Archive for September 2014

Retention Attention!

Retention Attention!

For everyone that has had braces, had them removed, and had that joyful feeling of mouth “freedom,” nothing is more frustrating than noticing (sometimes immediately) that your recently perfected teeth are already shifting! Is this normal? What can be done? Did I do something wrong? I thought I did everything right?!

Remember the chemistry lesson where you learned about the law of entropy? The law of entropy states that everything in the universe naturally changes from a state of organization towards a state of chaos. Guess what? You’re a walking example of entropy every day! And your shifting teeth certainly fall under that chaotic umbrella. Every part of your body, unfortunately, will eventually sag, wrinkle, or simply weaken with time. But that’s okay! The extraordinary, miraculous elements that make up our bodies, like anything else, are designed to change over time. It’s not realistic to prevent all movement, but the goal of orthodontic retention is to minimize changes after the braces come off.

Teeth will typically “settle” after braces are removed. Often, this settling results in a bite that is even better than when the braces were in place. Any movement from front teeth, however, is undesirable to both the patient and the orthodontist, so we want to prevent that as much as possible. During treatment, while the braces are on, the orthodontist carefully positions each tooth to be held tightly in place. Once the braces are removed, we no longer have this control. The forces of occlusion, wear, and the tongue all return as issues to which we must pay attention. Even if a bonded retainer is placed in the mouth, the position of teeth can still change over time.

Retainers are critical in preventing tooth shifting. Immediately after your braces are removed is the most important time to really be a stickler about wearing it. The length of time retainers must be worn fulltime varies, since everyone is different. Each patient should monitor their teeth and wear their retainer as prescribed, or even more if necessary. No one wants to end up in a situation of having to repeat treatment because they failed to wear their retainer. Yikes!

If you wear your retainer faithfully, but your teeth are stubborn and still shift, your orthodontist may resort to implementing a bonded retainer for a while until they become more stable. If you have a particularly tight bite, there may be no room for a bonded retainer. In those cases, your orthodontist may suggest your primary care dentist do some bonding and/or veneer work after teeth have settled. At that point, the goal would be to change the actual size of the teeth instead of trying to move them again.

If minor, but progressive, changes occur in the days or weeks after your braces are removed, your retainer may need to be simply adjusted or replaced. The sooner you notice something happening and report it to your orthodontist, the more likely a simple solution will ameliorate the situation. Clear aligners are another solution that may help correct minor movements. These may then be worn as permanent retainers after the realignment is achieved. Bigger movements may require brackets to go back on the teeth for a short time. Again, the more quickly you communicate any issues to your orthodontist, the less invasive a corrective solution will be.

Slight changes after braces removal are completely normal. Your orthodontist will speak with you about having realistic expectations about how straight your teeth will remain after removal. Just remember, if you wear your retainers as instructed, and unacceptable changes still occur, let us know immediately. We can work together to achieve a beautiful result that will fill a lifetime with SMILES!


Brace for Braces!

Brace for Braces!

When the time comes for your child to get braces, readying yourself with these helpful tips will make the process much smoother.

Since so many tweens have braces these days, your child will very likely be excited to get them because their friends have them. However, it’s not uncommon for them to be nervous about the prospect. Because of the fear of the unknown and overall unfamiliarity of a new situation, we can see why. Certainly myths abound, as with any other unchartered territory, and this may lead to apprehension about visiting their orthodontist. So the main thing for your child to remember is that braces are temporary, but straight teeth and a spectacular smile will last a lifetime!

The following are some helpful suggestions to quell any trepidation, as your child settles in to life with braces:

No Pain, No Gain

Part of the unknown is the potential for pain, and it’s pretty common for children to worry about that. The truth is, getting outfitted with braces is virtually painless. The bracket and wire application doesn’t hurt, but soreness afterward should be expected. Taking a Tylenol before coming to the bonding appointment will lessen the discomfort after leaving our office. The braces may rub the inside of your child’s mouth, but orthodontic wax will help ease that discomfort. If the wax doesn’t soothe the pain, try having your child gargle with warm salt water to heal any sores.

Time Flies

Remind your child that braces are temporary. Depending on the issues we are correcting, treatment varies from patient to patient, which in most cases is anywhere from one to three years. The Middle School years are easy enough, since their peers are also wearing them. If name-calling or bullying becomes an issue, remind them to simply walk away or to kill them with kindness.

Color Me Happy!

If traditional braces are chosen, remind your child they can show personal style while in treatment because they are able to change the colors of rubber bands each month. Get them excited about their next orthodontist appointment by talking about what color combination they will choose at the next appointment. Will it be bright colors for summer? Green for St. Patrick’s Day? Or colors to support their favorite sports team? This is the fun part, so GO BOLD!

Who Doesn’t Love a Reason to Splurge?

Once the braces are on, those favorite sticky snacks will be out of the equation. Leading up to that point, splurge a bit and make a special bag of favorite treats. Some snacks to add to the goodie bag could be chocolate with nuts and caramel, beef jerky, hard candy, bubble gum, and popcorn.

Ice Cream, You Scream!

Plan a mini celebration, and give them something to look forward to after leaving our office. Find a braces-friendly snack they will really enjoy. Frozen treats are always a hit! Ice cream actually is a great treat that also will help soothe the soreness after getting braces. You can even say we prescribed it!

You Get to Chill With US!

We want your child (and you!) to look forward to orthodontic appointments and have fun when you’re here! We provide a fun, upbeat atmosphere for our patients. We have lots of fun technology and games available for your child to have fun and forget about the stress of the day. We believe that the short time you’re waiting should be a fun time to de-stress from the chaos of the day!

Makeover Madness

We want your child to be excited about this new look when they finish with their orthodontic treatment. Nothing boosts confidence better than a stunning smile, so amidst any apprehension or complaining, remind them to keep their chin up, and SMILE BIG!