Tongue Rings and Oral Health

Tongue Rings and Oral Health

Tongue rings are a popular accessory for teens and adults. However, they do not come without risks. As an oral health professional, I want to make you aware of a few potential problems that can arise from this fashion trend. After reading this blog, you can decide if the risk is worth the reward.

Image 1 (photo from dentagama.com)

Problem 1: Tongue rings frequently cause a receding gum line.

See Image 1. The receding of the gum usually occurs on the inside (backside) of the teeth and near the lower front teeth, but it can also occur in other areas. As the gum recedes, the root of the tooth becomes exposed. These roots are often sensitive and cause discomfort.

In addition, as the gum recedes, the affected teeth have less attachment because the gum is no longer there. That means less “dirt around the fence post,” or less attached tissue to hold your tooth in your mouth. At present, dentists do not have a solution for receding gums on the tongue side of teeth, so they cannot be regenerated.

Problem 2: Tongue rings can cause bacterial infection.  

The mouth is full of bacteria, even if you practice good oral hygiene. An infection occurs when the bacteria becomes trapped inside the piercing. Much of the bacteria is introduced by eating and drinking (although there are other sources), and new piercings are more prone to infection than older piercings. Signs of infection include:

  • Uncomfortable swelling
  • Severe pain
  • Persistent warmth
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Yellow discharge or pus
  • Bump around the piercing

If these problems surface, see your doctor as soon as possible. Complications can arise, and in some very rare cases, infection can lead to death.

Image 2

Problem 3: Tongue rings can interfere with braces.

As you see in Image 2, the bottom part of the tongue ring is caught on a lower bracket. The barbell on the upper part of the tongue ring has been removed. This required a trip to the ER, then to the orthodontist to have the tongue released from the braces.

Other problems associated with tongue piercings include:

  • Chipped teeth
  • Nerve damage
  • Excessive drooling
  • Choking
  • Damage to fillings

Listed above are a few of the complications that can arise from a tongue ring.  While the fashion and popularity of a tongue ring might be calling your name, be sure to weigh the pros and cons prior to booking your appointment with a piercing artist.

Allergic Reactions to Braces

While it is not common to have an allergic reaction to your braces, it is possible. Most commonly, allergic reactions to braces are due to latex and nickel.

To help limit these reactions, we have eliminated latex in our office as much as possible. Our practice is latex-free with the exception of our rubber bands/elastics used to correct bites. We do offer latex-free elastics for those with a latex allergy. The colored O-ties used to hold the wire in place are not the same as rubber bands and these O-ties are made from polyurethane, not latex.

The other common cause of allergic reactions—nickel—is found in the metal brackets and some of the arch wires we use. You are more likely to be susceptible to a nickel allergy if you are female and have been sensitized by previous exposure from nickel, which is often found in jewelry.

Common symptoms of an allergic reaction to nickel:

  • Burning sensation in the mouth
  • Severe gingival inflammation (swollen and red gums)
  • Swelling of the lips
  • Rash around the mouth

If you think you are experiencing an allergic reaction, please call our office as soon as possible. If you are having difficulty breathing or swallowing, please call 911 immediately.

Managing and Leading for a Happy Team

From Dr. Britt Reagin:

When I started practicing orthodontics in 2006 I had exactly zero hours in education on how to manage people. My mentors were Michael Scott from the office and Mr. Burns from the Simpsons. Being extroverted I had spent my life around people and I had a good idea of how to get along with others, but I had no real background on managing or leading others.

That lead to a rough start and plenty of mistakes.

One mistake in particular was how I attempted progress reviews. Not having any prior experience in reviewing staff, I simply listened to the masses on Google of how to do a proper performance review. After reading several articles from “experts” it seemed the best method was to use “the sandwich technique”?

It goes like this: employee you are doing a good job at X, you need improvement on Y and you are doing a good job on Z.

Seems pretty simple.

Well, if you have ever given a review like this you know that all the team member recalls is the Y….what they are not doing well. I remember the feeling I had after serving up what I thought were “subway approved sandwiches” to our employees. Only to find out over time that this type of review breeds negativity, distrust, and a lack of fulfillment in one’s work.

All they heard was that I did not value them as an employee.

As I was doling out these “amazing sub sandwiches” I was also being sure to correct folks when they made a mistake. We were going to run a tight and perfect ship and the only way to do that is to make sure people know when they mess up….right? Isn’t that what managers are supposed to do? Go around looking for mess ups and then correct them. Over time I felt like all I could see was what was not going right and all our team was feeling was “oh God, I hope I don’t mess up today.” Let me tell you, this is no way to lead, manage, or encourage others.

Something had to change and that something was ME. I needed a paradigm shift in managing and leading people. I had to learn and learn fast.

This time I took care to research and read books on business, management, and leadership. I cannot count how many books I inhaled during this time and in a matter of months. Some of my favorites were: The E Myth (Gerber), Five Levels of Leadership (Maxwell), and Extreme Ownership (Willink).

In addition to reading, I sought out advice from other leaders that I valued as mentors and friends. Several but not all of these folks were: Mike H., Gary B., Brian A., and Josh R. They all had a major influence on me and the way I lead my team now.

Mike taught me that when I help others achieve their goals, my goals will take care of themselves.

Our performance reviews instantly changed, I now ask 4 basic things:

  1. How do you think you are performing in key areas of the business?
  2. What are your goals in the work place and how can I help you achieve them?
  3. What are your goals personally, and if you give me permission how can I help you achieve them?
  4. How can I improve as a leader?

Gary taught me to always put my best foot forward and let God take care of the rest. Brian taught me what it means to be a caring teammate, and that we are in this together…even when we have bad days…we can still have each other’s back. I needed to be more caring and compassionate. Josh taught me to look for the positive in our staff and what they are doing right and praise them when I see it.

This will breed a culture of trust and positivity.

Slowly and baby step after baby step it has started to change for me. I cannot thank the authors and mentors enough for their advice and example along the way. I am not managing perfectly by any stretch, but I am better than I used to be☺

I will list a few additional tips below:

  • You do not have a staff, you have a team, and you are part of that team.
  • Start your day with a team huddle and if possible (depending on the size of the team) everyone can have a part.
    • In our huddle we start with a positive quote, talk about the day ahead, recite our customer service Core 4 (got this from Chic-fil-A), read an online review and say a “tip” from our tip jar. Our tips are interoffice pats on the back, that build each other up. In the huddle each person, except me, has a role.
  • Read a team book at least once per year. Start with the Energy Bus if you have not yet done one. Let someone else lead the discussion.
  • Do performance reviews where the team member evaluates themselves, sets goals and evaluates you as a leader. Then help them reach their professional goals and if they give you permission you can also help them reach personal goals.
  • Acknowledge their hard work and efforts and never take the credit yourself.
  • Praise in public and criticize in private. And when you have to talk to someone about “a thing”, you need to be specific and set clear expectations and tell them why it is important.
    • Example, Susie I really need you be sure and call the patient by name 2-3 times during the visit. The most important word to another person is their name, and when you use their name it makes them feel good. Most people do not know what we did or how well we did it, but they know how we made them feel. If you make them feel good they will tell other people about our office. When they do that it helps all of us keep our jobs and be able to do fun things as a team.

Our team is not perfect, but we are trying to continually improve a little bit at a time.

Good luck on your management and leadership journey and feel free to reach out if you have any questions for me. If you would like a copy of our performance review (which is a collaboration of others before me) please email manager@drorthodontics.com and we will be happy to share.

Let us know how we can help!

Dr. Britt Reagin

The Truth About Invisalign

Ready to straighten those teeth? Trying to decide between braces and Invisalign?

With a qualified provider, either option will eventually lead to straighter teeth. But the beauty of Invisalign is that it offers all the benefits of traditional braces with hardly any of the drawbacks.

With Invisalign…

  • Will your mouth feel like it’s full of metal?
    • Nope.
  • Will your mouth look like it’s full of metal?
    • Nope.
  • Will you have to keep the aligners in your mouth 24/7?
    • Nope. They’re removable, with 22 hours of wear needed for good results. 
  • Will you have to change how you eat, brush, and floss?
    • Absolutely not. You can eat what you like. Just remove the aligners first.

On top of all that, with Invisalign, your checkups are less frequent. At Reagin Orthodontics, we see aligner customers about every 12 weeks. Plus, our customers can opt for FaceTime appointments to minimize their overall office visits.

So when it comes to braces or aligners, it’s a no-brainer, right?

Pretty much, yes. But some of our clients come to us with concerns about Invisalign–they’ve been told this treatment doesn’t work as well as braces. And, with some practices, that might be the case. But at Reagin Orthodontics, Invisalign is a fantastic option.

Simply put, Invisalign’s success lies in the hands of the provider. A skilled orthodontist who has spent time understanding this treatment and putting it into practice will give you amazing results. Ninety percent of our patients (including teens) are candidates for Invisalign.

Dr. Reagin has spent extensive time working with the aligner system to achieve the same results offered by traditional braces. He gets it. And, remember, this isn’t something that’s learned in orthodontic school. Each provider has to take the time to learn Invisalign on their own, if they choose to offer it to patients.

Think of it this way: We might be able to go out and buy the same clubs Tiger Woods uses, but that doesn’t mean we’ll have the same skills as a golfer. Any orthodontist can get access to Invisalign, but that doesn’t mean they’ll put the time and effort into learning and using this treatment properly.

We can promise you that, if you choose Invisalign, you will receive outstanding care and treatment–and you’ll see the benefits in straighter teeth, a more confident smile, with much less hassle than braces.

So whether you’re on the fence or ready to make a move, give us call at Reagin Orthodontics today to set up a complimentary consultation.

Braces Aren’t Just For Kids

Thirty years ago, it’s seemed like braces were primarily for kids. 

In the last decade or so, we’ve seen a new, encouraging trend: More and more adults are hopping on the braces train. It’s true! Braces aren’t just for kids anymore. 

Today, a lot of our adult customers are simply looking for a boost in self-esteem and the confidence to smile without reservation on their professional headshots or family Christmas pictures–or even on job interviews and a first date!

In fact, 40% of our patients are adults who’ve decided that they’re ready for an orthodontic correction. So it’s not some kind of weird thing to be a 40-year-old with braces or aligners. It’s actually pretty normal these days. 

But too many adults still aren’t’ comfortable with the idea of braces. They’ve gotten used to tight-lipped, half-hearted smiles. Maybe their parents just weren’t able to take care of their orthodontic issues, and they’ve come to believe that crooked teeth and mouth pain are just a way of life. But it doesn’t have to be this way. 

We have adults come in for orthodontic treatment that might include Invisalign, clear braces or other limited treatment options that make getting a confident smile easy and convenient. 

They also realize that choosing braces will save their teeth by improving long-term oral health that they might not have had in the past. Adults have the amazing ability to adapt to oral issues and might be maybe overcompensating by chewing or smiling in a certain way. 

But what seems like a small issue now will become a bigger issue the older you get. Your teeth shift as you get older. So dealing with these issues now can save you a lot of discomfort later. 

The good news is that we’re here to help. 

Reagin Orthodontics specializes in the unique needs and desires of adult patients. And once we’ve got your teeth lined up in perfect rows, we’re happy to help you with teeth whitening options to brighten your new smile. Let us know what we can do for you.