Once the hard work of straightening your teeth is completed, the next phase of your orthodontic treatment begins: keeping your teeth aligned with a retainer! You don’t want any setbacks after taking the time to get them straightened. This means wearing your retainer as prescribed by our orthodontist. It will allow bone tissue to rebuild around the teeth and keep the teeth from shifting when you bite, chew, swallow and speak.
Whether your removable retainer is made of acrylic or clear plastic, it will need care and protection. That is if you want to keep your teeth in the aligned position your orthodontic journey left them. If you have a fixed retainer, this is typically a metal wire bonded to the back of your front teeth that never comes off. A Hawley retainer is molded to fit in the roof of the mouth with a wire that holds the retainer in place on the front of the teeth. You will be wearing your retainer at night while you sleep and need to keep it clean when it’s not in your mouth.
This simple step can’t be overemphasized. Wearing your retainer is the only thing that will keep your teeth from shifting back into their pre-treatment, unaligned position. Whether you need to wear it all day or just at night, be sure you follow our orthodontist’s instructions.
Keep It Clean
It’s not just your pearly whites that need cleaning; your retainer needs to be germ- and bacteria-free! You can brush it with your soft-bristled toothbrush when you brush and floss your teeth. Cleaning solutions to rinse or soak the retainer can be done using a denture-cleaning tablet. If you have any questions, check with our team for specifics.
Take It Out Before Eating
You will need to wear your removable retainer as prescribed, except when you eat. Retainers are not made for chewing (unless they are permanent). This allows you to eat your favorite foods without harming the appliance and keep oral debris from hiding behind your retainer and getting stuck there.
Keep your removable retainer in its container when it’s not in your mouth. You don’t want to lose it (that’s expensive), nor do you want to accidentally throw it away after eating out, or putting it someplace where it will pick up germs and bacteria, like letting your dog chew it.
Because of the material, an acrylic or plastic retainer can be warped or damaged by high heat. That means cleaning it with warm – not hot – water. Do not clean it in boiling water, the dishwasher, microwave, washing machine, dryer, or leave it in the car on a hot day.
Wear a Sports Guard
Don’t wear your retainer when you’re playing contact or high impact sports. Wear a sports guard to protect your teeth and oral tissues. Just be sure to put your retainer back on after playing.
Bottom line: always wear your retainer and take good care of it, and it will take good care of you! If you have any problems with your retainer, let our orthodontic team know right away. It shouldn’t be loose or tight but should fit just right. Whenever you come in for follow-up visits, bring it with you to be checked. Enjoy your beautifully aligned smile!
October brings visions of ghosts, ghouls and goblins for children, but for adults, it is also National Orthodontic Health Month. Orthodontists around the country (including us) like to celebrate this time by spreading awareness about the benefits of straight teeth and an aligned bite.
Orthodontic Fun Facts
– There are about four million people wearing an orthodontic appliance in the U.S. and 25% of which are adults often in their 50s, 60s and 70s.
– NASA created the wires used for braces (using nickel titanium for the space program) which are thin, elastic and flexible which use body heat to maintain their shape on the teeth.
– Braces have been around for almost 300 years since they were designed by Pierre Fauchard (the Father of Dentistry) in 1728 using flat metal material connected by a thread to the teeth. Later, the dentist Edward Angle developed more advanced and modern orthodontic hardware including brackets to straighten teeth and correct misaligned bites.
– According to archaeologists who studied mummies, ancient Egyptians tried to straighten their teeth using cords from animal intestines to simulate wires (gross, right?).
– Orthodontic appliances like braces straighten teeth, but retainers keep them aligned after the appliance comes off. Not wearing the retainer post treatment often means having to have orthodontic treatment again.
Today’s Treatment Options
Crooked teeth that don’t fit together like they should are harder to clean, making them more vulnerable to tooth decay and gum disease. People straighten their teeth for a variety of reasons, mainly for aesthetics (who doesn’t appreciate an aligned smile?) but also for correcting a misaligned bite like an overbite. This is important because an aligned bite makes it easier to bite, chew and speak. For decades this meant wearing traditional braces but today’s orthodontic patients have more choices!
– Traditional metal braces: These use wires, brackets and rubber bands on the front of teeth to correct misalignment.
– Clear braces: These are like traditional braces only using clear ceramic brackets to straighten teeth.
– Lingual braces: These braces have the hardware (brackets and wires) attached onto the back of teeth instead of the front.
– Clear aligners: Typically plastic trays such as Invisalign® or ClearCorrect™ worn over teeth to shift gradually them into the desired position.
Not Just a Pretty Smile
Straight teeth have benefits beyond your oral health. When you have an attractive smile you will feel good about it, boosting your self-esteem which is good for your psychological health!
Aligned teeth also allow you to bite and chew food properly which helps prevent digestive issues. Other health benefits from aligned teeth include pain relief from headaches, bruxism (habitual teeth grinding) and jaw problems like TMJ.
Chronic teeth grinding and jaw clenching also interrupt a good night’s sleep and can worsen sleep apnea symptoms. Even sinus problems can be alleviated using orthodontics to help open up constricted airways. As you can see, orthodontics goes way beyond just a pretty smile!
Creating awareness for National Orthodontic Health Month is important because orthodontic treatment can give you a healthier mouth and body while preventing health problems from developing. To learn more about how orthodontic treatment can help you we invite you to give our team a call today!
When you are wearing braces, nothing feels quite as important as what kinds of food you can eat. The wrong food can damage your braces or stain your teeth, particularly berries, curry sauce or grape juice. Protecting your new bands, archwires and brackets along with your teeth and gums quickly rise to the top of your priority list!
Your teeth are vulnerable when you eat a lot of sugary and starchy foods because they produce plaque acid that leads to tooth decay and gum disease. Your braces make it easier to trap food particles between them and your teeth, so it goes without saying (but we’re going to say it anyway) that brushing and flossing are more important than ever in braces! Cavities are bad enough, but plaque and tartar can also leave your teeth with unsightly stains on areas that were not covered by braces.
Foods to Avoid
Sticky foods easily collect onto your braces and are nearly impossible to get out. Caramel, jelly beans, licorice, taffy, toffee and other sticky, hard candies can break off brackets. Gummy candy can bend your archwires and become trapped under the braces attachments. Chewing gum can get trapped in between all of your wires and is almost impossible to get off.
There are other foods so hard they can break your brackets and wires; toffee bits can break brackets and bands, and fibrous meat from the bone like chicken wings and ribs can even pop off a bracket. Beef jerky, pizza crust, chunky nuts and seeds, and raw vegetables (carrots, broccoli and cauliflower) require a strong biting force, which can ultimately harm braces. Steam or cook your veggies, and if you’re eating hard crusty bread like bagels, soften it with a soup or sauce and cut into bite-sized pieces.
There is also a small list of inedibles that can damage braces, so keep them away from your teeth! Ice is the most common reason braces components sustain damage, so don’t chew it. Even chewing absentmindedly on pens and pencils, paper clips (yikes!), and biting your fingernails can cause damage to braces. The main goal is to keep your braces and smile safe, align your teeth and not prolong your time wearing them.
Foods to Eat
Eat a balanced diet so that your teeth are healthy and strong when your braces come off and get your daily requirements of protein, calcium, vitamins, iron and fiber. Soft textured foods are always good for your braces, particularly right after your braces are tightened.
– Soft fruit: ripe pears, nectarines, tangerines, kiwis, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, applesauce, and fruit that is diced and chewed with the molars
– Vegetables: steamed or cooked vegetables keep your smile healthy
– Dairy: low-fat milk, yogurt, smoothies, and soft cheeses feel good in your mouth
– Eggs: scrambled, hard-boiled, sunny-side up or made into omelets are “eggs-cellent” choices
– Meat: tender choices like meatloaf, fish, chicken, and turkey or tofu are healthy and safe
– Grains: soft-textured grains like pasta, rice or quinoa are good for you
– Soft bread: muffins, pancakes, tortillas, and biscuits are gentle on your chompers
If your braces-friendly foods seem bland or boring, mix things up a bit and find recipes that will help keep your taste buds and your teeth happy. Be mindful with the holidays coming up as many traditional favorites (candied apples, peanut brittle and candy canes) are bad for your teeth and braces! Give our orthodontic team a call if you have any questions.
It is that time of year again where your children are headed back to school with their new backpacks, notepads and pencils! If they have braces, they will need some extra items in their backpack and locker. Our team wants to make sure your children are equipped with the tools they need to have a healthy and strong smile, so it’s important they have them available when they’re away from home.
Here is a list of cleaning and protection tools your child with braces will want to keep on hand:
– Individual case: This is for orthodontic tools and keeps them clean from other objects in their backpack or locker.
– Toothbrush: Purchase an extra one so there is no need to worry about losing the one from home.
– Toothpaste: Pick a travel-sized tube in case their backpack gets squished.
– Floss: This is an important tool for removing debris between the teeth and gums.
– Flossing threads: With a full set of metal braces, it is sometimes difficult to get between metal wires and teeth. This tool helps floss underneath braces and between the teeth to clean the gums.
– Interdental cleaning brush: Metal braces can get food stuck underneath the wires and corners of brackets, so this tool brushes between nooks and crannies to remove debris.
– Extra elastic or rubber bands: If needed, these help align the bite. Keep extra at the ready when it’s time to replace dirty or broken elastics.
– Rubber band hook: This assists in hooking rubber bands to braces.
– Wax: If your child’s gums and oral tissues need protection from sharp edges, broken wires or brackets, then wax can cover those spots on their braces. They can even help prevent extensive mouth sores.
– Mouthwash: As an added defense against bacteria, this is a quick way to kill bacteria while your child is busy in school. We recommend a travel-sized bottle.
– Chapstick: Sometimes newly applied braces or new elastics can cause chapped or irritated lips.
– Pain relievers: In case your child’s teeth and gums get sore, a pain reliever can help alleviate the pain or discomfort.
– Orthodontist information: For emergency care, have our information on hand in case of an emergency.
– Pocket mirror: Sometimes a mirror is needed to clean out food debris and put in rubber bands, so a small compact mirror can be handy.
– Mouthguard: If your child is active in sports or other physical activities, we strongly recommend purchasing a mouthguard to protect their teeth and gums. This is a safeguard against impact and deep cuts in their mouth.
By having these items on hand, you can help your child have a great orthodontic experience as school begins. A few other tips we have for your child wearing braces include eating soft foods, avoiding sticky and hard foods with high amounts of sugar, brushing and flossing each day, and seeing our team regularly.
Give us a call today if you have questions on what to store in your child’s backpack and how they can take extra preventative steps in their orthodontic care today. We are always happy to help!
Did you know there is a lesser-known cause for headaches that can be attributed to malocclusion? Malocclusion occurs when the jaws and teeth are misaligned due to abnormal positioning of the teeth when the jaws close. This can cause an overbite, underbite, crossbite or teeth crowding. While people often try to get their malocclusion treated for cosmetic reasons, it’s important to correct the issue for medical reasons as well if you want the teeth to function and last for years to come.
Why Fix Malocclusion
Unless the malocclusion is severe, orthodontics can readily correct these issues. If a child has a malocclusion, a combination of orthodontics and orthognathic surgery may be needed. If a child’s malocclusion has more to do with the jaws being off and they are still young, an orthopedic headgear can often correct the problem.
Straightened teeth help prevent tooth decay and gum disease since they are easier to clean, making brushing and flossing a breeze. An aligned bite also deters speech issues so you can speak and chew normally. It is vital so your body can break down and absorb the necessary nutrients from your diet.
Correct teeth alignment also keeps the wear and tear on the teeth and TMJ discomfort to a minimum. Conversely, untreated malocclusion strains the jaw and jaw muscles, resulting in tenderness, jaw and neck pain, and of course, headaches.
– Overcrowding happens when teeth are overcrowded, creating crooked or overlapping teeth.
– Gapped teeth or diastema occurs when teeth don’t fill up the available space between teeth or teeth that are lost.
– Overjet arises when the top teeth extend too far over the bottom teeth, interfering with normal speaking and eating.
– Overbite is when the increased pressure allows the front teeth to go more forward and bite down on the gums.
– Crossbite happens when the upper teeth bite inside the lower teeth and damage front or back teeth.
– Underbite arises when the lower teeth extend outward farther than the upper front teeth.
– Open bite occurs when the upper and lower front teeth don’t come together when the mouth is closed, leaving a gap or opening between the rows of teeth when the mouth is closed.
How Braces Help
Retainers and braces worn over teeth can help realign them into their proper position and keep the teeth and jaw in their ideal place. A retainer may be worn for years or even for life to maintain this aligned position.
Clear aligner treatment can effectively treat class 1 malocclusion and some underbites and overbites, while braces can fix big gaps and crooked teeth as well as underbites and overbites. Braces are especially helpful for children and teenagers since malocclusion most often impacts these ages. Baby teeth may need to be removed to make room for the eruption of the permanent teeth. Then braces can correct the jaw problems and misaligned teeth through gentle pressure applied on the teeth and followed up with a retainer to keep teeth in position.
If you have problems with your bite and find yourself with a persistent headache, we welcome you to call us today to schedule a consultation with our orthodontist for an evaluation. We look forward to helping you achieve the healthy bite and aligned teeth you deserve!
Traditional braces have come a long way when it comes to straightening crooked teeth. In fact, they are ideal for a variety of tooth issues, not just crooked teeth. They can effectively close gaps for crowded or overlapping teeth, fix misaligned or protruding teeth, align a bad bite, and match up dental midlines to overcome jaw problems.
For those struggling with any of these issues, traditional braces can help you eat, speak and even clean your teeth better while giving you a straighter smile. And if the idea of wearing traditional braces for straighter teeth doesn’t appeal to you, you might be pleasantly surprised because you could actually love wearing them!
How Have Traditional Braces Evolved?
Like everything else under the sun, modern traditional braces have evolved, thanks to modernized dental technology. Metal bands no longer wind around each tooth. Today, they are only placed on the back of specific teeth and slid into a tube on a band for support.
Today’s braces aren’t just sleeker, smaller and less obtrusive but more comfortable and cost-effective as well. How long these braces are worn depends on your unique needs, but it typically ranges from one to three years after which a retainer is worn to keep them in position.
What Do Braces Look Like Today?
– Modern braces come in durable stainless steel and high-grade titanium. They work with brackets, an archwire and ligature elastic.
– Depending on who manufactures them, the silver-colored brackets come in different shapes and sizes and are bonded to the front of each tooth’s surface.
– The teeth are then connected to each other with a metal archwire that puts pressure on the teeth being aligned to guide them slowly into their corrected position.
– A ligature elastic or metal band can be used to hold the orthodontic wire and braces together, and the wire is what moves the teeth while the bracket is an anchor on each tooth. The wires are changed out or tightened during routine orthodontic checkups to keep up the necessary pressure that aligns the teeth (and even the jaw).
Who Needs Them?
Traditional braces are a great option for all ages: kids, teens and adults. Particularly popular with kids, they are both durable and cost-effective. Kids also adjust to wearing them fairly quickly as the oral tissues toughen up, so they barely notice them. This is all thanks to today’s metal wires and brackets which aren’t as irritating to soft tissues.
Plus, the elastic that fits around the brackets come in fun colors that can be changed out at each appointment. This can give children something to look forward to as they show off their personality, celebrate holidays or display team spirit. For teens and adults who prefer a more subtle appearance, the bands are available in neutral silver, gray and white.
How Do You Maintain Your Braces?
You’ll want to follow the guidelines our orthodontist provides to keep teeth healthy while wearing braces. This means eating approved foods and brushing and flossing faithfully after meals. You want to protect your teeth against damaging plaque buildup around brackets and prevent permanently stained teeth from lack of oral care.
When it comes to orthodontic therapy, today’s traditional braces are an excellent and common choice when seeking to straighten smile issues. Give us a call today if you would like to know more or want to schedule a visit with our skilled orthodontist.
Summer is almost here and with it the start of fun recreational activities coupled with a slower pace. For teens today, braces are pretty much a rite of passage. The end result? A straightened smile they can flash proudly! Especially since a smile is one of the first things people notice. Of all the ways we can impress people, a healthy smile says we care about our appearance while exuding confidence. This summer, why not take advantage of the extra recreational time to get your teen’s smile on track?
While wearing braces might seem overwhelming at first, summer is a good time to let our orthodontic team help your teen make this process simple and easy to navigate. The first step is having our orthodontist examine their teeth and bite to determine the extent of work that will be needed for correction. Treatment time varies, and in some cases, extra steps may be taken to ensure proper spacing with orthodontics. We have the tools, tips and experience necessary to make their treatment time as comfortable as possible for beautiful results.
– Breaking in braces: It takes time to break in the orthodontic gear so that your teen can eat and speak with ease again. Summer allows them to do that without keeping up with schoolwork, peer pressure and the extracurricular activities they may normally be engaged in. Summertime gives them leeway to ease into their new oral care habits so that by the time school starts up again they will be comfortable with their orthodontic routine.
– Ease of appointments: Your teen can start wearing braces without having to worry about missing classes or other school year obligations. By the time school starts up again, their orthodontic appointments are slowing down as they adjust to the appliance. In fact, the school year is a busier time for orthodontists, so getting their braces applied in the summer months is the best for both parties timewise.
– Cleaning made easy: Wearing braces involves adjusting their oral hygiene routine. Your teen will learn how to care for their teeth, gums and braces to repel tooth decay and gum disease. Summer’s relaxed schedule allows them to create these new habits and ease into their routine before they get busy with the school year again.
Our skilled team is ready to make your teen’s orthodontic experience a positive one from start to finish. Call us today to schedule a consultation and get ready to boost their confidence for a successful school year!
Spotting and treating tooth alignment issues early on is very beneficial for your teeth. This allows time to make repairs and align the teeth into their correct position. Your teeth are something you use to eat, smile and communicate with others, so it’s important to take care of them as soon as possible, no matter your age. Whether making them more aesthetically pleasing or for the betterment of your health, we all need to take advantage of orthodontic benefits.
A straighter smile can improve you or your child’s self-confidence as it makes a more attractive smile (helping one feel more self-assured, especially for those navigating through insecure teen years). Along with the aesthetic improvements braces can provide you, studies have shown that a smile with aligned teeth can boost your career in addition to your social status. This is due to people feeling more confident with their smile knowing they have straight teeth.
When it comes to oral hygiene, one of the main benefits of straighter teeth is that they are easier to clean thoroughly. When your teeth are misaligned, this can create crevices where it’s difficult for your toothbrush and floss to clean. It ultimately prevents cavities and gingivitis, which alone is a big deal if you want to keep your natural teeth. Other problems may arise if gingivitis is not taken care of; periodontal disease may occur and even lead to heart disease, stroke or diabetes.
Another issue that may come up is bone and gum erosion. Without proper support, pressure is put on the jawbone and gum tissues. Braces help correct this and move your teeth into a proper place to support themselves, which in turn can help avoid periodontal issues as well as prevent tooth loss.
Another benefit of wearing braces is correcting your speech. As you age, teeth can shift out of their normal alignment due to a condition known as tongue thrust or if you have experienced oral trauma. A few more commonly known reasons are thumbsucking, gaps in the teeth (can cause whistling), an underbite or an overbite. By repositioning the teeth, speech impediments can be corrected, and the pronunciation of words sounds better.
Other advantages to having straight teeth include a lower risk of lip and gum injury as well as better digestion. Better alignment allows you to chew foods correctly. You can also prevent fewer headaches, teeth grinding and TMJ by correcting a bad bite.
Are you interested in benefiting from orthodontic care? Give us a call today to set up a consultation. We’ll be happy to help you get the full benefits of straighter teeth today!
Ever since YouTube began helping people learn and execute do-it-yourself (DIY) projects with accuracy and success, it’s become tempting to take on more challenging projects to save money. While this strategy works for learning how to crochet or paint your home, straightening your teeth should not be on that list any more than performing surgery or juggling fire.
Whether you are reading articles or watching videos on the Internet all about the DIY braces trend, at-home orthodontics using “equipment” like hair or rubber bands, elastic strings, earring backs, paper clips, glue or 3D printer technology is a dangerous practice. The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) reports that 39% of their orthodontists who saw patients using DIY braces needed corrective and restorative treatment afterward!
Whether you want to align your teeth or close a gap between them, DIY braces raise your risk of gum infection as well as damage to the teeth and bone. Moving teeth is a biological process, and if it’s not done properly, a healthy tooth’s root can absorb back into the body and dissolving, causing you to lose the tooth or even multiple teeth.
Without the guidance of a trained orthodontist who understands your oral anatomy, wearing DIY braces allows no control over the pressure levels to shift teeth into position. Your teeth are connected not only to the gums but to the blood supply that makes you vulnerable to infection, particularly if you tear gum tissue that doesn’t heal correctly. This can damage the attachment between them while support is lost. If you’re using a rubber band that slides up and accidentally cuts the attachment, you lose the needed support.
DIY braces can not only cause gum infection and tooth loss but also jaw and bite problems as well as lifelong dental issues. Some folks who have experimented with DIY braces have found themselves experiencing bruxism (grinding and clenching their teeth), shooting pain, and issues with their jaw joints and muscle spasms.
Using household items don’t work the same as braces designed for the task. Certified orthodontists use equipment that has passed rigorous testing standards to ensure their safety and effectiveness. Orthodontists complete education, training and hands-on experience, so they can accurately diagnose, supervise and implement the orthodontic process. By understanding how the jaw, mouth and tooth movement works together, they can avoid harm and ensure the teeth remain in place after straightening to prevent relapse.
An orthodontist will evaluate your teeth and gums to determine the alignment process needed to straighten your teeth without harming the gums or bone structure. This typically includes an oral and facial analysis, review of your dental records, taking images (intraoral and facial) and X-rays (panoramic and cephalometric), and taking impressions to create models of your teeth and bite.
Developing a formal treatment plan ensures that the straightening process leaves your mouth in better, not worse, shape when you are done. Replacing damaged/lost teeth is costly and not worth the risk to save some money now. Protecting and investing your healthy smile is as crucial as a healthy heart to your well being.
The good news is you don’t have to risk your health or your smile by doing it yourself. Working with our orthodontist is more cost-effective to fix crooked, crowded teeth and align your bite. This ultimately leaves you with a winning smile and increased self-esteem. With a variety of braces options available from the traditional to the nearly invisible, our skilled orthodontist can safely straighten your teeth and correct your bite for a brilliant smile. Call our office today to learn more!
When it comes to caring for your teeth in or out of braces, you already know how important it is to brush twice a day. Cleaning your teeth daily helps get rid of harmful bacteria or plaque in the mouth that can cause gum disease and tooth decay. But brushing alone won’t do the job, because you still need to clean sticky bacterial film and any stray food particles off your teeth and along the gum line that your toothbrush can’t reach. That’s where flossing comes in and not the dancing kind.
Struggling With Dental Floss?
Most people know how to use traditional dental floss but some struggle with it. This can include people who have problems with their hands, such as arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome or Parkinson’s disease. To clean with dental floss, you need to be able to insert the string between the teeth to get at oral debris, plaque and food particles. It takes some skill to maneuver the floss around the teeth, and you need to have some manual dexterity. The last thing you want to do is avoid flossing because it’s too difficult. If you struggle with flossing, an alternative such as a water flosser might be the right tool to help you floss daily!
ADA-Approved Flossing Alternative
This handheld interdental cleaning device works by emitting a thin jet of water to remove plaque and food particles between your teeth and along the gumline. Waterpik is one of the most well-known brands, and since it carries the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance, it has been proven to be both safe and effective at getting rid of plaque and keeping gingivitis at bay.
To use a water flosser, you simply fill it with water and place it in your mouth, aiming the stream of water between each tooth and around braceware. These are great to use for anyone struggling with gum disease, xerostomia or dry mouth, have difficulty with manual dexterity or are wearing braces.
Backed by Research
If you need more reasons to consider using a water flosser, in a study published in the Journal of Clinical Dentistry, water flossing was determined to be 29 percent more effective than traditional flossing. A different study also published in this journal affirmed that using a manual toothbrush along with a water flosser was better at removing detrimental plaque than using a manual toothbrush and an interdental flossing brush.
Water Flossing for the Win
Waterpik’s own research found that its flosser is 51 percent more effective at lessening gum disease and three times more effective than dental floss when cleaning around braces. This means using a water flosser in addition to your daily tooth brushing is an excellent way to keep your teeth and gums healthy! Your water flosser can effectively clean behind your wires and wash away food fragments that are caught behind the braces.
If you need help flossing while wearing braces, feel free to give our experienced team a call and we can help you find the best tool for your needs. We are here to support your oral care efforts as you straighten your teeth and look forward to helping you achieve the healthy, beautiful smile you deserve!