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! 

Dentists vs Orthodontists: What to Know

What is the Difference Between Dentists and Orthodontists?

If you are already seeing a dentist twice a year for your bi-annual cleaning, you may wonder why you would also need to see an orthodontist. Especially if you don’t need braces.

While not every person needs to be treated by an orthodontist, everyone can benefit from at least being evaluated by an orthodontist. Especially when they are younger. In fact, it is recommended that children visit the orthodontist as early as 7 years old for an initial screening.

Before exploring why kids as young as 7 can benefit from seeing an orthodontist, as well as adults, let’s take a look at the differences between a dentist and orthodontist. Once you have a better understanding of these differences you will be able to better understand why seeing an orthodontist may be a benefit for you or your child.

What Do Dentists Do?

You may have a general idea of what dentists do just from going to your bi-annual cleaning and screening each year. Each visit is probably similar: getting x-rays, having a dental hygienist clean and polish your pearly whites, and then meeting with the dentist to review any concerns.

These procedures give you a good idea about what dentists do. Dentists focus on oral health and hygiene. This includes cleaning teeth, checking for healthy gums, and looking for cavities. In addition to these basics that you experience during a routine cleaning, dentists also offer other services that help you to maintain a healthy mouth.

What services does a dentist offer?

Oral hygiene covers a lot of different areas. It ranges from the basics for maintaining healthy teeth to surgical procedures and even includes cosmetic treatments.

Common Treatments Provided by Dentists

  • Routine dental care: teeth cleaning and x-rays
  • Oral cancer screening
  • Filling cavities to treat decaying teeth
  • Performing root canals
  • Extracting decayed teeth
  • Designing and placing crowns/caps on severely broken or cracked teeth
  • Creating replacements for missing teeth: bridges, dentures, and individual implants
  • Offering treatment for gingivitis and gum disease
  • Cosmetic procedures: teeth whitening and veneers

While dentists, being your primary oral health provider, cover a lot when it comes to oral health, there are still several treatments they refer out to specialists. When a dentist notices that a patient has a need beyond the scope of the primary dentist, they will refer them to a specialist like an orthodontist.

How is an Orthodontist Different from a Dentist?

Just like any other form of medicine there are similarities and differences between general practices and specialties. One of the most common things between general practitioners (like dentists) and specialists (like orthodontists) is their initial training.

Orthodontists must first become dentists. Therefore, orthodontists have the same initial training as a dentist. However, a dentist does not have the additional specialized training that an orthodontist has.

Let’s take a quick look at the first steps in becoming a dentist. Then we can talk about the additional training it takes to become an orthodontist.

What Training Does a Dentist Complete?

Both dentists and orthodontists first complete a four-year undergraduate program. This is then followed by four more years of dental school. Dr. Reagin began his journey into orthodontics with a Bachelor of Science degree from the College of Charleston, followed by dental school at the Medical University of South Carolina.

After four years of dental school, a dentist demonstrates their readiness to practice by completing a comprehensive (and rigorous) written test. They also must complete hands-on clinical trials to prove they are ready to practice on future patients.

Once a dentist achieves their license, they can begin working on patients. Another option after becoming a licensed dentist is to pursue a specialty – like orthodontics.

 What Training Does an Orthodontist Complete?

Orthodontics is truly a specialty, as only about 6% of dentists choose to pursue this path. This can be a good indicator that your orthodontist is quite passionate about what they do. Dr. Reagin is certainly one of those who is passionate about what he does!

After completing the requirements to become a dentist, an orthodontist continues with additional training that teaches them how to treat several ailments that go beyond that of their general dental education. For example, learning how to manipulate and move the teeth and jawbones to help correct misalignments.

This additional training ranges from 2-3 years and is a highly competitive training. At the end of their orthodontic training, candidates complete a comprehensive clinical trial and written exam. This ensures that your orthodontist has a thorough and complete understanding of orthodontics and how to best serve their patients.

What services does an orthodontist offer?

When you hear the word “orthodontist” you probably think of braces. This is understandable since over 4 million people in the United States wear braces!

While braces are a clear focus in orthodontics it is not the only treatment or service that is offered by orthodontists. Although, most of the treatments do align with the purpose behind braces – to treat a misalignment.

Braces are used to treat a misalignment of the teeth. Beyond traditional braces, many orthodontists also offer modern aligners. Modern aligners are made from plastic and are worn 20 hours per day. Helping patients by designing a custom aligner plan is actually one of our specialties here at Reagin Orthodontics.

Orthodontics isn’t just about aligning teeth, it is also about helping to align the jaw. An orthodontist is able to help correct an underbite, overbite, or a misaligned jaw.

Common Treatments Provided by Orthodontists

  • Braces for children
  • Braces for adults
  • Aligners for adults (Invisalign)
  • Aligners for teens
  • Closing gaps between teeth
  • Widening the jaw
  • Treating oral habits that impact the alignment of the teeth
  • Treating overbites and underbites

Learn more about the services we offer here at Reagin Orthodontics.

When Do You Need to See an Orthodontist?

While everyone knows they should see a dentist, not everyone thinks they need to see an orthodontist. Hopefully understanding the difference between dentists and orthodontists will help you decide when you (or your children) may need to visit an orthodontist.

Early Intervention

Earlier we mentioned that children should see an orthodontist for the first time by the age of 7. This is the recommendation of The American Association of Orthodontists. This recommendation is based on the fact that around the age of 7 children have a mix of baby and permanent teeth. This can result in a lot of changes to the development of childrens’ teeth and jaws.

While many children will not need to be evaluated until the age of 7, if you notice your child has any issues with breathing or jaw pain, then it is recommended to see an orthodontist as soon as possible.

Orthodontics for Adults

The same recommendation goes for adults. If as an adult you have never seen an orthodontist, you may want to go in for an evaluation if you notice any pain with your jaw or teeth.

You may also want to see an orthodontist if you notice any of the following:

  • Clenching your jaw
  • Grinding your teeth
  • Not able to close your lips over your teeth
  • Protruding teeth
  • Difficulty biting or chewing
  • You do not like your smile

You can also see an orthodontist to get a consultation for braces or aligners. Yes, even as an adult! Even though we try to catch and treat misaligned teeth at a younger age, there are plenty of adults taking advantage of aligners to get the smile they always wanted.

Choosing an Orthodontist

Now that you have a better understanding of the difference between dentists and orthodontists, you can choose when you may need to visit an orthodontist. We say when because while you may not end up needing treatment, it is always a good idea to get evaluated.

We know choosing an orthodontist can be a big task. So, to help you make the choice that is best for you and your family, take a look at 9 Things to Know When Choosing an Orthodontist to help you out.

 

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. 

 

Can I Use My HSA to Pay for Dental Needs?

Can I Use My HSA to Pay for Dental Needs?

You want to take care of your teeth, but you also want to make your money stretch as far as possible. That’s why we offer payment plans to suit different budgets. But did you know you can also use your HSA (health savings account) or FSA (flexible spending account) to pay for your dental needs—including braces?

Not sure how it works? Don’t worry. We’ve got all the information you need to help you use your HSA or FSA for your family’s dental needs.

HSAs, FSAs, and Orthodontics:

If you’re not familiar with an HSA or FSA, these are savings plans available to people who enroll in a high-deductible health plan (HDHP). You can’t use an FSA with other health plans, and you sign up for the HDHP with your employer during open enrollment, so check with your benefits administrator to see what your options are. If you go the HDHP route, the contributions you make to the HSA are taken out of your paycheck before taxes, which means you’ll pay less in taxes on that money. Then when you need the money, you can use it for approved medical expenses. And it most cases, that means dental work, including braces.

How to Use an FSA for Braces and Other Dental Needs:

Once you’ve set up your FSA or HSA and have start putting money away each month, here are three steps to make those dollars pay for your dental work:

Come in for a consultation. Just set up a time to visit and talk about your concerns. We can even do an initial consultation online, so that’s an option if you’re super busy or if you’re unable to come into the office.

Once we’ve done an evaluation of your dental needs, whether braces, crowns, root canals, or other procedures, we will give you a quote of the total cost of the orthodontic portion of treatment. We will also give you a length of time you will have to pay for the treatment. With braces, including Invisalign, you can make monthly payments, and we even have a payment calculator online to help you figure that amount.

Choose your payment approach. When you sign up for an HSA, you’ll probably receive a debit card (or paper checks in a small number of health plans). You can use the debit card or checks to pay for your dental needs each month. Some HSA accounts allow you to pay for medical and dental bills online, so that’s an option as well.

If you haven’t saved enough money in your HSA or FSA, you can designate part of that money for your dental needs and pay the rest of the cost out of pocket. The good news is that you can use health savings contributions from year to year to pay the balance. As long as you keep money in the account, you can keep making payments, as long as it’s in the same calendar year as the treatment.

One more thing: If you have money in your FSA or HSA to pay for braces upfront at the beginning of treatment, we offer a discounts on treatment paid in full. So keep that in mind, too!

Keep track of paperwork. The IRS is a stickler on following its rules, so make sure you keep a copy of all the paperwork associated with any dental work done using an HSA or FSA. This is super important in case you get audited.

Also keep track of paperwork regarding our agreement for payment. That way, there’s no question about how much your paying and why.

Using FSAs and HSAs for Adult Dental Needs:

One question we get asked often is whether you can use an FSA or HSA for your own dental needs or if it only applies to kids. If your braces or other dental work is considered necessary for your health and well-being, usually it is in some component, you can use the savings account for your braces as well as your kids. On the other hand, cosmetic dental procedures like teeth whitening or veneers are not covered.

We know your dental needs are important, and we want to help you maximize your HSA and FSA dollars. Give us a call today or go online and sign up for a virtual consultation. You can be on your way to a better smile in no time!

What Is Halitosis—And How Do I Fix It?

Everybody gets bad breath once in a while. That favorite Italian restaurant with the garlic bread can leave your breath smelling not-so-fresh. However, some people struggle with bad breath even if they don’t eat a pound of garlic for dinner.

Halitosis—often called bad breath—is the condition in which a person’s breath smells bad, unattractive, or alarming. Unfortunately, some people feel so embarrassed about the halitosis that they won’t talk to anyone about it—not even to their dentist.

Here’s the good news: lots of people have halitosis. In fact, nearly 50% of the population have bad breath on a regular basis. You’re not alone. Even better news: halitosis is easy to treat and even prevent. We’ll explain what causes halitosis and how to treat it

What Causes Halitosis?

Lots of things can cause halitosis. You may be suffering from one or more of them. Think of halitosis as a symptom of a problem. Once you know how you can get bad breath, you’ll know how to fix it. Here are some of the most common culprits:

  • Oral Hygiene. About 90% of people with halitosis suffer from a problem within the mouth. Issues can include the following: 1) cavities; 2) gum disease; 3) cracked fillings; 4) poorly cleaned dentures; 5) poorly cleaned braces. The simplest preventative step is to see a dentist twice a year for a check-up and cleaning.
  • Mouth, Nose and Throat Infections. According to the Mayo Clinic, nose, sinus and throat issues (like allergies) that can lead to postnasal drip may also lead to bad breath. Bacteria feeds on the mucus your body produces when it’s battling a sinus infection, leaving you sniffly and stinky.
  • Garlic isn’t the only cause of halitosis. High-protein, low-carbohydrate diets can also cause it, as can eating too many sweet. Drinking too much coffee and alcohol may also contribute to halitosis.
  • Medical conditions. Common maladies include diabetes (because of blood sugar levels); asthma; acid reflux. Less common causes can include lung disease; certain cancers; blood disorders; and kidney and liver disease.
  • Dry mouth: Saliva rinses and removes leftover food from your mouth and helps break it down. If you don’t make enough saliva, one result may be halitosis. Your mouth gets dry when you sleep at night, which is why you may wake up with unpleasant “morning breath.”
  • Smoking and tobacco. Tobacco products destroy your body as well as your breath. They leave their own odor behind, but they can also dry out your mouth (see above). Smokers are also more likely to develop gum disease, which is also another cause of bad breath.

How to Treat Halitosis

The good news is you can probably get rid of halitosis by taking a few proactive steps at home. Besides brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, here are a few habits to decrease the likelihood of halitosis.

  • Brush your tongue. Why? Because it’s the home of lots of bacteria. Clean it often with a tongue scraper and rinse with mouthwash afterward to kill the germs.
  • Rinse with mouthwash. Your toothbrush can’t reach everywhere, so you need to use mouthwash. Swigging the minty fresh liquid around can kill the germs hiding in your mouth.
  • Brush along the gumline. It’s easy to get lax with brushing your teeth. Make sure you brush along the gumline because that’s where the leftover food is, and left there long enough, it will grow bacteria. Bacteria = halitosis.
  • Say goodbye to the bad habits. Cut back on the caffeine and tobacco, both of which can cause bad breath. The same goes for foods that cause bad breath. Increase your water intake.
  • Chew sugar-free mint gum. Sugar-free is better for your teeth. Mint makes your breath smell fresher. And the gum stimulates your mouth to create more saliva.

If you don’t see an improvement with these at-home remedies, visit your dentist. With an exam and cleaning, they can rule out any hidden oral problems and work with you on finding adequate resources, which may include using different dental products or a visiting your primary care physician.

Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to talk with your dentist about halitosis. They’re the best resource for helping you find the right solutions.

 

 

 

 

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.

So, How Do Braces Actually Work?

Braces are often a common stage in many people’s lives, whether it’s a part of your teenage years, adult life, or otherwise. As with many things that are an accepted part of life, you might accept the technology without having a concrete understanding of how, exactly, it functions.  

Have you ever wondered just how braces actually work? We’re here to give you an orthodontist’s explanation.

diagram of a toothHow Braces Work

Your teeth are housed in a special kind of bone called alveolar bone. The roots of your teeth sit in a fossa (depression or hollow) of alveolar bone called the socket. They’re connected to the socket by periodontal ligaments.

Whenever pressure is applied to your teeth, the periodontal ligaments compress and the bone on the side receiving the pressure responds by resorption. On the side opposite of where pressure is being applied, bone is deposited. 

So, as braces apply the ideal amount of pressure to your teeth, over time they will slowly move through the alveolar bone through this process of resorption and deposition of bone. Orthodontists look at where we want the teeth to move, and from there we use braces and physics to move them in the proper direction. 

How Long Will I Have To Wear Braces?

How long it takes for braces to straighten your teeth depends on your specific situation. Typically, braces need to be worn for between 12-18 months for most people.

Do Braces Hurt?

You will experience soreness with braces, but you won’t experience constant discomfort. The time when your teeth and gums will feel most sore is when you first get braces and after adjustments because that is when the pressure on the alveolar bones is the greatest. You can compare braces pain to a bruise—if you push on the bruise, it becomes more sore, but it does eventually go away.

The Periodontal ligament gets compressed and that is what causes the pain associated with braces. Chewing soft sugarless gum can momentarily release the pressure on the ligament and thereby help relieve the orthodontic pain. 

How Do I Know If I Need Braces? 

Braces can improve the cosmetic appearance of a smile, but their use goes far beyond aesthetics. Braces also help correct problems related to your bite, and a healthy bite can prolong the life of your teeth.  

Your teeth have a significant impact on your health, and it’s important to care for them properly – which includes taking preventative measures like seeing an orthodontist early on. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends getting a screening at age 7. With early treatment, orthodontists are able to catch and correct early issues before more severe problems develop. 

However, braces are for both kids and adults—there is no age limit to getting braces. In fact, 25% of orthodontic patients are adults! If you think you or your child may benefit from orthodontic treatment, don’t hesitate to reach out to us! We offer free consultations and are more than happy to answer any questions you may have. We also have lots of great resources on our site – whether you’re curious about what life with braces is like, what to expect during a visit, and more.

Do You Have a Normal Bite?

Have you ever wondered if your bite is normal? What even is a normal bite?

The History of the Normal Bite

As early as the 1800s, dentists saw a need to classify what a normal bite might look like.  The need for this classification arose as dentists made false or prosthetic type teeth to replace missing ones.   

If you are missing one or two teeth, it is likely obvious where the teeth go. However, imagine replacing an entire upper arch of teeth—dentists need to know where to put them!  Edward Angle, a young prosthodontist (basically, a dentist the specializes in prosthetics), was one of the first to recognize this and work to put together a classification system or guide for replacing teeth.

graphic showing the three classes as developed by angle
Source: Quizlet

Angle’s Classification System

Edward Angle was a prosthodontist as well as the father of modern orthodontics. He gave us the first useful classification of bites in 1890, Angle’s Classification System. With this system, he provided a relatively simple definition of normal as well as abnormal bites.  

Angle’s classification was based on the relationship or articulation of the upper first molar to the lower first molar. Generally, he classified molars as being Class I, Class II and Class III depending on their sagittal position. Class I is a normal molar relationship, Class II is similar to buck teeth or “overbite,” and Class III is similar to an underbite.  

Larrys Andrews’ Six Keys

Larry Andrews expanded on Angle’s work. Andrews recognized that even when Angle’s classification was achieved, some bites still did not look or fit well. During the 1960s, he found 120 people with what was deemed a normal bite, according to Angle and according to professional judgment.   

These models met Angle’s criteria but further than that he could find no flaws in the way the teeth were arranged nor how they appeared to function.  He was the next big player in developing a system that went further to describe a normal bite. From these 120 models, he developed six keys to normal bite.  

child smilingThose 6 keys are: 

  1.  The posterior teeth should be positioned normally according to Angle’s classification.  
  2. The angulation (or tip) of each tooth. He stated that the gingival portion of the long axis of each tooth should be more distal to the incisal portion the same tooth. 
  3. Inclination or torque.  The front teeth should be angled so that they do not over-erupt into a severe overbite. 
  4. No rotated teeth 
  5. No spaces between the teeth.  
  6. The plane of the bite in the lateral view should be flat and not excessively curved.

Angle and Andrews are a great place to start when looking at a normal bite.  Once we have established a baseline of where teeth should be, we can then diagnose how much they deviate from that baseline.  

We consider these factors when looking at bites and building treatment plans for our patients:

  1. The Face. Esthetics place a huge role in orthodontic diagnosing and treatment plans.
  2. The upper and lower jaws and how they relate to each other.
  3. Andrews’ 6 keys to occlusion (or 6 keys to a good bite)
  4. Angle’s classification system

If you would like to schedule a complimentary bite or smile analysis to see if your bite is normal, don’t hesitate to give us a call today at 843-871-4411!

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!