By Dr. Jeff Beyer
I have always been a big fan of the outdoors. I grew up in Buffalo where we definitely had four distinct seasons, so in August I would be water skiing in Lake Erie, and just six months later I found myself skiing compliments of the lake effect snow that came from Lake Erie as well. I also love to travel, particularly in the United States. In fact, the only state I have not been to is North Dakota (now a bucket list item).
In light of this, a couple of years ago we decided we would “try” an RV. No sooner did we visit the showroom than we made our first purchase, and we drove off in our 30-foot Class A motorhome completely clueless about all things RV’ing. We joined forums, researched stuff on the Internet, and did our due diligence so that we would not stick out like the Griswolds on our first outing.
We found a cute little RV park in Southwest Virginia and decided to make our first journey. A great part about RV’ing is that you can take your pets with you, so we loaded everybody in and off we went. To say that we liked it would be the understatement of the year – WE LOVED IT! A few more trips and we were completely hooked. We realized that this was going to be our new hobby and that we were going to spend the years ahead of us exploring this great country.
What’s great about the lifestyle is that there is something for everyone – whether you have a pull-behind “pop up,” or a luxury 45’ diesel bus motorhome, manufacturers have something for everyone. Campgrounds can be very rustic or extremely modern. I will also say we have met some of the nicest people while RV’ing. A lot of the fun for us is the journey itself. Stopping in little towns, enjoying the local fare or just attending a festival or visiting a park; there are so many cool places to explore and visit in this great country we live in. We are even planning our first retirement trip – a journey across the Trans-Canada highway all the way to Vancouver.
There is something very special about being able to essentially take your house with you – no waiting in airports or bus/train stations. You can prepare and eat your own meals without having to go to restaurants, and you get to sleep in your own bed every night! We love to be able to take the dogs along to share our experiences as well.
Last fall, we took the kids for just a short weekend close to home. I expected it to be like most weekends where they spent most of the time on their phones, just as kids do. But guess what? We hiked trails, we cooked and ate meals together, we played board games, made campfires and s’mores, and actually TALKED to one another. I will never forget that weekend as long as I live.
If you have ever thought about trying RV’ing – I would highly encourage it. You can always rent first to see if you and your family likes it. Our kids call us the Griswolds now, because we are always learning new things about our RV and exploring and planning our next adventure!
By Dr. Jeff Beyer
Last month I had the opportunity to attend an American Association of Orthodontists symposium on Sleep Disorder Breathing and Sleep Apnea. It was a collaboration of medical and dental professionals sharing their expertise on a rapidly growing problem (dare I say epidemic?) that is becoming ever more prevalent in both adults and children across the U.S. and beyond. If you or a loved one are snoring at night, it could be part of a much more serious problem.
I received absolutely no training on sleep disorders in either my dental or orthodontic education, and wanted to have a better understanding of these disorders. That’s because many of my patients have indicated they suffer from sleep breathing disorders and the multitude of negative effects they can have on the body, up to and including death (yes, death). You were probably not aware that many celebrities — including Carrie Fisher (“Star Wars”), James Gandolfini (“The Sopranos”), Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Jerry Garcia (Grateful Dead) and NFL player Reggie White all died from complications from Sleep Apnea.
I was amazed to hear the following statistics:
There are some significant risk factors for adults, which include being male, over age 50, a BMI of over 30 (obese), and a neck circumference over 17”. Symptoms include nightly snoring, chronic tiredness during the day, a bed partner observing stopped or interrupted breathing, and elevated blood pressure. In children, snoring is the No. 1 indicator of a sleep disorder, along with enlarged tonsils, and some things you may not think about – chronic bed wetting, attention deficit disorder (ADD or ADHD), and trouble with comprehension at school.
Fortunately, there are many professionals who have dedicated their careers to specializing in diagnosing and treating patients with sleep disorders. If you feel as though you or someone you know may be experiencing these symptoms, it would be wise to alert your PCP or dentist, and they can help guide you to these professionals. A sleep study at an accredited sleep center is the single best way to make a proper diagnosis, after which treatment can be prescribed based on the findings. The single most effective therapy is a CPAP machine, but for those for whom that is not the answer, both dentists and orthodontists are making oral appliances to help these patients.
I can honestly say this symposium is probably the most informative and educational meeting I have ever attended. While I am by no means a sleep disorder expert now, I do have a more thorough understanding of the signs and symptoms. I will also begin to incorporate this into my clinical examinations and practice, now knowing when to make appropriate referrals to sleep disorder professionals for proper diagnosis and treatment.
If you would like to schedule an initial consultation with Dr. Beyer or have another question, contact us today.
By Dr. Jeff Beyer
Braces are timeless. Not only do they continue to make up about 85% of all the patients that we treat, but — believe it or not — they have found evidence of braces all the way back to Egyptian mummies! Braces became a part of mainstream teenage life in the ‘70s, and the truth is, they were very uncomfortable, and not very pretty :). Large metal bands surrounded every tooth in the mouth, and most everyone had to wear a headgear (even to school!).
Significant advances with braces have been made in a relatively short period of time. Braces are now smaller, smoother, and most importantly, can be bonded directly to the tooth surface with the same material dentists use to place white fillings. In other words, no more bands around the teeth, which means no more spacers between the teeth, either. In addition, new wire types make moving teeth much less painful, and patients can often go 8-10 weeks before needing to return to the orthodontist for adjustments or wire changes.
We sometimes get requests for “inside” or lingual braces, and to be quite honest, they are just not that popular. The trade-off for not being able to see them — they’re attached behind the teeth — is usually much more discomfort having all of the braces on the tongue side, so it is rare that we ever use them anymore.
Improvements continue to be made with the “look” of braces as well. We now have gold braces, clear braces, and even braces with different shapes. The most popular is still the silver (stainless steel) type, where people can choose an almost unlimited number of colors and change them each time they come in to update their look. For those patients who do not want colored braces, there is a type called “self-ligating,” which do not require any kind of color to be placed around the brace to hold the wire in.
Braces work by applying a specific force to a tooth, and in turn that force causes the tooth to move in the desired direction. Fully trained orthodontists spend the first part of their residency training programs undergoing intense training in physics and biomechanics. Once the tooth is moving, a lot of physiologic and biochemical reactions are taking place around the bones and gums to allow for the tooth to move and the body to adapt to it.
There is no denying that orthodontics (and dentistry in general) is moving toward a digital world. The invention of digital scanning, and 3-D printing have allowed for clear aligner systems (Invisalign) to become a part of how we deliver orthodontic care. But traditional braces are not going away anytime soon. Both systems have their pros and cons, and having both clear aligners and fixed braces give patients more choices than ever.
Would you like to schedule a consultation to discuss braces or other orthodontic treatment? Contact us today.
By Dr. Jeff Beyer
It may come as a surprise to you that adults make up close to 35% of my patient pool (that’s one out of every three patients!) so I thought I would devote this month’s blog to adult treatment.“I am too old for orthodontic treatment” is a statement I hear at least once a week. Truth is, your body and teeth are going to react to tooth movement in the same way whether you are 20 or 80. There are certainly some additional challenges when treating adults due to the fact they may have more dental restorations, missing teeth, or periodontal issues, but with the advancement in technology with both fixed and removable braces, treating adults has become MUCH easier (and less invasive) than it ever used to be.
Since 2010, the number of adults seeking orthodontic care has been on the rise each year. This can be attributed to increased awareness of direct marketing campaigns including Invisalign or Smile Direct Club, and increased awareness on the part of the dentist and hygienist of the importance of straight teeth and a proper bite. In addition, having a nice smile is something that can build self-esteem and research has been shown that a person’s smile is one of the first things we notice when we first look at them.
About half of my adult patients seeking treatment come because they are looking for an improvement in their smile/appearance. We have seen the most dramatic increase in new patient visits from 45-70-year-olds. These are folks who have noticed that their probing depths (the “two, three, two, four,” etc. numbers you hear the hygienist call out at your visits when they are measuring the pocket depth in between the teeth and gums) are increasing due to the beginning bone loss around teeth that are crowded. Typically, this is seen most in the lower front teeth, and having treatment can be very beneficial for providing ease of cleaning, centering the teeth properly in the bone, reducing the risk of further bone loss/periodontal issues, and helping to promote the longevity of those teeth.
In our practice, adult treatments range from simple single tooth alignments, to complex full orthodontic treatments where we take a multi-disciplinary approach with your dentist and other dental specialists. Simple cases are most effectively treated with removable appliances such Invisalign, and more complex cases are usually treated with conventional braces. The good news is conventional braces are not what they used to be. We no longer use spacers, bands that go around each tooth, headgears, etc., and we even have ceramic (invisible) braces. We also now use Invisalign retainers that are just worn at night when treatment is complete. We even have some adults who wear silver braces and get colors to be just like the kids!
If you have ever considered orthodontic treatment as an adult, there has never been a better time to have an evaluation and see what options are possible. Some insurance companies are even offering benefits for adult treatment. Also keep in mind that you can use Health Savings Accounts and/or Medical Savings accounts through your employer (pre-tax dollars) to pay for your treatment.
Unlike most medical procedures, you do NOT need a referral from your dentist to have an orthodontic screening/evaluation, and at Commonwealth Orthodontics all of our initial consultations are complimentary, so there is no cost to you or your insurance.
If you would like to meet one on one with Dr. Beyer to talk about options for adult orthodontic treatment, simply give us a call and we will be happy to schedule a consultation for you.
By Dr. Jeff Beyer
This is a question I get asked almost daily in my practice, and quite honestly, it is a perfectly valid question to ask from a generation of parents who were never told to see the orthodontist (when they were kids) until middle school or even high school.
A little history here… during the ‘70s, ‘80s and early ‘90s, both pediatric and general dentists recognized orthodontic problems in their younger patients (age 6-10), but there was nothing they could do about it. So in the ‘90s, the orthodontic community decided it would be good to evaluate these young folks and offer them some options. Hence, the era of early, interceptive Phase I (there are more labels than I can write here) treatment was born.
As you can imagine, this created some confusion on the part of the parents who did not understand why they were taking their child in to see the orthodontist before they had all of their permanent teeth. Quite frankly, we as orthodontists did a very poor job of explaining this, and some parents saw this as nothing more than a ploy to fund the orthodontist’s 401K account by charging parents “twice” for braces.
The reality is that there are some children who can benefit greatly from having early treatment. The truth is, however, that there is no UNIVERSALLY accepted standard for who should get treatment and who should not. A more aggressive orthodontist may treat 80-90% of patients with Phase I, while a more conservative orthodontist may only treat 20-30%.
Over my 20 years of practice, I have settled in on three major reasons for recommending Phase I treatment. It’s when I observe at least one of the following…
The bottom line is this: If your orthodontist proposes Phase I treatment for your child, be sure to ask why, and what benefits it will have on your child’s orthodontic and dental health now. Ask what the potential ramifications are if you do not elect to proceed with treatment, as well as the financial implications (insurances have a lifetime maximum). In other words, be sure are comfortable with the treatment that is presented. If you are not, it is probably best to seek a second opinion. After all, if you proceed with Phase I treatment you are establishing what will become a long-term relationship with that particular orthodontist.
There are two final points I would like to make. First, over 95% of patients who undergo Phase I treatment will need full orthodontic care when they are teenagers. I cannot emphasize this enough. We tell patients’ parents this and have it in or consent forms and literature, but I am still surprised at the number of parents who seem surprised when we tell them their child is ready for full braces 2-4 years after we have completed Phase I.
Finally, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends ALL children have an orthodontic screening at age 7 to 8. We wholeheartedly support and agree with this. Your initial exam is always complimentary at Commonwealth Orthodontics, and you do NOT need a referral from your general or pediatric dentist to schedule with us. Many times your child will not need anything but an annual checkup until they are ready for full treatment as a teenager. However, if your child can benefit from early treatment and avoid potential future orthodontic complications, having the screening and your options presented to you is one of the best things you can do for your children.
By Dr. Jeff Beyer
The initial consultation is a very important part of the overall treatment process. Scheduling this appointment is simple. Either give us a call at either of our locations, send us an email, or fill out the form and one of our staff will contact you during our regular office hours. Many of our patients are referred from their general dentist, but keep in mind that no referral is necessary (even from insurance) in order to have a consultation.
We view the initial consultation as possibly the most important visit of the whole treatment. It is here where we gather the information needed to start the entire patient care process. We allow almost an hour for this visit, and do not charge the patient or insurance. Why? Orthodontic treatment is a significant investment with results that last a lifetime, and we want our prospective patients to have plenty of time to get to know us, express their desires and concerns about treatment, and have plenty of time to have all of their questions answered.
Here is a behind-the-scenes look at a one of our typical initial consultations. Keep in mind that we schedule these appointments during our “off-peak” hours (typically between 9:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.), so that the doctor and staff have ample one-on-one time with the patient and family.
Schedule a new patient consultation today. There is no referral is necessary.
Commonwealth Orthodontics Chesterfield: 1 (804) 739-6600
Commonwealth Orthodontics Colonial Heights: 1 (804) 520-7292
If it’s after normal business hours, or you simply prefer to reach out via email, please send us a note at: firstname.lastname@example.org
By Dr. Jeff Beyer
As much as I’ve worked hard to innovate my orthodontic practice to maximize patients’ health and comfort, there is one area that’s always been a somewhat unpleasant experience for patients — and that’s making impressions of the teeth and bite. You know this as the “goop”, that icky substance we place in your mouth to create impressions of your teeth that act as the mold for braces, retainers, Invisalign and mouth guards. Even though we have more than 10 flavors available, it can still test your gag reflex and research has shown it’s one of the top reasons folks dread going to the orthodontist.
New innovations in software technology and 3D printing are rapidly being integrated into all aspects of dentistry, and I am proud to say that we have taken a huge step in eliminating the “goop” here at Commonwealth Orthodontics.We now an iTero Intraoral 3D Scanner in our offices. This is the third generation of this model and it incorporates the latest and greatest technology that is available today.
Here is how it works: Patients sit comfortably in a chair while one of my technicians or I simply wave a wand over and around their teeth and gums, capturing images at 6,000 frames per second. On the adjacent screen, detailed 3D renderings of your mouth are displayed, giving me everything I need to to perfectly fit orthodontic appliances to your unique bite.
This third generation iTero Scanner isn’t just more cutting edge and comfortable – it’s much faster, too. We are able to do a complete scan in less than seven minutes. Plus, we have a digital image that is stored forever (no more plaster!!), so we can send that to any orthodontic or dental lab in the world in a matter of seconds, and have appliances made with much shorter turnaround times. And here is one more REALLY cool benefit: the scanner looks into the future, with the ability to virtually “show” the proposed treatment outcome!
Needless to say, we are beyond excited to have this technology in our office and available to our patients. If you have been considering having treatment and been putting it off, ask to see the iTero Scanner during your next appointment, or set up an appointment to be scanned to see how your smile can be improved. The next generation of orthodontics is upon us, and we are proud to be one of the first practices in the area that is going “GOOP-FREE”!!!
By Dr. Jeff Beyer
Shouldn’t the perfect wedding day come with the perfect smile? It’s a question that a number of brides fret over: “Should I get braces before or after my wedding? And then what if I have to wear braces for my wedding…?!”
While a wedding day doesn’t last forever, the pictures do. And with the great lengths that brides and grooms take to be at their best for their big day, it makes sense that correcting tooth alignment and bite problems with an orthodontist could come up sometime after “I will” but before “I do.” It’s a topic I speak about with a number of patients, and I thought I’d share three things to consider to help you make your decision easier.
1. If possible, consider Invisalign: Invisalign has become increasingly popular with brides because of their nearly invisible design, ability to be removed at any time, and also because these appliances improve a patient’s smile in a relatively short period of time. As an Invisalign Preferred Provider for more than 15 years, I’ve found this to be a great solution for a number of patients who are planning their weddings. Best of all, the average treatment time with Invisalign is 9-12 months in our office, which is actually less than the average engagement time!
2. Can I remove my braces for my big day? I get this question a lot from patients who are anticipating their upcoming nuptials, but aren’t due to have their braces removed until well after the ceremony: “Can you take my braces off?” There are a number of individual factors to talk through before reaching a decision. Whether a patient requests to have all of her brackets removed or just those in front, we need to carefully assess the risk. Removing braces for an extended period (3 weeks or more) can cause some of the progress that has been accomplished to relapse. However, removing some or all of the braces can be done for short periods of time. In cases where this is manageable, patients should wear a retainer whenever possible during this short window of time. Keep in mind that removing some or all of the braces and then having to reapply new ones will incur additional costs. Many times with patients who are wearing clear braces, simply removing the wire is sufficient as the high quality ceramic braces we use are practically invisible anyway. There are also many brides who are just fine smiling with their braces on during wedding photography, knowing they will have that perfect smile to look forward to.
3. Have the photographer remove the braces: A photographer’s willingness and ability to effectively remove braces from your wedding photography using Photoshop or other editing software can widely range. If this is your plan, ask for work samples and references that clearly demonstrate the photographer’s ability to make this happen to your liking.
The issue of brides and braces comes up a lot more than you might imagine. It’s a great privilege to make a couple’s special day even brighter by helping patients achieve the perfect smile. Be sure to ask as soon as you get the ring — or even sooner — to make sure you are aware of all of your options.