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Daily Dental Hygiene Tips for Braces Wearers

September 21st, 2021

Every orthodontic patient dreams of Braces Off Day, but tooth decay and unsightly stains can make that dream smile harder to achieve if we aren’t careful about daily dental hygiene while the braces are on. Here are a few crucial tips to follow to get the best results:

#1: Brush after each meal.

Yes, including lunch. Food particles can remain stuck in the braces for hours after lunch, so bring a toothbrush and toothpaste to work or school. A few interdental brushes for extra security wouldn’t hurt either. Just be careful to store the toothbrush somewhere it can dry out between uses because it won’t take long for it to develop some funky smells if it stays damp.

#2: Floss daily.

This may be even more important than brushing, whether it involves traditional floss and floss threaders, floss picks, or a water flosser. Trust us, flossing is worth the effort, even if braces can make it a little trickier to do.

#3: Avoid sugary/acidic foods and drinks.

Did you know that every liquid (other than water) contains some sort of sugar or acid that can damage your teeth? Be sure to limit your sugar and acid intake to keep those teeth nice and healthy.

We’re looking forward to a great Braces Off Day for you!

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

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.

What Do the Different Parts of Braces Do?

August 24th, 2021

Every orthodontic patient has probably wondered what all the different parts are for in their braces. Some patients will have special appliances to correct a difficult problem, but the basics in traditional braces are the brackets and archwires, all held together with colored ligatures (also called bands or a-ties).

The Anchors: Brackets

When we look closely at a new patient’s braces, the brackets aren’t all in a straight line. They might even make the teeth look more obviously crooked. This is because the orthodontist places them in a specific position so that they will be pushed in the right direction when the archwire is added.

The Leverage: Archwires

The archwire runs through all of the brackets on an arch, and it varies in thickness and material depending on what the orthodontist needs it to do for the patient’s treatment plan. Archwires provide steady, gradual pressure to guide the teeth towards the correct position, and the colorful (or clear) ligatures hold everything together.

Bonus Features: Elastics and More

If a treatment plan involves more pieces than these, the most common addition is elastics. These are used to correct bad bites (malocclusions) by bringing the teeth and jaws into proper alignment. However, the only way they can do their job is if the patient follows the orthodontist’s instructions for how many to wear and how often. Too many are just as unhelpful as too few, so don’t try to speed things up by wearing double the recommended amount!

Always follow the orthodontist’s instructions!

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

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.

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.

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