Kids and Braces

What To Know About Kids and Braces

If you had braces as a kid, you may already know a little bit about how things work with kids and braces. However, even as a kid who had braces you may still have a lot of questions. Such as, how old (or young) should a kid be to get braces?

If you never had braces before, this may be only one of the many questions you have. We are here to help! One of the things we love here at Reagin Orthodontics is helping families understand the importance of orthodontic care for children and adults.

Therefore, we have outlined some of the basics surrounding kids and braces to help you get familiar with this topic. In addition to this overview, Dr. Reagin and our team are available to answer additional questions.

What are Braces?

Since more than 4 million people wear braces in the United States, you probably know someone who has or has had them. Maybe that person is you!

Therefore, when asked what braces are, most of us know that they are used to help straighten teeth. How do braces do that though? Moreover, why is it important?

Traditional metal braces are a combination of metal brackets, wire, and o-ties (these come in different colors and look like a small rubber band that holds the wire to the braces). The brackets are adhered to each tooth. Then the wire and o-ties are used to create tension within the bone (alveolar bone) that houses the teeth. This tension allows alveolar bone to change and slowly move teeth into proper alignment over time.

While metal braces are the type of braces most people are familiar with, there are a few other types that are also available. Some kids prefer to get clear brackets instead of metal brackets.

These are adhered to the teeth and follow the same process as metal braces with wire and o-ties. Rather than metal brackets though, they are a clear ceramic material – so some find them less obvious. In addition, there are ceramic braces and even braces that can be adhered behind the teeth – called lingual braces.

Beyond the traditional form of braces that are adhered to the teeth, clear aligners like Invisalign have become popular for kids as well as adults. Clear aligners produce similar results as metal braces; however, the method is slightly different.

“Invisalign braces” are made from clear plastic trays. The plastic trays are removable so that they can be removed for eating and brushing. Still it is important to make sure you get 20 hours of wear per day for the alveolar bone to allow the teeth to move into place. When they are being worn, they are not obvious in the same way metal braces are.

Since it doesn’t look like you’re wearing braces, clear aligners have become quite popular with adults.

Why Do Kids Need Braces?

While circumstances may not allow everyone to get treatment as a kid, orthodontists recommend not waiting to get orthodontic treatment until you are an adult if possible. One reason is that adults are less likely to get treatment when it is needed. This may be due to not wanting to wear braces (even clear aligners), or simply because of the time commitment.

More importantly, the longer orthodontic care goes untreated the worse it can get. Misaligned teeth and jaws that are untreated can lead to several oral health concerns. This may include gum disease, tooth decay, tooth loss, and even trouble with digestion. Therefore, as a parent it is beneficial to your child to explore the need for kids braces at a young age.

While the most common association people make with braces is to fix crooked teeth, it goes beyond aesthetics. Properly aligned teeth are also important for good oral health.

In kids, properly straight teeth help them to bite and chew properly. It also helps them in speaking clearly. Moreover, addressing misaligned teeth at a young age helps eliminate possible problems as an adult.

When kids who have a need for orthodontic care do not address it at a young age, it can lead to discomfort as a teen or adult. Discomfort may result from overcrowding, when the teeth are too close together.

Another issue may be a misaligned jaw. When a misaligned jaw is untreated the teeth can wear out more quickly due to the upper teeth and lower teeth not matching up to properly bite and chew.

Even though oral hygiene is a primary reason for kids braces, we recognize that the visual appeal of straight teeth is also important as it helps with confidence. Teeth are one of the first things people notice about another person. Therefore, having crooked or gap teeth can cause insecurities in many people – especially as kids grow-up.

Therefore, even though some children may initially feel insecure about wearing braces, the treatment at a young age is worth it. Kids tend to adjust quickly and do quite well with all aspects of wearing braces. Plus, after they complete their treatment they get to enjoy the confidence of a perfect smile as a teen and adult.

Do All Kids Need Braces?

Many kids will not need braces. However, we suggest that every child visits an orthodontist for an initial check-up.

The American Association of Orthodontics suggests that kids get their first check-up by age 7. The reason the American Association recommends coming by age 7 is because this is when most kids have lost all of their baby teeth and have the majority of their permanent teeth.

This varies from child to child though. Therefore, Dr. Reagin encourages parents to schedule their kid’s first visit to the orthodontist between the ages of 7-9. However, sometimes early orthodontic needs may be visible while a kid still has their baby teeth. If you notice concerns at any time, bring your child in for an orthodontic consultation as soon as possible.

Signs Your Kid May Need to See an Orthodontist

  • A child’s baby teeth are crowded
  • Thumb sucking beyond the age of 4 years old (or using a pacifier)
  • Protruding teeth
  • If a child loses their baby teeth early
  • Kids who grind their teeth
  • Children who have trouble biting or chewing
  • When a child has trouble breathing (or is mostly a mouth breather)
  • You notice your child’s jaw clicking or making sounds

What Is Included in an Orthodontic Consultation for Kids?

Cost is a concern for many families when it comes to orthodontic treatment. This may be one reason that you initially may avoid making an appointment.

Most orthodontist offices offer complimentary initial consultations. Therefore, if you think there may be a need for your child to get kids braces, we recommend taking advantage of that first consultation.

Schedule a Complimentary Consultation for Your Child

During an initial consultation you can expect to have x-rays and pictures taken to help the orthodontist get a better idea of what kind of orthodontic treatment your child may need. Once the orthodontist knows what your child’s needs are, they will explain to you what type of treatment would be best.

At Reagin Orthodontics, we love to make this a family event! We encourage the whole family to support the person who is receiving the consultation. This is especially great if you have older children who have already received braces. They can provide support for their younger sibling(s).

In addition, if this is your first child who is receiving orthodontic treatment it can be a great time for younger siblings to see what the process looks like. Then when it’s their turn for a consultation they also know what to expect.

Each orthodontist will have a different protocol for what follows the initial consultation. Here at Reagin Orthodontics, if it’s determined your child needs braces, you have the choice to start right away! This means that your kid can get their braces completed even sooner.

How Much Do Braces Cost?

The cost of braces will vary depending on individual treatment plans. We suggest using our  financing and payment calculator to get an approximate idea of what down payment and monthly payments could look like for your family. We offer 0% in house financing to help make braces more affordable.

In addition, we also offer discounts for families who have multiple children receiving treatment. Discounts are also available for military families, first responders, and teachers.

How Long Do Kids Have to Wear Braces For?

The first appointment for getting braces put on takes about 60-90 minutes. Once the initial braces are adhered to the teeth, kids will wear them for an average of 18 months. This can vary depending on each individual child’s malocclusion. Some kids will need to wear braces a bit longer, while others may only need to wear braces for 15 months.

During treatment, kids will need to visit the orthodontist about every 8 weeks. These check-ups are about 20-30 minutes long (much shorter than the initial consultation or when the braces are applied). Just enough time for the orthodontist to make needed adjustments to the wires, evaluate the treatment plan and make any needed changes, and change out the o-ties.

Once again, each individual child’s treatment plan will vary. Therefore, you may not need to visit as frequently. Your orthodontist will discuss this with you at the time of the consultation.

How Will Braces Impact a Kid’s Life?

Getting braces can be a big adjustment for many kids. This adjustment period is often short though, as most children adapt quickly to their braces.

Check out some of our other blog posts to learn more about how to help your child adapt to their new way of life.

Life With Braces | Reagin Orthodontics (drorthodontics.com)

Taking Care of Braces and Invisalign at School – Reagin Orthodontics (drorthodontics.com)

What to Do When You Get Braces-3 Important Steps – Reagin Orthodontics (drorthodontics.com)

A Complete Guide to Aligners

What are Aligners?

Aligners are commonly referred to as “clear aligners” or “invisible braces.” These common terms are accurate, since aligners work similar to braces to help align crooked teeth. As the name states, they are also indeed clear (one of their biggest selling points).

Even though invisible aligners help correct misaligned teeth in a similar way traditional braces do, there are some significant differences between the two.

One significant difference is that traditional braces are made from metal, gold, or ceramic, while clear aligners are made from plastic. This difference in materials is one of the reasons that clear plastic aligners have become so popular in recent years.

While treatment for crooked teeth is about oral health as much as aesthetics, sometimes the aesthetics of wearing metal braces often deters patients (especially adults) from getting treatment. Therefore, with clear aligner treatment a patient can get the treatment they need without having to sacrifice aesthetics.

What Are the Advantages of Clear Aligners?

In addition to the difference of materials used in making clear aligners vs metal braces, another big difference is how they are used to straighten the teeth. With traditional braces, metal brackets are adhered to the teeth and then connected with a wire that creates tension. The tension on the wire and how the shape of the wire interacts with the bracket is what helps to move the teeth over time.

Since the metal brackets need to be adhered to each individual tooth, they cannot be removed until the treatment is complete. On the other hand, clear aligners can easily be removed every day. This is one of the biggest advantages of clear aligners.

As the clear aligners are removable, you can choose what time of day you wear them (although you do need 20 hours of any given day for success). This gives you control to wear them when it is best for you, as well as to choose who knows you are wearing them. It also allows you greater ease over your daily oral health routine.

One thing many people find frustrating with traditional braces is the need to adapt to new practices for brushing and flossing. Many people are even told to avoid certain foods that could get stuck in their braces.

With clear aligners though, you can continue to floss, brush, and eat as you normally would because you can simply remove your aligner tray.

How long is the Aligner Process?

With the ability to remove aligners every day, you may wonder if this means it takes longer to achieve straight teeth using this treatment. While there is a lot of misleading marketing on aligners being faster than braces, they take about the same time.

The old adage of “the teeth and bone do not know what is moving them” applies here. Meaning it still takes the same amount of time for your bone biology to allow the tooth to change positions.

While overall treatment time is similar to braces, using aligners does save you time throughout the process with less visits needed to see the orthodontist. While traditional metal braces require you to see the orthodontist anywhere from every 6-8 weeks, Invisalign and 3m Clarity aligner patients only must go in for an office visit every 12 weeks.  Many of these visits can be virtual.

So, while some young kids may like to go in for frequent office visits to get new colored rubber bands on their braces – most adults love how they do not need to see the orthodontist in person as frequently.

At Home Aligners vs. In Office Treatment

If you have been thinking about getting clear aligners, then you may have explored trying an at home kit, known as direct to consumer. The appeal of not having to go into the orthodontic office is one of the biggest appeals for at home aligners.

Even though an orthodontist doesn’t have to apply traditional braces, getting aligners is still a practice that falls under orthodontic care. Therefore, just because an orthodontist does not have to provide the specialized practice of adhering braces to your teeth, it is still best to have an orthodontic specialist diagnose your malocclusion and give you an individualized treatment plan.

As with any type of medical treatment, it is very useful to have a local expert to check-in with as needed. With at home aligners, you do not have access to a professional that you can go in and visit if something goes wrong.

A common frustration that patients have with at home aligners is when the aligner tray rubs on their gums. While this may not seem like a big deal, if the trays are uncomfortable, you may not wear them as regularly. Therefore, your investment may not pay off because your treatment may be slowed down (or you may never finish it). Other common complaints of at home aligners are the aligners do not fit or “I did not get the results I was promised.”

By choosing in office treatment, you have access to a trusted orthodontist that you can contact for questions or in person office visits. You also have the accountability of a professional to help you complete your treatment.

Orthodontic Treatment for Clear Aligners

Here at Reagin Orthodontics, we make it our mission to offer the best orthodontic care. When it comes to clear aligners, this means offering patients easy and accessible options and the best treatment available.

As a clear aligner specialist, Dr. Reagin has helped over 1000 patients achieve their perfect smile. He has been able to accomplish this by combining his knowledge of orthodontia and the support of Invisalign clear aligners.

Dr. Reagin trusts the Invisalign process as not only a reputable brand, but a treatment that is effective and truly aligned with best practices for orthodontic care.

In addition to the treatment itself, our team has also noticed how important it is to make this a process that fits with each patient’s lifestyle. We do this through only requiring in office visits as needed, and even offering virtual appointments.

On average, we only need to see our clear aligner patients every 12 weeks for check-ups. Furthermore, as mentioned above, not all those visits have to be in person! Since the trays are removable, we can check-in with you virtually. This makes it so you get the ease of at home aligners, with the orthodontic care of in office aligners.

Who Can Use Aligners?

Traditional metal braces are often viewed as a treatment for kids and teens. Therefore, most adults are not eager to show-off braces even if they want straight teeth. Therefore, clear aligners were mostly marketed towards adults when they first came on the market.

However, many teens today do not want to wear visible braces either. As a result, brands like Invisalign created a specific treatment for teens. Even though clear aligners can be worn by teens though, there are some things to consider before choosing clear aligners over other braces.

One of the main factors in deciding if Invisalign braces are right for your teen is to determine if your teen will remember to consistently wear the Invisalign trays. Since clear aligners are removable and only worn for a certain amount of time each day (20 hours per day), it can be easy to forget to wear them. This can then result in not seeing the results you (or your teen) want.

Invisalign and 3m Clarity aligners want to make sure that everyone sees the results they want though. Therefore, they created a helpful tool so that parents and teens can use, to check and see that each tray is being worn as needed. Learn more about it over on the Invisalign® Teen section of our website. 

Moreover, clear aligners continue to be an excellent option for their original target audience – adults. They are just as effective as the braces you would have gotten as a kid, but with all the added benefits of ease, comfort, and invisibility!

Learn more about this revolutionary treatment on our main  Invisalign® Invisible Braces page.

How Much Do Aligners Cost?

When choosing the best orthodontic treatment for yourself or your teen, part of the decision may come down to cost. We understand! We know that proper orthodontic care can be a large financial investment.

It is much more than an investment in cosmetic dentistry though, it is an investment in your overall oral health, confidence, and self-esteem. Therefore, we do our best to provide patients with a full financial overview, as well as financing options to support each person in finding the plan that works best for their family.

While you may want to know the cost before even seeing an orthodontist, the cost for clear aligners can vary from patient to patient depending on each treatment plan. To help you get an idea though, we have a finance calculator on our website to provide you with a general direction.

Choosing the Best Clear Aligners

With every type of dental or orthodontic treatment, every patient is different. Therefore, it is always best to get a consultation before making a final decision.  A consultation is a time for you to get a professional opinion from an expert on the best treatment for you or your teen.

During a consultation a trained orthodontist, like Dr. Reagin, will discuss what he sees and your goals. He will then provide an overview of a treatment plan. Sometimes it will be suggested to begin treatment soon, while other times treatment may not be needed until the future.

The great thing about a consultation for clear aligners is that there isn’t a commitment, just helpful information so you can make the best decision for you or your family.

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!

What’s a Virtual Orthodontic Consultation?

You have wanted to get to an orthodontist to see if aligners or braces would be a good option for you, but you just don’t have the time. We’ve solved that problem for you with our virtual consultations. Here’s a quick rundown of the process.

  1. Give us some basic information. We need to know a few details. We’ll ask you:
    • Is the consultation for you or a family member? You may be asking about a child or a dependent, so we need to know how to tailor our responses to best fit your needs.
    • Why are you thinking about straightening your teeth? People give us lots of reasons. They may want more confidence, a better bite or a dentist may have recommended it. You may just be curious how much it would cost. We get it!
    • What is your smile like? Most smiles fall into four categories: crowded, spaced, protruding, or bite (overbite, underbite, open-bite).
    • What type of treatment are you interested in? In our office, we offer clear aligners, advanced metal braces, and clear braces.
  2. Send us some pictures. We need to see your pearly whites! We’ll explain how to take pictures of:
    • your molars (side of your mouth)
    • upper teeth (called the upper arch)
    • bottom teeth (called the lower arch)
    • bite (front teeth—overbite or underbite)
  3. We get back to you via email! Once you send us the information and photos, our team will assess your needs and give you our recommendation for treatment.
  4. Come to the office. Once you have the consultation and our recommendation, you can decide which approach you’d like to take. If you’d like to move forward, we will schedule an appointment in our office for a full evaluation. We will take x-rays and do an exam to make sure we tailor the treatment for your specific dental needs. You will likely have the option of starting treatment the same day as well.
  5. Get started! Our pricing and in office financing can be customized so that a new smile won’t leave you with a frown on your face. We want you to experience the self-confidence and better health that orthodontics can provide.

Sending us your information takes less than five minutes. In less time than it takes to get coffee, you can begin the process toward a great smile you’ll be proud of!

There’s nothing holding you back, so get your virtual orthodontic consult today!

First Dates and Braces: What to Know

Going on that first date can be nerve-racking. Picking out the right outfit. Choosing the restaurant. What to talk about. The butterflies in your stomach. Could this person be “the one”? If these unknowns weren’t enough, you have one other issue to contend with: your braces.

What’s the best approach for a successful first date when you have braces? Read on. We’ll give you the best tips to make that first date successful.

What to Wear with Braces

No, we’re not talking about the right outfight or the right shoes. We’re talking about your smile. It’s the most important accessory you’ll ever put on. In fact, a research study conducted by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry found that nearly half (48%) of adults believe that a smile is the most memorable thing about a person after a single meeting.

It’s tempting to cover up your smile, especially if your braces are new. But here’s the good news: nobody will know you are anxious about your braces unless you give it away with your body language and interactions. If you embrace your braces as a part of your style and unique personality, and if you act with confidence on that first date, you’ll impress the person all the more. Go ahead and smile and laugh like you normally would. You can’t hide your braces, and you’ll have more fun if you just relax and let the real you shine through.

If you want to walk on the wild side, try colored braces. You can choose the color that suits your skin tone, eye color, or even the outfit you plan to wear. And if lipstick is your thing, you can choose a bold color that will frame your face well and show off your braces.

What to Eat with Braces on a First Date

Nothing puts a damper on your first date like having spinach stuck between your teeth. With a little planning ahead of time, though, you can enjoy a meal without wearing it on your braces.

First, choose the restaurant beforehand if possible. That way, you can go online and read the menu. Look for brace-friendly options. Pasta (or other soft food) is a good option; salad, not so much. Soup is also a good choice. Second, avoid foods with lots of herbs (like garlic bread) or minced onion. The small pieces can get lodged in your brackets. Third, stick to smaller bites and chew on the side of your mouth. Lastly, drink lots of water. This will help dislodge any particles stuck in the nooks and crannies of your braces.

What to Bring on a Date If You Have Braces

When you get braces, you’ll want to put together a cleaning kit to take with you when you go out, especially when you go to a restaurant. Include a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, mouthwash, brace wax, a hand-held mirror, sugar-free gum, and lip balm.

After dinner, excuse yourself to the restroom. Take the kit with you and brush your teeth and swig some mouthwash. Check the mirror for any leftover debris. If brushing isn’t possible, use your hand-held mirror to look for particles in your teeth. Pop in some gum for fresh breath.

How to Kiss with Braces

Let’s clear up one big myth: if two people with braces kiss, the chances of the braces locking are one in a million. This misconception began in the early days of braces when the hardware was much, much larger and bulkier, which made locking more possible (although still unlikely).

However, kissing with braces is different than kissing without them. You will learn the skill in time, but here are a few pointers to make the adjustment easier.

  1. Start with your mouth closed. This will allow you to get used to the feel of the braces in your mouth (or theirs).
  2. Be gentle. Braces can cause injury to soft tissue, like your lips or the inside of your mouth. That soft tissue can also get caught in the brackets, which will definitely ruin the moment.
  3. Try dental wax. This can make kissing more comfortable. Your partner might not even notice the braces if you use the wax correctly.
  4. Ease off the lip pressure. Landing a hard, passionate kiss may lead to a painful end if your lips (or theirs) get pressed too strongly against your braces. Easy does it.

On a first date while wearing braces, don’t stress out. Remember, the other person is just as nervous as you are. And we bet your date won’t even notice your braces—they’re too preoccupied by what you might think about them! Remember, confidence is always attractive, whether or not you have braces.

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.

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. 

Considering Direct Smile Aligners? READ this first!

Don’t let your DIY orthodontics become a Pinterest Fail

You see them everywhere these days…those ads from mail-order aligner companies promising to give you perfect teeth, with little hassle, all without ever making you leave your house.

Of course, that sounds like a great idea. It’s convenient, yes. And while we have super comfortable chairs and a really welcoming office, the idea of putting on aligners on your own couch while watching Netflix is appealing. You could even post about your newly straightened teeth on Pinterest!

The problem with these companies, though, is the lack of hands-on, personal oversight. Without an orthodontist, you could suffer serious, irreversible damage to your teeth. You might save a little gas money, but your teeth could ultimately pay the price if you use one of these companies–and that would make for one massive Pinterest fail.

Still on the fence? Here are several reasons why mail-order aligners are a bad idea:

1) You don’t have regular checkups.

With traditional treatment, you’ll visit the orthodontist for x-rays, initial photos and a diagnostic plan (the most important part). After your initial smile analysis, you’ll revisit in 8-12 week intervals to see if you need new aligners, your bands need to be tightened, and for your overall dental health. From start to finish, treatment can take as little as 6 months.

With mail-order, you don’t have regular checkups. They send you a kit to help you take impressions of your teeth, you send it back, and your new aligners are mailed to you with instructions. Convenient, yes, but not the best way to treat your teeth.

The companies claim your treatment will be done in three to six months, and you’ll never likely see a licensed professional before or after that.

Who is checking the diagnostic plan? 90% of the time it’s not an orthodontist (a dentist with 2-3 years extra training in tooth movement). Instead it’s anyone with a dental license regardless of their education and training in tooth movement. The huge problem here is dental school doesn’t teach you about tooth movement. You need further education to become an orthodontist to understand how to do that.

Who is evaluating the final bite to see if your “new bite” will cause you harm in the future? No one.

What about the overall health of the bones and gums as the teeth move…who is monitoring that? No one.

2) You’ll receive substandard care.

Aligning your bite and straightening your teeth isn’t a quick fix. It’s a slow process that’s all about shifting ligaments and bones around your teeth. If this isn’t done the right way, and if it’s not closely monitored, you can do serious, even irreparable damage to your pearly whites.

The American Association of Orthodontics (they’re really smart people) even issued a warning about this. “The risks associated with ‘do it yourself’ orthodontics can, and should be, avoided,” they said.

We agree.

3) The mail-order company doesn’t know what it doesn’t know.

In other words, you can’t begin orthodontic treatment until your teeth and gums are cleared by a dentist. And, in many cases, you need a dental specialist, periodontist, to further evaluate your bone health prior to starting orthodontic treatment.

If you have problems like gingivitis, periodontitis, chipped teeth or cavities, an orthodontist is going to send you back to a dentist to get these taken care of first.

You’re not going to get that type of treatment and interaction from a mail-order company.

4) Your insurance probably won’t pay.

The mail-order companies advertise that their treatment is often covered. But self-treatment, without the right supervision, likely wouldn’t be a covered expense in most insurance plans.

Insurance companies aren’t going to pay for something that doesn’t meet their quality standards–because when the treatment fails, more expenses are headed their way.

5) Cost.

Most of these companies charge around $2,200 for alignment and retainers. This fee is for very limited simple fixes. But guess what? MOST orthodontists can give you a better, faster result for simple fixes at or near the same fee.

Our advice to you: Stay away from do-it-yourself orthodontic care. If not, you’re taking a big risk and only asking for trouble.

Schedule an appointment with a licensed orthodontist, like Reagin Orthodontics, to learn more about your options when it comes to making your teeth pretty enough for the perfect Pinterest post!