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What Age Should My Child See an Orthodontist?

October 26th, 2017

Is there a more iconic image of orthodontics than that of the awkward teenager in bulky metal braces? It’s a stereotype with staying power, for sure!  It can be surprising to learn that the American Association of Orthodontists recommends a child have their first orthodontic evaluation by or around the age of 7 - and we agree! Having an experienced orthodontist examine your child when they still have their baby teeth and their mouth is still developing allows them to pick up on any potential issues early on.

Catching these issues before they become a problem can help prevent any negative impact on the future permanent teeth. This is called preventative care, and it’s something we strongly believe in at Bennett Orthodontics. It can have such a positive impact on the oral health of our younger patients when we’re able to diagnose and treat issues before they become a big deal!

During this initial evaluation, we’ll be looking for a number of issues to determine if treatment will be needed now or in the future. Let’s take a closer look at some of them.

Tooth Loss and Eruption

Baby teeth, also known as primary teeth, are the placeholders for permanent ones. The transition from primary to permanent is an important one, with most baby teeth falling out in a relatively specific order. If there’s any significant deviation from that pattern, it could signal a developmental issue that needs attention.
By the age of 7, your child should have a mix of baby teeth and permanent teeth, including at least four permanent molars and two to four permanent incisors. If they have more or less than this, there’s potential for problems with missing, crowding, or extra teeth. Sometimes removing a primary tooth early, or maintaining a space where a tooth has been lost prematurely, can prevent bigger problems later on down the line.

Crowding and Spacing

Front teeth gaps You’ll often notice fairly early on in your child’s life if they already have or will have problems with excessive crowding or spacing of their teeth. Spacing issues can show up when a tooth is lost prematurely, where one has never developed, or if your child has teeth that are too small or too spaced apart. Crowding can be treated by an experienced orthodontist, like Dr. Bennett, who will often expand the arches or remove teeth to open up the mouth.

Misalignment

Teeth can be, and very often are, successfully aligned at older ages. It’s important to note, however, that crooked teeth are more susceptible to uneven damage and wear. Allowing them to go untreated for years can affect the shape and position of the surrounding gum tissue, which compromises it. Aside from healthier gums and a straighter smile, correcting crooked teeth at an earlier age has the added benefit of promoting a more positive self-image.

Overbite or Protrusive Front Teeth

There are some obvious cosmetic concerns with front teeth that are obviously protruding, but there can be physical concerns, as well. Overbites can cause pain in the jaw, and even possible speech issues. Although we aren’t always able to permanently correct an overbite until your child’s mouth has finished growing, we can help to reduce the severity of the problem, making things a little easier on them until that growth is complete.

Underbites

Underbites are generally caused by either tooth or jaw problems. The most difficult scenario is when the lower jaw grows too far forward, and with these kinds of cases, we’ll typically need to wait until the patient has finished growing to finish their treatment, around age 16. Even though there’s a waiting period involved, receiving early treatment is highly recommended. To avoid bite-shifting and damage to the front teeth, we’ll want to try and normalize the bite as much and as early as possible.
If we notice an underbite in your young child, we can do something called “jump the bite”, using braces or a headgear. This allows us to get a handle on it before they complete the treatment in their teen years. Underbite patients who receive early treatment between the ages of about 7 and 10 are much less likely to need jaw surgery at a later stage of development.

Posterior Crossbites

A posterior crossbite can cause crowding, and it can also cause the jaw shifting. If we are able to catch this in an early evaluation, we can work on expanding the upper jaw between the ages of about 7-10. This will reduce crowding, and create the kind of space needed for the front teeth to erupt. Expansion can also eliminate any shifting that’s present due to the upper jaw being constricted.

Anterior Open Bites and Deep Bites

Recognizable by the time your child is around 7, these are basically vertical problems with the bite. Bites that are too deep (the top teeth completely cover the bottom ones when biting) can be a sign of a small lower jaw. Bites that don’t overlap enough (open bites) could signal that there is a finger, thumb, or tongue habit causing dental problems. If that’s the case, we’ll happily work with you and your child on why eliminating these destructive habits early is so important for the sake of normal development.

Early evaluations equal happy smiles

Early orthodontic evaluations can play an important role in giving your child the best chance for a straighter, healthier, beautiful smile! Playing “wait and see” with orthodontics until there’s an actual problem can wind up being costlier, more time consuming, and ultimately, more painful for your child.

Most children will have lost all their baby teeth by the time they’re entering the teen years. By the time your child is finishing out their teens and heading into their early twenties, the jaw bones will harden and stop growing. Any orthodontic procedures performed after this point will take more time, and can sometimes involve things like tooth extraction or oral surgery. Receiving early orthodontic treatment as a child can sometimes help prevent the need for orthodontics at all as an adult, and definitely reduces the need for extractions or surgery in the future.

Though some treatments will require that all the permanent teeth are fully erupted, interceptive treatment like these early orthodontic evaluations can make comprehensive treatment faster and better.

Early orthodontic evaluations in Mobile

If you’re in Mobile or the surrounding area, and have a child who is under or around 7 years old, why not get in touch with our experienced team at Bennett Orthodontics today to schedule an initial evaluation for them? We would love to help you and your child take the first step towards a bright and beautiful smile that will last a lifetime!

Invisalign 101: Beginner's Guide

September 29th, 2017

In spite of some pretty fantastic advances in orthodontics in recent years, many patients still react to the news that they need braces with dismay. Unfortunately, traditional metal braces have a reputation for being bulky, awkward, and obvious that’s been hard to shake. Although they are more comfortable and far subtler than they’ve ever been before, many teens and adults are still on the fence about them. The good news is there’s another option for straightening teeth and giving you the smile you desire!

Invisalign aligner Invisalign is a clear aligner system that offers you an easy and unobtrusive alternative to traditional braces. It gives you the same results without all the metal, wires, and brackets. This makes them especially attractive to teens and adults who would prefer to avoid the appearance of traditional braces, and also keep their lifestyle as uninhibited as possible during orthodontic treatment. It’s a great choice for any patient looking for something subtle and versatile, but what exactly is it, and how does it work? Our team here at Bennett Orthodontics has put together a handy guide to Invisalign 101 for you. Keep reading to find out more!

What is the Invisalign system?

Invisalign uses a series of clear, removable plastic trays, or aligners, to give you a healthier, straighter smile without being visible. The design is deceptively simple, and when you see the aligners, you may wonder how they could ever achieve the same results as metal braces! In reality, these trays are made of a special type of thermoplastic resin that’s strong enough to move your teeth into alignment. This movement relies on a sequence of custom-made aligners being switched out at custom intervals during treatment.

How does Invisalign work?

Smiling woman putting in InvisalignYour first step is an initial consultation. Bennett Orthodontics is happy to offer this free of charge! During this appointment, we’ll discuss your orthodontic needs and decide whether Invisalign is the right treatment choice for you. Once we determine you’re a good fit for the system, we begin the process of custom designing aligners specific to your smile.

A highly detailed 3D scan of your teeth and gums will be performed in our office.  This scan is then used to map out a precise treatment plan for you. This plan will include the exact movements we want your teeth to make, as well as how long your treatment is likely to take. You may even get the chance to preview your new smile!

From this 3D scan, your custom aligners will be created from Invisalign’s special SmartTrack® material. The comfortable plastic trays are virtually invisible, and the total number worn during treatment is usually somewhere between 10 and 48, with the total treatment time averaging between 5 and 15 months. In order to maximize their effectiveness, you’ll need to wear the aligners for 20-22 hours daily, throughout the course of treatment.

During treatment, you will switch to a new set of aligners every one to three weeks based on your treatment plan.  We will schedule check-ups with our conveniently located Mobile office about every four to eight weeks.

What are the advantages of Invisalign over traditional orthodontic treatment?

Invisalign is a more comfortable and aesthetically pleasing solution than traditional metal braces, but the benefits extend beyond that!

Because the aligners are removable, there are no restrictions to diet or activity. Most people who have worn metal braces will tell you that having to forego some of their favorite foods while undergoing treatment was one of the hardest parts of having them. Because of the wires and brackets, patients must steer clear of any treats that are chewy, sticky, crunchy, or hard. No apples or carrots, popcorn or chips, and most candy is off the table, too. This can often make social situations difficult, since so many of them are centered around food. But Invisalign aligners are removable, not fixed. You take them out anytime you want to eat or drink anything other than water, meaning no food restrictions and a whole lot more fun!   

Removable aligners also makes a difference to your oral hygiene routine. It’s important to pay special attention to your dental hygiene all the time, but especially when undergoing orthodontic treatment. Unfortunately, the wires, brackets, and bands that accompany traditional braces can make brushing and flossing effectively a difficult or time-consuming task. With Invisalign, aligners are simply taken out before brushing and flossing. Cleaning them is a snap, as well - there are special kits designed specifically to clean Invisalign aligners, or you can gently clean them using denture crystals and a soft toothbrush.

Last, but definitely not least, removable aligners can be a huge bonus when you’re playing a contact sport (you can remove your Invisalign aligner and wear a regular mouthguard) or an instrument (no wires or brackets to get in the way), or even just on those special occasions where you want your natural smile to be the only thing shining through (weddings, prom, homecoming, senior pictures, etc.)

Smiling woman putting in InvisalignWho are the best candidates for Invisalign?

Invisalign is created for use on most adult and teen patients with common orthodontic issues. However, there are certain, more complicated cases which require more precise tooth control than a removable aligner can achieve. During your initial complimentary consultation with Bennett Orthodontics, we’ll be able to determine if Invisalign is a good fit for you, or if you’d be better served by more traditional orthodontic treatment.

What happens once Invisalign treatment is complete?

Our teeth retain memories of their previous place in our mouths and have a tendency to drift back to their original positions over time.This is why it’s important to retain their new positions after any form of orthodontic treatment, including Invisalign. Once your treatment process is complete, we’ll provide you with retainers that will need to be worn as directed in order to maintain your new, straighter smile.

Invisalign in Mobile with Bennett Orthodontics

Invisalign is changing the way people view orthodontic treatment, and we’re proud to be a certified Invisalign provider offering this technology to our braces patients in Mobile and the surrounding areas. If you are interested in learning more about Invisalign and what it can do for you, why not get in touch with our friendly team today and schedule your complimentary consultation? With a customized approach to care, and cutting-edge techniques and technology, Bennett Orthodontics is ready to help you put your best face forward. With Invisalign, we can help you achieve the smile of your dreams!

What Is Orthodontics?

September 5th, 2017

Although orthodontics is a fairly common term, it’s not necessarily one that is commonly understood. Many people have heard it, but may not be able to tell you what orthodontics includes, or what an orthodontist actually does. Bennett Orthodontics wants all our patients to be informed on who we are, and what we can do for your you and your family. In this blog post, we’re going to be breaking down exactly what orthodontics is, and talk about the many ways it can benefit you and your smile!

All about orthodontics

Orthodontics is a specialized branch of dentistry that focuses on correcting teeth and jaws that are improperly positioned. Orthodontists go through the same four years in dental school as dentists, but then go on to do two or more years of specific orthodontic instruction in an ADA-approved orthodontic training program. By the time they’re able to put “orthodontist” beside their name, they have learned and know a lot about orthodontic care.

There are a number of issues orthodontists treat that help to ensure oral health for you and your family. The most common is cosmetic problems. Teeth that are crooked can definitely detract from your appearance, and lead to decreased self-confidence and lowered self-esteem. Orthodontics can address that, but can also target the associated health issues. For example, crooked teeth are harder to keep clean. With that can come the risk for problems like tooth decay and periodontal disease. Misalignment has also been known to cause extra stress on the chewing muscles that may eventually lead to headaches, TMJ syndrome, or neck, shoulder and back pain.

All of this, and more, can be evaluated and potentially treated by an experienced orthodontist.

Could orthodontic treatment be an option for me?

Speaking of experienced orthodontists, our very own Dr. Bennett is trained and skilled in determining if you would be likely to benefit from orthodontic treatment. We use a number of different diagnostic tools for this, including:

  • a full medical and dental health history

  • a clinical exam

  • special X-rays and photographs

  • 3D scans of your teeth and bite

After reviewing these items, Dr. Bennett, or any other experienced orthodontist, will be able to decide if orthodontic procedures would be right for you. A customized treatment plan can then be formulated based on your specific orthodontic needs.
bennett ortho mobile adult braces.jpeg

Many common dental issues can benefit from orthodontic care. Anyone that has one or more of these problems may be a good candidate for orthodontic treatment.

  • Overbite — this occurs when the upper front teeth lie too far forward and stick out over the lower teeth.

  • Underbite — this can often result in a “bulldog” appearance, where the lower teeth are too far forward or the upper teeth are too far back.

  • Crossbite — this one is a bit complicated to explain! Essentially, with normal bites, the upper teeth will be out over the top of the lower teeth when biting down normally. When a  crossbite is present, this doesn’t occur. There are a few different types of crossbites, depending on where the upper teeth fall in relation to the lower ones.

  • Open bite — this is present if there’s a space between the biting surfaces of the front or side teeth when the back teeth bite together.

  • Misplaced midline — this is a situation in which the center of the upper front teeth doesn’t line up with the center of the lower front teeth.

  • Spacing — this happens when there are gaps in between the teeth as a result of missing teeth or teeth that don’t “fill up” the mouth.

  • Crowding — in this scenario, there are simply too many teeth for the dental ridge to accommodate without disrupting their natural position.

What kinds of orthodontic treatment options exist?

Orthodontic treatment generally centers around the several different types of both fixed and removable orthodontic appliances. These are used to help move the teeth into more desirable positions. They can also retrain the muscles, and affect the growth of the jaws. Both types of appliances work by placing a gentle, continuous pressure on the teeth and jaws. Your orthodontist will be able to determine the severity of your problem, and this will be one of the deciding factors in choosing which orthodontic approach is likely to be the most effective.

What are some fixed orthodontic appliances?

Braces: Braces are the most common type of orthodontic appliance. Brackets are bonded to the front of the teeth and archwires are then passed through the brackets and engaged. The archwires graduate in size and stiffness and are replaced at your regular orthodontic visits about every 8 weeks. This puts tension on the teeth, gradually moving them to their proper position.

Treatment time varies depending on the ease or difficulty of the case, however the average treatment time with braces is 18-24 months. The good news is that modern braces have made many improvements over the years, and are now smaller, more comfortable, and far more aesthetically pleasing than they’ve ever been before. They also come in a few different versions, from bright colors for kids to clear ceramic braces for image-conscious teens and adults.

Fixed space maintainers: Baby teeth are sometimes lost prematurely through trauma, cavities, or a number of other occurrences. This will sometimes require a customized space maintainer, or spacer, to keep the space open until the permanent tooth erupts. This helps to prevent the remaining teeth from crowding the empty space. The appliance consists of a band placed around a molar on each side with a wire extended around the inside of the arch to hold the space.

What are some examples of removable orthodontic appliances?

Invisalign Aligners: At the moment, clear aligners are the most popular alternative to traditional braces we offer, especially for our teen and adult patients. These aligners are used to move teeth in the same way that fixed appliances work, but without any of the hassle and restrictions that often come with metal wires and brackets. Because these aligners are virtually invisible, they work well for patients who need orthodontic work but shy away from the more obvious look of metal braces. They can also easily be removed when eating, drinking, brushing, or flossing. The key with these aligners is discipline - you have to wear them for them to work!

Removable space maintainers: These serving basically the same function as the fixed space maintainers mentioned above, but are made with an acrylic base that fits over the jaw, and have a plastic or wire branch between specific teeth to keep the space between them open.

Jaw repositioning appliances: These are sometimes referred to as splints, and can be worn on either the top or lower jaw. They’re used to help train the jaw to close in a more favorable position.

Lip and cheek bumpers: These devices are designed to keep the lips or cheeks away from the teeth by relieving the pressure that the lip and cheek muscles can exert.

Palatal expander: This works to widen the arch of the upper jaw using an appliance that fits across the roof of the mouth. Outward pressure is placed on the appliance by a screw mechanism, widening the entire palatal area.

Removable retainers: These are probably the most well-known of the removable appliances! There are a number of types of removable retainers.  These are worn after orthodontic treatment is completed, and help keep teeth straight by preventing them from shifting back to their previous position.

An orthodontic experience you can enjoybennett ortho mobile braces invisalign adult teen.jpeg

When you choose to invest in orthodontic treatment, you’re choosing to invest in the kind of excellent oral health that can last you a lifetime. A beautiful, healthy smile has the potential to positively impact your life in many ways! Not only are there cosmetic benefits, but you can improve your overall health, as well.

Here at Bennett Orthodontics, we believe that the very best treatment experience is the result of personalized, advanced care. In order to achieve the smile you want and the service you expect, our talented team focuses on you!  Dr. Bennett will work to create a personalized treatment plan that works with every part of your life, using leading-edge techniques and state-of-the-art technology.

If you’re in Mobile or the surrounding area, and have wondered if orthodontic treatment could benefit you, we’d love to talk with you about scheduling a complimentary consultation with us. With a conveniently located Mobile office, a wide variety of accepted insurance plans and very flexible payment options, the experienced, caring team at Bennett Orthodontics is all about giving you The Smile You Want! Call us today and let us help you begin your orthodontic success story! (251)471-8008

8 Foods To Avoid When You Have Braces

June 20th, 2017

colorful popsicle gradientThere are plenty of great reasons to choose braces…but there are drawbacks as well. We all know that. One of the greatest challenges you and your family will face are food choices. Because there are certain foods that are almost sure to get stuck in your braces, leading to unnecessary pain and even damage. They’re also some of the most popular and addictive foods on the planet, so it won’t be easy. But it will be worth it. It’s best to avoid:

• Gum
• Nuts
• Popcorn
• Sticky and hard candy
• Chewing Gum
• Ice
• Corn chips & Pretzels
• Hard cookies or crackers

You can still enjoy most of your favorite foods and all your favorite tastes. It just takes a little planning. Here are some treats you can still enjoy.

• Peanut Butter Cups
• Hershey Kisses (no nuts)
• Plain M&M’s
• Ice Cream (no nuts or caramel)
• Cake (no nuts or caramel)
• Doughnuts
• Plain M&M’s
• Pringles or Lay’s potato chips

Follow these guidelines and have fun snacking! – Dr. Bennett.

 
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