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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.

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.

Why Do We Get Crooked Teeth?

August 18th, 2020

 

IT’S NOT ALWAYS fair or logical, but we get judged on our appearance all the time, and having crooked or straight teeth is a big factor in that. Studies show that people with straight teeth are perceived to be more successful, smarter, and more likely to get dates than those with crooked teeth. But why do crooked teeth happen in the first place?

The Impact of Diet on Dental Alignment

It still isn’t entirely clear what causes teeth to grow in crooked, but one of the current leading theories is called the Soft Foods Theory. The basic idea is that we eat much softer foods than our hunter-gatherer ancestors did, so we aren’t stimulating as much bone growth in our jaws when we chew our food, which leaves our teeth with insufficient space to grow in straight. We also might be getting fewer of the vitamins and minerals that help teeth and bones grow.

That doesn’t mean you should change to a hunter-gatherer diet; the downside of having to chew so much more is that the teeth are subject to a significant amount of additional wear and tear. Personally, we think needing a little orthodontic treatment is a much better deal than an increased risk of wearing out our teeth.

The Impact of Genes

Another contributing cause of crooked teeth is our genes. If you inherit a small jaw from your mother and large teeth from your father, they probably won’t fit together very neatly. Children of parents who had braces are also more likely to need them, but that could be at least partly because parents who had braces know the benefits of having straight teeth better than other parents who didn’t!

Daily Habits Have a Real Impact on Teeth

We can’t control what genes we get and a hunter-gatherer diet doesn’t sound very fun, but there’s another factor that absolutely impacts dental alignment, and that’s daily habits. The good news is that this is one factor we can control. Some of the habits that can seriously affect a dental arch are thumb sucking or pacifier use beyond age four, habitual mouth breathing, a tongue-thrust reflex, and even simply resting your chin on your hand a lot!

Teeth Continue to Shift as We Get Older

Even someone who had straight teeth as a kid or who got them thanks to orthodontic treatment can still have their teeth shift as they age. This is called mesial drift. Over decades of chewing and talking, our teeth rub against each other countless times, which can gradually wear away at the sides of each tooth, making them a tiny bit narrower. When this happens, they can scoot closer together and gradually push towards the front of the mouth, which is why older adults sometimes need braces too! This can be prevented by following your orthodontist's instructions and always wearing your retainer - it's a lifelong commitment!

Bring Any Alignment Issues to the Orthodontist!

Whether you have crowding issues because of genes, habits, or a lifetime of eating processed foods, the orthodontist can help you get the smile you deserve. Give us a call to set up a consultation so we can start developing your unique treatment plan!

We can’t wait to see your braces before and after pictures!

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.

Making Room For Your Gorgeous New Smile

January 7th, 2020

Teeth Crowding

One of the most common issues orthodontic treatment addresses is crowding—when there is not enough space for all the teeth to fit normally, causing them to twist and turn.

Often, braces are enough to rearrange teeth into a healthy dental arch, but in some cases, extra space needs to be gained to properly align everything.

Slenderizing Teeth

When a minimal amount of space is needed, your orthodontist can actually slenderize some of your teeth to help create a little extra space. This is called "interproximal reduction", which is really just a fancy term for sanding in between your teeth. But don't worry! Your teeth won't get noticeably smaller - only 0.25 to 0.75 millimeters of enamel is removed from either side of any tooth as we need to make sure to leave plenty of healthy enamel behind!

Jaw Expansion/Arch Expansion

In some cases, the upper jaw bone itself is too small to fit the top teeth and to fit around the lower jaw. An expander is required in those cases, and will actually make the upper jaw bone larger. This is a treatment that can typically only be performed in growing children/adolescents, however.

Another type of expansion can be done with just the brackets and wires. By reshaping the dental arch and widening it, we can gain a few millimeters of space, which helps us to fit in more of your teeth! While this is an awesome option, there is a limit, as we cannot push the teeth beyond where the gum and bone are to support them.

Some Teeth Just Don’t Fit

 In cases of extreme dental crowding, extractions are often the best option for beginning to align your teeth. Removing teeth can also be key in solving underbite, overbite, and problems with protrusive teeth. Every person is unique when it comes to extractions - some people need one tooth removed, others need two, or even four!

When performed by an experienced specialist, removing a tooth is simple and pain free. If you have any questions about the process, please talk to us!

Making Room For Your Perfect Smile

We understand that the decision to extract a tooth is not one to be taken lightly. We carefully examine dental models, x-rays, photos, and jaw structure to determine the best way to create your beautiful new smile. By considering all treatment options, we find the one that will most efficiently give you the best results in the safest and healthiest way possible.

We treasure the trust you have placed in us as your orthodontic specialists. Thank you for being our valued patient and friend!

(Image by Flickr user Ben Tesch used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.)

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.

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.

Tooth Impaction: Teeth Trapped In The Gums

May 14th, 2019

EVERYONE’S TEETH ARE DIFFERENT. Some people’s adult teeth come in early, some come in late. In rare cases, not all of the adult teeth will come in on their own, which could be because they’re trapped beneath the gums.

Impacted Teeth

Overcrowding is a fairly common issue for adult teeth, but sometimes when there isn’t room for a new tooth to come in, it stays partially or fully under the gums instead. This happens most often with wisdom teeth, which can actually endanger the roots of neighboring molars when they are crooked or sideways in the jaw.

After wisdom teeth, the most likely teeth to be impacted are the upper canines. Research has shown that these tend to pop up more frequently in families. Usually only one of the canines is impacted, but sometimes they both are. The reason this happens to the upper canines is that they come in after the incisors and premolars next to them, which doesn't always leave them enough room.

The Problems When Teeth Can’t Come In

Typical complications of impacted teeth include cavities, infections, gum disease, nerve damage, root damage to adjacent teeth with symptoms like bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth, pain and tenderness around the jaw, headaches and jaw aches, swollen gums or lymph nodes, and visible gaps between teeth.

Not everyone with an impacted tooth will experience these symptoms, however. With an impacted canine, the baby tooth might not even loosen because nothing’s pushing at it. This can have a significant impact on a person’s face and smile, because canine teeth have the longest roots and form the “corners” of the smile, as well as providing protection and support for the teeth around them.

Putting An Impacted Tooth In Its Place

There isn’t usually a way to prevent a tooth from becoming impacted, but an impacted wisdom tooth can be removed, and an impacted canine can be moved into its proper place with the assistance of oral surgery and orthodontic treatment. After the impacted tooth is discovered in dental X-rays, the orthodontist can decide how best to proceed.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_r1Zl2rI_8o

Think You Might Have An Impacted Tooth?

Do you or someone you know have an impacted canine tooth? Schedule a consultation with us so that we can take a look and come up with a plan to move that tooth out of the gums where it’s hiding and into the place it belongs!

We’re here to help you get the smile of your dreams!

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

Breaking Down Eight Braces Myths

April 16th, 2019

EVEN IF YOU’VE NEVER had braces before, you’ve probably still heard a lot of things about what they’re like. Well, don’t believe everything you hear, because there is some bad information out there. That’s why today we’re going to bust eight of the most common braces myths.

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 don’t have to worry about them rusting in your mouth.

2. You Can’t 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 you have to choose between proper dental alignment and the instrument you love, because you can have both!

3. You Can’t Play Sports With Braces

If you play a sport, particularly a contact sport, you may have heard that you won’t be able to keep playing while you have braces, but this isn’t the case! As long as you wear a properly fitted mouthguard, your mouth and your braces will be protected while you play.

4. Braces Are Only For Teens

It is true that it is easier to undergo orthodontic treatment as a teenager, but there isn’t a time limit for getting braces. Adults of any age can get them too. We've treated patients from age 8 to 80!

5. My General Dentist Can Give Me Braces

To become an orthodontist, a dentist must gain years of additional training after completing dental school. Your general dentist has not completed this training to understand the best ways to safely and effectively correct misaligned teeth and jaws.

6. Rubber Bands Aren’t Important

Failing to wear rubber bands as instructed by the orthodontist is one of the biggest causes for prolonged orthodontic treatment. Wear your rubber bands!

7. Double Rubber Bands Equal Double The Movement

While some patients forget their rubber bands or don’t want to bother with them because they are uncomfortable, other patients think they can reduce their treatment time by wearing even more rubber bands than recommended. Do not do this! Too many rubber bands will cause unnecessary discomfort and they won’t move your teeth the way they are meant to move. It can actually cause damage to the roots and bone due to excessive force! You will probably end up needing to wear your braces longer than planned as a result. Stick to the instructions.

8. Your Teeth Will Be Straight Forever After Braces

The periodontal ligaments that hold our teeth in place within our jaws tend to be stubborn, and have muscle memory like all other muscles in our body. They remember where the teeth used to be before braces, and they want to go back. To keep your teeth in their aligned, post-braces condition, make sure you wear your retainers as recommended.

Trust The Experts, Not The Myths!

Whatever you’ve heard about orthodontic treatment, make sure you bring all your questions to us. We can tell you what braces are really like at your initial consultation, as well as what you can expect from your treatment, how long it will likely take, and what you will experience.

We can’t wait to help you get the smile of your dreams!

Top image by Flickr user Gordon 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.

Temporomandibular Disorders

April 10th, 2019

OUR JAWS DO A LOT of work throughout the day, opening and closing over and over so that we can do ordinary things like talk, eat, and yawn. Ideally, all of the anatomy involved functions as it should and we can perform these tasks without trouble, but many people struggle with temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders because something has gone wrong.

The Anatomy Of The Temporomandibular Joints

The joints on both sides of our jaw, located between the ear and the cheekbone, consists of three parts: the socket (part of the temporal bone), the ball (the top part of the jawbone), and a small, fibrous disk that acts as a cushion between the two. The ball and socket are covered in cartilage to help keep movement smooth and comfortable.

If the disk erodes or moves out of its proper alignment, if the cartilage on the bone is worn away by arthritis, or if there is a traumatic injury to the joint, a TMJ disorder may be the result.

Symptoms Of TMJ Disorders

Common symptoms of a TMJ disorder include:

  • Clicking or popping sounds in the joint when chewing, or a grating sensation
  • Pain or tenderness of the jaw
  • Pain in one or both of the temporomandibular joints
  • Difficult or painful chewing
  • Aching pain around the face
  • Aching pain in and around the ear
  • Difficulty opening or closing the jaw due to locking of the joint

Tips For Relieving TMJ Pain

If you’re dealing with TMJ pain, there are a few things you can do to reduce it on your own:

  • Keep yawning and chewing to a minimum.
  • When possible, avoid extreme jaw movements like from singing or yelling.
  • If you have to yawn, control it by pressing a fist beneath your chin.
  • When resting, hold your teeth slightly apart rather than fully closed. This is the natural resting position for the jaw, even when the lips are closed.
  • Eat soft foods that require little to no chewing.

Treatment For TMJ Disorders

In most cases, TMJ pain is temporary and goes away on its own after a week or two, but not always. If it doesn’t, and especially if it gets worse, then it likely needs treatment, which varies depending on the cause.

These treatments include ice packs, exercise, and moist heat, medication, and splints, but if none of them are enough, then measures like transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), ultrasound treatment, or trigger-point injections may be necessary. If all else fails, orthodontics and/or jaw surgery may be recommended to ensure that the entire system is fitting and functioning in the most stable and well-supported manner.

Talk To Us About Your Jaw Pain

If you’ve been experiencing persistent pain or tenderness in your jaw or difficulty opening and closing it completely, give us a call or stop by so that we can look for the cause and get you on the path to being pain-free.

Together, we can defeat TMJ pain!

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.

Adult Braces: Not A Myth

March 19th, 2019

IF YOU’RE OUT OF your teens, you might think you missed your chance for straight teeth, but that’s not true! Modern orthodontic treatment is for adults as well as teens. And even if you had braces before, your teeth might still shift over time, which is another reason to consider treatment as an adult.
How Teeth Shift As We Age

Our teeth naturally move and shift throughout our lives — including in ways we’d prefer they didn’t. In a process called mesial drift, our teeth slowly move towards the front of our mouths as we age. Other factors, including enamel loss, teeth grinding, and tooth loss, can move our teeth out of alignment too. The result is an increasingly crooked, overcrowded smile that is harder to keep healthy. If you previously had orthodontic treatment, but stopped wearing your retainers or had them removed, your teeth are free to shift wherever they please! Retainers are a lifelong commitment!

 

It’s Never Too Late For Orthodontic Treatment

Stopping bad habits and maintaining good ones is important, but it won’t reverse dental shifting that has already taken place, and that’s where adult orthodontic treatment comes in. While it’s true that our teeth can be guided into place more easily when we are younger, they will still respond to orthodontic appliances.

One advantage adult orthodontic patients have over teenagers is that they have the self-discipline to carefully follow the orthodontist’s instruction, which ensures better, timelier results!

Go Low-Profile With Modern Orthodontics

Maybe you already knew that adults could get braces, and what’s really stopping you is the idea of spending a year or so as a “brace-face.” Don’t be discouraged! There are several ways to get orthodontic treatment without everyone noticing your appliance, such as invisible aligners or clear, ceramic braces. No one needs to know that you’re on your way to a straighter smile if you don’t want them to!

Schedule Your Consultation Today!

Everyone’s teeth are different, and so is their orthodontic treatment. We’re sure you still have many questions about what your treatment would involve, how long it would take, and, of course, the cost. We’d be happy to answer any questions you have about adult braces, so just give us a call or stop by!

Everyone deserves to have the smile of their dreams!

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

Straight Teeth: Not Just About Looks

February 26th, 2019

The most obvious impact of orthodontic treatment is a straighter, more attractive smile. While it is true that we tend to perceive people with properly aligned teeth as happier and more successful, the benefits aren’t just superficial.

Clearer Speech

Do you remember the lisp you had between losing your two front teeth and the adult ones growing in? Based on that, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that our teeth are a crucial component to our ability to speak and enunciate clearly.

In order to make the right sounds, our lips and tongues have to maneuver around our teeth. When teeth are properly aligned, this is simple, but crooked teeth can result in a lisp, slurring, or difficulty making certain sounds that require tongue-to-tooth contact, such as the “t,” “s,” and “ch” sounds. Orthodontic treatment can solve these problems by moving the teeth into their proper positions.

Healthier Digestion

We don’t give our teeth enough credit for the role they play in good digestion. Chewing is a very important part of the process. It doesn’t just chop the food into small enough pieces to fit down the esophagus, it mixes the food with saliva, which begins the chemical digestion process.

When we wolf down our food without much chewing — or when we chew with misaligned teeth that don’t do the job effectively — it forces our stomachs to work harder than they should. If you already have straight teeth, put them to good use by chewing each mouthful for longer. If you don’t, your digestive system will thank you for getting orthodontic treatment.

Better Breathing

Having poorly aligned teeth can make it difficult or even impossible to comfortably close your jaws when you aren’t moving them, which can lead to habitual mouth breathing. Mouth breathing has a number of negative effects, including dry mouth, bad breath, snoring, chronic fatigue, and brain fog. The effects are an even bigger problem for kids, sometimes going as far as changing the development of their facial bone structure.

Easier Cleaning

Properly aligned teeth have the additional benefit of being easier to clean and maintain! It can be difficult to adequately navigate your toothbrush and floss around very crooked or misplaced teeth. When your teeth are in their appropriate positions, your job of keeping them clean becomes much easier. Plus, if you are able to keep things healthier, there should be less cavities for your to worry about!

Straight Teeth For A Better Life

Not only do straight teeth make it easier to speak, eat, and breathe properly, they’re also easier to clean! Maybe you’ve been avoiding orthodontic treatment because you’re happy with the way your smile looks, but the many benefits of straight teeth are worth considering.

Straight teeth lead to better oral health and better overall health!

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.

Making Malocclusions Bite The Dust

January 23rd, 2018

A MALOCCLUSION OCCURS when the upper and lower teeth don’t fit together properly, which can lead to a variety of problems. These bad bites can impact our speech, our digestion (by making it difficult to chew our food), contribute to TMJ syndrome, and even put our teeth in danger of breaking.
Causes Of Malocclusions

Malocclusions are often genetic. You might inherit different sized jaws that don’t fit together easily, or you might inherit teeth that are the wrong size for your jaws. Malocclusions can also be caused by injuries or bad oral habits during developmental years. These include thumb-sucking, tongue-thrusting, lip-sucking, mouth-breathing, nail-biting, and teeth-clenching.

Parents can help their children have healthier bites as they grow up by discouraging these habits. If the malocclusion is the result of one of the above mentioned bad habits, breaking that habit will be a crucial part of ensuring the malocclusion doesn’t return (but don’t worry; we can help with that).

Common Malocclusion Types

In a correct bite, the upper front teeth come slightly over the lower front teeth, and the points of each molar fit in the grooves of their counterparts in the upper or lower jaw. There are quite a few ways a person’s teeth can veer away from this healthy ideal, but we’ll just cover five of them here.

  • Excessive protrusion: the upper teeth stick forward, or overjet the lower teeth horizontally more than in a healthy bite
  • Underbite: the lower teeth overlap or partially cover the upper teeth
  • Crossbite: some of the upper teeth bite down on the inside of the lower teeth
  • Deep bite: an overbite so severe that the upper front teeth completely overlap the lower front teeth, sometimes driving the lower teeth into the gums behind the upper teeth when biting down
  • Open bite: the front upper and lower teeth do not make any contact with each other when biting down

Orthodontics And Bite Correction

These and other types of malocclusions can be corrected with orthodontics. That sentence might conjure up mental images of bulky headgear or extensive oral surgery, but don’t worry. While surgery and headgear may still be necessary in severe cases, bite correction is typically much more low profile and hassle-free today than it was in decades past. And, of course, the result of orthodontic treatment is a healthy and beautiful aligned smile!

Let’s Take A Look At Those Teeth!

Schedule a consultation with us today so that we can make sure everything looks good with your bite and make a plan to correct any alignment problems. We look forward to giving you the healthy bite you deserve!

Thank you 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.

Why Do We Get Crooked Teeth?

December 20th, 2017

IF BABY TEETH almost always grow in straight, then why are adult teeth so often crooked? What is it, if not just bad luck? There are competing theories, but adult teeth can come in crooked for a variety of reasons, from genetics to diet to daily habits.

Shifts In Society’s Diet…And Its Teeth?

One popular theory that comes from archeological studies is the Soft Foods Theory. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate much tougher foods than we do now, and this promoted more bone growth in the jaws and better-aligned teeth as a result. The theory suggests two possible reasons why modern people more often have crooked teeth:

  1. Modern food is processed and soft, so it doesn’t stimulate as much jaw bone growth.
  2. Modern food lacks many of the vitamins and minerals a hunter/gatherer diet would have been rich in, so the teeth and jaws can’t develop as much.

For more details on the Soft Foods Theory, check out this short video:

Braces Run In The Family

Even if you managed to eat tough foods for long enough to grow the jaw bones of a hunter/gatherer, you still wouldn’t be able to control what genes you inherited from your parents. If your parents didn’t need braces but you got Mom’s small jaw and Dad’s large teeth, you’ll end up with a crowding problem. Many children whose parents needed braces will also need braces.

Daily Habits Can Shift Your Teeth

While we have no say in our genes and would probably have a difficult time successfully sticking to a hunter/gatherer diet, the one cause of crooked teeth we might be able to control is our everyday habits. Something as simple as resting your chin on your hands can cause your teeth to shift over time, but these are the main offenders:

Thumb-sucking, when it continues past toddlerhood, can cause the upper teeth to flare out and shift the lower teeth inward, creating a badly misaligned bite, changing the shape of the jaw, and even affecting speech. If you’re looking for ways to discourage your child’s thumb-sucking habit, check out this resource.

Mouth-breathing, particularly during developmental years, can lead to dental crowding over time. Normally, when the mouth is closed, the tongue exerts pressure against the sides of the jaw, helping it develop in a healthy, wide shape. If the mouth is always open for breathing, this pressure isn’t there, and the jaw narrows, crowding the teeth.

Tongue-thrusting is the name of an incorrect or immature way of swallowing in which the tongue presses against the front teeth instead of the roof of the mouth. Babies naturally start out with this reflex, but it doesn’t always go away when it should, leading to dental alignment problems. This can be a difficult reflex to unlearn as a teen or adult, but there are special orthodontic appliances designed to encourage better swallowing habits.

Whatever The Cause, We’re The Solution!

Whether teeth teeth are crooked due to genetics, a modern diet, or these kinds of unhealthy habits during childhood, the solution is the same: orthodontic treatment. If you haven’t already, schedule a consultation with us so that we can make a plan for getting you the perfectly aligned smile you deserve!

Thank you for trusting us with your teeth! We love helping you look your best!

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.

Five Quick Braces-Friendly Breakfast Ideas

November 28th, 2017

WHEN YOU HAVE BRACES, it can sometimes be tricky to find good food to eat that won’t put all those crucial brackets and wires at risk. Finding the right food is even trickier if you’ve just had your braces adjusted and things are still a little tender. That’s why we’re dedicating an entire blog post to giving you great braces-friendly breakfast ideas to satisfy your stomach while being gentle on your teeth!
1. Puréed Fruit

One of the biggest items on the banned foods list for braces is apples, because biting into such a hard fruit can easily pop brackets off. When your teeth are sore after an adjustment, you probably wouldn’t want to eat apples or other hard fruits even if you could, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy your daily servings of fruit—in purée form! Whether it’s a fruit smoothie with no sugar added or homemade applesauce, you can’t go wrong with fruit purée.

2. Greek Yogurt

Another great option when you don’t want to do much chewing is yogurt, whether it be Greek or regular, cool or frozen, plain or flavored. You can add some fruit, cinnamon, honey—whatever you love. The creamy smoothness isn’t the only thing that makes Greek yogurt perfect for your sore mouth; it also has a ton of health benefits such as protein to build strong muscles, probiotics to improve digestion and strengthen your immune system, and calcium for healthy teeth and bones!

3. Scrambled Or Soft-Boiled Eggs

If fruit and yogurt don’t sound very filling to you, then how about eggs? Cooked right, scrambled eggs are wonderfully soft and fluffy, so you can go easy on your teeth and braces while still eating a hearty meal. The same goes for soft-boiled, hard-boiled, and poached eggs. They’re quite soft to bite into and are delicious, healthy ways to start your day!

For another great egg breakfast idea, check out this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kuR_-4fne24


4. Oatmeal Or Overnight Oats

If you’re looking for other hearty breakfast options, oatmeal and overnight oats are perfect, and they’re so soft and creamy! Oatmeal itself is already such a creamy meal in instant form, but when you make it into overnight oats, you’re in a whole new ballpark. You can add whatever toppings you’d like, such as fruit, honey, cinnamon, or vanilla. You’ll get a meal full of flavor with no pressure on your teeth!

5. Milk Toast

If you’ve never heard of this one before, it might be time to try something new! Normally, toast is too crunchy to eat with sore teeth, but toast soaked in milk and flavored with cinnamon and sugar won’t give you any trouble. It’s easy, it’s fast, it’s delicious, and your teeth will love it.

Enjoy Your Breakfast!

We know braces take some getting used to, and that’s why we’re always here to help! If you need more ideas for braces-friendly foods, just let us know, and call us or come in if you have any other questions about your braces!

We’re here to make sure you have a great braces experience!

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.

Your Child’s Initial Orthodontic Evaluation

August 15th, 2017

PARENTING CAN SOMETIMES FEEL like a time warp: one minute, you’re holding your new baby, the next, they’re getting a driver’s license. Because the time goes by so fast, we tend to want to hold onto our kids’ childhoods. However, that’s no reason not to plan ahead, particularly when it comes to orthodontic treatment.

Don’t Wait For An Initial Orthodontic Evaluation

Everyone’s teeth develop differently, so the right age to bring your child in for an initial orthodontic screening can vary. The American Association of Orthodontics recommends that parents bring their children in not long after their first pair of adult teeth come in. That usually means somewhere around age seven. But why is it so important to have that initial screening so early, when kids’ mouths typically aren’t ready for orthodontic treatment until sometime between ages nine and fourteen?

The Value Of Early Evaluation

By the time kids get their bottom incisors, the rest of their adult teeth will have begun to form in the gums. At this point, we can get a good idea of how things are going to develop. We can also determine if there are any bad habits contributing to future crowding or jaw alignment problems, such as thumb-sucking and mouth-breathing. If these habits stop early enough, the damage can be minimized or avoided, shortening the amount of time your child will spend in braces later on.

An initial consultation isn’t about fitting braces, it’s about seeing how things are progressing and making plans for the future. These appointments typically involve:

  • A review of your child’s dental and medical history
  • An oral exam, complete with X-Rays if necessary, to determine what orthodontic treatment (if any) will be needed later
  • Coming up with a game plan for helping your child achieve a straight, healthy smile

Involve An Orthodontist Early On

Age seven might seem young to take a child in for an orthodontic screening, so some parents might prefer to discuss their child’s orthodontic future with a regular dentist. However, while all orthodontists are dentists, not all dentists are orthodontists. Orthodontists go through years of additional, specialized training after completing dental school. This training is what makes us uniquely qualified to straighten teeth and align your child’s bite. As crucial as it is to take your children (and yourself) to the dentist for regular cleanings, it is also crucial to see an orthodontist when it comes to making sure teeth fit together the way they should.

Invest Early In Your Child’s Healthy Smile

Our practice is dedicated to making sure that our patients get the healthy, straight teeth they deserve, and early evaluations make that process easier for everyone involved. We hope to see you soon so that we can begin planning the future of your child’s beautiful smile!

Our patients are our first priority!

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.


Have You Considered Invisalign®?

April 18th, 2017

IF YOU WANTED TO STRAIGHTEN your teeth back in the day, you really only had one option–traditional metal braces. The science of orthodontics has evolved significantly in recent years, allowing our patients to have a variety of different options when it comes to how they would like to have their teeth straightened and what is most convenient for them. Today, we want to talk about Invisalign®!

Invisalign Treatment Provides Many Benefits

Not everyone is a good candidate for Invisalign, but if you are, it may be a great option to achieve your dream smile!

As the name implies, Invisalign trays are nearly invisible, allowing you to go throughout your daily activities with most people being unaware that you are undergoing orthodontic treatment! The aligners are custom-made for you, ensuring a perfect, comfortable fit.

Of course one of the best perks of choosing Invisalign is being able to eat whatever you want! Because you can take your aligners off while eating and drinking, you don’t have to worry about staying away from the foods that you love. Invisalign trays also don’t affect your oral hygiene routine like traditional braces do. You can brush and floss as you normally would!

You also won’t have to worry about getting used to metal brackets that may rub on your cheeks and lips at the beginning of treatment or during sporting events. With Invisalign, you don’t have to sacrifice comfort to get the smile you’ve always wanted.

And even though we love to see you, patients with Invisalign generally need to come in less frequently than our other orthodontic patients. If you have a busy schedule but still want to improve your smile, Invisalign might be just the thing for you!

Talk To Us About Invisalign

We want your orthodontic treatment to reflect your unique smile, lifestyle and personality. Call us today to discuss any questions you might have about Invisalign or any of the other treatments we provide at our office!

Thank you for choosing our practice. We absolutely 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.

Baby Teeth Myths — Busted!

December 13th, 2016

YOU MIGHT THINK that baby teeth don’t matter because “they’re just going to fall out anyway,” but think again!

There are a lot of myths about baby teeth out there, so we’re going to set the record straight! here’s a list of the top four baby teeth myths, BUSTED!

Myth #1: Baby Teeth Aren’t Important

Although baby teeth eventually fall out, they are extremely important to a child’s developing oral health. Not only do they hold the space for permanent teeth to grow in straight (preventing crowding and crooked teeth), they also help the face structure develop properly and ensure that young children can eat and receive plenty of nutrition.

Myth #2: Cavities In Baby Teeth Don’t Matter

You might have heard that babies can’t get cavities at all, or that if they do have them, it’s not a big deal. Both rumors are untrue; not only are cavities painful, they can cause swelling and even infection. In addition, children who have cavities in their baby teeth are three times more likely to develop cavities in their adult teeth. If you think your child may be developing a cavity, marked by discoloration or a small crack, call us right away!

TIP: Don’t let your child fall asleep with a bottle! Juice and milk are full of bacteria-feeding sugars which cause cavities.

Myth #3: You Don’t Need To Brush or Floss Baby Teeth

You should begin “brushing” your children’s teeth even before their first tooth grows in! Just use a soft, wet cloth or bit of gauze to rub their gums to help reduce bacteria and prevent future cavities. Once teeth come in, help get your children in the habit of brushing twice daily with a smear of toothpaste and flossing regularly.

Myth #4: Young Children Don’t Need To See A Dentist

There is a common misconception that children shouldn’t visit the dentist before the age of three, or before they have their full set of 20 primary teeth. The ADA states that children should visit the dentist by the time they get their first tooth, or at least by the age of one.Early check-ups can identify cavities and help prevent and assess other problems.

Need Any More Myths Debunked? We Can Help!

If you have any questions regarding your child’s oral health, give us a call! We love any opportunity to help you, our wonderful patients!

Thank you for being a part of our practice family.

Top image by Flickr user Donnie Ray Jones 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.

Think It’s Too Late For Braces? Think Again!

October 4th, 2016

THE STEREOTYPICAL IMAGE of a child or teenager in braces is a thing of the past. In fact, more than one million adults in the U.S. and Canada currently wear braces! If you’re thinking it’s too late for you to straighten your smile, we want you to know that no matter your age, orthodontic treatment can change your life.

Why Are So Many Adults Seeking Orthodontic Treatment?

We know that not everyone had the opportunity to receive orthodontic treatment when they were young, even if they wanted to. Some of you may have had braces in the past but for various reasons need them again. Whatever the reason you are seeking orthodontic treatment as an adult, we have options for you!

Because of advances in technology, we are able to provide a variety of treatment options. Depending on your unique case as well as your lifestyle and personality, we will recommend one of the following types of braces:

  • Conventional metal braces
  • Ceramic braces
  • Clear plastic aligners (Invisalign)

With more options and more freedom to choose, you can get the smile you’ve always wanted in a way that works best for you.

The Benefits Of Straight Teeth Go Beyond Cosmetics

Having straight teeth and a healthy smile you are proud of are shown to improve self-esteem and confidence. According to 75 percent of adult braces wearers, orthodontic treatment can even improve your career and personal relationships.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3DIrqWotkdQ

But beyond the cosmetic side of things, many adults are realizing just how important straight teeth and an aligned bite are for oral and overall health. Here are just a few of the health benefits orthodontic treatment could provide for you:

  1. Less plaque and tartar buildup: When teeth are crooked and crowded they trap food more easily and are harder to clean. That’s why having straight teeth reduces the risk for tooth decay and gum disease.
  2. Easier eating: Did you know that misaligned or crowded teeth can compromise chewing? It can also cause abnormal tooth enamel wear and increase your risk of cracking or chipping a tooth.
  3. Less headaches: Jaw misalignment and crooked teeth are common contributors to headaches and neck, jaw and face pain, as well as pain associated with TMD.

Talk To Us Today About Adult Orthodontics

It’s no wonder that 92 percent of adults with braces say they would recommend orthodontic treatment to their peers. Braces can beautify your smile and help give rise to a healthier, happier you! So, what are you waiting for? Set up an orthodontic consultation with us today.

We can’t wait to give you the smile you’ve always dreamed of!

Top image by Flickr user Chris Hunkeler 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.

How Everyday Habits Affect Your Teeth

July 26th, 2016

TOOTH ENAMEL HAS the pretty cool reputation of being the hardest substance in the human body. So it may come as a surprise to know that while enamel is super tough, it can also break quite easily! The truth is that our teeth are not invincible, and a lot of everyday habits can put our oral health at risk.

Watch Out For These Tooth-Damaging Habits

Many of these habits seem harmless, but over time they can do a lot of damage to that beautiful smile of yours!

Nail Biting

We may refer to closely-matched sports games as “nail-biters,” but that doesn’t mean we should actually be biting our nails! Nail biting can cause teeth to chip or break as well as lead to enamel damage. The front teeth are often the first to suffer wear and tear from nail biting.

For the sake of teeth everywhere, let’s keep the term “nail-biter” as a manner of expression rather than a label for ourselves!

Using Your Teeth As A Tool

That darn packet of ketchup just won’t open! While your teeth may seem to be the perfect solution, using them as a tool will cause more harm than good. As strong as your teeth may be, they are not meant to be used as pliers or any other sort of tool. Doing so can lead to fractured or broken teeth and even tooth loss. As a side note, tooth damage puts you at greater risk of decay and cavities!

Gnawing On Pens And Pencils

You may be solving a difficult problem or simply thinking. Before you know it, the end of your pen or pencil is in your mouth. This oftentimes unconscious habit is an important one to be aware of. We don’t realize how much pressure we’re placing on our teeth when we bite down on something that isn’t food.

Chewing on your pen or pencil puts you at risk for broken teeth and even damage to existing dental work. Constant chewing on hard objects can compromise dental restorations such as fillings or crowns. Constant function outside of normal eating and speaking can also lead to jaw pain! When it comes to this bad habit, we say stay away!

Chewing Ice

Are you an ice chewer? Chewing on ice is another huge culprit behind chipped, cracked and fractured teeth. The cold can weaken teeth even further, leaving them more susceptible to breakage.Chewing ice cubes doesn’t just chip teeth, it chips away tooth enamel as well, causing serious damage over time. Even your blender needs special blades to crush ice! So next time you’re tempted, just remember your teeth aren’t equipped to crush ice cubes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5aYKJHa0ptM

Do Your Chompers A Favor

Your teeth are made to chew food and nothing more. If you’ve got one of these bad habits, do your chompers a favor and work on quitting. If you have successfully broken one of these habits, tell us how in the comments below!

Our patients rock!

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.

Calcium Isn't Just Good for Bones—It Benefits Your Smile Too!

June 28th, 2016

WE'VE ALL BEEN TOLD (and many of us tell our children) that milk builds strong bones. But our nutritional and dietary preferences are not only widely varied, they also change from time to time. Does milk really “do a body good”? Some believe it does, and others believe it doesn’t.

Regardless of your take, you’re not alone. Today, millions of people follow vegan or vegetarian diets, and tens of millions of people are lactose intolerant. Whether or not you choose to avoid dairy for health or other personal reasons, here are some thoughts from our team.

Calcium and Vitamin D Play a Key Role in Oral Health

It’s true that dairy products are full of calcium, and often supplemented with vitamin D (which helps your body absorb calcium and other bone-building minerals). While people on specialized diets (including vegans and vegetarians) are typically very careful about eating healthy, there’s still a risk of calcium and vitamin D deficiency.

One of the dangers in calcium and vitamin D deficiency is the increased risk of periodontal (gum) disease. In addition, these deficiencies can weaken your teeth and lead to tooth decay. Without the right vitamins and minerals, your mouth’s defenses may be down.

Need a Good Source of Calcium? Dairy Isn't the Only Option!

The good news is that, if you choose, you can get these nutrients from alternative sources. For example, just one ounce of sesame seeds contains almost as much calcium as an entire glass of milk. Other major sources of calcium are dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, and collard greens.

When it comes to vitamin D, surprisingly, your best source is the sun! When exposed to the sun’s radiation, your body naturally produces vitamin D. But of course, be careful and use common sense—you also know the potential problems associated with prolonged/unprotected sun exposure.

There are also a number of things we can eat and drink that are “fortified” with calcium and vitamin D including soy milk, orange juice and some breakfast cereals. You can also consider taking supplements.

Here Are 10 Calcium Rich Options For Your Diet

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qw6H3Jov70c?rel=0

Do you have questions about this topic? Contact us! Do you have suggestions for others who may be wondering about other sources for their daily calcium? Let us know! Leave a comment below, or on our Facebook page. We love hearing from you!

And, as always, thank you for being our valued patient!

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.

Brush Up On Some Toothbrush History

June 14th, 2016

WITH ALL THE AMAZING technology we see today, it's easy to overlook the small wonders of the world—like the toothbrush! This small, but remarkable invention is the staple of our oral hygiene and health. Join us on a journey through time as we explore the way the toothbrush has changed across the ages!

Ancient Civilizations Used Sticks to Clean Their Teeth

Today, we understand the importance oral hygiene plays in our overall health. But even over 5,000 years ago people recognized the need for some type of oral care. Babylonian and Egyptian civilizations around 3500-3000 B.C. made “toothbrushes” by fraying the end of sticks and chewing on them!

Later, the Chinese made similar chewing sticks from aromatic tree twigs that were meant to freshen breath. People didn’t just use sticks, however. Bird feathers, animal bones and even porcupine quills were used to pick at food debris in the teeth.

The First Toothbrushes Were Made with Pig Hair

The first mention of an actual brush to clean teeth appears in Chinese writings around the 13th century. Bamboo or animal bone was used as the handle of the toothbrush and pig hair formed the bristles. Toothbrushes weren’t widely used or produced, however, until a couple hundred years later.

Around the year 1780, an Englishman named William Addis was sitting in his prison cell thinking of better ways to clean our teeth than rubbing them with a rag full of soot and salt (yuck!). He carved a handle out of animal bone, made some holes at the top and tied swine bristles to it. When he got out of prison, he turned toothbrush production into a business and made a fortune!

The Modern Toothbrush Continues to Evolve Today

As appetizing as pig hair sounds, aren’t you glad toothbrushes nowadays are made with nylon bristles? Nylon was invented in 1938 and by the 1950's, toothbrushes began to look and feel more like they do today. More technological advances made it possible to develop toothbrushes even further, and the electric toothbrush made its way to the United States in 1960.

People are still looking to drive toothbrush technology forward. New apps are being created all the time to make toothbrushing easier and more enjoyable. It even looks like built-in cameras may be in the future of toothbrushes!

The Toothbrush: One of Man's Greatest Inventions?

The idea of the toothbrush was simple, but there’s no doubt it has greatly contributed to our oral and overall health. In fact, when a group of people were asked which invention they could not live withoutthe toothbrush beat out the car, computer, cell phone and microwave!

So, don’t take your toothbrush for granted. Use it at least twice daily for a full two minutes! Your pearly whites will thank you.

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.

Image by Flickr user William Warby used under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Extra Floss? Try These Tricks!

May 25th, 2016

WE KNOW, WE KNOW… We ask you about flossing every time you come visit us! It is an integral part of your oral hygiene routine and essential for healthy gums and teeth. But did you know there’s more to floss than cleaning between your teeth? Dental floss can actually be used for a lot of other things!

Eight Useful Dental Floss Hacks

Have some extra floss lying around? Don’t have the right equipment and need to get a job done in a pinch? Try these cool dental floss hacks.

  1. Use floss for perfectly sliced cake. Ever slice a cake and the knife comes up with half of the cake on it? Use flavorless dental floss to make the perfect slice by stretching it taut and gently pressing through the cake. Pull it out when you reach the bottom and voila!
  2. Don’t have any kitchen twine? Floss will do. Some foods like meat and bacon need to be bound when cooked. Usually kitchen twine takes care of this but what if you run out? Floss (again, flavorless) has got you covered!
  3. Floss can help you start a campfire. Believe it or not, waxed dental floss burns well! Wrap dental floss around a match or a dry piece of wood to increase burn time.
  4. Floss can clean out those hard-to-reach spots in your furniture. You know those small cracks and crevices in your wooden furniture that you can never manage to clean? Well, dental floss is meant to get into nooks and crannies! Try it on your wooden furniture. You’ll thank us later.
  5. Floss is great for sewing. Whether you’re out of thread or in need of something more durable, floss works well for sewing on buttons and patching up holes on the fly.
  6. Are your freshly-baked cookies stuck to the baking sheet? Floss ‘em! Dental floss can unstick your cookies without leaving anything behind.
  7. Dental floss can even help in the garden. If you’re training a vine to grow a certain direction, floss can help! Use it to attach the vine loosely to the structure you want the vine to climb.
  8. Floss makes for an easy DIY clothesline. If you’re camping, in a hotel, or simply don’t have room in the dryer, floss can be used to create your own clothesline. Yes, it’s that strong!

Let’s Be Honest, Floss Is Awesome

Whether you’re using floss to patch something up or slice your birthday cake, always remember to use it for what it was made for, to clean in between your teeth! Daily flossing protects your beautiful smile from periodontal disease and tooth loss, so yeah, we’d say it’s pretty awesome!

Know some more flossing hacks? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page! We’d love to hear from you!

We have the best patients in the world!

Image by Flickr user brett jordan 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.

Saliva: The Unsung Hero of Oral Health

May 17th, 2016

EVER THINK ABOUT HOW GREAT your saliva is? Probably not. We’d love to enlighten you! Saliva has an all-important role in your oral and digestive health.

Saliva Has Many Important Functions

Our bodies make two to four pints of saliva a day. That means that over a lifetime, a person will create enough saliva to fill two swimming pools! So, why is saliva important? Well, there’s more than one answer to that. Besides allowing us to give wet willies or make spit wads when we were kids, our saliva has many important functions.

First, saliva aids in digestion. It begins the process of breaking down food and helps us chew, taste and swallow. In fact, without our spit, we wouldn’t be able to taste at all!

Additionally, saliva is essential to maintaining our oral health. Our spit contains antimicrobial agents that protect teeth and defend against bacteria. It also contains minerals such as calcium and phosphate that remineralize our teeth, strengthening the enamel.

Your saliva plays an especially important role after eating and drinking. It washes away that extra food and debris left in your mouth that contributes to decay. It also helps neutralize the acids created by bacteria that break down enamel and cause cavities. Thank you, saliva!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bYudf5iSJ_M?rel=0


Some People Do Not Create Enough Saliva

Some people have a condition called dry mouth, where they aren’t producing enough saliva. Certain illnesses and medications can cause dry mouth, and those who have it are more prone to tooth decay and gum disease as a result. For those with and without dry mouth, here are some tips to increase saliva production and protect your teeth:

  • Chew sugar-free gum, especially after meals
  • Suck on sugarless candy
  • Drink plenty of water

Saliva Works Around the Clock to Protect Our Smiles

Saliva may just be the unsung hero of our oral health. It is constantly strengthening and defending our teeth against bacteria, decay and dental disease. At the end of the day, all we can say is that our bodies are amazing and our spit is awesome!

Thank you to our wonderful patients and friends!

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.

Are Sports and Energy Drinks Damaging Your Teeth?

April 26th, 2016

DRINKING ENERGY AND SPORTS DRINKS on a regular basis is becoming increasingly popular, especially among young people. But did you know that these drinks can be extremely damaging to your teeth?

Sports and Energy Drinks Are Highly Acidic

It’s important to remember the purposes of each of these drinks so as not to consume them more often than you should. Energy drinks may provide a pick-me-up during a long day at work, but drinking one or more energy drinks everyday can damage your teeth in the long run.

Sports drinks were made to keep your body hydrated and energized during bouts of intense exercise. While they may be beneficial during a good workout, these drinks should never take the place of water and should not be consumed casually or on a daily basis.

The reason for this is that both energy and sports drinks are highly acidic. Regularly consuming food or drink with high acidity levels wears away your tooth enamel. This makes teeth more susceptible to cavities, tooth discoloration, and sensitivity.

The Combination of Sugar and Acid Packs a Mean Punch

Energy and sports drinks launch a twofold attack on your teeth: while acid weakens the enamel, sugar feeds cavity-causing bacteria and contributes to decay. Not a good combo! While sugar-free options are available, the majority of these types of drinks are chock full of sugar. Unfortunately, even the sugar-free versions are still as acidic as their sweet counterparts.

Consume Acidic And Sugary Beverages Wisely

Here are some tips to protect your teeth if you are drinking energy and sports drinks:

  1. Don't make it a daily habit. Drink sports drinks only during high intensity workouts, not on a regular basis, and minimize the amount of energy drinks you consume.
  2. Drink it all at once instead of sipping throughout the day.
  3. Rinse out your mouth with water or chew sugarless gum afterward. This will help increase saliva production and counteract acidity.

Know The Facts, Protect Your Smile

Believe it or not, the adverse effects these drinks have on teeth isn’t widely known. With 30 to 50 percent of U.S. teens consuming energy drinks, and as many as 62 percent consuming at least one sports drink per day, it’s important that people understand how damaging they can be to teeth.

If you have more questions about sports or energy drinks, call us or send us a Facebook message!

We’re always happy to hear from 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.

Image by Flickr user Keith Allison used under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Why Is Fluoride So Good For Our Teeth?

April 5th, 2016

WE ORTHODONTISTS MAKE a pretty big deal about fluoride and how good it is for your teeth. Truly, fluoride is the best cavity fighter out there, helping our teeth stay healthy and strong! But how exactly does fluoride do such an awesome job at keeping our mouths cavity-free?

Fluoride Prevents And Repairs Tooth Decay

Bacteria that are in plaque produce acids that seep into tooth enamel and break it down. This process of breaking down enamel is what causes cavities over time.Where plaque breaks down the tooth, fluoride builds it up!

Fluoride, a mineral that occurs naturally in many foods and water, protects teeth from cavity-causing bacteria by making tooth enamel more resistant to bacteria’s acid attacks.

In our office, we utilize a fluoride varnish the day the braces are placed to help in preventing white spots from forming on the teeth. This extra fluoride, in combination with excellent oral hygiene will keep the teeth healthy during treatment.

Fluoride also helps repair tooth decay in its early stages by building up the tooth in a process called remineralization. This cavity-fighting mineral even reduces the ability of plaque bacteria to produce acid in the first place!

VIDEO: Why Is Fluoride Good For Teeth?

Fluoride Is Available In A Variety Of Forms

Fluoride can be directly applied to the teeth through fluoridated toothpastes and mouth rinses. In fact, toothpaste with fluoride has been responsible for a significant drop in cavities since 1960.

Dental offices also offer fluoride application to teeth as a gel, foam or varnish. Getting a fluoride treatment periodically is important because it contains a higher concentration of fluoride.

Fluoride Intake Is Important At All Ages

Exposure to fluoride can be especially beneficial for infants and children. Between the ages of six months and 16 years, fluoride becomes incorporated into the developing permanent teeth, protecting them from cavity-causing bacteria.

However, adults and children alike need to get enough fluoride to protect their teeth. Just as important as strengthening developing teeth is fighting tooth decay, which fluoride will help you do even after your permanent teeth have come in.

Increased exposure to fluoride can be beneficial for people with certain health conditions. For example, if you have dry mouth, gum disease or a history of frequent cavities, your dentist may recommend additional fluoride treatments or supplements.Ask us if you could benefit from additional fluoride.

Tooth Decay Is Preventable

The take home message is this: fluoride helps prevent tooth decay. If you have any questions about fluoride, call us or come in! We would love to hear from you!

We love our patients and their smiles!

Image by Flickr user bradfordst219 used underCreative 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.

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