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!

What is a Water Flosser?

water flosser

At Reagin Orthodontics we are all about good oral health! Daily brushing and flossing of your teeth as well as maintaining your 6 month visits to your dentist is the cornerstone of good oral health.

One of the most important areas of your mouth to clean is in-between your teeth and around the tooth/gum junction. These are the first places bacterial plaque will form, and it is also the hardest to keep clean.  Water flossers, like Waterpik™, are a good tool to clean between the teeth and around orthodontic appliances.

At Reagin Orthodontics we really like the use of water flossers. Here is what we have found:

Waterpik™ makes several types of water flossers including some just for kids. Personally, we like the countertop Waterpik™ Ultra Water Flosser, since it holds a good amount of liquid and patients find they have more control over the water pressure than the cordless Waterpik™. The Ultra Water Flosser runs about $60, but if you live by a Costco you can get both the Ultra Water Flosser and the Cordless Plus Water Flosser for only $79.

Water flossers typically come with several attachments and you can try them all out if you like, but the Classic Jet Tip works best. If you have braces the Plaque Seeker and Orthodontic Tips can help you clean around the brackets.

 

What to expect at your Initial Orthodontic Consultation

Consult

When you meet an orthodontist for an initial consultation, we strongly recommend consideration of the following:

– What is the practices 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?

– Does the practice have multiple offices forcing you to go to different office locations for your appointments?

– Is the orthodontic practice conveniently located close to your home, office or child’s school?

– Ask to see before-and-after photos of previous patients. Are the results to your liking?

– How varied and advanced are the treatments offered? 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? Did the orthodontist provide information about alternatives? How practical is the treatment plan in light of your personal, business and social needs?

– 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 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 their multifamily discounts? Paid in full discounts?

– Does the fee for treatment include retainers and is there a “Lifetime Guarantee” offered? 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. Do some research, get to know them, ask your friends and trust your instincts!

Do I need to floss my teeth with braces?

flossing_w_braces-federal

Absolutely! At Reagin Orthodontics we are committed to good oral hygiene and flossing is essential to the health of your teeth and gums when you’re wearing braces. Because braces may hold food, sugars and liquids upon eating, it is very important to keep on top of your brushing and flossing, as well as visiting our office for regular adjustments.

While we know it’s tough enough to get kids to floss daily but remember that by not flossing, you will become more prone to cavities and gum disease. When flossing, remember to gently massage your gums in between the teeth. You will find that flossing with braces takes extra time, as you will have to weave the floss through each bracket. When flossing, there should be no signs of blood. If you see blood, you are not flossing enough or properly.

Using an electric toothbrush is also a good idea to massage your gums before or after flossing as electric toothbrushes can help remove any harmful bacteria that are lingering in your mouth. And don’t forget to add a mouthwash to your routine to break up any bacteria that has formed. A good mouthwash will help keep your teeth and gums in good shape during your treatment.

Dr. Reagin and our team at Reagin Orthodontics will tell you it is just as important to develop a regular hygiene routine while you’re wearing braces. If you have any questions about flossing or your orthodontic treatment at Reagin Orthodontics please don’t hesitate to give us a call or during your next adjustment appointment!

Caring for your Invisalign Trays

Cleaning Trays

How do I clean my Invisalign aligners?

Proper upkeep and good oral hygiene are essential in keeping your Invisalign aligners clean, invisible, and odor free. Although the Invisalign allows for aligners to be easily removed for eating and drinking, failing to properly clean your trays afterwards can result in discoloration and a buildup of bacteria.

Here’s a list of do’s and don’ts that will help you keep your aligners clean and crystal clear:

DO:

— Rinse your aligners when you remove them: Dry saliva and plaque create a perfect breeding ground for foul smelling bacteria.

— Brush and floss your teeth before reinserting your aligners: Proper oral hygiene is key in maintaining healthy teeth and avoiding cavities and decay. Since Invisalign is form fitted, failing to brush and floss properly can trap harmful particles between your teeth and aligner, increasing your risk for dental issues in the future.

— Clean your aligners with a clear anti-bacterial soft soap: A clear anti-bacterial soap is an excellent and inexpensive way to keep your aligners clear, fresh, and free from harmful bacteria.

— Soak your aligners once a week: Denture cleaner, Retainer Brite, and the official Invisalign cleaning crystals are all excellent options in keeping your trays clear and sanitized.

TIP: Brush your aligners gently: Vigorous brushing can scratch your aligners and leave visible etchings. Brush carefully!

DON’T:

— Eat or drink (anything but water) while wearing Invisalign: Many foods and drinks can stain or discolor your aligners and cause them to stink.

— Use toothpaste to clean your aligners: Many types of toothpaste (especially those with whitening agents) are abrasive and can dull your aligners or create small traps for bacteria to dwell.

— Use colored soaps: Although anti-bacterial soap is a great way to clean your Invisalign braces, using anything but clear soap can cause your aligners to take on alternative hues and shades.

— Leave your aligners exposed or unprotected while eating: Aside from an increased risk of misplacing them, leaving your aligners in the open exposes them to harmful germs and bacteria. Rinse them, soak them, and then rinse them again before returning them to your mouth.