahead and find your oral surgeon though and get his opinion. No all of this is not going to be cheep.

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E.B.

answers from Dallas on

My daughter has the exact same issue. She's 12 also. Last week, she started phase 2 of her braces (she got them BACK on). Alot of what you are saying makes perfect sense, but some of that is just silly. The 3D xray sounds like some dentist just wanting to gouge your checkbook.

What our dentist AND ortho both told us is that our daughter is having some root damage done to the tooth the impacted teeth are laying on. I could actually see this in a (regular) x-ray myself. The ortho is going to make space for those impacted teeth to move into, and then we will have to go to an oral surgeon to have the teeth exposed, and ultimately pulled down into place. It freaks me out a bit, but the ortho and our dentist, both of which we have extensive relationships with (we have a 14 year old son who has had braces for 4 years) and I trust very much told us it is not a big ordeal. We have dental insurance that partially covers the orthodontics, and will partially cover the oral surgeon, as well. It is still expensive (about $140/month for her braces and I am still unaware what the "exposing" will cost. But we decided to go ahead, since we didnt want her to lose the other two teeth later in life if we waited too long.

I would try getting a second opinion...it couldn't hurt anything and you might be suprised that there may be other options.

Good luck, if I can help in any way, feel free to email me!

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H.S.

answers from Dallas on

I would get a second opinion. My son has braces now on 6 of his teeth on top because he had a cross bite and his braces are costing us $50 a month with our insurance for 10 months (it's not the same thing of course but $4200 for braces seems pricey to me - I would check around to other places)

If she has teeth that will not come down they will need to do something I would imagine to help them or else your daughter is in for a world of trouble later I would think. But I'm not an expert at all.

D.G.

answers from Nashville on

No one in Britain seems to think so ;)

2nd opinions to be sure!

D.

OH! And it is SOOO much easier to correct some of these developmental issues early, so they don't become real problems when they are older & they are more difficult to fix. I do agree w/ you on there not necessarily being a need for "perfect" teeth- but there are some really messed up mouths out there!

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J.S.

answers from Dallas on

Yes, get them. You can get a 2nd opinion if you want, but IMO, she should get the dental work. I had braces for 3 years, & I'm so glad I did it. I then has my wisdom teeth out several years after that.

It will be harder on her if you wait. Her mouth is still growing right now, & it will be harder when she's older.

Good luck!!

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C.L.

answers from Dallas on

Get a second opinion... I had a friend who's daughter was evaluated by 2 different orthodontists, and it was amazing how different their treatment plan was. Especially in your situation where you are talking about lots of money and possibly pain!!

Y.I.

answers from Dallas on

I think it sounds right. My daughter had the same surgery. If she didn't have the braces how would they get the eye teeth to come down? With my daughter they attached brackets to her eye teeth (under the gum), that had chains hanging from them and attached the other end of the chain to the already existing brackets of her braces to bring them down slowly over time by tighting them. They look beautiful now.
Good luck to you.
Lonie

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M.B.

answers from Dallas on

Yes, it sounds crazy, BUT it is important that you see the experts in each area. My younger son (also 12) has lots of teeth problems and goes to the orthodontist every 6 months, so he can monitor his progress and catch anything like that that needs to be taken care of before he gets the braces. His dentist is also involved as he had some baby teeth pulled because they were too decayed so he had to have a spacer put in to keep the other teeth from moving. We had to get the teeth removed by the oral surgeon, see the ortho so he was aware of what was happening and then the dentist installed the spacer. So, all that does seem necessary, but it is certainly worth a second opinion on the order. I would have done so for my son, except that we are using the same orthodontist that I used for myself 15 years ago and we know the quality of his work. We did however get a recommendation for the oral surgeon from our dentist because we don't like the one that our orthodontist recommends. So, again, a second opinion is a good idea.

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N.N.

answers from Dallas on

The orthodontist just suggested to you the best course of action before her two problem teeth are able to be extracted or brought down. Basically, the dentist is not qualified to perform procedures on your teeth unless they are specialized and have received additional training to do so - hence you have to see an orthodontist.

"All orthodontists are dentists, but only about 6% of dentists are orthodontists. An orthodontist is a specialist in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of dental and jaw irregularities." (from http://www.drgordieorgan.com/ortho_difference.html)

The braces will more than likely help or keep her teeth from growing crooked which can probabaly cause prolems for her two teeth that have not come down yet. She is only 12 so just be careful becuase if a childs "jaw" is not finished growing then the braces can be a problem. My sister had problems with her teeth that stemmed from knocking one of them out and her orthodontist would not put full braces on her until her jaw finished growing.

Your orthodontist probably believes this is the best way to go and that this course of sction will have the best results in the long run.

Good luck!

NaLonni

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J.R.

answers from Dallas on

I agree that you should get some more opinons.

I just got my braces off after 2 1/2 years, and I'm so pleased with the results! I had really crooked teeth that had gotten worse over time. Now I need to have jaw surgery, but can't do that until next year, since I'm pregnant. But instead of having the braces on for a whole additional year, they went ahead and took them off for me. I'll get them back on a month before my surgery next year.

I highly recommend Dr. Ilene Rees at Apple Orthodontist. She was a dentist and has become an orthodontist, so she has the experience of both fields. She is located at their Frisco office. Here is the link to her bio: http://www.appleortho.com/rees.html Their phone number is 1-888-97-BRACES.

The two surgeons she recommends are Dr. Kirk Scott in Frisco ###-###-####) and Dr. Pedro Franco in Dallas and Irving ###-###-####). Dr. Scott wasn't on my plan, but I just LOVE Dr. Franco!! He gave me really good advice and I felt very comfortable with him.

I do know that our dental plan paid for half of my braces, since it wasn't just cosmetic. And we were able to set up a payment plan for the remaining balance over two years that didn't accrue interest. And the medical insurance will pay for most of my oral surgery too. The oral surgeon did want me to have an MRI since I have TMJ and he needs to know how stable the jaw joints are before he does surgery, since it affects what he does. I was never told I needed anything else other than x-rays, but my teeth weren't impacted, and my wisdom teeth were removed when I was a teen.

Good luck!

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B.L.

answers from Dallas on

Hello Kelli! I worked at a dental/orthodontic office for 4 years so I'm hoping that I can help you out. Everything that is being quoted to you is correct. I don't know what type of dental insurance you have but your dental insurance should help with the cost of just about everything. The CAT scan should be filed under your medical insurance, even though it is for dental purposes. Oral surgery costs are usually covered 50% or 80% by dental insurance. The fact that those two teeth need to be exposed is a common practice expecially with the position of those two teeth. As for the cost, you should talk to your orthodontist about a payment plan. There is even a credit card called Care Credit (if the office offers it) that will allow you to charge the amount onto the credit card and then offer you 0% interest for up to 18 months so that you can pay off the amount. I hope this helps you out a little bit at least. If you have any other questions please feel free to send me a line. :)

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R.B.

answers from Dallas on

It sounds as if something needs to be done about the teeth. I would suggest that you seek a second, third and even fourth opinion until you find an orthodontist and a plan that feels right to you. We sought the advice of multiple orthodontists when seeking treatment for our then 7 year old daughter and were amazed in the variety of treatment plans.

If you are in the Keller area, schedule a consultation with Dr. Montoya. He was the orthodontist that made the most sense to us and we have loved every minute spent in his office or with his staff. Our son is now mid-way through treatment with him now.

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M.F.

answers from Dallas on

I had a friend withthe same problem in middle school. Sounds like a job for an orthodontist and anoral surgeon. But, different docs do have different opinions on how to manage these things. I had at least two different "quotes" when I got my braces about 7 or 8 years ago (as an adult).
I don't know where you are, but we used Dr. Karl Sweetman in Denton and he's WONDERFUL. He has a partner now that's equally as great. Dr Sweetman was my "second opinion" and I really trust him. My teeth look great now and I didn't have to have major surgery or other procedures to get that way.

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D.G.

answers from Dallas on

Best Orthodontist by far is D. Orthodontics. Not only did I get three opinions for my daughters braces, but he had the same answer for me as one of the other orthos, and her dentist.
They are a year new in town, and they have several offices around Frisco & McKinney. They will give you a free consiltation, and they are more reasonable in price than all three that I went to. Always get a second or third opinion when involving such a procedure. Also, there is a wonderful oral surgeon in McKinney; Dr. Nixon. Let me know if you need more info.

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A.D.

answers from Dallas on

Kelli,
The best advice I can give you is GET A SECOND OPINION! When it comes to so much money, time, pain, etc. make sure you see another professional before making a final decision. I recently went to an orthodontist and he told me that I needed $4,000 in braces. I am 27 and have NEVER been told this. So I went to a totally different orthodontist (who receives salary pay only) and he told me 100% that I did not need braces. He thought that I already had them at one point in my life! I was shocked at the difference of opinion. Go to a reputable ortho. and then go with your instincts! Good luck!

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M.C.

answers from Dallas on

I think you took her there to get a professional opinion of what needs to happen and that's what you got. If you're not sure you believe them, get another opinion from another dentist or orthodontist. That way, you can be sure that whatever course of treatment you go with is necessary and therefore, worth the money. I don't know where you live but Johnson & Collins is an excellent place to go. THey have offices in Bedford, Southlake and Irving. Their number is ###-###-####.

Good luck!

M.
"My son eats all his veggies now. Even the green ones."
www.GoodHealthMadeSimple.com

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N.G.

answers from Dallas on

I would get a second opinion, just to cover yourself, but I think you should definitely get her braces. My son is 12 and the ortho said he could have started braces earlier. You don't have to pay all the money at once, they can set up a monthly payment and I'm sure health insurance will pay for some of it.
Good luck.

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M.W.

answers from Dallas on

Kelli,
I am not sure where you live but for a little while I worked for 3 oral surgeons in Flower Mound. I think you need to take her to and O.S. first, then deal with the orthodontia issue later. The one I really liked of the three is Dr. Lee Oneacre. He is an older man, very kind, like a grandpa. I do not like the other two much at all, esp. Dr. Nelson. If you have to see Dr. Ellis, he is a good surgeon but his bedside manner leaves a little to be desired at times. The expose and bond is not cheap, just a forewarning. If I remember correctly it is around a couple of thousand for two teeth. I could be way off and I hope I am but I don't think so. The whole thing with CT sounds so extreme to me for dental work. I would just start by going to see Dr. Oneacre and he will steer you in the right direction and he can refer you to the orthodontist they work with when you guys get ready to take that step. Good luck! Let me know what happens.
M.

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L.L.

answers from Dallas on

Get another opinion. I am sure the work he is claiming needs to be done to get the teeth down and all but some dentists are very into cosmetic more than what is actually NEEDED at the time.

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S.T.

answers from Dallas on

Kelli-

I also worked for an orthordontist and what they say is true. Braces are the only way to get those teeth to come down. They do hook small chains to them to pull them down. I have seen it done many times and it unfortunetly is the only way. You can see someone else if you want...but I am afraid the story will be the same. FYI- I am not sure where you live...but Dr. Dean Jensen in Plano is wonderful....

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D.N.

answers from Houston on

Get her the braces if they are recommended. I was told at 10 years old I needed braces. My father refused to spend the money on them and said I could pay for it as an adult if I wanted them. After he and my mom got divorced, my mother took me to a dentist again. I ended up needing braces still and because I did not get them as a child when I was first told I needed them I ended up having to have jaw surgery as well. So, my junior year of college I had surgery. This was major surgery requiring me to be in ICU and all.

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V.B.

answers from Dallas on

You also need to remember that braces are not just for cosmetic reasons. People with perfectly straight teeth sometimes need braces to correct growth pattern problems and jaw problems. The importance of starting as early as possible with your children can save them so much work in the future. At a young age, a child's jaw and teeth are so much easier to move and expand. After a certain age, this ability is lost, sometimes requiring more work than would have been needed if it was done earlier. My little girl started with a night guard and head gear when she was almost 7. She has been using them for 8 months now and we can already see a huge difference in her teeth. She will begin expansion when she is 8.

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T.

answers from Dallas on

We experienced precisely the same scenario, however, ours were much more expensive, though I am pretty sure our orthodontist wasn't very diligent and what should have been only 18 months turned out to be 3 years and her teeth are in worse condition - so DON'T use Dr. Blume in Richardson!! We had to demand he take the braces off or she would have had them another 2 years I ams sure, and her teeth were straight to begin with - just the teeth that grew in sideways needed to be pulled down. Make sure you get a good orthodontist and get ready to write alot of checks.

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J.S.

answers from Dallas on

Hi, Kelly...

You need to FORGET that orthodontist, and head straight for the oral surgeon!! The orthodontist is trying to do things backwards, in my opinion. It may be that those 2 teeth are too high up in her jaw to do anything with YET, but a good surgeon will have you bring her back periodically to check on it, and then do the surgery at the appropriate time. If he feels that the teeth won't come down because of the position they are in, he will probably go ahead and do the surgery, and then wait to see if your daughter needs braces. Her teeth may straighten themselves out on their own. Either way, if you do the braces first, I think you will be wasting a ton of money, and putting your daughter through a lot of UNnecessary pain!

Quick note...if your daughter *does* end up needing braces, be prepared to buy a new toothbrush at least once a month, if not weekly, because the braces just tear them up.

I really feel for you and your daughter, and I hope this helps. You can email me at [email protected]____.com if you have any more questions. I am not a doctor or a dentist, but I have had a LOT of personal experience with these fields.

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S.O.

answers from Dallas on

Hi Kelli I used to be an orthodontist assistant at Johnson & Collins. First off you need to go to an ortho soon. Only because of your girls age I would hate for her to be embarassed. Anyways an ortho is necessary because once you have surgery to get the tooth down you will go I think about once a month to have it tightened basically to guide the tooth down. Usually once the tooth is brought down you will want it lined up with the other teeth. It is so early so sorry if this doesn't make since feel free to send a message and I can give you more info if your interested.
S.

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