When Should My Child See the Orthodontist? Drake Road Orthodontics Answers Your Top 10 Braces Questions

Brace Yourself- Your Kid Needs an Orthodontist

At some point during your child’s normal cleaning appointments, your dentist will likely recommend an orthodontic consultation.

Or maybe one of your kids has some teeth shifting around that concern you. Do you need a referral to discuss braces?

Braces? Now? No matter the age, you likely will feel unprepared.

My husband and I both had braces and I am grateful for my smile. But my experience was eons ago; what orthodontic treatments are available now? How do I get started?

It’s normal to have a list of questions and feel a bit overwhelmed.

We’ve consulted with the experts at Drake Road Orthodontics (DRO) to cover the most frequently asked questions about braces and learn more about their practice in Kalamazoo.

Drake Road Orthodontics

Top 10 Orthodontic FAQs

Not sure where to begin when it comes to braces and other orthodontic work? You’re not alone.

We reached out to Dr. Tisha Randall and Dr. Brandon Knapp at Drake Road Orthodontics to help parents better prepare for starting braces and other orthodontic treatments.

1 – When should I schedule my child’s first orthodontist visit?

The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends kids visit an orthodontist by age 7.

Although that may seem young, your child’s teeth may have an underlying problem that is not yet visible. Also, early treatment may prevent more serious problems from developing and may make treatment at a later age shorter and less complicated.

While monitoring starts at age 7, the average child starts treatment around 12 years old.

2 – How long does a consult take? How much does it cost?

Your initial consult will be free (including any x-rays, if taken) and will take 30 to 60 minutes.

3 – What are “phases” for braces?

One “phase” means completing all orthodontic treatment with a single set of braces or aligners, starting when the child is usually about 12 years old.

When patients undergo a two phase plan, Phase 1 treatment usually occurs between 8-10 years old and is followed by a Phase 2 treatment, usually starting closer to 12 years old. That means your child may require braces twice.

The team at Drake Road Orthodontics is very selective about when they recommend two phases of treatment; the majority of patients only require one phase.

4 – How much do braces cost?

Costs vary by patient and are based upon the difficulty level, appliances needed, and the estimated treatment time.

In general, one phase treatment is almost always less expensive than two phases.

Orthodontists understand that braces are an investment. Talk to your office about payment plan options; most offer no interest financing and some require minimal or no deposit to start.

5 – Does insurance cover any of the expense?

Dental insurance typically covers less than half of the cost of braces and is a once per lifetime benefit. This means that if you exhaust your orthodontic benefits for Phase 1 braces, you will not be able to use it for Phase 2.

6 – How long will my kid need braces?

Most children can complete orthodontic treatment in one phase, lasting 12 to 24 months.

7 – How can you avoid cavities while you have braces?

Developing a strong oral hygiene routine at home is the best way to avoid cavities and white spots.

White spots are the white outlines of the braces that are left on the teeth even after they are removed. To help protect against white spots, ask about a fluoride sealant: Drake Road Orthodontics applies one on their patients’ teeth on the day braces are placed.

Your child should continue to see the dentist twice per year while receiving orthodontic treatment. You may also want to consider additional dental cleanings while your child has braces.

8 – How often are appointments during treatment?

It can vary by practice. Drake Road Orthodontics sees patients with braces every 6-8 weeks, and those with clear aligners every 8-12 weeks.

9 – What happens after you remove braces? How long do you need a retainer?

The team at Drake Road Orthodontics lets patients know that retention is a life-long commitment. Through the use of retainers, you can maintain your beautiful new smile. Most people only need to wear their retainers at night in order to maintain the correction.

There are three types of retainers: Essix (clear plastic), Hawleys (acrylic with the metal wire across the front), and lingual bonded (the wire bonded to the inside of the teeth). A patient’s retainers are customized, based on the unique starting and finishing positions of their teeth.

10 – How do I select an orthodontist?

Families should schedule consults with more than one orthodontist, to find the right provider.

The DRO team suggests asking about length of patient-doctor interaction, the number of orthodontic phases and payment plans.

When researching doctor credentials, parents should look for membership in the American Association of Orthodontists and the American Board of Orthodontists.

Top 5 Myths About Braces

We asked Dr. Randall and Dr. Knapp about some of the common orthodontic misconceptions. We’ve busted the top five myths below:

1 – The sooner I schedule the first appointment, the sooner my child will start treatment.

While the first visit is recommended at 7 years old, the majority of kids do not need orthodontic treatment for several years. An orthodontist will not start braces until it’s developmentally appropriate.

2 – My child cannot start braces until she has lost all of her baby teeth.

Some orthodontic conditions are actually harder to correct if you wait until all adult teeth are in place. A partnership with an orthodontist starting around 7 years old helps to monitor their teeth to gauge when treatment is needed.

3 – I need a referral from my dentist to see an orthodontist.

You can schedule an orthodontic consultation at any time; no paperwork is needed from your dentist.

4 – The orthodontist’s office will both straighten and clean my child’s teeth.

An orthodontist does not replace your dentist and does not offer cleanings. Orthodontists are strong advocates of maintaining good oral hygiene; however, you still need to see the dentist.

5 – I will have to pay for the majority of my child’s braces up front, when treatment starts.

Every orthodontist offers different payment plans. Some require a deposit, while others require no money down, and all typically offer no interest financing.

If you’re uncomfortable with your treatment estimate, consult with another practice until you find the right fit.

Why Two Orthos are Better than One at Drake Road Orthodontics

Drake Road Orthodontics

401 S Drake Road, Kalamazoo, MI 49009

Drake Road Orthodontics is the only local practice with two orthodontists on staff. This means two experts can collaborate on the best treatment for patients. Patients also receive more time with the doctors since there are two to cover appointments.

Local parents also agree that this dynamic duo is the best choice for their kids: Both Dr. Tisha Randall and Dr. Brandon Knapp were voted in the top five orthodontists by KZOO Kids readers in both 2021 and 2022.

Drake Road Orthodontics

Orthodontists Do More Than Just Straighten Teeth

While braces will improve the appearance of your smile, orthodontics extends beyond cosmetics; it also focuses on treating both jaw and bite function. A good bite makes it easier for you to speak, bite and chew.

Both of DRO’s doctors completed four years of dental school and an additional two and a half years of orthodontic residency training, making them experts in the field of orthodontics.

Both Dr. Randall and Dr. Knapp are also board certified by the American Board of Orthodontics; this additional certification is only held by about one third of orthodontists.

Working together, their team will create a customized plan for each patient for efficient, affordable treatment.

DRO’s History + Experienced Team

Drake Road Orthodontics has a long-standing commitment to families and the community. Now retired, Dr. Nick Owings practiced in Kalamazoo for over four decades. During his tenure, he mentored Dr. Randall for six years.

This mentorship ensured a smooth transition for Dr. Randall to learn with one of the best and to continue DRO’s legacy of quality care in a fun environment.

Dr. Knapp joined the practice three years ago, bringing four years of experience as an orthodontist in Wisconsin. Although a somewhat recent relocation, he’s a Michigander at heart; he grew up in Kalamazoo and was a patient of Dr. Owings.

This close-knit team’s continuity provides a big benefit for patients, with team leaders who have worked at DRO for over 20 years.

Drake Road Orthodontics

Education & Credentials

Dr. Tisha Randall, DDS, MS

Licensed and certified by the State of Michigan to specialize in orthodontics. Education: BS, Andrews University; DDS, Loma Linda University; Advanced Education in General Dentistry Residency, U.S. Air Force Academy; General Dentist, U.S. Air Force; Master of Science in Orthodontics, Ohio State University.

Dr. Brandon Knapp, DDS, MS

Licensed and certified by the State of Michigan to specialize in orthodontics. Education: Bachelors & Masters Degrees in Biomedical Engineering, University of Michigan; DDS, Columbia University; Master of Science in Orthodontics, Oregon Health and Science University.


Orthodontic Treatment Approach

As parents, anytime your child sees a health care provider, it’s no question you want the best care possible.

Whenever possible Dr. Randall and Dr. Knapp aim to complete orthodontic treatment in one phase, avoiding unnecessary two-phase treatments which can be expensive, long and inconvenient.

They’ll take the time to answer your questions and determine the most efficient and cost-effective treatment plan for your family. 


Drake Road Orthodontics

Drake Road Orthodontics Intel

Accepting New Patients: Yes. New patients (adults and kids) can schedule a free consult online.

Patient Ages: 7 years and up

Treatment Options: metal braces, ceramic braces and Invisalign clear aligners

Family Perks: Family discount offered when multiple siblings are in treatment. Flexible scheduling to allow sibling appointments in one trip.

Rewards Program: Earn points and redeem cool prizes with their Patient Rewards Program

Is your child in need of orthodontic treatment?

Get your free appointment scheduled today with the award-winning team at DRO.

Drake Road Orthodontics

401 S Drake Road
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
(269) 344-1271