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Preventing Stains During Orthodontic Treatment

June 16th, 2021

Unless you're changing the color of your wooden furniture, stains typically aren’t good news, and they’re especially unwelcome on our teeth. Not much will ruin the excitement of Braces Off Day like stains around where the brackets used to be. What causes stains on our teeth and how can we avoid it during orthodontic treatment?

How Do Teeth Become Stained?

It’s important to know that post-braces stains are not inevitable, and that it isn’t the braces themselves that stain the teeth. The reason braces stains are fairly common is that they make it harder to brush away plaque. There are so many little extra nooks and crannies where food particles and bacteria can hide that are difficult to reach with a toothbrush.

If plaque isn’t cleaned away, it can leave decalcified patches around the brackets. That means when the braces come off, the tooth surface where the brackets were is still the same color as before but it’s now surrounded by tooth surface with a bleached appearance. Plaque buildup also increases the risk of gum disease and tooth decay during orthodontic treatment.

Keeping Your Teeth Free of Stains

A good oral hygiene routine is the best defense against white spots and other stains. That means brushing thoroughly after every meal, flossing at least once a day, rinsing or brushing after drinking sugary or acidic drinks, and keeping up with regular dental appointments. The hygienist will be able to clean away plaque and tartar that you couldn’t reach.

It also helps to avoid foods and drinks notorious for leaving stains, such as highly acidic drinks (like soda), coffee, dark teas, sugary treats like cookies and candy, and starchy snacks like chips. Each of these can either stain the teeth directly with the compounds they contain or they can stick to the teeth and contribute to the buildup of plaque.

Tobacco and alcohol are also big stain culprits that are worse for braces-wearers because the areas with brackets won’t be affected. We recommend steering clear, especially while the braces are on.

What Can Be Done About Stains?

It’s better to avoid post-braces stains if possible, but in case there is some discoloration, there are ways of treating it. We may not recommend immediate whitening treatments simply because some stains grow less prominent over time on their own. If they are still visible after a few months, over-the-counter whitening products or professional whitening sessions with a cosmetic dentist can produce a more uniform smile. In some cases, though, when the stains are very pronounced, the dentist needs to get involved by placing small fillings in the areas of the stains. Save yourself a dental bill and be sure to maintain great hygiene during orthodontic treatment!

Bring Us Your Stain Concerns!

If you still have any questions about preventing stains during or removing stains after orthodontic treatment, we’d be happy to answer them. We want all of our patients to have the stain-free straight-smile outcome they’re hoping for!

We love our patients!

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 Gordon used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Wisdom Teeth and Braces

May 28th, 2021

ONE OF THE BIG rites of passage for young adults is wisdom teeth removal. Of course, there are people who can actually fit those third molars in their jaws comfortably and there are a startling number who don’t even grow them in the first place, but for people who do need their wisdom teeth removed, it’s fun to post pictures of their swollen cheeks and videos of anesthesia antics while enjoying lots of ice cream and smoothies. So what’s the deal with these teeth so many people need removed?

Why Do We Have Teeth That Don’t Fit?

What’s the point of growing an extra set of molars if they don’t even fit in our mouths? We used to think it was all about genes leftover from prehistoric days, but more recently, the leading theory is that it’s actually about the foods we eat compared to what our ancient ancestors ate. Bone can atrophy or grow depending on what we put it through (kind of like muscle), and we simply aren’t giving our jaw bones the same resistance our hunter-gatherer ancestors did.

Prehistoric people’s jaws got an intense workout from grinding up the fibrous plants and raw meat in their diet, which stimulated enough bone growth to make room for the third molars. Today, we eat softer foods that are cooked and processed, so it’s less common for someone’s jaw to grow big enough to fit the wisdom teeth. (We don’t recommend attempting to test this theory, though.)

Why Are Wisdom Teeth Often Extracted?

Despite the growing percentage of people who never get wisdom teeth or don’t get the full set of four, most still get them between their teens and early twenties, and that can be a problem when there isn’t room. These wisdom teeth tend to end up impacted, or trapped under the gums. They can form cysts or damage the bone tissue or roots of neighboring teeth. This is why extraction is recommended so often.

How Do Wisdom Teeth Interact With Orthodontic Treatment?

Modern evidence shows that wisdom teeth don’t contribute greatly to dental crowding, so they don’t need to be removed for the sake of the straightness of the rest of the teeth. If they do need to be removed for other reasons, that can happen during orthodontic treatment. It’s also a myth that a post-braces smile can be made crooked by wisdom teeth. Our teeth naturally drift as we get older and wear them out more, but not due to wisdom teeth. (So make sure to keep wearing your retainers!)

Let’s Take Care of That Smile!

Everyone’s situation with wisdom teeth is different. Some people need them removed due to impaction, some don’t grow all or any of them, and some get to enjoy the added chewing power of an extra set of molars. We can help you figure out which category you fit into and answer any questions you may have about wisdom teeth and orthodontic 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.

Let’s Bust Some Myths About Braces!

May 7th, 2021

Even people who have never had braces before have probably still heard a lot of things about what they’re like. That’s why we’re here to bust a few popular braces myths.

Myth #1: Braces rust.

While braces are often made of metal, they do not rust. The metals in braces are stainless steel and titanium, so you never need to worry about them rusting during treatment.

Myth #2: It’s impossible to play an instrument with braces.

It certainly takes some adjusting to play brass or woodwind instruments with braces, but it’s still entirely doable! Don’t feel like there has to be a choice between playing a beloved instrument and getting a properly aligned smile. Orthodontic patients can have both!

Myth #3: It’s impossible to play sports with braces.

Athletes who play sports (especially contact sports) might have heard that they shouldn’t keep playing during orthodontic treatment, but that’s not true! A properly fitted mouthguard will provide great protection during practices and games.

Myth #4: Braces cause white spots on your teeth.

While it is true that patients can get white spots during treatment, the braces are NOT the cause! White spots form when food and plaque are left behind on the teeth. Good hygiene is the key to ensuring that your teeth stay white and healthy during orthodontic treatment.

Myth #5: Braces are only for teens.

While some things are best treated during the teenage years, there isn’t a time limit for getting braces. Adults of any age can get them too. Whether you're 6 or 86, there is an orthodontic option for you!

Trust the experts, not the myths!

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.

Benefits of Having Straight Teeth

March 5th, 2021

STRAIGHT TEETH AREN’T just about looking good. People with straight teeth are perceived as being wealthier, happier, and more attractive than people with crooked teeth, and it can definitely be a nice confidence boost. What we want to focus on, though, are the very real health benefits that come with having straight teeth.

Straight Teeth Help With Clear Speech

Crooked or crowded teeth or a bad bite (such as a severe overbite or an underbite) can make it harder to enunciate clearly when speaking. We need our tongues, teeth, and lips in the right places to make the correct sounds, and if our teeth aren’t where they should be, then we have to try to compensate for it, which isn’t always very effective. Orthodontic treatment can help with that. Don’t be discouraged if it takes a while to figure out how to speak clearly around braces or a retainer. That will all be worth it at the end of treatment!

Straight Teeth Help With…Digestion?

It might sound strange, but yes, having straight teeth does help improve digestion. Chewing is a crucial step in the digestive process, and not just because it breaks food into small enough pieces to swallow. As our teeth grind up the food, digestive enzymes in our saliva begin to break it down chemically.

Poorly aligned teeth make it hard to get the most out of this step in the process, which puts a heavier burden on the rest of the digestive system and leads to gastrointestinal issues. It can even make it more difficult to lose weight!

It’s Easier to Breathe With Straight Teeth

First speaking, then eating, but breathing? What does breathing have to do with a straight smile? It’s about the way our teeth fit together. If you aren’t able to comfortably close your jaws when resting, then odds are you’ll end up breathing through your mouth more often. Mouth breathing is linked with many negative health effects, from dry mouth (which makes gum disease and tooth decay more likely) to bad breath to lower energy levels and difficulty focusing.

Straight Teeth Are Easier on the Jaws

A bad bite makes problems with the jaw joint (such as temporomandibular joint disorders or TMD) much more likely. Symptoms of a jaw problem include clicking sounds when moving the jaw, jaw pain, and even frequent headaches.

It’s Easier to Clean Straight Teeth

Teeth that overlap each other and are crowded together can be harder to effectively clean. There are more tight spaces that are hard to reach and easy to miss, leaving them more at risk of decay. It’s much easier to clean all the surfaces of straight teeth and keep that plaque at bay!

Let’s Get Started on a Straighter Smile!

Even if the aesthetics of a crooked smile have never bothered you, you could still be missing out on the health and function benefits of having a properly aligned smile. Just about everything we need teeth for works better when our teeth are straight. If you have any questions about the advantages of a straight smile, just give us a call!

We love helping patients achieve their smile goals!

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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