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!

Keeping Your Retainer Clean

May 3rd, 2016

Orthodontic retainers are devices used to minimize the movement of teeth after braces are removed. There is no part of the body that doesn’t sag or wrinkle with age. Teeth tend to move too so a retainer is critical to maintaining that beautiful smile. Since you will use this device forever, let’s talk about how to keep it clean.

All retainers get dirty and wear out with use. Like contact lenses or shoes that are worn daily, your retainer will get dirty, change in appearance, fit, and may wear out. Bacteria exists in your mouth no matter how much you brush and floss. This bacteria can make your retainer look, taste, and smell bad. Some patients form tartar or calculus (hard mineral deposits) on their teeth and retainers too. It’s easier to keep your retainer clean before all this bacteria, plaque, and tartar build up.

Here are some tips to help keep your retainer clean:

  • Clean your retainer as soon as you remove it from your mouth. It’s easier to remove debris before it hardens.
  • Brushing doesn’t always remove bacteria from deep crevices so using a denture or retainer cleaner daily is recommended. After removing your retainer from your mouth, drop it into a cup of lukewarm water with one of the “fizzing” tablets and your retainer will taste and smell better the next time you put it in.
  • When brushing your retainer to remove plaque or debris use a soft brush (like a tooth brush, denture brush, or vegetable brush) with only water or mild dish soap. Using toothpaste can actually scratch the finish on the retainer as it is an abrasive.
  • If you notice calcium deposits on your retainer that do not come off with brushing or denture cleaner, you may need to ask your orthodontist to help. There are tartar removing solutions that your orthodontist can use in the office to professionally clean your retainer.

If you take care of your retainer, it will look better and last longer.

Where'd All That Candy Go?

March 4th, 2016

Remember how we collected 1100 lbs of candy from our Candy Buy Back event this past October? Ever wonder what happened to it all?

We donated the candy to the Dana Point 5th Marine Regiment Support Group that is comprised of Dana Point residents that volunteer their time and talents to support the active duty personnel of the 5th Marine Regiment and their families. They have been using the candy to help raise morale of Marines overseas and provide a little comfort and cheer as they bravely serve our country. Pictured above are some of the Dana Point 5th Marine Regiment Support Group volunteers making care packages to send overseas to the 5th Marine Regiment.

We want to give a big shout out and thank you to our patients and community for provide these sweet treats, the amazing Dana Point 5th Marine Regiment and the incredible volunteers supporting them.

You can learn more about the Dana Point 5th Marine Regiment Support Group at danapoint5thmarines.com

What's the deal with Phase I?

February 18th, 2016

Phase I Questions:

Recently I surveyed a number of parents to find out their most burning
orthodontic questions.

Here’s what they asked…

Q. At what age should you start braces?  -Kelly M.

A. It depends.  The American Association of Orthodontists (www.braces.org) recommends an orthodontic evaluation at Age 7.

Isn’t that too early?  My child hasn’t lost all of her baby teeth yet.
A. While most children don’t lose their last baby tooth until age 12, many orthodontic issues are apparent by age 7.  Some of these require interceptive orthodontics to properly address.  Does that mean every 7 year old needs braces? Absolutely not.

Q.  Are two phases really necessary? – Kelly T.
A.  Sometimes
.  Certain orthodontic issues necessitate an early start:  crossbites, underbites, severe crowding, and early loss of baby teeth need to be addressed prior to losing all of the baby teeth.

Q. I still want to avoid 2 phases, can’t I just wait?  - Luciana L.
I completely understand, I have 4 kids of my own.  I often hear parents say, ‘But my kid’s teeth look fine.’ Many issues either aren’t visible to the naked eye or might not be easily spotted. Remember, a great smile is much more than just straight teeth.

Q. What is the long-term benefit to breaking orthodontics up into 2 phases?  - Amanda E.

A. Would you be interested to know that Phase I treatment can help avoid jaw surgery? What about avoiding the extraction of permanent teeth?  What about reducing the risk of TMJ?
- Underbites are best addressed before age 10 while jaw growth can still be modified.  By age 12 when all the baby teeth are gone, it’s too late and your child may require jaw surgery.
- Not correcting a crossbite early can lead to asymmetric jaw growth (chin deviates to the side) and a higher likelihood of TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder or jaw joint pain).

In short: if waiting will adversely affect your child’s smile, Phase I is indicated;  if the orthodontic issues can be addressed with one round of braces, I recommend waiting until all the permanent teeth are in. The best way to know if your child needs Phase I: have a Board Certified Orthodontist perform an exam at age 7 -- you might be surprised what you learn.

Welcome to Our Blog

February 17th, 2016

Thank you for taking the time to visit the our blog. Please check back often for weekly updates on fun and exciting events happening at our office, important and interesting information about orthodontics and the dental industry, and the latest news about our practice.

Feel free to leave a comment or question for our doctors and staff – we hope this will be a valuable resource for our patients, their families, and friends!

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