Is there anything I can do to get my braces off earlier?

We know that our patients are eager to see their awesome braces-free smiles as soon as possible.

We’re right there with them.

But there is a lot of misinformation out there when it comes to teenagers and orthodontic care — from harmful DIY videos online instructing kids on at-home “treatments” to community boards where patients share the dangerous “tricks” they used to make their treatments go faster. (For the record, adding extra rubber bands will not shorten your treatment and, in fact, could cause problems that might require you to wear your braces longer than you would have had you not “experimented.”)

The average length of orthodontic treatment is 22 months, according to the American Association of Orthodontists, but treatments can range between 12 and 36 months depending on the patient.

The answer to the question we hear all the time — “Is there anything I can do to get these off earlier?” — is “not really, no.”

We understand the disappointment.

Maybe you have a special event coming up, a wedding or a dance, and you were hoping for a reprieve, but bone takes time to heal. In other words, if your braces come off too early then your teeth could go back to how they were.

We do have some news that might make you feel better, though: At Bluffton Orthodontics we closely monitor our patients’ progress so that the second your smile is ready, we’ll know.

Bottom line, though? The best thing you can do to keep things on track is to follow your orthodontist’s instructions.

Oh, and wear your retainer after the braces finally do come off.

If you have any questions about your treatment, don’t hesitate to ask your doctor or call our office at 843-815-2521.

5 ways Bluffton Orthodontics stands out when it comes to managing the cost of braces

The cost of treatment varies by patient, but at Bluffton Orthodontics, our goal is to make braces affordable to everyone.

Here’s how we do it:

  1. We do our best to control costs. We will not recommend unnecessary treatments, and we will take the time to discuss options with you. You will know your expenses from the very beginning.
  2. According to a 2014 study by the American Association of Orthodontists, most dental insurances offer some form of orthodontics coverage. We are well-versed in the language of insurance companies and our staff will be there with you every step of the way of your treatment. We will help you work with your insurance company to submit claims and paperwork.
  3. We offer sensible payment plans that are tailored to your financial needs.
  4. We have a lot of experience. We have put on more than 10,000 pairs of braces over the years and have worked with thousands of families, and thousands of different financial situations.
  5. In recognition of our amazing teachers and those who make their service possible, we are proud to offer a discount to full-time Beaufort and Jasper County School District employees, their spouses and their children.

It all starts with a free consultation. To schedule yours, call us at 843-815-2521.

3 Things You Should Know About Possible Early Orthodontic Treatment for 6-9 Year Olds

A lot has changed in the field of orthodontics since you were a teenager.

In fact, braces are so advanced they’re sometimes invisible — or at least, the clear aligners version of them are.

Not only are braces less cumbersome than they used to be, they’re not just for teenagers and adults anymore. It’s not unheard of these days to see kids as young as 8 or 9 wearing them.

Why? The reasons vary by patient, of course, but here are some things to know about pediatric orthodontics — orthodontics for the younger patient — at Bluffton Orthodontics.

  1. Early intervention is important. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that patients begin seeing an orthodontist at age 7. While most patients aren’t given a recommendation of immediate action at that age, early intervention helps identify current and potential problems and gives parents more lead time on future orthodontic decisions. It can also save money in the long-run.
  2. Sometimes we don’t put braces on your child. An appointment with us doesn’t automatically mean “braces.” Younger patients are not usually ready for braces before 10 or 11 years old, but in certain cases there are solutions that can be implemented earlier that can help improve smiles and alignment. Treatments that incorporate expanders at a young age can help shorten the time your child will need to wear braces later on.
  3. Problems aren’t always obvious. “Straight teeth” does not always mean “no braces.” Common orthodontic problems, such as an overbite, are not always obvious to the untrained eye and, if left unfixed, could cause major gum issues or jaw pain in the future.

If you’re looking for an orthodontist in the Bluffton, Beaufort and Hilton Head Island area, feel free to stop by Bluffton Orthodontics for a tour of our office and to meet our staff. We also offer free consultations, which can be booked by calling 843-815-2521.

Early Intervention and What Parents Need to Know Before Choosing Any Treatment Plan

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children have their first orthodontist visit at age 7, but your child’s regular dentist might advise you to bring your child in to see us even sooner than that.

This might seem excessively young to you, but that’s the point.

Early intervention — or what is called Phase I treatment — can prevent future problems and even reduce or eliminate future orthodontia costs.

With younger patients, orthodontists can guide jaw growth; they can coax adult teeth into the right place; they can prevent gum deterioration; they can improve bites and close gaps; they can make room for new teeth; they can correct bad habits that are affecting tooth or bite alignment; and they can help fix cosmetic issues that can affect your child’s self-esteem.

In short, they can intervene before things get worse.

With that said, most children who see an orthodontist early don’t end up with a recommendation for immediate action.

Instead, your doctor will likely recommend a wait-and-see approach with regular monitoring until your child’s adult teeth are in or they might come up with a future treatment plan that can be implemented at a specific time in the future.

The important — and smart — thing about early intervention is that parents can know about potential problems sooner and plan accordingly.

At Bluffton Orthodontics, every recommendation for early intervention is made carefully and with much consideration.

We work hard to build strong, trusting and long-term relationships with our patient-families. We are in it for the long haul and want what’s best for each individual patient.

If you’d like to book a free consultation with Bluffton Orthodontics or discuss any concerns about early intervention prior to a visit, call 843-815-2521.

Why You Shouldn’t Let The Cost Of Braces Scare You Away

When it comes to talking about the possibility of braces, we know your No. 1 concern is always going to be your child’s well-being.

We also know there’s another concern lurking not far behind that one; we’ll call it concern No. 1b: “Oh no. How the heck are we going to afford this?”

Let’s face it, orthodontic work is a major expense and a long-term commitment for your family. Thinking about it can be daunting.

You are not alone. Most parents have been there.

Generally speaking, it can cost between $3,000 and $7,000 per child depending on the treatment plan and the type of orthodontia your family chooses, whether it be metal or clear braces or ClearCorrect, a brand of clear aligner that we use at Bluffton Orthodontics.

And it can take two or three years to complete your child’s treatment plan.

As with any important investment of money and time, you should discuss the options, ask questions and come up with a plan.

The staff at Bluffton Orthodontics can help you with this.

First, we recommend that you call your dental insurance provider so that you have an idea of what, if anything, they will cover when it comes to orthodontist visits. We also advise you to talk to your employer’s human resources director to learn more about pre-tax or tax-deductible medical savings plans, which can go a long way toward reducing expenses.

The next step is to book a consultation with an orthodontist — we don’t charge for this visit.

After an examination, if your child needs long-term orthodontic work, including braces, we will come up with a treatment plan and a cost estimate.

At Bluffton Orthodontics, we understand the challenges parents face when it comes time for their children to get braces and we take pride in working with you to find a payment plan that works for your family’s budget and that helps you make the best decision for your child.

To book a consultation or speak with a staff member about how our payment plans typically work, call us at 843-815-2521.

5 Ways to Determine Whether Your Child Will Need or Currently Needs Braces

In many ways braces are like college in that many parents see them as an eventuality, an investment in their children’s future that is simply part of the growing-up process.

But not every child will need braces.

Some parents do actually get lucky in that department.

How can you tell if you’ll be one of those parents?

It’s easy:

  1. Consult an orthodontist. We figured you had to see this one coming so we’re listing it first. The American Association of Orthodontics recommends that a child’s first visit to the orthodontist happen in early elementary school. Kids still have their baby teeth when they’re 7, which makes it a good age to determine whether early intervention can eliminate the need for future orthodontics. For instance, orthodontists can guide the growth of young jaws, end harmful biting habits, coax adult teeth into their proper places and improve appearance, possibly making braces unnecessary. Or they might recommend a wait-and-see approach.
  2. Examine your child’s mouth. Are the teeth crowded up top? Crowded down below? Are there gaps in between them? Does your child have an obvious over- or underbite? Teeth that are crooked or turned in toward each other? Does their breath smell bad even though they’ve just brushed their teeth well? There are many iterations of “problem bites” or “problem teeth” and while visible issues might not always mean braces, they are a good indicator that treatment might be necessary. Another indicator is, as we noted, bad breath. Food could be getting stuck between teeth that are too close together, which means bacteria are having a field day.
  3. Ask your child. Have a sit-down. Is your child having trouble chewing food? Does he experience jaw pain from time to time? Is he not smiling or speaking in front of certain groups of people because of how his teeth look? Having an open conversation about braces with your child is important because it gives them some buy-in on orthodontic decisions, which means a better chance of compliance with future treatments.
  4. Listen to your child. Does she lisp or have other speech impediments that might be caused by out-of-order teeth or a misaligned jaw? Talk with her teachers or a speech pathologist to determine the origin of the issue. It’s possible orthodontics could help improve matters.
  5. Ask your child’s dentist. They should be able to guide you in this area.

The staff at Bluffton Orthodontics is happy to answer any question you might have about braces, timelines or cost. We also offer free consultations, which will help determine what work, if any, your child will need 843-815-2521.

The surprising answer to parents’ first question about braces: ‘What’s the best age to get them?’

When you think about braces-wearers, the image that most likely comes to mind is that of a teenager, someone already in the throes of hormonal awkwardness, like the nerd in “Sixteen Candles” or the nerd in “Never Been Kissed” or the nerd in … hey, why is it always a nerd?

You might find this surprising, but over the years, the age of the average braces-wearer has been skewing younger — like elementary school young.

In fact, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that kids have their first visit with an orthodontist around the age of 7.

This is the standard for everyone, not just children with crooked or protruding teeth. And a consultation does not mean your child will be on the fast track to braces.

At this age, patients still have their baby teeth, which makes it an ideal time for orthodontists to check for and correct any problems with a child’s growth and jaw development.

Orthodontists will determine whether early intervention can help prevent the need for more difficult and costly treatment later, after all the adult teeth have come in. They can also give you an idea of what treatment might be necessary in the future, giving you some time to plan accordingly.

While the best age for kids to have their braces put on is generally between 10 and 14, certain patients might be candidates for two-phased orthodontic care that could start between the ages of 6 and 9.

Every patient’s needs are different, of course, which is why it’s important to talk with your orthodontist for a specific answer to this question rather than depend wholly on Google or other parents, which are good resources but can only give part of the picture.

At Bluffton Orthodontics we offer patients free consultations with the hope of putting parents’ minds and patient’s fears at ease while assessing a patient’s progress and possible needs. It is the perfect time to ask questions and get to know our staff. Give us a call at 843-815-2521to set up an appointment.

The Braces Are Off! And Now Comes The Hardest (And Easiest) Part … Keeping Your Smile Perfect

There’s a scene in the film “Peggy Sue Got Married,” a time-traveling classic from the 1980s, in which the protagonist, Kathleen Turner, tells her grandfather that she has returned from the future and has a chance to change everything about her life.

What, she asks him, would he do differently if he could relive his life?

“I would’ve taken better care of my teeth,” he tells her.

Maybe that’s not the most philosophical of answers, but it certainly registers with any adult who has ever had dental problems that could have been prevented had they prioritized oral health in their youth.

Along these lines, it’s sometimes very difficult to get kids to understand the impact their current actions might have on their well-being later in life.

This is particularly true of the newly de-braced.

Though we here at Bluffton Orthodontics pride ourselves on making our patients’ office visits as fun and as fast as possible, we know there’s only one visit they truly love: the day the braces come off.

It really is an awesome moment. It’s so cool for us to see their big smiles and happy faces.

We want our patients to celebrate this day, to eat some of (not all of) the foods they couldn’t, to run their tongues across their newly smooth teeth all day long and to Snap away to their hearts’ content.

And we really hate to burst any balloons, but who are we if not the voices of orthodontic reason?

The day after the braces come off is the first day of what we hope will be a lifelong commitment to maintaining all our patients’ hard work to achieve that perfect smile.

Since “lifelong commitment” is an overwhelming thought for young people, we have come up with two very basic behaviors to adopt and three reality checks to help those basics sink in:

Basic No. 1: Your gums and teeth are going to be tender for a while after the braces come off so wait a month to schedule a professional cleaning. Then schedule a professional cleaning for every six months after that. You will do this for the rest of your life.

Reality check: If you’ve ever heard someone be described as having “buzzards’ breath” or as “the guy with four teeth,” you can bet that person did not stick to their cleaning schedule.

Basic No. 2: Wearing your retainer really is important. It’s not just a suggestion. Your retainer will help keep your beautiful teeth in place and your bite in alignment. If you hate wearing it or are having problems with it, please talk to us about that because your retainer will be a part of your life for a long time.

Reality check: Adult braces. If you skip the retainer too often, it will catch up with you and you might have to have braces again later in life or suffer the consequences — such as creating uneven wear and tear on your teeth because of a misaligned bite or being more and more hesitant to smile because you’re self-conscious about your teeth. Why go through any of this again if you don’t have to?

If you have any questions about life after braces or if you’re in the “wishing I took better care of my teeth” camp and want to learn more about realignment options, give Bluffton Orthodontics a call at 843-815-2521.

Do It Yourself Braces and How to Avoid Being on The Evening News

Every so often a dangerous “trend” will circulate online that makes you think “People actually thought that was a good idea?”

Take Do It Yourself braces — yes, you read that right.

A few years ago, a video surfaced of a young woman instructing viewers to use small rubber bands to coax crooked or gapped teeth into place without the aid of a trained orthodontist or availability of a trained orthodontist’s vital equipment.

Using rubber bands to make homemade braces is the equivalent of setting a broken arm with water, flour and strips of newspaper and then waiting for it to dry like a pinata.

With DIY braces, you not only run the risk of making your teeth more crooked, you could affect the alignment of your bite.

Here are some of the problems that await those who feel like the DIY option is a legitimate one for them: headaches, loosened teeth, jaw pain, swallowed rubber bands, rubber bands embedded in the gums, wear and tear to gums, wear and tear to tooth enamel, infection … the list goes on (to scare yourself straight, Google image search “DIY braces”).

At Bluffton Orthodontics we strongly discourage anyone from trying DIY braces for all of the reasons listed above.

For anyone considering DIY braces for cosmetic reasons, know that there are safe options, such as clear braces or clear aligners, that will straighten your teeth and fix your bite without making matters worse.

To find out more about payment options or for more information on alternatives to metal braces, schedule a free consultation with Bluffton Orthodontics, where we have state-of-the-art equipment and highly trained doctors, by calling 843-815-2521.

5 Ways Parents Can Help Their Child Adjust to Braces

Braces have come a long way in the past 30 years, but they’re still braces. They still represent a major change for your child and, frankly, that change can be a little scary and uncomfortable at first.

To help your child successfully navigate their new (temporary)  life as a braces-wearer, we here at Bluffton Orthodontics suggest the following:

  1. Acknowledge their fears no matter how superficial or silly they might seem to you in the moment. We know you love your child’s face with or without wire and brackets, so it might cut your heart in two to hear that they think they’re ugly right now (especially because it’s untrue), but getting braces can be a huge physical and psychological adjustment. This is normal. Listen to their worries and offer your hugs, understanding and reassurances. Repeat when necessary.
  2. Give them time to relax when they come home from their placement appointment. They’re going to be sore for a few days. Now is not the time to ask them to finally finally finally clean up their rooms. Nope. Now is the time for Advil and ice cream.
  3. Encourage them to smile at themselves in the mirror. Help them get used to how . it looks and feels to smile with braces. The more they smile in the mirror, the less self-conscious they will be when smiling in public, the more easily their smile will come. It sounds cheesy, but it works.
  4. Teach them how to care for their new brace-face. Admittedly, the toothpaste aisle isn’t the most exciting place to shop, but giving your child some control over the products they’ll use to keep their new mouths clean can go a long way in getting buy-in from them on the good oral hygiene front. Also consider taking a few moments to sit with your child and write out a list of practical day-to-day questions they might have about braces. Google the answers together.
  5. Remind them that they’re not alone and that the end result is absolutely worth the effort. Share stories from your own experiences with braces and show them pictures of famous people wearing braces. A year or two sounds like a very long time to someone who has only lived 10 or 12 years, but if they can see that it’s really not that big of a deal in the long run, they’ll soon regard their own braces as a very normal thing.

From the very first consultation through the day the braces come off through post-braces checkups, we want our patients to know that they have an open and friendly ear in us.

The staff at Bluffton Orthodontics will always take the time to answer any question or talk about any concern you or your child might have along the way. One of the most rewarding parts of our jobs — beyond creating bigger smiles — is getting to know our patients.

To schedule your first appointment or speak with a staff member, call 843-970-9316.