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Your First Orthodontic Visit

As exciting as it can be to make a big decision that will have a positive impact on your life, you may find yourself feeling a little overwhelmed, too. The unknown can be scary sometimes! Choosing to receive orthodontic care with Lincoln Orthodontics is the first step towards a healthier smile, and we want you to feel confident in that choice. Your initial consultation with us in our Lincoln office is one of the most important appointments you’ll have, and we put a lot of work into making it an exciting and positive experience for you. To learn more about what you can expect from this first visit, and beyond, keep reading below!

Getting started on the smile you’ve always wanted

Your initial appointment with us will usually last around an hour, and will give our doctors insight into your orthodontic needs. After being greeted warmly, we’ll give you a quick tour of our office and introduce you to some of our staff. If diagnostic records are necessary for a thorough evaluation, we’ll take a series of photos and x-rays, as well as a digital scan if necessary. You’ll then receive an examination by one of our experienced orthodontists. Together, we’ll use dental and medical records, any photos and x-rays taken, and the results of your exam to diagnose any orthodontic issues and develop the appropriate treatment plan.

Throughout your visit, we’ll take the time to make sure you understand each step of the process. We encourage you to ask questions! Once you’ve had your examination, we’ll sit down with you to discuss some or all of the following topics.

  • Any oral issues present that orthodontics can address
  • If treatment is needed now, or if it would it be better to wait until certain growth, tooth eruption, or other factors have occurred
  • The treatment options we have available to correct the problem
  • If any permanent teeth will need to be removed first
  • How long we believe treatment will likely take
  • How much you can expect to invest in treatment
  • What payment options are available to you

By analyzing each patient’s specific needs and creating a customized treatment plan in order to meet those needs, we’re able to produce superior results and a higher level of patient satisfaction.

woman smiling with orthodontist

Investing in improved oral health

Once we’ve decided on a treatment plan that works best for your smile, your lifestyle, and your goals, we’ll take a look at the total investment needed for your new smile. Because each patient has their own unique needs, treatment costs will always vary on a case-by-case basis. Lincoln Orthodontics is committed to making sure you understand all associated costs of treatment before we proceed, so if you have any questions or concerns at this point, we’ll be happy to talk them through with you. We are also happy to provide a number of payment options and financing avenues to meet your unique needs.

Our team is proud to provide outstanding orthodontic care for patients of all ages in Lincoln and the surrounding communities, whatever the budget. Your smile is forever, and the cost of orthodontics should never be a deterrent to a healthy mouth and functional bite. It’s important to us that you have the options you need to improve your oral health, and that’s why we offer a variety of easy, flexible payment options, including:

  • Visa, MasterCard, Discover
  • No interest financing with affordable monthly payments
  • Automatic monthly payments scheduled for your convenience
  • Third Party financing through LendingClub Patient Solutions

We work with most insurance plans, as well. Because we know the process can be confusing and sometimes difficult, our staff are happy to communicate and work directly with your orthodontic insurance company to:

  • Verify orthodontic insurance benefit and terms
  • Submit orthodontic claims for prescribed treatment
  • Receive payment directly from the insurance company

We’ll go over all of these financial plans during your first visit, so don’t worry if it sounds stressful reading through it. Our goal to provide affordable, top-quality treatment as part of a positive orthodontic experience, from start to finish!

Choosing Lincoln Orthodontics for your first orthodontic visit

We’re all about exceeding expectations here at Lincoln Orthodontics, and strive to create beautiful, healthy smiles for our patients that will last a lifetime.Drs. Harre and Willett have many years of combined experience and excellent results between them, and our team will always go the extra mile to make you feel welcomed and valued, whether it’s your first visit or your last.

When it comes to treatment options, we offer leading edge orthodontic care with traditional metal braces, clear ceramic braces, self-ligating braces, and Invisalign® clear aligner therapy. We provide flexible scheduling options for your convenience and we also have an in-house lab to fabricate specialty appliances, decreasing wait time and increasing flexibility.

We even encourage parents and other family (or friends!) to attend and participate at appointments! Our clinic is designed with communication in mind and we welcome parents or other family members to sit chairside during all appointments. That’s because education is an important aspect of orthodontic treatment. Our doctors take the time to see each patient at every treatment appointment, and take advantage of the opportunity to educate you and your family about your diagnosis and plan, as well as the basics of orthodontics in general.

Patient safety and comfort are of the utmost importance in our practice, and we deliver the highest standard of sterilization available in a comfortable, welcoming environment. Protecting your investment in orthodontic treatment is also incredibly important to us. To that end, we will work with you closely throughout your orthodontic journey, provide you with multiple forms of retention once the treatment is complete, and continue to see you even after the appliances are removed, because orthodontic results should give you a confident smile for life!

 

Orthodontic Emergencies

Whether you’re new to braces or have been wearing them for a while, it’s important to have some knowledge about the issues that can occur when undergoing orthodontic treatment. At Lincoln Orthodontics, we want our patients to feel informed and confident in all aspects of the orthodontic process, including how to handle an emergency. While true orthodontic emergencies are rare, they can occur from time to time, and it’s important that you know what to do if a problem does arise.

What do we mean by “true orthodontic emergency?” Basically, this would include any of the following:

  • serious injury or trauma to the face, neck, mouth, teeth, or gums
  • swelling, infection, or bleeding of the gums or mouth
  • severe pain or discomfort in your teeth, mouth, face, or neck

We recommend seeking help as soon as possible if you experience any of these symptoms while undergoing orthodontic treatment. If you’re a current patient, we welcome you start with our office, but your family dentist can also help treat your dental emergencies. Your general dentist may have additional options to manage your needs in the case of a non-orthodontic dental trauma. Additionally, do not hesitate to go to an urgent care clinic or the emergency room if you feel this is your best option. Some patients worry that the orthodontic process will be interrupted in some way by emergency treatment, but we can always pick up where we left off or adjust things once the problem has been corrected and the emergency has passed.

Treating non-emergency issues at home

We’re often asked how to tell if an issue is worth an immediate ER visit, or if it’s a situation where patients can take a “wait and see” approach. One example of a problem requiring immediate diagnosis and treatment would be something like a fractured tooth. Another good example of this would be any severe pain or swelling around your teeth, jaw, or mouth, since this can be a sign of infection or disease.

Fortunately, these types of emergencies tend to be few and far between! Although it’s helpful to have a plan in place for dealing with an emergency, quite a few oral issues can be remedied from the comfort of your own home. While home remedies aren’t always able to to take care of all pain, discomfort, or irritation, they’re often useful for resolving minor problems, and good at lessening or relieving symptoms until we can see you in our office.

Below you’ll find more information about some of the most common minor “emergencies” or sources of discomfort, and what you can do about them without having to leave the house!

Mouth sores

broken bracesSome patients seem to be more susceptible to getting mouth sores during orthodontic treatment, and irritation from braces can exacerbate them. If these ulcers show up on your cheeks, lips, tongue, or gums, you can get some relief by using a cotton swab to apply a small amount of topical anesthetic directly to the sore. This can be reapplied as needed, following the instructions included with the packaging. You can also use the wax we provided in your care kit to cover the bracket or aligner area causing irritation–just remember to remove the wax and brush the area and reapply as needed.

Loose or broken brackets, bands, or wires

If any part of your braces comes loose or breaks, please contact our office as soon as possible so we can determine what your next steps should be. While you’re waiting for your appointment, there are a few guidelines you can follow to keep your braces and your mouth safe.

If a band or bracket is broken but still attached to the wire, don’t connect any elastics to it. Try to leave it alone until we see you in the office. If it’s irritating the inside of your mouth, you can cover the offending part with orthodontic wax. If a piece has actually broken off, please place it in a bag and bring it to your appointment.

Misplaced archwire, bracket, or tie

braces wireAs your teeth begin to move into the positions laid out in your treatment plan, the archwire that connects them may also move. This can sometimes result in it poking out a bit near the back of your mouth, which can cause irritation. Fortunately, this can be remedied by moving the wire into a better spot by using the eraser end of the pencil or a cotton swab.

If it’s the wires or ties that are misplaced, they can often be manipulated back into place by gently using a pair of clean tweezers or the eraser end of a pencil. When wires or brackets shift and irritate your mouth, try a pinch of orthodontic wax over the parts that are poking out. This can help relieve the immediate discomfort, but be sure to contact our office as soon as you can so our doctors are able to determine what the actual problem is and correct it.

braces wireTooth pain or loosening

During orthodontic treatment, your teeth can loosen slightly, and as scary as that sounds, it’s actually exactly what we want them to do. That said, this movement may occasionally cause some slight tenderness, especially right after your braces are put on, or following an adjustment appointment. Salt water rinses are a popular home remedy, and doing them twice a day during soreness can be really beneficial. Simply mix one teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water, then swish it around your mouth for about 30 seconds. A warm washcloth or a warm heating pad placed on the outside of your jaw can offer some relief as well. Some patients find relief in over-the-counter pain medicines like Tylenol or ibuprofen, similar to what you would take for a headache.

Broken Retainer – bonded or removable

broken retainer

After orthodontic treatment, retainers are routinely placed. The retainers used are specific to your individual treatment plan and may be bonded (“fixed” or “permanent”) or removable. If a bonded retainer comes loose, please continue to wear your removable retainer full-time until you are able to be seen at our office for a diagnosis and repair. This will prevent tooth movement and may be more comfortable to protect your tongue from irritation. If your removable retainer breaks or cracks, please contact our office and make arrangements to have the retainer replaced as soon as your schedule allows. Retainers – both bonded and removable – work together to prevent orthodontic relapse, as there is a chance your teeth will continue to shift throughout your lifetime.

Lincoln Orthodontics is here to help

women getting her braces fixedAlthough true orthodontic emergencies are rare, they do happen, and you should seek treatment from an experienced and qualified orthodontist as soon as possible if you experience one. But we know that even minor emergency situations can be upsetting. That’s why our team is committed to keeping your orthodontic experience as safe, stress-free, and rewarding as possible! Our skilled staff create beautiful smiles every day for patients of all ages, and that process doesn’t have to be painful. If you have been experiencing any discomfort with your braces, or any other aspect of your orthodontic treatment, get in touch with us today. We’ll get to the bottom of it, and put a smile back on your face in no time!

Regular Toothbrush vs. Electric Toothbrush

Here at Lincoln Orthodontics, we know it can be challenging to clean your teeth and gums thoroughly and effectively when you’re wearing braces. The brackets, wires, and bands can trap food particles, and they also create a series of nooks and crannies that can be hard to reach with a regular toothbrush. Yet brushing your teeth the right way is a critical component of oral care, and one every braces patient should take seriously. 

If you’re a current orthodontic patient, you’re already aware of how important it is to maintain an effective oral hygiene routine. Brushing and flossing regularly keeps your teeth clean, your smile healthy, and also greatly reduces your chances of developing cavities and gum disease. Good dental hygiene helps remove any bacteria, residue, and food debris that can lead to a buildup of plaque acids and hardened tartar, thus increasing your risk of decay developing. Although it is easier to brush during aligner treatment, it is still critical to spend adequate time brushing and flossing to ensuring healthy teeth.

To keep these oral issues at bay, we encourage our patients to brush at least twice daily for two minutes (or more!), and floss every night before bed. While these are fairly simple habits to cultivate, choosing the best products to care for your braces can sometimes be a little more complicated!

What type of toothbrush should you choose as an orthodontic patient?

The oral care aisle of any store can be overwhelming given the sheer amount of choices on display. It seems like there’s a product for everything, from toothpaste for sensitive teeth to whitening gels, mouthwashes to flavored flosses, items designed specifically for orthodontic patients, manual and electric toothbrushes, and much more. 

Most of these competing products are equally effective when it comes to caring for your teeth and gums, but it turns out that electric toothbrushes may actually have a slight edge over manual versions. This is especially true for orthodontic patients. In fact, one study by the American Journal of Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics found that an electric brush could remove a significantly greater amount of plaque than a manual one, which is good news for those wearing braces.

Of course, many of our patients can and do clean their teeth perfectly well with a manual toothbrush. However, some find electric brushes to be very beneficial. If you’re a current braces patient using a regular toothbrush in your dental hygiene routine, an electric toothbrush may be a better choice for your braces, teeth, and gums. Let’s take a closer look at the reasons why:

The advantages of an electric toothbrush

Multiple studies have shown that electric toothbrushes can be more effective than manual brushes at removing plaque. Some of the best models have even indicated an ability to remove up to 2x more total plaque, which is nothing to sneeze at! There are a number of factors that give these brushes an advantage over their manual counterparts, including:

Deep cleaning

Electric toothbrushes drive fluids in between the teeth, which means they’re able to get down deep and clean more effectively in and around the brackets and wires. Most models also produce hundreds or even thousands of movements per minute, something you can’t replicate with a manual toothbrush no matter how hard you try!

Custom cleaning modes

Many electric toothbrush models possess cleaning modes that have been customized with a specific purpose or issue in mind, such as sensitive teeth, whitening, stain removal, and much more.

Easy to use

Cleaning your teeth may seem like an easy task, but you’d be surprised to learn how many people get it wrong! Whether it’s rushing through the process or not understanding how to brush and floss properly, we’ve seen a number of patients over the years who just weren’t getting their gums and teeth clean. However, cavities and gum damage can often be avoided by doing nothing more than cleaning your mouth thoroughly and regularly. Electric toothbrushes can help you achieve this by removing the risk of “user error” by including timers, sensors, and multiple modes that most of the guesswork out of brushing.

electric and manual toothbrushes isolated on white background.

Electric toothbrush features 

Electric toothbrushes come with not only multiple modes,  but in many different styles and with several different features as well. These can include:

Battery-powered options

Some electric brushes run on a simple AA or AAA battery. These are similar to manual toothbrushes, but have a head that spins or pulsates the bristles to add a little extra oomph to your brushing technique. Battery-powered toothbrushes will generally be the least expensive electric option, and can be very convenient. You should always be careful to replace the batteries as soon as they run out, though, in order to avoid acid leaks that can ruin the brush itself.

Rechargeable toothbrushes

These brushes will recharge using a base that plugs into a wall outlet, so there are no batteries to replace. These are the electric options that tend to offer the higher-tech options like timers, pressure sensors, and replacement reminders. They may also include a variety of brushing options, like oscillation or vibration.

Timers

Brushing for at least two minutes every time you brush is the standard, but it can be easy to miss this mark. One of the most common problems we see in patients is not brushing long enough, so the timers that some electric brushes include can be really helpful if you have trouble keeping your brushing on track. Some timers are even sophisticated enough to keep track of how long you’re meant to brush each quadrant of your mouth.

Pressure sensors

Some rechargeable brush models include a sensor that tracks the pressure you’re putting on your teeth that will alert you if you’re brushing too hard. This can be an especially helpful feature if you ever suffer from sensitive teeth or weak enamel.

Multiple brush heads

This feature allows you to switch detachable brush heads when the bristles wear out but keep the electric base of your toothbrush. While some bases will only fit one type of brush head, others are compatible with multiple types. 

Multiple brush settings

There are some electric brushes that offer multiple settings for a more thorough cleaning experience, including:

  • rotary, where the head rotates in only one direction
  • counter-rotational, where the head rotates in various directions
  • rotating-oscillating, which allows different lengths of bristles to rotate in opposite directions
  • oscillating-pulsating, which adds a pulsating motion to the oscillatory motion

Lincoln Orthodontics: helping you brush your way to a beautiful smile

Whatever type of product you’re looking for to help take care of your braces and smile, we suggest sticking to ones that have the American Dental Association seal of approval. Products marked with the ADA seal have been studied thoroughly and tested for safety and effectiveness. They’re also guaranteed to perform as promised!

Our doctors recommend replacing your toothbrush or brush heads more often when you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment. Braces can be particularly hard on the bristles and they tend to wear out more quickly.

girl deciding between toothbrushes

At Lincoln Orthodontics, our mission is to help you achieve not only a straighter smile, improved oral health across the board. Part of that is keeping your teeth and gums in good shape while you’re wearing braces. If you’d like to try incorporating an electric toothbrush into your oral hygiene routine, but aren’t sure where to start, Dr. Willett and Dr. Harre are happy to recommend one for you based on your specific case. Our dedicated team is always here to discuss any questions or concerns you have about your treatment plan! We want to give you the best experience possible on your orthodontic journey, and work hard to provide you with all the support you need throughout the process.

girl with mouth ache

Wisdom Teeth And Braces

It’s not uncommon to begin orthodontic treatment with a long list of questions. Orthodontics is a new experience, and you will naturally want to know more about all that it entails. As time goes on, you’ll come to know more about the orthodontic process, and grow more familiar with your teeth and all the amazing things they’re capable of. By the time you’re done with braces or aligners, you’ll have acquired quite a bit of knowledge that goes beyond the basics!

However, there is one related subject you might be missing solid information on: wisdom teeth. This may not seem like a topic that is particularly relevant to orthodontics, but wisdom teeth can have a surprising impact on your oral health. At Lincoln Orthodontics, it’s not unusual for patients (or their parents) to wonder if these molars could have a negative effect on smiles that have been straightened through orthodontics. To learn more about why this worry is unfounded, and what the eruption of your wisdom teeth can mean for braces treatment, keep reading below!

Why do we have wisdom teeth?

Once upon a time, our ancestors had a diet that revolved mainly around coarse foods like meat, roots, and nuts, which required large and powerful jaws to chew and digest. As their diet began to evolve, so too did our jaws, shrinking in size to eventually hold three molars in each quadrant instead of four. For many people today, even three is too many, and their mouths just don’t have the space to allow wisdom teeth to erupt fully without issues. To be sure, this isn’t the case for everyone. For plenty of people, the wisdom teeth will come through in proper alignment with little more than some slight tenderness, requiring no further action. But our wisdom teeth grow in stages instead of all at once, offering up many chances of extended discomfort and pain until they fully erupt. To avoid any unnecessary suffering, removal of the wisdom teeth may sometimes be suggested.

x-ray image

Are wisdom teeth capable of shifting other teeth?

The short answer is no, but let’s explore why.

Your wisdom teeth are the last teeth to make an appearance in your mouth, usually showing in your late teens or early twenties. Around this same time, some patients will also see a slight shifting of their teeth begin, also known as relapse. Given the timing, many patients jump to the conclusion that wisdom teeth must be responsible for any drifting that occurs in this timespan. To learn more about this, The University of Iowa actually studied the possible relationship between wisdom teeth and relapse. They conducted research that involved placing sensors between the teeth of their subjects, then compared the pressure on them both with and without wisdom teeth. They concluded that was no difference between the two at all, proving once and for all that the wisdom teeth alone aren’t able to exert enough pressure on the teeth in front of them to cause them to shift.

So if wisdom teeth coming in aren’t a key factor in a smile shifting, what is? The answer is surprisingly simple: we get older. As we age, our teeth begin showing signs of wear and tear, and there’s also a natural drifting that begins to occur. This drifting can cause our teeth to begin overlapping, moving them slightly forward. This overlapping can also cause the upper teeth to press the lower teeth in towards the tongue. At this time, jaws are also still finishing up their growth, which can further force the teeth into less than desirable positions. The solution to all this shifting and drifting? Regular retainer use! As an orthodontic patient, you have no doubt heard on numerous occasions how important it is to wear your retainer once your treatment is complete. Relapse is the biggest reason we stress this point so much. Wearing your retainer exactly as directed by Dr. Willett or Dr. Harre is the single best defense you have against your teeth shifting. It’s a simple yet incredibly effective way to help keep your teeth stay as straight as possible once your orthodontic treatment has finished.

Can your wisdom teeth affect your orthodontic treatment?

If your mouth doesn’t have enough room for your wisdom teeth to erupt fully, it can put pressure on the surrounding teeth. Furthermore, if the wisdom teeth begin coming in sideways, they can catch behind the last tooth in your mouth. This painful set of circumstances is referred to as impaction, and it can lead to sensitive, swollen gums. Partially erupted teeth can also be a challenge to clean effectively, increasing your risk for recurrent infections and damage to the adjacent healthy molars.

If your wisdom teeth happen to start erupting during the course of your orthodontic treatment with us, you should be able to continue easily and without interruption. Wisdom teeth can be removed while wearing braces if necessary, but if yours come through with no apparent problems, it’s unlikely that removal would be recommended. That said, your general dentist or an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Willett or Dr. Harre will be able to tell how your wisdom teeth are coming through by taking a detailed x-ray of your mouth. The results of that x-ray will be considered along with the impact wisdom teeth are having on the rest of your mouth. At that point, wisdom tooth removal may be recommended. 

Girl smiling with braces

Lincoln Orthodontics has the wisdom to give you peace of mind

For over twenty years, Lincoln Orthodontics has been offering families in Lincoln and the surrounding communities an orthodontic experience that is comfortable, positive, energetic, and rewarding. Our team is committed to providing you with a practice that makes you feel welcome and at home the moment you walk through our door. From your first appointment to your last, we want you to feel valued, heard, and respected. If you’re worried about how your wisdom teeth may impact your orthodontic treatment or overall oral health, get in touch! We go the extra mile to make sure your questions are answered and your concerns are addressed to the best of our ability. Your smile is important to us, and so are you!