Frequently Asked Questions

Why orthodontics?

A beautiful, healthy, sensational smile and improved self-image are just some of the benefits of orthodontics. Teeth have an important role in physical health, as well. Without treatment, orthodontic problems may lead to tooth decay, gum (periodontal) disease, bone loss, speech impairment, chewing and digestive disorders, unnecessary tooth loss, and other associated dental injuries. back to top

By what age should my child be seen by an orthodontist?

The American Association of Orthodontists ( recommends that your child be evaluated by age 7. An early examination allows the orthodontist to determine how and when a child’s particular problem should be treated for maximum improvement and the best result. Many times, early intervention can be invaluable to successful treatment. In these cases, early treatment can achieve results that would be unattainable once the face and jaws have completed growing. back to top

Do habits like thumb sucking cause a problem?

Prolonged habits can indeed affect the way the teeth grow in and will ultimately affect the bite. Other habits such as open mouth breathing, finger sucking, or lip biting can also cause complications. Early examination by an orthodontist will determine if treatment will aid in the cessation of harmful habits. back to top

How long will treatment take?

Treatment can vary depending on the severity of each case and on the motivation of each patient. Because of the modern technology and advanced orthodontic systems used by Dr. Berkman, Dr. Shapiro, and Dr. Shoukri, you may be surprised to hear that treatment will not last as long as you may suspect! At your first appointment, you will be given an estimate of the length of your specific treatment. back to top

Does it hurt to have braces?

Braces do not have to hurt! Some pressure is normal, because the teeth are slowly moving through bone to their new positions. The special miniature brackets and new “space-age” wires used by Berkman & Shapiro Orthodontics provide some of the most gentle forces available, so that soreness is minimized and you can forget you’re even wearing braces. back to top

Why should I be concerned about a bad bite or misfit of my teeth?

“Bad bites” can be detrimental to a patient’s dental health by possibly causing premature wear on the teeth, asymmetrical jaw growth, difficulty in brushing, or a malfunctioning bite. Orthodontics will align your teeth for optimum function, hygiene, and appearance. back to top

Will braces interfere with playing a musical instrument?

Nope! There is of course an initial period of adjustment. Following that, it is easy to go right back to playing any instrument, just as before. There is no guarantee, however, that braces will ensure that you play on-key! back to top

How often will I need office visits?

Dr. Berkman, Dr. Shapiro, and Dr. Shoukri use fixed appliances (braces) which are among the most technologically advanced in the world today! Because of this, routine office visits for “adjustments” can be made much more infrequently. The vast majority of visits will occur every 6 to 10 weeks. In fact, even the total number of times adjustments need to be made is reduced because of the modern technology behind the systems we use.

When treatment is complete, retainer adjustment visits are spaced further and further apart until finally, follow up checks are no longer needed. back to top

Should I continue to see my pediatric or family dentist while I’m in braces?

Of course! During braces, it’s more important than ever to continue to see your regular dentist for frequent cleanings, exams, and check-ups. Dr. Berkman, Dr. Shapiro, and Dr. Shoukri will take great care in communicating effectively with your dentist about your progress, so your dentist will always know “what’s up” with your treatment. If you are currently looking for a regular dentist, ask us for a referral! We know many great dentists all over town, and will certainly make sure you are taken good care of. back to top

What are retainers all about?

Teeth are in BONE, not in STONE! Because of this, teeth will always have a tendency to move, unless they are prevented from doing so. For this reason, following active orthodontic treatment, custom-designed retainers will usually be given to each patient. Retainers are specially-designed appliances that help prevent teeth from drifting or moving once the braces are removed. Like all parts of the body, teeth are constantly changing and adapting. Only conscientious wear of the retainers will keep movement to a minimum. back to top

What if I do not wear my retainers?

If retainers are not worn as directed, it is likely that your teeth may begin to shift. This can lead to the same esthetic and functional problems that were present before! In certain situations, the only remedy is to undergo orthodontic treatment again for a short time (usually between 4-8 months), thus incurring additional expense. back to top

What is the cost of treatment?

Costs usually vary depending on the type of treatment required. We value the benefits of a beautiful, healthy smile, and do not want financial concerns to be an obstacle to successful treatment. Therefore, we offer a variety of payment and financing options – including no interest options! As a courtesy, we also offer multiple sibling (or family member) discounts. All costs will be discussed up-front, at your consultation. Today, orthodontics is more affordable than ever! back to top

Will insurance pay for treatment?

Today, many insurance plans provide some type of orthodontic benefit. Our knowledgeable staff will work with you to maximize your benefit, so that financial concerns do not become a barrier to a healthy, lasting smile. back to top

What is a malocclusion, and why should it be treated?

A malocclusion or “bad bite” is the term for teeth that do not fit together and function correctly. Most times, malocclusions are inherited. In some instances, they result from habits or functional problems like a tongue thrust. Cavities and early extractions of baby teeth can also lead to malocclusion problems. Whatever the cause, malocclusions are not good.

According to studies by the American Association of Orthodontists, untreated malocclusions can result in a variety of problems. Crowded teeth are more difficult to properly brush and floss, which may contribute to tooth decay and/or gum disease. Protruding teeth are more susceptible to accidental chipping. Crossbites can result in unfavorable growth and uneven tooth wear. Openbites can result in tongue-thrusting habits and speech impediments. By correcting malocclusions, orthodontics does more than make a pretty smile–it creates a healthier you! back to top

Do adults wear braces?

YES! Drs. Berkman, Shapiro, and Shoukri particularly enjoy treating adults. Nationally, nearly one-third (30%) of all orthodontic patients are adults, including those who are 60+ years of age. Oftentimes, adults can be treated much more quickly than children. In some instances, braces need only be worn for 4-6 months to achieve a great result and the satisfaction of a beautiful smile. Additionally, many families are deciding to seek treatment together! As a courtesy, we offer discounts and special payment arrangements for multiple family members. How do I know if my child is in need of orthodontic treatment? In many cases, it is obvious to the child or parent when there is an orthodontic problem. Things like crowding, spacing, or an overbite are easy to detect. In other cases it may be difficult to determine if treatment is necessary, because there are many problems that can occur even though the front teeth appear straight. Additionally, there are many instances in which it appears that there is a problem, although the situation is normal, and needs no treatment. At your initial consultation, we will perform a thorough examination so that all of your questions will be answered. Each of your child’s orthodontic needs will be fully explained, and recommendations will be made regarding suggested treatment and the best time to start. back to top

How long will treatment take?

At your consultation appointment, an estimate of total treatment time will be given. But remember, an estimate is only an estimate! Patients grow at different rates, and consequently respond in different ways to treatment. Dr. Berkman, Dr. Shapiro, and Dr. Shoukri always have goals in mind, and will usually continue treatment until those goals are achieved.

The single best predictor of finishing orthodontics “on time” is patient cooperation and motivation. Patients who take care of their appliances, keep their teeth very clean, and who cooperate with instructions (such as for wearing rubber bands, etc.) will see the fastest result. In many instances, those patients who are great helpers find that their braces actually come off early! back to top

Do braces cause cavities?

No, braces do not cause cavities. Cavities are caused by plaque, or accumulations of bacteria that form around food that is left on teeth. Braces can sometimes make it more difficult to keep teeth super clean, and it’s therefore important that extra special care be taken when brushing and flossing. With proper brushing, flossing, diet and the use of special fluoride rinses, cavities can certainly be prevented!

We take great pride in our cavity prevention programs! When we first place braces, we thoroughly review exactly how to keep teeth super clean. Hygiene is closely monitored at each appointment, and special instructions are given throughout treatment, so that all of our patients finish with not only straight teeth, but straight healthy teeth. back to top

Can I look for orthodontic problems at home?

Of course! Ask your child to open their mouth, and look at his/her teeth. If you see any signs of crooked teeth, spaces, or overlapping teeth, your child may need orthodontic treatment. Ask your child to bite all the way down, keeping the lips open so you can see the teeth. Do the front top teeth line up with the bottom? Do the top teeth protrude out away from the bottom teeth? Do the top front teeth cover more than 50% of the bottom teeth? Are the top teeth behind the bottom teeth? All these are indicators of potential orthodontic problems.

Look at the alignment of your child’s jaw. Does the jaw shift off center when your child bites down? If you see any misalignment or shifting of the jaw, your child may have a skeletal problem, which may requires early orthodontic intervention.

As we offer complimentary initial examinations and consultations, you are welcome to bring your child in anytime for a complete exam, so that all your questions may be answered. back to top

Besides a better smile, what else can orthodontics help with?

Orthodontics is not merely for improving the aesthetics of the smile; orthodontic treatment improves bad bites (malocclusions). Malocclusions occur as a result of tooth or jaw misalignment. Malocclusions affect the way you smile, chew, clean your teeth or feel about your smile. back to top

Can I still have braces if I have missing teeth?

Of course! When teeth are missing, adjacent teeth will usually drift into the empty space. This will cause a functional, esthetic or periodontal (gum) problem. Orthodontic treatment can correct these problems so that proper alignment may be re-established. Because of this, the replacement of missing teeth can be done more easily, esthetically, and successfully. back to top

What about sterilization?

Our patients’ health and peace of mind are paramount. Therefore, we use state-of-the-art sterilization and disinfection procedures on every level. We ultrasonically clean and sterilize non-disposable instruments with procedures that are identical to those used in major hospitals. After each patient visit, the entire treatment area is thoroughly disinfected. Every team member wears new gloves and a mask during all procedures. Please feel free to ask us for more information on the measures we take to ensure the health and safety of you and your children. We will be happy to give you a tour of our sterilization area. back to top