orthodontic appliances

Common Orthodontic Appliances

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that kids see an orthodontic specialist, like Dr. Aimee Skelton, at age seven. Why age seven? This is the transitional period where kids are losing their baby (primary) teeth and have started getting their permanent teeth. This is the optimal time to see if a child will need early orthodontic treatment to avoid a more severe case once their adult teeth come in.

Why Orthodontic Appliances?

If Dr. Skelton feels that your child will benefit from early treatment, the first phase often includes orthodontic appliances. The appliance will prepare the mouth and create the best possible environment for permanent teeth to come in. Common orthodontic appliances are expanders, headgear and Herbst appliances.

What is an Expander?

An expander is an orthodontic appliance that is typically for younger patients. Cases that call for an expander usually involve a narrow roof (palate) that needs widening to create more space for teeth to come in. The widening of the upper and/or lower jaws help avoid common problems like crowding, impacted teeth or a crossbite. An expander is placed in the mouth for all day wear and uses a key to turn a device that widens the jaws over time.

What is Headgear?

Another type of orthodontic appliance is headgear. Headgear is used with patients who still have growing jaw bones. This appliance is normally recommended for patients who have a severely misaligned bite, usually an overbite or protruding front teeth. Headgear is worn partially outside and inside the mouth. It supports proper jaw development, alignment and growth. This orthodontic appliance can also help with aesthetics of the face and profile as well as create space for permanent teeth.

What is a Herbst Appliance?

A Herbst Appliance is also common in younger, growing patients. This appliance enhances lower jaw growth and moves the lower jaw forward to help correct an overbite. It is a fixed appliance, meaning you cannot remove it until treatment is complete. The Herbst appliance functions similar to headgear but is often more comfortable for patients.

Appliances Can Prevent More Severe Cases

No matter what type of appliance you or your child may need, it is important to follow your orthodontist's directions for wearing and cleaning. All orthodontic appliances are designed to help prevent a more severe case later in life. In many cases, appliances help to shorten time in braces and can even help prevent the possibility of surgery.

As always, let us know if you have any questions or concerns about your orthodontic appliances. We are here to help!

virtual exam

Virtual Exams & Consultations

Have you been told that your child needs to see an orthodontist? Did you know that the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that kids see an orthodontic specialist, like Dr. Aimee Skelton, by age seven for an exam?

The team at Skelton Orthodontics understands that many of us only leave home when absolutely necessary to with all that is currently going on in the world. We want to go the extra mile to make sure that our patients feel comfortable and protected. That's why we want to give you the option for a virtual exam. It is quick, easy and can be completed from inside your house!

What is a Virtual Exam?

With a virtual exam, Dr. Aimee Skelton will talk with you about orthodontic treatment and what all it includes through your computer or smart device instead of in person. This is a great time to ask initial questions and learn what all is included with treatment. You will speak with Dr. Skelton herself and be able to discuss treatment options. Please note that at some point, we will have you come into the office to begin with orthodontic treatment with traditional braces or Invisalign® or for a more in depth evaluation. We do all we can virtually, but of course we have to have the patient in office for actual treatment. However, the virtual exam saves some in office time and begins your journey toward the smile you have always wanted!

Set Up Your Virtual Exam Today!

To schedule a virtual exam, simply text us at 256-202-6773 or fill out an online appointment request form. Mention that you are interested in an virtual exam in the message and we will call you to schedule. We can't wait to meet you!

Frequently Asked Questions: COVID-19 Pandemic

Treatment Questions

I have a scheduled appointment, what should I do?
If we have not already spoken to you to reschedule your appointment, please know we will reach out to you as soon as we are open to serve patients again. We do want to make sure you have no current issues or concerns with your appliance, so if you have any questions, please call our after-hours number.

What about my account? Do I owe you money for this month?
This is a great question and understandable in these times. When we contract with you for your treatment, we estimate the time it will take to COMPLETE your smile and base your total treatment cost on that estimate. Just like car payments, the total cost of treatment is divided up over agreed time frame. In the unfortunate event that this virus service interruption causes your treatment time to be longer than stated, it will not cost you any additional amount for this delay.

How will this affect my treatment to have a large gap in between adjustments?
Our patients are family to us and not seeing you for a few extra weeks will be challenging possible to prevent any delays in your completed smile transformation. Treatment should not be greatly altered by a few extra weeks. If you have any concerns, or even if you want to know if you can stop wearing a certain set of rubber bands or Invisalign trays, we can setup a video chat to discuss and advise accordingly.

What happens if I have a wire poking or something is causing me pain?
No matter what is going on in the world, we never want our patients to be in any discomfort! Please keep this after-hours emergency number in your phone and text us if you have anything that is concerning you. We will make arrangements to care for any urgent needs that cannot be resolved on the phone (or via video chat).

What if I need more supplies or appliances?
If you are in need of rubber bands, please email or text us so that we can mail some to you. If you need wax, it can be purchased at any drugstore (CVS/WALGREENS).

If you are currently wearing Invisalign and reach the end of your set of trays, please email or text us to set up a video chat. Please also reach out if you lose or break an aligner or retainer so that we can advise accordingly.

How long will you be closed?
This is an evolving situation and changing daily. We are following the guidelines as they come out from both the CDC and the State Health Department. Our number one priority is the health and wellbeing of our patients and our team. Please stay tuned for continued updates in the coming weeks via our social media, where we will do our best to keep you posted. We will be in touch to reschedule any missed appointments when we know our office will be reopening.

February is Children's Dental Health Month image

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month

At Skelton Orthodontics, we are excited to celebrate National Children’s Dental Health month! We love to provide our patients with information to keep their children’s teeth looking and feeling awesome! This means reminding you how important it is to see a dentist along with an orthodontist.

Dentists are able to clean your teeth even if you have braces, cleaning around brackets and other appliances to keep your mouth healthy throughout your orthodontic treatment. Did you know that the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children see a pediatric dentist by age one? Also, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that kids see an orthodontic specialist, like Dr. Aimee Skelton, for an evaluation by age seven. Regarding oral health, it is always better to catch any possible concerns early on because oral health has a direct effect on overall health.

Looking to try new ways to motivate your kids to brush their teeth? Try our handy brushing chart to help keep them on track!

Be sure to tell your kids about National Children’s Dental Health Month and get as excited as we are about healthy teeth!

Art for The Benefits of Early Orthodontic Treatment

Early Orthodontic Treatment

Early orthodontic treatment can greatly improve your child’s oral health. According to the American Association of Orthodontists, your child should come in to see us by age 7. Why so young? When bite and spacing issues are caught early, we can set your child up for a lifetime of healthy smiles.

So, what is early orthodontic treatment and does your child need it? We’ve compiled a few benefits below.

Preventative Treatment

When you think of orthodontic treatment, you may assume that it involves braces. During early treatment, also called Phase I treatment, braces are rarely the first option. At age 7, children have lost many of their baby teeth and have already started developing adult teeth. This means that it’s easier for us to identify problem areas early on before they become serious issues.

When you bring your child in for their first visit, we will evaluate their teeth and alignment to check for any abnormalities. At this visit, we can determine whether your child’s teeth will correct themselves as more adult teeth erupt and when the best time may be for your child to start treatment. Many children don’t get braces until around the ages of 9 and 13.

Correcting Bad Habits

When children suck their thumbs for too long or can’t give up the pacifier, it can severely affect their bite. When caught early enough, we can give you tips to stop your child’s bad habits and correct potential bite issues that may worsen later in life.

Time and Cost Savings

If left untreated, many minor issues can develop into severe orthodontic problems. When this happens, your child may have trouble eating and speaking properly. Simply scheduling an appointment for your child now can reduce the chance of needing more invasive treatment, like surgery and extractions, later. This can save you months—and even years—of treatment time as well as thousands of dollars.

If your child is at least 7 years old, request an appointment today! We look forward to giving your child a beautiful smile for life.

retainer

Why Wear Your Retainer?

Retainers can help your teeth stay in the positions we prescribe. Most patients don’t realize that when they get their braces off, they’re not actually done with treatment. It’s important to help your teeth “remember” where they’re supposed to be by stabilizing the bones and ligaments. Otherwise, teeth can slowly shift back over time. This phase of treatment is called the retention phase.

Retention Phase

To make sure you get the best results, we advise all of our patients to wear their retainers for the length of time we prescribe. While it may seem like an annoyance when you’re ready to be finished with treatment, it’s imperative that you follow our guidelines. Shifting teeth can cause you to have a longer treatment time if braces are necessary again later on. You will also incur additional costs to re-straighten your teeth and start treatment over again.

When to Wear Your Retainer

The length of your retention phase depends greatly on your individual needs. Some patients may need to wear retainers 24 hours a day for a few years, while others only need to wear them at night for a few months. We can determine the length of your retention phase when you finish treatment.

During the retention phase, you will need to remove your appliances to eat and brush and floss your teeth. To keep them from getting damaged, we strongly encourage patients to keep them in a safe place, like a case, when not in your mouth. A lost or broken appliance may require additional payments.

Keep Your Smile Straight

Orthodontic treatment is a wonderful investment in your oral health, but no one wants to start the process over again. Be proactive and wear your retainers to keep your new, beautiful smile just the way it is! If you have any questions about the retention phase, contact our office.

orthodontic emergencies

Orthodontic Emergencies: Protecting Your Smile

Orthodontic emergencies can happen at any time, no matter how prepared you may be. An orthodontic emergency can be anything from a broken appliance to an unexpected injury to the mouth. Often, these emergencies can happen after eating food that’s too hard for your appliances, during a sports injury or other impact.

Thankfully, you can prevent most orthodontic emergencies from even occurring. We’ve compiled some tips to help you protect your teeth and your braces while you’re in treatment.

Choose Softer Foods

If you love chewy, crunchy, sticky, and hard foods, you may need to reassess your meals while you’re in braces. If you bite too hard into the wrong type of food, you risk damaging your appliances and even your teeth and gums. We recommend eating soft foods and taking smaller bites. Instead of a whole apple, cut it into small slices first. Or replace thick, doughy sourdough breads for softer wheat varieties. If you do happen to break a bracket or your wires, call our office immediately to get them fixed.

Stay on Top of Oral Hygiene

When you’re in braces, food can become trapped under your appliances, making it harder to keep your teeth clean. Left untreated, you are at an increased risk for getting cavities and gum disease. In severe cases, it may cause longer treatment time and costs if we need to remove your appliances to fix dental problems. Be sure to brush and floss after every meal to remove food particles in your mouth. If you’re unable to brush right away, rinse your mouth with water and brush at your earliest convenience.

Ask for a Mouthguard

If you’re active in sports, a mouthguard can protect your teeth and appliances from injury and breakage. Without a mouthguard, you risk painful injuries, including concussions. Plus, broken appliances may cost additional fees to replace. The best course of action is to wear a mouthguard when you play sports, every time! Let us know at your next appointment, and we can help you choose the right one for your needs.

Most of all, remember to contact our office if you have an emergency. We can find a way to fit you into our schedule and fix any appliances issues as soon as possible.

retainer

Lost or Broken Retainers

Retainers play a crucial part in your orthodontic treatment. When the braces come off, your teeth will naturally want to return to their original positions. During the retention phase, our goal is to keep your teeth in the positions we prescribe. By consistently wearing your retainers after braces, we can help your teeth “remember” where they’re supposed to be.

Storing Your Retainer

The best way to keep your retainer safe when not in your mouth is to keep them in the case. The majority of the time, patients lose their retainers when they remove them to eat and leave them in a napkin. All too often, they get thrown away on accident! Pets are also fond of playing with retainers accidentally left on a counter or on the floor, so take care of your retainers and keep them in their case if you’re not wearing them.

Getting Replacements

If you lose or break your retainers at any point, it’s important to contact our office to fix or replace them. A broken or lost retainer can mean increased treatment time and costs if you wait too long to get new ones.

Fixing a Bonded Retainer

If you’ve broken a bonded retainer, you will need to contact our office to have it removed for repairs or replacement. At no point should you attempt to remove a bonded retainer by yourself. These are set onto your teeth with dental bonding and can damage your teeth if removed incorrectly.

If you can't come in right away and the broken retainer is causing soreness in your mouth, avoid hard foods and rinse your mouth with warm salt water to lesson discomfort. Even if you think you’ve fixed your retainer, contact our office immediately to schedule an appointment.

brackets

Orthodontic Emergencies: How to Keep Your Smile Safe

Orthodontic emergencies can happen unexpectedly. But what constitutes an emergency? An orthodontic emergency can include problems from severe pain that you can’t control to a broken appliance. If your brackets or wires break, you will need to schedule an appointment to fix them and may incur additional orthodontic fees. Thankfully, most emergencies are completely preventable.

Choose Your Food Wisely

While you may not realize it, eating sticky, crunchy, chewy, or extremely hard foods can damage your braces. We recommend you stick to softer breads, cheeses, protein, and vegetables, and take small bites when you eat. For example, an apple is a healthy snack option, but make sure you cut it first instead of taking a big bite out of the whole apple.

Practice Good Oral Hygiene

If you want to keep your pearly whites looking great when the braces come off, continue to clean your teeth. To keep your teeth and braces in good condition, be sure to brush after every meal and floss daily. When food gets trapped between your brackets, plaque can build up and cause gum disease. We also recommend that you continue to schedule regular checkups with your dentist throughout treatment.

Protect Your Teeth

If you play sports, a mouthguard is crucial to protecting your teeth and appliances from injury. We can help you choose a mouthguard that fits your teeth properly so it will be comfortable to wear. You also want to find one that is durable and easy to clean as well. At your next appointment, simply let us know if you are active in sports or other extracurricular activities. We can help you choose one that will work best for you.

Remember: If you experience an orthodontic emergency and have pain that you cannot control or a piece of your appliance that you need repaired, contact our office to schedule an appointment. A broken appliance means lengthened treatment time if left unrepaired.

rubber bands

Rubber Bands and Orthodontic Treatment

Rubber bands are an important part of your orthodontic treatment. Depending on the type of braces you require, Dr. Skelton may prescribe rubber bands as part of your orthodontic appliance. Although they are small, they play a big part in the speed and efficiency of your overall treatment.

Purpose of Rubber Bands

So, what’s their function? Orthodontic bands provide increased force to your teeth to fix alignment and bite problems faster. When worn properly, each band attaches to the brackets and hooks on your teeth. While you may feel increased pressure, rubber bands shouldn’t be painful.

Duration

Unless we tell you otherwise, we highly recommend that you wear the elastic bands every day except while brushing or flossing. You should try to eat with your rubber bands in as well, only removing them after meals to put in new bands. If you’re an athlete, you should continue to wear your bands as instructed. If you have to play sports with a mouthguard, remove your bands while the mouthguard is in and replace them after you take the mouthguard out.

In addition, the elastic loses its strength as you talk and chew. To ensure you’re always applying the maximum amount of force, you should change your rubber bands approximately every 12 hours.

Effects of Misuse

Forgetting to wear your bands may not seem like a big deal. However, if you don’t wear yours, you risk lengthening your treatment time. If your treatment goes over the allotted duration we discuss at your consultation, you also risk accruing more fees to complete treatment.

At Skelton Orthodontics, our goal is to give you the best treatment possible for your smile. With your full cooperation, you can get a healthy smile for life!

If you have any questions about your orthodontic appliances, contact our office!