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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!

Two-Phase Orthodontic Treatment

December 28th, 2017

After your child’s orthodontic evaluation, your orthodontist may talk about something called “two-phase treatment.” If you’ve never heard this term before, you’re not alone! Many people aren’t aware of what two-phase treatment is, and as a result, find it a little intimidating.

That said, we want to assure it is nowhere near as daunting as it sounds, and it’s actually pretty straightforward. Two-phase treatment is an orthodontic procedure that completed in two separate phases. The first phase centers around straightening the teeth, and the second stage is dedicated to physical facial changes. Since we handle everything in two phases, it allows us at Bennett Orthodontics to bring not only a healthy, beautiful smile to our patients but also a long-lasting one!

Phase I begins with a process called interceptive orthodontic treatment. In this stage, we deal with those orthodontic issues that are still in their early stages to prevent them from becoming more severe issues in the future. Usually, patients are eight or nine years of age when we start interceptive treatment because their permanent teeth are still coming in during this age. This sort of treatment is needed when serious orthodontic problems can become worse over time; when treatment is delayed, it often results in crooked or misaligned teeth and jaws.

As soon as all permanent teeth have arrived, we begin Phase II. Because it is used to perfect tooth alignment, it can’t be done if baby teeth are still present.

We want to set your mind at ease about a common concern regarding two-phase treatment: two-phase treatment is not a clever way to apply two sets of braces. It also does take twice as long or incur twice the expense. We also try to avoid two-phase treatment whenever possible; however, some patients genuinely need it for long-lasting results.

Are you still a little unsure of what two-phase treatment entails and want a bit more information? Let’s go into greater detail to address any questions or concerns you may have about two-phase treatment.

Phase I

When an intervention is needed prior to regular orthodontic treatment, we begin Phase I. This phase includes the use of orthodontic devices, partial braces or retainer-like devices. These devices are used for three reasons: to correct the current problem, prevent future potential problems, and adjust the child's growth and dental development.

Smiling boy with bracesSince Phase I treatment takes places between the ages of six and ten, patients generally still have some of their baby teeth while they are getting their permanent at the same time. Due to this, Phase I treatment is only recommended when there’s a dental development issue or a dental or jaw development problem which would considerably worsen if left untreated.

Thankfully, the majority of children do not require orthodontic treatment in this early part of their lives. To be sure about your child’s dental development, the American Association of Orthodontics and our own Dr. Bennett highly recommend children receive their first orthodontic evaluation by age seven. The most certain way to be sure your child's growth and dental development are progressing as planned is to have that early consultation with our experienced, friendly orthodontist.

So, what kind of dental issues require Phase I treatment? The most common reasons are jaw development, gum or periodontal health, tooth alignment, and crowding and spacing issues. It’s also widely recommended for the following dental issues:

  • underbites
  • open bites (situations in which the front teeth do not contact or overlap)
  • severe crowding or spacing of the teeth
  • dental crossbites
  • skeletal crossbites
  • disproportionately overlapping or deep bites
  • jaw growth or jaws that are not in proportion to each other
  • severely protruding teeth
  • the instance of unhealthy oral habits, such as extended thumb-sucking, bottle, or pacifier use

For some special cases, an additional treatment phase will be necessary after Phase I. While Phase I is a little longer because it is doing early intervention, Phase II is usually much shorter. Of course, anytime you treat a dental difficulty proactively, you make the issue more manageable and make them less time consuming later.

A period of rest

After Phase I, teeth are not yet in their final positions; Phase II is where they are aligned to their permanent positions. Therefore, we take a period of rest in between the two phases to let the remaining adult teeth erupt.

Phase II teen girl in braces relaxing

Once Phase I and the resting period are done, patients begin Phase II. This phase will seem a bit more familiar to most people as it pertains to installing braces on the upper and lower teeth. Since not all tooth and bite-related problems can be attended to in Phase I, your orthodontist will properly align the jaw and straighten the teeth with braces in Phase II.

During this phase, we pay extra close attention to be sure that each tooth has a dedicated, optimum place in the mouth so it can live peacefully among the lips, tongue, cheeks, and of course, other teeth. By using orthodontics, we can create this environment and teeth finally work together as they are meant to do.

After treatment

Treatment isn’t over yet! Once you’ve finished your two-phase treatment, your orthodontist will recommend retainers to maintain your results. Consistently wearing your retainers as directed will hold teeth in their new, straight positions, so your smile is healthy and beautiful for years to come.

Undergoing two-phase treatment with Bennett Orthodontics

Though it’s not required for every child, for those that need it, two-phase treatment can prevent the need for more aggressive orthodontic treatment later in life. Proactive, preliminary treatment is the surest way to achieve long-lasting results.

If your child is reaching the age of seven and has not yet had his or her first orthodontic evaluation, or if you are looking for an orthodontist in the Mobile area, come visit us at our convenient office location today! We’ll get you started with a free consultation to see if your child needs two phase treatment. Our team is eager to meet you and help you get on the road to a healthy, beautiful smile.

Wisdom Teeth and Braces

November 22nd, 2017

If you’ve recently learned that your smile could benefit from an orthodontic treatment like braces, you’re likely to have a list of common concerns as long as your arm. Will they hurt? How long will you need to wear them? Are there going to be foods you have to avoid? Will you still be able to play sports or participate in band? Is it possible your wisdom teeth could affect that straight smile you’ve worked and waited for so patiently?

Wait, wait, hold on. Wisdom teeth?

Absolutely! Wisdom teeth may not be the first thing you think of when you’re contemplating braces, but this is a question we deal with fairly often here at Bennett Orthodontics. When patients get close to successfully completing their orthodontic treatment, and then notice their wisdom teeth coming in, it can really kick their anxiety into overdrive.

What if the wisdom teeth move the ones they’ve just straightened out?! Will this ruin the results they’ve worked so hard for? Can these additional teeth really exert enough pressure that other teeth are moved as a result? Because both parents and patients alike often inquire about this subject, today we’re going to take a look at if and how wisdom teeth can impact braces treatment.  

Can wisdom teeth impact your professionally straightened smile?

The timing of wisdom teeth is what lies behind much of this worry. Because they typically make an appearance in the later teen years into early adulthood, some patients will see a slight shifting of the teeth, also known as a relapse, around this time as well. But are wisdom teeth the culprit?

The general consensus is no. For example, the University of Iowa conducted research on this subject, and found that the wisdom teeth don’t actually exert enough pressure on the teeth in front of them to cause them to shift. Their study involved placing sensors between the teeth that were able to compare the pressure on them with and without wisdom teeth. There was no difference between the two.

That our teeth tend to shift a bit when we’re around 17-21 years of age is undeniable, though. If wisdom teeth aren’t a key factor in that, then what is?

Laughing teenage girl with bracesThe biggest reason is actually quite simple: we get older.

As we age, our teeth will begin to show some signs of general wear and tear. Our teeth may begin to overlap more as a natural drifting occurs, moving them slightly forward. As these teeth begin to overlap, the upper teeth can press the lower teeth in towards the tongue. There’s also some residual jaw growth that can happen around this time, forcing the teeth into positions that could be slightly undesirable.

If you’re new to braces, you’re about to hear over and over how important it is to wear your retainer faithfully after your braces come off. This is the biggest reason why! Wearing your retainer as directed by your orthodontist is the single best defense in helping your teeth stay as straight as possible after treatment.

The basics of wisdom teeth

You may not need to worry about wisdom teeth wrecking your smile, but it’s still important for you to understand how they can impact your overall oral health.

When wisdom teeth begin erupting, there are quite a few potential problems that can accompany them.

  • If wisdom teeth only partially emerge, a flap of skin can form there, partially covering the wisdom teeth and trapping food and eventually bacteria. This can cause tooth decay or gum infections.
  • If for any reason, you don’t have enough room in your mouth for your wisdom teeth to fully erupt, they can become impacted, getting stuck in your jaws and gums and unable to break through the surface.  
  • If your wisdom teeth do become impacted, sometimes painful cysts can form, some of which can cause infection and decay to surrounding tooth roots.
  • If the back of your mouth is particularly crowded, wisdom teeth might come in at an awkward angle and rub painfully against your cheek.

By far, the most common problem with wisdom teeth is that many patients just don’t have enough room for them when they begin to erupt. And even if you do have room for your wisdom teeth to come in, they can be so far back in the mouth that it’s hard to properly brush and floss them. This is actually one of the leading causes of oral decay and gum disease in the back of the mouth!

smiling Hipster girl in glasses and braces making a selfshoot on wooden backgroundAs mentioned, wearing your retainer consistently after completing orthodontic treatment, as well as scheduling an appointment at the first sign of wisdom teeth, is the best way to avoid any of these potential problems. Keeping up with regular visits to your dentist or orthodontist is an excellent preventative measure, as well, especially if they include periodic x-rays to check the positioning of the wisdom teeth. This can help determine whether they’ll be likely to create problems later on.

Summing it all up

  • Problems like overcrowding can usually be diagnosed early on, long before the wisdom teeth erupt. This is one reason we recommend seeing an orthodontist for an evaluation by the age of 7.
  • Wisdom teeth can be removed while wearing braces. If they start to come in during the course of your orthodontic treatment, you’ll be able to continue easily and without interruption.
  • That said, not everyone will need to have their wisdom teeth extracted. If there are no apparent problems with yours, there won’t be any reason to remove them. No need to fix what isn’t broken!
  • Once your treatment is complete and your braces come off, wear your retainer every night. We can’t emphasize this enough! Wearing your retainer will keep your teeth straight, but only if you wear it on a daily basis and as instructed by your orthodontist.

Changing lives by changing smiles

At Bennett Orthodontics, transformation is a key concept for our team. It’s no secret that a great smile is consistently linked to both professional and personal success. Straight teeth in the correct position, coupled with excellent oral care, is not only an aesthetically pleasing sight, but a confidence booster as well. Every day, we’re fortunate enough to witness our patients transform from self-conscious to self-confident thanks to a healthier, straighter smile!

Are you in the Mobile area and looking for more information on how your wisdom teeth can impact your orthodontic treatment or overall oral health? If so, get in touch with us today to schedule an initial consultation! We’re happy to sit down with you and discuss any questions or concerns you have. We would love to make you and your smile feel right at home!

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!

 
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