Frequently Asked Questions

1. How do I schedule an appointment for an initial exam?

If you wish to get an orthodontic consultation appointment, simply call our office 650-322-2817. You do not need a referral from your general dentist, although many of our patients are referred from their dentist or from other patients that we’re treating.


2. At what age should an initial orthodontic screening appointment be done?

It is recommended that an initial orthodontic screening be done at about age 7, after the permanent first molars and permanent incisors have started to erupt. Teeth can be moved with orthodontics at any age and many of our patients are adults.

3. What will happen at the initial evaluation appointment?

Upon arriving, we have the patient/parent fill out a short patient history form. An orthodontic examination will then be done. After the exam, we will make recommendations on whether treatment is needed at that time and, if so, about how long it will take and about how much it will cost. The initial evaluation is $15 if treatment is not needed.

4. What is the next step if treatment is needed?

An appointment will be given to take study model impressions. At that appointment, we will call the patient’s dentist to check on X-rays. If X-rays are not available, we will order them. About three weeks later, a diagnosis and treatment plan will be completed and presented to the patient at the next appointment.

5. How long does it take to complete treatment with braces?

The length of treatment depends on each individual case. However, in general, treatment usually takes 12 to 30 months with braces on the teeth.

6. How much will orthodontic treatment cost?

The cost of treatment depends on the complexity of the case and the estimated treatment time. At the diagnosis appointment, an exact cost for treatment will be given and followed up in a written letter. The orthodontic fee charged includes all our services, all appliances, and one set of retainers. General dentistry, X-rays and surgery are not included in the orthodontic fee.

7. What options are available to pay for orthodontic treatment?

Generally, the orthodontic payment is spread over the anticipated treatment time in monthly payments with an initial fee of about 15 percent. We take all major credit cards. We can set up an automatic payment plan. Anyone who wishes to pay the full fee at the start of treatment will be given a 5 percent discount.

8. Does insurance cover orthodontic treatment?

Many dental insurance plans include orthodontic coverage. Usually the insurance will pay a certain percentage of the fee with a lifetime maximum. We will fill out and submit the insurance claims for the patient. We accept all the standard insurance providers.

9. How often are appointments needed during active orthodontic treatment?

The frequency of appointments depends on each individual case. Most patients with bracesneed an appointment every 3 to 6 weeks.

10. When are appointments scheduled?

Most appointments are fairly short and can be scheduled after school or over the lunch hour. Longer appointments (30 minutes) need to be scheduled during the day when more time can be devoted to the work. These longer appointments are infrequent, and schools are required by law to excuse the patient.

11. Will crowded teeth straighten out as the patient grows?

No. They will not straighten out. As a matter of fact, the space available for the front teeth decreases with age. As the patient grows, the jaws increase in size in the back. This increased length allows space for the 12-year molars and for the wisdom teeth, but does not help with crowding of the front teeth.

12. Does orthodontic treatment hurt?

Generally, orthodontic treatment does not hurt. In our office, shots are not given or needed. Sometimes when new wires are placed, the teeth will get sore several hours later. In these cases, the patient will be given sugarless gum to chew after the wires are placed, which helps considerably. Occasionally the patient may need to take Advil or Tylenol to ease the discomfort.

13. Can I play sports with braces on?

Yes. However, we recommend using a mouth guard for all sports.

14. How are emergency appointments handled?

If you have an emergency, we will see you immediately. Dr. Morrill’s home telephone number will be given on the office answering machine. If he is out of town, there will always be a back up orthodontist to take care of any emergencies. Emergencies, however, are very rare during orthodontic treatment if the patient is reasonably careful with the braces.

15. Are there restrictions on what I can eat with braces?

Generally there are no restrictions on what you can eat with braces with the provision that very sticky and sugary foods should be avoided. Very hard foods should be cut up. The patient should avoid biting on ice, hard candy, pens, and pencils.

16. What if you need to cancel or reschedule an appointment?

While it is important to do everything possible to keep the appointments so that the orthodontic treatment stays on schedule, cancellations will be handled as necessary to fit with your schedule. The patient will be reappointed as soon as possible.

17. Should you go to an orthodontic specialist to have your teeth straightened?

Orthodontics is a specialty of dentistry which requires three years of additional schooling after graduation from dental school. Orthodontic treatment is complicated, and it is important that you see someone who has this additional training and the experience in order to get the optimum results from your orthodontic treatment.