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Teeth and Braces-Friendly Halloween Treats

October 29th, 2019

HALLOWEEN IS A TON OF fun every year, and it’s right around the corner! We love the costumes, the decorations, and the local events, but we’re a little wary of all that candy. Sugar isn’t just tasty to us; the harmful bacteria in our mouths love it. If you want to make Halloween a little healthier for your teeth (and safer for your braces), here’s a handy breakdown of how different types of treats and candies rank in terms of promoting good dental health.

Types of Halloween Candy to Avoid

Anything hard, sticky, or sour is going to be bad for your teeth. Hard candy takes a while to dissolve, which means your teeth are exposed to sugar for a long time, and it can easily break a bracket loose. Even the nuts in soft candy bars pose a risk.

Sticky candy is a problem because it adheres to the teeth and braces, pushing the sugar right up against the enamel and gum tissue. That’s like breakfast in bed for bacteria! Sour candy might not pose the same dangers to your brackets, but it contains acid as well as sugar, so it’s doubly bad for teeth.

Candy That’s Good for Teeth?

Not all candy is awful for oral health or dangerous for braces-wearers. Chocolate is on the good end of the oral health spectrum, and the darker, the better. Chocolate contains flavanoids and polyphenols — compounds that limit oral bacteria, fight bad breath, and slow tooth decay. Dark chocolate has more of these compounds and their benefits are less offset by sugar than in sweeter milk chocolate.

Other candies that are safe to eat with braces and not terrible for your teeth include mint patties, peanut butter cups, and nut-free chocolate bars. These are soft and not too sticky, so you can safely bite into them without risking a bracket.

Fight Back Against the Effects of Sugar

Aside from avoiding the more harmful candies in favor of chocolate, there are other ways we can combat the effects sugar has on our teeth:

  • Don’t give harmful oral bacteria an all-day buffet! If you’re planning on eating a lot of candy, it’s better to eat it all in one sitting than spreading it out across an entire day. This way, your saliva will have a chance to neutralize the acids and wash away leftover sugar.
  • Drink water after enjoying some candy. It will help rinse out the sugar sticking to your teeth.
  • Wait half an hour after eating candy, then brush your teeth! Good brushing and flossing habits are essential to protecting your teeth from the effects of sugary candy.

Another Great Resource Is the Orthodontist!

Being careful about which candy you eat and when, rinsing with water, and maintaining good daily brushing and flossing habits are all great, but don’t forget about the best resource you have: the orthodontist! If you’d like to learn more about which treats are healthiest for your teeth and safest for your braces, all you have to do is ask!

Have a happy, healthy Halloween!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

What Causes Crooked Teeth?

September 24th, 2019

WHY DO ADULT TEETH come in crooked so often even though baby teeth always seem to be straight? It turns out that a number of different factors can contribute to bad bites and poor alignment in adult teeth, from age to genetics to the daily habits we don’t even think about.

The Soft Foods Theory And Dental Alignment

Experts are still debating the causes of crooked teeth, but archeologists have supplied one of the leading theories: the Soft Foods Theory. Essentially, the idea here is that our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate foods that were much tougher than what we eat now, which stimulated bone growth in their jaws, giving their teeth a solid foundation to come in straight.

This theory suggests that modern people have crooked teeth more often because our soft, processed food doesn’t encourage as much jaw bone growth and because we’re missing some of the vitamins and minerals that help bones and teeth grow. (Don’t feel too jealous of those strong jaws, though, because the trade off was that their teeth wore out much faster.)

Genetic Ties That Bind

Aside from the theorized effects of soft foods on dental alignment, our teeth are also affected by our genes. A child who inherits a small jaw from Mom and big teeth from Dad is going to have a problem with crowding, and children whose parents wore braces will likely also need them.

Daily Habits Versus Dental Alignment

It would be pretty hard to stick to a hunter-gatherer diet these days and we have no control over our own genes, but there is one factor we can control when it comes to how straight or crooked our teeth are, and that’s daily habits. Thumb sucking, mouth breathing, tongue thrusting, and even the simple action of resting your chin on your hand all contribute to shifting teeth.

Tongue thrusting, if you aren’t familiar, is the way babies swallow — pressing the tongue against the front teeth instead of the roof of the mouth. It’s perfectly normal for them, but we’re supposed to grow out of it. People who continue to tongue thrust after babyhood put a lot of pressure on their front teeth, causing them to shift. Special orthodontic appliances can help break the habit.

Mesial Drift: Dental Alignment Changing As We Age

Our teeth come into contact with each other countless times over decades of chewing and talking, and this can wear away at the sides of each tooth where it touches its neighbors. Teeth end up taking up less space from side to side, and then they scoot closer together, gradually pushing towards the front. This is mesial drift, which happens to most of us as we age, whether or not we’ve had braces in the past!

A Job For The Orthodontist

No matter what’s causing problems with bite or crowding, orthodontic treatment is the solution. If you’re worried about your dental alignment or that of a family member, contact us to set up a consultation so that we can take a look. Having straight teeth isn’t just about appearances; it’s about having healthier teeth that can do their job properly!

We love giving our patients the perfectly aligned smiles they deserve!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image by Flickr user aaron.bihari used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

How Braces Work

July 18th, 2019

WE ALL KNOW THAT braces shift misaligned teeth into their proper position over time, but have you ever wondered exactly how that process works? Today, we’re going to walk you through it, because it’s actually really neat!

The Pieces Of The Braces Puzzle

The different parts of your braces all contribute to the orthodontic treatment process in specific ways. You might have additional appliances tailored to your specific treatment plan, but everyone with traditional braces has brackets and archwires, tied together with a-ties (also called bands or ligatures).

Brackets

If you look carefully at braces brackets, you may notice that they aren’t all placed in a straight line. At first, the braces may even seem to emphasize the crookedness of the teeth. The way the orthodontist positions the brackets is what allows braces to shift teeth into their proper place. By the end of the treatment, the brackets — and, more importantly, the teeth — will be straight!

Archwire

The archwires run through the brackets on each row of teeth. The orthodontist chooses the thickness and material of the archwire carefully based on your treatment plan. As they try to straighten back into their original shape, archwires provide steady, gentle,  and gradual pressure in the right direction so that your teeth will shift towards their proper position. The colorful a-ties are what keep the archwires in place in the brackets.

Rubber Bands

The most common addition to braces beyond the basics of brackets, archwires, and a-ties are rubber bands. If you have a malocclusion (bad bite) or misaligned jaw, rubber bands apply pressure to bring your jaws into proper alignment. In order for them to do their job, however, it is essential to exactly follow the orthodontist’s instructions. Wearing too many or too few rubber bands will interfere with your treatment and make it take longer.

The Biology Of Shifting Dental Alignment

So what’s actually happening on the cellular level during orthodontic treatment? Specialized cells called osteoclasts and osteoblasts respond to the pressure around the periodontal membrane (the pocket of gum tissue connecting the tooth’s root to the jaw bone). Osteoclasts break down the bone tissue so that the tooth can move, while osteoblasts gradually form new bone tissue behind it. So it’s not just your teeth moving into position; your jaw bones are reshaping themselves too!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78RBpWSOl08

What About Retainers?

Your teeth still remember where they used to be after the braces come off (muscle memory!), which is why it’s so important for you to remember to wear your retainers as directed. Retainers will help your teeth get used to their new position, and they’ll prevent unrelated shifting that happens to most people naturally over the course of time.

Want To Learn More About Your Orthodontic Treatment?

If you have any questions about how your braces are working to give you that properly aligned, more functional smile you’ve always wanted, just give us a call, or ask us about it at your next appointment. We want all of our patients to have the information they need to feel confident in their treatment!

We love seeing our patients’ smiles!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

How Braces Can Improve Speech Problems

June 18th, 2019

THE ABILITY TO SPEAK and enunciate clearly is based on a variety of factors. A speech disorder could be the result of hearing difficulties, genetics, or a cleft palate, but did you know that the position of the teeth can be part of the problem or even the cause? This is where orthodontic treatment and speech pathology overlap.

A Bad Bite Versus Your Speech

A major cause of lisps or whistling while talking is an overbite, which is when the upper teeth overlap the bottom teeth by too much. These problems can also be the result of gaps in the teeth, which allow air to escape when pressing the tongue against the teeth while talking, creating a whistling sound. Orthodontic treatment corrects overbites and closes the gaps between teeth.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4DTIxBU7-E

Your Tongue Needs Room To Maneuver

Our tongues need space and freedom to move in order for us to correctly form words and control how fast we talk. Sometimes jaw structure or dental crowding restricts the tongue’s movement, increasing the chances of a stutter or slurred speech. Braces will align the teeth and make room for the tongue to do its job properly.

To Make The Right Sounds, Teeth Should Be In The Right Place

In English, there are several sounds that we need our teeth in the right place in order to articulate: F as in “feet,” V as in “van,” S as in “soup,” Z as in “zoom,” CH as in “chair,” SH as in “shape,” J as in “jump,” ZH as in “treasure,” voiceless TH as in “think,” and voiced TH as in “the.” Orthodontic treatment places teeth where they need to be for better pronunciation.

How Can Orthodontic Treatment Help You?

Not all speech disorders can be cured by braces, but for people whose poor dental alignment or bad bites are getting in the way of their pronunciation, orthodontic treatment can be life-changing. And clearer speech isn’t the only benefit! Straight teeth are also easier to keep healthy, they improve your digestion, and they make your smile more beautiful.

Invest In Your Confidence And Health With Orthodontic Treatment

There’s no reason to allow orthodontic-related speech difficulties to limit your personal and business relationships or keep you from being your most confident, well-spoken self. If you have a friend, family member, neighbor, or coworker who would like to learn more about how an orthodontic treatment plan can lead to a happier, healthier life, share this blog post with them or give us a call.

Thanks for being part of our practice family.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

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