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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!

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.

 
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