It is nearly time for summer vacation for many students across the country. If you and your child’s orthodontist have been talking about possibly beginning orthodontic treatment, summer may be the perfect time to get started. Free from some of the regular obligations that the school year brings, summer can give kids a chance to get used to braces, spacers, or other orthodontic appliances.

1. More Flexible Schedule

With the more flexible schedule that the summer allows, it makes it much more convenient to consult an orthodontist if there are issues or concerns after treatment begins. If children need to be brought in to make adjustments or need to attend frequent appointments, they don’t have to miss school and try to make up lessons. Parents have a little more freedom to set up schedules to work around their work schedules, without the additional pressures of working around children’s school schedules.

2. More Time to Devote to Care

During the school year, waking up and getting ready is a hectic rush and bed times must be met to make the next day smoother. This makes it difficult to add in the additional care needed to ensure that braces or other orthodontic appliances are completely cleaned. During the summer, children can take all the time that they need to get used to cleaning their braces, spacers, or other appliances. By the time they start school again after summer vacation ends, the additional care needs will be just a regular part of the daily routine.

3. Less Peer Stress

While it may seem trivial, summer is also ideal for beginning orthodontic treatment because there is less peer stress. Kids can be mean and spacers and braces can cause severe alterations in a child’s appearance-sometimes even large tooth gaps at the beginning of treatment. Removing this additional stress from a child’s treatment period may help them to feel more confident about the process. Allowing them to get used to their own appearance with braces or orthodontic appliances before facing peers again can make a huge difference.

4. Greater Control Over Food

Adjusting to the changes in diet that are dictated by beginning orthodontic care can be difficult when “no-no” foods are served for lunch at school. Kids may be more tempted to ignore the advice of orthodontists and indulge in their favorites when they are readily available. Beginning orthodontic treatment during the summer allows kids to get used to the changes in diet so that they will have more practice avoiding the temptations when offered off-limits foods.

Call an Orlando Orthodontist Today

Summertime is fast approaching, so be sure to begin the process as soon as possible. If you’re in search of an Orlando orthodontist for the summer, call us today to schedule a consultation.

Orthodontic Expanders

Certain orthodontic techniques have shifted over the last several years, especially the increased introduction of orthodontic expanders. In the past, it was common to extract teeth in order to create space in the mouth. Now, orthodontists are trying to save healthy teeth by expanding the arches to correct crowding issues. Expanding the arches is successful in creating more space in the mouth in most cases, but it may cause large gaps to form between the teeth. This can be unnerving for patients and their families.

When to Use an Expander

The roof of the mouth contains two bones which are joined in the middle. When children are young, these bones are joined together by cartilage. At around the age of 14, this cartilage begins to be replaced by bone. If patients can be treated prior to this period of maturation, the roof of the mouth can actually be expanded to help avoid tooth crowding. It is important to treat patients long before the bones begin to permanently fuse.

Appearance of a Tooth Gap

When the expander begins to work, a large gap will typically appear between the top front teeth. This is a sign that the two bones of the palate have been separated. The gap will disappear after further orthodontic treatment. While it may be uncomfortable because of the altered appearance, patients should rest assured that this gap is temporary and necessary to effectively correct misalignments caused by crowding.

Stabilization Period

After the palate has been widened, orthodontists will leave the expander in for a few weeks to several months in order to allow the body to adjust to the newly expanded palate. New bone may form to accommodate the spacing. The teeth may begin to come back together because of the elasticity of the gums and the gap may diminish or disappear even before the expander is removed. This is also normal, but does not happen in every case. After the expander is removed, the palate may come back together slightly. Orthodontists typically anticipate this change by expanding the palate slightly more than needed.

Advantages of Using an Expander

An expander can help patients to avoid costly surgeries and treatments later. Crowding issues may cause teeth to become painful or to rot. An expander will help to naturally make space in the mouth. Expanders can be used even before a patient’s permanent teeth erupt so that the teeth can come in comfortably and free from complications.

Adult Braces

Many adults suffer with misalignment of the teeth and jaws, unaware of the ease of adult orthodontics today. There is often the fear of high cost and undesirable appearance. However, changes in orthodontic techniques and procedures have made adult orthodontics more affordable and less noticeable than ever before.  As a result of these changes, more adults are opting to improve their smiles every day. At this time, about one in five orthodontic patients are adults.

Benefits of Adult Orthodontics

The benefits of undergoing orthodontic procedures are the same for adults as for teenagers and children. These benefits include straighter teeth and better alignments of the teeth and jaws. Having straighter teeth can help to improve appearance, which can boost confidence. Straighter teeth can also make dental care easier and improve overall health. In addition, better alignment of the jaws and teeth can make chewing easier and correct issues with speech.

Types of Orthodontic Treatment

There are now many different options for orthodontics that are barely noticeable. A widely popular type of orthodontic treatment is Invisalign. Invisalign uses customized clear plastic trays to straighten teeth. Lingual braces, which are fitted behind the teeth, are also a less noticeable option. For those that require more extensive straightening, white or light braces may help to reduce the visibility of the braces.

Orthodontic Treatment after Complications

Some adults avoid orthodontic treatment out of the mistaken belief that treatment is not possible due to missing teeth or past dental complications. If teeth are missing, orthodontists can customize prosthetics to hold the place so that the remaining teeth come into alignment. If gum disease or other past complications were present, orthodontists may work together with the patient’s dentist or periodontist to customize the orthodontic treatment. Patients should still continue to visit the dentist or periodontist regularly in addition to the orthodontist.

Costs of Adult Orthodontics

The costs of adult braces may vary depending on the patient’s needs. Many dental insurance plans now offer some degree of coverage for orthodontics due to the improvements in dental health that orthodontics provides. Orthodontists can go over all costs with patients before beginning treatment. Orthodontists may also offer payment plans to make treatment more affordable.

Adjusting to Orthodontic Treatment

Certain lifestyle changes may make orthodontic treatment smoother and more effective. Diet alterations and quitting smoking may help to prevent build-up on the teeth when braces are worn. Tooth care may also have to be more strictly followed to prevent complications. Otherwise, most activities can be performed as normal while undergoing orthodontic treatment. Most patients adjust very quickly to the minor differences and the feel of orthodontic devices.

Palatal Expansion

Palatal expansion works to widen the upper jaw using a device. If an orthodontist has recommended palatal expansion, it means that it is necessary to widen the jaw for best function. Failure to follow the recommendation for palatal expansion may result in complications with jaw and tooth development. These complications may cause difficulties with chewing and speaking, as well as abnormalities in the appearance of the teeth or mouth.

Benefits of Palatal Expansion

Widening the jaw may improve the alignment of the jaws and teeth, which can help to eliminate or prevent complications with chewing and speech. Having the jaw widened before permanent teeth erupt may help patients to avoid extractions, in many cases. In some cases, palatal expansion may help younger patients avoid braces and other costly treatments that would be needed to correct misalignments later in life.

How Palatal Expanders Work

Palatal expansion must be done before the growth plate on the roof of the mouth fuses together, which generally happens between the ages of 14 and 16. Prior to the fusion, the palate is in two parts that are joined together by a suture. The palatal expander works to ease this suture apart. New bone grows to reconnect the two halves of the palate after expansion. The palatal expander may also strategically move specific teeth during the process. The process of palatal expansion is usually complete within several weeks to several months.

Palatal Expander Placement

The palatal expander is placed in the mouth at an orthodontic office. The orthodontist attaches the expander to several of the upper back teeth. This may be done using bands around the teeth or plastic that is bonded over the teeth. Some palatal expanders are removable and some are fixed. After the palatal expander has been placed, patients must turn it every day in order to gradually widen the palate.

Palatal Expansion Expectations

After having a palatal expander placed, many patients feel pressure on the teeth, in the roof of the mouth, and sometimes behind the eyes. This pressure will generally fade within a few minutes. The pressure may recur when the expander is turned, but patients will usually get used to this feeling relatively quickly. As the palate expands, gaps may appear between the teeth. This is normal and teeth will shift to fill the gaps after the palatal expander has been removed.

Caring for Palatal Expanders

Fixed palatal expanders should be brushed along with the teeth after meals and consumption of sugary beverages. The mouth should also be rinsed thoroughly after each cleaning to avoid buildup. Removable palatal expanders should be cleaned meticulously each day after removal. Failure to properly clean palatal expanders may result in tooth decay and other complications.

Teeth Shifting

It can be frightening and disheartening for patients that have just had their braces removed to see their teeth shifting. While wearing a retainer can help to prevent some shifting, it is normal for teeth to begin a process of “settling” that begins immediately following braces removal. It is important for patients to understand why the teeth shift, what degree of shifting is expected and accepted after braces removal, and how to tell if teeth are shifting enough to require additional treatment.

Natural Settling Process

When the braces are on, the teeth are held firmly in the position that the orthodontist desires. When the braces come off, the teeth are susceptible to the natural shifting that all parts of the body are susceptible to. The teeth are also susceptible to outside forces such as the tongue and wear from chewing. Some degree of shifting is expected and may even help the bite pattern to come into better alignment than with the braces on.

Retainer Use

Retainer use is necessary to prevent high degrees of shifting. If a patient follows the orthodontist’s directions regarding retainer use, the teeth will generally only shift slightly and no additional treatment will be needed. Retainer use is most important immediately following the removal of the braces, as this is the time when teeth are settling the most. It is usually necessary for retainers to be used nightly for the rest of a patient’s life after the initial period of continuous wear that is dictated by the orthodontist. Failure to use a retainer as the orthodontist recommends may result in additional treatment to re-correct misalignments.

Front Teeth Shifting

Shifting of the front teeth is undesirable and may lead to a need for additional treatment. If the front teeth begin to shift, the orthodontist should be notified immediately. The orthodontist may be able to correct the shifting before it becomes severe by gluing a bonded retainer to the back of teeth until the teeth stabilize. This is not possible with all patients, however. If the bite is too tight to allow a bonded retainer to be inserted behind the front teeth, the orthodontist may recommend allowing the teeth to shift to the final position and then using other means to close the gap between teeth.

Correcting Shifting

If the teeth begin to slowly shift in the weeks following braces removal, the orthodontist may be able to make adjustments to the retainer or prescribe a new retainer in order to prevent further shifting. If the orthodontist is notified quickly enough, but correction cannot be achieved simply by adjusting the retainer, it may be possible to use a clear aligner that can be worn continuously for a short period of time to correct the minor shifting. If shifting is allowed to continue for too long, it may become severe and require reinstallation of braces. It is highly recommended that patients notify an orthodontist as soon as movement is noticed to make correction as easy as possible.

Two-Phase Treatment

Two-phase treatment is an orthodontic process that separates orthodontic care into two distinct phases beginning when the patient is very young. The advantage of two-phase treatment is that orthodontists can effectively control jaw and tooth misalignments as patients’ mouths and jaws develop. In some cases, this will help patients to avoid costly surgeries and procedures.

In most cases, it will help patients to enjoy maximum tooth health and appearance throughout their lifetime. Two-phase treatment is not necessary in all cases, but if the orthodontist recommends two-phase treatment, it can help patients to avoid the development of complications.

Phase One Treatment

The objective of the first phase of treatment is typically to ensure adequate jaw space to fit all teeth once the permanent teeth erupt. Keeping proper alignment of the jaw and teeth is also important throughout this phase. Jaw misalignments can often be recognized after the patient reaches the age of six and steps can be taken to correct this before it worsens.

How Phase One Works

Orthodontists utilize x-rays, models of the teeth, and photographs to decide which appliances to use during phase one treatment. After the appliances have been installed, orthodontists will schedule frequent visits with the patient. Close records will be kept of the patient’s progress in order to make adjustments for the best results. Participating in phase one treatment often prevents patients from requiring tooth removal later on.

Resting Period

During the resting period, appliances are removed. It is at this time that the remaining permanent teeth erupt and fill in the space that has been created during phase one treatment. No retainers are usually prescribed during this period, as the retainers may interfere with the natural eruption of the permanent teeth. After all permanent teeth have erupted, the orthodontist will schedule an appointment to assess the alignment and spacing of the teeth.

Phase Two Treatment

During the second phase of treatment, orthodontists utilize all past and current records to determine the best course of action. Patients may require additional space for teeth, and in some cases it will be necessary to remove teeth or use devices to assist with this goal. Braces are typically worn for a period of about 24 months during phase two treatment.

After the removal of the braces, patients are given a retainer to maintain the positioning and alignment of the teeth. If patients follow all care instructions and recommendations throughout two-phase treatment, patients’ smiles are usually healthy and beautiful for a long time.