Straight Talk With Dr. Piper
Walker Askins of Germantown had a little apprehension about getting braces. Walker’s a student, an actor, and a model, and he didn’t want to miss any of his rehearsals. Or worse, have spinach stuck in his braces for a big photo shoot.
“Eating was no problem at all,” said his mom, Joanne Rhodes, a professor of physics at the University of Memphis. “For dinner the first night he had a pimiento cheese sandwich and a milkshake. He hasn’t missed a beat.”
Every patient has a different threshold for discomfort, Dr. Piper explained.
“I can’t predict who will have pain and who won’t, but mild anti-inflammatories usually provide enough relief. In adults, the sensation of moving teeth may be more bothersome because they’ve never experienced that before. I spend more time talking adults off the ledge than the kids. Adults are much bigger babies!”
To ease patients back into the routine of eating, our team of assistants developed a “three-day orthodontic diet” for the first 72 hours. As of this month, each new patient will leave the banding appointment (when the braces are applied) with a grocery tote and an orthodontic shopping list. Highlights include smoothies, soups and our favorite tiny pasta, acini de pepe, which feels filling to the tummy but doesn’t have to be chewed.
“We know how busy our families are,” Dr. Piper said. “The three-day list allows you to go straight from our office to the grocery aisle, if you wish, for a seamless transition into life with braces.”
At Piper Orthodontics, we give a lot of thought to the “bite relationship”…but what if you couldn’t afford even one crisp apple to bite into?
Food insecurity affects almost 200,000 people in Shelby County. That’s more than 21 percent of our neighbors who don’t have enough to eat. From now until Dec. 18, we are asking our patients to join our food drive for the Mid-South Food Bank.
For every contribution of non-perishable food, we will give you one of our new grocery totes in our signature color, Granny Smith apple green. There will be an age appropriate prize in it too for your child!
Place your items in the logo tote by the check-in screen. Here are some ideas you may not have thought of:
Think about it. People who rely on the food bank eat a lot of canned food, rice, oatmeal, white bread, etc. Spices are helpful. Seasoned salt, cayenne pepper, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, oregano, basil and so on.
People don’t need it, but think how nice it would be to be given a chocolate bar or brownie mix along with your essentials.
Grocery stores are great about donating surplus or unsold food, but they have no reason to donate toilet paper, tooth paste, soap, deodorant, shampoo, etc. In Tennessee, food stamps cannot be used to purchase soap or toiletries.
4. Canned meats, jerky and peanut butter.
This isn’t true of all food banks, but some struggle to give users enough protein.
5. Crackers and tortillas.
They don’t spoil and everybody likes them.
6. Baby toiletries.
Diapers, baby wipes, baby formula, baby shampoo, baby soap, baby food, bottles, etc.
7. Soup packets.
Sometimes you look at rice, beans, instant potatoes, and cans of vegetable and think, “What do I make with this?” Hearty soup is a complete meal.
The most needed and least donated item to shelters. From a former homeless person: “Socks mean the world to you. They keep you warm, make you feel like you have something new, and just comfort you.”
Let’s fill those bags for the Mid-South Food Bank!
Dr. Fred Piper
By Kenneth Piper, summer intern
One large concern many patients have is “how will my braces make me look?” Aligner and Spring-Retainer services can be alluring with their promise of aesthetic beauty and promise to eliminate labels like “brace-face” or “metal-mouth.” As my summer internship here draws to a close, I asked by dad to expound upon some of the pros and cons of aligners and why he steadfastly regards metal braces as the most effective and efficient method of tooth movement.
First and foremost, braces and aligners differ in their methods of movement. One involves a mold simply pushing and literally “aligning” the teeth and the other a physical attachment to the tooth. The attached braces allow for a significantly more precise method of movement and thus significantly more precise treatment plans and results. In terms of precision, braces clearly outdo aligners (pun intended).
Due to superior precision, costs and treatment time can generally be reduced by around 25% with metal braces. Whereas one case may require two years of metal braces, that same case could take 2.5 or 3 years with an aligner service. Ceramic (tooth colored) brackets are smaller and less noticeable than ever, to the point where they can be unnoticeable from just a few feet away. There are even now ceramic wires to guarantee that braces don’t severely hinder your “look.”
We also offer out-of-house alignment services, where impressions are made in the office and then shipped to the company where they can forecast the way teeth are supposed to move, and create an aligner accordingly. Whereas a Piper aligner can be made quickly, the alternative can be more expensive, more time consuming, and less effective than regular braces treatment.
Thus, Dr. Piper recommends getting real braces 10 times out of 10. Aligners can then be used after treatment for minor tweaks of tooth position or to correct teeth that have shifted slightly out of line. We make “Piper Aligners” in-house, giving Dr. Piper the ability to decide the precise movements he wishes to make in a timely manner and with the expertise of our Lab technician, Jeptha. Although aligners have their benefits and necessary uses, I maintain that braces, ceramic or otherwise, are more efficient in terms of cost, performance, and at this stage, even looks.
Blog by Kenneth Piper
*Photo courtesy of creativecommons.com
Keeping Things Straight
by Kenneth Piper, guest blogger & summer intern
As the son of an orthodontist, I was brought up to keep things tidy and straight. My bedroom was expected to be “presentable,” and if I left another room “out of whack” I was asked to return it to the condition in which I found it. Not only was I expected to keep the house straight, that went for my teeth, too, which my father had so kindly “straightened up” for me.
And as hard as this may be to believe, I actually didn’t want braces when I was first treated at age 9. I was still less excited to do a second phase at age 13! By the end of my second round of braces I had dubbed myself officially “over them.” Much to my chagrin did I learn that the de-band was only the beginning of a new chapter in my orthodontic journey. I had overcome the tribulations of metal bracket and wire, only to be faced with a new, fragile and clear trial: retainers.
Keeping up with retainers requires more thought than actually wearing them. Although I lost hundreds of guitar picks, gym socks and homework assignments in high school, I managed to keep up with one set of retainers. I probably acted like I wasn’t listening, Dad, but I was, every morning: “Keep your retainers in the case. Know where your case is. Never wrap your retainers in your napkin on your lunch tray, or you’ll forget and throw them away with your milk carton.” (Milk carton?!)
Reflecting now at age 20 on my personal efforts to Strive-for-Straight-Teeth, the importance of those dastardly retainers has never been more apparent. I have benefitted not only from the subliminal desire to keep things in order that I seem to have inherited from my father, I have benefitted from over seven years of proud, unabashed, full-on smiling. You did the hard part, Dad. I’ll take it from here.
MAD Magazine built a national brand by featuring a mischievous tween they called Alfred E. Neuman on every cover. His signature look was a pencil-sized gap between his front teeth…
But no one leaves my practice looking like a comic book!
It’s my view as a specialist in orthodontics that teeth function better and look more attractive when they are in contact. Here’s why:
1) Function: without a gap in the front teeth, eating is easier. Food can get stuck in the space (technically known as a diastema) and cause gum problems.
2) Attractiveness: my opinion is that a finished smile contributes to the perception of intelligence, confidence and employability.
People often ask me why I can’t just “squeeze” the front teeth closer together and leave the rest alone. If we were to squeeze two teeth together, then gaps would open up on the other sides. Therefore, to correct spacing, it usually takes braces on most or all the upper teeth for 18 to 24 months.
Adolescence marks an exciting time in your child’s development, and braces may be part of those middle school years. Even though smocked dresses and pre-school pageants are well behind you, it may surprise you that by third or fourth grade, it’s time for your orthodontist to guide your child’s jaw and teeth into their permanent, adult relationship.
At Dr. Piper’s practice, we view orthodontic treatment as a partnership between the doctor, the child and the parents. The Rev. Hester Mathes, Curate at the Church of the Holy Communion, has two children in treatment, Neeley and Zander. “Getting braces is often a significant rite of passage, and picking the right person to shepherd our children through this stage was very important. Our family already knew and loved Dr. Piper from attending Calvary Episcopal Church together, so the decision was easy for us!”
Siblings often share similar growth patterns, Dr. Piper notes, thus Neeley and Zander were candidates for early treatment. “Both are good examples of how using the child’s growth can make a more beautiful result,” he said.
As parents and professionals, Hester and her husband Andy especially value the friendly atmosphere and the ease of getting appointments for both children at the same time at Piper Orthodontics. Neeley and Zander were immediately drawn to the fun “guess the number of items in the jar” game at the front desk, and look forward to guessing it at every visit.
When it’s summer in Memphis, orthodontists have come to expect a few classic “emergencies” with braces. Some situations are easily relieved by Dr. Mom until you can get to the office.
The most common orthodontic emergency in the summer is a wire poking. The discomfort comes from the wire poking the gum tissue around the back band or the cheek. This is usually caused by the wire becoming dislodged from a back band. The culprit is most often food: hard, crunchy or sticky.
Solution: get the end of the wire as dry as possible and place wax over the it until Dr. Piper can fix it. If this does not provide any relief, call the office. We have ordered new
waxes in summer flavors: pineapple, cotton candy and mint. Ask for some next appointment!
The second most common summer emergency is a bracket off, again caused by food or fingers in the mouth. Try to avoid absent-minded fiddling with your braces.
Solution: get the wiggly bracket as dry as possible, cover with wax until Dr. Piper can replace the bracket.
Third most common: loss of retainers. Don’t swim in them; don’t leave them on cafeteria trays. It’s tempting to leave retainers at home for the duration of camp or vacation, but teeth can move in as little as a week.
Solution: keep retainers in the case unless eating, brushing or swimming. Choose a case in an eye-catching color and keep it in the same place every time.
Brothers and sisters share a lot of things, often even the same orthodontic condition. Miriam and Frazier Gardner of Midtown, the children of Margaret and Hall Gardner, are both “Phase I” patients in Dr. Piper’s practice. “I can get a better orthodontic result when I can use the child’s growth to help me fix the problem,” Dr. Piper explained.
Miriam, a busy middle school student, values the timeliness of the after school appointment so she can get on to other activities. “Dr. Piper is always so sweet and so helpful, and it’s always so clean at the office,” Miriam said. Frazier likes Dr. Piper because “he’s always available to make repairs.”
The Gardners live in Midtown but attend schools out east. They love the option of going east or west (Timber Creek or Union Extended) depending on their schedule. With multiple chairs in each location, it’s easy to book both children for the same appointment time, thus saving everybody a trip. “We trust Dr. Piper’s experience,” Margaret said. “And with both children in braces, my husband really appreciates the different payment options.”
When Eva was considering orthodontic treatment for her son, Alex, she decided the timing was right to correct her own smile as well. With Eva working in Midtown and Alex in high school in East Memphis, Dr. Piper’s two locations were ideal for the Escobar family.
“Alex and I can be seen in either office, depending on whose school we are closer to,” Eva said. “Dr. Piper always sees us on time, and we are never there more than 15 or 20 minutes.”
Eva’s overcrowding got more noticeable as she got older, Dr. Piper explained, but with extraction therapy, she will be in braces for two years or less: “Because we didn’t have adolescent growth to help us,” he said, “extraction therapy made sense so that I could move the existing teeth into ideal position.”
Because Alex was 13 when he started orthodontic treatment, Dr. Piper was able to use braces to guide the growth of his jaw into the right relationship. Alex is excited that his deband is just two weeks away. He will join his brother Moises, 21, as an “alumni” of Piper Orthodontics.