Hunter Ortho Blog

Other than Braces, Why Should You See an Orthodontist?

orthodontist - teeth

When you think about going to an orthodontist, getting braces is probably the first thing that comes to mind. However, there are other important reasons for seeing an orthodontist.

Orthodontists help to correct a person’s bite or spacing of teeth. While this often involves getting braces or other fixed appliances, an orthodontist can also provide treatment using removable devices that you can take out of the mouth. Depending on how severe your problem is, an orthodontist can decide what type of treatment makes the most sense for you.

Removable appliances include:

  • Aligners: Like braces, aligners move teeth, but don’t have brackets and wires so they’re not visible in most cases. You can take them out when you brush, floss and eat.
  • Splints: Also known as jaw-repositioning appliances, this device helps to treat temporomandibular joint  (TMJ) disorders by helping the jaw to close correctly.
  • Palatal expander: This device is a plastic plate that covers the roof of the mouth and widens the palate.
  • Headgear: A strap goes around the back of the head and is attached to a wire in the front of the mouth. This helps to hold the back teeth in place and pull back the front teeth.
  • Removable retainers: They are placed on the roof of the mouth to stop the teeth from shifting back to a prior position. In some cases, they’re also used to discourage children from sucking their thumb.
  • Lip and cheek bumpers: If your cheek and lip muscles are pushing on the teeth, bumpers can help to keep them away from your teeth and relieve pressure.
  • Space maintainers: This appliance helps to keep space open if you lose a baby tooth too soon and you need space until the permanent tooth comes in.

Is your bite a problem?  We can help!  Contacts us today for a consultation.

7 Reasons Braces Fix More than Crooked Teeth

Healthy smile


If you’re considering braces for you or a member of your family, you’ve probably thought about the many cosmetic advantages. As we know, having attractive teeth can help boost self-esteem and enhance career opportunities, not to mention give you or a loved one a more engaging smile.

Before deciding, however, you probably want to know if there are other benefits to help justify the investment. Thankfully, you can rest easy you’re making the right choice! Aesthetics aside, there’s a wide range of functional and medically proven reasons to receive orthodontic care. Here are some highlights:

Better oral hygiene: When teeth are crooked and crowded together, they are more difficult to brush and floss. If you’re not getting to those hard-to-reach areas, you’re increasing the chance for tooth decay, gum disease, loss of bone and/or gum tissue, and more. Worse yet, if one tooth suffers from decay, it can impact the teeth around it, creating a domino effect that can cause thousands of dollars in preventable dental work. Since braces properly align your teeth, they will allow you to thoroughly clean them every day.

Longer-lasting teeth: Types of malocclusions (improperly aligned bite) include an overbite, underbite, crossbite, openbite and crowding. These can cause a host of problems. Two major potential issues are improper chewing and teeth grinding. Both can prematurely wear tooth enamel as well as chip teeth, leading to expensive crowns and other repairs. An orthodontist can correct a misaligned bite, in many cases preventing these problems before they have a chance to develop.

Reduced damage to other tissues in your mouth: A malocclusion can cause you to unintentionally bite your cheek. A protruding tooth can cause teeth to collide when biting, leading to jaw pain and potential damage to teeth and gums. It can also make you more susceptible to mouth injuries, particularly if you participate in sports.

Proper chewing and digestion: The primary function of our teeth is breaking our food into smaller pieces. A malocclusion may make it more difficult to chew your food. This can lead to potential choking hazards and more difficulty for your body to digest nutrients from the foods you eat.

Potential solution to snoring and obstructive sleep apnea: In the case of a misaligned bite, airways may get pinched, which can result in snoring and other sleep issues. An orthodontist has the ability to identify and correct bite issues which can affect sleep.

Headaches and other pain: As mentioned earlier, a malocclusion can lead to the grinding of teeth. In addition to tooth damage, it can cause pain in your jaw as well as headaches.

Better speech: Since we talk using our mouths, it makes sense that our bite can impact our speech. While braces have been known to temporarily affect speech while the user gets used to them, fewer know that correction of an improper bite can permanently improve the quality of a person’s speaking. In addition to the cosmetic advantages mentioned above, this can give you or a loved one an extra leg up in a job interview, presentation, or simply when interacting with others on a day-to-day basis.

So there you have it! There’s no need to be on the fence about braces since cosmetic improvement is just the tip of the iceberg. From oral health, to speech, to sleep, to the alleviation of pain, orthodontic care is one of the best investments you can make for yourself or a loved one. And for the best in orthodontic care, you can trust Dr. Ross Hunter and his team at Hunter Family Orthodontics.

Why Retainers are Important for a Healthy Smile

The day has finally arrived – the orthodontist has taken your braces off, and you’re ready to show off your brand-new smile.

But even the best orthodontic work can’t last forever. Braces set your teeth straight, but after they are taken off, your teeth will slowly shift back over time. Without continued support, all the work of your braces will be undone.

The purpose of a retainer is to maintain your results. A retainer is important because it holds your teeth in place, preventing them from moving again. If your orthodontist has recommended a retainer, it is very important to wear it exactly as instructed.

Straight Teeth are Healthy Teeth

Braces and retainers combine to make your teeth straight. While most people think of the cosmetic improvements, having straight teeth is also good for your health.

Straight teeth are easier to clean than crooked or overlapping teeth. It is much easier for the bristles of your toothbrush to reach between straight teeth and to sweep away bacteria from every tooth surface.

Additionally, straight teeth have fewer pockets for bacteria to hide in. Less bacteria means less plaque buildup, which ultimately results in better oral hygiene, less bad breath and a healthier mouth.

For these reasons, wearing your retainer correctly is important for your health. A retainer will keep your teeth as straight as the day your braces came off, which is a major boon for your overall health.

Wearing Your Retainer saves Money

Orthodontic work can be expensive. If you don’t wear your retainer, your teeth will shift and move in your mouth. After a few years have passed, it is likely that more work will be needed to return your smile to the way you want it. That means spending additional money for another round of braces.

Choosing the Right Retainer

An important part of wearing your retainer is choosing the right one for your lifestyle. Work with your orthodontist to select the right one for you.

Fixed retainers are thin metal wires that permanently attach to the back of your teeth. They can’t be seen by others and never come out, which makes them simple to wear correctly. However, food can get trapped between the wire and your teeth, so cleaning it carefully is a must.

Removable retainers can be easily taken out. Many people remove them daily for an easy clean. They can also be more easily adjusted by your orthodontist. However, because they can be removed, they can also be forgotten. If you’re using a removable retainer, it will be very important to find a way to remind yourself to wear it daily. Otherwise, your teeth will shift back to where they were before braces.

Wear Your Retainer to Keep Your Smile Beautiful

Braces do the hard work up front. But once they are off, your teeth will naturally shift back to their original placement. Retainers prevent your teeth from shifting, which makes them a critical part of orthodontic care.

Work with your orthodontist to select the right retainer for your lifestyle. If you make a commitment to wearing it exactly as instructed, your smile will stay in tip-top shape for years to come.

Braces…Now What?

Braces are a great dental option to reduce gaps in your smile or to straighten out crooked teeth. To help ensure that the braces do their job and the completed work is maintained, there are important steps to follow both while your braces are correcting your teeth and after they have been removed.

Maintenance While Wearing Braces

Maintenance while wearing your braces is extremely important to your tooth health and the straightening process. To properly maintain your braces, you need to make sure to:

  • Properly Clean Your Braces Often – While you are typically advised to brush two times a day, when you have braces it is important to clean your teeth more often to remove debris that can become caught in your braces and cause bacteria to grow. Additionally, you will want to make sure to regularly floss and use mouthwash to ensure that all the food debris is removed from the tiny crevices around your braces.
  • Avoid Certain Foods – You should avoid certain foods that can cause damage to your braces, such as sticky foods (including gum and caramel) that can get stuck on the wires and pull them. You should also avoid food with extremely hard pieces (such as popcorn kernels) as they can cause your wires to break. Foods with high acidity should be avoided to prevent damage to your braces as well as the enamel of your teeth.
  • Notify your Orthodontist of Any Issues Immediately – If you feel that you have broken or damaged parts of your braces, you should contact your orthodontist immediately to have the issue addressed so it does not cause any harm to your braces, your teeth or your mouth. Also, if you are experiencing pain as a result of your braces, you should contact the doctor as well.

Maintenance After Braces

Once you have completed your teeth straightening with your braces, it is imperative to follow some basic maintenance to ensure that your teeth stay straight and healthy.

  • Attend All of Your Routine Dental Appointments – It is important to make all of your follow-up appointments and maintain regular cleanings and checkups. This will help keep your smile that you have worked so hard on looking its best, but also it can let your dentist know if your teeth begin to shift or to notice other issues that could potentially undo your hard work.
  • Use a Soft Toothbrush – Once you have had braces, your gums will be more susceptible to wear than those who don’t. To help alleviate and reduce your risk of gum recession, it is important to use a softer brush to ensure that you remove debris from around your gumline without causing damage to the area.
  • Wear Your Retainer as Directed – You will most likely be given a retainer or other orthopedic devices with instructions to wear it at certain times and for certain durations. This tool will aid in keeping your teeth in their newly straightened position, maintaining the work that has been done. It is important to also keep these appliances clean to prevent bacteria and to notify your orthodontist if it becomes unusually uncomfortable or damaged.

Keep your smile happy and healthy by practicing good maintenance routines while wearing and after wearing your braces. By following the steps above, you will not only prevent problems, but you’ll also have a better chance of maintaining the results.

The Role of Spacers and Rubber Bands in Orthodontic Work

An orthodontist uses a variety of techniques and tools to correct irregularities of the teeth, jaws and lips. When teeth need to be moved so they are better aligned, the dental professional may need to use braces for treatment. However, before the braces can be added, the orthodontist will need to use spacers and rubber bands to ensure that the installation will be done properly. While spacers are usually placed about one week before the braces are installed, rubber bands for braces will be placed with the braces. Both serve specific purposes in correcting irregularities and improving the smile of the patient.

The difference between spacers and rubber bands

Spacers, also known as orthodontic separators, are special rubber bands or metal devices used by orthodontists. Before braces are installed, the dental expert will need to make sure that the spaces between the molars are widened. When space is created between teeth that are too close together, it allows room for the braces to be cemented firmly. The spacers will usually have a diameter of about one centimeter and will be left in place until the teeth have moved apart enough to allow for proper installation of braces.

As the name suggests, rubber bands for braces are elastic bands that are installed together with braces. The orthodontist will connect these elastic bands to the brackets of your braces using hooks. The rubber bands are placed in such a way that they connect the bracket on one of the top teeth with the bracket on one of the teeth on the bottom jaw. It is advisable to remove the orthodontic rubber bands whenever you want to clean your teeth and brackets.

The role of spacers in orthodontic work

Just as the name suggests, spacers are used by orthodontists to create space between certain molars before braces are installed to align teeth. The spacers are usually placed during an appointment with the dentist a few weeks before the braces are fixed.

Most patients have complained of pain when they received their orthodontic spacers. As the devices force the teeth to move in an effort to create space, the nerves below the patient’s gum are bound to be irritated. In rare cases, the spacers may cause some bleeding. Once the teeth have moved, the orthodontist will remove these spacers before installing braces. However, there are times when the expert will recommend that you use spacers while wearing braces. While the spacers placed between teeth before braces are installed will be made of rubber, those that stay while you wear braces are made of metal.

The role of rubber bands in orthodontic work

Even as the orthodontist offers treatment to correct dental irregularities, he will also be working to improve teeth function and enhance your smile. Rubber bands for braces are meant to provide the connective force needed to move teeth and jaws to the correct position. By adjusting the position of the jaws, the bands allow you to bite properly. In children, the rubber bands serve the purpose of aligning teeth properly.

The elastics can be customized for specific patients so they stretch on tiny loops around both the top and bottom brackets. Apart from helping in improving the biting function of teeth, the elastic bands apply gentle but steady pressure that helps to align teeth.

At Hunter Family Orthodontics, our qualified dental experts use spacers, braces and rubber bands as key parts of orthodontic treatment. This guarantees quality dental care and treatment.

The Benefits of Visiting an Orthodontist Instead of a Dentist

Many people receive regular dentist visits every six months, where they receive a check up and teeth cleaning. These visits are an important part of maintaining good oral health. However, they are certain teeth issues that a dentist is not trained to deal with, such as teeth and jaw alignment, and you may need to visit an orthodontist, a specialist who can help fix these issues. To better understand the benefits of visiting an orthodontist versus a general dentist, let’s look at the similarities and differences between the two.

Orthodontists and dentists both have educational backgrounds that are alike, with both earning either a D.D.S. (Doctor of Dental Surgery) or a D.M.D. (Doctor of Dental Medicine). Orthodontists then move on to a two or three-year residency at a university-affiliated program approved by the American Dental Association. This further training means that sometimes you will want to visit an orthodontist rather than a dentist, as there are certain advantages that will be helpful to you depending on your needs. Dentistry is a broad, general medical field, trained to diagnose and treat more generalized oral health issues.

You may need to go to a dentist for a variety of reasons. Services a dentist can provide typically include:

  • Dental Check-ups (Including X-rays)
  • Teeth Cleanings
  • Filling Cavities
  • Create Denture Models
  • Gum Care (Preventing gingivitis or gum disease)
  • Root Canals

However, if your dental needs fall outside of these services, you may need to go to an orthodontist. As these services show, general dentistry tries to prevent common dental problems such as cavities, gum disease, and other oral health issues. However, these problems can become difficult to treat because of things like the overcrowding of teeth. Dentists are not experts in diagnosing and treating problems related to problems involving tooth and jaw alignment.

Orthodontists have received specialized higher education, allowing them to provide certain services that dentists cannot, specializing in realigning teeth if your teeth and jaws. In these cases, dentistry alone cannot fix these issues, and you need to see an orthodontist to be fitted with braces or some other corrective device. Correct spacing can allow patients to floss and brush their teeth more effectively, a vital part of good oral hygiene. You also may need an orthodontist if you have an overbite or underbite. Bad bites are also known as malocclusions. To treat these issues, orthodontists will use braces, or possibly other corrective devices. Let’s look at each individual orthodontic problem and how the specialized treatment orthodontists can provide can fix these issues in a way general dentistry cannot.

  1. Underbite

Underbites are when the upper teeth fit behind the lower teeth, which can result in excessive wear and tear on your teeth. This problem can be fixed with braces or dental facemasks, which bring the upper teeth forward so they fit comfortably over the lower teeth.

  1. Overbite

Overbites can results in a variety of problems. An overbite is when the front teeth jut out over the lower teeth. A deep overbite is the result of when the upper front teeth cover the lower front teeth excessively.

  1. Openbite

An openbite is when no overlapping occurs when the front teeth are closed. Openbites can occur in children if they use their tongues to push their teeth open. Using what’s called a “crib” can help prevent the tongue from pushing the teeth outward, and helps with retraining the tongue.

  1. Additional Issues+

Dentists can provide bridges for congenitally missing teeth, but sometimes the teeth need to be moved into the correct position before the bridge can be put in place. Orthodontists can provide braces that will move the teeth and space them properly for the bridge to be put in place. Other services an orthodontist can provide include lip bumper treatment, which can correct teeth spacing to allow the teeth to grow in. Things like jaw pain can also be an issue that an orthodontist can fix, as their additional training teaches them how to move the jaw into the correct alignment. In more extreme cases, surgery can be utilized, an option that dentists cannot provide.

Here are the services orthodontists provide to correct these issues:

  • Braces
  • Retainers
  • Invisalign®

Invisalign® is a clear retainer that fits around and straightens your teeth, similar to braces. Some dentists can provide you with Invisalign® products after receiving product training. However, that does not mean they have had the in-depth training and experience to weigh the pros and cons of Invisalign® against other treatment options. Patients should be best informed of the options available to them when making treatment options. An orthodontist has extensive training regarding teeth and jaw alignment options.

If you would like to learn more about what services an orthodontist can provide, please visit our website at or contact us here.

Don’t Forget to Add “Orthodontist” to Your Summer Bucket List!

Summer is almost here, and it’s hard to tell who is more excited – the kids or the teachers!

Whether your days ahead are filled with camps, summer jobs, afternoons at the pools or trips to the beach, it’s nice to get out of the school routine for a while. Relax, explore, travel, earn money or develop a new skill.

But whatever your summer plans, don’t forget to add “Orthodontist” to your summer bucket list.

We know, we know. Braces aren’t as exciting as a trip abroad (or even a trip to Schlitterbahn). But we’re passionate about what we do and love helping our patients get their best smile. And summer is a great time to schedule orthodontic treatment. You don’t have to schedule around school activities or worry about missing class. Also, if you’re just starting the process it’s nice to have a little down time to get used to your braces before heading back to school in the fall.

The last couple weeks of summer are always busy, so make your appointments early to avoid the end-of-summer rush.

We look forward to seeing all our patients this summer and hearing about your adventures! Happy (almost) summer!

The Importance of Community Involvement

One of the most important things here at Hunter Family Orthodontics is supporting the communities where we live and work. Our patients support us by choosing us as their orthodontist. Our employees support us by choosing to be a part of our outstanding team. We understand the importance of giving back to the people and communities who support us in so many different ways.

Volunteer programs and community involvement provide opportunities for networking, skill development and leadership training which enriches the lives of all those participating. It stimulates interaction and creates a sense of unity between strangers who have been brought together to support their community. By being an active member of the community, we are enriching our business, our lives and our community, creating an ideal world for both businesses and residents.

If we haven’t convinced you yet, here are 5 great reasons to volunteer within your community:

It will make you happy. True story: some researchers at the University of Illinois conducted a study, and the results show youth who partake in pro-social activities (like volunteering) are less likely to become depressed. It feels good to pay it forward, so why not do it?!

It will give you professional experience. When it comes to college applications, job applications and your resume, the younger you are, the more you might find yourself lacking in experiences to list. Community involvement will give you legitimate professional experience to list for yourself, and that is always a good thing!

It helps you learn more about yourself. A lot of people have a hard time figuring out exactly what they want to do for the rest of their lives. There are so many options when it comes to community involvement (local homeless, human rights, children’s charities, etc.). You can try your hand helping in a wide range of organizations and it will help you narrow down what you enjoy most, fostering your interest in specific fields. When it comes time to decide a career path, you may have a more clear idea of which fields you are interested in and which ones you aren’t.

It will help you make new friends and network. It never hurts to make new friends and new network connections. Volunteering exposes you to a whole new world of people that you may never meet otherwise. You will be amazed at how far a friendly connection can get you when you least expect it.

You can make a difference. We see upsetting things in the news and trending on social networks every day, things that are beyond our control, but we can make a difference locally. You can give your time, services and charity to help those in need. To you, it may not seem like you’re doing a lot, but it’s the small efforts of everyone involved that combine to make a big impact on the community and the people within it.

Hunter Family Orthodontics is involved with many organizations within our surrounding communities, but we are always looking for a new opportunity to support. If you know of a school or an organization that you think we might be able to lend support to in one way or another, please let us know. Now let’s get out there and volunteer!

#HFOFinalFour March Madness Contest

Calling all college basketball fans! March Madness is here and Hunter Family Orthodontics is pumped! If you don’t already know, Dr. Hunter is a huge college basketball fan, so we couldn’t resist throwing together a Final Four contest to have a little March Madness fun of our own.

#HFOFinalFour March Madness Contest Details

  • Post your Final Four teams and your overall winner selection to our Facebook page, or to your personal Facebook page, using the hashtag #HFOFinalFour and tag @HunterFamilyOrthodontics
  • DEADLINE: All picks MUST be submitted to Facebook by Thursday, March 16 at 11:00am
  • Whoever picks the correct overall winner will win the contest. If multiple people pick the same overall winner, then whoever picked the most Final Four teams correctly will be the contest winner.
  • The winner will be announced and notified via Facebook after March Madness ends on Monday, April 3rd. Our winner will receive a $50 gift certificate to Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Good luck to you all!


The Importance of Wearing a Retainer

girl holding retainer

If you’ve had or currently have braces, then you know how much time and effort goes into the process! Brushing and flossing become more difficult, you must avoid certain foods, and there are frequent trips to the orthodontist for adjustments or other appointments. Braces require dedication (ex: wearing your rubber bands) and can sometimes be painful.

However, the minute you get your braces off and see your new smile reflected in the mirror, all that inconvenience is forgotten. It’s all totally worth it! Braces give you a bright, healthy smile that brings out the best in you.

Of course, once you have that beautiful smile, it’s important to maintain it. You certainly don’t want to get braces again due to shifting teeth, which is common if no precautions are put in place to prevent it. Retainers help keep your teeth in place and maintain the smile you worked so hard for.

Retainer Types

There are different types of retainers, each with specific benefits.

Fixed retainers are glued behind the front teeth (usually the lower but sometimes the upper as well). They aren’t removable, which is a benefit to many people because they don’t have to worry about forgetting or losing them. However, not all patients are good candidates for fixed retainers. Those that are prone to periodontal problems may do better with a removable retainer.

There are multiple types of removable retainers as well, and your orthodontist can discuss the specifics and which type is best for you. Whichever type you receive, your dedication to wearing them and caring for them properly is key.

Most people wear a removable retainer full-time the first six months after having their braces removed (with the exceptions of while eating, brushing or flossing). After that, you can switch to wearing them only at night. Retainers should be cleaned at least once a day with a toothbrush and toothpaste, and kept in their case when not in use. They are breakable, so treat them with care. And one final tip — watch out for pets! For some reason, dogs love to chew on them.

Retainers aren’t always convenient, but then again neither is having braces for the second (or third) time. With commitment to wearing and properly caring for your retainers, they will last for years and help you maintain your beautiful smile. At Hunter Family Orthodontics, our goal is to get you to your best smile — and then keep you there!

If you have questions about which type of retainer is best for you, or if you need to replace one, please contact us today.