Orthodontic Recommendations during the COVID-19 State of Emergency Closure

Given the outbreak of COVID-19, we have made the difficult, but important, decision to cancel all appointments as per Governor Whitmer’s State of Emergency Order to close. You can be assured that this decision was not made lightly but was made to protect patients, staff and families.

Given the closure, you may have a few questions.  

Will this delay my treatment? 

We know part of successful orthodontic treatment is showing up for your appointments. That’s not an option under these unusual circumstances, it’s okay. Don’t panic. Though your appointments are scheduled out to achieve maximum success, this hiccup shouldn’t have much of an impact on your overall treatment plan. Given the situation, we will work hard to get your treatment plan back on track when we reopen.  

You can help keep treatment on track by following our directions, avoiding hard and sticky foods and keeping your teeth clean.  With only limited emergency appointments available, now is not the time to be breaking brackets, and keeping your teeth clean will ensure the best possible result.

What now?  

Make sure to stay in contact with us about when we plan to reopen and get any appointments you have missed rescheduled. This information is available on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Travis-Q-Harshman-DDS-PC-364840646899482/ and/or website http://www.harshmansmiles.com/ .  We will also email or text information as it becomes available.

A timeline as to when we will reopen remains up-in-the-air, but you can rest assure we are making decisions with your best interest in mind as well as following State of Michigan mandated regulations.  

If you have any non-emergency general questions about treatment or payments, the best way would be to reach us via email at [email protected] which will be checked periodically.

 

We will continue “essential dental care.” What does that mean?  

If you have an urgent need during this time, such as pain or injury, we will be available for emergency appointments. For emergencies, please contact Dr. Harshman with a text to (616) 915-5507 containing the patient and parent name, phone number and a brief description of the emergency.  Photos can be helpful as well if possible.

There’s a lot of uncertainty right now, but what’s one thing we know for sure?  

We look forward to seeing you back in our office soon!  On a personal note, this really concerns me and the team knowing that we currently cannot provide the care that you deserve.  Once we get the approval to see patients again, we will work as quickly and safely as possible to ensure you get the appropriate care.  At this time, we do not know what rescheduling will look like as it will depend on the length of the closure, but I know the team and I will be working extra hours and days to meet your orthodontic needs.

Whether it is mandated, or you’ve placed your family under self-quarantine, you may be unsure of when you’ll be back in our office for treatment. Remember, you are also a partner in the process and your oral health care doesn’t end between visits.

Here are a few GENERAL tips for caring for your teeth

1. Clean your teeth multiple times a day. 

If you’re sporting an orthodontic appliance, either braces or aligners, keeping your teeth clean is important no matter the situation. Follow the guidelines noted in step two below to ensure you’re doing the job well.

 

2. Use what you have at home.

You likely have all the supplies you need already. A little water, your toothbrush, some floss and toothpaste go a long way. 

Rinse your mouth with water after drinking a sugary or acidic beverage. Brush your teeth and gums after every meal or snack. Floss once a day. And don’t forget to look in the mirror to make sure you’ve cleaned thoroughly each time. Make sure all areas are clean, especially around the braces and gumline.

3. Avoid problematic foods and drinks.

Due to the potential uncertainty of when you will be able to visit your orthodontist, it is especially important to handle your appliances with care. Avoid hard, sticky foods that could potentially break brackets. Skip or limit sugary beverages like sports drinks and soda. Water is best!

4. Wear your elastics or retainers as prescribed.

Keep your orthodontic treatment on track by following our recommendations (see below in specific tips).  Running low on rubber bands? Don’t worry. Email us to come up with a plan to get you some more.

5. Call us if you have any questions.

We are still here for you, even if we aren’t in the office. Contact us if you have any concerns during this time. 

Non-emergency concerns: Email us: [email protected]

Emergency: Text: Dr. Harshman with a text to (616) 915-5507 containing the patient and parent name, phone number and a brief description of the emergency.  Photos can be helpful as well if possible.

These are just a few steps you can take to help keep things on track with your orthodontic treatment. A little extra effort on your end now will pay off big time when you get back into your orthodontic routine. 

Here are a few SPECIFIC tips for caring for your teeth and dealing with PROBLEMS

General:

  • Make sure to brush 3 times a day and floss once a day.
  • Make sure all areas are clean, especially around the braces and gumline. 
  • Be careful not to break appliances – avoid hard and sticky foods. 
  • Cut back on sugary foods and drinks.

 

Pokey/Popped out wire;

  • If the wire has popped out, you can use your finger or a Q-tip to slowly push the wire up/down towards the tube the wire came out of until it bends and pops back into the tube.  This may not be possible in which the wire can be laid over or under the tube to keep it out of the cheek or gums or wax can be placed over the wire and bracket.
  • Pokey wires can be trimmed if possible, using small scissors, clippers, or fingernail clippers.  Be sure to place a small amount of cotton on the pokey end of the wire to catch the cut piece so it can be removed. 
  • Wax and or cotton balls can be used to cover pokey wires and are available at any drugstore or Meijer/Walmart.

 

Expander Patients:

  • Continue to do your turns as prescribed.
  • Once you are done with those turns, STOP turns until your next appointment
  • Irritation and swelling/redness are usually from food being stuck – brush extremely well and use warm salt water rinses.  Waterpiks are great.
  • If the expander is loose or moves, please contact Dr. Harshman.

 

Clear Aligner Patients:

  • Continue to wear and change your aligners as prescribed.
  • If you get through all your aligners before you see us again, simply wear that last set of trays at night only until you are back in the office.
     

Loose Bracket/Band;

  • If you have a bracket come off, it is okay! As long as you are not experiencing discomfort, we will get it back on at your next appointment.
  • If you have a loose band, it is okay!  If possible, push the band back onto the tooth into position.  As long as you are not experiencing discomfort, we will get it back on at your next appointment.

 

O-tie off/ Broken Power chain (Elastic tie on bracket);

  • If it is partially off, you can try to use a toothpick or clean tweezers to slide the tie back onto the bracket.
  • If it is completely off, it is okay for now, as it will be replaced at your next visit.
  • If your power chain is broken, no need to worry, you can leave it as is for now. 
  • If it is dangling and bothering you, you can clip the excess piece off with small scissors or clippers.

Rubber Bands (Elastics);

  • I am recommending only 12-hour wear for all elastic wear unless you were instructed to wear less than 12 hours.
  • If you run out or are close to running out of elastics, please email us so that we can arrange a method for you to receive more elastics.
  • Stop elastic wear if you have pain or discomfort or you have unusual tooth movement that affects your bite or looks unusual.

 

Forsus Springs (metal rods);

  • If they break or come out of the mouth, save the parts and bring them to your next appointment.
  • If these come apart in the middle and there is a piece on the top and on the bottom, open wide and try to slip the two ends back together so the fit normally.
  • If they cannot be placed together, you can try to use floss to tie the rod to the brackets/wire, so they do not dangle out of the mouth or get in the way of the bite.  Contact Dr. Harshman.

 

Carriere (metal bar);

  • Wear your retainer and elastics only 12 hours per day.
  • If they break or come out of the mouth, save the parts and bring them to your next appointment.
  • If the back bracket comes loose, stop your elastic and retainer wear completely on both sides.
  • If the front bracket comes loose, you can try to use floss to tie the rod to the teeth, so they do not dangle out of the mouth or get in the way of the bite.  Contact Dr. Harshman.

 

Weird tooth movements;

  • If you notice any teeth moving into an unusual position, please contact Dr. Harshman.

 

Retainer Patients:

  • Keep wearing your retainers as prescribed.
  • If you lose a retainer, you can purchase a boil and bite mouthguard (cheap one) and form it to your teeth.  It may not be perfect, but it can help prevent further movement of the teeth until you can see us. 
  • Please email us to let us know you lost your retainer, so we can put you on the appointment list.

 

We are committed to the health and safety of our patients, their families, and our team! We will continue to keep you updated with any changes and appreciate your cooperation and understanding at this time.  We look forward to seeing you all soon!

Sincerely,

The Harshman Orthodontics Team