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Choosing An Orthodontist

August 10th, 2016

It's not the surgical tools that perform the surgery

Recently a patient asked me if she could get her BRACES put on in her home country and then have me monitor their progress.  Her rationale:  Braces are CHEAPER back home.  I realized that in her mind, the BRACES work all by themselves.  That is like believing a SURGEON’s INSTRUMENTS are doing the surgery and it doesn’t matter who is performing the procedure.

When considering surgery, we look for the BEST surgeon around.  Choosing an Orthodontist is no different – you want one with top notch education and vast experience who is therefore most qualified to handle your needs.  You are investing in the expertise of the ORTHODONTIST, not the braces themselves.

A few things you should consider when choosing an Orthodontist:

  • Dentist vs. Orthodontic Specialist:  Who is best suited to address your orthodontic needs?  A general dentist or an Orthodontic Specialist who spent an extra 2-3 years studying Orthodontics and can no longer practice dentistry (fillings / crowns)?
  • Is your Orthodontist Board Certified?  Board Certification shows that the orthodontist has proven s/he can treat to the highest level of care.  (www.americanboardortho.org)
  • How is the office team?  Do they work as my advocate in appointment scheduling, working with insurance, and handling emergencies?
  • How much does it cost? Most people don’t base healthcare decisions entirely on price; they also consider expertise and final outcome.  There are 3 factors we often take into consideration when making a purchase – Quality, Service and Price.  Some shop at Nordstrom® for the high Quality and Service, knowing that it will be reflected in the Price.  Medical and Dental procedures are no different.  Orthodontics is a service, not a commodity.  In fact, from one office to another you may receive a completely different result and definitely a different experience!
  • Not All Orthodontists are created equally.  Where was his/her education? Does s/he know you by name? Does s/he treat you as if you were a family member?  Is s/he a perfectionist, resulting in better care?

After considering all these factors, you’ll likely find that in Orthodontics, it’s more than just BRACES… you’re investing in a result and an experience– a Priceless Smile that will last you a lifetime!*

*If you wear your retainer!  ☺

What is an Expander? How Does it Work?

July 14th, 2016

The 2 most common names used to describe this orthodontic device are an expander or a jaw widener.  There are, in fact, many different types of expanders – an RPE (Rapid Palatal Expander), a Quad Helix, a Haas Expander, a Schwartz Appliance, and a W-arch to name just a few.   Each one has a slightly different indication, but the overall purpose of most expanders is to make the jaw wider.

How does an expander work?  Through adolescence the upper jaw is composed of 2 separate bones.  An expander pushes the two halves of the jaw apart, the cartilage between the bones is stretched, and new bone is formed.  Ultimately, the jaw ends up wider than it’s starting point, which ultimately makes more room for the teeth.

The lower jaw is a little different; although it started as two separate bones while developing in the womb, the two bones of the lower jaw fuse into one prior to birth. Thus, while lower expanders can make more room by pushing the teeth apart or by tipping them, they don’t actually make the jaw bone itself wider.

The 2 most common orthodontic problems addressed by expanders are Crossbites and Crowding:

1 – Crossbite:   When the upper jaw is too narrow, this can result in upper teeth that are inside lower teeth;  an expander widens the jaw to ensure the proper relationship of the upper jaw being wider than the lower jaw;
2 – Crowding:  If the jaw isn’t large enough to accommodate all the teeth, an expander can be used to make more room for permanent teeth.

Let’s use an analogy:  imagine you have a box of crayons and you accidentally place too many crayons into the box.  The result is crayons that are all jumbled up.  If straight crayons are your goal, you can either remove some crayons ~or~ make the box bigger.  Your jaw is like the box and your teeth are like the crayons:  if your teeth are all jumbled up because the jaw isn’t big enough, you can either remove some teeth ~or~ make the jaw bigger by using an expander.

In previous generations, extractions were often preferred to expansion.  However, extracting teeth unnecessarily can result in poor facial esthetics.  A Board Certified Orthodontist is the best practitioner to determine whether or not your child would benefit from expansion to help avoid extractions and to ascertain the ideal timing for its use.

How You Feel About Your Smile Makes A Difference

June 14th, 2016

Many Orthodontists have found that patients who like their smiles tend to have better self-esteem. It is common for people who don’t like their smiles to feel uncomfortable and maybe avoid talking to other people.  The National Women’s Health Resource Center found that when asked, women frequently say  if they could change something about themselves physically it would be their smile.

The American Association of Orthodontics estimates that 4.5 million Americans wear braces or other orthodontic equipment to straighten their teeth and to obtain a healthier mouth. One in five of those wearing braces are women. The organization’s statistics also show that about 75 percent of the population don’t have straight teeth, and point out that those people would benefit from getting braces.

While the main benefit of braces is straight teeth and an improved smile, there are many additional benefits that should not be overlooked:

  • a proper bite which can lead to better chewing and better digestive health
  • enhanced pronunciation ability
  • healthier gums and mouth - straight teeth making brushing and flossing more effective and easier leading to a healthier mouth
  • studies have linked a healthy mouth with a healthy body
  • improved self confidence

It has been proven that feeling good about your smile and proud of your teeth contributes to a better self-image and improved self-esteem. This self confidence can lead to better relationships, greater career success and overall happiness.  And here at Olsen Orthodontics we love doing our part to contribute to our patients' health and happiness - we want to see you Smile!

The Truth about Wisdom Teeth and Orthodontics

June 3rd, 2016

Your dentist just took an x-ray and said those dreaded words, “Your wisdom teeth are coming in!”  If you’re like most, one of your first thoughts might be, “I need to get those out, they’re going to ruin my orthodontics!”

There are a lot of differing opinions regarding whether or not wisdom teeth cause crowding.  But we’ve all heard it, so where did this notion originate?  For years the generally accepted philosophy was that after braces, retainers were worn for a couple of years and then your teeth would stay straight on their ownWhile we now know this isn’t true, this philosophy was advocated for many years.

The advent of shifting teeth often coincided with another landmark event -- the appearance of wisdom teeth.  Since the wisdom teeth were bearing their ugly head right when the teeth started to shift, wisdom teeth took the heat…and everyone came to believe that everyone needed to have their wisdom teeth removed to preserve the orthodontic outcome.

Further research has revealed that the wisdom teeth are not necessarily the cause of crowding – teeth have memory and when you stop wearing your retainer, the teeth start to shift.  In fact, even people who are born without wisdom teeth experience crowding if they stop wearing retainers.

Does that mean if I wear my retainers I won’t need to get my wisdom teeth removed?  Not necessarily as every situation is unique; your best bet is to have a Board Certified Orthodontist consult with your General Dentist to determine what is right for you.  That said, if you’re wearing your retainer you can rest assured that your orthodontics is safe regardless of what happens with your wisdom teeth!