Feeling Good for Your Orthodontic Visit

Throughout my years of practice, I have put serious thought into trying to make my patients as comfortable as possible during an orthodontic visit. The environment is set up just the way we want it to be: welcoming, free from stress, and, believe it or not, fun. But I know that everybody has different feelings about a dental visit so I will try and share some of my experience about stress points.

Why do we get nervous?

I think most of what makes us anxious about orthodontic visits is what might happen. In particular, wondering if it’s going to hurt. Kids fear the unknown. They might be wondering what it’s like, ‘are they going to get a shot’ or something else bad. Adult patients have past experience to draw on. Either because of painful visits to their general dentist or because of friends who recount exaggerated stories of horror, we can get a bit apprehensive about what could happen. It is important to keep in mind that orthodontic visits and dental visits are very different. Especially if the orthodontist provides high-tech treatments like the Damon System that are much more comfortable than traditional orthodontics

Regardless of why you might be uneasy about your visit, I want to make something perfectly clear to everyone. We focus on the available technologies that provide the most comfortable experience possible. In fact, I want you to have amazing teeth and I will not do anything I don’t need to that might cause you any discomfort. Also, remember, trips to the orthodontist are much less invasive than general dental visits. We don’t have shots and we don’t really do the procedures that you are worried about in anticipation of a ‘regular’ dental visit.

Let’s go back to how a lot of the anxiety starts. People tend to anticipate things that may or may not happen. And, if this is your first visit with us, it’s completely natural. But before you get really stressed about it, remember that orthodontics is not what it used to be. Like all medicine, orthodontics has gotten much better at treating issues and doing so with less invasiveness, less pain. For example, many adults who have had braces remember the ring shaped bands that fit around the back teeth and are uncomfortable to place. We don’t use those anymore except in very rare circumstances. There are better ways. We have amazing equipment at the office and we are able to perform procedures here that were a big deal just 15 years ago. Looking back at old films from the 1950s that portray dentist appointments as traumatic experiences, it is easy for me to laugh. Comparing the two experiences is like comparing comparing the television people in the ‘50’s watched vs today’s 4K high-definition flat screen TV. The difference is pretty dramatic.

What to say to kids

When you are taking your children to their first visit, you have the opportunity to help them feel relaxed. Remember, if you are relaxed when you go for a visit, we’re likely to continue throughout our lives and we know by now that that is a good thing. It is great groundwork to take an active role in forming good oral hygiene habits as early as possible. When kiddos are 6 or 7 years of age it is great timing to form daily habits like “Two minutes, twice a day.” Being comfortable with doing good maintenance on your own teeth can translate into, “Dr. Reynolds is going to see what a great job you did brushing your teeth.”

We work with children every day at Spillane & Reynolds Orthodontics and know how to put them at ease. We encourage parents to join with us in making an office visit a normal part of day-to-day life. Even if you as a parent have had less than stellar experiences at the dentist’s office, focus on how good it is for a great smile and how proud you are of them. It really makes a difference. Of course, if you want to feel better yourself, schedule an appointment with us and we will make you feel much better about it, regardless of your past experience.

Again, our promise to you is to provide you with the most carefree experience possible. If you have anxiety about your office visit, contact us. We will explain everything to you with an eye toward making your next visit a walk in the park.

Two Steps to Great Teeth

One of my missions in life is to get as many people as I can to buy into making oral health a priority in their life. I will tell you that some days, it’s hard. To me, I see the problems that people face because they didn’t work on good dental hygiene. Avoidable problems. So I sat down and began asking myself, “What’s the simplest way to get people to take care of their teeth and gums?” I thought about talking about all of the benefits. Then I thought about and wrote about all of the problems you could face. Both approaches were too wordy and nerdy.

I decided to promote a message that was more of an advertisement than an admonition. Does anybody remember the 1997 Apple ad campaign “Think different.”? It was two words but won many awards and used creativity by associating the computer with creative, rebellious figures from history. Well, I can tell you that I’m not going to relate someone like John Lennon with oral hygiene. Not in the budget.

But I liked the simplicity. Easy to remember. Really sticks with you. Might make you want to do something. So I came up with the Two-Step Teeth Philosophy.

Two-Step Teeth

Step 1: Brush and floss when you wake and when you sleep

Step 2: Less sugar

Just these two things if applied daily would reduce dental problems a lot. No, really. A lot. Best of all you get the side benefit of setting the example for your children. You are virtually assuring them of a much easier time for their teeth over their lifetimes. There are only two things you need to elaborate on.

How to brush and floss

This is covered in so many articles, I’m not going to cover it here. The only think I’d add is that you should emphasize how little time it takes. After that, for people who think flossing is a drag, make a deal with them to start out flossing one tooth. It sounds crazy but you’ll see.

Foods and drinks to avoid

By foods and drinks, we mean sugar. Show yourself and your family how much sugar sodas have. Show them how much food and drink packaging really stretches the truth with words like “natural flavoring” and “from real fruit juice”. Regular soft drinks like colas and the like are terrible for your teeth and your entire body. Need evidence? Search for “high fructose corn syrup” on your favorite search engine and get ready to for an eye-opener.

Clean and nourish

The Two-Step Teeth philosophy works because it keeps your attention focused on two giant pillars in dental health. The big problems with teeth and gums is keeping them free of debris and not pouring acidic food and drink over them. Super easy to remember, I think Two Step Teeth is headed for greatness. Let’s work to make all those visits great ones too.

What makes up a smile?

A smile is a reflection.




As an orthodontist, I tend to focus on the role that teeth play in a great smile. But, I understand that a beautiful smirk is a combination of factors that communicate a sense of well-being to those who see it. There have been volumes written on the power of a smile on both the wearer and those that see it. The bottom line is that a smile works on both the physical and emotional level to transfer positive feelings between the parties involved.

Just what is transmitted when someone is smiling at another? First, that the smiling person is genuinely happy at that moment. That the person they are smiling at is welcome, unthreatening. The receiver is told that they are accepted and welcome to converse. The person smirking also reinforces to themselves on a deep subconscious level that they are happy and creates a positive feedback loop for their mood. Lifehacker, the renowned online magazine of self-help hints has almost 8,200 articles about smiling.

Follow along and see the main players in a great smile and how they work together to put out more positivity than you could imagine possible.

The Eyes

People who are honestly happy, smile from their eyes. You can see the mouth turn up at the corners but it’s the slight squint of the eyes and the little wrinkles in the corners that give away a honest-to-goodness smile. Also called a Duchenne smile, it involves contraction of both the zygomatic major muscle (which raises the corners of the mouth) and the orbicularis oculi muscle (which raises the cheeks and forms crow’s feet around the eyes). I had to get some anatomy jargon in. There, I feel better.

The Mouth

Most basically, people believe that a smile originates at the corners of the mouth. The upturn of the corners of the mouth is the basis of all smiles. Ah, but not all smiles are created equal. Some writers have proposed that the easiest way to detect a “fake” smile is to look for one where the mouth is smiling but the eyes give away that the feeling is only half-hearted. Interestingly, some other psychologists believe that even a forced smile can have a positive effect if it is back by an attitude of trying to improve one’s mood. It seems that no one can resist getting in a better mood if they smile an mean it, even if meaning it can take a bit.

The Teeth

Finally! My favorite part. Remember that Duchenne smile we talked about earlier? Well all of the additional muscular movement ends up showing your teeth! And what a great feeling to flash that winning smile. Having worked with patients now for over 14 years, I have seen the incredible effect having great teeth can make on someone. It’s no surprise that if you have teeth that you are proud of, it’s a pleasure to show them to others. Aside from well aligned teeth looking good, properly aligned teeth feel better. There isn’t the pain in your teeth, jaw or face that poorly aligned teeth have. Talk about a reason to smile.

I want to see my patients giving honest, heart-felt smiles and I work hard to make sure they have every reason to. Schedule an appointment and let’s see what we can do to give you the best teeth your smile could ever hope for.