What to Expect at Your Initial Orthodontic Consultation

Prepare for Your Orthodontic Consultation

Is it time for you or your kid to visit the orthodontist? Did you already take the first step and schedule your initial consultation? If so, this post is for you! 

 Making an appointment for the initial consultation is the first step in orthodontic care. The next step is coming to the appointment. Whether it is a visit for you, or for your child, that first appointment may feel a bit daunting. 

 Getting braces should be an exciting time though! At any age! It’s the first step towards a lifetime of confident smiles. Therefore, we want to make sure that excitement is the prevailing feeling when it comes to getting orthodontic treatment.  

To help you get excited, here is a guide on what to expect during your consultation. The consultation experience is the same for all patients. 

If you are coming in to learn more about adult braces or Invisalign for yourself, we hope this guide will help you feel prepared and excited about your appointment. If you and your child are coming in to learn more about kids and braces, we encourage you to share this information with your child to help them feel prepared as well. 

Why is a Consultation Important? 

You may have already made your appointment for a consultation, but you also may still have some questions about why a consultation is important. Moreover, if it is the right time for a consultation. 

A common question parents have is, when is the right time to start orthodontic treatment? The answer to this will vary from patient to patient. However, as a general guideline, we encourage parents to bring kids in around age 7 for their first consultation

This doesn’t mean that every kid will need treatment at age seven. Some kids will not need braces until a later date. Moreover, some kids won’t need orthodontic treatment at all. However, all kids can benefit from a consultation. 

 

As an adult, you may have missed your chance at orthodontic care when you were younger. The great thing is that orthodontic treatments are not just for kids! Adults may need treatment as well. A complimentary consultation is a perfect way for you to learn how to get the smile you dreamed about since you were a kid. 

More importantly, a consultation is a time for you or your child to find out if there are any concerns beyond misaligned teeth. Some patients may need treatment for an overbite, underbite, or to adjust the width of the jaws. Not all of these concerns can easily be seen. However, they can be detected by a dental specialist, an orthodontist, during an exam. 

Therefore, a consultation at any age helps address these concerns. With young patients, this early detection can help parents plan for potential orthodontic needs in the future.  

Who Should You Bring to the Appointment?

Even though there are different reasons for orthodontic care, braces are the number one treatment modality. It is most likely the reason you have decided to visit the orthodontist. 

Getting braces is a change, not only for the patient but for their family as well. Especially when the patient is younger. Therefore, here at Reagin Orthodontics, we encourage you to bring the entire family to the initial consultation, so everyone knows what to expect. 

Family support isn’t just for the youngins either! We encourage all patients to bring in their family or support team to the consultation. This allows you to share this exciting new journey with the people you love. 

What if my Spouse or Partner Can’t Make it?

Even if you are not able to get the whole family into the office, we encourage you to have other decision-makers join virtually. You are welcome to Facetime your spouse or partner or put them on speaker phone during the consultation. 

This allows them to hear everything firsthand. It also provides them with the same opportunity to ask questions. Involving everyone in the initial conversation gives all parties involved access to the same information right away. This gets everyone on the same page from the beginning. 

Why is it Important to Bring the Whole Family?

Bringing the whole family gives everyone a feel for what orthodontic care entails. This helps parents and siblings support the child who is getting braces. Furthermore, it establishes familiarity with orthodontic treatment for younger siblings who may need braces later. 

In addition, this is a great time for everyone in the family to understand the time commitment for braces. On average, treatment will take about 18 months. During this time, the patient will need to visit the orthodontist’s office about every 8 weeks for adjustments. 

While this time frame can vary depending on if a patient gets traditional braces or clear aligners, it is a time commitment, so you should feel comfortable with the office team you choose.  

This time commitment impacts the whole family. Therefore, it can help everyone to learn about what is involved. Even better, to hear it directly from the orthodontist during the consultation. This provides the whole family with the same information, making it easier to support the patient and each other throughout treatment. 

Who Will You Meet with During Your Visit?

The experienced team at Reagin Orthodontics is excited to meet your family and introduce you to ours! Our team is like a family. We work together to help every patient have the best treatment experience – this begins the moment you make the first phone call to our director of first impressions and continues when you walk in the door. 

When you arrive, our front desk staff will welcome you. Then they will introduce you to our treatment coordinator. Whether you come to our Summerville office or Cane Bay office, the first thing our treatment coordinator will do is take you & your family on a tour of that office. 

As a patient, you (and possibly your child) will spend a lot of time with us and in our office over the course of treatment. Therefore, we want you to be familiar with your orthodontic home.

 X-Rays and Oral Exam

After the tour, the treatment coordinator will take you to get x-rays and photos. The x-rays and photos are referred to as your initial records. These initial records are the orthodontist’s first view of your teeth, so smile big for the camera! 

Once the records are taken, it’s time to meet your orthodontist, Dr. Reagin! Dr. Reagin will perform an oral exam to identify any orthodontic concerns. To determine the best line of treatment for you or your child, Dr. Reagin will look closely at the records that were taken to evaluate the teeth and jaws.

After he has completed the exam, he and the treatment coordinator will discuss the suggested treatment plan with you. 

Review the Suggested Treatment Plan

If Dr. Reagin determines that orthodontic treatment is needed, he will talk to you and your family about what treatment schedule he recommends. This includes discussing different types of treatments, such as braces and clear aligners

In addition, Dr. Reagin will discuss the different appliances used to support the braces or clear aligners. This may include explaining the purpose of elastics (rubber bands), Herbst appliance, separators, expander, positioner, retainers, separators, and the twin block appliance.

Moreover, during this time Dr. Reagin and our treatment coordinator will answer any questions you may have about the recommended treatment. 

Discuss Payment Options

One of the main questions patients (and parents) have is, “how much will treatment cost?” 

The cost of treatment varies from patient to patient. It depends on how complex the orthodontic treatment will be and how long treatment will take to achieve the desired result. This is another reason the consultation is so important – it allows us to give you an estimated length of treatment and specific cost for treatment based on the exam.

While orthodontic care is healthcare, it is also an investment. We recognize and know that it is a large investment for most families. Therefore, we have flexible payment options to allow you or your child to enjoy a beautiful smile. 

Questions to Ask

Before investing in orthodontic care, we want each patient to have all the information they need to make the best decision for themselves and their family. The first step in that is providing you with what to expect when you visit our office for an initial consultation. 

Knowing your orthodontist goes beyond that though. It is important that you and your family feel like the orthodontist you choose (and their office team) is a good fit for you. Therefore, we encourage you to do your own research and ask questions. 

Here is a list of questions that are helpful in finding the right fit for you. Dr. Reagin and our treatment coordinator are happy to answer any of these questions, along with any others you may have. Feel free to ask away! 

If you choose to get a second consultation from another orthodontist, we encourage you to ask them the same questions. Remember, orthodontic care is a process that takes some time.  You want to make sure that whoever you choose as your orthodontist is comfortable with answering your questions, and that you are comfortable asking them. 

Questions to Ask During the Initial Consultation

  • When you meet an orthodontist for an initial consultation, we strongly recommend consideration of the following:
  • What is the practice’s philosophy? Make sure it lines up with what you are looking for.
  • What is the orthodontist’s level of experience and how long have they been practicing? What is the team’s experience?  
    •  How long has the longest employee been with the doctor?  
  • Does the practice have multiple doctors, and will you see the same doctor at each appointment?
  • Ask to see before-and-after photos of previous patients. Are the results to your liking?
  • How varied and advanced are the treatments offered? Are they up to date on revolutionary new technologies such as temporary mini-screws, translucent aligner scanning (such as Invisalign and Invisalign Teen), and self-ligating brackets?
  • Is the orthodontist familiar with the different cutting-edge accelerated treatment options such as AcceleDent, Propel, and Wilckodontics?
  • What is the orthodontist’s diagnosis and plan of action for your teeth and how clearly has it been explained to you? 
  • How practical is the treatment plan in light of your personal, business, and social needs? Did the orthodontist provide information about alternatives?
  • What is the office ambiance like? Specifically, are you (or your child) comfortable with the orthodontist’s chair-side manner?
  • Is the staff friendly, welcoming, and quick to address your concerns? Since orthodontic treatment takes an average of one and a half to two years, with appointments typically every six to eight weeks, it is important to establish a rapport with all of those who will be providing services.
  • Emergencies are unlikely, but just in case, what is the office protocol?
  • What are the financing options? Are there multifamily discounts? Paid in full discounts?
  • Does the fee for treatment include retainers? Make sure to ask.
  • Does the practice focus on educating you (and/or your child) on the care of their braces and/or appliances?

At Reagin Orthodontics we believe that finding an orthodontist you trust is like forming any important relationship in your life. So, while we hope you choose to be a part of our family, we encourage you to do some research, get to know us, ask your friends, and choose the practice that is best for you! 

Invisalign for Kids

Can Kids Get Invisalign?

When it comes to orthodontic treatment for kids, the standard is traditional metal braces. While metal braces have been the industry’s go to for decades, in the last twenty years a newer form of orthodontic treatment has grown in popularity. Clear braces or clear aligners.

Invisalign was the first of the clear aligners to come onto the scene in the early 2000s. Even though there was some uncertainty around them in the beginning, they have proven to be just as effective as other types of braces in most situations.

Originally, clear aligners were targeted towards adults. This made sense since many adults don’t want to wear metal braces. While adults were the primary patients early on, the appeal of having invisible braces has trickled town. Today, many teens and kids want to know if they can also use clear aligners.

The simple answer is yes. Kids and teens can wear clear aligners like Invisalign. In fact, Invisalign has a special Invisalign Teen program. However, every child is different.

Therefore, just because teens and kids can get clear aligners doesn’t mean it is the best treatment for your child. Especially if they are under the age of 13 years old.

The Difference Between Invisalign for Kids and Teens

Before discussing the advantages and disadvantages of clear braces for kids and teens, let’s clarify who we are referring to. A patient who is considered a kid is anyone younger than 13 years old. A teen patient is anyone between the ages of 13 and 18 years old.

While this may seem like a small detail to clarify, the difference in age is the main factor to consider when discussing if invisalign is the right treatment for your child. As mentioned above, there is a specific Invisalign Teen treatment protocol. This is almost identical to the regular treatment for adults, with a couple small differences.

The teen program includes a small blue dot on each plastic aligner tray. This helps parents see if their child has been wearing the trays enough. In addition, the treatment plan includes a few free replacement aligners (in case any are lost).

These two additions to the teen treatment plan address the two main concerns when having young patients use clear aligners. Tracking the frequency in which the aligners are worn, and the possibility of losing the aligners.

These are the same concerns around having kids use the Invisalign treatment. Currently, there is not a different treatment plan for kids that are younger than 13 years old. Therefore, kids would use the teen treatment protocols to help address these concerns.

However, even with the added benefits of the tracking dot and replacement trays, Invisalign may not be the best choice for your kid. Moreover, while clear aligners are the newest form of orthodontic care, there is still a place for tried-and-true treatments. Especially for kids.

Before choosing the Invisalign treatment for your kid, here are some things to consider.

The Benefits of Traditional Braces for Kids

Here at Reagin orthodontics we love clear aligners! In fact, it is one of our specialties.

We especially love that Invisalign encourages more adults to get treatment. As much as we love Invisalign for adults though, we also still love more traditional methods for straightening teeth.

Metal braces were the tried-and-true method to straighten crooked teeth for decades. Even with the new options available today, traditional metal braces continue to be an excellent treatment. They are especially great for kids.

The main benefit of choosing traditional braces over clear braces for kids is that they can’t be removed.

Metal braces are made up of small metal brackets, wire, and o-ties. A single metal bracket is adhered to each individual tooth. Then, the wire and o-ties are added to the brackets to create tension. This tension helps to move the teeth.

Once the braces are adhered to the teeth, they are on there for the entire treatment. When considering braces for young kids this is a key factor to consider.

With the braces being adhered to the teeth the orthodontist is the only one who can move or change the position of the braces. This keeps the treatment plan on track. Moreover, it takes away any extra responsibility for the parents or kids.

The Benefits of Invisalign Braces

If you are considering Invisalign braces for your kid, then you are probably already familiar with biggest benefit – their look. In fact, your kid may have asked for these specifically because of their invisible look.

While the lack of visible braces is one of the main benefits of Invisalign clear aligners, there are many other benefits.

More comfortable: Even though there can be some discomfort as teeth are adjusting, most patients find clear aligners to be a bit more comfortable than traditional braces.

Better oral hygiene: With metal braces it is difficult for kids to clean their teeth effectively. Since clear aligner trays can be removed, it is easier to brush and floss. Therefore, kids can keep their teeth just as healthy as prior to their treatment.

No off-limit foods or drinks: Some foods are difficult to eat with metal braces because things get stuck in the wire and brackets. However, since you can remove aligners to eat and drink, kids can enjoy their favorite treats without any concern. While the aligners are being worn (20 hours a day) it is important to only drink water so you are not bathing your teeth in sugary or acidic liquids.

Fewer visits to the orthodontist: With clear aligner treatment, less time is needed at the orthodontist’s office. In addition, the visits are quicker. Office visits can even be done virtually (in some cases).

Shorter Treatment (if treatment is followed): IF the protocol is properly followed by the patient, the overall treatment plan could be shorter than with traditional braces. However, one of the concerns with choosing Invisalign for kids is that it is more difficult to manage how long the kid is wearing their trays. If a kid does not wear the trays as prescribed, then treatment could end up taking longer.   You know your child best.

Despite all of the benefits of Invisalign treatment, the ability to remove the trays may be the single reason this is not the ideal treatment for your child.

Disadvantages of Invisalign for Kids

Invisalign aligners are removable. It is one of the things we love about them! Depending on the patient though, this advantage can become a disadvantage.

For Invisalign to properly work, each clear plastic aligner needs to be worn for a minimum of 20 hours per day. Remembering to wear the trays this much can be hard, even for adults. Even with a routine, they may forget to put them back in after eating or before bed.

Most adults eventually find a routine that helps them meet this goal each day though. In addition, many teens have enough awareness to meet this goal as well.

The younger the patients get though, the more difficult it can be to guarantee the 20 hours is being met.

Since it is recommended to remove the trays for eating, a young patient will do this every time they eat. If they are at home, it is easy to remind them to put the trays back in after a meal. Parents don’t have this control when kids are away from home though.

From school to sports and friends’ houses in between, there are plenty of places kids might remove their aligners. There is no way to track how long the aligners are being worn. Moreover, it is easy for kids on the go to potentially lose a tray.

Kids and Parents are Responsible for the Results

If a kid loses a tray or regularly forgets to wear their aligners, it is likely to extend the treatment. This is the main reason that choosing Invisalign treatment for your kid may not be the most effective treatment.

With traditional braces, young kids cannot remove their braces. The braces are set for the entire treatment. The only one who can make a change to them is the orthodontist.

With the Invisalign treatment though, once the patient leaves, the orthodontist cannot control if the braces are being used. The responsibility to maintain the treatment protocol becomes the responsibility of the parents and the kid.

Therefore, when considering if clear aligners are the best choice for your kid, consider how much time you want to invest in the daily treatment. In some families, this treatment will work well. In others, a more traditional approach to braces may work better.

If you would like some help deciding on which treatment is best for your kid, contact us for a complimentary consultation. 

 

Smile Story: Gregory L.

At Reagin Orthodontics, we know that getting braces is about more than fixing your teeth; it’s about how you feel afterwards. We celebrate with patients every time our treatment/smile plan helps them live the life they want! We want to share some of the amazing stories from our customers with our Smile Story series, starting with Greg L.

Greg says that he came to Reagin originally to look for braces for his daughter. When she was nearing the end of her treatment, Greg said “I wish I had gotten my teeth fixed” at her age. Dr. Reagin pointed out that it wasn’t too late! Many patients at Reagin are over 40 years old, just like Greg.

Greg decided he wanted to start his orthodontic treatment because Dr. Reagin made it ” too easy to pass up.”  Greg was able to take advantage of our payment plans and 0% rate to finance his treatment over time. “It was an investment, but they made it so easy.”

We made a plan to help Greg with aligners to coordinate problems with his alignment, arch coordination/symmetry and crossbites. Because Greg was motivated to complete his treatment, even with his frequent travel, we are able to celebrate Greg’s successful treatment. 

Gregory L Before Photo
Before
Gregory L After Photo
After

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where did Greg start?

When we first met Greg, we noticed that Greg had a severe reverse crossbite of the posterior teeth on his right side. Reverse crossbites in the back teeth usually result from a constricted lower jaw or unusually wide upper jaw. This problem could lead to:

  • An incorrect position for the lower jaw
  • Accompanying facial asymmetry
  • Uneven wear of teeth
  • Difficulty chewing food
  • Poor Esthetics

He also had a traditional crossbite of his upper right lateral incisor, where the upper teeth are inside the lower teeth,  and some mild crowding of both upper and lower teeth. There were some challenges with the shape of his mouth. Greg had asymmetric upper and lower arches. The two dental arches (upper and lower) are important because they house the teeth, including the gums and alveolar bone.

Greg had a narrow lower arch and a narrow mid buccal segment (canine, premolar and molar teeth) of the right maxilla (one of the bones that forms your upper jaw). Upon smiling, it appeared that he was missing some teeth especially in his upper right quadrant.

What Was Greg’s Treatment Plan?

Our treatment plan was to coordinate the arches, relieve the crossbite in the front and align the teeth. Our treatment modality was clear aligners.  Due to the severity of Greg’s reverse crossbite, we were not sure whether we could correct it without surgery. But with a good diagnosis, plan, and most importantly a compliant patient,  we were able to make the needed adjustments and deliver a great smile result for Greg without surgical intervention.    

What were some of the unique aspects of this case? 

One challenge of Greg’s treatment was that he traveled  frequently and would spend months overseas. We would often do virtual visits with Greg while he was overseas to help him keep up with our planned treatment. Greg says, “We were able to check in once a quarter with Facetime to make sure everything was fitting, just like normal” while he was thousands of miles away.

Dr. Reagin is proud that we were able to use the technology available to us to still serve as Greg’s remote orthodontist. We are excited to be the local orthodontist with a physical location for patients, no matter where they live!

What made for a successful treatment?

We had an amazing patient! Greg was very compliant and internally motivated to complete the treatment. Along with a great diagnosis and treatment plan, this made for a great result. Greg attributes the success of his treatment to following the program that Reagin set out for him. 

To his team at Reagin Orthodontics, Greg says, “Thank you for your patience! They went above and beyond for me. They did a lot of things for me that they didn’t have to while I was 8,000 miles away. They really care about their patients. They call you by your first name and they ask about your family.” 

When Greg looks back at pictures, he says that he notices a huge difference! He wishes he had made this change 20 years ago, but he’s glad that he can now go through life with properly aligned teeth thanks to his successful treatment at Reagin Orthodontics. 

 

What Candy Can I Eat With Braces This Halloween?

Halloween is a holiday all about enjoying sweet treats! But if you have braces or are getting them soon, you probably know that there are some sweets that you should avoid while wearing braces. Some common candies we like to enjoy on Halloween might damage braces and set orthodontic treatment back. So before you sink your teeth into sour, sticky, or crunchy candy this Halloween, take a look at this list of candy that you shouldn’t be tricked into eating and treats that are ok to enjoy with braces.

Why Avoid Certain Candies?

First, let’s talk about why we recommend staying away from certain candies. Any candy your orthodontist recommends staying away from is to help you complete your treatment plan on time, and avoid inconvenient emergency visits to your orthodontist’s office. Crunchy, sticky, and sour candies can all cause different problems for your teeth during your scheduled treatment.

Crunchy candies like jolly ranchers can shear the bracket off of your tooth. Sticky candies, like caramels, can get stuck in the brackets and cause them to loosen/break via pulling forces. A broken bracket can set your treatment back past its expected completion. On average, one broken bracket equals one extra month in braces. Brackets hold the wires into place and help guide your teeth. Without them, your teeth will not be able to reach their correct alignment.

Sour candies are usually very acidic. The acid from Skittles, Starbursts, Gummi Worms, etc. create an environment in your mouth where cavity causing bacteria thrive! This acid environment can cause the enamel on your teeth to decalcify and wear down. Enamel is the outer layer of tooth structure that protects our teeth from damage, and allow our teeth to be esthetically pleasing. Compromised enamel will not look good and can lead to a greater risk for cavities which will require fillings/repair from your dentist.

Don’t Get Tricked Into Eating These Candies:

To get the best results from your braces treatment plan, your friends at Reagin Orthodontics recommend staying away from these candies:

  • Chewy Candy
    • Gummi Worms
    • Sweet Tart Ropes
    • Starbursts
  • Jellybeans
    • Red Vines
    • Licorice
    • Twizzlers
  • Suckers/ Lollipops
    • Ring Pops
    • Tootsie Pops
    • Dum Dums
  • Sour Candy
    • Sour Skittles
    • Trolli Sour Worms
  • Nuts
    • Almond Joy
    • Crunch
    • Peanut M&M’s
  • Hard Candies
    • Lifesavers
    • Jolly Ranchers
    • Werthers Original
    • Lemonheads
    • WarHeads
  • Caramels
  • Laffy Taffy
  • Tootsie Rolls
  • Skittles
  • Peanut M&Ms

Why Are Certain Candies OK To Eat?

Candy is not always a bad thing when you have braces. Soft or low sugar candies offer safe, delicious options for people with braces because they will not cause damage to braces or tooth enamel.

Soft candy like Hershey’s Kisses and Peppermint Patties don’t have any pieces that could fracture off and break brackets or wires. Keeping your brackets in place helps us line your teeth up faster, so soft candy is the way to go to make sure that your treatment goes according to plan.

Candies that are low in sugar will be less likely to cause tooth decay or damage enamel. Eating candy that is low sugar and by brushing regularly will help prevent cavities.

Treat Yourself To These Candies Instead:

These candies are great choices to enjoy this Halloween without risking any damage to your braces or any delays in treatment.

  • ChocolateHershey’s Kisses
    • Dove Chocolate
    • Snow Caps
  • Soft Candy Bars
    • KitKats
    • 3 Musketeers
  • Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
  • Mint Candies
    • Peppermint Patties
    • York Peppermint Patties
  • Soft Sugar Free Gum

When in doubt, ask yourself if eating this candy might get something stuck in your braces or loosen a bracket. If the answer is yes, wait to eat that candy until you’re done with your treatment.

We also recommend that you brush and floss between teeth after eating candy. When you brush, make sure you pay special attention to your gums and the area around your brackets. It can also help to swish water or mouthwash around your mouth to help remove any remaining bits of candy. Water piks are also very helpful with removing plaque and food when you have braces.

Other Desserts You Can Enjoy

If you’d like to enjoy some other desserts for Halloween, you can enjoy most other baked goods and ice creams as long as there are no hard, sticky, or sour parts. Try celebrating this year with:

  • Jell-O
  • Ice Cream
  • Smoothies
  • Soft Cookies
  • Cake
  • Cupcakes
  • Sliced Apples (You won’t be able to bite into any candied or caramel apples, but you can dip small pieces of apples into peanut butter).

If you have any questions about the candies or other foods that you can enjoy with your braces, ask your orthodontist! Our friendly team at Reagin is always happy to help answer any of your questions. You can give our friendly team a call at (843) 871-4411 or email us at scheduling@drorthodontics.com with any questions. We hope you have a very happy and healthy Halloween!

 

5 New Year’s Goals for a Healthier Smile

Did you know that almost 75% of Americans make resolutions—changes they want to make in their lives in the coming year? And 50% of those resolutions are related to health. Unfortunately, most people forget one important aspect of their health: dental care. Listed below are five easy-to-adopt habits that could improve not only your overall dental health, but could also result in a healthier smile.

     1. Follow the 2×2 rule for brushing. This is an easy habit to develop: brush twice a day for two minutes. Brushing your teeth helps remove food and plaque—a bacteria-containing film that forms on your teeth. That plaque produces acids that erode tooth enamel, causing cavities. Unfortunately, 30% of Americans don’t brush frequently enough.

Not only do you need to brush often, but you need to brush for at least two minutes. One study showed that brushing for one minute only removes about 27% of plaque on your teeth.  So that extra minute makes a difference.

     2. Floss at least once a day. If you develop this simple habit, you’ll be doing better than 85% of the population. Your toothbrush can’t reach into tiny areas, like the gum line between your teeth. Flossing removes debris like food and plaque, which helps prevent gum disease. It can help eliminate bad breath as well.

     3. Evaluate your bite.Crowded or crooked teeth don’t just affect your smile. They can cause multiple problems, including your ability to brush and floss thoroughly. This can lead to more severe issues, such as:

  • Periodontal disease
  • Improper chewing
  • Digestive problems
  • Speech difficulties
  • Excess wear on the teeth, gums, and jaw
  • Chronic headaches

     4. Cut back on smoking and other tobacco products. You know that tobacco can cause throat, lung, and oral cancer, but those aren’t the only complications. Using tobacco can also cause tooth discoloration, gum recession, periodontitis (gum disease), cavities, and even tooth loss.

     5. Drink more water. Lots of studies have shown the importance of proper hydration for your body to function as it was designed. But drinking water also helps keep your teeth healthy and strong. That’s because any acids in your mouth, even natural ones, can weaken your teeth and cause dental erosion. By drinking water often, you neutralize those acids and hydrate the tissue in your mouth at the same time. Not only that, but when you drink water at meals, you rinse away food particles that could get stuck in tiny crevices.

Here’s one more suggestion: It’s the new year, so it’s a great time to get a new toothbrush! If you’ve had your toothbrush for three months or more, it’s time for a new one, especially if the bristles are frayed.

A quick trip to our office can be the starting point for not only improving your smile but also your overall health. Children as young as seven need an orthodontic check-up. Just call or email us and we can schedule a personalized orthodontic evaluation.  We have two offices in the Summerville area for your convenience.

If you want more tips for a better smile and better dental health, please refer to our website.

What Are Palatal Expanders?

At Reagin Orthodontics, we want you and your family to experience the best in dental care. On occasion, we may suggest that your child wear a palatal expander to help teeth grow into place correctly. Naturally, you have questions about expanders. Below you’ll find the information you’re looking for.

What is a Palatal Expander? 

A palatal expander is a small device inserted into the roof of the mouth (palate) to create more space in the upper jaw when it is smaller than the lower jaw.

An expander works because the palate (roof of the mouth) has two halves that do not fuse (grow together as one) until adulthood. These two halves can be gradually pushed apart, making the jaw wider to allow more space for teeth to grow in properly. Once the jaw is wide enough, the palatal expander holds the bones in their new position while the new bone is formed.

When Is a Palatal Expander Used?

A palatal expander is often used to correct a crossbite. This occurs when the top teeth and bottom teeth do not come together (or bite) in the right position. This can happen in either the front teeth or back teeth. Crossbites are common in both children and adults Because crossbites can lead to other problems (such as damaged teeth), it is important to correct the problem as early as possible. That’s why palatal expanders are most commonly suggested for children,

Here are other common situations requiring intervention:

Overcrowding.Expanders create space for all of the upper teeth to come in and grow into their correct positions without having to extract any teeth.

Breathing. Because the palate and nasal cavity are both part of the maxilla/upper jaw, a narrow upper jaw makes it more difficult to breathe through the nose. This can contribute to mouth-breathing, which can cause bacteria growth, dry mouth, and halitosis. A widened upper jaw can help improve nasal breathing in some patients.

Blocked teeth. When a tooth can’t come in because another tooth is blocking it due to crowding, an expander can provide the necessary room. This happens most with canine teeth or eye teeth.

Better smile. Expanding the upper jaw can create a wider, more pleasant smile, giving children and teens more self-confidence.

Shortened treatment.In some cases, a palatal expander can shorten the amount of time a child will need to wear braces. Every situation is different, so your orthodontist cannot guarantee that braces won’t be necessary.

How Does a Palatal Expander Work?

Every palatal expander is custom-made for each person. It fits over a few top teeth in the back of the mouth and sits in the roof of the mouth. Once in place, it is cemented or bonded to a few upper teeth, which means the expander is not removable. The device has two sides connected in the middle by a tiny jack-screw that is turned once or twice a day using a special key (as directed by your orthodontist). This gentle pressure outward over time causes the two bones of the palate to move apart. Once the palate is the correct width, the expander will remain in place to allow the bone to form at the gap and secure the expansion, typically 3-6 months.

How Long Would I Wear a Palatal Expander?

On average, patients wear a palatal expander between 9 to 12 months, although it varies for each person depending on how much correction is needed. Separating the palate happens relatively quickly, but it takes several months for the new bone to form.

Will a Palatal Expander Prevent Braces? 

Having a palatal expander won’t necessarily alleviate the need for braces. Some people only need braces because of a crossbite or because of overcrowding, and an expander may help fix those problems. However, a child may still need braces to correct other problems that occur.

Does a Palatal Expander Hurt?

A child often feels discomfort or pressure, especially after turning the screw to widen the expander (a millimeter or two at a time). This pain usually goes away with a few minutes, and the discomfort can be controlled with an over-the-counter pain reliever.

In addition to pain or pressure, your child might experience the following:

  • Headache
  • Tongue discomfort
  • Temporary difficulty speaking
  • Temporary difficulty chewing and/or swallowing
  • A build-up of food debris between the roof of the mouth and expander
  • Increased saliva

In addition, a gap may form between your child’s front teeth, but this is intentional. The palate is widening to allow space for the permanent teeth to come in normally.

How Do I Take Care of My Palatal Expander?

Your child will need to brush their palatal expander several times a day, including mealtimes if possible. They will need to clear out any debris by squirting the expander with a syringe or water pik.

Because certain foods can loosen or damage, bend, or dislodge a palatal expander, your child will need to avoid hard or crunchy foods (like nuts), sticky foods, and candy. They also need to avoid chewing ice and objects like pencils. If the expander does become loose, you should push it back into place and call our office to make an emergency appointment as soon as possible.

Do Nighttime Aligners Work?

Do Nighttime Aligners Work?

If you’ve watched TV or been online lately, you might have seen an ad for an invisible aligner that you only have to wear at night. No muss, no fuss. Quick results. Sounds great, right? 

Not so fast.

When you read the details, you’ll find that nighttime aligners don’t work for the majority of people. Why not? Because nighttime aligners are meant only for VERY mild spacing or crowding that might take approximately 3-5 aligners total. Otherwise you need traditional braces or Invisalign. Let’s discover why.

Nighttime Aligners: Do They Work?

To understand why nighttime aligners are usually ineffective at tooth movement greater than .5 mm, it’s important to first know how teeth move.  Braces and/or aligners compress the periodontal ligament that surrounds a tooth root. This space is about .25mm per tooth. Next, the compressive action causes bone to resorb on one pressure side of the root and bone to deposit on the opposite side/tension of the tooth. Over time, the teeth gradually realign based on where the force is placed (it’s based on physics). Decades of research with the pressure/tension theory has determined that teeth move the best physiologically with light continuous pressure. 

Further, it takes about 20-22 hours per day of light pressure to resorb and deposit bone, thereby allowing teeth to move. If you only wear aligners at night, you are only compressing the ligament space and not actually changing the bone around the tooth roots. This will not allow any significant tooth movement. I would expect minor movement (.5 mm and less = .25 mm per tooth) with nighttime only wear. With braces or aligners worn 20-22 hours per day, we can straighten crooked teeth, close gaps between teeth, correct overbites and underbites, and much more. 

If braces and aligners only work if you have continual pressure, then how can companies claim that nighttime aligners work? Because they specify that nighttime trays only work with people who have very mild dental spacing or crowding. 

Wearing an invisible aligner only at nighttime to correct your teeth is like having a broken foot and wearing a cast only when you sleep.

You might wear a retainer at night to keep teeth in place after you’ve had your teeth corrected, but retainers aren’t intended to actually shift teeth into a different position. They’re used to make sure your teeth settle in place permanently.  

Nighttime Aligners Lack Peer Reviews

There’s another problem with nighttime aligners: No scientific studies have shown that they are effective. On the other hand, braces and Invisalign have been studied and reviewed by experts, and mounds of research show they work. At our offices, we trust these methods to correct dental problems because they’ve proven effective over time. Your dental care is too important to try any modes of correction that haven’t been evaluated and proven as a viable and safe option. 

Why Cheaper Aligners May Cost You More

Some discount aligners can even make your teeth worse and cost you more in the end. These companies often cut corners and downplay the importance of regular check-ins with an orthodontist. Without periodically checking the progress of your teeth, you don’t know if the trays are working like they are supposed to, and you can’t address any problems along the way. Then, you’ll have to pay to have any mistakes corrected, so those cheaper aligners aren’t such a great bargain. You should always have regular evaluations by your orthodontist when you are wearing braces or Invisalign. 

Nighttime Aligners: Don’t Fall for the Hype

You can’t take shortcuts with dental care and expect good results. There’s no substitute for ongoing, individualized care from an orthodontist who uses proven methods to correct problems with your teeth. 

If you would like a consultation to see if braces or Invisalign would improve your smile, please contact our offices today. We  will explain every step in your orthodontic care. We will explain the payment options and help you find options that will work the best and fastest for your unique situation. 

 

Bites That Can Lead to Chipped Teeth

Bites That Can Lead to Chipped Teeth

Imagine chewing on food when you hear a strange sound inside your mouth, like something breaking off. What just happened? You chipped a tooth. How did that happen?

The cause might be your bite.

Having an incorrect bite can affect how you speak, eat, swallow, and sleep. The good news is that you can fix both chipped teeth and a bad bite. We will explain how.

What is a Incorrect or “Bad” Bite?

Your orthodontist might use the term malocclusion, which literally means “bad bite” in Latin. It’s an overarching term for several different kinds of bad bites (the way the top teeth and bottom teeth come together). And those bad bites can cause chipped teeth, among other problems.

Here are common bad bites that lead to chipped teeth:

 1. Protrusive incisors. You’ve probably heard this called an “overbite in lay terms.” This occurs when the upper teeth extend too far forward (protrude) or in front of the lower teeth (see Photos 1-3). Technically this is called overjet…but we will use “overbite” for the article. An “overbite” can be caused by a number of different things: thumb sucking; nail biting; lip biting; misaligned jaws, or even heredity. Protrusive teeth in children can lead to teasing or bullying. It can also compromise a person’s ability to chew correctly. Having protrusive teeth can make them more prone to trauma/being chipped during a fall.

Photo 1
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Photo 3

 

 

 

 

2. Prognathism. This is also known as an “underbite.” It is the opposite of an “overbite”, when the lower teeth extend too far forward in front of the upper teeth. The teeth do not interdigitate properly and this can cause excessive wear and chipping of the enamel (See Photo 4.)

 

 

 

 

3. Retrusive incisors. This occurs when the teeth slant inward at an angle. Common causes are when the teeth erupt at an angle, crowded teeth, accidents, tooth extractions, or tooth disorders. As with other malocclusions, retrusive teeth can affect chewing. (See Photos 5-7.). Having retrusive incisors does not allow the proper range of motion for your lower jaw.   As your lower jaw closes, often the lower front teeth can traumatically collide with your upper teeth causing chips, breaks and fractures of the upper or lower front teeth.     

Photo 5
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Photo 7

 

 

 

 

4. Edge-to-edge bites. This occurs when the biting edges of the upper front teeth bite directly onto the lower front teeth. This can interfere with chewing, particularly with the incisors. (See Photo 8) and lead to chips in the front teeth.

How Do I Fix a Chipped Tooth?

The sooner you fix your chipped tooth, the better. If the chip extends to the interior nerves, you could experience pain when chewing or drinking cold or hot drinks. A chipped tooth, when severe, can allow bacteria to infect the pulp of the tooth, which would then necessitate a root canal.

Most of the time, a chipped tooth can be fixed in two ways: dental fillings and dental bonding. Both of these can be done fairly quickly by your dentist. However, if you do not address the bite that is leading to the chipped teeth, then you will just break them again.

How Do I Fix My Bad Bite?

An orthodontist can correct a malocclusion in a number of different ways. The treatment will be determined by the severity of the problem. Here are the steps to correcting a bad bite.

Step 1: Diagnosis. Before an orthodontist can create a treatment plan, they need to know the source of the problem. When you come into our office, we will take a series of photos and x-rays that will show the placement of the teeth and the position of the jaws in relationship to each other.

Step 2: Treatment Planning. We will suggest a treatment plan that is tailored to your unique situation. Some options will include:

    • Braces. This is the most common option for treating a bad bite in both children and adults. They consist of brackets and wires and other materials that put pressure on the teeth to move them into correct alignment.
    • Invisalign. These are like plastic invisible braces. They are an alternative to braces and utilizes trays that fit over your teeth and slowly move them into correct alignment. We will take a 3D scan of your teeth and will create the trays from the scan. You change the trays weekly and visit our office approximately every 12 weeks for in person checkups. Once you have started treatment we even do virtual checkups to save you time.
    • Palate Expansion. Palate is another name for the roof of the mouth. This procedure is usually used to treat kids and teens when the upper jaw is too small to accommodate incoming adult teeth. An expander is attached to the upper molars and gradually widens the palate, so the adult teeth have room to grow in properly.
    • Surgery. This is the most intrusive option and is reserved for severe malocclusions and is done only after jaw growth is complete. Surgery takes place about one or two years after wearing braces to put the teeth in the proper alignment within each jaw.

Step 3: Overview of Cost. We work hard to make orthodontic treatment affordable. We have payment plans to suit different budgets. Of course, we accept most insurance plans, and we will file the paperwork with your insurance company. And if you pay the full amount of treatment upfront, we offer a discount.

If you are ready to achieve a correct bite you can schedule a consultation by calling 843-871-4411 or request an appointment online via our contact form.

Three Reasons Braces Are Better Than Invisalign for Busy Moms

Three Reasons Braces Are Better Than Invisalign for Busy Moms

As a mom, you’re the chef, chauffer, tutor, and nurse all rolled into one. But you’re also a woman who needs to take care of herself, even when it comes to your teeth. And braces may be a necessity, since crooked teeth can cause TMJ, interfere with proper cleaning, increase tooth decay, and increase the risk of breaking a tooth. You don’t need to add these problems to your already-full plate!

You have a choice between braces and Invisalign, but which would be the best option for a busy mom? While it is your choice, Reagin Orthodontics recommends braces for moms with young kids. Here are three reasons why.

  • Braces require less mental energy. With Invisalign trays, you have to remember to take them out and put them back in. Our moms tell us they like braces because once the braces are on, they don’t have yet another thing to keep track of. You can get them and forget about them, so to speak.
  • Braces don’t get changed out every week. Aligners are created to be worn a week or two at a time. Then you get a new set to wear. But who can keep up with which set of trays you’re on? You’re busy keeping track of schedules, pacifiers, meals, and a million other things. With braces, you don’t have the constant change!
  • Braces don’t get lost. They don’t get turned into an art project for school or a chew toy for the dog. Keeping up with a home full of small kids means one thing—chaos. You don’t have to worry about losing braces or finding them in the toilet. And with braces, you don’t have to say, “Don’t Touch!” a thousand times a day.

Are Braces Safe for Nursing Moms?

One question we often get is whether braces will affect milk production or introduce metals into breast milk. You don’t have to worry. Braces contain no chemicals that have an effect on milk production. They’re completely safe for you—and your little one.

Do Many Moms Get Braces?

You may think that adults don’t wear braces, but that’s not true. Today, one in four orthodontic patients is an adult. That means 25% of the moms in your play group probably has braces already! You won’t look weird. In fact, you’re setting a great example for your kids by taking care of yourself.

How Do I Get Braces?

Getting braces is easy—and it doesn’t take as much time as you think. First, schedule a free consultation at one of our locations, whichever is the most convenient for you. We will do an initial exam and let you know what we recommend. Then, you can work with our staff to find a time to place your braces. Once that’s done, you’ll have adjustments done every 8-12 weeks. We even offer virtual appointments for those times when you can’t get away for a visit.

Even busy moms need to take care of their teeth. Call or email us today to set up an appointment.

Taking Care of Braces and Invisalign at School

Taking Care of Braces and Invisalign at School

When you’re at home, taking care of your braces or Invisalign tray is easy because it’s a part of your everyday routine. But how do you keep up those good habits when you spend all day at school?

The good news is taking care of your braces or Invisalign at school doesn’t have to disrupt your normal routine. Just follow the tips from Reagin Orthodontics for your dental care at school and you’ll get an A from your orthodontist!

What to Do at School If You Have Braces

  • Keep a care kit in your locker. You can use a pencil case or cosmetic bag to store items you might need to care for your braces or Invisalign tray at school. Here are the essentials to include:
  • Toothbrush and paste. Both of these items can be travel-sized so they don’t take up as much room. You can stop by your locker after lunch and grab these for a quick cleaning.
  • Dental floss, threaders, and picks. You don’t want to walk into math class with food stuck in your teeth or braces after lunch. These items are essential for getting to those hard-to-reach spots between and behind your braces.
  • Small mirror. You can take a quick look between classes or after a snack to make sure nothing got lodged in your teeth or braces.
  • Orthodontic wax. This can ease any discomfort if your parts of your braces irritate your lips, gums, or the lining of your cheeks. Use a piece of the wax to create a barrier between the braces and that sensitive skin inside your mouth.
  • Braces-friendly snacks. Chances are, you’ll get the munchies at school. But some items in the vending machine will hurt your braces, so keep some soft foods on hand in case you get hungry or have after-school activities.
  • Drink lots of water. Not only does this help you stay hydrated (which is important), but it also helps removes food particles from your teeth. Water also rinses away any sugar, bacteria, acid, or other items that could harm your mouth.
  • Build in time to brush after lunch. Brushing at lunch can significantly lower the chances of tooth decay and cavities, so don’t skip this step. If you know your next class is across campus, just grab your care kit, take it to lunch with you, and stop by a bathroom that’s on the route to the class you’ll be going to.
  • Keep our phone number nearby. Sometimes emergencies happen. Brackets come loose and wires can become uncomfortable. You can call our office any time and we can schedule a time for you to visit one of our offices.
  • Get a mouth guard for sports. Even if you’re just a part of gym class, you can get popped in the mouth. Not only can it be painful, but the hardware in your mouth can cause cuts and damage to the inside of your mouth. And if you play a sport, a mouth guard is a no-brainer. Many athletes lose teeth because they don’t protect them.
  • Carry lip balm. When you have braces or Invisaligners, your lips can become dry. The solution is simple: keep some lip balm on hand. Stash it in your locker or backpack for easy access. (Just don’t leave it out in the heat. It could melt!)   

What to Do at School If You Have Invisalign

If you wear an Invisalign tray, you’ll need to follow the same instructions as someone with braces. However, there are some differences in caring for them at school. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Keep a care kit in your locker.  You’ll need to brush your teeth after lunch just as if you had braces. Your aligners can get stained over time if you’re not careful. Putting aligners back in your mouth without brushing your teeth can also increase the likelihood of cavities.

In addition to the items listed above, here are other items you’ll need to include:

  • Your case. If you need to take your aligners out (or even your retainer), your case will protect them and help keep them from getting tossed in the trash at lunch or lost during gym.
  • Your “outie” removal tool.  Sometimes, your Invisalign tray can be tight, especially when you switch to a new set. If this happens at school, you can use your removal tool to remove your aligner.
  • “Chewies.” When you first get a new set of trays, they can feel “off” as your teeth get used to them. We can give you some “chewies” (basically small rolls of gauze) for you to bite down on during the first few days. This will help them fit better and give you better overall comfort.
  • Brush after lunch. We’ve already emphasized how important this is. Don’t get lazy about it!
  • Take out your tray for contact sports. Your Invisaligners will fit your teeth closely, so you don’t have to worry about them falling out during non-contact activities. But if you are a wrestler, hockey player, or similar high-contact sports, you’ll want to take out your tray and put it in its case for safe keeping.
  • Hold onto your old trays. Once you’ve moved on to a different set of trays, keep the old ones. If you do happen to lose your current aligner, you can use an old one while we get a new set made and mailed to you. Wearing the old set keeps your teeth from shifting back into old positions.

Caring for your braces or Invisaligners at school doesn’t have to be a hassle. Just follow our tips and call us anytime if you have questions or problems.

Have a great school year!