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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 843-970-9316.

Why Do You Have to Go to the Orthodontist So Much? Your Teeth Know the Answer

We do not kid ourselves at Bluffton Orthodontics.

We know our patients love us, but they certainly wouldn’t choose to see us as often as they do.

Actually, maybe a few would … we have a pretty sweet video game room.

But we get it: Visits to the orthodontist every six weeks on top of the discomfort of having to wear braces in the first place might seem like a form of modern torture particularly designed for you, but we promise it’s necessary.

And we’d like to take this opportunity to explain why because the reason is really interesting. OK. “Really interesting” is subjective, but this is science at work and it’s cool.

The point of braces, as you know, is to help guide your teeth into place so that your smile appears even, your teeth are straight and your bite is perfectly aligned.

This means your teeth have to move to get there.

But your teeth are made of tissue and bone. How do we move tissue and bone?

Very carefully.

The brackets and the wires in your braces work together to create a tension that pulls and pushes your teeth until they’re where they need to be.

To facilitate this gradual journey, your body makes and eliminates bone — it adds bone where it’s needed to hold the tooth in place and it removes bone to help the tooth get where it’s going.

And this takes time.

Every six weeks, when we look at your teeth, we are checking to make sure that the right tension and pressure are being applied to each tooth and that the growth and removal of bone is progressing as expected.

We tighten wires as needed and we take scans and impressions to verify that all systems are a-go.

And when it’s time for the braces to come off, we give you a retainer to keep those teeth right where we left them.

We custom-designed the office at Bluffton Orthodontics with fun and relaxation in mind — two words not often associated with an orthodontist visit. We have kid-friendly entertainment, include an arcade and our exam area is streamlined for efficiency. We like seeing you so often, but we know you have other things you need to do.

If you ever have a question about the how or the why of braces, always ask us. The staff at Bluffton Orthodontics are highly knowledgeable and experienced and they love nothing more than helping patients understand what orthodontia is all about. Talk to us at one of your regularly scheduled visits or call us at 843-970-9316.

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 843-970-9316.

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 843-970-9316.

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 843-970-9316 to set up an appointment.

FREE Teeth Whitening with Purchase of Clear Correct® (a $350.00 Value)

You shouldn’t have to choose between straight teeth and bright white smile! That’s why, for a limited time Dr. Garrison is offering free teeth whitening at the end of your treatment when you invest in Clear Correct®, the most advanced clear aligner system made in the USA.

Why Clear Correct®?
Achieving your ideal smile is easy and effortless. Plus, since your clear aligners are removable, you can take them out to brush, floss, and eat your favorite foods. ClearCorrect fits your life and daily routine as perfectly as it fits your teeth, so you don’t need to change a thing.

Call Bluffton Orthodontics at 843-970-9316 to learn more about how you can take advantage of this offer and get on the path to loving your smile even more.

7 Ways Braces Can Improve Your Child’s Life

While getting your child braces is primarily a medical decision — one that helps set them up for a lifetime of better health — there is another important reason to consider braces: They will ultimately improve your child’s self-esteem.

“Self-esteem” can be a squishy concept.

Some see the idea of “low self-esteem” as being nothing more than an excuse for poor behavior or lack of achievement. But the truth is, there is a solid connection between a person’s confidence in themselves and their overall success in life — whether that be defined professionally, financially or academically or whether it concerns relationships or value in any given community.

Throughout our careers, the staff at Bluffton Orthodontics have had a front-row seat to the transformations that happen for kids after they have had braces.

Here are just some of the improvements we’ve noticed in kids whose teeth we have straightened:

  1. They smile more. Smiling is not just an expression of incidental happiness and friendliness, it’s a self-fulfilling prophesy. The more you smile, the better you feel and the more people will want to be around you.
  2. They become more vocal. Some kids are naturally shy, but others find that their shyness was largely caused by feeling self-conscious about their teeth. We’ve heard of kids who never spoke up in class before suddenly having the confidence to participate.
  3. They take more pride in their appearance. There’s a philosophy in housekeeping that posits if you make it a point to always have a clean and gleaming kitchen sink, you will find it easier to keep the rest of your home clean. The clean sink subtly prompts you into doing “one more thing” to make the area around it look better and it works outward from there. The same can be said about having straightened teeth. You might find that your child now actually want to have neatly combed hair and ironed clothes.
  4. They are nicer to others. Having braces can be humbling. It can also boost empathy. But mostly, the confidence gained from having straightened teeth and a more ready smile goes a long way in creating and spreading sunshine.
  5. They try new things. We can’t say enough good things about “having confidence.” We’ve seen kids take on new sports, try out for their school plays and, yes, ask that special someone to the school formal.
  6. They make new friends. A smile is the first invitation to friendship.
  7. They become more generous in spirit. An investment in self-esteem pays back compound interest. The better a kid feels about herself, the easier she finds it to praise and thank others, the more effortless it is for her to brighten someone else’s day.

The staff at Bluffton Orthodontics are so proud of our patients and the many positive changes we’ve seen come from wearing braces. We love to share their stories of success. Give us a call at 843-970-9316 to set up a free consultation (we promise we won’t gush too much).

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 843-970-9316.

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 843-970-9316.

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.