Kick Off the New Year with a Straighter Smile

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Another year is upon us, and what better way to kick off 2022 than with a new smile? Straightening your smile can boost your confidence while supporting your oral health — there are even a few financial benefits! A straighter smile is actually more accessible than you think.

Insurance Coverage

Many dental insurance providers include orthodontic treatment as part of their plans. As Cigna explains, some plans offer discounts on orthodontic treatment while others include a lifetime maximum amount. Unlike an annual maximum, which resets every year, a lifetime maximum is the total amount of money you can use toward orthodontic treatment for the life of the plan. Many patients do not use their orthodontic coverage, so it’s a good idea to take advantage of the benefits available to you! It’s always a good idea to ask your insurance provider for all the specifics on what your plan covers to make sure you are fully informed. 

HSA and FSA

Another option for covering orthodontic treatment is through a Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Account (FSA). Patients can contribute earnings to HSAs or FSAs and then use that money for healthcare expenses. We are pleased to offer both types of payment options.

Other Ways to Pay

For patients without insurance, savings are still possible with our Smiles360 Dental Savings Club. Members receive 10% off orthodontic treatment. As well, preventative care at our Mortenson Family Dental, Kid’s Dentistree and Gentle Dentist sister practices is included at no additional cost. There are also generous discounts on a variety of dental treatments. 

In addition to Smiles360, we also offer in-office financing options and accept CareCredit. Visit our payment options page for more information.

Contact Us Today

Make your smile a priority in 2022! If you have any questions about treatment options available or would like to schedule a free consultation, contact us any time.

October is National Orthodontic Health Month!

October is both National Orthodontic Health Month and National Dental Hygiene Month! Dental hygiene refers to the ways in which we keep our mouth, teeth and gums clean and healthy. Oral health maintenance can sometimes fall by the wayside as the year winds down and the holidays add more busyness to our daily lives. However, particularly for those undergoing orthodontic treatment, keeping up with your oral health routine remains vitally important. Here are a few tips for keeping your smile healthy while wearing braces or aligners.

Be selective with your treats.

It’s important to be mindful of your diet when wearing braces or aligners. If you do choose to indulge in sweets, be selective. Sticky, hard candy can become trapped in the grooves of your teeth, allowing bacteria to thrive, and can also increase the likelihood of your braces breaking. On the other hand, a soft bar of chocolate or peanut butter cups will be much easier to rinse off your teeth. Colgate.com offers additional tips on what foods you can eat, and what to avoid, while wearing braces. Remember, minimizing sugar intake is essential during your orthodontic treatment, so moderation is key to enjoying any treat! 

Follow the AAO’s suggestions for a healthy smile. 

Orthodontic patients should be cleaning their teeth multiple times a day. The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) provides these suggestions for maintaining your healthy smile: 

  • Rinse with a glass of water after eating to wash away the cavity-causing sugars.
  • Use a toothbrush to help remove stuck-on food and plaque.
  • Use an interproximal brush to clean around brackets, between wires and teeth. 
  • Floss in between the archwire and teeth to clean under the gumline. 

Maintain regular hygiene checkups.

The AAO suggests maintaining a regular routine of seeing your general dentist every 4-6 months for cleanings and check-ups. If you are due for a cleaning or dental work, be sure to schedule and keep your appointment. Achieving optimal oral health is a partnership between you, your dentist and your orthodontist. 

Why do you need to wear a retainer after your braces come off?

Many patients wonder why they are told to wear a retainer after their braces have been removed. After all, weren’t the braces there to straighten your teeth? That’s why it’s important to understand the purpose and benefits of retainers, and how the success of your overall treatment depends on your commitment to wearing one. 

What are retainers?

The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) explains that a retainer is a fixed or removable appliance worn after braces are removed or aligner therapy is complete. Removable retainers can be made out of wire or a clear, plastic-like material. Fixed retainers stay on your teeth until they are removed by your orthodontist. You and your orthodontist will discuss the type of retainer that works best for your particular situation.

According to the AAO, retainers allow the bone surrounding your teeth to rebuild while keeping them from shifting out of position after braces are removed. Many people wear removable retainers nightly for the rest of their lives. That’s why here at American Family Orthodontics, we say nighttime for a lifetime!

What’s the best way to care for my retainers?

The AAO offers several tips for how you can take care of your retainers. Importantly, always keep a removable retainer in its case when you are not wearing it. Never leave it loose in a purse, on a heat source, or within a dog’s reach. Both fixed and removable retainers should also be kept clean. Your orthodontist will give you instructions on the best ways to do this, which may include using an interproximal brush or avoiding certain foods or drinks.

Questions? Contact us today!

Retainers will help to preserve the beautiful smile you achieved with your braces or aligners, so it is important to wear them as prescribed. If you have any questions or concerns about wearing a retainer, or would like to schedule a consultation, contact us today!

Celebrate National Dentist’s Day this Saturday!

Saturday, March 6 is National Dentist’s Day! Celebrated annually, National Dentist’s Day is an opportunity to show appreciation for the dentists and dental specialists who keep our mouths healthy, including general dentists, pediatric dentists, orthodontists, oral surgeons and prosthodontists. As part of our celebration, we’ve combed history to recognize a few of the very first dentists and dental specialists.

First Dentist of Ancient History

The first recorded dentist, Hesy-Ra, lived and worked in Ancient Egypt around 2600 BC. He was known as the “Chief of Dentists” and was a person of high distinction under the pharaoh. According to New World Encyclopedia, the inscription on Hesy-Ra’s tomb reads, “The greatest of those who deal with teeth, and of physicians.”

First Women Dentists 

Did you know that March is Women’s History Month? Women have played a vital role in dentistry. Emeline Roberts Jones was the first woman to practice dentistry in the United States. Since women were not allowed to enter dental school at the time, Jones secretly provided dental services until her husband allowed her to join his dental practice in 1855. Lucy Hobbs Taylor was the first woman to actually graduate from a dental school, earning her degree from the Ohio College of Dental Surgery in 1866.

First Pediatric Dentist

Another noteworthy woman in dental history is M. Evangeline Jordon, the first dentist to specialize in pediatric patients. Jordon began her career as a teacher and worked summers as a dental assistant, but eventually devoted herself to dentistry full-time, limiting her practice entirely to children in 1909. Jordon aimed to find methods for reducing children’s fear of going to the dentist. She also wrote and lectured on the importance of proper oral hygiene habits for kids.

First Orthodontists

While there is evidence that orthodontics has been around since ancient times, two French dentists are credited with progressing the field to where it is today. Pierre Fauchard developed a device called the “blandeau” in 1728, which helped to expand the mouth arch. Later, Louis Bourdet, who was dentist to the King of France, perfected the blandeau and was the first dentist to recommend extracting premolar teeth to ease crowding and to improve jaw growth. A century later, American Edward Hartley Angle developed the first classification system of malocclusion and the first school of orthodontia, establishing orthodontics as a specialty distinct from general dentistry.

First Oral Surgeon

Simon P. Hullihen is regarded as the “father” of oral surgery. Graduating as a medical doctor, he specialized in treating problems of the mouth and head, performing over 1,100 operations using instruments he invented himself.

First Prosthodontist

The practice of prosthodontics goes back to ancient times, when ancient Egyptians used gold wire to stabilize and replace missing teeth. However, the birth of modern implantology is often credited to Italian Manilo Formiggini, who developed a spiral stainless steel implant that allowed bone to grow onto the metal.

This National Dentist’s Day, give thanks to dental specialists for the important work they do to help keep our mouths healthy. If it’s time for your check-up, be sure to contact us.

Celebrate Children’s Dental Health Month!

The American Dental Association (ADA) designates every February as Children’s Dental Health Month. The observance helps to promote children’s oral health for caregivers, teachers, and others who work with kids.

This year’s theme is “Water: Nature’s Drink.” The theme highlights the importance of drinking water over sugary beverages to keep teeth healthy. On their MouthHealthy.org website, the ADA explains that water, particularly water with fluoride, can strengthen teeth and help to prevent tooth decay. In addition, water is a low-calorie drink that keeps your mouth clean and fights dry mouth. The necessity of this year’s theme is evidenced by a study conducted by JAMA Pediatrics, in which 20% of 8,400 children observed reported not drinking any water. Those children typically consumed almost twice as many calories and more sugary beverages like soda and fruit drinks.

Promoting Orthodontic Health in Children

In addition to drinking water to keep teeth healthy, the American Association of Orthodontists also suggests helping your child avoid potentially harmful habits like prolonged thumb sucking or pacifier use. Some common orthodontic problems caused by prolonged thumb sucking and/or pacifier use include:

  • Protruding front teeth, sometimes referred to as “buck” teeth.
  • Open bite, where the front teeth don’t meet when the back teeth are closed.
  • Crossbite, where the upper teeth sit inside or behind bottom teeth.

Seeing an orthodontist from a young age can help your child correct any potentially harmful habits early and may help reduce the need for treatment down the road.

Additional Resources

The ADA provides several resources in celebration of National Children’s Dental Health Month, including crossword puzzles, coloring pages and other activities. A printable reference guide is also available with 5 tips for avoiding tooth decay. 

The Early Childhood Learning & Knowledge Center, part of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, provides a number of resources for oral health. These include healthy recipes, oral hygiene tips, and books about oral health.

If you’d like to discuss your child’s orthodontic health, schedule a free consultation today!

What does the COVID-19 vaccine mean for your orthodontic care?

The first phase of the COVID-19 vaccination program is rolling out across the country. As recommended by the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, phase 1a of the program prioritizes healthcare workers, including dental and orthodontic teams. Vaccine administration is being managed at the state level, creating some variation among states, but it is encouraging to see this important step underway!

How are dental providers being prioritized in the COVID-19 vaccination program? 

The ADA provides a helpful state-by-state map where you can see how dental providers are being prioritized in the vaccine program. In the vast majority of states, dental providers, including orthodontists, are listed as part of phase 1a, while a few states have them in phase 1b, and others have yet to determine their priority level. States also vary on whether or not a dental provider can administer the vaccine to others at this time.

Will American Family Orthodontics providers receive the COVID-19 vaccination?

In accordance with state prioritization guidelines, many of our orthodontists and team members have already received their first COVID-19 vaccination. Not only will vaccinations keep our team members safe, but they will ensure that patients who come into our practices remain safe as well. We’ll continue to provide more information to our patients as we have it. 

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?

The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine explains that, while the vaccine was developed at a faster rate than many vaccines in the past, it does not mean that any safety measures were skipped during the process. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines underwent appropriate clinical trials and were closely monitored for side effects. At this time, both vaccines are showing 95% effectiveness in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Is it safe to visit the orthodontist if I’m not vaccinated?

As each of us awaits our turn to be vaccinated, you can rest assured that your orthodontist’s office is as safe as ever. We will continue to implement extra safety measures — as recommended by the American Dental Association, American Association of Orthodontists and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — in addition to the infection control procedures we have always followed. Our highest priority is the well-being of each person that walks through our doors. If you have any questions or concerns about our safety protocols, feel free to give us a call. We’d love to hear from you!

American Family Orthodontics is a part of Mortenson Dental Partners.

Why Summer is the Best Time To Start Ortho Treatment

There’s no right or wrong time to receive orthodontic treatment, however there are certain times that may be better for you and your child’s treatment plan. With treatment comes many appointments for consultations, placements, and adjustments. Because of this, starting during the summer can be beneficial in many ways:  Adjustment period – When your child […]

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