Frequently Asked Questions

To help our patients gain a better understanding of their treatment options at Greater Vancouver Orthodontics, we've provided some answers to the questions we are most frequently asked about orthodontics and braces. 

Please feel free to contact us if you don't find the question or answer you are looking for here!

General Questions

What is an orthodontist?

An orthodontist is a specialist in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of facial irregularities known as malocclusion.

Just like your family dentist, an orthodontist has completed dental school. However, orthodontists also complete 2 - 3 additional years of training (called a "residency"). During this residency, orthodontists learn about placing braces on teeth, and also studies the development and growth of the jaws. As a result of this extensive study, orthodontists are able to diagnose bite problems that are developing at very early ages in their patients.

When should I see an orthodontist?

If you believe you are experiencing teeth alignment or bite problems, or even if you just have some questions about these issues, visiting an orthodontist is the best way to determine whether or not orthodontic treatment is required.

Since everyone’s teeth develop differently, being evaluated by an orthodontist will help you discover if you actually have a malocclusion problem, or if what you are experiencing is simply a normal variation in tooth development.

When should my child visit an orthodontist?

Most specialists agree that children should visit an orthodontist for the first time by age 7. This may seem unnecessary if your child does not have an obvious bite or teeth alignment issue, but these types of problems are often not immediately obvious, especially in the early stages of development. An orthodontist , however, can identify these developing problems early, and can take steps to prevent them from becoming full-blown problems.

On the other hand, if your child is not yet ready for treatment, the orthodontist will monitor growth and development regularly, and proceed with treatment when the time is right. The sooner teeth alignment and bite issues can be addressed, the better!

What are some signs that braces may be needed?

Below are some of the more common signs that orthodontics may be needed:

  • Upper front teeth protrude excessively over the lower teeth, or are bucked
  • Upper front teeth cover the majority of the lower teeth when biting together (deep bite)
  • Upper front teeth are behind or inside the lower front teeth (underbite)
  • The upper and lower front teeth do not touch when biting together (open bite)
  • Teeth are crowded or overlapped
  • The centers of the upper and lower teeth do not line up
  • Finger or thumb-sucking habits that continue after 6 or 7 years of age
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Teeth wearing unevenly or excessively
  • The lower jaw shifts to one side or the other when biting together
  • Spaces between the teeth

What information should I bring with me when visiting the orthodontist for the first time?

  • To make your first visit to the orthodontist go as smoothly as possible, bring the following information/documents to your appointment:
  • Medical and dental history
  • Home address and phone number
  • Work phone number
  • Insurance information and insurance card
  • A list of your chief concerns
  • Any pertinent x-rays.

What is Phase I and Phase II treatment?

Phase I, or early interceptive treatment, is limited orthodontic treatment (e.g.,expander or partial braces) before all of the permanent teeth have erupted. Such treatment can occur between the ages of 6 and 10, and is sometimes recommended to make more space for developing teeth, correction of crossbites, overbites, underbites, or harmful oral habits.

Phase II treatment is also called comprehensive treatment, because it involves full braces that are applied when all of the permanent teeth have erupted, usually between the ages of 11 and 13.

How do braces work?

When force is applied to the roots of the teeth with the braces and the wire, the cells in the bone and tissues surrounding the tooth root are stimulated into action. Cells in the body called Osteoblasts and Osteoclasts respectively add and remove bone. Pressure at the bracket produces pressure and tension (pulling) at the root of the tooth, which causes tooth movement and remodeling of bone.

What will happen during my first orthodontic appointment?

During your first appointment, the orthodontist will start by getting to know you, and learning about your medical and dental history.

Next, she will carry out a thorough examination of your face, jaws, and teeth. This is typically followed by the taking of x-rays and moulds of your teeth. These will function as records for you and your orthodontist to track your progress, and will help your orthodontist to diagnose problems that are not visible to the naked eye.

After your orthodontist has carefully studied the records she has taken during your first appointment, she will develop a treatment plan for you. The initial appointment typically takes about an hour.

How long does orthodontic treatment take?

Treatment times vary on a case by case basis, but the average time is from 1 to 2 years. Actual treatment time can be affected by rate of growth and severity of the correction necessary.

Treatment length is also dependent upon patient compliance. Maintaining good oral hygiene, keeping regular appointments and good elastic wear are all important in keeping treatment time on schedule.

Do braces hurt?

The placement of bands and brackets on your teeth does not hurt. Once your braces are placed and connected with the archwires, your teeth may feel some soreness or tenderness anywhere from 1 to 4 days. Your lips and cheeks may need 1 to 2 weeks to get used to the braces on your teeth.

How often will I have appointments scheduled?

It may take several appointments at the beginning to get treatment started. Once treatment is underway, appointments are usually 4 to 6 weeks apart.

Financial Questions

How much does orthodontic treatment cost?

Orthodontic fees will vary depending on the complexity of the bite problem. Bites with more severe problems usually require additional treatment time (and additional fees) than less complicated bites do. Because of the variety of differences, each case is evaluated independently.

Fees can usually be estimated at the initial visit. During the consultation appointment, our staff will go over the fees in more detail, and devise a payment plan that best meets your needs.

How does insurance work?

Each insurance company works differently. If you have orthodontic insurance, please bring your insurance information with you to your first appointment. From there, we will help you determine the coverage you have available, and direct bill your insurance provider.

Additionally, most insurance plans will not cover the whole cost of your orthodontic care. There may be a deductible clause, a dollar limit, and excluded services.

What payment options does Greater Vancouver Orthodontics offer?

Being sensitive to the fact that people have different needs when it comes to fulfilling their financial obligations, Greater Vancouver Orthodontics provides the following convenient payment options.

  • If full payment is made at the onset of treatment, we will offer a courtesy discount.
  • A down payment, followed by regular monthly payments, is offered with no interest, usually over a period of 12 to 20 months.
  • An additional courtesy discount is always offered when more than one member of the family begins treatment.

What methods of payment does Greater Vancouver Orthodontics accept?

We accept Interac, post-dated cheques, Visa, and MasterCard.

Glossary of Orthodontic Terms


An orthodontic adjustment is a progress evaluation appointment, during which your your wires may be adjusted or changed.


An orthodontic appliance is anything that your orthodontist attaches to your teeth to move them, or to change the shape of your jaw.


An archwire is the metal wire that is attached to your brackets, in order to move your teeth.


Braces are dental appliances that produce a force on a tooth in a very specific, controlled manner and direction, in order to move the tooth into a better position.


A bracket, or a single brace, is attached to the front of the tooth. It is made of up 3 components: the wing, the slot, and the base. The slot is where the wire is placed. The wings helps hold the wire in place in the slot, with a small rubber band. And the base is where the bracket is attached to the tooth.


The band is another part of the braces. it is used primarily on the back molars. It is made of stainless steel metal that wraps around the entire tooth, and is held in place with special dental cement.


The chain is a stretchable plastic chain that is used to hold the archwires into the brackets.


During different points of your orthodontic treatment, small elastics, or rubber bands, are used as a gentle but continuous force to help individual tooth movement or with jaw alignment.


The forsus is a spring-like appliance that creates an upward and backward forced on the upper molars, similar to headgear. At the same time, it also pushes the lower teeth and jaw forward. Forsus springs are typically worn for 6 - 8 months, with adjustments every 6 - 8 weeks.

Herbst Appliance

The Herbst Appliance is used to correct Class 2 Malocclusion, where the upper jaw protrudes out too far over the lower jaw.


Taking an impression is the first step in making a model of your teeth. An impression in made when the patient bites into a tray filled with a rubber-type material. That material then hardens to create a mold of your teeth.


Invisalign technology uses computer scanners and virtual reality to move teeth gradually, using the construction of clear overlay retainer appliances. Invisalign appliances are nearly invisible, which makes them a great option for adults who want to improve the look of their smiles. They can only be used for relatively minor malocclusion, however. More extreme cases require standard braces.

Lip Bumper

This removable appliance is used in growing children to create and maintain spaces for the adult teeth to grow in.


The world Malocclusion is formed from the word “occlusion,” which refers to the “bite,” and “mal” which means bad, or incorrect. Therefore, malocclusion means “bad bite.”Class I malocclusion is when the upper and lower teeth are in the proper front-back position, but may have other problems (crowding, rotations, misalignment etc.). Class II malocclusion is when the upper teeth are too far ahead of the lower teeth (commonly referred to as an “overbite”). Class III malocclusion is when the lower teeth protrude forward over the upper teeth (commonly seen as an “underbite”).

Mouth Guard

A mouth guard is a device used to protect your mouth from injury when you are playing sports. Mouth guards are especially important for orthodontic patients.

Palatal Expander

A palatal expander is an appliance used to help widen your upper jaw or palate.


A fixed, or permanent, retainer can greatly enhance the stability of your smile and bite. Fixed retainers are invisible because they are bonded to the back sides of your teeth. Removable retainers are appliances that your orthodontist will give you to wear after your braces have been removed. The removable retainer attaches to your upper jaw and/or lower teeth, and hold your teeth in the correct position while the bone around them adjusts to their new position.


A plastic or metal part that your orthodontist uses to create space for bands between your teeth.


This is a clear wax that is used to prevent your braces from irritating the inside of your mouth when your braces are first put in.

Book your Smile Consultation today at Greater Vancouver Orthodontics!

(604) 662-3290