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Orthodontic Options for All Ages

April 17th, 2018

While most of us think of tweens and teens when we talk about braces, orthodontic treatment is for patients of all ages. About 25% of current orthodontic patients are adults, and the American Association of Orthodontics recommends a child have their first orthodontic evaluation before the age of seven, which just goes to show that you are never too young, or too old, to improve your oral health. Whether you are a child, a teen, or an adult— Bennett Orthodontics will provide you with quality orthodontic care so you can have a beautiful and healthy smile that lasts a lifetime!

Whether you are looking for information on interceptive treatment for your child, braces for your teen, or orthodontics for yourself, we have you covered at Bennett Orthodontics. We even created this guide to orthodontics for all ages to get you started!

Children and Orthodontics

There may not be an exact minimum age for children to begin orthodontic treatment, but the American Association of Orthodontists still recommends that children receive their first orthodontic evaluation by the age of seven. Most children have a mix of both primary teeth and permanent teeth at this age, which makes it easier for experienced orthodontists like Dr. Bennett to diagnose and correct tooth and jaw problems early. This lessens the chance of them requiring more serious treatment because the problems became more severe on down the line. At Bennett Orthodontics, this interceptive treatment allows us to:

  • help avoid the need for permanent tooth extractions later in life
  • correct bad habits like thumb or finger sucking
  • help improve minor speech problems
  • correct and guide the growth of a child’s jaw to help permanent teeth come in straight
  • regulate the width of the upper and lower arches
  • create more space for crowded teeth

Just simply looking at your child does not let you know whether or not they may need orthodontic treatment. Many dental issues are not visible on the surface, which means outward appearances can be deceiving. We will be checking for several potential problems that could indicate a need for treatment during your child’s initial orthodontic evaluation with us, like:

  • teeth that come together abnormally, or do not come together at all
  • jaws and teeth that are not proportionate to the rest of the face
  • crowded front teeth from around the age of seven or eight
  • baby teeth earlier or later than normal
  • difficulties with chewing or biting food
  • mouth breathing
  • finger or thumb sucking
  • crowded, misplaced, or blocked teeth
  • jaws that pop or make sounds when opening and closing

The first step in giving your child a healthy, beautiful smile for the future is scheduling their first orthodontic exam with us.

Girl smiling

Teens and Braces

You likely have a lot of questions and concerns if you suspect your teen may be in need of corrective orthodontic treatment. Your teen may be feeling worried when considering braces, and you may be feeling nervous. This should only be a short-lived reaction! By showing you how the bulkier, more awkward metal braces of the past have evolved into braces that are smaller, sleeker, and far more comfortable than ever before, our Bennett Orthodontics team can help set your mind at ease. By choosing from the variety of styles, materials, and colors available, teens are able to show off their personality.

We offer a wide variety of orthodontic appliances that teens can choose from, both fixed and removable:

  • Ceramic braces
  • Invisalign clear aligner therapy
  • Traditional metal braces

“How long will I have to wear braces?” is the question we hear from teens the most. Since treatment time is on a case-by-case basis and will depend on the severity and goals of each patient, there really is no concrete answer for it. However, since a few common key factors determine the amount of time it will take to treat their smile with braces, we can estimate how long it might be.

Early treatment — In order for us to be able to recommend further orthodontic treatment if necessary, we need to monitor the growth of the jaw. We can cut down the total time needed in braces by a considerable amount when we catch the problems in the early stages.

What needs correction — Because patients react to treatment in different ways, what may take one patient twelve months to correct may take another patient twenty-four or even thirty-six months. The amount of treatment needed to correct a problem is what will determine how long the process itself takes. How quickly your teen’s body responds to treatment also plays a key factor in the time it takes.

Your teen —  By sticking to Dr. Bennett’s recommendations, teens can help keep their treatment time to a minimum by taking good care of their appliance, and maintaining a thorough dental hygiene routine. Completing the treatment as quickly as possible all depends upon compliance!

Adults

Adults seeking out orthodontic treatment later in life is becoming more and more common. We often better understand the importance of maintaining oral health, and want to feel better about our overall appearance as we get older. Adults are able to take advantage of more modern treatment options, which offer discreet but effective ways to straighten smiles, including clear braces and clear aligner systems like Invisalign.

Adult patients seeking orthodontic treatment often have one or more of these common issues:

  • any abnormal jaw pain, or pressure that is caused by crooked teeth
  • the desire for a healthier mouth, straight teeth, and a more confident smile
  • a bad bite (malocclusion) causing the teeth to fit together incorrectly
  • the teeth are too crowded, or spaced too far apart

Young woman with clear braces

A Difference in Ages

In younger patients their jawbones are still developing, which makes less invasive treatment more likely to be successful. This is the biggest difference in treating adults when compared to children and teens. The possibility of orthognathic surgery to align the jawbones is prevalent in adults because their jawbones have stopped growing. Other differences can include:

Gum or bone loss (periodontal disease) — Patients with straighter teeth are much less likely to encounter gum disease. Adults are naturally more likely than children to experience gum recession or bone loss due to gingivitis or advanced periodontal disease.

Worn or missing teeth — Missing teeth can cause other teeth to shift and tilt, creating a bad bite and increasing the possibility of gum disease. Over time, teeth can become worn down and shift into different positions that can only be corrected with orthodontic care.

Incomplete orthodontic treatment as a teen — Teeth that have been straightened are likely to have shifted over the years. Adults often choose to complete or redo their orthodontic treatment to achieve the healthy, beautiful smile they have always wanted. They may have stopped orthodontic treatment as a child or teen and never completed the process, or they did not wear their retainer as directed after completing treatment.

Dr. Bennett will work closely with you to ensure you or your child receive the most appropriate treatments based on your particular needs. Our team will guarantee you are met with understanding and respect throughout the treatment process. Bennett Orthodontics recognizes that adults and children require different levels of attention and care because they have different orthodontic needs.

Orthodontic Treatment for You, Your Teen, or Your Child

Straight teeth are healthy teeth — Flossing and brushing works better with properly aligned teeth, and may also help prevent other health problems.

A straighter smile can build confidence — Your self-confidence, will be boosted from orthodontic treatment, resulting in a better quality of life and sharing your smile with the world.

Untreated issues can get worse — Long-term health issues will end up costing you more time and money in the end if you avoid orthodontic treatment when it is recommended for you.

Whether you are seven or seventy, Bennett Orthodontics is all about putting patients first! We work hard to create beautiful smiles for all ages in a relaxed, family-friendly environment. If you are in the Mobile area, get in touch with our conveniently located office to find out more information on what orthodontics have to offer you and your family. Schedule an initial consultation with Dr. Bennett and our team, so we can invest together in a smile that lasts a lifetime!

Orthodontic Emergencies

March 22nd, 2018

Emergencies are scary, especially when they involve us. When it comes to true orthodontic emergencies, fortunately, they are rare. Our team at Bennett Orthodontics works hard to ensure that your orthodontic treatment is as comfortable as possible. When you first get braces or when they are adjusted, it is normal to feel some slight discomfort. However, occasionally you may encounter a problem that causes more severe pain. Typically, these kinds of problems can be resolved at home, giving you immediate relief and eliminating extra trips to the office. That being said, a true orthodontic (or dental) emergency can happen, and if so, it will need immediate attention. Let’s look at what constitutes a true orthodontic emergency.

True dental emergencies may include:

  • Major trauma or injury to the teeth, face, or mouth
  • Infection, swelling and/or bleeding of the gums, mouth, or face
  • Severe unmanageable pain in the mouth

If any of these situations should arise, seek the help of your general dentist as soon as possible. Depending on the injury, heading to the emergency room may be your best option. Once you have attended to the emergency situation, call us to set up a follow-up appointment.  We will evaluate your appliances and adjust your orthodontic treatment plan as needed.

Minor orthodontic emergencies and remedies

The great news is that the vast majority of orthodontic problems are considered minor even though they are painful. In these cases, you may be surprised to learn that you can temporarily resolve many of these problems and the discomfort that comes with them right from your own home while you wait for your next appointment. Listed below are some possible orthodontic situations and how they may be remedied at home.

broken retainer

Loose/Broken Brackets, Bands, or Wires

Generally, loose or broken brackets are not an urgent problem. If the broken piece has come off, put it in a plastic bag and save it for your next appointment. If the bracket or band is still attached to the wire, leave it alone and call our office. If it is irritating or scraping the inside of your mouth, you can cover it with orthodontic wax. Either way, be sure to give us a call, so we can determine what your next steps should be.

Misplaced or Poking Archwire, Bracket, or Tie

As your teeth begin adjusting to treatment, the wire may stick out and irritate your cheeks. If this happens, the wire can often be moved into a better position by using a pencil eraser or Q-tip. If you choose this option, be sure to dry the area first with a cotton swab or paper towel. If misplaced wires or ties are causing you trouble, you may be able to put them back with a pair of tweezers cleaned in rubbing alcohol. If you notice one of your elastic ties is missing, there is no need to call our office.  We will replace the ties at your next scheduled appointment. If any wires or brackets are irritating your mouth, you can cover them with orthodontic wax for temporary relief. Additionally, you can gently trim some wires using nail or wire clippers cleaned with rubbing alcohol. If you are unable to resolve the issue, please give us a call.

General Tooth Pain or Loosening

When you are undergoing orthodontic treatment, it is common to feel that your teeth are loose – this means they are moving! Sometimes, this can be accompanied by tenderness. For minor soreness, you can use your regular over-the-counter pain reliever. A twice-a-day salt water rinse may also help. Mix one teaspoon of salt into an 8-ounce glass of warm water and rinse for thirty seconds. A warm washcloth or heating pad placed on the outside of the jaw can also offer some relief. Topical numbing solutions such as Ora-base are helpful to alleviate ulcer pain.     

Broken Retainer

Retainers are not indestructible. It is possible for the metal or plastic parts of your retainer to bend or break. If this happens, stop wearing the retainer immediately and give us a call. If the retainer has broken, collect all the pieces in a plastic bag and bring them to your next appointment.  Be sure to call and schedule as soon as possible so that you are not going without a retainer for an extended period of time, as your teeth can shift.

Swallowing Braces or Appliances

Swallowing braces or other appliances tends to occur relatively infrequently. If it does occur, try to remain calm. Whatever has been swallowed will normally pass during regular bowel movements. However, if you experience difficulty breathing as a result, you should seek immediate medical attention.  

Woman at a doctor consultation

Handling orthodontic emergencies with the help of Bennett Orthodontics

While rare, orthodontic emergencies can happen. The best thing you can do in an emergency is remain calm. As a general rule, call our office first if you experience severe pain or have an appliance problem you cannot resolve at home. We will do everything we can to alleviate your discomfort and fix the problem as quickly as possible!

The journey to your beautiful smile should be enjoyable. Dr. Bennett and his team do everything in their power to provide the best orthodontic experience possible to every patient and parent. If you have any questions or are considering orthodontic treatment, please contact our Mobile, AL orthodontic office to schedule a complimentary consultation. The sooner you call, the sooner you will be on your way to a beautiful new smile. We hope to see you soon!

Braces vs Invisalign

February 19th, 2018

With so many options in the world of orthodontic treatment, you may be wondering which is best for you. Patients ask a number of questions such as: Which is more effective? Which is affordable? Ultimately, you want to choose the kind of treatment that will do the job best. The common choice is usually between traditional metal braces and Invisalign. But do you know the difference?

Here at Bennett Orthodontics, we believe in designing a treatment plan that is unique for each patient we see. With that in mind, we also believe that educated patients on an effective and specific treatment plan are satisfied patients.

Let us explain the difference between traditional metal braces and Invisalign, so we can work together to choose the best treatment plan for you, your smile, and your lifestyle!

Treatment basics

Braces and Invisalign are both designed to straighten teeth while improving your smile and overall oral health. Since traditional braces have been around for a while, most people have an idea of their composite. They are metal brackets that are glued to your teeth and tied together by wires and tiny rubber bands. However, today’s braces are more discreet and comfortable than ever before.

Invisalign is a newer treatment option (in terms of years of orthodontic treatment). This system uses a series of clear aligners that patients can remove daily. Thanks to a massive TV campaign in 2001, it started to see widespread use soon afterward.   

Braces

teen smiling with braces

The most obvious difference between braces and Invisalign is that braces are not removable. However, they are extremely efficient at fixing complex issues, and they typically work faster than Invisalign.

While treatment time varies from patient to patient, the average with braces tends to be anywhere from 18 months to 3 years. But you’ll often see signs of improvement fairly early. This can give your self-confidence a boost while encouraging you to stay the course.

One of the things that causes some people to shy away from braces is the amount of maintenance that goes into this treatment plan. There are quite a few foods to avoid, the brackets and wires need adjusting from time to time, and they can be difficult to navigate around while flossing. But the good news is there are a number of accessories available to make your oral hygiene routine easier. Additionally, the majority of issues that pop up can be resolved at home with simple tricks.

Patients will schedule follow-up visits for traditional braces every 4-8 weeks. During these adjustment appointments, Dr. Bennett will change the bands that are attached to the brackets, and the wire will also be tightened or changed. Generally speaking, you should be in-an-out in half an hour or so.

There may be some residual soreness after each appointment, but it should subside in a day or two. It’s highly important that you don’t skip these appointments.  This will most likely prolong your original treatment plan.

Invisalign

women using invisalign

What makes Invisalign such a popular treatment option is the fact that they are removable and invisible. Since these aligners are removable, patients can brush and floss the same as before. Another pro is that patients have to remove their aligners to eat and drink, so that means there are no food restrictions! Additionally, plastic mold are considered more comfortable and won’t irritate the mouth as brackets and wires may.

The comfortable plastic trays are virtually invisible, and the total number worn during treatment is usually somewhere between 10 and 48. Average treatment time is between 6 and 18 months, but that can vary from patient to patient. This is also based on a patient’s willingness to wear his or her aligner for the designated 20-22 hours a day because any deviation from this can prolong treatment time.

As with braces, patients using Invisalign will be expected to see Dr. Bennett every 4-8 weeks for follow-up appointments. Patients will also switch out aligners every 1-2 weeks in order to keep up with the shifting of teeth. This is an important part of the straightening process. If a patient skips appointments or doesn’t change out aligners when ready, treatment can be prolonged.

Let Bennett Orthodontics help you decide

Whichever treatment option you choose isn’t just about improving your smile but improving your overall oral health. This decision shouldn’t be taken lightly, so it’s important to find a provider like Bennett Orthodontics who is experienced with both braces and Invisalign. Dr. Bennett can recommend which method will best perfect your smile and teeth. Our team has years of experience working with both braces and Invisalign, and we’ll make sure you’re an active partner in any treatment plan we design.

If you’re in the Mobile or surrounding area and are interested in learning more, get in touch with us today to schedule an initial consultation. We can help you achieve the smile of your dreams!

Smile Resolutions For The New Year

January 31st, 2018

We’re almost through the first month of a brand new year, and here at Bennett Orthodontics, we’ve been thinking a lot about resolutions and resetting our habits. There’s something about the sense of momentum this time of year that gives us the perfect opportunity to make positive, lasting changes in our lives. There’s the usual changes focusing on things like losing weight, eating healthier, or exercising more, but since we’re all about smiles, we’ve put together a couple of easy oral health resolutions to stick to in 2018!

Your oral health is an important part of your overall health, and while you may not be hitting the gym as often as you promised, or losing weight as quickly as you planned, there’s still plenty of time to embrace some resolutions that can have a lasting impact on your smile, this year and for many years to come.

mother and daughter brushing teeth

Brush up on your brushing basics

This is a pretty obvious one, sure, and it’s likely something you’ve been told over and over again since your very first teeth came in. But it really is the most important thing you can do to keep your smile healthy and functional! We recommend you brush your teeth thoroughly three to four times each day with a soft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste, aiming for at least two minutes each time.

Having an excellent oral hygiene routine is especially important when you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment. If you’re one of our braces patients, you’ll already know that maneuvering around the brackets and wires takes a little practice, and that you have to you pay special attention to the areas between your brackets and gums, making sure to carefully clean the spaces in between the wires and your teeth. If you haven’t already tried them, interdental brushes can make this a much easier job. They fit in those hard to reach spots to remove any sticky plaque and food debris you might otherwise have difficulty reaching.

If you’re currently wearing braces, here are a few reminders on how to get the best results from your dental hygiene routine:

  • use fluoride toothpaste with a soft, rounded-bristle toothbrush.
  • replace your toothbrush as soon as it begins to show signs of wear.
  • brush around every part of your braces, as well as every surface of your teeth
  • look for clean and shiny braces, with the edge of the brackets clearly visible, since fuzzy-or dull-looking metal can indicate poor brushing.
  • floss every night before you go to bed, taking advantage of tools like floss threaders and waterpiks if you’re having trouble getting into the tighter spaces

There are some dental hygiene basics that are necessary to follow for successful bacterial plaque removal, whether you have braces, clear aligners, or no orthodontic appliances at all. These include things like:

  • brushing at least three to four times a day, after each meal and once before bed, using a soft toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste
  • brushing gently at a 45-degree angle toward the gumline, moving the toothbrush across all surfaces of the teeth to effectively remove bacteria and any trapped food particles
  • flossing at least once per day to remove bacteria and any food that has accumulated throughout the day
  • replacing your toothbrush every 3-4 months, or sooner if you have a cold or any other illness (something that is especially important during this crazy flu season!)
  • using antimicrobial and fluoride mouthwashes

Daily brushing and flossing will help to prevent gum disease, tooth decay, and bad breath, and keep your smile shining in 2018 and beyond.  

girl with floss

Don’t underestimate the importance of good food

We’re in between the temptation of holiday treats and Valentine’s Day candies lining the shelves of our supermarkets, so there’s no better time than now to review the kind of foods you should avoid while in braces versus all the foods you can dig into! If you’re currently undergoing orthodontic treatment with Bennett Orthodontics using traditional metal braces, you should be steering clear of:

  • chewy foods like licorice and bagels
  • hard, crunchy foods such as chips, ice, nuts, and hard candies
  • sticky foods like caramels, chewing gum, and gummy candies

We know that that list can sometimes feel restrictive, but there’s so much out there you can still eat, and so much that’s good for your mind, body, and mouth. These are foods anyone can benefit from, not just those in braces or clear aligners! Consider some of the following healthy, nutrient-rich foods like:

  • Milk and other dairy products that pack a delicious, calcium-filled punch to help bones and teeth stay strong and healthy.
  • Whole grain breads and pastas that are full of the kind of complex carbohydrates that give bacteria less digestible food to grow, and also offer tons of nutrients to help keep your teeth and gums healthy.
  • Chicken, red meat, and fatty fish like salmon that are loaded with phosphorus, an important mineral that helps to strengthen and protect tooth enamel.
  • A wide variety of fresh fruits and veggies, especially leafy greens that contain high amounts of magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C, beta carotene, calcium and magnesium, minerals that are important in maintaining oral health.

One of the best things you can do for your smile is cut down on sugar and soft drinks! Sugar is a carbohydrate, and carbohydrates fuel the bacteria on your teeth to produce the acids that cause tooth decay to form. This is bad enough for teeth without braces, but when you add in brackets and bands, you’re giving bacteria many secret places to hide and multiply.

Soft drinks can affect both braces and aligners. Soda has both sugar and acid, a double whammy risk to tooth enamel, and it can cause unsightly decalcification if plaque that collects around the brackets isn’t removed. Small amounts of liquid seep into aligners when you take a drink, and the liquid is then held against the teeth until the aligner is removed. If the liquid contains acid, like soft drinks do, that prolonged exposure can accelerate damage to teeth.

Starting 2018 off with a smile and the support of Bennett Orthodontics

Whether you’re a past, current, or future patient, Bennett Orthodontics encourages you to start the year off right by following our simple tips for keeping your smile happy and your whole mouth healthy. We’re always here to help should you have any questions or concerns, or if you just need a little extra support sometimes. We’re hoping 2018 will be a year of healthy habits, positive changes, and beautiful smiles in Mobile, and we’re excited to share that vision with you!

 
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