Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Setting your Child up for Success: Parent's Involvement in the Beginning of Orthodontic Treatment

Parents want the best for their children. The best education, the best career, being successful, happy, and of course, having a healthy and beautiful smile.. When your child gets braces, this can be a very exciting experience for the child, the parent, and in some cases, the entire family.

Parents think back to the way that dentistry used to be when they were kids, which was not that enjoyable in some cases. Dentistry and Orthodontics are constantly changing.  We want our patients to LOVE coming to see us, and we are proud to say that most of them do!

Some children need their parents to accompany them into the clinical area, but in most cases, the child is a lot more comfortable during the visit if their parents are not present. There are a number of factors to consider when preparing for the first visit or what is more commonly known as the “braces on” visit:

1.     Most children adapt very well to new surroundings and new things. Children are often at ease immediately upon entering the clinic because the staff at Orthodontic offices all love children and do an excellent job of highlighting the fun parts of the appointment and explaining the procedure in a kid-friendly and fun way. Parents try their best to prepare their children for the first visit, and although they mean well, parents can often dishearten their children based on the way they describe braces to their children. Parents often don't know the particulars of the appointment and end up unintentionally highlighting the wrong things when describing the “braces-on” visit. For example “Don't worry, it won't hurt.” Children immediately think “Should I worry, is this going to hurt? Why would he/she say that?”

2.     Parents are very interested in the braces-on procedure. They often don't intend to ask questions, but sometimes they can't help themselves and what ends up happening is if the parent comes in for the first appointment, the clinician's energy is divided between answering the parent's questions and the child. It is very important that your child is the clinician's number one priority during this time. At the end of the visit, there is time set aside for all questions and discussions about the new braces. It is in the best interest of your child that all questions are held until the end of the appointment in order to be as attentive as possible to the child, and focus on him/her as the number one priority throughout the appointment.

3.     When parents are in the operatory during the braces-on visit, this can also have a negative effect on the child's experience for one very important reason. Parents think that when they come in for their child's visit, they are being supportive. What they don't realize is that when their child is lying back in the chair, they can't see what is going on around them. As soon as the parent attempts to be soothing to the child (i.e. Holding the child's hand or touching their leg), the child interprets this as a situation where they should be afraid, like something scary is going to happen next that they can't see yet, so they can start reacting to this with things like crying, etc, that perhaps would have not happened if the parent was out in the sitting area.

4.     Many contemporary dental offices have open-concept operatories. This has been proven to ease the nerves of patients, especially children because they can see other patients around them at ease during their visits. With the open-concept set up, it is great when the parent comes back with them to watch them get started, then after a few minutes, wander back to the sitting room. The parent is more than welcome to come and check on their child every once in awhile.

In summary, the braces-on visit can be really fun and exciting for your child. After reading this information, try acting and speaking in ways that will positively affect them. During the visit, try leaving the room for most of the visit while “checking back” every once in awhile. This way, your child is at ease because they know you are around if needed, but the clinician is able to focus their energy solely on your child. When explaining braces to your children, try to use really positive and fun descriptions.  Tell them what the braces will do and if you do feel the need to inform your child about the braces-on visit, use descriptions like “It's like crafts, they have to use a special glue to stick on the braces, I hear it's really fun!”

Kids love braces these days, and with your help, all aspects of Orthodontic treatment can be fun and exciting for your child!

Jennifer Stretch, RDH
RiteBite Orthodontics

Monday, July 18, 2011

Tips on Removing your Invisalign Aligners

Are you breaking your nails taking off your invisalign trays? Or, are you getting so frustrated that you don’t even want to take them off? If you answered yes to any of these questions, don’t panic! We are going to share a few tricks that we have shared with our patients and even some that our patients have shared with us that will make removing your Invisalign trays a lot easier. Here we go…

Start at the back. We always recommend starting to remove your aligners from the back and usually on the tongue side of the dental arch. First, lift the aligners off the molars on each side of the mouth, then gradually work towards the front. Some patients prefer to remove from one side of the mouth to the other. If you choose to use this approach be careful to not use too much force since it can lead to aligner breakage.

Start away from attachments.  Lift off easier sections of the tray and leave tougher areas for last such as, crowded areas and areas with several attachments. So if a specific area is too difficult try another area until gradually the whole aligner is off. When you reach those areas, lift tray out and over the attachment

Use a paper towel. Several of our patients have sworn that using paper towels increase the grip on the aligner allowing them to grasp the aligner firmly thereby allowing them to pull the trays off the molars. This might not work for every patient especially if they have several attachments. However, if you try this approach, it is helpful to keep your mouth as dry as possible.

Use an Outie. An outie is an invisalign removal tool although it is not provided by Align Technology.  It looks similar to a crochet hook and is designed specifically for removing clear braces by hooking under the edge of the aligner and lifting it away from the tooth. They are especially helpful for people with attachments. If your orthodontist does not provide you with them you can find them online ( 

Try changing aligners at night: Similar to wire changes during braces, new aligners are going to feel tighter (if they didn’t then your teeth would not move!). For this reason, some patients prefer to insert new aligners prior to going to sleep. The rationale is that your teeth will get adjusted over the course of the night making them easier to remove in the morning.  Additionally, the discomfort is more tolerable if you are sleeping and not thinking about it. However, if they keep you up at night, you may want to reconsider this approach or take a mild painkiller to get your through the night.

Removing aligners gets easier with time: Initially, if you try to remove your new aligners, you will find that it is quite challenging. Be patient as your teeth adjust and you will notice that the aligner becomes much easier to remove the longer you wear it. So wherever possible, try to hold off removing your trays.

Hopefully you will find success with one of the above tips. However, if all else fails, do not forget to stay calm. Take a deep breath and relax. Removing your aligners gets more difficult when you panic and become frustrated. Good Luck!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

How to keep your Invisalign aligners clean

A quick rinse and gentle scrub with a soft bristle toothbrush is a good idea after eating.  This is a good habit to get into and will prevent unpleasant odours from developing. Although a toothbrush is recommended, we suggest staying away from using toothpaste since it tends to be abrasive.  Such abrasion results in tiny scratches providing a breeding ground for bacteria. We recommend using a mild dishwashing soap such as Dawn instead. If brushing and rinsing alone is not effective in removing unpleasant odours, soak your trays in mouthwash for a few minutes while you brush and floss your teeth. This will help your trays and mouth stay fresh and clean!  Failure to clean your trays on a regular basis will result in your aligners looking foggy and murky. It is this build up that is responsible for these unpleasant smells and if left long enough, it becomes very difficult to remove.

A more thorough cleaning once a week with a retainer (Retainer Brite) is also recommended. Leaving trays in a bath for 10 minutes usually allows for a thorough cleaning and neutralizes any offensive smells. Remember to rinse under water and give trays a quick scrub with a soft bristle toothbrush after removal from bath. If you are looking for an effective but more economical home-made option, you can soak your aligners in diluted vinegar or hydrogen peroxide solution which is mixed with 50% water.

Lastly, your Invisalign cases need cleaning too. When you remove your aligners they often have excess saliva that can easily be transferred to your case. After a few days, these cases can turn into a science project! Giving them a good rinse daily can solve this problem. As with the Invisalign aligners a gentle scrub with a soft toothbrush can help them stay hygienic.

It is also a good idea to sterilize your Invisalign aligners before storing them. As you finish with each set of trays, sterilize them using a denture cleaner and place them back in the re-sealable bag in which they arrived. If you need to reuse them for any reason at a later date they will be clean and ready for use.