Early Orthodontic Treatment Benefits Your Child’s Growing Smile

When your child comes in for early orthodontic treatment, it’s usually not just because their teeth are not aligned. Because of this misalignment, this can lead to poor facial development or other health problems. If your child’s developing jaws and face don’t grow correctly, there may be health issues that affect their sleep quality and consequently impact healthy brain and body development.

Tooth eruption is yet another issue, but our orthodontist can monitor and guide your child’s teeth to fix problems early on. This is also why the American Association of Orthodontists® advises that your child has their first orthodontic screening by the age of seven to assess their need for orthodontic treatment. The goal is to begin treatment early to fix issues before they grow into more costly and time-intensive concerns.

Treating your child’s dental issues earlier can help create the room needed for erupting teeth that are crowded, allow space for the teeth which are yet to erupt, lessen the need for tooth extractions and guide their jaw growth for facial symmetry. If your child snores or breathes through the mouth, wakes up frequently, grinds their teeth, wets the bed or has trouble falling asleep, orthodontic treatment can even help with these problems. Other issues that can be resolved with orthodontics are speech impediments, chronic headaches, colds, sore throats or ear infections.

If baby teeth are lost too soon or too late, this may lead to crowding of the permanent teeth. Your child’s smile or bite can also be affected by thumb-sucking. A crossbite can also influence your child’s teeth and lead to gum disease, chronic pain in the jaw, neck and shoulder areas. This can even affect your child’s self-confidence leading to behavioral issues.

Early orthodontic treatment is done in two stages, Phase I and II. This allows your child’s permanent teeth to come in correctly and help prevent extractions down the road. Phase I is generally done around the age of eight or nine, while Phase II is done around age 11 to 15.

Phase I focuses on helping your child learn good oral hygiene habits, resolving dental issues, correcting their bite and jaw development while shifting their permanent teeth into the proper place. The goal of this phase is to start improving your child’s alignment and lessen the risk of dental issues in the future.

In Phase II, braces are employed to guide your child’s permanent teeth into position and stabilize them. Having orthodontic treatment done at this age can prevent the need for braces as an adult (which often involves tooth extraction or oral surgery), so wearing braces as a child prevents this and reduces the length of time they need to wear braces.

If you would like to have your child’s oral development checked, our orthodontist is happy to determine whether treatment is needed and designing a personalized treatment plan for the best results. If you would like to find out more or want to schedule your child’s orthodontic consultation with us, please call or visit us today!

Tips for Caring for Your Teeth and Gums While Wearing Braces

The number one goal for your oral health is maintaining healthy teeth and gums. This means practicing diligent daily oral hygiene habits; specifically, brushing and flossing to remove plaque along with routine dental visits to remove tartar (hardened plaque), polish your teeth and have your gums checked.

When you opt for orthodontics to straighten your teeth, your oral care becomes even more important. In the case of braces, food and bacteria can become trapped easily in the brackets and hardware. To lower the bacteria in the mouth, you can also rinse with mouthwash when you brush and floss every day.

Removing plaque helps prevent cavities, swollen gums, halitosis and permanent stains on your teeth from wearing braces. Ideally, you should brush your teeth after every meal or snack. If you can’t brush, at the very least you can do is rinse with water to wash away particles and bacteria. Also, be sure to floss at least once a day.

What happens if you neglect your hygiene in braces? You can find yourself with gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease. As this is caused by plaque along the gum line, you’ll want to brush those areas and massage your gums gently whenever you brush. If gingivitis isn’t properly treated, the gums can become infected around the bone and ligaments holding your teeth. This can cause gum pockets to form, which harbor even more bacteria and plaque.

But the gums aren’t the only part of your mouth that can be harmed if you don’t take care of your teeth and gums when wearing your braces. You can also end up with white spots around the braces. These are permanent stains from decalcification, and they can’t be removed when the braces are taken off. To avoid these dental issues, take care of your teeth and braces by practicing the following:

– Brush with fluoride toothpaste, and be sure to replace your toothbrush every two months. This is especially important while wearing braces. Usually, it’s every 3-4 months, but the wear from the metal brackets affects the bristles. Be sure to brush after every meal and before bed.

– Floss once a day. There are a variety of flossing tools available for you depending on your needs. The most commonly used flossing tool is waxed floss with a floss threader. Another popular flossing method is an oral irrigator. Water flossers flush out bacteria and food particles around the gums and in the small spaces of the teeth and braces. Find something that works best for you and then use it!

– See your dentist every six months to check for issues and provide you with a professional dental cleaning. Along with keeping all of your scheduled orthodontic appointments, you will be optimizing your oral health while straightening your teeth with braces.

– Rinsing daily with an oral rinse can help prevent decalcification on the teeth (these are white spots on enamel) and also demineralization (this arises from acids left on the teeth that break down enamel). We can also prescribe an oral rinse tailored to your oral condition.

If you would like more information, we invite you to give us a call to find how to take care of your teeth while wearing braces. We want to help you achieve the healthy, straightened smile you deserve!

What Type of Orthodontic Retainer Will You Be Wearing?

Now that you have undergone orthodontic treatment and your teeth are finally aligned, you will want to make sure they don’t slip back into their previous positions. To prevent this from happening, retainers are used to anchor your teeth into place. Retainers are fashioned to fit your mouth with the correct alignment by taking a mold, or impression of your aligned teeth and gums. The retainer is created in a lab using wire and or/acrylic material (depending on the type of retainer) from your impression.

Fixed Retainers

These are simply a thin wire that is cemented onto the back of the upper or lower front teeth. This permanent bonding replaces the brackets if you wore braces. This permanently placed wire effectively keeps your aligned teeth in place around the clock so you don’t have to worry about keeping your teeth straight.

Removable Retainers

Unlike the fixed wire retainer, these are removable devices that are made of a combination of wire and an acrylic base with hooks or clasps that hold onto your upper teeth to keep them in position. They hold onto the front of the lower or upper teeth in the front of the mouth around the back teeth. Initially, you may wear this retainer every day for at least three months. Once you get the go-ahead, you will eventually need to wear it at night. Removable retainers do have some disadvantages; they can be accidentally tossed in the trash if you are taking them out to eat and you are away from home. If you drink or eat hot items it can warp the acrylic base. This means when you are not wearing your removable retainer you should keep it in an appropriate case and in a safe place.

Retainer Care

Now let’s take a look at how you should care for your retainer to make sure it continues to serve you as it should. When it comes to cleaning your retainer, you’ll want to disinfect it daily to remove oral debris (plaque and food particles).

Cleaning a fixed retainer requires pulling floss that can be inserted into the interproximal spaces between the teeth and rub it up and down and sideways to remove oral debris – similar to how you flossed while in braces.

Cleaning your removable retainer can be done in various ways:

– Brush gently with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a mildly abrasive toothpaste
– Soak in denture cleaning tablets containing antibacterial ingredients
– Rinse with a disinfecting oral rinse
– Soak in vinegar and water to remove bacteria

In addition to taking good care of your teeth and gums by brushing daily and also cleaning your retainer every day, you will want to see your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings. You want to make sure that cavities are taken care of and your newly aligned teeth cleaned (removing hardened plaque and tartar) and polished. We will also check out your teeth and gums as well as your retainer to make sure everything is working correctly and is in healthy condition.

As you can see, keeping your teeth in their aligned position after your braces come off is just as important as when you straightened them with orthodontics. If you would like to know more, please reach out to our team and we will help you with your orthodontic needs!

Brace Yourself, the Holidays are Coming!

Straightening your teeth with orthodontics can help you achieve a more healthy, aligned and attractive smile. With the upcoming holidays, Halloween, Thanksgiving, the month of December and New Year’s (to name a few), around the corner, your orthodontics treatment won’t take a holiday, so it’s up to you to remember why you are wearing braces. With proper care, you can enjoy all the festivities by following a few helpful tips that can keep your teeth and braces safe to ensure that your treatment time stays on track. Along with seeing our orthodontist for routine appointments, keeping rubber bands, toothpaste, wax and retainer cases on hand is a great way to start the season.

Halloween

This holiday is all about the scary costumes and the candies but you can still keep your braces safe while you celebrate. It’s not just the frightening amounts of sugar that come at you during this time, but the texture and hardness of the treats that can damage braces parts and make them difficult to clean. Avoiding hard, chewy candy, gum and bubble gum, and nuts can help. This means holding off on candied apples, popcorn balls, caramels, taffy and blow pops. Safer sweets include chocolate, soft cookies, muffins, cupcakes, and soft, sliced fruit. Don’t forget to rinse well with water after eating and brush and floss if you can.

Thanksgiving

This warmth-filled holiday is all about comfort food and get-togethers with the people you love and care about. Thankfully, this occasion in braces can still be celebrated much easier than Halloween with its tasty traps. Snacking on soft cheeses, deviled eggs, bite-sized turkey pieces off the bone, creamy mashed potatoes with gravy, sweet potato casserole, your grandmother’s green bean casserole, corn casserole, stuffing, rolls, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie won’t pose a problem for braces brackets and wires. Forgo the crunchy, nutty toppings and avoid pecan pie or anything with caramel and follow up your scrumptious feast with careful brushing and flossing. Remember, you won’t always be in braces so the day will come when you can indulge in your seasonal favorites again.

Winter Holidays & New Year

Decorating your home, giving and receiving gifts, attending parties and downing eggnog, hot chocolate and champagne with friends, family, and co-workers, can all still be done with mindful care to protect teeth and braces. You want to make sure you don’t damage parts or invite cavities and tooth discoloration around the brackets. You are wise to skip the candy canes, peanut brittle, fudge and chewy candies. Festive alternatives include fresh seasonal fruits – kiwis, oranges, clementines, grapefruit and tangerines, which are rich in vitamin C that can help you fight gum disease and seasonal colds. Soft-cooked vegetable offerings are safe, as are soft cheeses like brie and cheese balls (without nuts), soft cookies, bread puddings, cakes, muffins, and soft fruits like jarred fruits, fresh berries and seedless grapes.

Caring for your Braces During the Holidays

No matter what the holiday, be sure to remain diligent when it comes to your daily oral hygiene because neglecting it can set your treatment time back. Brush after each meal, using a toothbrush (or interdental toothbrush) and fluoride toothpaste. Floss at least twice a day, or after meals whenever possible. Floss threaders can make cleaning between teeth, brackets, and wires easier, and many patients find using an oral irrigator easy and effective. Don’t forget to bring your oral hygiene necessities if you are traveling over the holidays, including extra elastics, or other materials as needed.

Being mindful and taking good care of your teeth in braces during this hectic, busy time can help you avoid dental problems and orthodontic emergencies. This holiday season, whether you are dressing up in a spooky costume, basting a tasty turkey, kissing loved ones under the mistletoe or making good on your resolutions for the new year, be sure to put forth your best smile by taking good care of your braces!

How Orthodontics Can Correct Your Bite Pattern

By now you are likely aware that keeping your teeth and gums free from tooth decay and gum disease should top your list of oral health priorities when it comes to maintaining your healthy smile. But did you know that a malocclusion is another common dental issue that often needs to be addressed? Your original occlusion is how your upper and lower teeth fit together when you bite down or chew.

A normal bite means the teeth meet evenly, but if your teeth and jaw alignment is off and you have a bad bite or malocclusion, your mismatched bite can create severe dental problems. Fortunately, orthodontics can solve your bite pattern issues. Our team is happy to assist you with your bite pattern problems. We start by examining your bite pattern to determine which treatment is the best solution for you and your smile.

Here is a list of common bite patterns:

Overbite: Overbites happen when the upper teeth stick out farther than your lower teeth.

Open bite: Open bites occur when the top and bottom teeth do not connect when you bite down.

Underbite: Underbites are when the lower front teeth stick out past the upper teeth in your jaw.

Crossbite: Crossbites happen when your lower jaw is longer than the size and length of your upper jaw.

Overcrowded teeth: This arises when there is not enough space for your teeth, which can cause them to crowd together.

Misplaced midline bite: Misplaced midline bites happen when the center of your upper front teeth doesn’t match with the center of your lower teeth.

If you have any of the above bite patterns, remember, the sooner you have it treated, the greater your chances of avoiding oral problems later in life. Timely orthodontic treatment for a malocclusion can effectively restore a proper bite pattern to help you avoid the following problems:

– Tooth sensitivity
– Chipped or cracked teeth
– Crowded or shifting teeth
– Uneven wear and tear on your teeth
– Headaches, jaw pain, clicking, popping and jaw deterioration
– Periodontal disease including gum recession and bone loss around teeth
– Problems with your speech, eating or chewing abilities
– Reduced self-confidence from the appearance of your smile

So how can your occlusal problems be fixed? There are a variety of treatments, including replacing missing teeth with dental implants or bridges, or fixing bad teeth with dental fillings or crowns. The jaw and jaw muscles can be stabilized with the help of bite splint therapy, and you can protect your teeth with the help of a dental mouth guard.

Orthodontics can correctly adjust and align the teeth, and that’s where we come in. We specialize in fixing malocclusions with the help of braces or other alignment method. To fix overcrowding, you may need to have one or more teeth extracted first. We might use a space maintainer to keep your teeth from shifting if one is missing or hasn’t yet come in. These problems can even be prevented from the start with an evaluation. After you complete your time in braces, you will simply wear a retainer (removable, permanent, or combination) until your teeth stabilize in their new position.

Do you have a unique bite pattern you need to correct? Do you have teeth that are too crowded, overlapped, or suffer from frequent headaches? If so, our orthodontic team is ready to help! We can help treat your misaligned bite pattern through the use of specialized orthodontic appliances. If you have questions about your teeth and alignment issues, please call us today to schedule your appointment or receive a consultation. We are ready to help you create your healthiest, aligned smile!

Orthodontic Care for Adults

Your smile is the first thing people notice when they see you. Crooked, crowded teeth or a misaligned bite can make you feel self-conscious no matter what your age. The good news is, with today’s advances in orthodontics, straighter teeth aren’t just for kids and teens anymore.

Now more than ever adults are successfully straightening their teeth for a healthier, aligned smile. Whether you’re looking for a cosmetic fix or wanting to improve your dental health, orthodontics can be used to overcome multiple issues that you may have had for years or have developed over time. This is because teeth can shift over the years even if they are healthy otherwise and affect your bite.

Changes in alignment can evolve over the years and leave you with inadequate blood supply between tooth roots because of diminishing supportive bone material or gum infections. By the time you are in your twenties, many of your bones have hardened and no longer grow. This also causes your tissue to take longer to adjust to new positions.

For those who have overbites or underbites, orthodontic treatment can be an effective treatment. This is important because misalignment makes it harder to clean teeth and sets the stage for oral bacteria and plaque to build up.

Of course, as an adult, you may not want to have metal braces visible in your smile. But there are other options available to you, including lingual braces (these are placed onto the back teeth if the teeth are long enough), ceramic braces (instead of using metal, a transparent ceramic material is used), and clear plastic aligners.

Clear aligners are one of the more popular options many adults and teens use to straighten their teeth and they are highly effective when fixing minor issues. Aligners work by wearing clear plastic aligner trays which gradually shift the teeth as you switch out the aligners every two weeks until the teeth are aligned according to the treatment plan.

Today, orthodontics is more affordable than ever, and having a healthy smile is vital for your health and it doesn’t hurt to have a great looking smile. So if you have been wanting straighter teeth and are ready for a change, we are here to help! To find out what your orthodontic options are, please give us a call today and schedule a consultation with our orthodontist. Join our team of satisfied patients by creating the straighter smile you have always wanted!

Braces at a Young Age

Getting braces at a younger age has proved most effective in preventing dental problems in the future. Permanent teeth start to typically come in about the ages of six to eight, and because the bones are still growing, it’s best to evaluate their tooth alignment at a young age to determine what orthodontic treatment is needed at the time or in the future if needed at all.

A fun aspect of having braces is getting to choose colorful elastics! You or your child can pick their favorite colors, school pride colors, or base them on the holidays. And because braces are very common in many young people, they have become more acceptable. One of the most important things you can do as a parent is to help them understand the importance of having braces and taking care of them. Create a fun routine to help them attend to their teeth and braces or reward them when they’ve had a successful appointment or they’ve hit their dental care goals.

A recommended age to start looking at getting braces is about 7 years old, recommended by the American Association of Orthodontists. You may ask, “Don’t children still have their baby teeth at this age?” Yes, but this is to screen for any problems before braces and prepare for orthodontic issues. These can include underbites, overbites, lack of space, overcrowding, their bite and more. Early screening for these problems is more beneficial at a younger age as well due to the fact their bones are still growing.

By catching these problems early, we can work to align the jaw, create space for the permanent teeth and/or align their teeth early. This first phase of orthodontic treatment is a jumpstart to helping your child have a straight and healthy smile. It usually only requires a dental appliance, especially if your child is too young for braces or they do not need full orthodontic treatment right away.

With the aging and advancement of braces, they have become more acceptable and comfortable. They still take a little time getting used to the feel and the adjustments over time, but the satisfaction of having an aligned smile that will give you the look you want and oral health you need will be worth it.

If you’re looking for orthodontic care, please give our office a call. We will be happy to schedule an appointment and work with you and your child to find the best solution for a straight smile no matter what the age!

Align Your Smile with Your Cosmetic Goals Using Invisalign®️

Did you know that Invisalign® clear aligners are an innovative orthodontic treatment system for patients who don’t want to go through metal brackets and wires to achieve straighter and healthier teeth? You can receive a smile makeover that meets your cosmetic goals by choosing Invisalign today!

Below we offer some exciting information about Invisalign treatment to help you learn more about this cosmetic orthodontic option:

— The Invisalign aligner system differs from traditional orthodontics because it doesn’t use metal brackets and wires. These clear aligners can provide increased comfort during treatment because they are designed to avoid causing abrasions to your sensitive oral tissues when worn.

— You will go through a series of clear aligners that consist of a durable plastic and are designed with special computers to be custom made for your smile. Because these aligners are not attached to your teeth like braces, they can be removed at mealtimes and allow you to eat and drink what you want without causing damage or stains to the aligner trays.

— You will switch to fresh aligners every two weeks to maintain the course of your treatment and continually shift the position of your teeth.

— Invisalign is optimal for both adults and older teenagers who want a virtually invisible option for tooth alignment that is also minimally invasive.

We invite you to contact Real Life Smiles at 540-443-9285 today to learn more about how you can correct gapped, crooked and crowded teeth and other bite issues. Our orthodontist, Dr. DoBin Choi, is happy to help you determine if you should select Invisalign treatment in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Caring for Your Teeth During Braces Treatment

If you have just had braces recommended or placed, you may like some information about caring for your new or upcoming braces. Dr. DoBin Choi and our team are thrilled to give you some tips for taking care of your braces to make your orthodontic treatment a happy one.

There are certain foods that should be avoided when you are undergoing orthodontic treatment with braces. Chewy foods like caramels and gum can get stuck in your braces. Crunchy or hard foods can also damage your braces. Some vegetables and fruits should be cut into small pieces to make them easier to eat with braces. Our orthodontist in Blacksburg, Virginia, can give you a list of foods to avoid to keep your braces in good condition.

Part of taking good care of your braces is knowing how to brush and floss during treatment. We will give you instructions and help you learn to brush not only your teeth, but your braces. Our team may recommend using a floss threader or other special tools when brushing and flossing. Becoming comfortable with dental hygiene while wearing braces will take some practice, but it should get easier.

We stress the importance of keeping your adjustment and checkup appointments. These appointments also allow you to ask any questions that you have about your braces and their care.

We welcome you to contact our office at 540-443-9285 today to learn more and to schedule a visit.

Don’t Break your Braces

How often do you hear about someone breaking their braces? From a bracket falling off to the entire wire coming out, braces can break. And one of the most common breakages results from eating food you shouldn’t while wearing braces.

Dr. DoBin Choi and the team at Real Life Smiles in Blacksburg, Virginia see quite a few breakages from people eating food they shouldn’t. In order to help you avoid that same problem, here’s a list of foods to avoid if you don’t want to break your braces.

Popcorn
Movies aren’t complete without a bucket of popcorn, right? Well, they’ll have to be for a bit while you’re wearing braces. The kernels get stuck in the brackets and wires, and can actually break your braces. That’s not a position you want to be in since broken orthodontic equipment can be painful and needs to be fixed right away.

Caramel and nuts
If you’re a fan of Snickers bars, you’ll have to cut back while wearing braces caramel gets stuck in your braces and trying to clean it off can actually break them sometimes. The same goes for nuts, though these aren’t as hard on your braces as caramel.

Citrus
Lastly, citrus contains some acid that can wear away the cement used to keep your braces in place. You can still drink citrus – like orange juice – but you’ll want to limit your intake.

If you have any other questions, call us today at 540-443-9285.