Our Blog

Wisdom Teeth And Braces

September 18, 2018

Dr. Leaver with a patient

When you begin orthodontic treatment with Leaver & Gardner Orthodontics, you tend to begin the journey with a number of questions. This is particularly true if you’ll be wearing traditional braces. You may find yourself asking things like

How long will I need to be in braces?

Will having them put on hurt?

Will I have any restrictions on the foods I can eat?

How often will I have follow-up appointments?

Your orthodontic journey will be a learning process, and along the way, you’ll find the answers to these questions and more. You’ll also become more knowledgeable about orthodontics in general, and your own teeth specifically. Though you will likely become familiar with the way your teeth grow and move as it relates to your braces, there’s one set of teeth we’re willing to bet you won’t learn quite so much about – your wisdom teeth! These late-comers aren’t an especially common topic of conversation when it comes to orthodontics, so may be unaware of the part wisdom teeth play in your overall oral health.

As the last of your teeth to erupt, wisdom teeth don’t normally show up until you’re in your late teens or early twenties. We have patients who worry that this timing will mean a smile that has been successfully straightened by braces will be affected by the wisdom teeth coming in. Let’s take a closer look at what your wisdom teeth actually are, what you can expect when they erupt, and if this should concern you as a braces patient!

What are wisdom teeth?

Once upon a time, our ancestors relied on a diet that was rich in coarse foods like roots, nuts, and meats that required large, powerful jaws to chew. As our diet evolved and became more varied, our jaws began to shrink in size, resulting in smaller mouths which may not have enough room for wisdom teeth to fit in comfortably anymore. This isn’t the case for everyone by any means, and many people will find their wisdom teeth come through in proper alignment with no issues whatsoever besides some slight tenderness. If this is the case, further action is rarely necessary. However, there are times when erupting wisdom teeth can be painful and uncomfortable. Because the wisdom teeth grow in stages rather than all at once, there are quite a few opportunities for discomfort throughout the eruption process. This may have you asking…

x-ray of wisdom teeth

Will I need to have my wisdom teeth removed?

If there’s not enough room in your mouth for your wisdom teeth to come through, it can put pressure on the adjacent teeth. Another issue arises from the wisdom teeth coming in sideways, as they can become jammed behind the last tooth in the mouth. This is commonly referred to as impaction, and it can lead to painful, swollen gums. Partially erupted teeth are also difficult to clean thoroughly, which can increase your risk for recurrent infections. This can cause potential damage to the healthy molars beside them as well. 

Experienced orthodontists like Dr. Leaver and Dr. Gardner are able to tell how your wisdom teeth are coming in by taking an x-ray of your mouth. Based on the results of that x-ray, along with any problems your wisdom teeth are causing in your mouth, our doctors may recommend further treatment, including wisdom tooth removal. In general, wisdom teeth will only need to come out if they are causing pain, pressure, or other issues in the mouth.

Can my wisdom teeth undo the orthodontic progress I’ve made?

In your late teens and early twenties, it’s common to see a slight shifting of the teeth begin. This is referred to as relapse, and because it tends to happen around the same time your wisdom teeth begin to erupt, many people believe the two must be related.

To test this theory, the University of Iowa did a study which involved placing sensors between the teeth to compare the amount of pressure on them with and without wisdom teeth present. They found there was no difference between the two. In other words, our wisdom teeth don’t exert enough pressure on the surrounding teeth to cause them to move. So if wisdom teeth don’t cause shifting, what does? As it turns out, the answer is surprisingly simple: we get older.

As we age, our teeth begin drifting naturally. They also start to show some signs of general wear and tear. This can cause our teeth to overlap and move slightly forward, with the upper teeth pressing the lower teeth in towards the tongue. Residual jaw growth can also force the teeth into undesirable positions. If you’ve been a patient with Leaver & Gardner Orthodontics for any time, you’ve probably heard us talk about how important it is to wear a retainer once your braces come off. This natural drifting is precisely why! By wearing your retainer as directed, you’ll be giving your teeth the best chance to stay as straight as possible after your braces treatment is complete.

Dr. Leaver and staff talking with a patient

Be wise: trust your smile to Leaver & Gardner Orthodontics

Here at Leaver & Gardner Orthodontics, we’ve got a talented and dedicated team in place to create the most rewarding orthodontic experience possible for you. We’re committed to your comfort, care, and smile! You can count on us to guide you towards a beautifully straight smile that will last a lifetime. If your wisdom teeth happen to start erupting during the course of your orthodontic treatment, you’ll be able to continue easily and without interruption.

While it’s unlikely that your wisdom teeth will affect the straighter smile you’ve achieved with braces, every patient and every case is different. If you’re worried about how your own wisdom teeth are erupting, you should schedule an appointment with your general dentist to discuss the way these teeth are growing in. We’ll also be happy to set your mind at ease about how this growth shouldn’t be an issue for your smile, so give us a call and we can address any questions or concerns you have!

The 3 B’s Of Going Back To School With Braces

August 30, 2018

Dr. Leaver with a patient

We can hardly believe it, but summer is already coming to an end. Although there are still a few more weeks to enjoy the warmer temps and longer days, it’s back-to-school season, and before you know it, we’ll be knee-deep in winter! But before we drag our jackets out of the closet, this is the perfect time to discuss proper dental care during the school day with our patients who are in braces. This is an especially important overview for kids who are returning to school for the first time since beginning orthodontic treatment. The good news is, wearing braces at school doesn’t have to be a hardship. With a little effort and care, it will quickly become the new normal for your child! Just like any other new adventure, however, orthodontic treatment comes with its own learning curves. Leaver & Gardner Orthodontics is here to help our student patients get through the school day smiling! Keep reading below for our best tips on getting back into the swing of school with braces.

Be prepared

We recommend that every student in braces keep a basic care kit handy, especially for those who haven’t been wearing them for very long. Because the brackets and wires have a tendency to trap food particles, we encourage brushing after lunch, with a quick floss added if needed.  Having a few common items in their backpack or locker will keep your child prepared for any braces-related dilemma that might pop up during the school day. Some items they may want to include are:

  • a soft-bristled toothbrush
  • fluoride toothpaste
  • dental floss
  • orthodontic wax
  • lip balm
  • an unsharpened pencil

These can be useful in many ways. Orthodontic wax is an excellent way to reduce the mild irritation wires and brackets can sometimes cause to the lips, gums, and cheeks by placing a pea-sized amount over the offending area for relief. The eraser end of a pencil can be utilized to nudge wires back into place should they stray, and lip balm is soothing on lips that are dry and irritated due to braces-wearing.

staff talking about teeth

Be careful

If you have a child in braces who regularly play sports, is active in extracurriculars like cheering, or still has gym classes, it’s worth looking into an orthodontic mouthguard. Sports and other physical activity increase the risk of braces being damaged and the cheeks, gums, or mouth being injured. Orthodontic mouthguards are designed specifically for wear with braces, and are the easiest way to prevent breakage, injury, and ensure your active child’s oral health. These mouthguards, as well as the more common non-orthodontic models, are generally available at most major sporting goods stores, but if it makes life easier for you, our team is happy to order one for your child as well!

Be smart

Remind your child that the same rules apply for braces care, whether they are at home, at school, or somewhere in between. This is especially true when it comes to food restrictions, which can be one of the biggest challenges your child will face while undergoing orthodontic treatment. School can make it even harder for kids when it comes to choosing lunches and snacks that are braces-friendly. It’s important to avoid any foods that are too crunchy, sticky, or chewy in order to protect brackets and wires. While this is usually easy enough to manage at home where you can control what’s on the menu, it can be a bit more difficult if your child normally buys school lunches or uses a vending machine for snacks.

To keep treatment progressing on track, check the school’s lunch menu every week and look for braces-friendly options. This includes things like lean meat, mashed potatoes, spaghetti, mac and cheese, and cooked vegetables. If you find that the choices tend to be limited, packing a lunch can sometimes simplify things. Invest in a sturdy Thermos and pack pasta, soups, and other soft options that are gentle on braces. If you make a sandwich, cut it into smaller bites the night before to make eating and chewing easier, and to cut down on unsightly food debris. Healthy snacks like yogurt and applesauce can also be great additions, and will help keep your child feeling full and satisfied throughout the school day.

What your child chooses to drink at school can also affect their braces. Staying hydrated should always be a priority, but drinking water is also an easy way to keep any rogue food particles from sticking to the teeth and braces. Fill a water bottle and send it to school with your child in the morning. Drinking it throughout the day will keep their thirst quenched and teeth clean. Encourage your child to stick to plain water instead of soda, fruit juices, or other sugary drinks, as these can stain teeth and increase the risk of cavities. For the occasional sweet drink, have your child use a straw to keep the sugar as far away from their teeth as possible. 

Dr. Gardner talking with a patient

Let Leaver & Gardner Orthodontics send your child back to school smiling

If this is your child’s first year attending school with braces on, the idea of such a new experience can have them feeling nervous and anxious. Even patients who have been in braces for a while might struggle with feeling slightly more stressed than usual about going back to school. These feelings are all common and a normal reaction to the unknown! However, it doesn’t take long for life with braces to become part of your child’s new routine. Being careful, prepared, safe, and smart with their braces will go a long way towards keeping them on the right path towards a straighter, healthier smile!

Here at Leaver & Gardner Orthodontics, we are proud to create beautiful smiles for families in Summerlin, Northwest LV, and the surrounding communities. Our doctors are experienced in providing the best in orthodontic care, and our entire team is committed to making every patient’s orthodontic process as stress-free and rewarding as possible. If you or your child have any questions or concerns about how to navigate the new school year while undergoing orthodontic treatment with braces, please get in touch with us and we’ll do all we can to set your minds at ease. We wish all our teachers and students a wonderful start to the new school year and look forward to seeing your smile on our honor roll in the weeks and months to come!

Why Do I Need Rubber Bands With Braces?

July 31, 2018

Leaver & Gardner Orthodontics doctor with a patient

If you are currently wearing braces, you already know that orthodontic treatment can come with its fair share of hurdles to overcome. From the food restrictions to broken brackets and wires that poke at the inside of your mouth, braces take some getting used to. Rubber bands are another one of those things that can be a challenge during your treatment, but like everything else associated with braces, they are an important part of the process to give you beautifully straight teeth!

Most of our patients at Leaver & Gardner Orthodontics will need to wear rubber bands at some point during their orthodontic treatment in order to correct the alignment of their bite, reduce an over- or underbite, and in some cases, open or close spaces. Wearing these elastics as Dr. Leaver and Dr. Gardner recommend will help move your teeth into new and improved positions, giving you a healthy, functional smile, and improving your overall oral health.

While all these little annoyances are absolutely worth the end result, we know it can be frustrating, especially if you don’t understand why you’re being asked to do something like wear rubber bands with your braces. We want all of our patients to feel informed about and empowered by their orthodontic treatment! Whether you’ve been asked to wear elastics full-time or part-time, we want to help you understand why we use rubber bands with braces, how they work, and how they will benefit your smile. Keep reading below to learn more!

The role of rubber bands in orthodontics

Traditional braces are one of the most effective ways of aligning teeth and creating straighter smiles. Once the braces have been glued to the teeth, they’ll begin to move the teeth thanks to the forces that are produced by the set of wires that span from tooth to tooth. This can successfully align the upper and lower sets of teeth separately, but something must be connected between the arches to actually correct the bite. While there are several options available for accomplishing this, such as headgear, springs, other orthodontic appliances, etc., the most common method is rubber bands, also known as elastics.

Elastics are a preferred method for a number of reasons. They are far less noticeable than other options like headgear, and tooth-colored elastics in particular blend in nicely with your natural smile. That said, they can also be personalized by choosing from a range of colors for patients who like to show off their personality! Elastics are easy to remove and replace, an important feature since you’ll need to do both frequently. The stretchy, flexible nature of rubber bands also allows you to maintain a full range of motion when engaging in everyday activities like talking, yawning, and other jaw functions. This facilitates easier eating and brushing. Rubber bands are extremely versatile and can be used to correct most types of bite problems, including overbites, underbites, open bites, and crossbites. Elastics are also much more cost effective than other options available for bite correction.

The different types of orthodontic elastics

There are two types of orthodontic elastics, ligatures and rubber bands. Ligatures are smaller and fit around the brackets to help the archwire retain its position there. Ligatures will help to pull or push your teeth in the direction that is required by the customized treatment plan created by one of our doctors for you.

The larger form of elastics are simply referred to as rubber bands. These can be placed in several different configurations to match the tensile force requirements of your mouth, and are used to apply pressure on the jaw, assisting it in achieving the proper alignment for your bite. The most common configurations include the top-to-bottom and inter-arch configurations.

Both types of elastics are available in various colors.

Leaver & Gardner Orthodontics tools

How orthodontic rubber bands work

While ligatures, archwires, and brackets are used to move the teeth along the gumline, rubber bands help pull the jaw backward or forwards so that your bottom and top rows of teeth line up correctly. The process begins when a bracket with a hook is placed along the right and left sides of your bottom and top teeth. Rubber band are then attached to these hooks on each side of the mouth. The amount of tensile force required to correct your issue will determine the angle at which these bands are placed. This ultimately improves your smile by fitting your teeth together more comfortably. Bands also play an essential role in speeding up the orthodontic process, although this relies entirely on you wearing your rubber bands precisely as directed by Dr. Leaver or Dr. Gardner.

How to use your rubber bands correctly

In order to ensure your orthodontic treatment proceeds on schedule, it’s imperative that you follow instructions carefully when wearing rubber bands. This will provide you with optimal results and help you avoid any prolonging of the treatment process.

For maximum effectiveness, most patients will be advised to wear their rubber bands 24/7, taking them out only to brush, floss, put new bands in, and sometimes to eat. This will, of course, will depend on each individual case. Taking bands off while you are sleeping is not recommended, and you will hear us warn against doubling up on bands. Though many patients believe it will speed treatment up, it actually slows things down by potentially damaging the roots.

It’s normal for your mouth, teeth, and jaws to be a little sore the first few days of wearing rubber bands. Stay the course and keep them in as directed! Wearing your elastics incorrectly – like putting them in for a while, taking them off for a while, then putting them back on, etc. – will not only make your teeth more resistant to moving successfully and slow down treatment progress, it can also keep your teeth constantly sore, since they never have the chance to get used to the rubber bands.

Each time you take a band out, you should discard it and put on a new one. Depending on your specific case, your daily activities, and the strength of the elastic, you may find yourself replacing bands multiple times each day. Make sure you have your pack of bands on you at all times!

Leaver & Gardner Orthodontics doctor with a patient

Keeping your braces treatment on track with Leaver & Gardner Orthodontics

Wearing rubber bands with your braces is an important part of your treatment with Leaver & Gardner Orthodontics. They play an essential role in moving your jaw and teeth into the correct alignment necessary to achieve optimal results. Dr. Leaver, Dr. Gardner, and the rest of our skilled staff are committed to helping you through the orthodontic process. We strive to make it as rewarding an experience as possible! If the time has come for you to wear rubber bands with your braces, our team is here to help you with any questions or concerns you have, or to simply provide some extra encouragement if needed. Remember, this part of your orthodontic journey is only temporary. Before you know it, you’ll have a beautifully aligned and fully functional smile that will last you a lifetime!

Summer Survival Guide For Braces

July 11, 2018

School is out and summer is here! No matter what big adventures you have planned, as an orthodontic patient, it is important to keep your treatment on track by caring for your braces poolside, plane-side, or wherever you happen to be in between. By taking the time to plan ahead and be prepared, you can ensure you make it through these summer months with your braces and your treatment schedule intact. Here at Leaver & Gardner Orthodontics, we are committed to helping you succeed in your quest for a straighter, healthier smile. Our team has put together this handy Summer Survival Guide to get you through your vacation with your smile in tip-top shape, so keep reading for more information!

Keep our contact info in your phone

If you are going to be jet-setting, backpacking, or road-tripping your way through your summer break, make sure you have our contact information close to hand before you head out. You may not anticipate any unexpected orthodontic emergencies, but that is the thing about emergencies – they rarely happen when we are ready for them! Putting us in your address book before you hop on a train, board a plane, or jump in the car can be helpful in case anything does pop up. Giving our office a quick call when you are feeling frustrated or overwhelmed can help calm you down, and we will be able to walk you through any steps you need to take to find relief.

Most of the time you will be fine to wait until you are back home to follow up with us, but if we feel you should seek further treatment, we can direct you to an orthodontist near you if you are out of town. To get back to your summer fun as quickly as possible, take a clear picture of the problem you are experiencing using your phone or camera in good light, or use the flash if necessary. If you can email or text this to us before you call, it will cut down on the time it takes us to assess the issue, and we will be able to diagnose what is happening more quickly and accurately for you.

Make up a travel kit for braces on the go

Whether you are keeping things close to home or traveling halfway around the world, have a small bag of basics with you to maintain your oral hygiene routine. Besides the obvious additions of a soft-bristled toothbrush, fluoride toothpaste, and floss, you can also throw in a few helpful items like:

Orthodontic wax

An over-the-counter pain reliever, for any swelling or soreness (we recommend always checking with Dr. Leaver or Dr. Gardner before taking any medication for braces-related discomfort)
A few unsharpened pencils, as the erasers are helpful for nudging protruding wires back into place

You can keep this bag in your purse, backpack, or suitcase so it is close by in case you need it!

Simple DIY solutions

Many minor issues that occur with your braces can be solved at home with nothing more than a little know-how and a few everyday items you have lying around the house. If you experience any of the following problem while you are out and about this summer, try these easy solutions for relief.

Irritated cheeks, lips, or gums

It is very common to experience non-specific irritation in your cheeks, lips, or gums from time to time when you are in braces. Loosened wires or brackets are usually to blame, and the easiest way to tackle it is with orthodontic wax. Make sure the bracket or wire is completely dry before you begin, then pinch a small piece of wax off, roll it into a ball, flatten it, and place it over the source of irritation to help relieve any discomfort. Let us know if you need any orthodontic wax and we will hook you up!

Protruding wires

If you have a wire come loose and it is irritating your mouth, pull out a pencil! You can use the eraser end to gently nudge the wire back against the teeth until it flattens out. For extra stability, place a piece of orthodontic wax over the wire.

Loose bracket

If you discover a loose bracket, let us know as soon as possible so we can decide together what the next step should be. In the meantime, you can slide the bracket back along the wire to the center of the tooth, then use a bit of wax over the bracket to add some stability.

Stick to your regular oral hygiene routine

Summers are meant for being lazy. Staying up late and sleeping in make it easy to fall out of the school year routine, and while late-night TV and cold pizza for breakfast are no big deal, it is important to maintain your usual brushing and flossing routine. To keep your braces spick and span, be sure to brush your teeth after every meal and snack, brush and floss thoroughly before bed, and use your waterpik regularly if you have one. Slacking off is totally acceptable during summer break, but for the sake of your smile, let your oral hygiene routine be the one thing you keep on track!

Summertime treats that are safe for braces

Summer is overflowing with all sorts of mouth-watering snacks and sweets, but you should stick to the general rules of eating with braces, avoiding anything crunchy or chewy, and brushing after every meal and snack. Though you may need to steer clear of treats like ribs and s’mores, you can still dig into classics like jello, grilled hot dogs, potato salad, and ice cream. If you can make smart choices even in the face of holiday temptation, you will be that much closer to the payout that will come at the end of your treatment, when you will have a beautiful brand new smile to show off.

Wishing you a happy summer from Leaver & Gardner Orthodontics

Whatever you have planned for your summer vacation, we hope it is full of fun, friends, and making new memories. If you have any questions or concerns about your treatment over the next few months – or anytime – you can always give us a call or drop by either of our Las Vegas offices. Dr. Leaver, Dr. Gardner, and our entire team are here to encourage you in your orthodontic journey. We want your smile to succeed! Have a happy summer and we will see you soon!

Why Summer is the Best Time to Start Orthodontic Treatment

May 31, 2018

Summer vacation is upon us, and we’re all excited about staying up late, sleeping in, and
spending lazy days by the pool. You probably haven’t been spending much time thinking about
orthodontic treatment while working on your tan, but this is actually the perfect time of year to
explore all the ways Leaver & Gardner Orthodontics can benefit your child’s smile, especially if
they haven’t had their first full orthodontic evaluation yet. The American Association of
Orthodontists recommend children be screened for orthodontic issues before they reach the age
of seven, so if you have a child around this age, we’d love to meet them! If your child has
already had an orthodontic evaluation and been diagnosed with an oral issue, summer is an
optimal time to begin orthodontic treatment. Why? Let’s take a look!

School’s out for the summer

Today’s families are busier than ever before, and during the school year, parents can
sometimes feel run off their feet with activities. Between work, school, gym time, and
extracurriculars, you’re lucky to find one square in your calendar that doesn’t have something
penciled in! One of the most important parts of orthodontic treatment is regular check-ups,
during which our doctors will make adjustments and make sure everything is progressing as it
should be. Summer is a much easier time to get into this kind of routine, since your family’s
schedule tends to be more open and relaxed than it is when school is in session.

A child’s initial consultation covers quite a bit of ground, including things like

    • a review of the dental and medical history
    • a complete oral exam including x-rays
    • a discussion about goals, available options, and what to expect during the treatment
    • creating a personalized plan and scheduling an appointment to begin the process
      answering any questions you may have, as well as detailing financial and insurance

Scheduling this lengthier appointment for the summertime can make it a little easier to fit into
your schedule, since there are no worries about cutting into your child’s school day. The same
goes for the day they receive their braces or clear aligners. Speaking of which….

An easier transition at home

Modern orthodontics have improved in leaps and bounds in recent years. Traditional braces are
more comfortable and less conspicuous than they’ve ever been, and patients now have more
discreet treatment options such as the Invisalign clear aligner system and ceramic braces.
However, these appliances do still have a learning curve and will generally require a short
period of adjustment, particularly with braces. An aching mouth is a temporary possibility, and
there are also a number of food restrictions for kids to get used to. These things can be
distracting at school, but at home, your child is more in control of their environment. Starting
orthodontic treatment in the summer makes it easier to avoid lunchtime temptation and stick to
the kind of soft, simple foods that will be easy on their mouth and their braces.

Even patients with clear aligners need some time to adapt. The Invisalign clear aligner system
works by wearing a series of removable aligners over the teeth daily, which make slight
adjustments to their positions over time. These aligners are usually replaced weekly, allowing
the tooth straightening process to continue effectively. Wearing them as directed is the only way
this treatment to work — keeping them in for less than the recommended 20-22 hours every day
can result in extra treatment time.

Without homework, tests, and school projects to occupy most of their time, summer vacation is
an excellent chance for students to get used to the ins and outs of orthodontic treatment so
they’re prepped and ready to handle the school year to come!

Extra time to excel at a new oral hygiene routine

The early mornings (along with the occasional late night) that come with the school year can
leave you and your kids ready to fall into bed without so much as a sideways glance at your
toothbrush. But maintaining a good oral hygiene routine is one of the most important parts of
taking care of your smile, and it becomes even more important for a patient undergoing
orthodontic treatment. Braces and aligners can straighten your child’s teeth, but they won’t keep
them clean!

Braces often require a little extra effort when it comes to dental hygiene, thanks to the wires and
brackets, and it can take some experimenting to find a routine that works for your child. Not
having to set an alarm or be in bed by a certain time means there are plenty of hours in the day
to practice the kind of oral hygiene that will keep their mouth healthy and happy, and keep
treatment progressing the way it should.

Summer smiles with Leaver & Gardner Orthodontics

Long, lazy days and nights free from the stresses of school – there’s no better time to start your
child on the road to a straighter smile, and the Leaver & Gardner Orthodontics team is here to
get them going. Our staff have years of chairside experience and work hard to provide a
friendly, relaxed, and caring atmosphere for you and your family. We strive to give each and
every patient we see the best possible custom orthodontic care from start to finish! Your child’s
overall oral health is our ultimate goal, and Dr. Leaver, Dr. Gardner, and our entire staff work
together to create healthy, beautiful smiles to last a lifetime.

If you’re in Henderson, Centennial Hills, Summerlin, Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, or any of the
surrounding communities, and have a child ready for an orthodontic evaluation or orthodontic
treatment, give us a call today or stop by one of our two convenient Las Vegas office locations
to schedule an appointment with us. At Leaver & Gardner Orthodontics , your child’s smile is our
top priority in every season, but summer is a great time to get started, so get in touch with us

Orthodontics For All Ages

March 28, 2018

What is the first thing you think of when we talk about orthodontics? Thanks to popular culture, it is probably an image of teens in awkward, obvious metal braces. This stereotype is so prevalent that it can be surprising to learn that orthodontics offers a whole lot more than just braces, and the benefits are not limited to tweens and teens. Leaver & Gardner Orthodontics believe that every child, teen, and adult deserves a beautifully aligned and fully functional smile, and we are proud to provide the highest quality orthodontic care to Las Vegas patients of all ages. Are you looking for information on early treatment for your child? Do you suspect your teen may need braces or Teen Invisalign to straighten their smile? Are you

Thinking about clear aligners for yourself? Whatever the reason, keep reading to find out more about orthodontics for all ages!

Orthodontics for children

Though we do not have a minimum age when it comes to our youngest patients, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends children receive their first orthodontic evaluation by around age seven. By this point, most kids will have a good mix of primary and permanent teeth. A thorough examination by experienced orthodontists like Dr. Leaver and Dr. Gardner can catch any potential issues with the teeth and jaws early, allowing us to diagnose and correct them before they have the chance to turn into something more serious.

If our doctors feel that any type of early treatment is indicated, we can create a customized plan  addressing those particular dental problems. You may sometimes hear us refer to this as interceptive treatment. This kind of treatment gives us the chance to:

  • correct and guide the growth of a child’s jaw, in order to help the permanent teeth come in straight
  • regulate the width of the upper and lower arches
  • create more space for any crowded teeth
  • correct harmful oral habits, such as thumb or finger sucking
  • help improve any minor speech problems

Orthodontists are trained to see things that we do not, or cannot, by simply observing our children. A need for orthodontic treatment could be overlooked if you are going by outward appearances only. However, there are a few things you can keep an eye out for that could indicate a visit with the orthodontist is warranted for your child. This includes:

  • baby teeth that are lost either much earlier or much later than normal
  • a noticeably difficult time with biting or chewing food
  • mouth breathing
  • finger or thumb sucking, particularly if it is prolonged
  • crowded, misplaced, or blocked teeth
  • jaws that pop or make other sounds when they open and close
  • teeth that come together abnormally, or do not come together at all
  • jaws and teeth that are not proportionate to the rest of the face
  • crowded front teeth past the age of seven or eight

To take the first step towards giving your child the healthiest smile possible by scheduling your child’s first orthodontic evaluation with Leaver & Gardner Orthodontics by clicking here.

Orthodontics for teens

Parents of teens who are about to set out on their orthodontic journey often have a laundry list of questions and concerns about the time, cost, and effort involved. Making a commitment to straightening your teen’s smile with braces or Invisalign can be overwhelming! But rest assured, our team is compassionate and understanding, and we will do all we can to set your mind at ease.

For teens who may be worried about what to expect with orthodontic treatment, there are more options available now than ever before. The metal braces of today are more subtle and much more comfortable, and your teen even has the choice of picking from a variety of styles, materials, and colors to better show off their personality! For those who prefer a more discreet look, we also offer clear aligner therapy with Invisalign, Damon clear braces, and lingual braces.

For most teens and parents alike, the biggest question mark is how long it will take to get a straight smile. Unfortunately, there is no concrete answer to that, because every patient has different needs and goals. However, we are often able to estimate the amount of time it will take to treat your teen. This estimate tends to be based on a few key factors.  

Early treatment — We put a lot of emphasis on seeing your child by seven years old because of the opportunity it gives us to catch potential problems before they can become a much bigger deal. Early diagnosis and treatment allows our doctors to monitor the growth of the jaw and teeth, and recommend further orthodontic treatment as and when needed, if necessary. By treating any oral issues in their beginning stages, we are often able to cut down on the total time needed in braces or aligners later.

What it is that needs correcting — Each patient responds to treatment in their own way. Treatment time for your teen will depend on how their body react to it, as well as how much work will be necessary to correct their oral issue. What takes one patient a matter of months to correct could take another patient a year or two, or even longer. The amount of treatment needed to fully correct a problem determines how long the process itself will take.  

Patient compliance — When teens are careful to follow the recommendation and instructions they are given on how to care for their mouths and their braces, they can help keep their treatment time to a minimum. This kind of compliance is the key to your teen completing their treatment as quickly as possible, so it is important that you encourage them to be responsible with their braces or aligners.

Orthodontics for adults

A we get older, we often come into the understanding of how important our oral health can be, especially once we realize all the many way it can impact our overall health. Not only that, but as adults, we are generally in a place where we are able to afford both the time and the financial commitment necessary to straighten our smile, and are finally ready to take the plunge towards feeling better about their appearance. Better options are another factor in more adults seeking orthodontic treatment now, since there are many discreet but effective ways to straighten adult smiles, such as Damon clear braces and clear aligner systems like Invisalign.

In adult patients seeking orthodontic treatment, we will generally tend to see issues like:

  • a bad bite, or malocclusion, causing teeth to fit together incorrectly
  • teeth that are too crowded
  • teeth spaced too far apart
  • abnormal jaw pain
  • abnormal pressure

Do any of these sound familiar to you? If so, adult orthodontic treatment with Leaver & Gardner Orthodontics could be just the ticket to better oral health and a more beautiful smile!

Creating beautiful smiles all over Las Vegas with Leaver & Gardner Orthodontics

It is clear that whatever your age, orthodontics can be beneficial. Orthodontic treatment can give you the smile you have always wanted, boosting your self-confidence. And aside from appearances, when the teeth are properly aligned, they are easier to clean with flossing and brushing, which lowers the risk for developing gum disease and other oral health problems. Perhaps most importantly, untreated dental issues almost always get worse over time, leading to serious, long-term problems that could end up costing you more pain, frustration, time, and money in the end.

Here at Leaver & Gardner Orthodontics, we fully recognize that children, teens, and adults will have different orthodontic needs based on their age and stages of development. We have a highly skilled staff who work hard every day to provide the appropriate level of attention and care for each patient. We have been delivering top-notch orthodontic care from our two conveniently based Las Vegas offices for many years, and our goal is to continue to treat every patient with understanding, compassion, and respect. We are always on top of the new technology and treatments available in orthodontics, and believe that we should always be learning more in order to best serve our patients – like you!

If you are in the Las Vegas or surrounding area, and are ready to explore what orthodontic treatment can offer you or your family, get in touch with us today to schedule an evaluation with Dr. Leaver or Dr. Gardner. We cannot wait to make your smile great!

Orthodontic FAQs

January 30, 2017

There are many questions that are associated with the dynamics of orthodontics. We have compiled the following FAQ in the hopes that it helps answer the questions you have. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact us directly and we at Leaver & Gardner Orthodontics would happily answer your questions.

Answers to Frequently Asked Orthodontic Questions

Q: What is orthodontics?
A: Orthodontics is the professional practice in diagnostics, treatment planning, insertion, use and control of different corrective appliances used to align teeth, lips and jaws, all contributing to achieving optimal results.
Q: Is there an age limitation for orthodontic treatment?
A: An ideal time for orthodontic treatment is for anyone above the age of 10 although braces can be placed any time after permanent teeth have fully grown in. Note that there are a number of treatments available for self conscious adults.
Q: What is a malocclusion?
A: Malocclusion is the technical term for crooked, crowded, misaligned or protruding teeth which do not fit together properly. Literally, the word means “bad bite.” The most common malocclusions have crooked, crowded, rotated teeth, excessive overbite, teeth that stick out, teeth that do not touch one another when biting, scissor bites, and so on.
Q: What are the causes of malocclusions?
A: Most malocclusions are inherited. These include crowding of teeth, too much space between teeth, extra or missing teeth, cleft palate and a variety of irregularities of the jaws and face. However, some malocclusions are acquired by thumb-sucking, tongue thrusting, dental disease, premature loss of primary or permanent teeth, accidents or some medical problems.
Q: Can crooked teeth correct themselves over time?
A: No, it has never been documented before.
Q: What is headgear and does everyone need to use it during treatment?
A: Headgear is an orthodontic appliance worn outside the mouth and attached to the upper teeth, which is used to push back the upper teeth. Not everyone needs to wear it as a part of treatment.
Q: Do I need a referral from my dentist to schedule an orthodontic consultation?
A: It is not necessary. It is typical to be referred by your general dentist but there are many people who decide to consult on their own to have their malocclusion assessed and find out how they can benefit from orthodontics.
Q: How often will I need to be seen during orthodontic treatment?
A: It depends on the method of treatment and the individual case; visits can be every 4-10 weeks depending on the circumstances.
Q: Can I have braces if I have missing teeth or crowns and bridges?
A: Yes, a tooth with a crown or any type of restoration can be moved just like any other tooth, as long as its root or roots and surrounding tissues are healthy.
Q: I would like to have my teeth whitened, when is the best time for tooth whitening?
A: Getting your teeth whitened is an elective procedure designed to enhance the aesthetics of your teeth. We strongly recommend you wait until the conclusion of your orthodontic procedure for optimal results.
Q: Does getting braces hurt?
A: With today’s modern technology, braces are designed to be less painful. When you are first fitted, your teeth, gums, soft tissue and inner mouth may be sensitive and feel some discomfort as you get use to the selected appliance.
Q: Can I go back to school or work after getting my braces?
A: Absolutely. The initial discomfort after having the braces put on is minimal and should not prevent you from doing your regular activities.
Q: Does having braces affect my every day activities?
A: Braces only alter your diet. Your activities can continue as normal.
Q: Do I continue seeing the dentist during my orthodontist treatments?
A: Yes, it is very important you continue your normal dental hygiene habits including regular dental visits to properly care for the health of your teeth and gums.
Q: Do I need to protect my teeth during contact sports?
A: Yes, it is important you protect the hardware as well as your mouth during contact sports activity. Wearing mouth guards designed for races is ideal for this feat.
Q: Can I play a wind instrument with braces?
A: Yes. There might be a slight adjustment but you can still play your winded instruments.
Q: How long will my orthodontic treatment last?
A: There are many contributing factors as to how long treatment can last; from as little as 12 months to as many as 30. Typically it takes 20-22 months for the duration of treatment to be completed.
Q: In case of emergency, what do I do?
A: Contact your orthodontist as soon as possible. Many have emergency contact numbers during after hours.
Q: What is the orthodontic retention phase?
A: The retention phase is the period immediately following the removal of the braces or other appliances during which special measures are taken to stabilize the results obtained during the orthodontic treatment.
Q: Does my dental insurance plan cover orthodontics?
A: Most dental insurance plans cover orthodontic work, however each plan covers a certain percentage and it would be best to understand exactly what is covered prior to treatment.

Expert Orthodontic Treatments

If you are in need of orthodontic work, contact Leaver & Gardner Orthodontics for your appointment today!

Retainer Replacement in North Las Vegas, NV

January 22, 2017

Just because you’re done with your orthodontic treatment doesn’t mean you’re finished looking after your smile. Retainers are included in your orthodontic treatment. Retainers “retain” the position of your teeth and you will need to wear them for the rest of your life. The most important time to wear retainers is right after your braces come off. The reason for this is that the bones in your jaw need time to solidify around the position that your teeth have been positioned in. Your teeth can still move years after your braces have been removed. For the first six months, you’ll need to wear your retainer very consistently. The amount of time you wear it can decrease after that and depends on your individual circumstances and your orthodontist’s recommendation. Just like your toothbrush needs replacing, so does a retainer.

Pros & Cons of Bonded Retainers

Bonded retainers are permanent ones where wires are bonded to the back of your teeth. The material used to bond the wire can start to wear down over time with eating, brushing and flossing. Bonded retainers on the bottom teeth should last longer than bonded retainers on the top teeth. In fact, up to three years longer as the top part of your mouth sees less action that the lower. The wires can start to get loose without you even knowing. Your dentist should check it each time you go in for a checkup to make sure it’s still bonded well. Your teeth are harder to clean with bonded retainers. Having the wires permanently bonded to your teeth may start to bother you after enough time has passed. You can have your orthodontist remove them and switch to removable ones if that would suit you better.

Removable Retainers Pros & Cons

The two types of retainers that can be removed are the Essix and the Hawley. The Essix retainer(s) are one piece of clear molded plastic that fit right over your teeth and the Hawley has an acrylic piece that fits on the roof of your mouth behind your teeth with wires that protrude from it and sit around the front of the teeth. Both of these retainers will start to get yucky and begin to wear out. The wires in the Hawley retainer can break off and the Essix retainers can change shape in hot water. As they wear out they might not fit as well as they used too. The Essix retainers last from six months to a few years with the Hawley lasting longer, five to ten years. There is also a Vivera retainer made by Invisalign and are similar to the Essix retainer. They are customized more closely to the patient’s bite and you can have fresh ones on hand as they’re sold through a subscription service.

Orthodontic Care

Money and time went in to getting that beautiful smile so take care of it. If you want your teeth to stay in place, you’ll need to be diligent in wearing your retainer. It doesn’t matter which retainer you end up deciding on, they will need to be checked from time to time and be replaced. Have a dental professional make sure it’s fitting the way it should to make sure your smile always looks it’s best! Contact the professionals at Leaver & Gardner Orthodontics today.

How to Smile With Braces

January 15, 2017

Braces are a common occurrence for lots of preteens and teens all over the United States. The problem is that we live in a selfie society where a picture (or many pictures) are posted on a daily basis. If you are one of the teens that is in the middle of your orthodontic care, you may think that your selfies are not as flattering as your friend without braces. But you don’t have to be a teen that is self-conscience about your look in a selfie. You can just go with it! You can feel confident in the fact that you are not alone. Nearly 70% of teens can benefit from braces and many of them do. When you are wearing braces, you have to first know that they are only temporary and they will come off even if it feels like forever. The time with braces is limited and you know that when they are off, your selfies will be amazing because of your new, straight teeth and beautiful smile! But now that you are wearing braces for a few years, you should learn how to smile for picture days and selfies.

Leaver & Gardner Explain How to Smile with Braces On for Formal Picture Days & Informal Selfies!

Make Smiling with Braces Fun: Have you ever heard the expression “Fake it till you make it”? The first way to really enjoy your braces is to just go with it and have fun! Braces are a part of your look and who you are for a time so you might as well just enjoy them. One way to have fun with the braces is to choose different colors of bands. Many orthodontic offices like Leaver & Gardner have a wide assortment of colors. You can even mix and match different colors to make a unique fashion statement or you can choose a color that represents an upcoming holiday. Red for Valentines, Green for Christmas. Or red, white and blue to show off your patriotism for the 4th of July and other patriotic holidays. These are fun ways to make braces fun and enjoyable. You can also tag your orthodontist office if you want to give a little love to your doctor. Use your imagination when choosing colors that are fun for you.
Go With A Clear Braces or Removable Retainers like Invisalign: Using Damon clear braces for orthodontic care is one way to help to have treatment but not show off the brackets. In a photo, clear brackets are easily hidden. A newer type of clear teeth straightening option is called invisalign. These are a series of crafted retainers that help to straighten you teeth but are removable. When you are ready for your close up simply remove the invisalign and snap a shot. This way you won’t show any signs that you are in treatment with an orthodontist.

Teeth Straightening Treatment

If you are interested in making your orthodontic treatment fun for photos and selfies, just give us a call to have your bands changed or talk about other options. Clear braces or Invisalign are a great discreet option. Leaver & Gardner Orthodontics offers expert orthodontic care to take care of your selfie smile!

Types of Braces & Orthodontic Appliances

January 8, 2017

If you have crooked teeth or a misaligned bite such as an underbite or overbite, there are a number of treatment plans and products available to you that are designed to correct these and many other dental issues. Your Leaver & Gardner Orthodontics specialist may recommend braces or orthodontic appliances to correct irregularities of the teeth and jaw. Some of the devices used to correct these misalignments include the following.

Traditional Metal Braces

Traditional metal braces are the most common type of braces available and are often recommended to younger patients although they can be used on any age group. They are made from quality high-grade stainless steel and are much more comfortable than the metal braces of yesteryear. Metal brackets and archwires are attached to straighten teeth. Younger patients often elect to use colored rubber bands for a more unique appearance and smile.

Ceramic Braces

Ceramic braces are made from clear materials and are much less noticeable when applied to your teeth than the more traditional form of metal braces. Ceramic braces are often the preferred choice of older teenagers and adult patients who are naturally more self-conscience and have cosmetic concerns. They do however require a higher degree of oral maintenance and hygiene as they are larger and easier to break than traditional metal braces. It is for these very reasons that ceramic braces are only used on the upper front teeth as opposed to both the upper and lower teeth.

Invisalign Clear Alligners

Invisalign is an invisible orthodontic appliance that is designed to use a series of removable aligners to straighten your teeth. Not only is the appliance extremely comfortable, it can also be removed so you can continue your regular routine of brushing, flossing and eating the foods that you normally enjoy.

Lingual Braces

Lingual braces are more aesthetically pleasing than the more traditional metal braces or even ceramic braces because they are placed at the back of the teeth making them essentially undetectable. This is particularly reassuring for those patients who are hoping to retain a normal appearance during the time of their treatment. Lingual braces are custom made to fit the maxillofacial structure of each individual. Some patients experience speech problems when the braces are first fitted but most issues disperse on their own once the patient becomes accustomed.

Palatial Expanders

Palatal Expanders are used to widen the jaw to correct the problem of a narrow bite which often results in overcrowded teeth. In the past, teeth were often extracted to make room for overcrowded teeth but these days’ orthodontists recommend wearing a palatal expander for a period of time before fitting braces to move the teeth into the correct position. A palatal expander is a device that is fitted to your palate to apply pressure to the back of your molars in order to move the teeth farther apart.

Other Orthodontic Appliances

Nance holding arch appliance: This device is applied to prevent the molars from moving forward.
Lower lingual holding arch appliance: This device helps preserve space between baby and adult teeth.
Pendulum appliance: This device is applied to push the molars back.
Bite corrector appliance: This device pushes the lower teeth forward and the upper teeth back.
Bite jump appliance: This device is used to correct an underbite in the front teeth of younger children.

Expert Orthodontic Care

For more information regarding braces and orthodontic appliances, contact the knowledgeable professionals at Leaver & Gardner Orthodontics today!