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How to Survive Halloween with Braces

October 18th, 2018

Halloween will be here before we know it! As exciting as it is to put the finishing touches on costumes and plan out the perfect trick-or-treat route, you may also be feeling a little nervous about navigating the holiday if you have a child in braces. This time of year can be a source of anxiety for parents who aren’t sure how to find that perfect balance between the food restrictions that come with braces and all the sweet treats of the season. The good news is, kids in braces can enjoy plenty of ghoulish goodies without worrying about broken brackets, bent wires, and emergency appointments While there are definitely candies and other Halloween staples they should avoid, undergoing orthodontic treatment doesn’t have to mean staring wistfully from the sidelines as other children dig into their Halloween hauls!

Every October, we celebrate National Orthodontic Health Month. This is a perfect excuse for us to remind our braces patients what candy they can safely indulge in and which they should steer clear of in order to keep their braces safe and their smiles healthy during Halloween. With that in mind, our Bennett Orthodontics team has prepared this simple guide for surviving Halloween with braces. Keep reading below for more information on this, as well as a few helpful ways to use up any leftover candy!

Candy to keep away from braces

For orthodontists like Dr. Bennett, one of the scariest things about Halloween is all the chewy candy people like to hand out. These tend to stick to brackets, bands, and wires, and can even pull parts off. Not only that, but if your child’s teeth are tender from having braces put on or adjusted, these types of treats can also be painful to chew, leading to a sore or aching mouth. Hard, crunchy candies aren’t that much better. These put a huge amount of pressure on braces, which can lead to broken brackets and bent wires. It’s worth noting that every bracket or band that has to be replaced or repaired sets the orthodontic process back a step. To keep your child’s treatment plan progressing on schedule, avoid the following:

  • Caramel
  • Bubblegum
  • Hard candy
  • Taffy
  • Licorice
  • Nuts
  • Jelly beans
  • Candy corn
  • Popcorn and caramel corn
  • Chewy candy
  • Candy and caramel apples

We know that’s a pretty long list, but don’t worry. There’s still plenty of spooktacular stuff out there for your child to enjoy!

Dr. Bennett staff working with a patient

Candy that gets a thumbs up

When it comes to braces-friendly treats, anything with soft chocolate is usually a good choice. This includes several classic candies, including:

Any type of chocolate candy bar will generally be a safe bet, as long as it doesn’t contain any caramel or nuts. Keep in mind that biting into bigger candy bars can potentially damage the braces on your child’s front teeth, so breaking large candy bars into smaller pieces is a better idea. Fortunately, Halloween is full of fun-sized and mini-sized bars, so you won’t have to worry too much about keeping braces safe!

Creative ways to get rid of leftover candy

It seems like every Easter, we find some Halloween candy still lurking around on a shelf or in a drawer. Avoid that extra little bit of spring cleaning by clearing out the candy your child can’t eat or doesn’t want right after Halloween using the following ideas.

Make cookies

Many types of candy can be substituted for chocolate chips in your favorite cookies, from the obvious choices like M&M’s and Reese’s Pieces to chopped up chocolate bars. Blondies and brownies work as a base, too. If you have the willpower, you could consider these early holiday cookies, and stick them in the freezer for a month or two. We won’t blame you for gobbling them up right away, though, as long as everybody remembers to brush and floss afterwards!

Donate it

Donating unwrapped candy is an easy way to brighten someone’s day, and it can give your child a sense of pride while helping to take the sting out of not being able to indulge in some of their favorite Halloween treats. Many charitable organizations accept candy donations, including:

Operation Gratitude

Operation Gratitude sends care packages to U.S. troops that are stationed overseas and first responders here at home. Your child can even include drawings or letters for soldiers!

Soldiers' Angels

Soldiers’ Angels do a “Treats for Troops” event annually. You can click here to find a donation drop-off point, or find information to start a drive of your own.

Ronald McDonald House

The Ronald McDonald House organization provides a place for families to stay together when a child is seriously ill. Most locations will accept donations of unopened candy for their resident families after Halloween. You can find your local chapter here, although you may want to call ahead to find out the rules for dropping off candy before heading that way.

Put it in a pinata

Kids love whacking pinatas, and you don’t have to wait until it’s someone’s birthday to indulge them! Start a new tradition of a Thanksgiving or Christmas pinata, fill it with all your leftover candy, and invite friends over to share in the fun. If you’re particularly crafty, you can even attempt to make your own pinata as a family project. This is a good place to start.

Bring it to work

Even if they have their own surplus at home, your coworkers will appreciate a little post-lunch treat in the breakroom. You could also register your office as a Halloween candy buyback location. While it’s traditionally dental and orthodontic offices that participate, many local businesses have begun signing up as well. More information can be found here.

Send it to school

Many teachers use individually wrapped candy in the classroom as an occasional reward or learning tool. Send a bag of unopened candy in with your child, and be sure to include a note for their teacher letting them know you appreciate all they do!

Dr. Bennett staff

Happy Halloween from Bennett Orthodontics

As you can see, having a child in braces doesn’t have to take the fun out of your family’s Halloween celebrations! If you’re still unsure, our team is always happy to answer any questions or discuss any concerns you have about your child’s treatment. Whatever your plans for Halloween include, we hope it’s safe, happy, and full of healthy smiles!

Invisalign Teen

September 28th, 2018

In large part thanks to innovative techniques and improved technology, modern orthodontics has seen some amazing advances in recent years. While traditional braces are far more comfortable and less obvious than they’ve ever been, today’s teens are the most visible generation yet. Most have multiple social media accounts, chronicling their day-to-day life online. Selfies are practically a rite of passage at this point! As normal as this is nowadays, this kind of constant sharing can sometimes feel a little bit overwhelming, particularly if a teen feels their smile is less than perfect.

Here at Bennett Orthodontics, we see the unique inner and outer beauty of every patient we treat! But we also know how good it can feel to have a smile that is beautifully aligned and fully functional. Invisalign Teen is one way we can help our teen patients achieve a healthier, more attractive smile, and it offers a nearly invisible way to get there! Treatment with Invisalign Teen will result in not only a straighter smile, but an optimized bite pattern as well, making teeth more proportional, easier to keep clean, and functioning optimally.

Let’s take a closer look at what Invisalign Teen is and why it can be such a great choice for our teen patients!

What is Invisalign Teen? How does it differ from Invisalign?

The Invisalign Teen and Invisalign systems both use a series of clear, custom-made aligners to straighten the teeth gradually without any of the restrictions that can come with traditional braces. Instead of using wires, brackets, and bands to move teeth into the preferred positions, teens simply wear the aligners over their teeth and change them out for a new set weekly, or at another interval as determined by Dr. Bennett. As each set of aligners is worn, the teeth will gently and gradually shift into place, leaving patients with a straight, confident smile they’re proud of.

Although Invisalign and Invisalign Teen work the same way and share the same underlying technology, Invisalign Teen was developed with the unique needs of teen patients in mind. With input from leading orthodontists, special features were added to the Invisalign Teen system, including:

Compliance indicators

When it comes to getting great results with Invisalign, patient compliance is a critical element. In fact, it’s the single biggest factor in successful treatment. Patients must adhere to Dr. Bennett’s recommendations to ensure their orthodontic process stays on track. This includes wearing their aligners for 20-22 hours per day, every day, throughout the course of treatment

Invisalign Teen has a compliance indicator incorporated into each aligner that will fade from from blue to clear as it is used, providing a visual approximation of wear. This lets both parents and orthodontists keep track of patient use. If we find a teen isn’t holding up their end of the treatment bargain, it will usually be noticeable to us in enough time to correct compliance before treatment gets off track.

Eruption tabs

This feature accommodates the growth of the second molars in young adults, helping to keep space open for unerupted teeth and making it possible to treat a wider range of conditions with Invisalign.

Replacement aligners

Every one of us has lost or damaged something important to us before, and although we encourage our teen patients to treat their aligners with care, life just happens sometimes! There’s no need to worry if an aligner is misplaced or incurs damage. Invisalign Teen will provide up to six replacement aligners at no charge, just in case.   

Hand displaying Invisalign aligner

As effective as traditional braces

As long as patients commit to wearing their aligners the recommended 20-22 hours a day, Invisalign Teen can be just as effective as traditional braces for many of the most common orthodontic issues. The Invisalign system especially excels at treating mild to moderate cases of underbite, overbite, overcrowding, and gapped teeth. Although not every teen is a candidate for Invisalign, most will be. Bennett Orthodontics offers a complimentary initial consultation that can determine if a patient will be a good fit for this particular treatment.

Extra flexibility

Although traditional braces have made major improvements over the years, they still take a little getting used to, and food restrictions can often be on the steepest learning curves. Patients must avoid anything too crunchy or chewy to protect their braces, and popular snacks like popcorn, nuts, chips, and even some raw fruits and veggies have to go on the back burner until treatment is complete.

Invisalign aligners are designed to be removed at mealtimes, so teens are free to enjoy all the same foods they normally would, as long as they are careful to maintain a good dental hygiene routine. Even with removable aligners, it’s important to brush and floss regularly to keep food and bacteria from accumulating against and in between the teeth. 

Food isn’t the only area of flexibility that comes with Invisalign Teen. Sports can sometimes be rough if an athlete is in braces. Brackets and wires can break or come loose, causing irritation, pain, or even injury. With Invisalign, teens can remove their aligners and wear a regular mouthguard, putting the aligner back in after practice or the big game. For young musicians, there’s no worry about traditional braces getting in the way of playing certain musical instruments. The removable nature of Invisalign aligners allows for uninterrupted music making!

BONUS BENEFIT: aligners can also be removed for those all-important occasions when a teen only wants their natural smile to shine through, such as homecoming, prom, and senior pictures.

Bennett Orthodontics staff with a patient

Less time in the office

Since the aligners don’t require any adjustments, and because there are no wires or brackets that can be broken and require repair, Invisalign Teen patients will generally require less frequent maintenance and emergency visits. This can be especially beneficial to parents, since family schedules are busier than ever before these days. After the initial appointment, follow-up appointments will usually be scheduled for every six weeks.

Invisalign Teen is “clearly” the top choice for teen patients in Mobile

Invisalign Teen is designed for patients who have lost all their primary teeth, and whose second molars are at least partially erupted. Are you in Mobile or the surrounding area and have a teen you believe may benefit from the Invisalign system? Here at Bennett Orthodontics, we are known for providing exceptional, individualized orthodontic care to patients of all ages. We’d love to schedule your teen for a complimentary consultation and walk you both through all that Invisalign Teen has to offer. Click here to schedule a complimentary consultation today and let us get your teen started on the kind of smile they’ll want to share with the world!

How to Protect Your Braces While Playing Sports

August 31st, 2018

Have you recently learned that your smile could benefit from orthodontic treatment?  If you play sports and have braces on your horizon, you may be feeling nervous that this will sideline you when you’d rather be out on the field or the court. Although it’s a common worry, the goods news is, this is an entirely unfounded concern! Here at Bennett Orthodontics, we treat sports-playing patients frequently. There’s no reason to stop participating in any athletics you’re involved in while undergoing orthodontic treatment, even if you’re wearing brace. Don’t believe us? Just look at Dwight Howard, Cristiano Ronaldo, Venus Williams, and Brett Favre for a small sampling of professional athletes who have continued to dominate their sports while straightening their smile. That said, you will need to take precautions to keep your teeth, mouth, and braces safe from injury and damage, particularly if you play contact sports. Let’s explore the ways you can to protect your braces - and your smile! - without having to hang up your jersey.

Avoiding injuries while wearing braces

Injuries to the mouth and jaw that occur while playing sports are fairly common amongst athletes of all different levels. Protecting your smile during physical activity is especially important when you have braces due to the increased risk of oral injuries. These may occur if your mouth or your braces are hit by a ball or another player. These injuries are typically far from life-threatening, but they can still be painful, cause serious damage, and be costly to fix. Some of the more common sports-related injuries we see include:

  • lacerations to the cheeks, lips and tongue
  • chipped or broken teeth
  • dislocation of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ)
  • root fractures

Bennett Orthodontic staff working with a patient

When you are wearing a fixed orthodontic appliance like braces, it adds another element to these kinds of injuries. During a collision, braces can cut the inside of your mouth, causing lacerations. The braces themselves may also be damaged, including bent wires and broken brackets. The single best way to protect your teeth, mouth, and braces while playing sports is by wearing a mouthguard, preferably an orthodontic model. Even a basic mouthguard will help to prevent the kind of hits that could lead to bleeding gums, broken brackets, or even fractured teeth, particularly when playing contact sports like football, wrestling, soccer, basketball, and hockey.

Even if you are wearing a mouthguard, we strongly recommend you get in touch with your dentist as soon as possible upon receiving an injury to your teeth. He or she will be able to diagnose any root or jaw bone fractures. If you are one of our braces patients, contact us after your dentist has assessed and treated any tooth damage so we can see if your braces will need to be repaired or replaced as well.

More about mouthguards

Mouthguards are easy to find, simple to use, and highly effective. For athletes who want to avoid damage to their braces and injuries to their mouth, they can’t be beat! While they are especially useful for high-contact sports, wearing them for light contact or low-impact sports is also ideal, since even a small amount of pressure on your braces can irritate your mouth, or cause small cuts or abrasions to your gums and the inside of your cheeks.

While any mouthguard is better than not using one at all, an orthodontic mouthguard can be a worthwhile investment if you intend to regularly play sports while wearing braces. The high-grade silicone helps cushion your lips and keeps them from bumping against your teeth and braces, protecting the brackets from damage. This also stops your lip getting caught in your braces, which can be a pretty painful experience! While orthodontic mouthguards tend to be slightly larger than most regular mouthguards, the silicone makes them just as comfortable to wear.

Some orthodontic mouthguards, such as Shock Doctor and Tapout, can adjust to the movement of your teeth during treatment. This simply means they re-mold to your current bite, making them a great choice for any athletes in braces, as well as those without any orthodontic appliances. Most orthodontic mouthguards are affordable, and come in strapped or unstrapped styles. We strongly recommend that any of our sports-playing patients consider having an orthodontic mouthguard to keep their teeth, mouth, and braces protected.

Bennett Orthodontic Staff

Keep your smile safe while you straighten it with Bennett Orthodontics

It’s clear that mouthguards are an affordable, effective choice for patients in braces who want to continue playing sports. They will shield your teeth as they move into their new permanent positions, and help to protect the integrity of the orthodontic process itself. While an orthodontic mouthguard is always optimal, we encourage all of our patients to wear any mouthguard at all over none when participating in athletic activities.

If you are an athlete who has an appointment scheduled to have braces put on, or someone who is relatively new to orthodontic treatment, you may be wondering what braces will mean for your sports schedule. Dr. Bennett and the rest of our talented team are dedicated to helping you continue to participate in the sports you love while straightening your smile! We work hard to provide the best experience possible to every patient we treat. From the first appointment in our Mobile office to the last, we want to exceed your expectations with every interaction. Our skilled staff are always happy to answer any questions you have, or talk through any concerns with you, so get in touch with us today and let us set your mind at ease! With the protection of a mouthguard and our support behind you, you can have the best of both worlds: the sports you love and a smile you can keep safe while we straighten it!

Teeth And Total Body Health

July 31st, 2018

Have you ever stopped to think about the effect your smile has on other people? It has more of an impact than you may imagine. In fact, when people meet you for the first time, your smile is the main feature they notice, and one of the things they will remember the most. Studies have shown that an attractive smile can make you seem more approachable and trustworthy to others. It can even make you seem more successful! Keeping your teeth looking their best is clearly important when it comes to putting your best foot forward in public, but did you know that good oral hygiene has benefits that go beyond appearance?

The way we treat our teeth can keep the rest of our body happy, too. There are a number of different ways in which oral health can impact overall health, from reducing inflammation to keeping our memory sharp. Even if you haven’t always been vigilant about brushing and flossing, it’s never too late to adopt a new oral hygiene routine! Here at Bennett Orthodontics, we want to make sure your teeth are healthy and your mouth is happy. Understanding the connections that exist between your oral health and total body health can be key to making that happen, so keep reading below to learn more!

Going beyond an aligned smile

It’s common for people to mistakenly believe that orthodontic treatment exists only to straighten the teeth for a more attractive, aligned smile, but there are many benefits to having teeth and jaws that are properly aligned. Orthodontics itself is functional in nature, offering both cosmetic and health benefits that last. Misaligned teeth and jaws can increase the risk for problems like tooth decay, TMJ pain, and chronic headaches. When left untreated, these problems can worsen, and may even become severe enough that chewing, swallowing, nutrition, and speech are affected. Orthodontic treatment can correct oral issues and give you not only a straighter smile but a mouth that is fully functioning.

Easier to keep teeth cleaner

When you have teeth that are overcrowded, food can become trapped, allowing plaque to form more easily and eat away at the enamel. This leads to cavities forming, sometimes in between your teeth, which makes them harder to see and treat since they may not be discovered until they’ve become problematic enough that you notice symptoms. A buildup of plaque can also adversely affect the health of your gums and has the potential to lead to gum disease. When you give an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Bennett the chance to address this kind of overcrowding, it will make it more difficult for plaque and cavities to form in between your teeth, preserving the long-term health of your gums and mouth.

Bennett Orthodontics staff with a patient

Improve your digestion

It might seem a little strange to think of teeth and digestion as part of the same process, but chewing your food is the first step to digestion, and arguably the most crucial one. Chewing thoroughly is an important oral habit to cultivate, as this is how your body converts large pieces of food into smaller particles that are easier to digest. This gives your intestines the chance to absorb nutrients properly. When food can’t be chewed properly because of misaligned teeth and jaws, it won’t digest as well in your stomach, and your body will have to use more energy in order to absorb all the nutrients. Jaws and teeth that are properly aligned will allow you to process your food in the most effective manner, from start to finish.

Reduce infection and inflammation

Certain studies have found some association between gum disease and rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of the joints. Experts suggest that the mechanism that destroys connective tissue in RA is similar to the mechanism in gum disease that causes the gums to pull away from the teeth. By eating a well-balanced diet, practicing good oral hygiene, and scheduling regular dental and orthodontic check-ups, you can reduce your risk of developing tooth decay and gum disease. This can go a long way toward keeping inflammation and infection to a minimum, at least as far as your mouth is concerned!

Stay sharp

Recent studies have shown a link between gum disease and cognitive function. The initial stage of gum disease is gingivitis, with periodontitis being the more advanced form. Adults with gingivitis have consistently performed worse on memory and cognitive skills tests than those with healthier mouths, and periodontitis was associated with cognitive impairment in older adults. Again, regular brushing, flossing, and dental visits are easy things you can do that will help prevent a buildup of bacteria in your mouth, reducing your chances of developing gum disease.

Bennett Orthodontics staff with a patient

Keep your confidence up with a beautiful smile by Bennett Orthodontics

If your smile is what people are most likely to remember about you, don’t let them take away an image of you with unattractive teeth or bad breath! Both of these things and more can be caused by gum disease and tooth decay, which can have a very real effect on your self-esteem and self-image. When you are worried about what people will see when you smile, the level of confidence you have in yourself and your appearance can take a hit. A healthy mouth that’s free from gingivitis and cavities can not only give you a smile you love and want to share, you may even find that you’re eating, sleeping, and concentrating better, too, since you won’t have any aching teeth or mouth infections to distract you!

Are you in Mobile or the surrounding area and want more information on how orthodontics can help you achieve better oral and total body health? At Bennett Orthodontics, we provide personalized treatment plans to work with your smile and your lifestyle. Dr. Bennett uses leading-edge techniques and state-of-the-art technology to achieve optimal results, and our entire team is dedicated to giving every patient we see an amazing orthodontic experience from beginning to end. We create smiles that are not only attractive but healthy and functional as well. Get in touch with our office today to talk to a member of our team about all the ways Bennett Orthodontics can change your smile for the better!

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