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 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!