A) Space Maintainers

Did you know that baby teeth are actually very important for your child’s development? Until the adolescent years, they will not only help your youngster bite and chew (i.e., get proper nutrition) and speak correctly but also help guide the permanent teeth underneath them into proper position. In fact, one of the most important functions of baby teeth is to hold space for the adult teeth that will eventually push them out and thereby, end up in the proper position.

At least that’s how it’s supposed to work; sometimes, however, injury or disease can cause a baby tooth to be lost prematurely. When that happens, the permanent teeth that are coming in on either side can actually drift into the space that was reserved for another tooth. This can cause teeth to erupt out of position or to be blocked entirely, and it may result in crowded or crooked teeth, ultimately causing bite problems.

Fortunately, if your child loses a tooth prematurely, there’s a dental appliance your orthodontist will use to hold the space open for the permanent tooth that is meant to fill it. The device is called a “space maintainer” or a “space maintenance appliance.” Made of metal and/or plastic, space maintainers can be fixed (cemented) or removable, but either way their purpose is the same: to help your child develop the best bite possible and hopefully avoid the need for braces later on.

Space maintainers are also useful when one or more permanent teeth are congenitally missing — in other words, they have never existed at all. In cases like this, which are not uncommon, permanent dental implant teeth are often recommended for adolescents or adults to replace a tooth they weren’t born with. But timing is very important with dental implants — they can’t be placed in a growing child. Therefore, we may use a space maintainer with a false tooth on it until jaw growth is complete and an implant can be appropriately placed. It’s a simple, non-invasive way we can avoid a malocclusion (bad bite) with some timely intervention.

The two different spacing options are described here:

  • Fixed Appliances: are cemented onto adjacent teeth. They are made in many different designs: One consists of a band that goes around a tooth and then a wire loop that extends out from the band to hold the space; another feature a loop attached to a stainless-steel crown, which goes over a nearby tooth. In either case, the loop extends just to the point where it touches the next tooth. Fixed space maintainers are often preferred with younger children, because they are less easy to fidget with, break, or misplace than appliances that can be removed.
  • Removable Appliances: Removable appliances look like the type of retainer that is worn at the end of orthodontic treatment. It can have a false tooth on it, which is particularly useful when the lost tooth was visible in the mouth. Older children can usually handle the responsibility of wearing this appliance and caring for it properly.

When the best choice of appliance is made for your child, we will take impressions of his or her mouth and make a custom-made appliance to fit their unique mouth. The appliance will be worn until x-rays reveal that the permanent tooth underneath is ready to erupt naturally. While your child wears the space maintainer we’ll be recommending they keep up good oral hygiene at home as well as come in for professional dental cleanings.

B) Palatal Expanders

One of the most compelling reasons to start orthodontic treatment early in a child’s life is that the natural growth process allows for easier and faster changes when a child is young. This is especially evident when the treatment involves widening the upper jaw. A palatal expander is the appliance your orthodontist utilized to gradually make more room for teeth in the upper jaw.

The upper jay develops as two separate shelves to achieve its adult width. Palatal expanders are necessary because the upper jaw has reached its adult wideness by the age of 7. From there, the two separate halves work to fuse together and this fusion is complete around puberty. Your orthodontist is able to affect gentle separation and stabilization of the upper jaw over a period of several months by using a palatal expander. Palatal expanders are easy and not scary at all!

The three situations that call for doing maxillary (upper jaw) expansion are:

  • Crossbite – If the upper jaw is too narrow to fit correctly with the lower jaw, the back top teeth will bite inside of the lower teeth instead of outside. This is corrected by expanding the upper jaw with the palatal expander.
  • Crowding – When your child is examined, we will be able to determine if there will be a challenge to accommodate the adult teeth (permanent) coming soon. Widening the upper jaw creates the necessary space and can prevent the need for tooth extractions.
  • Impacted Teeth – Sometimes we will discover a tooth hasn’t come in yet (erupted) and is blocked by other teeth. Widening the upper jaw allows the tooth the space it needs to arrive, right into place! We find this most often happens with the “canine” or “eye teeth”.

 Aside from the functional advantages noted above, expansion of the upper jaw can have other benefits. For example, expanding the upper jaw can broaden the smile in an aesthetically pleasing way and even improve breathing. Use of a palatal expander when called for, can shorten overall orthodontic treatment time, meaning your child might see less time in braces!

How Expanders Work

The palatal expander will be custom made for your child and fits over the teeth in the back of the mouth. The appliance has two halves that are connected in the middle with a screw. Parents turn this screw 1 time every 24 hours for approximately 1 month. This induces tension at the junction of the two palatal bones, causing them to gradually move apart. Once the desired expansion is achieved, we will leave the appliance in for a few more months to allow new bone to form in the gap and stabilize the expansion.

What to Expect

Most kids say they can feel some soreness or a feeling of pressure for a few minutes after the key is turned, but activating an expander actually causes less discomfort than having braces tightened. At Silver Smiles, we use the smallest appliance possible, so that speaking and eating feels as normal as possible. During the expansion, it is completely normal to see a gap develop between the front teeth. This shows that the expander is having the desired effect- creating more space! When all is said and done, your child’s permanent teeth will be beautifully aligned with neither too much nor too little space between them. Beautiful results in a few months is what you can expect!

C) Thumb and Finger Appliances

Everyone is familiar with the image of a baby, asleep sucking his or her thumb. Did you know that they even do this in the womb? Thumb or finger sucking is perfectly natural as it helps relax and comfort babies and even toddlers. But as a child grows, it’s a habit from which they must graduate. It isn’t just a rite of passage that must be checked off, socially awkward if you can imagine an older child doing it. A much more compelling reason to help your child move on in the process of growing up is the possible harm to oral health that later thumb sucking can cause.

In most children, thumb sucking stops on its own between the ages of two and four years. But if the practice persists after the primary (baby) teeth have erupted, it can drastically change the growth patterns of the jaw and cause significant misalignment of the teeth. Parents are often surprised that the habit can create problems, but truly it’s an important issue for some kids.

Children’s jaws, rich in blood supply and growing rapidly, are relatively soft and flexible — especially in kids under the age of eight. So, it really isn’t hard for the constant pressure of a thumb or finger to deform the soft bone around the upper and lower front teeth. Children who are particularly vigorous thumb suckers are even more likely to change the growth patterns of the teeth and jaws.

If the thumb sucking habit persists, it can result in the upper front teeth flaring out and the lower ones moving back and inward. It can also hold back the growth of the lower jaw, while causing the upper jaw to be thrust forward. This can result in misalignment of the teeth, an anterior open bite (where the front teeth fail to close together), collapse of the upper jaw causing crossbite, or other problems. That’s why it is important to stop the behavior at an appropriate time, before damage occurs.

Controlling Thumb or Finger Sucking

Like many potentially harmful behavior patterns, thumb sucking can be a difficult habit to break. A lot of home remedies have been tried by frustrated parents. Efforts such as having the child wear gloves, coating the thumb or finger with a bitter-tasting substance — and even reasoning with their toddlers have been tried. Sometimes it works — but in other cases, the allure of thumb sucking proves very difficult to control.

If your child has a thumb or finger sucking habit that has persisted past the age of three, and you’ve been unable to tame it, then it may be time for you to visit our office. We will consider treating your child with a “habit appliance” such as a fixed palatal crib or a removable device. This crib isn’t for sleeping — it’s a small metal appliance worn inside the mouth, attached to the upper teeth.

How does it work? The palatal crib has semicircular wires that keep the thumb or finger from touching the gums behind the front teeth. Simply preventing this contact seems to take all the enjoyment away from the thumb sucking habit — and without that pleasurable feedback, a child soon loses interest in keeping up the habit. In fact, the device is often successful the first day it’s worn.

Getting and Using a Habit Appliance

If your child could benefit from a habit appliance, the first step is to get a thorough examination, which may include taking X-rays, photographs and dental impressions. The palatal crib will then be custom-fabricated to fit your child’s mouth and put into place at a subsequent appointment. Afterwards, your child will be periodically monitored until the appliance is removed — typically after a period of months.

Although wearing the crib isn’t painful, your child may experience some soreness in the upper back teeth for only a few hours after it has been put into place. He or she may also have a little trouble falling asleep for a day or two afterward. Plenty of extra attention and TLC are usually all that’s needed to overcome a little fussiness and make everything all right. While the appliance is being worn, it’s best to avoid chewing gum and eating hard, sticky food that might cause it to come loose.

A Word About Tongue Thrusting

Like thumb sucking, tongue thrusting is a normal behavioral pattern in young children. It’s actually part of the natural infantile swallowing pattern, which will normally change on its own — by the age of six, in most children. If the pattern doesn’t change, however, it can lead to problems similar to those caused by thumb sucking. Problems with tooth alignment and skeletal development can occur. Fortunately, this problem can be successfully treated with a habit appliance that’s very similar to a fixed palatal crib. Your orthodontist can help you make a determination and recommend what’s best for your child.

When you bring your child in for an early orthodontic screening we can help you recognize and correct any habits your child has that could be detrimental to the alignment of their teeth and jaw. Again, the earlier the better around age 7, as any needed treatment is easier, faster and potentially less expensive if done early. Some of the habits and their effects are:

  • Late Thumb Sucking: The sucking reflex is natural in early childhood; it usually disappears between ages 2 and 4. But if it persists much later, the pressure of the digit on the front teeth and the upper jaw can actually cause the teeth to move apart and the jaws to change shape. This can lead to the orthodontic problem called “open bite,” and may impair speech.
  • Tongue Thrusting: An open bite can also be caused by the force of the tongue pushing forward against the teeth.
  • Mouth Breathing: An abnormal breathing pattern in which the mouth always remains open, passing air directly to the lungs — is related to alterations in the muscular function of the tongue and face. It may cause the upper and lower jaw to grow abnormally, which can lead to serious orthodontic problems. Although mouth breathing may start from a physical difficulty, it can become a habitual action that’s hard to break.

If your child is experiencing any of these behaviors, we are able to offer various orthodontic solutions that will prevent future problems that can be caused by them. An early orthodontic screening is key to assuring your child has the best possible outcome for their bite health.

Why is oral hygiene so important? The best way to prevent cavities and periodontal disease is by good tooth brushing and flossing techniques, performed daily. Periodontal disease and decay are both caused by bacterial plaque. Plaque is a colorless film, which sticks to your teeth at the gum line. Plaque constantly forms on your teeth. By thorough daily brushing and flossing you can remove these germs and help prevent periodontal disease. It is also incredibly important to maintain your 6-month cleaning appointments with your general dentist. It also may be advised to increase cleaning appointments with your dentist while you have braces on your teeth.

Choosing Oral Hygiene Products

There are so many products on the market it can become confusing and choosing between all the products can be difficult. Here are some suggestions for choosing dental care products that will work for most patients. Seek products with the American Dental Association (ADA) seal of approval. Fluoride toothpastes and mouth rinses if used in conjunction with brushing and flossing can reduce tooth decay as much as 40%. Remember, these rinses are not recommended for children under six years of age. Anti-plaque rinses, approved by the American Dental Association, contain agents that may help bring early gum disease under control. Use these in conjunction with brushing and flossing.

Brushing

While brushing the outside surfaces of your teeth, position the brush at a 45-degree angle where your gums and teeth meet. Gently move the brush in a circular motion several times using small, gentle strokes. Use light pressure while putting the bristles between the teeth, but not so much pressure that you feel any discomfort. Focus on two teeth at a time, and then move on spending at least two minutes a session. When you are done cleaning the outside surfaces of all your teeth, follow the same directions while cleaning the inside of the back teeth. To clean the inside surfaces of the upper and lower front teeth, hold the brush vertically. Make several gentle back-and-forth strokes over each tooth. Don’t forget to gently brush the surrounding gum tissue. Next you will clean the biting surfaces of your teeth by using short, gentle strokes. Change the position of the brush as often as necessary to reach and clean all surfaces. Try to watch yourself in the mirror to make sure you clean each surface. After you are done, rinse vigorously to remove any plaque you might have loosened while brushing. If you have any pain while brushing or have any questions about how to brush properly, please be sure to ask our Doctors or Hygienist.

Flossing

Dental disease and cavities usually appears between the teeth where your toothbrush cannot reach. Flossing is a very effective way to remove plaque from those surfaces. However, it is important to floss with the proper technique. The following instructions will help you, but remember it takes time and practice.

If you are in Invisalign treatment, with clear trays removed, start with a piece of floss (“Glide” or waxed is easier) about 18″ long. Lightly wrap most of the floss around the middle finger of one hand and wrap the rest of the floss around the middle finger of the other hand. To clean the upper teeth, hold the floss tightly between the thumb and forefinger of each hand. Gently insert the floss between the teeth. Do not force the floss or try to snap it into place. Bring the floss to the gum line then curve it into a C-shape against one tooth. Slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth until you feel light resistance. Move the floss up and down on the side of one tooth. Remember there are two tooth surfaces that need to be cleaned in each space. Continue to floss each side of all the upper teeth. Be careful not to cut the gum tissue between the teeth. As the floss becomes soiled, turn from one finger to the other to get a fresh section. To clean between the bottom teeth, guide the floss using the forefinger of both hands. Do not forget the backside of the last tooth on both sides, upper and lower. When you are done, rinse vigorously with water to remove plaque and food particles. Do not be alarmed if during the first week of flossing your gums bleed or are a little sore. If your gums hurt while flossing you could be doing it too hard or pinching the gum. As you floss daily, and remove the plaque, your gums will heal and the bleeding should stop. When wearing full braces, flossing can be a little more difficult. Using a floss threader or a bridge threader, thread floss under the arch wire and follow the above instructions. We also recommend using an interdental cleaner by GUM called “soft picks”. This latex free flexible and tapered bristles fit between small spaces to dislodge food and plaque. They are clinically proven to remove plaque and helps to reduce gingivitis.

Fluoride

The greatest breakthrough in preventive dentistry in the last fifty years has been the use of fluoride. Almost all water naturally contains some fluoride. About three-fourths of American cities add additional fluoride to the water supply for the prevention of tooth decay.

There are many benefits in the use of fluoride, for people of all ages. When children are young and their teeth are forming, fluoride joins with the enamel surface and makes it harder and more decay-resistant. The benefits for adults are just as great. Fluoride can help repair an early cavity, even before it becomes visible in the mouth, by rebuilding the enamel layer of the teeth.

Fluoride is also helpful in older adults to help solve the problem of root caries or root sensitivity. Fluoride rinses or gels are sometimes prescribed to help eliminate germs that cause gum disease. It is an important part of every tooth decay prevention program. When combined with the good hygiene habits of brushing and flossing, the number of cavities in children and adults can be dramatically reduced.

Nutrition & Health

Good nutrition plays a large role in your dental health. Brushing and flossing help to keep your teeth and gums healthy and strong; however, a balanced diet will help to boost your body’s immune system, leaving you less vulnerable to oral disease. How often and what you eat have been found to affect your dental health. Starchy foods such as crackers, breads, cookies and candies cause the bacteria in your mouth to feed on it, the bacteria then produce acids, which attack your teeth for up to 20 minutes or more. Also, foods that stick to your teeth or are slow to dissolve give the acids more time to work on destroying your tooth enamel.

Starchy foods:

  • Crackers
  • Breads
  • Cookies
  • Candies

Sticky/slow to dissolve foods:

  • Raisins
  • Granola Bars
  • Chewy Fruit Snacks
  • Dried Fruits
  • Potato Chips
  • Hard Candies

You may also want to avoid drinking soda, as it is high in acids and sugar. Saliva production increases at mealtime, rinsing away food particles and neutralizing harmful acids. Foods such as nuts, cheese, onions, and some teas have been shown to slow growth of decay-causing bacteria in the mouth.

Foods to Avoid

While you are wearing braces, please avoid eating hard foods, sticky foods and foods high in sugar. Hard foods can break or damage the wires and brackets, and sticky foods can get caught between the wires and brackets. Minimize the amount of sugary foods you eat; the sugar can cause tooth decay and other related problems.

Examples of Sticky Foods to Avoid:

  • Gum (sugar-free or regular)
  • Licorice
  • Sugar Daddies
  • Toffee
  • Tootsie Rolls
  • Caramels
  • Starburst

Examples of Hard Foods to Avoid:

  • Ice
  • Nuts
  • Hard taco shells
  • French bread crust/rolls
  • Corn on the cob
  • Apples and carrots (unless cut into small pieces)
  • Bagels
  • Chips
  • Jolly Ranchers
  • Pizza crust
  • Uncooked carrots (unless cut)

Minimize Sugary Foods like:

  • Cake
  • Ice Cream
  • Cookies
  • Pie
  • Candy

Only Once a Day:

  • Soda
  • Sweetened tea
  • Gatorade
  • Kool-Aid
  • Drinks with sugar

We encourage patients to quit bad habits, such as fingernail biting, pencil and pen chewing and chewing on foreign objects. All of these activities can break or damage your braces.

It’s important to regularly check your braces for bent or loose wires and brackets. If you have a loose/broken wire or bracket, please call our office immediately to arrange a repair appointment.

If you’re an adult who has suffered from teeth that aren’t straight or a misaligned bite for most of your life, we are still able to help you achieve a straight and beautiful smile. We have the ability to move healthy teeth at any age, so it’s never too late for treatment. Orthodontic treatment in adults differ from younger patients because jaw development and growth is complete in adults. Adults are also more susceptible to gum disease, so it is important you are in good periodontal health when undergoing orthodontic treatment. In order to prevent bone loss and weakening of the teeth, your orthodontist will first ensure your teeth and gums are in good health and that you’re dedicated to a good oral hygiene routine at home.

Appliance Options

Moving your teeth into correct position is accomplished with all orthodontic options in the same manner: the appliance chosen applies light and comfortable pressure on the teeth to correct their placement. As specialists, we offer a number of appliance options that are less visible and perfect for anyone’s personal and professional lifestyles. Our options include:

  • Metal Braces. We bond metal brackets to the front of the teeth and run a wire through the brackets to apply pressure to move the teeth into the proper positions.
  • Clear Braces. These works similarly to metal braces, except they are made of ceramic. With the exception of the wire going through the brackets, these are hardly visible. They are a bit more fragile than metal braces, however.
  • Invisalign. A series of clear aligners that are switched out every two weeks until the teeth are in proper alignment. They can also be removed for eating and cleaning the teeth. Because they are clear, they are hardly noticeable to anyone except you.

Retention

Your orthodontist will help you to retain that beautiful smile you’ve worked to achieve through during your treatment that will likely involve wearing a retainer made just for you. With proper retention treatment, your teeth will stay in their new positions and give you a beautiful smile for a lifetime!

One day in the not-too-distant future, your braces will come off. In a few moments, you’ll be free of bands and brackets, able to eat what you want and run your tongue over smooth, clean teeth. But, even on this happy occasion, please remember that you’re not quite done with orthodontic treatment yet: The next phase, called retention, is just beginning.

Retention is a critical follow-through stage that typically involves wearing an orthodontic appliance called a retainer. Several different kinds of retainers are available, all of which are custom-made just for you. We will recommend the type (or types) that will work best in your situation, and we’ll tell you exactly when and how long you need to wear them.

But if your teeth are straight now, why do you need a retainer at all? Simply put, it’s because if you don’t wear one, your teeth will start moving right back to where they were!

Teeth aren’t set rigidly in the jawbone — instead, they’re held in place by a network of fibers called the periodontal ligaments. After they have been moved, it takes several months (or even years) for the periodontal ligament to adjust to the new position. So, if you want to keep that new smile — and not waste all the time, effort, and money it took to get it — it’s essential to wear your retainer as directed.

Being fitted for a retainer usually happens on the same day your braces are removed. They take approximately 45 minutes to make so you may be asked to come back the same day in the afternoon to receive your retainer.

A Period of Adjustment

After a short time, most people adjust quite well to wearing a retainer. Some may find that they produce more saliva than usual for a day or so after first wearing any type of retainer — a normal reaction to a foreign object in the mouth. You may also find it a little harder to talk normally at first, but that problem will soon disappear. Of course, removable retainers should always be taken out when you eat or brush your teeth — a big change from braces!

You will wear your removable retainers every night for at least TWO YEARS following treatment. After the initial two years, you may be able to reduce your retainer wear to every-other night or even more sporadic. As a general rule, if your retainer feels tight when you put it in, you need to wear it more. If that is not the case, you might get away with wearing it a bit less, but it’s never recommended you go more than a week without wearing the retainer.

Maintaining and Retaining Your Retainer

To stay fresh and germ-free, all retainers need proper cleaning. Soap and water, denture cleaners, as well as special retainer cleaners, can be used to clean most removable retainers.

Finally, remember to always carry — and use — a retainer case. You’d be surprised how many retainers end up folded in a napkin and accidentally discarded! Also, don’t expose your retainer to excess heat by washing it in very hot water or leaving it in a hot car: That can cause the retainer to warp and make it unusable. With proper care and conscientious use, a retainer can help you transition from braces to a permanent, healthy smile.

At Silver Smiles Orthodontics, we are able to offer several different treatment options to fit the specific needs of our patients. In addition to traditional metal braces our options include:

  • Invisalign®
  • Invisalign Teen®
  • Palatal Expanders
  • Traditional Metal Braces
  • Clear Ceramic Braces
  • Appliances
  • And More!

Everybody is unique and has different needs when it comes to their treatment plan. A thorough examination is needed to determine what’s best for you.

A – First Visit (Consultation Appointment)- Anticipate 1 hour

At Silver Smiles Orthodontics, our mission is to help every patient achieve the smile of their dreams. Our doctors and expert team of orthodontic specialists take the time to treat patients as individuals, getting to know them personally and designing specialized treatment plans to perfectly suit their unique orthodontic needs. At our office, you are our number one priority from your very first visit!

Your Initial Orthodontic Appointment

We hope you’re as excited as we are for your first visit with us! It’s an exciting time, and it’s a chance for us to get acquainted, to take stock of your current orthodontic health, and to explore the treatment options that might be right for you.

For your first visit, we ask that you plan to spend at least an hour in the office – while we may not use all of that time, this ensures that there’s no rush and that we have ample time to answer all of your questions. When you first walk in, you’ll meet with one of our receptionists or patient coordinators and go through some initial paperwork which will get you into our system. Once you’re through with that, we’ll start with diagnostic work and your exam.

Measuring for Success

We’ll start by taking photographs and x-rays, allowing us to fully understand both the alignment of the teeth and what’s happening under the gums – the positioning and orientation of your teeth, jaws, bones, and joints, as well as any teeth that may still be below the gum line.

The Initial Exam

Next, we’ll perform a careful, thorough examination of your teeth, jaws, mouth, and bite. This will be a lot of looking around your mouth, checking for noise when you open and close your jaws, and asking if you’re encountering any problems when you chew, swallow, or perform other everyday functions. We’ll use the information we gather here to make a diagnosis and decide on the best treatment option.

Planning for a Beautiful Smile

Consider this your chance to ask any and every question you want. We put a lot of value on helping our patients understand their treatments, so we’ll give you ample time to ask and discuss anything you don’t understand or are curious about. We’ll go over all your potential treatment alternatives, how your orthodontics will work, and other major topics like:

  • How will orthodontics help?
  • What procedures would be best?
  • Should we start treatment now or wait?
  • Will we need to extract teeth?
  • What will it cost? What are my financial options?
  • How long will it take?

Financial Information and Insurance

After the doctor has gone over the photographs, x-ray and treatment plan, a treatment coordinator will go over the various treatment options, as well as the cost of treatment. She will also explain how any insurance benefits are applied and will arrange a variety of payment plan options. In most cases, treatment can begin the same day, if the patient/parent are desires to begin orthodontic treatment.

When Can We Start?

In most cases, treatment can begin the same day, if the patient/parent are desires to begin orthodontic treatment.

Contact Your Local Braces & Invisalign Experts

Overall, your first visit will be the beginning step in your journey towards a gorgeous new smile that’ll last you a lifetime. So, what are you waiting for? Feel free to call us. We can’t wait to hear from you, and we look forward to starting you on the path towards a beautiful, healthy smile!

B – Developmental Supervision Appointments – Anticipate 15-20 minutes

Developmental supervision is a program at Silver Smiles that allows us to follow a child through his/her dental and skeletal growth, prior to beginning orthodontic treatment. Orthodontic records are taken which give us a baseline of the patient’s orthodontic issues. There is a one-time charge for the orthodontic records, and the patient is not charged for the developmental supervision appointments. The records charge is deducted from comprehensive treatment, once treatment begins. Typically, patients are seen for developmental supervision appointments between 6-9 month intervals. During the developmental supervision appointments, the doctor is documenting dental changes and recommendations may be made during that time concerning removal of certain baby teeth, or if any early intervention is needed. We do not charge additional fees if additional x-rays or photographs are needed prior to or after treatment begins.  In most cases, we monitor the dental and skeletal growth until most or all of the baby teeth are lost and the patient is ready to begin full comprehensive orthodontic treatment. At the proper time, the doctor will recommend and additional consultation to go over the orthodontic treatment plan.

C – Adjustment Appointments – Anticipate 20-30 minutes

At a typical adjustment appointment, the doctor will examine the patient and give the assistant instructions as to what changes should be made. Elastic ties (“colors”) or power chains are changed at most appointments. Wires may also be changed and additional brackets can be added. Instructions may be given concerning elastic wear, as well as feedback on oral hygiene.  If the patient has broken appliances, the adjustment appointment may take longer. We do try to make all repairs during the scheduled adjustment appointments, but if there is excessive breakage, a longer appointment may need to be scheduled.

D – Bonding Appointments (When you get your braces or Invisalign) – Anticipate 1-1.5 hours

The bonding appointments typically do not cause any discomfort. We routinely bond all brackets to the facial surface of the teeth, eliminating the need for orthodontic bands.  A lip retractor will be inserted into to patients mouth to keep the lips away from the teeth. The teeth are prepared for the braces with a series of etchants and primes. Then the brackets or attachments are placed on the teeth and cured with an ultra violet (blue) light. Once the brackets are on every tooth, wires are placed and elastic ties or power chains are attached to the brackets, which hold the wires in place.  The wires are heat activated nickel titanium wires which work in conjunction with the body temperature. As the wires warm, they exert gentle pressures which begin moving the teeth.

Several hours after the braces are placed, the patient may experience pressure and some soreness as the teeth begin to move. One way to aid this discomfort is by drinking ice water. The cold water will “relax” the wires and help the patient get through the initial adjustment period. Softer foods are also advised, as well as ibuprofen or Tylenol, as needed.

E – Removal Appointments – Anticipate 1-1.5 hours

Removal appointments are typically scheduled during the morning hours. This is a longer appointment, which usually lasts an hour. At this appointment, the brackets are “popped off” the teeth and any residual cement is removed from the teeth. Impressions are made for retainers, which will hold the teeth in the new position. We typically we take new photographs, as well as a panoramic x-ray, the day the braces are removed. Retainers require time to be made and it may be necessary to come for a second appointment to pick up the retainers. The retainer delivery appointments are usually made for the same day as the removal appointment, but in the afternoon.

Often when people think of “orthodontics” they immediately think of the teenager with a mouth full of metal. But today, it’s a new world for patients needing to address misaligned teeth and other bite problems. While it’s true that braces are still metal, they are smaller today and more comfortable to wear. But what about the patient who doesn’t want wires or metal at all? Our orthodontists are able to offer a clear alternative: Invisalign®!

What is Invisalign?

Invisalign® is a system of clear aligners made of almost invisible polyurethane plastic that are made especially for your bite. Over time and through a series of aligners your orthodontist will deliver to you, your teeth will be straightened and maneuvered into their correct positions. Invisalign® clear aligners are removable instead of being cemented or bonded to your teeth like traditional braces. That means you’ll be able to take them out to eat, brush your teeth, floss or for social occasions. Other advantages of using the Invisalign® system include:

  • Improved Oral Hygiene — Since Invisalign® is removable, you can clean your teeth much more easily and thoroughly than if you were wearing metal braces.
  • A Discreet Look — If you consider orthodontic treatment to be a private matter, or simply feel that metal braces don’t fit with your self-image, the invisibility of Invisalign® may be right for you.
  • More Dietary Choices — With traditional braces, some dietary modifications are necessary in order to protect the wires and brackets. Because you can remove your Invisalign® aligners, you can eat anything you like!
  • Comfort — The soft, flexible material that Invisalign® aligners are made of should not irritate the inside of your mouth like metal braces can. Additionally, there is less need for adjustments and most patients say they experience a lot less soreness.
  • Teeth-Grinding Protection — If you have a teeth-grinding or clenching habit, clear aligners can function as thin night-guards that will protect your teeth from excessive wear.
  • Faster, more efficient treatment

How Does Invisalign Work?

All orthodontic treatments work in a similar way in that the differing methods apply carefully controlled forces to teeth to move them into their correct positions.

Your orthodontist will utilize specialized computer software to design a plan for moving your teeth into the best possible alignment. Each movement step will be broken down into several dozen stages, more or less. For each stage, two sets of plastic aligners will be manufactured, one for your top row of teeth and one for the bottom. Each set of trays will be worn for one or two weeks, for a minimum of 22 hours each day. As your teeth begin the process of repositioning, we will move you through the next set of aligners, about once every one or two weeks until your teeth have been moved correctly into place.

How Do You Take Care of Your Teeth with Invisalign?

As we’ve mentioned above, one of the biggest advantages of the Invisalign® system is the ability to remove the trays for easier teeth cleaning. For our patient, taking care of their teeth is the same as if they had nothing on their teeth! It’s important to not neglect maintaining proper oral hygiene to prevent food from being trapped in the aligners. For this reason, we ask our patients to brush their teeth after every meal or snack to prevent food from being trapped in the aligners. You should also clean your aligners regularly by brushing them and then rinsing them with water and liquid hand soap (Dial) or using denture cleaning tablets.

Also, it’s important to keep in mind that while wearing clear aligners may be different from wearing traditional braces, the importance of maintaining straight teeth post-treatment is exactly the same. Be sure to wear your retainers exactly as prescribed in order to protect your beautiful new smile!

Aligning your teeth and keeping them aligned is a team effort. Our orthodontist moves the teeth and brings your bite into alignment. After completing the orthodontic treatment, your teeth can still move back to their original positions if not maintained properly. So, once we’ve moved your teeth, we’ll ask you to do your part and wear a retainer every night that we’ll make especially for you. Wearing the retainer holds your teeth in their corrected position long enough to allow for new bone and ligament to re-form around them. It’s important to keep your smile looking great for a lifetime so wear your retainer every night. It really is very easy.

For Braces or Invisalign in Metro-Atlanta, Contact Us Today!

For many in Metro-Atlanta, braces can be the best way to achieve that smile you’ve always wanted. For a FREE consultation, please contact us today at 770-972-6000.

At Silver Smiles Orthodontics, we strive to provide the highest quality orthodontic care while maintaining a fun, friendly, and relaxed office environment. Our doctors work hard to design specialized treatments for every patient we see, and we’re proud to serve the communities of Atlanta and Snellville, GA with expert orthodontic care. For many people, though, it can be hard to know when they should come into our office.

A Myriad of Signals

There are a few answers to this, but the simplest is that you should come and see us anytime you have questions about the alignment of your teeth or the health and function of your bite. While this is sometimes obvious in cases where there’s a clear problem in the alignment of teeth or the jaws don’t meet correctly, other times, it may be more subtle – but just as serious. Conditions like mouth breathing, clenching or grinding of teeth, or an inability to comfortably close your lips are all signs that you may need treatment, and even things as subtle as your jaws frequently shifting position can indicate a problem.