Lightforce Orthodontics – The Future of Braces Has Arrived

We are always on the lookout to improve our patients’ experience at Bates Orthodontics and are excited to announce that we have officially added Lightforce Braces to our services list! This makes us one of the first offices in Richmond to provide this innovative and unique braces experience. 

Gone are the days of generic metal braces. Lightforce Orthodontics offers digital customization with 3D printing technology to create individualized custom-fitted braces for each patient for much better treatment results, often with a shorter treatment time!

The Difference Between Lightforce Orthodontics & Traditional Braces
This new revolutionary technology is lightyears ahead of traditional braces, with enhancements in:

Traditional braces’ brackets are manufactured with a fixed base shape, which means they don’t always fit a patient’s tooth shape. 

With Lightforce Orthodontics, proprietary 3D printing technology is used to design brackets unique to each patient’s teeth profile. Additionally, compared to commercially available brackets, this new 3D printing technology can ensure that brackets have wire slots that are precise and not over or undersized.

In short, this mass customization technology now allows us to develop treatments to perfectly fit each patient to a tee. This dramatically enhances treatment efficiency which is a win in our books.

Comfort Level
Lightforce brackets are designed with materials and features to provide the ultimate patient comfort during treatment. With features like smooth edges, tie wings, and a thin profile, it helps to minimize contact with soft tissues in the gums and lips which could cause unnecessary discomfort.

Treatment Process
Even with the significant level of customization, the treatment process remains fast and efficient for patients – thanks to a simple online interface.

With the real-time, interactive and 3D software, the orthodontist is able to work on, share the details with the patient and send it off for manufacturing with a simple click of the button.

Additionally, the custom-fitted brackets are created within 7 to 10 business days from approval! 

What Does Lightforce Orthodontics Mean for You?
No two patients are the same so Lightforce Orthodontics provides our patients with a tailored orthodontic treatment for your unique needs. This means we can provide our patients with:

  • Quicker Treatment Time – The better fitting brackets will help improve the precision of tooth movement, so that means less time with braces on!
  • Lower Chances of Breaking Your Brackets – The Lightforce proprietary base is designed for more reliable and durable bonding to the tooth, meaning less chance of them coming off like traditional mismatched brackets. This can be a great alternative for busy families as extra trips to the orthodontist’s office will likely not be needed for braces repairs. 
  • Easier to Maintain, inconspicuous braces – The smaller brackets will help in transitioning into your new braces treatment. You will not notice them as much and their smaller size helps you to upkeep your hygiene of brushing and flossing.

 Try out Lightforce Orthodontics with Us Today
We are excited to offer the revolutionary Lightforce Orthodontics treatment to our patients at Bates Orthodontics. If you are interested in a customized and efficient orthodontic treatment for your smile, contact us to learn more!

Do I Need to Wear My Retainer Forever?

First and foremost, congratulations on getting your braces removed! The months or even years in traditional braces or Invisalign has finally paid off with a beautiful new smile. Now it’s time to help keep that smile looking perfect for years to come. One of the most common questions from recent braces graduates is, “Do I need to wear my retainer forever?”

Well, to answer your burning question – the short answer is yes. However, it is not as bad as you are probably imagining it in your head.

Let us explain:

Purpose of a Retainer
In short, a retainer is a simple oral device molded to the shape of your teeth, intended to keep them from moving over time.

There are three common types of retainers:

  • Clear Plastic Retainers: Most convenient and less noticeable but wear down easily
  • Hawley Wire Retainers: Plastic and acrylic with a metal wire across the teeth that looks and feels like braces but are exceptionally durable
  • Fixed Retainers (or Bonded Retainers): Glued to the back of teeth, not noticeable, and lasts for a long time. If you opt for this kind of retainer, you may still be given a removable retainer as a backup. 

Depending on whether you are looking for a more convenient alternative or a less noticeable alternative, your orthodontist is likely to recommend one of these three.

Retainer Wear Requirements Over Time (for Removable Retainers)
Retainer Wear Requirements in Summary: Wear every night for the rest of our life – or as long as you would like to keep your teeth straight! 

Immediately after your braces are removed, it takes time for your teeth to be stabilized in their new position – for your perfect smile. The job of the retainer? To keep your teeth in this new position while the jawbones remodel to support this new arrangement.

 Once your braces are removed, your nightly retainer usage will begin. Why at all if the bone is already formed? While that is the case, over a human lifespan, adult teeth continue to shift forward and inwards. And that can ruin your perfect smile.

By wearing retainers while you sleep, the retainers can prevent these small but cumulative effects of shifting teeth positions over time. Just keep them by your bedside table- it’s a small price to pay for a long-lasting smile!

 Do You Need to Replace Your Retainers Over Time?
Clear plastic retainers tend to wear down more easily – lasting around 6 months to a few years. Permanent retainers are made to be more durable lasting for up to 20 years.

Regardless of which option you choose, should you experience any pain or tightness while wearing your retainers – it could be a sign of your teeth shifting. Wear it more often to prevent further shifting. If the pain continues, seek out your orthodontist to check if you need a new retainer.

 If you have any questions or want to learn more about our retainer replacement options schedule a free consultation with Dr. Bates. We look forward to seeing you soon! 

The Differences Between an Orthodontist and a Dentist

Just about everyone knows what a dentist is, and hopefully made at least a few visits to one. You may also be aware that an orthodontist and a dentist, though they work with oral health, are not exactly the same. When you need your teeth cleaned twice a year, you head to your dentist. If you need your teeth straightened, you seek out an orthodontist. But the differences don’t stop there. Although both have similar schooling requirements and help you advance your oral hygiene, their unique roles tend to be much more different than you may realize.

Education Requirements

To be eligible to practice, both dentists and orthodontists need to obtain an advanced degree and pass a certification exam that proves their understanding and skills. With a DDS or a DMD (a four-year degree in addition to an undergraduate degree), a dentist can immediately begin his or her own practice. On the other hand, an orthodontist must participate in a residency program (an additional two or three years) to learn and become specialized in the field. Did you catch that an orthodontist goes to at least 10 years of school after high school?

Type of Work

The most significant difference between dental and orthodontic practice is in the specialization of work. Some areas may overlap. For example, both may be able to treat patients with Invisalign, but overall, they are different departments. Orthodontists do not drill cavities or perform cleanings like dentists do. On the other side, dentists rarely provide or prescribe braces to patients. Dentists and orthodontists will tend to refer patients to one another for services that are outside of their scope.

Different Types of Treatments

Your dentist can take care of things like veneers, crowns, fillings, or whitening your teeth. If you need your jaw aligned or your teeth straightened, that is where an orthodontist comes into play. The treatment you get from an orthodontist is intended to diagnose and treat things such as malocclusion (bite problems), corrected with solutions like retainers or braces. For easy reference: 

Dental Treatments

  • Preventive treatments – like cleanings
  • Root canals
  • Crowns
  • Bridges
  • Tooth extractions (including wisdom teeth)
  • Tooth decay
  • Gum disease treatment
  • Emergency services

Orthodontic Treatments

  • Alignment of teeth
  • Alignment of jaws – treating for crossbite, over or under bite
  • Jaw expansion
  • Creating space for implants
  • Compensating for missing teeth
  • Improving smile astetics

Conclusion – Who Do You See?

It really boils down to dentists are generalists and provide a wide array of services and orthodontists specialize in the prevention and correction of poorly positioned teeth and jaws

If you are looking for a local orthodontist, Bates Orthodontics is here for you! We have three locations in the Richmond area and offer a variety of services to suit your needs. Not sure exactly what you need for your smile? Book a free consultation with Dr. Bates and you will be well taken care of. We can’t wait to meet you! 

The New Northside Location Is Officially Open!

We’re excited to announce that our new Bates Orthodontics location is officially open and accepting patients! This state-of-the-art facility is centered between the Northside, Scott’s Addition, and Bellevue neighborhoods, and offers a welcoming and relaxing atmosphere. While we are excited about this new location, our priority continues to be our patient’s smiles. Our office is equipped with the latest technology, allowing us to continue to provide high-quality orthodontic treatment.

Our new office also comes with some exciting upgrades to make each visit memorable. You’ll feel right at home with our deluxe (Blanchard’s) coffee bar, individual patient TVs, and an iPad game room (which will be open again soon!).

We offer a variety of services for all ages administered by our award-winning staff. We look forward to serving you and your family at our beautiful new location. Check out these photos of our office and schedule your next appointment or complimentary consultation with Dr. Bates today!

Front Desk

Lobby/Waiting Area


Patient Seating


Coffee Bar & Tooth Brushing Station

Retainers for Teeth Straightening 101

Millions of people, both adults and children, wear or have worn braces at some point in their lives to obtain a beautiful smile for themselves. But the difference between keeping that smile or heading back to square one is wearing your retainer. In fact, within one year after getting your braces removed, if you do not use a retainer, your teeth will likely shift back to their original form. In many cases, your teeth may actually become worse. The last thing you want is to have to put braces back on after wearing them for so long, and you can avoid that with a retainer. 

What Is A Retainer Exactly?

Retainers are oral devices that are meant to keep your teeth straight for the rest of your life. They can be metal or clear plastic and are mainly worn overnight to keep your teeth from shifting after being adequately aligned by braces. Many times, the retainer is removable, but there are some cases when orthodontists use a fixed retainer instead of leveraging a full set of braces, but this is only if your teeth are slightly crooked or overcrowded. 

Overall Benefits

It may come as no surprise that the primary perk of a retainer is to keep your teeth straight. But that is not all it can do. But did you know, additional benefits include:

  • Can help with speech impediments
  • Improves breathing
  • Promotes proper oral hygiene
  • Helps prevent diabetes
  • Reduces bacteria (straighter teeth are easier to clean).

Types of Retainers

There are three main kinds of retainers, ranging from wire/removable to fixed/permanent. 

  1. Clear Plastic Retainers: Made of either plastic or polyurethane and is often called vacuform retainers (VFRs) due to the retainer material being created over a model of your actual teeth. Most people like this kind because they are thin, supportive, and nearly invisible, which makes them less noticeable when wearing. The downside with these retainers is that they do wear down over time and will need to be replaced. We created the Retainer Program which provides free retainers for life because of this.
  2. Hawley Wire Retainers: Hawleys are made out of either plastic or acrylic along with a metal wire that goes on the front side of your teeth to keep them in place. It sits on the roof of your mouth and creates an awesome lisp. They do last a long time – up to 20 years.
  3. Fixed Retainers: Fixed retainers, commonly referred to as a bonded retainer, are permanently glued to the back of your teeth. They are intended to last a very long time, but can fall out. Bonded retainers are great because once they are in, you don’t have to think about them, but they are very tricky to floss behind.


The use of retainers will keep you on the road to a healthy and perfect smile. Our staff help you in determining which kind is best for your particular needs and give you the proper guidance so you can truly gain the most benefits from it.

If you have any questions, or want to learn more about our teeth straightening process and practices schedule a free consultation with Dr. Bates. We look forward to seeing you soon! 

The Pros, Cons, and Cost of Braces

There are over four million people in the world who are wearing braces right now, and 25% of them are adults. From straightening teeth to jaw realigning, having braces can be both a cosmetic and practical way to increase your quality of life. If you are suffering from orthodontic problems of any nature, getting braces may be the best solution for you to try out. However, it is important that you are aware of the details before embarking on this journey. Though your dentist can cover customized details for you, here is an overview of the essential information you should know about.

The Average Cost Per Month

First and foremost, braces are not free, and you need to make sure you can incorporate the monthly payment into your budget. So, how much do braces cost a month? According to Bates Orthodontics, the average cost for braces is $5,700. You have the option to pay this total on your own, but with insurance and payment plans, you will not have to. For instance, with a typical down payment of $500, insurance covering $1,500 of the total, and the duration of the payment plan is 20 months, you can expect to pay around $185 monthly. Each circumstance will be a bit different, but this at least gives you a ballpark idea of what you will need to budget for.

The Advantages of Getting Braces

  • You Can Choose From Different Kinds: There are several braces options you can choose from that will fit your lifestyle and goals. You can select metal braces, which is the least expensive one, or you can go ceramic braces that are typically a bigger investment, but much less noticeable.
  • Fix A Large Range of Problems: Though braces are most known for straightening teeth, they can provide value in correcting other problems, such as tooth spacing, overcrowding, and fix jaw/biting issues. By using braces, it can remediate lifelong pains and can even save your teeth later on in life.
  • More Self-Confidence: Having a disoriented smile for many people can make them feel embarrassed and shy away from smiling and expressing joy. They may smile with their mouth closed, have a hard time socializing, and could even prevent them from experiencing life. Correcting the smile will give them a new level of confidence, allowing them to feel excited to interact and be social. It could provide them with the boost they needed to really strive to reach their full potential, both personally and professionally.

Notable Cons

  •  It Is Not A Quick Fix: The average time you will have to wear your braces is anywhere from 18 months to two full years. Based on your personal situation, you may have to wear them longer.
  • Retainer Wearing: When your braces finally get removed, you will still have to take care of your teeth so that they won’t go back to their crooked position. This requires wearing a removable retainer for at least 12 months after your braces have been taken off to stabilize your bones and teeth. It is best, however, to wear retainers for the rest of our lives to ensure a good final position of your teeth. Most times, this can be just at night while you sleep.
  • You Might Have to Change Your Diet: This applies to metal braces in particular. With these, you are advised to stay away from things like popcorn, gum, and sticky candy. This may not be an issue for some, but for those who love to chew gum or eat popcorn at the movies, it might be challenging.


When it comes to the cost of braces, the price is worth the gain for millions, both children and adults. Yes, there are some lifestyle adjustments during treatment, but they are minimal compared to what you will get in the end, which is that healthy, beautiful smile you have always wanted. Remember, everyone is different, and your dentist is the person you should consult with to get the best course of action to fulfill your particular oral needs.

If you are ready to upgrade your smile or have more questions about braces, schedule a free consultation with Dr. Bates today! 


It’s Official, We’re Moving!

Our office is growing, largely due to the referrals of our satisfied patients that have trusted us with their orthodontic care. To accommodate this growth and plan for the future, we are moving our Mechanicsville location to the Northside early summer of 2020! We are excited to bring quality orthodontic care to the Northside area.

Growth is a great thing, especially when it means gaining the ability to help more patients get the smile they want. Our new office will provide us the much-needed space to allow for extra appointment times and more availability for our busy patients and their families. This location is also extremely accessible and is located right off the interstate. We hope that this added flexibility will make the move even easier. 

Along with more space, our Northside office will include several upgrades including a coffee bar, a hidden door in the bookcase, a kids cave decked out with six iPad gaming stations, and eight private treatment rooms with space for family members. As the move approaches, we’ll provide you with more information, but feel free to email us at [email protected] with any questions. Check out the photos below for a sneak peek of the office renovation and be sure to follow us on Instagram and Facebook to stay updated! 


Sketch of Hidden Door Feature

We Believe: In Being Transparent

Our ‘we believe’ philosophy was born out of the mindset that patients deserve respect, honesty, thoroughness, and timeliness.

We believe you deserve transparency.

Consultation & Treatment

Mya’s case was part of our early treatment service. She was in need of assistance because of her significantly rotated front teeth. Her treatment time was estimated to be 24 months and the treatment finished right at 24 months. The time could have been a slightly shorter, 18 months, but the family elected to start treatment knowing her final baby tooth had yet to fall out. 

Honesty – Presenting Non-Biased Care Options

We want to give patients the full picture of their options. A big factor in Mya’s case was her remaining baby tooth. Dr. Bates gave the family three paths to consider based on this hurdle:

1) Wait for the last baby tooth to fall out and then start treatment.

2) Have the baby tooth removed by a dentist and then start treatment.

3) Proceed with treatment and wait for the baby tooth to fall out naturally. 

Each option presented required different investment levels and had different impacts on treatment time. The family opted to begin treatment immediately after being presented with the information to address the significant rotations of the front teeth. 

It is our goal to always be honest with our patients, even if it’s not financially advantageous to our practice, such as delayed treatment or an external dentist referral. We treat each patient as an individual and strive to truly make the best possible recommendation. 

Patient Satisfaction

Based on her experience, Mya and her family have also referred their cousins to Bates Orthodontics. They are currently undergoing treatment at the Chesterfield location


Become a success storyRequest an Appointment.

We Believe: Your Time is Valuable

We strive for excellent in-office clinical care, but our goal is also to create an experience that is mindful of our patients outside the office. Patients are people; busy professionals, family members, and friends. 

Our ‘we believe’ philosophy was born out of this mindset. In the coming months we’ll be highlighting our value statements as they come to life in practice with our patients. 

Statement 1: We believe your time is valuable.

Consultation & Treatment

Ed, a local business owner, initially came into the office for an Invisalign consultation, citing his primary issue as significantly rotated teeth. As with many patients, his teeth were overlapped and rotated which had limited the bone development between the teeth. This created small dark triangles where the edges of the teeth touched the gumline. To resolve this issue, enamel between the teeth was removed to bring them closer together and minimize the dark triangles. 

Timing – Making It Work

Ed is a busy individual, business owner, father, and husband. One great advantage of Invisalign is the ability to deliver enough aligners to go 10-12 weeks between appointments. This frequency typically suits a busy schedule like Ed’s and is also ideal for college students who may not be able to regularly travel to Richmond. 

Patient Satisfaction

Based on his experience, Ed also referred his son Ethan and his daughter Ceclia to receive Invisalign treatment. 

Additionally, the relationships we form with our patients, like Ed, go beyond clinical care. We were delighted that Ed was able to renovate our West End office, for which he received the 2016 Contractor of the Year Award


Become a success story – Request an Appointment