Patient Education

Pitner and Carroll Orthodontics

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At Pitner and Carroll Orthodontics, we are proud to be an important part of the communities of Greater Columbia and Chapin, SC. We contribute to the local school districts, including science programs, sports, and the arts. We also support many local youth league teams, church mission trips, and community arts programs. We know that our patients are quite active and talented and we enjoy supporting them by being a small part of the activities they love.
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The entire team at Pitner and Carroll Orthodontics would love to welcome you into our family of patients! The doctors and their staff promise to give you a beautiful smile and comfortable bite along with a friendly, nurturing experience. Pitner and Carroll Orthodontics has been proud to serve the residents of Columbia and Chapin, South Carolina for over 40 years, and we have a proven record of top quality care. If this will be your first visit to our offices, you will find helpful information here to prepare for your appointment.

What to Expect

We will create a custom treatment plan for you. Depending on the degree of alignment correction necessary, you may have only a few tray sets or as many as 70 or more. Each tray set is designed to apply specific pressure to your teeth gently but firmly. As you shift from one tray set to the next, you may notice a slight difference in where the pressure is applied.

During this appointment, we will take X-rays, photos, and 3D virtual scan of your teeth. If you or your child are ready for treatment, we will then discuss the recommended treatment and your financial options. In the event your child is not yet ready, we will discuss their future orthodontic needs and prepare a program to monitor their dental development.

Common Questions

During each patient’s initial exam, we address the following questions covering the basics of orthodontic treatment. We encourage you to ask your own questions and voice any specific concerns you may have.
  • What problems or conditions can orthodontic treatment address?
  • Should I wait for all permanent teeth to erupt or begin treatment now?
  • What treatment procedures will be used to correct the problem?
  • Do any permanent teeth need to be removed?
  • How long will treatment take?
  • What kinds of braces are available? (Traditional, clear, lingual or Invisalign)
  • How much will it cost?
  • What are my payment options?

Open Communication

We believe that good orthodontic care relies heavily on open communication between Dr. Pitner and Dr. Carroll, our staff, and our patients. We promise to speak candidly and honestly with you about each stage of our diagnosis and recommendations, any alternative treatments, and any symptoms present that may require further treatment. Working together, we know we can achieve a true partnership with the common goal of helping you achieve a beautiful, confident smile!

New Patient Consultation Schedule Your Appointment Today

As you prepare for your first visit, check out our common problems page and get directions to the office. If you have any questions about your first office visit, or want to request an appointment, please contact us and a team member will happily assist you.
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1. Is it required that my family dentist schedule my appointment with the orthodontist?

No, it is not. Many of our patients are referred by their family dentist, yet many other patients take the initiative to schedule an examination themselves.

2. At what age should I schedule an appointment for an orthodontic screening?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends an orthodontic screening at age 7. By this age, several permanent teeth in most children have erupted, allowing us to effectively evaluate your orthodontic condition.

3. Will my teeth straighten out as they grow?

No, they will not. The space available for the front teeth does not increase as you grow. In most people, after the permanent molars erupt, the space available for the front teeth decreases with age.

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

If you or your child can potentially benefit from orthodontic treatment, simply call our office, send us an e-mail, or fill out our appointment request form online. We will be happy to schedule an appointment for you. When you call to schedule your appointment, our front office staff will request some basic information from you.

5. What will happen at the initial examination appointment?

Upon arriving, each patient and parent is greeted and we give you a tour of our office. We will then take the necessary photographs and X-rays to allow Dr. Pitner to make a proper diagnosis. She will then complete a brief (but thorough) exam. To read more about your first visit, see our First Visit Page.

6. What will I learn from the initial examination?

There are five essential questions we cover during the initial examination:

  • Is there an orthodontic problem, and if so, what is it?
  • What must be done to correct the problem?
  • Will any teeth need to be removed?
  • How long will the treatment take to complete?
  • How much will the treatment cost?

7. Will I need to have teeth extracted for braces?

Removing teeth is sometimes required to achieve the best orthodontic result. Straight teeth and a balanced facial profile are the goal of orthodontics. However, because new technology has given us more advanced orthodontic procedures and options, removing teeth is not always necessary for orthodontic treatment.

8. How long will it take to complete treatment?

Treatment time obviously depends on each patient’s specific orthodontic problem. In general, treatment times range from 12 to 30 months. The “average” time-frame a person is in braces is approximately 22 months.

9. How much will braces cost? Are financing options available? How does my insurance work?

It is impossible to give an exact cost for treatment until we have completed your initial consultation. We will cover the exact cost and financial options during your first visit. We have many financing options available to accommodate your needs and we will review these with you carefully. We will also review your insurance policy in order to help maximize your benefit and file your claims.

10. How often will I have appointments?

Appointments are scheduled according to each patient’s needs. Most patients in braces are seen every five to 10 weeks. If specific situations require more frequent monitoring, we will schedule appointments accordingly.

11. Can I schedule all of my appointments after school?

Unfortunately we cannot schedule all appointments for students during after-school hours. However, because most appointments are scheduled 5 to 10 weeks apart, most patients will miss minimal school due to their orthodontic treatments. We will, however, make a sincere effort to meet your scheduling needs.

12. Can I drop my child off for an appointment?

Yes. We understand your busy schedule, and we are happy to help you make the most of your time. On some occasions, we may request to speak with a parent when they return so we ask that parents check in before dropping off their child.

13. Do braces hurt?

Generally, braces do not “hurt.” After certain visits, teeth may be sore for a few days. In these situations, pain medications such as Advil or Tylenol will ease the discomfort. However, after most visits, many patients do not feel any soreness at all! We often remind our patients, “It does not have to hurt to work!”

14. Can I return to school the day I receive my braces?

Yes. There is no reason to miss school because of an orthodontic appointment.

15. Do you give shots?

No. Shots are not necessary in orthodontic treatment.

16. Do you use recycled braces?

Absolutely not! It is our belief that each patient should be provided with their own braces to achieve the best orthodontic result possible.

17. Can I still play sports?

Yes. We recommend a mouth guard for all sports and we provide one that will work with braces.

18. Do I need to see my family dentist while in braces?

Yes! Regular checkups with your family dentist are important while in braces. Your family dentist will determine the intervals between cleaning appointments while you are in braces.

19. Are there foods I cannot eat while I have braces?

Yes. Once treatment begins, we will explain the complete instructions and provide a comprehensive list of foods to avoid. Some of those foods include ice, hard candy, and all sticky foods (i.e. caramel and taffy). There are other hard foods such as raw vegetables, nuts, tortilla chips, etc that you should be careful with while eating. You can avoid most emergency appointments (usually to repair broken or damaged braces) by carefully following our instructions.

20. How often should I brush my teeth while in braces?

Patients should brush their teeth at least three times each day – after each meal and before going to bed. We will show each patient how to floss their teeth with braces and may also provide a prescription for a special fluoride, if necessary.

21. What is an emergency appointment? How are those handled?

If your braces are causing extreme pain or if something breaks, you should call our office. In most cases, we can address these issues over the telephone. If you require an emergency appointment, we will set aside time for you.

22. Can orthodontic correction occur while a child has baby teeth?

Yes. Some orthodontic problems are significant enough to require early intervention. However, if a patient is not yet ready for treatment, we will follow that patient’s growth and development until the time is right for treatment to begin.

23. What is Phase One (early) treatment?

Phase One treatment, if necessary, is usually initiated on children between the ages of 7 and 10. Phase One treatment lasts about 12-14 months. The primary objective for Phase One treatment is to address significant problems to prevent them from becoming more severe, or to improve self-esteem and self-image.

24. Will my child need full braces if he/she has Phase One treatment?

It is best to assume that your child will need full braces even after Phase One treatment. The period following Phase One treatment is called the “resting period,” during which growth and tooth eruption are closely monitored. Throughout this period, parents and patients will be kept informed of future treatment recommendations.

25. Will my child need an expander?

At the completion of the initial examination, we will determine whether a patient will need an expander.

26. Is it too late to have braces if I am already an adult?

Nearly one-third of our patients are adults. In fact, 25 percent of all orthodontic patients are adults. Health, happiness and self-esteem are vitally important to everyone, including adults. No patient is ever “too old” to wear braces or to benefit from orthodontic treatment!

27. Can I wear braces even though I have crowns and missing teeth?

Yes. A tooth with a crown will move just like a tooth with a simple filling. When teeth are missing, orthodontic treatment will aid in the alignment of the remaining teeth.

28. Why should I choose an orthodontic specialist instead of my dentist?

Teeth, and sometimes entire facial structures, are permanently changed by orthodontic treatment. It is important that the treatment be appropriate and properly completed. Orthodontists are specialists who have three additional years of detailed, rigorous training beyond dental school. General and pediatric dentists do not undergo this training. You do not want to trust something as important as your smile (let alone the structure of your face) to anyone who is not fully trained.
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When a person’s teeth or jaws do not fit together properly, orthodontic treatment may be necessary to correct the problem. If left untreated, these orthodontic problems, often referred to as malocclusions, can cause speech difficulty, premature wear of the teeth and protective enamel, and may even increase the chance of injury to the teeth and jaw joints.


An underbite is characterized by the lower jaw extending too far out, causing the lower front teeth to sit in front of the upper front teeth.


This malocclusion occurs when the upper teeth sit inside the lower teeth, which may cause tooth wear and misaligned jaw growth. In order to close the mouth, patients usually move their lower jaw forward or to the side when closing. This incorrect bite results in an improper use of the lower jaws and sometimes brings about facial asymmetry.

Protruding Front Teeth

The appearance and function of your teeth are impacted by this type of bite, which is characterized by the upper teeth extending too far forward or the lower teeth not extending forward far enough.


Overbite occurs when the upper front teeth bite too far over the lower front teeth, sometimes causing the lower front teeth to bite into the roof of the mouth. Problems often associated with an overbite include a “gummy” smile and excessive incisor wear.


Crowding occurs when teeth have insufficient room to erupt from the gums, and is the most common reason for orthodontic treatment. Not only is crowding unattractive, it has also been linked to later periodontal problems and dental decay because it is harder to clean the surface of overlapping teeth.


Spacing problems may be caused by missing teeth, or they may only be a cosmetic or aesthetic issue. Spacing is another popular reason for braces. The opposite of crowding, spacing is most commonly caused by excessive jaw room for the size of the erupting teeth.


Proper chewing is impacted by this type of bite where the upper and lower front teeth do not overlap. Openbite may cause a number of unwanted habits, such as tongue thrusting or thumb sucking. An early evaluation and intervention is essential in correcting an openbite.

Dental Midlines not Matched

Dental midlines that do not match are evident when the back bite does not fit and match appropriately. This may negatively impact jaw function and proper dental function.
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An orthodontic emergency can be scary if you’re dealing with one for the first time. Whether it’s a loose bracket, a wire sticking or poking, or any other issue, it can be hard to think clearly and come up with a solution. Luckily, you’ll be happy to know that true orthodontic emergencies are quite rare, and that most problems that arise with your braces can be fixed on your own at home. However, you should still follow up with an appointment to make sure your problem is taken care of properly. Read below to learn about a few of the more common emergencies we see here at Pitner Orthodontics, and how you can remedy them!

Lost Separator

If you’re worried about having lost a separator, don’t worry! It’s incredibly common for patients to lose separators during their treatment. If this happens to you, simply call our office to receive a replacement.

Sore Teeth or Discomfort with Orthodontic Treatment

After you first get braces, and after each adjustment appointment, your teeth and mouth will most likely feel sore. This is quite common among all orthodontic patients! To help the pain subside, Dr. Pitner recommends ibuprofen. Ibuprofen (Advil) can be taken up to 4 times a day right after an adjustment. If you’d like a more natural method of alleviating the pain, gargling lukewarm saltwater also helps. Additionally, a heating pad or a warm washcloth can reduce some of the soreness around your mouth and jaw.

Wire Irritations

When a wire rubs up against your gums or cheeks, it can be painful. There are a few at-home solutions you can try if this is an issue for you. Try moving the wire away from the irritated area of your gums with a cotton swab or eraser. If the wire appears to be stuck, covering the end of it with a tiny piece of cotton or dental wax will hide the sharp edge. Finally, if neither solution fails to help, cut the wire with clean scissors or nail clippers that have been sterilized in alcohol.

Loose Bracket

A loose bracket can take a huge toll on the progress of your orthodontic treatment if not addressed properly. If one of your brackets is detached from your tooth, you should first call our office to make an appointment to repair the bracket. It may be necessary to cut the wire or slide a bracket off the wire. In that case, use clean fingernail clippers that have been sterilized in alcohol.

Loose Wire

Loose wires not only slow down your treatment process, they can also irritate your gums if not addressed. Just as you would with a loose bracket, you should first make an appointment to repair the wire. The other solutions to this problem are similar to steps you would take for a wire irritation. You can cover the sharp end of the wire with dental wax, use sterilized tweezers to put the wire back in place, or use sterilized fingernail clippers to cut the wire. When cutting, make sure to cut behind the last bracket in which the wire is secured.
We hope our orthodontic emergency tips have been helpful to you. Although these tips will be beneficial during minor issues, you should always call our office and make an appointment if you feel that your orthodontic problem is a major issue. Our friendly staff is always eager to assist you. For additional information about orthodontic treatment in Columbia or Chapin South Carolina, contact us today!
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Orthodontic Appointment Policies

In an effort to keep our office operations efficient, we ask that our patients comply with our basic appointment policies and guidelines. We will confirm your appointment times by email or text 24-48 hours before your scheduled appointment. We’re all human, so we understand that things come up and sometimes appointments must be cancelled. If you need to cancel an appointment, we ask that you please give us 24-hour notice so we can offer your time to someone else.

Orthodontic Financial & Insurance Information

No two patients require the exact same orthodontic treatment. Therefore, every patient’s treatment costs will differ based on the exact treatment specifications. After your initial consultation with Dr. Pitner or Dr. Carroll, we will provide the details of an exact treatment plan, including the costs. Our staff will review the plan and costs with you in detail and discuss all available payment options so you can make the best choice for yourself or your family. If you wish to pay through a payment plan or financing, we will work closely with you to create a plan that suits your budget. We aim to make it easy and affordable to achieve a beautiful healthy smile.

For patients who will supplement orthodontic treatment costs with insurance coverage, we will file and handle all insurance paperwork on your behalf, making it a hassle-free process. If your plan changes at any time during treatment, you must alert us immediately, as you are responsible for any changes in cost as a result of insurance coverage changes. To keep things simple for payment, we accept the following payment methods:

• Check
• Debit Card
• Visa, Mastercard, American Express

Contact Us With Questions Or To Book An Appointment

If you have any additional questions not covered here, please don’t hesitate to call us at 803-859-4442. We’ll be happy to answer any specific questions on the phone. We’ll see you soon!
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