The Importance of Wearing Your Retainer after Braces or Invisalign

October 18th, 2019

Whether you wear metal braces, clear braces or use Invisalign to straighten your teeth, your dentist will probably recommend that you follow up that treatment by wearing a retainer. While it may seem inconvenient to wear a retainer after undergoing the long process of tooth straightening, wearing a retainer can help keep your smile long after you finish your teeth-straightening treatment.

Crooked teeth are common, and so is the use of braces. More than four million people in the United States wear some sort of braces to straighten their teeth. About 25 percent of these people are adults, but most are teens. A recent survey of orthodontists found that 60 percent of patients wore their retainers more than 10 hours each day in the first three months of treatment; about 4 percent never wore their retainers at all. Neglecting their retainer leaves these patients at risk for developing misaligned teeth later in life.

Understanding How the Tooth Straightening Process Works

It is important to correct crooked, misaligned or gap teeth. While crooked teeth are a cosmetic issue, they can also cause dental problems – crooked teeth can put extra pressure on different parts of your mouth to cause problems later on in life. Misaligned teeth can also be difficult to brush and floss around, which can lead to gum disease and tooth decay. Poorly aligned teeth can also result in a poor bite that prevents you from chewing your food well.

Dentists use a number of treatment plans, such as metal braces, clear braces and Invisalign, to straighten teeth. These treatments work by applying pressure to the teeth to gradually moving them into their optimal position in your jaw. Metal braces feature brackets cemented to your teeth and wires that apply pressure. Invisalign is a series of plastic trays that slowly push your teeth into place.

The good news is that, under pressure, the teeth move into place relatively easily. The bad news is that, without the pressure of braces or Invisalign, the teeth can move out of place again. This is especially true in the first year after you stop using Invisalign or have your braces removed. A retainer applies just enough pressure to keep your teeth in place while they settle into the new location in your jaw.

The Purpose of Wearing Your Retainer after Braces

There are two main types of retainers: fixed and removable. Fixed retainers are cemented in place, so you cannot remove them. You can easily slide a removable retainer in and out of your mouth. There are two types of removable retainers - Your dentist can recommend which type of retainer might be right for you.

Your orthodontist will also advise you on how long you should wear your retainer. Dentists usually recommend that you wear a removable retainer full time for at least one year after you have your braces removed or you stop wearing your Invisalign. If your teeth have stopped moving after a year of full time retainer use, your dentist may recommend that you wear your removable retainer only at night.

In some cases, your dentist may recommend that you wear a retainer at night for several years – or even forever, if your teeth tend to drift out of place.

If you don’t wear your retainer for the recommended amount of time, or not at all, your teeth may drift out of place and undo all of the hard work you have put into your beautiful smile. Neglecting your retainer can also put you at risk for a bad bite, tooth decay, gum disease and pressure from poorly aligned teeth. 

For more information on the importance of wearing your retainer after wearing braces or Invisalign to straighten your teeth, contact OrthoCare Orthodontics. Dr. Ford Cooper, the founder of OrthoCare Orthodontics, works alongside two additional orthodontists to provide early orthodontic treatment, metal braces, clear braces, Invisalign, corrective jaw surgery, dentofacial orthopedics, and emergency care. OrthoCare Orthodontics provides orthodontic care in four South Carolina locations, including Spartanburg, Rock Hill, and two offices in Charlotte, SC.

New patients can take advantage of a $500 off orthodontic treatment promotion at any of the four practice locations.

Does Age Determine if Braces are Right for You?

August 28th, 2019

Don’t assume that just because you didn’t get braces as a teenager, you have to continue living with uneven, crooked teeth. Orthodontists do not use age to determine if you are a good candidate for braces. Other factors, such as the health of your teeth and the type of problems you are experiencing, will determine what, if any, type of orthodontic treatment will help you improve your smile.

There is No Perfect Age for Getting Braces

While certain age groups respond better to orthodontic treatment, there isn’t a set age for when someone should get braces. Orthodontists can treat patients of all ages. There have been cases where patients were as young as seven or eight, or as old as 75, 80, or 85.

Ultimately, it really doesn’t matter how old you are. If you want to improve your smile and you have healthy teeth and gums, you are more than likely a good candidate for orthodontic treatment.

Childhood/Adolescence is the Best Time to Undergo Orthodontic Treatment

Ideally, the best time to seek orthodontic treatment is between the ages of 11 and 13. This is the ideal age because teeth tend to respond better to treatment. The reason being - because most of their baby teeth have fallen out and permanent teeth are growing in.

Since the teeth are starting to grow in and the roots have not fully formed and set in the jaw, they can easily be guided to their proper position with the use of orthodontic appliances, such as brackets, wires, and clear aligner trays.

Some of the other benefits of braces for this age group include:

  • Faster treatment times – Since teeth are easier to move into their proper position, treatment times tend to be shorter. Treatment times are also shorter because problems are caught in their early stages and are not left to get severe.
  • Surgery may not be needed – Orthodontists may be able to improve your smile without having to require you, or your child, to have to need a surgical tooth extraction or jaw realignment surgery.
  • Orthodontic treatment may cost less – Faster treatment times often means the overall cost of orthodontic treatment is less.
  • Helps establish good oral hygiene habits – Straight teeth are easier to brush and floss because there aren’t any hard-to-reach areas caused by crooked or overlapping teeth.
  • Reduces the chances of dental problems in the future – Dental problems such as chipped or cracked teeth, teeth grinding, and TMJ can be caused by misaligned or crooked teeth, as well as an uneven bite. Straightening your teeth at a younger age could reduce your chances of experiencing these types of problems.

Early Orthodontic Treatment Helps Prevent Severe Problems

It is often recommended that children see an orthodontist around their seventh birthday. This may seem a little too young for braces, but it can help with the early detection and treatment of some types of orthodontic problems.

Early orthodontic treatment, which is what is typically done during the ages of 7 and 11, is designed to help create space in the mouth so permanent teeth can properly grow in. Space can be created by using partial braces, retainers, spacers, or in severe cases removing teeth.

By creating space in the mouth, the permanent teeth can grow in as close to their proper position as possible. Once all the permanent teeth have grown in, a child can start comprehensive treatment which uses braces or other orthodontic appliances, such as clear aligners, to straighten their teeth.

It is Never Too Late to Get Braces

It is never too late to get braces. Adults of all ages can enjoy the benefits of braces. Some of the benefits of braces you get if you get them as an adult include:

  • Teeth cleaning will be easier – Your newly-aligned teeth will be extremely easy to brush and floss. Easier brushing and flossing reduce your risk of experiencing gum disease, cavities, and other oral health problems.
  • Food is easier to chew – Misaligned bites can often cause pain or discomfort when eating. Braces can correct that problem and make it easier for you to chew your food without any pain or discomfort.
  • Eliminates bad breath – Bacteria and plaque can form around misaligned or crooked teeth. If left in between the teeth, the plaque and bacteria can cause bad breath. Once your teeth are properly aligned, you can easily remove bacteria and plaque from between and around your teeth, which will eliminate your bad breath.
  • Reduced risk of damaging tooth enamel – Uneven teeth and a misaligned jaw can cause your teeth to rub against each other when you are eating or cause you to grind your teeth at night. This can result in extensive damage to the enamel, the protective layer, of your teeth. Properly aligned teeth won’t rub together as often which reduces your risk of experiencing these problems.
  • Increased confidence – People often feel better when they have a straighter smile.

While it is possible to get braces as an adult, it is important to remember that because the teeth are fully grown and the jawbone is set, it could take longer to shift and move your teeth into proper alignment. It will take longer to change the position of your teeth because they are more resistant to change.

In addition to longer treatment times, sometimes surgery may be needed in order to get adult braces. Dental extractions could be needed if you need extra space in your mouth for teeth to move around or jaw surgery could be needed if you have a severe over or underbite.

Not every individual will need surgery or have lengthy treatment times if they start orthodontic treatment as an adult. It will depend upon the types of problems that need to be corrected and the severity of those problems.

Want to Improve Your Smile? Schedule a Consultation to See How Braces Can Improve Your Smile

See how orthodontic treatment could help you improve your smile by calling OrthoCare Orthodontics to schedule an appointment for a consultation. Our orthodontists will assess your unique case and create a treatment plan that will give you a better, more improved smile.

Our orthodontists have experience treating patients of all ages. We provide a wide range of services including early orthodontic care, corrective jaw surgery, and comprehensive orthodontic treatment which can include the use of metal braces, Invisalign, and clear braces. If you want to improve your smile, we can help you.

Call any of our four office locations to learn more about our new patient promotion or schedule a consultation. We look forward to helping you improve your smile!

Can I Get Braces if I Have Dental Implants, Crowns, or Veneers?

June 26th, 2019

For many patients who question whether they should get braces, the answer is pretty straightforward. Our Charlotte orthodontics team often recommends that braces are a good choice to solve dental problems for patients from young to old. Although there is no set period of treatment, the time it takes to straighten your teeth can vary, often depending on age, physical condition, and the level of dental correction required.

Not only can dental braces help resolve multiple types of problems in your mouth, but they can also help you feel much better about yourself. In cases where teeth are misaligned, there is an overbite or underbite, or where a tooth is missing, we might suggest that patients get braces so their mouth will have a more natural and uniform appearance.

Braces may also help the patient chew more evenly and can help reduce some pain they may be experiencing. Today, there is far less concern about comfort levels and appearance with braces than ever before. In the “old days” getting braces might have been a cumbersome process, but modern orthodontics offers many comfortable and natural-looking options. These can vary from appliances which are attached to the teeth to using a series of trays to help bring teeth into a better alignment:

  • Metal Braces: These are probably the type of braces that most people are familiar with — the traditional brackets, wires, and “rubber bands.” But they are not the bulky kind you might remember. Great advances in orthodontic care have made today’s metal braces much smaller and far more comfortable than they were in the past. Many of our teen patients even choose from a variety of colors to show school spirit or make a unique fashion statement!
  • Clear Braces: People might not want others to know they are wearing braces for a variety of reasons. Although this is more likely in our adult patients, some teens prefer the ceramic or clear braces option as well. These alternatives achieve the same goals as traditional metal braces but are simply not as apparent to the casual observer. The wearer does not feel self-conscious about wearing braces and can smile with confidence.
  • Invisalign Clear Aligners: With a similar purpose of readjusting teeth in the mouth, clear aligners differ from braces in that they are not directly attached to the teeth. They are instead a series of custom-made plastic trays that gradually shift the teeth into their desired position and are usually most effective for those patients who only need a minor orthodontic correction.

What are the Dental Conditions Which Might Affect Your Ability to Get Braces?

In most cases, the decision to get braces is simple and straightforward — you have a dental condition that can be corrected with braces, and we have many options to suit your specific needs. But some patients have had previous dental work completed in their mouth which can make them concerned about the effect of adding braces. That is certainly a valid question to ask as they don’t want to lose the investment they have already made, and definitely, do not want to do any damage to the work that has been completed.

This concern is expressed most often with patients who have dental implants, crowns, and veneers. They wonder whether it is a good idea for them to get braces, or if they should just leave their mouth in its current condition. Although each case is different, and our orthodontists will make a recommendation only after a thorough evaluation of your tooth, jaw and gum structure, we do have many options we can access that will help make braces work for you.

Braces with Veneers

A veneer is a thin layer of ceramic, porcelain, or dental composite material which is placed over the visible portion of a tooth to improve its appearance. Although we would prefer to apply the braces before the veneers, this is not always possible with all patients. In the case of veneers, we will use a very precise technique to attach the braces and may use a special adhesive for this purpose. We also remove the braces very carefully so as not to cause damage to the veneer. In some cases, we might recommend the use of Invisalign clear aligners in place of the traditional brace structure.

Braces with Crowns

A crown is a “false” tooth made of ceramic, porcelain, gold or other materials that is affixed over the base portion of an existing tooth. They are usually placed on teeth that have been cracked, chipped or broken. The natural tooth structure remains in place under the gum line and can be moved through the process of braces. If you have an existing crown, we can fit braces over it and will use a different type of adhesive to apply the braces so that we do not damage the crown. Here again, it might also be helpful to use the Invisalign clear aligners as they do not require any adhesive at all. In some cases, we may recommend that you wait until after the course of braces has been completed to have any crowns placed in your mouth. This will help achieve an even greater degree of uniformity with your newly-realigned teeth.

Braces with Dental Implants

Dental implants are different from dental crowns in that they affect the root structure of the tooth and are used to replace teeth that have been severely damaged or lost. A titanium post is inserted directly into your jaw bone to replace the missing tooth structure. A crown is then attached to this post to simulate the appearance of your natural tooth.

When it comes to braces though, the fact that the post is inserted into the jaw means that it is not moveable; however, that does not mean you cannot get braces. We may be able to work with you before the implant is placed to rearrange the surrounding teeth while leaving a space for your new implant. If the implant is already in place, we can still go ahead with braces if the teeth that need to be aligned are not in the surrounding area.

In other cases, we can use the dental implant as an anchor point and use that to provide the force necessary to move the surrounding teeth or focus on other areas so that your teeth are not strictly moved to be in alignment with the implant. In the most unlikely scenario, we can remove the implant, realign your teeth, and replace the implant after the course of treatment with braces is complete.

In any case, it is always best to have an experienced orthodontist place the braces in your mouth and follow your course of treatment carefully. After a thorough examination and discussion of your medical history, our dental care team will develop an individual care plan that is just right for your unique dental needs. Call the OrthoCare Orthodontics office nearest you to set an appointment for a complimentary consultation, and let us help find the braces that best meet your exact orthodontic needs.

Why Do Adults Need Orthodontics?

May 29th, 2019

Teens aren’t the only ones who are undergoing orthodontic treatment. Adults are as well. They too are choosing to change their smile with the help of orthodontic treatment.

Just How Many Adults are Undergoing Orthodontic Treatment?

The American Association of Orthodontics estimates that approximately 20% of all orthodontic patients are adults. That comes out to 1 in every 5 patients who are getting some type of orthodontic treatment, such as Invisalign, traditional braces, or clear braces, are over the age of 21.

Why is Orthodontics for Adults So Popular?

Just like with teens, the reason why an adult would undergo orthodontic treatment will vary depending upon personal preferences and circumstances. Some individuals may choose to undergo orthodontic treatment just to improve their appearance, while others want to improve their oral health or to treat a specific problem.

Some of the most common reasons why adults need orthodontic treatment include:

  • Changes to their appearance - orthodontic treatment can improve a person’s smile by making their teeth appear straighter and more even.
  • Improve oral health - straighter, more even teeth are easier to brush and floss.
  • Correct over- and underbites - over- and underbites can cause problems with speaking and eating.
  • Relief from jaw pain - jaw pain can sometimes be caused by teeth grinding or clenching. People with straighter teeth and a more even bite tend to not clench or grind their teeth. Orthodontic treatment can help correct a person’s bite and straighten their teeth.

What Treatment Options are Available for Adults Considering Orthodontics?

Adults who are considering undergoing orthodontic treatment have a number of treatment options available to them. Orthodontic treatment options that are available to adults include:

The type of orthodontic treatment that will be used will depend upon the types of problems that need to be corrected.

For example, Invisalign is great with correcting overcrowded teeth or gaps between teeth. However, it isn’t able to correct teeth that need to be rotated or a person’s bite. On the other hand, traditional braces and clear braces can correct everything from severe orthodontic problems, such as severe overcrowding and jaw misalignment, to minor problems such as gaps between teeth or slight overcrowding of the teeth.

Want to Correct Your Smile? Schedule a Consultation to Discuss Orthodontics for Adults

Interested in correcting your smile? If so, call us at OrthoCare Orthodontics to schedule a consultation. Our comprehensive orthodontic consultation will help you discover what type of treatment can be used to help you improve your smile. During the consultation, we will take a series of x-rays and digital photos, conduct an oral examination, and talk with you to see what your expectations are. Then, we will be able to provide you with personalized treatment recommendations to help you get the smile you have always wanted.

Why Are Rubber Bands Used With Braces?

May 14th, 2019

Whether you have braces now or have a teen in your family with braces, you may notice there are other patients with braces are using tiny rubber bands. Wondering why that is? Let’s discover why your orthodontist may be recommending the use of rubber bands as part of your orthodontic treatment.

What is the Purpose of Rubber Bands for Braces?

Ultimately, the purpose of rubber bands for braces, which are sometimes known as interarch rubber bands or elastics, is to help make sure your jaw is placed in such a way that your teeth, once they are shifted to their new position, will properly line up. The rubber bands work by applying a constant and steady amount of force and pressure to the jaw area. The force and pressure help to shift the jaw into the desired new position.

Who Needs to Use Rubber Bands?

Not every person who gets metal braces will need to use rubber bands. It will all depend on the alignment of the jaw. If the jaw is unaligned and causes a cross-bite, underbite, or overbite, rubber bands will need to be used in order to subtly and slowly move the jaw into proper alignment.

Are Rubber Bands Used for the Whole Length of Orthodontic Treatment?

How long you will have to wear rubber bands as part of your orthodontic treatment will depend upon how much your jaw and teeth need to be adjusted. If the jaw and teeth only need to be slightly shifted, you may only have to wear the rubber bands for several weeks. However, if your jaw and bite need major adjustments you could end up wearing rubber bands for almost the entire time of your orthodontic treatment.

What to Expect if You Should Need to Use Rubber Bands

Wearing rubber bands in your mouth will be a completely new experience. Luckily, it isn’t painful; just a little uncomfortable. As you adjust to wearing rubber bands, the discomfort you are experiencing will often decrease and eventually, you won’t even notice them in your mouth.

You will be completely responsible for the placement, care, and maintenance of interarch rubber bands for braces. If your orthodontist recommends wearing rubber bands for your braces, you can expect to have to do the following things on a regular basis:

  • Remove the rubber bands when eating or snacking
  • Remove the rubber bands when brushing and flossing
  • Replacing the rubber bands with new rubber bands every single day

Not doing these things could cause you to experience delays in orthodontic treatment or it could prevent you from getting the best results from your orthodontic treatment.

What Happens if You Choose to Not Use Rubber Bands with Your Metal Braces?

Not everyone is thrilled about having to wear rubber bands as part of their orthodontic treatment. However, it has to be done if you wish to improve your smile.

If you choose to undergo orthodontic care and not use rubber bands, your teeth will still be straightened out. They just might not look as straight as you wish them to look because the alignment of your jaw is causing your smile to appear slightly distorted.

Schedule a Consultation with an Experienced Orthodontist

Our experienced orthodontists will take x-rays and digital imaging, which will be used to create a comprehensive orthodontic treatment plan for you. That treatment plan may or may not use rubber bands as it will depend upon the alignment of your jaw.

Curious to see if you may need rubber bands for your braces? Call OrthoCare Orthodontics to schedule an orthodontic consultation.

Invisalign vs Braces: Which Orthodontic Treatment is Right for You?

April 16th, 2019

If you're considering orthodontic treatment for yourself or your teen, you've got a decision to make. Do you opt for traditional treatment using metal braces? Or do you go with Invisalign, which uses a series of clear plastic trays to straighten your teeth? At OrthoCare Orthodontics, we get asked the "Invisalign vs braces" question quite a bit. While the decision is ultimately yours to make, we'll lay out the pros and cons of each treatment option.

Invisalign treatment

With Invisalign treatment, a series of 3D printed trays are used to move your upper and lower teeth to more aesthetically pleasing positions. You'll change the trays periodically, typically every week. Each new tray slowly brings your teeth into a better position.  There's no need to come to the office every month for adjustments like you would with metal braces. You can manage your own treatment as long as you replace the trays on the schedule directed by your orthodontist.

Invisalign trays are taken out when you're eating or cleaning your teeth. That means you won't have to change what you eat or avoid the foods you enjoy in order to accommodate your orthodontic treatment. You also won't have to purchase specialty equipment just to keep your teeth clean while they're being straightened. The only thing you'll have to remember is to brush your teeth before you put the Invisalign tray back over your teeth after eating.

There are other benefits to Invisalign as well. Invisalign doesn't come with the discomfort and problems often associated with metal braces. Invisalign trays are comfortable and don't leave your gums and cheeks sore. Plus, the trays are completely clear. No one will ever know you're having orthodontic treatment unless you choose to tell them!

While they have many benefits, Invisalign may not be right for people with significant spacing issues or over/under bites. The system is good for people with relatively straightforward straightening requirements.

Metal braces

Used for decades to straighten teeth, traditional braces are usually best for more complicated cases that require bites to be corrected or the palate expanded along with straightening the teeth.

Braces consist of metal bands and brackets with wires threaded through that connect your teeth. These elements work together to slowly move your teeth into the correct position.

Metal braces are glued to your teeth, so you can't remove them. That means they can be a challenge to keep clean. Food particles get stuck in the brackets and under the wires. You may need to purchase a water pik or other equipment so you can adequately clean food from your braces.

You'll also need to avoid some foods completely. Sticky, crunchy and hard foods are not permitted during orthodontic treatment with metal braces. If you play contact sports, you'll also need to wear a mouth guard to protect your braces during the game.

Metal braces also must be adjusted regularly. So, you'll need to return to the orthodontist's office at least once a month for adjustments to be made. Your specific treatment plan will dictate exactly how often you must return. And the adjustments can cause discomfort to your mouth. The metal brackets rub raw areas on your mouth which makes it difficult to chew or talk.

Even with these drawbacks, metal braces are the best choice for many adults and teens who need a good deal of correction.

If you have additional questions about treatment with Invisalign vs braces, please contact our office. We're happy to help you decide which option is right for you. Plus, new patients can receive $500 off orthodontic treatment at any of our locations!

How to Keep your Braces Clean

March 29th, 2019

The biggest, and perhaps most difficult change to make when you get braces is learning a whole new oral care routine. No longer will your routine involve just running into the bathroom, quickly brush and floss, and go on with your day. Instead, your new oral care routine will be a bit more complex and time-consuming. That’s why we’ve put together these braces hacks to learn how to keep them clean.

Braces Hack #1: Use the Right Type of Toothbrush

It’s extremely important to make sure you’re brushing with the right type of toothbrush. Using the wrong type when you have braces can cause a number of problems. Doing so can damage the enamel on your teeth, scratch your gums, bend the wires of your braces, and damage the brackets that are bonded to your teeth.

The type of toothbrush that you should be using if you have braces is one with the following features:

  • Soft-bristles
  • Smaller head on the toothbrush
  • Manual or battery powered
  • No frayed bristles

Note: You may need to replace your toothbrush more than every three months when you have braces as the bristles on your brush will fray faster due to the wires and brackets.

Braces Hack #2: Proper Tooth Brushing Technique When You Have Braces

Brushing your teeth with braces isn’t all that different from brushing without braces. The only real difference is that you’ll want to brush gently to avoid damaging the wires and brackets. It’ll also be a bit more time consuming since you’ll be working the toothbrush around all the brackets and wires.

Here’s the proper way to brush your teeth when you have braces:

  • Step 1: Gently rinse your mouth out with warm water to remove any large food particles
  • Step 2: Make sure you’re holding your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle
  • Step 3: Use small, gentle forward and backward motions when brushing
  • Step 4: Brush all of the surfaces of your teeth, including chewing surfaces and inner and outer surfaces.
  • Step 5: Move your toothbrush around so you’re brushing between the wires
  • Step 6: Brush your tongue and roof of your mouth

Note: To keep your teeth and braces really clean, you’ll want to brush after every meal and right before bed.

Braces Hack #3: How to Floss with Braces

Another important part of your new oral care routine with braces involves flossing. You can’t just run the floss between your teeth anymore. Instead, you’ll have to work it around the wires, brackets, and in between your teeth. Luckily, there is a small dental tool that helps a lot known as a floss threader.

A floss threader helps you get the floss in those hard-to-reach areas. Once the floss has been threaded into those hard-to-reach areas, you can effectively remove any plaque or food particles that have gotten stuck between your teeth.

Braces Hack #4: Use an Interdental Toothbrush

Interdental toothbrushes are a new dental tool that should become part of your new oral care routine. These tiny little bristled brushes are used to clean around the wires and brackets of your braces. This tiny toothbrush reaches those areas which your regular toothbrush may miss.

Braces Hack #5: Try to Avoid Foods that Cause Tooth Decay or Damage Tooth Enamel

Watching what you eat throughout the day can really help to make your oral care routine a little easier to do. Avoiding foods that are known to increase your risk of tooth decay or damage your braces or the protective enamel on your teeth can help keep your mouth healthy and clean.

Some foods you may want to avoid (or only consume in moderation) include:

  • Soda
  • Fruit juices
  • Potato chips
  • Crackers
  • Extremely sugary foods or drinks such as coffee-based drinks, milkshakes, and energy drinks
  • Hard candy
  • Toffee and other sticky foods or candy

Have additional questions about how your oral care routine will change once you have braces? Feel free to ask any questions you may have during your orthodontic consultation with the orthodontists at OrthoCare Orthodontics.

During the orthodontic consultation, our orthodontists will explore treatment options with you, discuss what types of results you can expect to see, and answer any questions you may have about orthodontic treatment. Call us today to schedule an appointment. We look forward to helping you improve your smile!

Traditional Braces vs. Invisalign

February 25th, 2019

Choosing whether to use Invisalign or traditional braces to improve your smile is perhaps the most important decision you will make on your orthodontic journey. The type of treatment you choose to use will not only determine the length of your treatment and how much it costs, but it will determine the results you see when treatment is completed.

While an orthodontist is the only person who can tell you exactly what type of orthodontic treatment is best for you, it doesn’t hurt to learn more about both Invisalign and traditional braces. Learning more about these options can help you make a well-informed decision about which type of treatment is right for you.

The Pros and Cons of Traditional Braces

Traditional braces are what most people think of when they think of orthodontics. This is the mouth full of square brackets, rubber bands, and wires.

Benefits of traditional braces include:

  • Effective at correcting all types of problems from minor overcrowding of the teeth to major spacing issues or tooth misalignments
  • Helps if teeth need to be rotated during treatment
  • Able to correct bite issues such as overbite, crossbite, and underbite
  • No removable parts, such as trays, that can be lost or misplaced
  • Aspects of your treatment, such as tightness of the wires and how your teeth move, can easily be adjusted each follow-up appointment you have with the orthodontist which helps if problems arise during treatment
  • Works great with teens who have bones that have not finished growing

Possible drawbacks of traditional braces include:

  • Treatment time varies depending upon the complexity of the problems that need to be corrected
  • Orthodontic devices cannot be removed, meaning they are visible
  • Multiple food restrictions are in place to prevent damaging of the brackets and wires
  • Multiple office visits will be required throughout treatment so the wires can be tightened and brackets can be fixed if broken
  • Can take time to learn how to properly brush and floss with traditional braces

Pros and Cons of Invisalign

Using a series of clear plastic aligner trays, Invisalign subtly shifts your teeth into proper alignment. Just like with traditional braces, there are benefits and drawbacks to Invisalign.

Benefits of Invisalign include:

  • Orthodontic devices, which are clear plastic trays, are almost invisible
  • Great for correcting spacing issues and minor misalignment of teeth
  • Plastic aligner trays are removable which allows you to eat and drink what you want during treatment
  • Treatment may be more comfortable as there are no pointy wires or brackets
  • Cleaning your teeth with Invisalign is no different than before you started treatment
  • Fewer follow-up office visits are needed as treatment is almost all self-administered

Potential drawbacks of Invisalign include:

  • Not able to be used if you have had some types of previous dental work, such as crowns or bridgework
  • Requires a lot of self-discipline as the trays need to be worn for at least 22 hours a day and switched out on schedule
  • Cannot correct bite issues as it does not change the shape or structure of the jaw
  • Alignment trays can be misplaced or go missing

Orthodontic Treatment is Customized to Meet the Needs of the Patient

Every person has different needs when it comes to the type of orthodontic treatment that is recommended. Even two people who have similar problems that need to be corrected to improve their smile could be given two different recommendations for treatment.

A number of different factors go into determining what type of orthodontic treatment to recommend. Factors such as:

  • Types of malocclusion – the clinical term for incorrect placement or misalignment of teeth – that need to be corrected
  • Personal preferences – such as willingness to follow strict food restriction guidelines or comfort level with having visible wires and brackets
  • Budget for treatment - the cost of orthodontic treatment varies
  • Previous dental work - such as bridges, implants, or dental crowns
  • Age at the time of treatment – some treatment options work better when a patient is still growing while others work better after the bones have fully grown

An orthodontist will take all these factors into consideration and create a customized treatment plan that meets your needs.

Work with an Orthodontist to Choose the Right Treatment Option for You

Before making a final decision regarding which type of orthodontic treatment to use, schedule a consultation with the orthodontists at OrthoCare Orthodontics. An orthodontic consultation is important because sometimes your preferred treatment might not be the most effective way to improve your smile. Your first orthodontic appointment allows you to explore treatment options with an orthodontist and find out which one is right for you.

Are you ready to take the first step to improving your smile and oral health? Call OrthoCare Orthodontics today to schedule your complimentary orthodontic consultation at any of our four office locations located in North Carolina and South Carolina.

Tips For Adults With Braces

January 10th, 2019

When you have braces on teeth, those teeth need extra attention to protect them from decay, staining and gum disease. You should also take precautions to avoid damaging the braces.

For example, activities to avoid include eating chewy or sticky sweets, eating hard or crunchy foods, biting your lip, breathing excessively through your mouth and pushing your tongue against your teeth, according to the Academy of General Dentistry.


Although brushing twice a day is the standard oral care recommendation, when you wear braces, you should brush after every time you eat — even after that mid-afternoon vending machine snack or some late-night munchies. That's because food particles easily become trapped in the braces, and the longer those particles stay trapped, the greater risk you have of developing dental problems. Use a soft toothbrush with round bristles, or an electric toothbrush if you prefer.

Start by rinsing your mouth with water to loosen food stuck in and around your braces. It's important to brush each tooth at the gum line and both above and below the brackets. Brush your gum line first, holding the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle. Next, clean the brackets by brushing at a downward angle on top of the brackets and brushing at an upward angle at the bottom of the brackets. Rinse again after brushing.

Other Cleaning Methods

Floss at least once a day, making sure you floss not only between the braces but also under the wires. To more easily floss under the wires, use a floss threader or orthodontic flosser, which you can buy at drug stores. Waxed floss is easier to slide between your teeth and less likely to snag on your braces than unwaxed floss.

If you have space between your teeth, you might find that an interproximal (also called interdental) brush that goes between the teeth works better than flossing. Another option for hard-to-reach areas is an oral irrigator. Its stream of pulsating water can remove plaque and food debris. You can also rinse with mouthwash to kill any bacteria missed by brushing and flossing.

Watch What You Eat

When you wear braces, you need to be more aware of what you eat. Eating too many sugary and starchy foods can cause plaque to build up around the brackets, which can cause staining of the teeth, causing cavities or leading to gum disease. You should especially avoid sticky and chewy foods, such as dried fruits, caramel, taffy, corn on the cob and chewing gum, all of which can become stuck and be hard to remove from braces.

Hard foods are another no-no. Foods such as nuts, ice, popcorn and beef jerky can break the wires of the braces and loosen the brackets. Even otherwise healthy foods, such as raw apples and carrots, can be problematic because their hard texture can damage the wires. To eat crunchy foods, cut them into small, bite-size pieces.

Additional Tips

If you are caught without a toothbrush, vigorously rinse your mouth with water (or mouthwash) and brush as soon as possible. Also, if your braces or wires chafe the inside of your lips, you can place a special wax on them to prevent this from happening. You can get this wax at drug stores, or just ask your dentist or orthodontist.


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