Tuscaloosa Orthodontics

October is National Orthodontic Health Month!

October 5th, 2017

What does the month of October mean to you? For people in the south, October is when the weather starts to get a little chilly; heavy jackets might come out of storage and the summer clothing gets packed away. You might start making plans for the upcoming holidays or admire the beautiful, ever-changing autumn scenery. October means something a little different or team, at McKinney Orthodontics because this is National Orthodontic Health Month. During October, orthodontic clinics all over the country work together to promote their services and inform the community about the important work we do.

National Orthodontic Health Month is an awareness campaign created cooperatively by orthodontists and other dental health professionals. During this month, we make a special effort to promote dental health, orthodontic health in particular. This is a great time to get your questions answered by dental professionals in your community and to learn more about exactly what an orthodontist can do for you and your family. If you have never been to an orthodontist before, you might not know what to expect. Meeting one of us in person before your checkup is a great way to find out what kind of person you'll be seeing during your appointment.

Meeting Dr. McKinney in a relaxed "meet and greet" atmosphere can be especially helpful for any young orthodontic patients in your family. Kids of all ages-and their parents!-can feel anxiety about going to the dentist. Getting to know the person you have an appointment with can make the experience a lot less stressful for everyone. We don't want anyone to avoid seeing a dental professional for regular checkups just because they don't know who we are. Just meeting and talking with the orthodontist you'll be seeing may be enough to make you feel more comfortable about your upcoming appointment.

Dental health is something that affects everyone; healthy teeth and gums contribute to a healthy smile and lifetime of comfort and well-being. Orthodontists are just one of the various dental practitioners you could visit at some point in your life, so taking a little time to learn who we are and what we do is certain to be a helpful experience. We look forward to seeing you and your family this October at our Tuscaloosa, Hampton Cover, Fayette, or Winfield locations.

5 Reasons You Should Smile More

September 6th, 2017

Great power lies within our smile. Smiling has surprising effects on our mood, success and overall health. At McKinney Orthodontics we believe everyone deserves to feel confident about their smile. That is why we offer a complimentary consultation and low monthly payments in order to get you there! Here are 5 reasons why you should smile more today!

1. Smiling Reduces Stress

A study published by the journal of Psychological Science found that those who smile the biggest had a substantial reduction in heart rate and quicker stress recovery when performing a stressful task. This means the next time you find yourself in a stressful situation, try smiling! It may allow you to perform the task better and with less stress.

2. Smiling Makes You More Approachable

A Penn State University study found that waiters and waitresses who smiled more were found to be more likable and friendly to their customers. In fact, the customers felt more satisfied with their overall experience just from having been smiled at. Want to make people around you happy? Try smiling more!

3. Smiles are Contagious

Have you ever noticed how someone you're with will reciprocate a smile after you smile? There's a scientific explanation. Humans posses something called mirror neurons that are activated when  we perform certain actions and see others performing those same actions. If you want to make others around you smile, it can be as simple as smiling at them!

4. Smiles Make You Appear More Trustworthy

In a study done by the University of Pittsburgh, researchers found that the more models smiled, the more trustworthy they ranked. Psychology shows that a person who smiles appears more trustworthy than a person with a neutral expression. In fact, even the intensity of the smile affects the level of perceived trustworthiness.

5. Smiling Make You More Productive

Smiling doesn't only improve your mood, it can actually make you more productive! Studies have found that happiness has a significant effect on productivity at the workplace. The opposite is true as well! Negative emotions can have the opposite effect as happiness and even drain your productivity. Put on a smile at work and get more accomplished!

With all the benefits of smiling what is more important than having a smile you can feel confident about? At McKinney Orthodontics, we make getting a confident smile easy by offering Braces & Invisalign at an affordable price. First appointments are complimentary and we have locations in Tuscaloosa, Huntsville, Fayette, and Winfield. We look forward to meeting you. SMILE MORE!

If you are interested in taking the first step to having a more confident smile, click here to set up a FREE consultation.

It's All About Balance

August 30th, 2017

"It's All About Balance," that was the topic of conversation last night at our Continuing Education class.

Michelle Wright, with Benco Dental/GC America, came to Tuscaloosa to school local hygienists and dentist on the importance of managing high risk caries patients. Michelle was an amazing speaker, and went over tons of great tips on how to treat high risk caries patients, and the differences between low, medium, and high risk.

Each hygienist/dentist that was in attendance received 2 CE credits, and a delicious meal provided by Taco Mama. Thanks again to everyone who helped make this class possible, and to all the attendees!

How to Get Your Kids Ready for Braces

August 23rd, 2017

Kids - and adults for that matter - can be frightened about the unknown and getting braces can definitely fall into this category. While we go to great lengths at our office to put our patients at ease, there are a few things that you, as a parent, can do to prepare your child for braces or Invisalign. A little planning and positive reinforcement can make the experience stress-free and ensure treatment is successful.

Start 'Em Young

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends children first see an orthodontist for screening no later than seven-years-old. While this is really effective for catching growth and development issues early, the additional benefit is they'll get to know Dr. McKinney before they start treatment. Once they're comfortable with his sparkling personality and the sights and sounds of the office, getting braces or Invisalign won't seem like a huge deal.

Give Them a Play-by-Play of the Braces  Procedure

Patients frequently enter our office and leave an hour later with a mouth full of brackets and wires. That whole idea is pretty intimidating, especially to younger kids. Explain to your children exactly what they can expect from the braces or Invisalign procedure and answer their questions as best as you can. We're here to guide the process every step of the way with you, as well. Pointing out that getting braces put on is painless and will not involve injections of any kind will ease some of their fears. Make a list of any lingering questions and bring them to your consultation with Dr. McKinney. He'll be more than happy to educate you and your child on the ins and outs of braces and Invisalign.

Be Realistic About the Options

It can be tempting to want to slap on some metal braces and be done with it but no one knows your kid better than you. Familiarize yourself with all of the treatment options and go with what you think will truly work best for their lifestyle and needs. For example, if you know your teenager is horrible at keeping up with oral hygiene, well ceramic braces probably aren't going to be your friend and Invisalign Teen might be a better option. Set yourself, and your child, up for success.

Does your child need braces? Book a FREE consultation.

Outline Your Expectations

Okay, so this isn't the fun part but it is really, really important. Orthodontic treatment requires a commitment. Before starting treatment let your child know what you expect and how they'll need to contribute, such as regularly brushing and flossing, attending appointments, avoiding certain foods or wearing their Invisalign aligners for 22 hours per day and not losing them. Be frank about the financial investment you're making and any consequences for not keeping up their end of the bargain.

Keep Their Eye on the Prize

To boost their motivation, encourage their long-term thinking and remind them of the end result, which is obviously a gorgeous, healthy smile and improved self-confidence. Talk about your own experience with orthodontic treatment, if you now sport a beautiful smile thanks to braces. Let them look at before and after pictures of other patients or even celebrities.

Stock Up on Supplies

If your child will be getting traditional braces, you'll want to have a supply of floss threaders and dental wax ready to go. Fill the fridge with braces-friendly treats because we all know a milkshake waiting on the horizon  can go a long way. While your child won't need to alter their eating habits or gather supplies if they'll be wearing Invisalign, their teeth may be sensitive for a few days regardless of the treatment they choose, so be sure to have some soft foods and cold drinks on hand.

Be There for Them

Cheer them on and be there to listen and encourage them if they're feeling anxious or need a helping hand during their treatment. Adopting a few of these tips and being prepared in advance for your child's braces or Invisalign treatment can make things run more smoothly. Yet, remember, this is a team effort and McKinney Orthodontics is always available to address any concerns. We educate our orthodontic patients and their parents about what to expect. We'll keep you informed and make sure you're prepared and confident in your child's treatment choices. Contact us today for a free consultation.

5 Things to Know About Retainers

August 16th, 2017

After you're finished with your braces or Invisalign your smile will look great! One of the most important parts in orthodontics is called the retention phase. This is where the patient gets their custom fit retainer, to make sure their teeth remain aligned after the braces or Invisalign are completed. Here are 5 important things to know about retainers.

1. There are different types of Retainers

All smiles are different, and some retainers are better suited for certain teeth. There are three main kinds of retainers.

Clear Retainers: These retainers are a clear plastic that fit over your teeth. They are sometimes referred to as "Invisalign" style retainers as they look similar to Invisalign trays. These retainers also help grinding or clenching while you sleep, and may be used as a night guard.

Hawley Retainers: These retainers are made up of acrylic that fits over your palate, and wire that fit over your teeth. These retainers are best at allowing your teeth to fit together naturally. They are sometimes referred to as "traditional" style retainers as they were very popular before Clear Retainers.

Bonded "Fixed" Retainers: These retainers will be glued to the back of your anterior teeth. These retainers stay in your mouth, so you do not have to worry about taking them in and out. They are sometimes referred to as "permanent" retainers as they stay on the back of your teeth and are not removable.

2. Patients need to wear their retainers for different lengths of time

Everyone's teeth move differently, so some patients will need to wear their retainer longer or more often than others. Dr. McKinney will make recommendations based on the movement of your teeth for how long and how often you will need to wear your retainer. Typically, retainers are worn only at night to sleep in.

3. Cleaning your retainer is important!

If retainers are not cleaned correctly, they become vulnerable to bacteria and germs. We recommend brushing your retainer with your toothbrush, as well as using denture cleaner to clean your retainers. It is important that you don't put your retainer in the dishwasher, as this can sometimes change the shape of the retainer.

4. Retainers may need to be adjusted

As patients grow and teeth move slightly sometimes retainers need to be adjusted. That is why at McKinney Orthodontics, we follow your case for one year minimum after the braces or Invisalign are removed. We also welcome back previous or new patients for retainer check and retainer adjustments.

5. Lost, misplaced, or not fitting? Let us know ASAP!

If your retainer is lost, misplaced, or not fitting correctly, let us know as soon as possible! The sooner we can make you a new retainer or repair your retainer, the less likely your teeth are to move. Losing a retainer is time sensitive, and teeth will want to move back to their original position. At McKinney Orthodontics, we offer a free first time consultation, even for something as simple as a lost or non fitting retainer.

Want Dr. McKinney to take a look at your retainer? Contact our office for a complimentary consulation and we will be happy to evaluate you for your retention needs. Retainers are an important part of the orthodontic process, and should be monitored by an orthodontist. Do you have other questions about retainer? Check out our full list of FAQ here.

Which Type of Treatment is Best for Me?!

July 19th, 2017

Braces Technology - A Comprehensive Chart

If you're seeking straight teeth, McKinney Orthodontics has options and LOTS of them! Dr. McKinney didn't go through all of that schooling for nothing! He has training and expertise in a wide range of orthodontic treatments. Whether you're 14 years old or 75, have a crossbite or an underbite, want an inconspicuous treatment or would love to rock neon rubber bands, we've got you covered. While you may not be a candidate for every treatment, and you'll likely have a few choices. We thought we'd make it easy with our orthodontic technology comparison chart to highlight the pros and cons of the different types of orthodontic treatment.

Traditional Metal Braces

Best For: Kids, teens and adults

Straightens: Crowding, spacing, overjet, crossbite and underbite

Pros:

  • Most cost effective
  • Treats the widest variety of cases including those that are complex
  • Can be customized with colored elastics

Cons:

  • Most visible and noticeable form of braces
  • Involves food restrictions

Ceramic Braces

Best For: Teens and Adults

Straightens: Crowding, spacing, overjet, crossbite and underbite

Pros:

  • Less noticeable than traditional metal braces
  • Treats a wide variety of cases

Cons:

  • Requires diligent oral hygiene since elastic ties on braces can stain easily
  • Involves food restrictions

Invisalign & Invisalign Teen

Best For: Teens and Adults

Straightens: Crowding, spacing, overjet, crossbite, openbite, and underbite

Pros:

  • Virtually invisible
  • Aligners are comfortable and smooth
  • Removable for your convenience
  • No food restrictions
  • Easier to maintain oral hygiene

Cons:

  • Might not work for all severe cases
  • Treatment may take longer

Intrigued by any of these options? Book your free consultation at McKinney Orthodontics and we'll help you choose the treatment that works best for your smile and lifestyle.

Protect Those Pearly Whites

July 12th, 2017

The Importance of Mouthguards:

We make sure kids and teens pile on the shin guards, pads and helmets when they play sports, but what about protecting their teeth and jaws? A mouthguard is an important piece of safety equipment, and it can go a long way in preventing dental injuries. While mouthguard use is on the rise, it's overlooked in some sports. As a Tuscaloosa Orthodontist, we see more dental trauma from baseball, basketball and soccer, none of which typically require mouthguards. In cases where it is not mandatory, McKinney Orthodontics recommends parents take it upon themselves to make sure their child or teen wears one. We know they look a little awkward, but do you know what looks more awkward? Missing teeth! According to the American Dental Association, studies show athletes are 60 times more likely to experience harm to their teeth if they forgot a mouthguard. Preserve your child's smile (and your own if you're playing sports) and get on the mouthguard bus!

What Type of Young Athletes Should Wear a Mouthguard?

If your kid is involved in contact sports, like boxing, football, ice hockey, lacrosse, or field hockey, mouthguard use is probably established. However, injuries occur in a wide range of athletic endeavors (we're looking at you basketball!) and even non-contact activities likes skateboarding. The American Dental Association recommends using a mouthguard for the following sports:

If your child or teen has braces or another fixed orthodontic appliance, a mouthguard is even more of a must. Getting hit in the mouth while wearing braces is no fun, and you also have to contend with the risk of broken brackets. However, if you're participating in any activity that could result in trauma to the mouth, braces or no braces, adult or child, using a mouthguard is a solid decision.

Why Are Mouthguards Important?!

Mouthguards protect you from traumatic jaw and dental injuries. A mouthguard shields against chipped, broken and missing teeth, root fractures and luxation (when the tooth is still in the socket but in the wrong position). In addition, it acts as a cushion between the teeth and/or braces and soft tissue in your mouth, like your tongue, lips and cheeks, to ward off cuts and bruises that can come from contact. It also helps to dissipate the force from blows that can lead to jaw fractures and other injuries. PLUS, it keeps those orthodontic appliances safe!

Need advice about mouthguards? Book a FREE consultation!

What is expected of me during orthodontic treatment??

June 14th, 2017

We hear this question a lot at McKinney Orthodontics, and we don't mind when patients who are eager to complete their orthodontic treatment ask us. After all, we know there is no better feeling than getting your braces off!!

During your initial consultation with Dr. McKinney we will map out a specific treatment for you and will try our hardest to give you a timeline of when we expect you to wrap up treatment.

Having said that, we know every patient is different. People have different biological responses to orthodontic treatment and some people's teeth may move faster than others.

Luckily, there are things you can do to ensure your treatment wraps up in a timely manner. By following these suggestions, you can avoid any setbacks during your treatment.

  • Make sure to keep your adjustment appointments. Postponing or cancelling will delay treatment!
  • Be sure to show up on time to your appointments. This will give Dr. McKinney and our team time to do everything we planned during your adjustment visit.
  • When prescribed, make sure you are diligent about wearing rubber bands or other appliances.
  • Avoid damage to your braces and teeth by wearing a mouth guard during sports activities and choosing brace friendly foods.
  • Make sure to brush and floss regularly! Gum disease or other dental work can delay orthodontic treatment.

If you remember to follow these guidelines, you'll be on your way to having the dazzling, healthy smile you've always wanted. As for us, our team at McKinney Orthodontics will do our part to move your orthodontic treatment along efficiently. If you have any questions about your treatment time, please give us a call at 205-345-5524 or ask us during your next visit!

Why do I have to floss?!

June 7th, 2017

Brushing your teeth regularly is one of the most crucial parts of maintaining good oral health, and perhaps the most fundamental, however, there are also other elements involved. FLOSSING, for instance is also vital; some experts would say, and Dr. McKinney and our team would agree, that it holds just as much importance as brushing your teeth. To give you a better idea of why, here are some reasons that flossing is so vital to your oral health.

Getting in-between the Teeth

While brushing your teeth effectively cleans all of the areas of your teeth that are visible, or otherwise not touching, flossing is vital because it reaches all of the areas between your teeth that you cannot see, and subsequently cannot clean using a toothbrush. These areas are among the most sensitive and vulnerable parts of your mouth because they are most susceptible to plaque and tarter buildup

Reducing Bad Breath

It is not uncommon for someone who brushes their teeth once or twice a day to still have bad breath. The reason being is that bad breath is often created by smelly bacteria that lives in between your teeth, as well as other areas of your mouth that are not accessible using a toothbrush. And that is why flossing is one of the best ways to reduce or eliminate bad breath. Still skeptical? Try flossing your teeth with unscented floss, then smell it after, that awful scent is the source of your bad breath. Coupled with frequent brushing of your teeth, you will find that flossing can really help that stinky breath.

Brushing your teeth twice a day is hard enough, add flossing on top and it can be difficult to establish a regular habit. However, doing so is totally worth it. Use the above reasons for motivation the next time you don't feel like flossing, and let us know if it worked at your next visit!

Remembrance on Memorial Day

May 28th, 2017

Memorial Day is not only a federal holiday in the United States, but it is a day of observance and remembrance of those who died in service. Originally known as Decoration Day, this solemn day has been marked on calendars since the end of the American Civil War as a day to commemorate both the Confederate and Union soldiers who fought and died in the war.

Marking the graves of fallen soldiers with flowers, wreaths, or other tokens has been practiced throughout history, but it wasn't until the mark of the end of the Civil War that a special day was decided upon as the one to spend in remembrance. By 1890, every state in the country was observing Decoration Day. It wasn't until 1967 when the name formally changed from Decoration Day to Memorial Day, in order to encompass all fallen American soldiers in all wars and conflicts. In June of 1968, Congress moved the official date of Memorial Day to the last Monday in May in order to create a three day weekend.

Today, while there is certainly an air of remembrance on Memorial Day, it has become more a day of spending time with family, friends, and their loved ones. This day is also heralded as the start of summer, with many schools finishing for the year around this time. Our team at McKinney Orthodontics remembers it as a day to take solace and remembered those lost.

Traditional observances of Memorial Day are still held, and they often involve raising the American Flag the lowering it to a half-staff position until noon, and the raising it once again to its full height afterwards. the flag is lowered to remember those who've lost their lives while in service to their country, and then it is raised to signify our willingness to not let their sacrifice be in vain.

From Community parades, backyard cook-outs, and fireworks to formal ceremonies, memorial Day is commemorated in many different ways. No matter how you choose to spend this day, take a moment to remember those who've lost their lives in an effort to preserve our freedom.

Summer Fun!

May 17th, 2017


Don't let braces slow down your summer fun!

If you are wearing braces and are planning a vacation, our team at McKinney Orthodontics would suggest that you be prepared. We put together a list of items that will be handy to have with you at all times while you are out of town.

Braces/Oral Hygiene Kit includes:

  • Toothpick, flosspick, or interdental cleaners
  • Travel toothbrush
  • A water bottle or a mini bottle of mouth rinse
  • Orthodontic wax to help with discomfort from protruding wires
  • A small mirror for examining any possible issues in your mouth

Putting these items together in a "braces/oral hygiene kit" may be wise. You can even call us and we can get you one! Please ask us for more information.

We suggest avoiding the following foods to prevent broken brackets and/or wire distortion while you are on vacation.

  • Chewy, sticky, or gummy food
  • Apples, pears, or other whole fruits (cut fruit into wedges before consuming)
  • Bagels and hard rolls
  • Corn on the cob
  • Hard candies
  • Hard cookies or pretzels
  • All varieties of nuts, including peanuts, almonds, and cashews

Finally, if you are wearing Invisalign and happen to lose your tray, don't worry! Simply put in your next tray and contact us as soon as you get home!

Follow these tips and you can have a worry-free vacation! Please give us a call if you have any questions, and enjoy that summer sun!!

Easter Candy & Braces

April 13th, 2017

With Easter coming up, you, your child, or teen might be daydreaming about all those delicious treats hidden in colorful eggs. If you have braces, you might want to think twice before you sink your teeth into something sweet.

Since braces are attached to teeth with cement, it's very easy to break, bend or loosen them. Hard, sweet and sticky foods are the worst when it comes to damaging braces, so some candy should obviously be avoided. But if you know what you can eat and what you should avoid, it will go a long way toward protecting your teeth and braces.

Of course, you could always opt for invisalign for yourself or your teen.

What You Can Eat

When it comes to foods you can eat with braces, focus on two words: soft and healthy. With a little creativity, you can still splurge during Easter without eating anything that's hard or sticky. Here are a few examples of what you can eat during Easter (or any other time while wearing braces):

  • Marshmallows: Peeps are an Easter classic!
  • Soft chocolate: Just make sure there aren't any nuts or a hard shell (3 Musketeers & Reese’s are good examples).
  • Sugar-Free gum: Safe!
  • Ice cream: Enjoy them in classic Easter colors like pink or blue.
  • Cakes: The perfect canvas for Easter-themed indulgence.
  • Eggs: Decorate the outside, then enjoy the soft center!

Coming up with ideas for candy with braces can be half the fun, so use your imagination and indulge.

What You Should Avoid

As mentioned before, braces and candy are a bad mix. Obviously, avoid hard, sticky candy and focus on items like the ones mentioned above. Here are some specific examples of bad ortho Easter candy:

  • Nuts: PayDay, Snickers, etc.
  • Sticky Caramel: Caramel Apples, Werther's, etc.
  • Hard Candy: Jawbreakers, Spree, Gobstoppers, etc.
  • Sugar Gum: bubblegum, fruit flavored, etc.
  • Sticky Candy: Starbursts, Gummy Bears, etc.

Click here to learn more about living with braces!

If you'd like more information on ortho candy or other ortho topics, schedule a consultation with our orthodontist!

New and Improved!

March 30th, 2017

Thank you for visiting our blog! We are currently working on updating things around here! Please check back soon!