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Age 7 - The Magic Number For An Orthodontic Consultation

May 28th, 2020

Many parents assume they must wait until their child has all of his or her permanent teeth to see an orthodontist, only to discover that treatment would have been much easier if started earlier. Did you know that the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child have an orthodontic check-up no later than age seven?

That's right - age seven.

Okay, so what's so important about age seven, you ask? By this age, most children have a mix of baby teeth and adult teeth making it an ideal time for evaluation. With early screening, Dr. Godwin can spot subtle problems with emerging teeth and jaw growth. The first molars have typically come in, providing an opportunity to check for malocclusion, or "bad bite." Also, the incisors have begun to come in, and problems such as crowding, deep bites, and open bites can be detected.

While many young patients may not be ready to start treatment, early evaluation allows Dr. Godwin to choose the optimal time to begin treatment. For some children, early evaluation may signal a need for early interceptive treatment.  Early identification of problems often leads to easier or shorter orthodontic treatment in the future. Studies also show that early treatment can prevent physical and emotional trauma. Aside from spurring on years of harmful teasing, misaligned teeth are also prone to injury and are detrimental to good oral hygiene.

Good dental health starts early. To learn more about the benefits of early treatment, visit our website. If your child is nearing his or her seventh birthday or you have concerns about your child's dental development, give Bel Air Orthodontics a call to schedule your complimentary initial consultation.

Orthodontic Emergency? We're Here To Help!

April 20th, 2020

We know that orthodontic emergencies are never convenient or timely. The good news is that true orthodontic emergencies are rare, and we're always available whenever you need us. As a general rule, you should call our office if you have a broken appliance or are experiencing an abnormal amount of discomfort. We'll evaluate the urgency of the problem and schedule an appointment to take care of any problems you may be experiencing.

You might be surprised to learn that you may be able to solve many problems yourself temporarily until you can get to our office. Here are some guidelines to help you understand the difference between a major orthodontic emergency and a minor issue:

Acute, Direct Injury To Mouth, Jaw or Teeth

Whether undergoing orthodontic care or not, if you injure your mouth, jaw, or teeth, you should seek immediate care with your orthodontist and/or dentist. If the injury affects your orthodontic appliances, they may need adjustment or possible replacement, depending on the extent of the injury.

Broken or Distorted Removable Orthodontic Appliances

A distorted or broken removable appliance should be adjusted or replaced as soon as possible and should not be worn until the adjustment or repair is made. Allowing your appliance to remain damaged for an extended period of time may result in disruptions to your treatment plan.

The following solutions may help you relieve discomfort for minor orthodontic issues:

Irritation of Lips or Cheeks 

Sometimes new braces can be irritating to the mouth, especially when eating. A small amount of non-medicinal relief wax makes an excellent buffer between the braces and your mouth. Simply pinch off a small piece and roll it into a ball the size of a small pea. Flatten the ball and place it completely over the area of the braces causing irritation.

Loose Bracket or Band

If your bracket or band is still attached to the wire, you should leave it in place and put wax on it if needed for comfort. If the bracket or band can be removed easily, please don't discard it! Place it in an envelope and  bring it to your emergency appointment for repair.

Loose or Protruding Wire

Occasionally, the end of a wire will work itself out of place and cause irritation of the gum. A broken archwire, or one that is irritating the gum or cheek, needs to be seen as soon as possible for replacement or adjustment.  To temporarily relieve discomfort, use a Q-tip or pencil eraser to push the wire so that it is flat against the tooth. If the wire cannot be moved into a comfortable position, cover it with relief wax. If the wax doesn't help, as a last resort use a small fingernail clipper to clip the wire behind the last tooth to which it is securely fastened. If the end of the wire is still sharp place wax on it.

General Soreness

When you get your braces on, you may feel general soreness in your mouth, and teeth may be tender to biting pressures for three to five days. Stick to a soft diet until your teeth do not hurt to chewing. Irritated gums and other sore spots can be relieved by rinsing your mouth with a warm salt-water mouthwash. Dissolve one teaspoonful of salt in eight ounces of warm water, and rinse your mouth vigorously.  If the tenderness is severe, take Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or whatever you normally take for headache or similar discomfort. Aspirin, Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and Naproxen Sodium (Naprosyn, Anaprox) actually slow the tooth movement, so it is not advisable to use them frequently while wearing braces.

The lips, cheeks, and tongue may become irritated for one to two weeks as they learn a new posture and become accustomed to the surface of the braces. Prompt relief may be achieved by applying a small amount of topical anesthetic (such as Orabase or Ora-Gel) directly to the sore area. You can also put wax on the braces to lessen the temporary discomfort.

If you still have questions, give us a call or visit our Caring For Your Appliances page on our website. Remember . . . The team at Bel Air Orthodontics is here to help!

Lord Of The Old Guys . . . A Retainer Story For The Ages

April 2nd, 2020

Have you ever wondered where all those missing retainers go?

Well, our patients have some amazing stories to tell. Fact, fiction or just plain silly . . . only our patients know for sure. All we ask is that the stories entertain us, and many of our patients deliver just that. We thought we’d share a few of the stories we have received as a regular Blog feature.

Here's Our Latest Story . . . Lord of the Old Guys

I misplaced my retainer, I admit it. However, it was for an excellent cause. You see, the weekend that I lost it I was staying at my grandfather’s house. He lives in one of those all senior neighborhoods, and he needed my help painting so I stayed with him for a few days. The first night while trying to fall asleep (naturally with both my top and bottom retainers tightly fastened in my mouth), I was awakened by a loud crashing noise from downstairs. When I went to see what the clatter was, I saw the front door open and my grandfather lying on the ground below the steps with nothing but a puddle of  water and the remains of a balloon around him.  I ran to help him, when suddenly I was bombarded. I was attacked by several hundred water balloons being catapulted from the front yards of the neighboring senior citizens.

“Run! Save yourself!”, my poor, old grandfather yelled, and to this, I ran and hid behind a bush . When I peaked to see what was going on, all I could see was a war of chaos! Water balloons were bombs . . . walkers were tanks . . . and canes were swords. My grandfather was able to crawl behind the bush with me, obtaining only a few battle wounds.

“Every second Friday night of the month,” he began to explain, “We all have a war. It keeps us young at heart. The neighbors across the street fight us until 4 a.m. and then whoever has the most seniors still awake and fighting, wins!”

After explaining this, my grandfather ran out with his false teeth, biting the enemy. I sat frozen. “Who figures,” I thought.  “I go to bed one night, and I wake up enlisted in some foreign army fighting for who knows what.” But my grandfather sounded so proud and brave in the way he described this war that I felt I would be letting him down if I went back into the warmth and safety of my bed.

And so began the search for a weapon. Being in my pajamas, I did not have any pockets with knickknacks I could use to fight with. I had to go out hoping that my youth would be enough to protect me. I emerged from the bushes and fought harder than ever before. I heard the enemy shout several times, “Whippersnapper!” Many ran screaming at this warning. In fact, all did . . . All except one  -  an elderly lady whose glasses were so painfully big, whose hair was set in a wild fro-like style, and whose sweater had every color and pattern one could imagine. Looking at her was like staring at Mothra itself. Her wrinkled body shook as she approached me with her final water balloon. She pulled it back with what strength her arm could take and threw it as hard as she could towards me. In slow motion, the balloon came darting at my face as I stood weaponless. Then, as I bit my lip to brace myself, I felt the light touch of my retainer. I instantly took it from my mouth and threw it toward the balloon. The balloon shattered, bursting water everywhere. The old woman took her walker and returned to her home, screaming like the rest of them. We had won the war! I am now known as a hero in that half of the elderly community and until next Friday, the senior citizens will sleep well knowing I protected them. And so, that is how I lost my retainer, albeit with honor.

Four Clues That You've Been Neglecting Your Retainer

March 16th, 2020

Congratulations—you’re out of your braces! Now, all you need to do to protect that beautiful smile is to wear your retainer as recommended and keep up with your regular dental routine. And, please, don’t forget to make taking care of your retainer a daily part of that regular dental routine.

Why? Because retainers need love, too! If you don’t look after your retainer, you can experience some less-than-agreeable consequences. Here are a few clues that you might be failing to give yours the care it needs:

It Smells

Just as a buildup of bacteria and food particles in your mouth can lead to bad breath, a buildup of bacteria and food particles on your retainer can lead to unpleasant odors and taste. A clean, fresh retainer is not only more appealing, it’s healthier as well! We will be happy to give you instructions on the best ways to keep your type of retainer clean. Whether you use a daily brushing, a water rinse, or a special cleaning solution, it’s
important to follow our recommendations to extend the life of your retainer.

It’s Discolored

Plaque and tartar aren’t just problems for your teeth! If your retainer is cloudy or has white spots on the surface, it’s probably accumulating the same plaque and tartar that stick to your enamel. Again, we’ll let you know the best and safest way to keep your retainer plaque-free.

It’s Looking a Little the Worse for Wear

Retainers are strong, but they’re not indestructible! Washing machines, hot dashboards, creative dogs looking for new chew toys—the world is full of retainer dangers. If your retainer does suffer misfortune, give our office a call right way. Sometimes minor damage can be repaired, but if it can’t, you might need a new one. How to avoid this trouble and expense? Prevention. Always use your protective case whenever you remove your retainer, and keep it in a safe place.

It’s . . . Wait, Where Is It?

If you’ve lost your retainer for even a short period of time, you might notice it doesn’t fit comfortably anymore once you’ve found it. The ligaments and bone tissue that hold your teeth remodel as your braces move the teeth into their new positions. The retainer helps keep your teeth in place while these ligaments and bone strengthen around them. If you haven’t been wearing your retainer, there is a chance that your teeth will start shifting back to their original positions. And if they get too far out of alignment, more time in braces might be needed.

Don’t worry—the team at Bel Air Orthodontics is happy to help you avoid all of these unpleasant scenarios. We’ll give you easy instructions for cleaning and taking care of your retainer. If you ever damage it or lose it, be sure to give us a call right away, so we can get you back on track as quickly as possible. You’ve worked hard for your beautiful smile—now you just need to help your retainer work to keep it that way!

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