How to Protect Your Braces While Playing Sports

With fall just around the corner, there’s no shortage of sports to keep you busy if you are active in athletics. From football’s Friday night lights to Saturday morning soccer games, autumn is one of the best times of the year for sports fans and players alike! However, if you’re an athlete with braces on the horizon, you may find yourself fretting about this keeping you stuck on the sidelines. This is a very common concern we hear from our sports-playing patients, but fortunately, it’s one that is completely unfounded. Take it from the pros – from Venus Williams to Brett Favre to Dwight Howard, there are many professional athletes who have proven to straighten your smile doesn’t have to mean hanging up your jersey. In fact, you’ll be able to continue participating in any sports you play while undergoing orthodontic treatment with Langford Orthodontics!

Although wearing braces doesn’t have to keep you off the track, field, or court, you will need to take special care to avoid damaging your orthodontic appliance, or injuring your teeth or mouth. This goes double if you play contact sports! The good news is, there’s an extremely simple, incredibly effective way to protect your braces and your smile when you participate in physical activity.

Injuries that occur while wearing braces

As an athlete, you may have already experienced a sports-related injury. Some of the most common involve the mouth and jaw, and protecting your smile while playing sports is especially important when you have braces due to the increased risk of damage. If your mouth or your braces are hit by a ball or another player, you could experience a wide range of oral injuries, including (but certainly not limited to):

  • lacerations to the cheeks, lips, and tongue
  • chipped or broken teeth
  • dislocation of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ)
  • root fractures

These injuries may not be life-threatening, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t painful! They can also cause serious damage that may be costly to fix. These are bad enough when you aren’t an orthodontic patient, but wearing a fixed appliance like braces can add a whole other element to these kinds of injuries. Braces can cut the inside of your mouth during a collision, and the braces themselves can end up with bent or broken wires and brackets. Playing sports that include contact, such as football, soccer, basketball, and hockey, increase the risk of things like bleeding gums, broken braces, and even potentially fractured teeth.


The #1 way to protect your smile while wearing braces

The single best way you can protect your teeth, mouth, and braces while playing sports is by wearing a mouthguard. While Langford Orthodontics strongly recommends our athletic braces-patients use an orthodontic model, even a basic mouthguard will help prevent damage to your braces and injury to your teeth and mouth.

Mouthguards are very accessible to almost everyone, easy to use, and a highly effective option for protecting your braces and your smile. While they are especially useful for high-contact sports, we recommend you wear them even when participating in light contact or low-impact sports, too. It only takes a small amount of pressure on your braces to irritate your mouth, or cause tiny cuts and abrasions to your gums and the inside of your cheeks.

If you plan to regularly play sports while wearing braces, an orthodontic mouthguard is well worth your time and investment. These are made of high-grade silicone and are designed specifically to fit over the brackets of your braces. This helps to cushion your lips, keeping them from bumping against your teeth and braces, and also protects the brackets from any impact-related damage. It will even stop your lip getting caught in your braces, which can be exactly as painful as it sounds! Although orthodontic mouthguards may be slightly larger than most regular mouthguards in order to fit over your braces, the silicone makes them just as comfortable to wear.

There are some orthodontic mouthguards, such as the brand’s Shock Doctor and Tapout, that can adjust to the movement of your teeth during treatment. Because they adjust based on your current bite, re-molding multiple times as your teeth begin shifting into the desired positions, they’re a great option for any athletes undergoing orthodontic treatment with braces. Most orthodontic mouthguards are widely available at sporting good stores.  They tend to be quite affordable and come in both strapped and unstrapped styles.

We strongly recommend you use an orthodontic mouthguard to give your teeth, mouth, and braces full protection when you are regularly participating in sports activities, but any mouthguard is better than no mouthguard at all!

Dr. Langford working with a patient

Keeping your braces and your smile safe with Langford Orthodontics

Mouthguards are an excellent investment for braces patients who play sports. Not only will a mouthguard shield your teeth as they move into their new permanent positions, but it will also protect the orthodontic process itself.

That said, if you do happen to incur an oral injury while wearing braces, get in touch with your dentist’s office as soon as possible, whether you were wearing a mouthguard or not. Your dentist will be able to diagnose any root or jaw bone fractures. Once he or she has assessed the damage, contact our West Knoxville or Seymour office at your earliest convenience. Dr. Langford will be able to check your braces to see if they need any repairs or need to be replaced. 

Here at Langford Orthodontics, we’re dedicated to helping you continue to do all the things you love while we straighten your smile. We want to make the entire orthodontic process as easy, rewarding, and stress-free as possible, and part of that is taking your lifestyle into consideration. It’s important to us that you stay as active as you want to be while undergoing braces treatment with us. Our goal is to give you a beautifully aligned smile and improved oral health, and we want you to feel confident in us every step of the way. If you have any questions or concerns about how to navigate sports in braces, please get in touch with us anytime and let us set your mind at ease.

With the protection of an orthodontic mouthguard and the support of our skilled staff behind you, you can play all your favorite sports and keep your braces and smile safe!

Back to School Braces Survival Guide

We still have about a month before summer officially ends, but it’s already that time again: early mornings, brand new backpacks, and school supply lists that seem to get longer every year. Getting back into the swing of a new school year can be exciting for kids (and parents, too!) It’s fun to catch up with friends, meet new teachers, and explore interesting subjects. For children or teens who have recently had braces put on, however, the anticipation can be overshadowed by stress and anxiety. Your child’s orthodontic journey comes with quite a few changes, from their appearance to their daily routine, and what seemed like small potatoes at home this summer can start to look a little more daunting in the light of going back to school, especially in the first few days and weeks.

At Langford Orthodontics, we know your student has enough on their plate without having to worry about braces. Our team wants to help make the transition from summer to school as smoothly and stress-free as possible, so we’ve put together this Back to School Braces Survival Guide for our braces patients gearing up for a new school year. Keep reading below to learn more about keeping a smile on your child’s face from the first day of school to the last!

Start with braces-friendly snacks and lunches

Any type of orthodontic treatment comes with its own set of challenges, but the food restrictions that accompany braces can be a big learning curve. While they may be easy enough to manage at home where you have control over what’s on the menu, school can make this more difficult as your child tries to find a new normal when it comes to lunches and snacks. In order to protect the brackets, wires, and bands, patients must avoid anything too crunchy, sticky, or chewy. If your child usually buys school lunches or has access to vending machines for snacks, they may find themselves seriously tempted to indulge in some of their forbidden favorites!

Dr. Langford talking with a patients parents

To keep their orthodontic treatment progressing on track, make it a habit to check the school’s lunch menu in advance every week. Look for braces-friendly options like mashed potatoes, spaghetti, lean meats, and cooked vegetables to make sure there’s something safe for them to eat. If the school offers limited choices, you may consider switching to packed lunches. If your child is partial to sandwiches, cut them into smaller bites the night before to make eating and chewing easier. If they enjoy a more varied diet, invest in a sturdy Thermos and include pasta, soups, and other soft options that are gentle on braces. Healthy snacks like yogurt and applesauce are also great additions,, and will help keep your child feeling full and satisfied throughout the day.

Don’t forget the H2O

Staying hydrated is important for your child’s health for any number of reasons, but did you know that drinking water is great at keeping any rogue food particles from sticking to their teeth and braces? Encourage your child to carry a full water bottle to school in the morning and drink it throughout the day for the best results. We also recommend sticking to plain water instead of soda, fruit juices, or other sugary drinks, as these can stain the teeth and increase the risk of cavities. If they do indulge in a soft drinks from time to time, have them use a straw in order to keep the sugar as far away from their teeth as possible. 

Make a basic braces kit

While we’re discussing lunches and the possibility of sugary drinks at school, we recommend that every student in braces keep a basic care kit close by. This is especially useful for kids who are new to orthodontic treatment. Unfortunately, the brackets, wires, and bands have a tendency to trap food particles, so we encourage patients to brush after lunch, and add a quick floss if needed (and if they have time.) Some of the items you may want to consider including are:

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

From time to time, braces can cause mild irritation to the lips, gums, and cheeks. Placing a pea-sized amount over the offending area is a great way to get some relief. The eraser end of a pencil can be utilized to nudge wires back into place should they stray, and chapstick is a must-have for lips that are dry and irritated. Having just a few common items packed away in their backpack or locker will keep your child prepared for any braces-related dilemma that might pop up during the day!

Dr. Langford helping patients

Start school with a confident smile thanks to Langford Orthodontics

It’s totally normal for kids to feel nervous about going back to school for the first time with braces. It’s an entirely new experience and it’s not unusual to have some fear of the unknown. The good news is that it won’t take long for life with braces to become the new normal for your child! It may take a little time, but with patience and encouragement, your child will soon have a successful routine that leaves them smiling!

Dr. Langford and the rest of our talented team are dedicated to providing each of our patients with top-quality orthodontic care. We want your child’s orthodontic experience to be a rewarding experience, and work hard to make every family we serve feel welcomed and valued from the first appointment. It’s our goal to have every student in braces begin school confident in their smile and their orthodontic treatment, so if you or your child have any questions or concerns, please let us know and we will be happy to set your mind at ease. We wish all the students and teachers we know a wonderful start to the school year and we look forward to seeing your child’s smile on the honor roll in the months to come!

Braces For Adults

When you think about orthodontics, you probably have a particular image that comes to mind, one of a teenager in metal braces or some variation on that. It’s a common misconception that orthodontic treatment is solely the purview of teens, but in recent years there’s been a shift in the way society views orthodontics, with more people realizing the effect oral health can have on our health in general. Orthodontists are now treating more adults than ever before, with a record-breaking 1-in-4 orthodontic patient over the age of eighteen. With the number of adults in braces or seeking orthodontic treatment on the rise, there is the perfect time to explore how Langford Orthodontics can give you the straight, healthy smile you’ve always wanted!

Have you spent years being unhappy or self-conscious about the way your smile looks or feels? Would you love a straighter smile? Has it become difficult to keep your teeth and gums as healthy as they should be over the years? If you can answer “yes” to any of the above questions, then adult braces could be just what you need to give you the smile you deserve. We believe a beautiful, healthy smile should be available to patients of all ages, and that it is never too late to take advantage of the innovative treatment we offer to correct a variety of orthodontic issues, like crooked teeth, overbites, underbites, incorrect jaw positioning, and more.

What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics is a dental specialty that focuses on the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial abnormalities. An orthodontist like Dr. Allen Langford has completed dental school, then gone on to years of highly specialized training in identifying and correcting bite issues. This extra training and experience give orthodontists the skills they need to successfully straighten teeth, correct misaligned jaw structures, and improve the overall function of your smile. By choosing an experienced orthodontist to diagnose and treat your oral issues, you will be putting your oral health in the very best hands.

What you can expect from your first orthodontic appointment

Your first visit to Langford Orthodontics is one of the most important ones. First impressions matter, and we value this opportunity to wow you from the moment you walk in our door! This is our chance to meet and get to know each other a little better before we assess any orthodontic needs you have. Dr. Langford offers a free consultation during which he will perform a thorough oral examination, and we will take several digital photographs and/or x-rays of your teeth. Following this, he will discuss your diagnosis and orthodontic treatment options in detail, as well as creating a customized treatment plan for you. If you decide to go ahead with this treatment plan, we’ll set up an appointment for you to come back and have your braces put on.

We’ll never begin any treatment without detailing the cost of the entire orthodontic process for you. Langford Orthodontics is dedicated to providing high-quality, affordable orthodontic care, and it’s important to us that our patients have access to the orthodontic treatment they need. We will work with your budget by offering flexible financing and payment plans for our treatment options.

Why more adults are exploring orthodontic treatment

As we get older, many of us come to a better understanding of how our entire body is linked to our overall health, including our teeth and gums. This will often result in a renewed desire to take better care of our mouths. There are also a large number of adults who received some orthodontic treatment earlier in life that was never completed, or if it was finished, they did not wear their retainer as directed afterward. Teeth that were straightened can shift over the years, both naturally and due to a lack of retainer use. As an adult, you may want to complete the process you started, or redo your orthodontic treatment completely. You may even want nothing more than to improve your smile cosmetically, something we fully support! Patients who undergo orthodontic treatment to create a straighter, more aesthetically pleasing smile often find it increases their confidence and gives them a boost of self-esteem.

Langford staff with a patient

Orthodontic options for our adult patients

If you are seeking a smile makeover, you’re in luck! There are more choices available than ever before for adult patients. We are proud to offer the following treatments.

Traditional metal braces  The classic orthodontic treatment, metal braces are made of high-quality stainless steel and deliver excellent results. They are particularly effective in more severe or complicated cases. Modern metal braces are much more comfortable than they used to be and can be customized with colored, clear, or tooth-colored bands.

Clear braces – Clear braces function in much the same way traditional braces do but use white or tooth-colored ceramic brackets instead of metal ones. Because these blend in with your natural smile, clear braces are an excellent choice for anyone who prefers a more discreet treatment option. They are more delicate than metal braces, however, so we tend to only recommend them for older teens and adults.

Invisalign clear aligner therapy – The Invisalign system consists of removable plastic trays, or aligners, that are custom-made to fit over your teeth. When changed out weekly for the next aligner in the series, Invisalign gently moves your teeth into the desired positions over time. Dr. Langford is Knoxville’s premier Invisalign orthodontist and has years of experience successfully treating patients with this system.

Because every case is different, and each orthodontic option we offer has its own pros and cons, not every treatment will be suitable for all patients. It’s important to work with an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Langford to guarantee you receive only the best treatment for your specific case.

Dr. Langford with a patient

Let Langford Orthodontics is your first step towards an incredible smile

If you’re ready to take the first step to improve your smile, we’re waiting to provide you with a top-quality orthodontic experience! With two convenient locations in Knoxville and Seymour and a skilled staff that know how to give you nothing but the best results, Langford Orthodontics can create the beautifully aligned, fully functional smile you want and deserve. Get in touch with us today to schedule your free consultation. Your best smile is waiting for you!

Summer is the Best Time to Start Orthodontic Treatment

After a winter that seemed to last forever (and a nonexistent spring), summer is finally here and in full swing! Now that we are done with cold morning and surprise snows, we can kick back, relax, and enjoy these school-free days. Some of us are planners who have packed a million small adventures into the next couple of months, and some of us plan on doing nothing but laying by the pool and working on our tan while our kids splash around in the water. Whatever the summer holds for you, it is a good bet that orthodontic treatment is not anything that has been on your mind, but this is actually the perfect time of year to explore all the ways Langford Orthodontics can benefit your child’s smile, especially if they have not had their first full orthodontic evaluation yet!

It is not uncommon for parents to be unaware of the American Association of Orthodontists recommendation that all children have their first orthodontic visit by around the age of seven. If you have a child that falls into this category who has not yet been seen, we would love to meet them! Do you have a child who has already had an orthodontic evaluation and been diagnosed with an oral issue? Let us take a look at why summer is a fantastic time to introduce them to the idea of orthodontic treatment.

Summer schedules leave more time to chill

Between work, school, exercising, and extracurriculars, today’s families have more on their plate than ever before. The early mornings and late nights the school year brings can be particularly stressful for parents. When a child is undergoing orthodontic treatment, regular check-ups are an important part of the process. Dr. Langford uses these appointments to make sure everything is progressing the way it should and to make any adjustments that are needed. With a more relaxed schedule in the summer, it can be easier to find time for this new routine without feeling run off your feet.

If you are scheduling your child’s first orthodontic consultation with us, plan to be in our office for a while, as we cover quite a bit of ground during that appointment. This will typically include:

  • a review of your child’s dental and medical history
  • a thorough oral exam that includes x-rays
  • a discussion of treatment options and what to expect during the orthodontic process
  • a personalized treatment plan for your child
  • scheduling an appointment to begin the treatment process
  • information on your financial and insurance options
  • answering any questions or concerns you may have

By scheduling this lengthier appointment during summer vacation, you will not have to worry about it cutting into your child’s school day. This is also true for appointments to have their braces put on or receive their first set of clear aligners. That said, we are happy to schedule a separate appointment for your consultation if that is preferred.

Cute young girl with braces fishing on a lake

Tackle learning curves in a comfortable environment

The techniques and technology available in modern orthodontics make today’s treatments more comfortable and effective than they have ever been, but all orthodontic appliances have a learning curve that requires a short period of adjustment. This is especially true for braces. It is not uncommon to have temporary aches and pains in the mouth or jaw in the early days or after adjustments, and there are quite a few food restrictions kids will need to get used to, too. These are things that have the potential to be a real distraction at school. However, from the comfort of home, they are relegated to mostly minor annoyances.

Even if you have a tween or teen undergoing treatment with Invisalign clear aligners, he or she will need some time to adapt. The Invisalign system works by wearing a series of removable aligners over the teeth for 20-22 hours a day and replacing them on a weekly basis. It may sound simple, but it can only work if the aligners are worn exactly as directed by Dr. Langford. Noncompliance can result in extra treatment time, something nobody wants, least of all patients are parents.

Starting orthodontic treatment in the summer means your child has more control over their immediate environment, making it easier for kids in braces to avoid any lunchtime temptation and stick to the softer, simpler foods that will be gentle on their mouth and their braces, keeping treatment on track. For those in aligners, there is extra time to get used to the ins and outs of the Invisalign system. Summer vacation frees your child (and you!) from the demands of homework, tests, and early alarms, and is an excellent opportunity for students of all ages to get used to the realities of their orthodontic treatment.

Extra time for oral hygiene

We all know how important a good oral hygiene routine is to the overall health of our smiles, but the busy days and hectic evenings of the school year can leave us all ready to fall into bed without even glancing at our toothbrush and floss. For patients undergoing orthodontic treatment, it is even more imperative to brush and floss as recommended. We can give your child the braces and aligners to straighten their teeth, but those appliances cannot keep them clean!

Invisalign aligners are removed prior to brushing and flossing, but if your child is in braces, a little extra effort is often required to really get in between all the wires and brackets. Some experimentation may be necessary until they find a routine that works best for them. Without any bedtimes to be enforced or early morning alarms to snooze, your child will find there are plenty of hours in the day to figure out how to keep their braces clean. This will make their mouth happy, their smile bright, and their treatment will stay on track.

Portrait Of Three Teenage Girls Leaning Against Wall

Start your child on a straighter smile this summer with Langford Orthodontics

One of the best things about summer is the way these long, lazy, stress-free days give us the chance to spend quality time with our family and friends, trying new things and making new memories. That also makes it one of the best times of the year to take the first step towards a healthier smile for your child! Here at Langford Orthodontics, we are ready to help you get started. If you have a child who is ready for their first orthodontic evaluation in Seymour or one in need of orthodontic treatment in West Knoxville, why not get in touch with us today? We are proud to serve the families of these communities, as well as the surrounding areas. Dr. Langford and the rest of our amazing team are waiting to create the kind of beautifully aligned, fully functional smile that will last your child a lifetime!

First Orthodontic Visit

When it comes to an orthodontic treatment, it’s all about the timing. You or your child might not be ready for treatment. That’s why we want to examine your teeth and bite, so we can better understand your needs.

At Langford Orthodontics our goal is making sure all your visits with us are pleasant and informative. Your first appointment will consist of an examination and a discussion of potential treatment options. This important visit addresses the orthodontic needs of you or your child.

Your first appointment at Langford Orthodontics will be about 45 minutes. We use this as an opportunity to meet with you to perform a limited evaluation of your dental and orthodontic issues, gather information, discuss appropriate orthodontic treatment options, and decide on the best time to start your treatment. While we discuss treatment, we certainly take into account your dental development, your oral hygiene and your own concerns. We’ll reevaluate your situation every 6-12 months if you aren’t ready to start treatment.

We’ll also make an appointment to take orthodontic records including photographs, digital study models, and radiographs for those who are ready to start immediately. These orthodontic records will be necessary to provide you with a choice of appropriate and definitive treatment options.

We want you to know that your comfort is our top concern, so we’ll make sure you know about and understand your upcoming orthodontic process and your particular situation. We’ll make every effort to answer all of your questions at our initial consultation so you don’t leave with any concerns. If we need more diagnostic information to be able to determine your treatment options, we’ll recommend taking orthodontic records to present you with appropriate treatment alternatives. We may also ask questions like, “Are there any problems when you chew or swallow?” or, “Does your jaw make noise when your mouth is opening or closing?” — in addition to just looking in your mouth at the first examination. Taken together, this information allows us to make a proper diagnosis and finalize our treatment plan for you.

Young girl smiling wearing braces

Diagnostic Records & Treatment Planning

If we decide you need treatment, you’ll be scheduled for diagnostic records. These records usually consist of digital study models, diagnostic photographs, and orthodontic radiographs (X-rays). These help us see what’s going on underneath your gums – the position and growth of bones and joints and the teeth that are still below the gum line.

In some cases, we may also take an impression (mold) of your teeth. This lets us make an exact replica of your bite, which helps us understand exactly what the problem is and how best to treat it. If we need to do this, we’ll ask you (or your child) to bite down on some soft putty-like material for a few moments; then we’ll remove it and make the mold in our lab. Once these orthodontic records have been obtained, Dr. Langford will review them and determine the appropriate treatment options. He’ll also inform you about your Invisalign treatment options.

Your Next Visits

Periodic visits are an important part of orthodontic treatment. We’ll schedule you for a checkup every 6–8 weeks to check your progress, make adjustments to your braces or deliver your next set of aligners. You’ll need to make sure you keep all appointments, follow instructions, eat nutritiously and practice good oral hygiene.

Once we remove your braces, you’ll wear a retainer to hold your teeth in their new positions until your bone, gums, and muscles adapt to the new tooth positions. We’ll schedule a return visit to our office one month after you’re fitted for your retainer. After that appointment, visits will typically take place every 2–4 months. During these appointments, we’ll examine your retainer to adjust it and correct it to make sure it’s functioning the right way. The retention period is an important part of your overall treatment and should not be neglected, so it’s very important that you follow Dr. Langford’s instructions on wearing the retainer in order to prevent relapse.

Length of Treatment

The length of time your braces may be on varies anywhere between 6 and 30 months. They can possibly stay on longer depending on the severity of the problem, your cooperation, your age, and the degree of movement possible.

Dental care

Your family dentist should make certain your gums are healthy and the underlying bones are free of periodontal disease, and that all cavities have been treated before any orthodontic treatment takes place. One or more of your teeth may be prescribed by Dr. Langford to be removed to eliminate crowding and correct your bite. Make sure to also schedule cleaning and cavity check-up visits with your family dentist during your orthodontic care.

Treatment Cost

The team at Langford Orthodontics strives to provide affordable care for our patients and their families. We know that an orthodontic treatment like braces is an important investment and we want to make your orthodontic treatment affordable. One of our primary goals is to help the average family receive personalized orthodontic care without straining their finances. For your convenience, we offer a variety of flexible, orthodontic payment plans with no down payment options and low monthly payments. Check with our office staff if you have any questions or would like to obtain more specific information.

Doing financial work

Before you leave your first exam, we’ll sit down with you to talk about what you should expect if you move forward with your orthodontic treatment. We enjoy meeting all prospective patients and their families – you are what makes us who we are!

Patient care is a huge priority for the Langford Orthodontics team, and giving you the most beautiful, healthy smile is something we are honored to provide. If you’re in the Knoxville area, stop by one of our two offices, or call us today to schedule your initial exam and see why we are the orthodontic team that kids love and parents trust.

Two-Phase Treatment

A good-looking smile takes a lot of work. After an orthodontic evaluation, Dr. Langford may talk to you and your child about two-phase treatment. Many people are unaware of this treatment and may feel intimidated by it, there’s so no need to feel alone. Langford Orthodontics is here to put you at ease and give your child the healthiest smile possible.

Two-phase treatment is straightforward and nowhere near as daunting as it sounds. It’s a simple orthodontic procedure that’s completed in two separate phases. The first phase focuses on straightening teeth, while the second stage is dedicated to physical changes in the face. Dividing a treatment into two phases allows us at Langford Orthodontics to give our patients beautiful, long-lasting, and healthy smiles.

Phase I

The first phase begins with a process called interceptive orthodontic treatment. In this phase, we deal with the orthodontic issues that are still in their early stages to prevent them from becoming more severe problems in the future. We start interceptive treatment when patients are between six and ten years of age because they still have their permanent teeth coming in.

This sort of treatment is used early on to prevent serious orthodontic problems from becoming worse over time because when treatment is delayed, it results in crooked or misaligned teeth and jaws. In this phase, we use orthodontic devices – partial braces or retainer-like devices – to correct the current problem, prevent future potential problems, and adjust your child’s growth and dental development.

During the first phase, patients are generally getting their permanent teeth while they still have some of their baby teeth at the same time, which is why we only recommend Phase I treatment when there are dental or jaw development issues which would considerably worsen if left untreated.

Parents should be relieved to know that at this point in children’s early lives, the majority of them do not require orthodontic treatment. The American Association of Orthodontics and our own Dr. Langford recommend children receive their first orthodontic evaluation by age seven so your child’s dental development is known to a professional. Having an early consultation with our experienced, friendly staff at Langford Orthodontics is a sure way to make sure your child’s growth and dental development are progressing the way they should.

The most common dental issues that require Phase I treatments are gum or periodontal health, tooth alignment, jaw development, or crowding and spacing issues. Dr. Langford also recommends it for the following dental issues:

  • Skeletal crossbites
  • Underbites
  • Open bites (situations in which the front teeth do not contact or overlap)
  • Severe crowding or spacing of the teeth
  • Disproportionately overlapping or deep bites
  • Jaw growth or jaws that are not in proportion to each other
  • Severely protruding teeth
  • Dental crossbites
  • Instances of unhealthy oral habits, like long-term thumb-sucking, bottle, or pacifier use

An additional treatment phase will be necessary after Phase I for some special cases. Because it’s doing an early intervention, Phase I is longer than Phase II, which is usually much shorter. Treating a dental difficulty proactively makes the issue more manageable and less time consuming later on. We take a period of rest in between the two phases because teeth are not yet in their final positions after Phase I, and it lets the remaining adult teeth erupt so in Phase II they can be aligned to their permanent positions.

Charming girl wearing braces with a beautiful candid smile

Phase II

The second phase begins as soon as the resting phase is done and all your child’s permanent teeth have arrived. This stage of treatment can’t be done if baby teeth are still present because it’s used to perfect tooth alignment. This phase is more familiar to patients and parents when thinking of orthodontic treatment because it involves installing braces on the upper and lower teeth.

Not all tooth and bite-related problems can be addressed to in the first phase, so in this second phase Dr. Lanford properly aligns the jaw and straightens the teeth with braces. We pay extra close attention during this phase— to be sure that each tooth has a dedicated, optimum place in the mouth so that it can live peacefully among the lips, tongue, cheeks, and other teeth.

Once your child’s two-phase treatment is finished, Dr. Langford recommends wearing retainers to maintain their results. Wearing retainers as directed will hold their teeth in their new, straight positions. Langford Orthodontics is here to ensure that your child’s teeth have the optimum environment in which to look, feel and operate their best.

Some people are concerned that a two-phase treatment is a clever way to for orthodontists to apply two sets of braces. Rest assured, this is not the case. Nor does it take twice as long or cost twice as much.

Young woman with clear braces

At Langford Orthodontics, we try to avoid two-phase treatment whenever possible. Some patients, however, genuinely need it for long-lasting results. Two-phase treatment can prevent the need for more aggressive orthodontic treatment later in life. Proactive, preliminary treatment is the best way to achieve a life-long, healthy smile.

If you are in the Knoxville area, visit us at one of our two convenient offices or call us today. Our team is ready to help your child on their way to a beautiful and bright smile!

Dentist vs Orthodontist for Braces

If you have been considering braces for yourself or your child, then you may be wondering if you can just have your general dentist perform the procedure, or if you will need to see an orthodontist. Perhaps you are wondering what an orthodontist might have to offer you that your dentist does not, or you are unsure of the differences between the two. There are many valid reasons to consult with an orthodontist when contemplating corrective treatment like braces, even though it is not unusual to want to stick with what you know and with what you are comfortable . Although there are many similarities between dentists and orthodontists, they are not interchangeable, and there are some significant differences to take into consideration when making your choice. At Langford Orthodontics, we want you to learn more about these differences and why they matter. Read on!

Education and Training

Both dentists and orthodontists begin their careers by graduating from dental school, but they take different paths from there.  Orthodontists will undergo an additional two to three years of full-time training, similar to a medical doctor completing a residency to get the training they need to learn everything they can about what they will be specializing in. Orthodontic residents concentrate on orthodontia, with a focus on braces, bite problems, and straightening teeth. Only after a dentist has successfully completed this program may they refer to themselves as an orthodontist.

Stack of books

Can My General Dentist Straighten My Teeth?

Yes, they can. There are some dentists who are able to provide some orthodontic care to their patients. Some dentists have committed to taking continuing education seminars and acquiring more experience in the subject of moving teeth. This additional training can occur online or through seminars they attend over several weeks.  These workshops and seminars equip the general dentist with the knowledge and training to treat some of their patients who desire their teeth to be straight. Most general dentists use this increased knowledge base to be able to better educate their patients about the need for orthodontic treatment and will refer to an orthodontist when the treatment is beyond what they have been able to learn.  This creates a great team of professionals looking out for the very best treatment for your teeth!

So Who Should Do MY Orthodontic Treatment?

As you consider treatment for yourself or your children, there are many things to consider. In most cases, it is best to talk to a specialist in orthodontics prior to beginning treatment so you can be confident that you have been able to consider all your options.  In most cases, your orthodontist will be able to provide you with:

  • More efficient treatments and visits, since orthodontics are the only area of care they focus on.
  • The best possible treatment plan and outcome, especially if you have a more complicated or severe case – as they have experience with many different modalities to treat a case.
  • More treatment options, with a wide variety of braces and therapies to choose from.
  • More experience treating multiple cases that share your physical characteristics and have similarities to your own case.

Orthodontists like Dr. Langford devote a great deal of time and energy to perfecting orthodontic care and treatment because it is their only specialty! He performs teeth straightening procedures daily, keeps up to date on the latest in industry practice, purchases the latest equipment, and takes as many continuing education courses as he can throughout the year. Dr. Langford and his experienced team at Langford Orthodontics are well versed in creating the best individualized treatment method for each patient.

Young girl is confused

Dentist or Orthodontist

In order to avoid any complications, orthodontists put a lot of emphasis on choosing optimal treatment approaches. Orthodontists are able to recommend plans that can save you time and money, as well as reduce the chances of any complications developing because they have the training to notice the small things that could be overlooked. By seeking treatment from someone with more knowledge, experience, and specialized education, you can feel confident in your investment of time and money. Langford Orthodontics has everything you need for an optimal— and safe—  orthodontic experience.

Dr. Langford’s sole specialty is orthodontics, it means he has the experience needed to give you the best quality, cost, and efficiency in treatment. If you are in the Knoxville or Seymour area, stop by one of our two convenient locations or call us today! After a FREE initial evaluation, Dr. Langford and our expert team will be able to determine if orthodontics will benefit you. If it looks like treatment is needed, we will outline a personalized treatment plan for you. We are happy to answer any questions or address any concerns you might have in order to make an informed decision. Our team is here to see you through your treatment from start to finish and beyond!

Wisdom Teeth and Orthodontic Treatment

If you or your child are currently in braces, you have probably learned quite a bit about your teeth, and about orthodontics in general, throughout the course of your treatment with Langford Orthodontics. But there is one related subject that you might be lacking in knowledge on: wisdom teeth. Though they may not be an obvious choice of orthodontic discussion, your wisdom teeth can play a part in your overall oral health, and it is not unusual for patients to wonder if they can affect a smile that is been straightened by braces. Should you be worried about wisdom teeth moving teeth as they come in? Should you have them removed once they are in? Can they be removed if they come in while you are in braces? To find out the answers to these questions and more, keep reading!

What are wisdom teeth, anyway?

Wisdom teeth are the third and last molars, found at the very back on each side of the upper and lower jaws. These are the final teeth to erupt through the gums, and they usually appear in your late teens or early twenties. Most adults will have four wisdom teeth, but some people will not develop all four. Although these teeth can erupt without any problems, they will often lack sufficient space to erupt properly, causing them to become impacted, which we will discuss in detail below.

Historically, our ancestors needed large and powerful jaws to be able to get the most out of a diet full of rough, coarse food like leaves, roots, nuts, and meats. As our diet has evolved to include more soft foods that do not wear down the teeth as much, our jaws have become smaller, and for many people, wisdom teeth simply do not fit in their mouths anymore.

Are wisdom teeth always painful?

Not always, no. Some people will have their wisdom teeth come through properly aligned. While there may be some tenderness around the gums where the teeth are erupting, it will not necessary be painful. In cases like this, we will not normally need to take any further action.

For others, however, erupting wisdom teeth can be a painful or uncomfortable experience. For instance, if there is not enough room in your mouth for the wisdom teeth, they can put pressure on the adjacent teeth, or if the teeth are coming in sideways, they can become jammed behind the last tooth in the mouth. This is the impaction we mentioned above, and it can lead to swollen and infected gums. Wisdom teeth grow in stages rather than all at once, so there will likely be a few rounds of discomfort before they full erupt.

x-ray of wisdom teeth

Will my wisdom teeth need to removed?

This is an incredibly common question that unfortunately does not have a one-size-fits-all answer. It depends on the severity and frequency of symptoms, as well as the impact the wisdom teeth are having on the rest of your mouth as they erupt.

Wisdom teeth removal would typically be recommended if:

  • The teeth are only partially erupted and impossible to clean thoroughly, causing recurrent infections
  • The erupting wisdom teeth have the potential to damage the adjacent healthy molars

An experienced orthodontist like Dr. Langford will be able to tell how your wisdom teeth are coming through by taking an x-ray of your mouth. Based on the results, he will be able to determine if any future treatment seems likely.

Can my wisdom teeth undo my orthodontic results?

The short answer is no. Timing is the major issue at play here. Some patients will see a slight shifting of the teeth, known as a relapse, in their late teen to early adult years, and we know this is when wisdom teeth tend to come in as well. The University of Iowa actually conducted research on this subject, placing sensors between the teeth that compared the pressure on them with and without wisdom teeth. There was no difference between the two, meaning that the wisdom teeth do not, in fact, exert enough pressure on the teeth in front of them to cause them to shift. But our teeth do tend to shift a bit when we are at that age,  and if wisdom teeth are not a key factor in that, what is?

It is pretty simple: we get older!

As we age, our teeth begin to show some overall signs of wear and tear. When that natural drifting begins to occur, it can cause our teeth to overlap and move slightly forward. As the teeth begin to overlap, the upper teeth can press the lower teeth in towards the tongue. Some residual jaw growth can still be happening around this time, too, forcing the teeth into positions that could be undesirable.

You have probably heard us remind you over and over about how important it is to wear your retainer faithfully once your braces come off. This is one of the biggest reasons why. When you wear your retainer exactly as Dr. Langford instructs you, you are giving your smile the best chance to stay as straight as straight as possible after treatment.

Girl at doctors office

Get wise about your wisdom teeth with Langford Orthodontics

Though your wisdom teeth coming in are not likely to affect the straight teeth you have achieved through braces or aligners, removing them may still be recommended to ensure the overall health of your mouth. Because every case is different, we recommend you consult with an experienced oral surgeon or just ask Dr. Langford for further direction and advice about the possible benefits of having your wisdom teeth removed and how this might affect your orthodontic treatment in long-term.

Langford Orthodontics has a strong team of skilled staff who are dedicated to providing compassionate care to each patient we treat. We believe that good communication and understanding are an integral part of getting the very best orthodontic results. It is important to us that our patients feel empowered by their treatment! Please feel free to come to us at any time with any questions or concerns you have regarding your treatment, including whether or not wisdom teeth can affect it. We are always here to help set your mind at ease as you work towards a beautifully straight smile that will last a lifetime!

How to Choose Colors for Braces

So you are getting braces to create that smile of your dreams, and now it is time for choosing colors. This can be one of the most exciting parts of an appointment, but we understand that it has the potential to be a little stressful for someone who is new to the process. We have heard hundreds of questions over the years such as, “Which colors look best?” “Are there certain colors to avoid?” “What do most people choose?” Do not let this decision stress you out. There is no such thing as the “best color” for braces. The choice is completely up to you and can be tailored to your individual style with ample amount of colors to pick from.

Here at Langford Orthodontics, we understand patient concerns and do our best to provide you with outstanding service to go with an outstanding treatment. When it comes to picking out a color combination that you will love, we are here to help! We have put together some ideas below in order for you to get ahead of the process. Enjoy!

Colors for your features

Choosing colors based on your natural look is always a safe option. You could choose a color based on your eyes, whether you want to match the color or choose a color that complements them. Blue and green eyes can be matched easily, and brown eyes can be complemented by earthy colors such as dark greens and blues. You can also choose your colors based on your hair and/or skin tone. Lighter skin and hair work well with either bright or dark colors such as pink, light blue, navy, light purple, and red. Darker skin and hair work well with darker jewel colors such as emerald, violet, or turquoise. Pastel and neon colors also work well to provide contrast.

braces with pink rubber bands

Colors for your style

Another idea for choosing colors is to pick from some of the colors you like to wear every day. If you typically wear more bright colors, you could choose bright pink, blue, and green. If you like more subdued or darker colors, you can choose navy, light blue, and red.

If you do not usually stick to just one color palette in your wardrobe, here are some ideas of a few smaller things that you can match:

  • A favorite pair of shoes
  • A favorite hat or headband
  • A favorite nail polish
  • A favorite eyeshadow

Colors for support

You might want to decorate your braces with colors that mean something to you right now. A lot of our younger patients like to choose their school colors for their braces. If you play a school sport during a particular time of year, you can coordinate the colors to your team’s jersey colors to show off some team spirit! You can also choose the colors of your favorite college or professional team.

If you support a special cause or organization, you may want to choose colors that spread awareness. Not only are these colors relevant, but also they can give you a chance to talk with others about your organization’s message.

Colors for the holidays

Holiday-themed braces are festive and a fun way to get creative with your colors. Here are some ideas for holiday colors:

  • Easter is celebrated through pastels, which work well on just about everybody. Light pinks, blue, purples, and greens are a great idea for this holiday.
  • It does not take much to light up the Fourth of July with the classic colors of red, white, and blue!
  • For Halloween, black and orange are your obvious choices, or you can even coordinate colors to the colors of your costume. This is also a fun opportunity to try our glow-in-the-dark bands!
  • During the month of December, choosing dark green and red is a great way to spread some Christmas cheer!

Color tips

While we know there are not any “wrong colors”, there are a few shades we might caution you about:

  • Choosing white as the primary color for your braces may seem like a good idea, but for some, this can actually highlight the yellow undertones in teeth. Yellow and gold can also have this effect. The good news is that you can combine these colors with others to lessen the yellowing effect that it can have on teeth. Darker colors, like blue, green and purple can actually make teeth look whiter, so a combination of one of these darker colors with the lighter ones should resolve the issue.
  • Clear bands are a good choice for anyone who wants to add some subtlety to their braces. However, clear bands sometimes have the tendency to fade over time. This can happen if food gets trapped between the bracket and teeth or from drinking sodas and coffee. That being said, some of these issues can be avoided by taking care of your teeth and following our instructions.

Girl with dental braces

Choosing braces with Langford Orthodontics

Choosing colors for your braces is meant to be a fun way to express yourself and your creativity. The good news is that no matter what you decide, you can always change your colors if you do not like the choices you made.

Whether you are an adult, adolescent, or young child, we want your experience with braces to be one of the best! Dr. Langford and his experienced staff have been serving Knoxville’s orthodontic needs since 2001. If you are considering braces, give us a call to schedule a free consultation. We look forward to adding you to our family!

Why Retainers Are Important After Braces

Orthodontic treatment of any kind takes patience and dedication on your part, and it is such a liberating feeling when the day finally comes for your braces to come off! In all the excitement, though, it can be easy to forget that you have got a little bit further to go on your orthodontic journey.

As a Langford Orthodontics patient, you have probably spent enough time around the office to hear us talk about retainers a time or ten. The fact is that braces are just the first step in the journey towards straighter teeth and better oral health. Keeping your smile looking good in the long-term depends on the second part of orthodontic treatment, something we refer to as retention. We do not stop at simply creating a new smile for you – we help you maintain it over the years by instructing you in regular retainer use. Using the customized retainer we create for you is integral in keeping your teeth from shifting away from their new and improved positions. To learn more about why retainer use is so essential, keep reading!

Retainers go beyond teeth

It may sound strange, but your teeth are not the only things we want to move during orthodontic treatment, and they aren’t the only things we want to stay in place afterwards, either. The gums and the bones in your mouth will align to new positions, too, but can sometimes take a little longer to settle into a different position. Teeth are not just simply set down in the jaw, each one is held in the socket by elastic ligaments attaching the roots to the bone. These ligaments are living tissue that allow the kind of small movements of the teeth needed to straighten them during treatment.

The first phase of treatment is considered the remodeling phase. Once this phase is complete, all those tissues, ligaments, and bone will need time to stabilize. Teeth will almost always attempt to migrate back to where they came from, and without the use of a retainer to firmly hold them in their new positions, they can eventually shift back to their old positions. It can take anywhere from several months to a few years for the new position of your teeth to become more permanent. By wearing your retainer exactly as Dr. Langford directs you to, you will help your teeth, along with the surrounding hard and soft tissues, to realign. This will stabilize your new bite and keep everything where we want it to be. 

Comparing a retainer to an Invisalign aligner

So what is a retainer?

A retainer is an orthodontic appliance that has been molded and designed to fit each individual patient’s mouth. To create a retainer for you, our team will take an impression or scan of your newly straightened teeth, then create the retainer with either a clear plastic material for an Essix retainer, or from wire and an acrylic material for a Hawley retainer – we will talk more about both below.

We believe that the best chance of keeping your smile straightened for life is by wearing a retainer part-time for an indefinite period once your treatment is complete. That can sound very overwhelming at first! But like anything else, the longer you do something, the more it becomes a part of your daily routine. Retainers are no exception. With a little time and patience, you will not even think twice about wearing it. Eventually, you will only need to keep it in overnight a few times a week to keep your teeth where they should be.

In the same way braces do, your retainer may feel a little strange at first, but any initial discomfort should be temporary. Do not let it deter you from wearing your retainer as directed, because failure to do so can keep it from doing its job. If a retainer is not worn regularly, the teeth will begin shifting towards their original positions, leaving you right back where you started.

What are the different types of retainers?

There are two different types of retainers: fixed and removable. When deciding which type of retainer is right for you, Dr. Langford will always takes your specific case as well as your preferences into consideration.

Fixed retainers

Fixed retainers consist of a thin wire positioned across the interior surface of the lower or upper front teeth which is bonded into place. Because the wire stretches across several teeth, you will need to practice the same level of oral hygiene you did while in braces. Fixed retainers make it very difficult to keep your teeth clean, but they are helpful in some cases that started with extreme crowding or spacing because the bonded wire is holding the teeth in alignment 24 hours a day. These retainer are nice because you do not have to remember to put them in your mouth each day, but they do need to be checked often because if they come loose from your teeth, your teeth can move without you being aware that there is a problem.  

Removable retainers

There are two main types of removable retainers.  One is referred to as a Hawley retainer and it is made up of a wire going across the front teeth, held in place with an acrylic material and clasps. The clasps wrap around the back teeth to keep the retainer stationary. This is probably what you think of when you hear the word “retainer.” There is another type of removable retainer that looks very similar to clear aligners or bleaching trays, which is sometimes called an Essix retainer.

Cleaning your teeth is easier with a removable retainer, but like clear aligner therapy, it will not work if it is not worn daily as directed, and you will likely need to wear it all day and all night for a few days and then at night thereafter.

Because they are removable, these retainers do tend to be more prone to loss and damage. There is usually a charge to replace lost or broken retainers, so be sure to keep yours in a safe place any time you take it out.

woman putting Retainer fashion

A lifetime of straight smiles with Langford Orthodontics

Wherever you are in your orthodontic treatment, Dr. Langford and the entire Langford Orthodontics team are here for you. Whether you are waiting for the day your braces get put on, or waiting for the day they come off, we are happy to help with any questions and concerns you may have! Our skilled staff are dedicated to providing a calm, caring environment for each and every patient, and we pride ourselves on our excellent communication skills. Langford Orthodontics will give you the best experience possible from start to finish on your way to a beautiful smile. For more information on the role retainers play after your treatment is complete, get in touch with us today. Langford Orthodontics will keep your teeth in place and a beautiful, straight smile on your face!