Our Blog

Preparing for Orthodontic Emergencies

November 18th, 2021



DO YOU HAVE an orthodontic emergency plan? It’s a good idea for anyone who has braces or whose teenager has braces to be prepared in case something goes wrong with their orthodontic appliance between adjustments. Not addressing a problem quickly could lead to delaying Braces Off Day, and nobody wants that!

Tips for Minor Orthodontic Problems

The most common orthodontic problems for braces-wearers are a bracket breaking or coming loose, wires poking in the back, brackets poking the lips or cheeks, and toothaches, and there are a number of things you can do for these issues at home.

For a poking wire: it may be possible to use a pencil eraser to gently push the part sticking out so that it’s out of the way. Orthodontic wax can also cover the ends of the wire so they aren’t as irritating to the gums or cheeks. In some cases, we may just need to clip the ends for you.

For toothaches and soreness: these symptoms are usually temporary, particularly right after an adjustment, and eating soft foods and swishing warm salt water will help. Taking over-the-counter painkillers is another good way to manage the discomfort. If it doesn’t improve on its own in a couple of days, contact us.

For a broken bracket: this one can’t be fixed at home. Contact us and schedule a repair appointment, because leaving it loose until the next regular appointment is a great way to delay your treatment!

For general preparedness, a braces kit like this is a great idea

The Rare Major Orthodontic Emergency

Much less often, a patient may have to deal with a more serious emergency in the course of their orthodontic treatment. Having a plan in place is a good idea in case this happens. Examples of a major orthodontic emergency include:

  • Severe oral/facial pain
  • Swollen/infected gums or major swelling around the face
  • A traumatic injury to the mouth, teeth, or face

In the unlikely event that you experience any of these, call our office immediately to schedule an emergency appointment, but if the problem affects more than just your orthodontic appliance, prioritize your health by going to the emergency room first. Once you’ve been treated for injuries, call us so that we can address the problems with your braces.

Let Us in on Your Orthodontic Emergency Plan

If you have questions about other things you can do to protect your braces, both to prevent accidents and to prepare for them, we’re happy to give you answers. We’re also ready to supply you with extra orthodontic wax and rubber bands to add to your orthodontic emergency kit!

We’re looking forward to seeing you at your next adjustment appointment!

Impacted Canine: A Job for an Orthodontist

May 25th, 2021


EVERY SMILE OPERATES on a different schedule, with some people getting their adult teeth later than others — but what about when a tooth doesn’t show up? An impacted tooth is one that remains partially or fully under the gums (or turns in the wrong direction) because there isn’t room for it to come in normally.

Which Teeth Are Prone to Impaction?

This happens most often in wisdom teeth, but not always. The upper canines (often just one, but sometimes both) are the next most likely to be impacted. Without the adult tooth coming in to push on it, the baby tooth might never become loose.

What’s the Problem With Tooth Impaction?

Impacted teeth can cause serious complications, including gum disease, infections, cavities, and nerve damage. Someone with an untreated impacted tooth may experience jaw pain or tenderness, swollen gums or lymph nodes, and bad breath or a persistent bad taste. An impacted tooth can also mean a gap in the smile.

How We Correct Impacted Teeth

There isn’t really a way to prevent impaction, but impacted wisdom teeth can be extracted and impacted canines can be pulled into place through a combination of oral surgery and orthodontic treatment. Once dental X-rays identify the impacted tooth, the orthodontist makes a plan for how to move it to its proper position.

Don’t leave a gap in your smile!


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

Get the Most out of Your Retainers

March 28th, 2021


BRACES OFF DAY will be here before you know it, and we’re just as excited to get there as you are, but keep in mind that it won’t be the end of your orthodontic treatment. It takes time for teeth to get used to their proper alignment, and the way we make sure they stay put is with retainers.

Keeping Retainers Clean

Retainers accumulate bacteria, plaque, and tartar while you wear them, just like teeth do, and that means they need regular cleaning, also just like teeth do. No one wants to wear a retainer that smells bad, tastes bad, is discolored, and is covered in gunk!

The cleaning process will vary a little depending on what type of retainer you have. If you have a removable retainer, rinse it in cool water and brush it at least once a day. If you have a bonded retainer, we know it can make flossing a little tricky, but it’s worth it. Tartar really likes to accumulate around a bonded retainer. Floss threaders or a water flosser can make this much easier.

Give Your Retainer the Occasional Deep Clean

Daily cleanings are important, but retainers need a more thorough cleaning every once in a while to stay in good condition. The hygienist can take care of that for a bonded retainer at your regular dental appointments, but you can clean a removable retainer at home, and it’s cheap and easy.

Either purchase special retainer-cleaning tablets or simply soak the retainer in a mixture of cool water and baking soda. Water and vinegar also work, or some hydrogen peroxide. Leave the retainer to soak for a few minutes, then rinse it and let it dry. However, make sure you never use hot water (which can warp the retainer) or harsh chemicals like bleach.

Storing a Retainer Between Uses

There’s a good chance you’ll only need to wear your retainer overnight, so what’s the best way to store it during the day? Keep in mind that harmful bacteria thrives in enclosed environments that are dark and damp, so it’s best to store a retainer somewhere dry and open to the air. (This applies to toothbrushes too.) There are some types of retainers that need to be soaked while not being worn, so check with us on the specific needs of your retainer.

Do Retainers Really Matter This Much?

Absolutely! We touched on this before, but the reason we need retainers after braces is that the supporting structures around our teeth aren’t immediately used to their new position when the braces come off. The jaw bone and periodontal ligament need time to finish adjusting. Patients who don’t bother to wear their retainers might end up needing braces again before long. Nobody wants that to happen.


Bring Us Your Retainer Questions

Whether you’re still in braces and want to be prepared or you’re already in the retention phase of treatment; whether your retainers are made of wire and acrylic or clear plastic, we want you to have all the information you need. The more you know, the easier it will be to maintain a great result for your smile!

Congratulations to every patient moving from braces to retainers!

Smoking Versus Teeth

January 4th, 2021

THE FIRST NEGATIVE health effect we usually think of in connection to smoking is lung cancer, but it actually harms every system in the body, and oral health is no exception. Smoking (or any kind of tobacco consumption, including chewing tobacco and vaping) is a serious risk factor for a lot of oral health problems.

Smokers Are More at Risk of Oral Cancer

Despite lung cancer being the high-profile risk associated with smoking, 80% of oral cancer diagnoses are connected to a smoking or chewing tobacco habit. Oral cancer can involve early symptoms like the sensation of having something stuck in the throat, difficulty chewing or swallowing, numbness, swelling, unusual white patches in the oral soft tissues, or persistent mouth sores or pain. Regular dental exams are critical for catching oral cancer early.

A Strange Oral Health Complication: Smoker’s Keratosis

Another less well-known effect smoking can have on oral health is smoker’s keratosis, or white patches on the roof of the mouth. This condition is still a mystery to medical science, but it could be the result of inflamed mucous glands. The white patches usually aren’t painful, but they may be precancerous.

Gum Disease Is More Likely With a Smoking Habit

According to the CDC, around 47% of adults over 30 have some form of gum disease. Smoking doubles the risk of developing it and also makes it more difficult to treat. As it progresses, gum disease can cause serious damage to the gum tissue and even result in bone loss in the jaw and tooth loss. If the bacteria in the mouth gets into the bloodstream through the inflamed gums, it can even jeopardize overall health.

Is Vaping a Safe Alternative?

While vaping may not be as harmful to oral tissues as traditional smoking, it still isn’t safe. Nicotine in any form reduces blood flow, which starves the gum tissue of oxygen and nutrients and slows down the healing process, making tissue death and gum recession more likely. It also dries out the mouth, which can lead to another set of problems from tooth decay to bad breath.

Smoking Doesn’t Only Harm the Smoker

Many smokers decide that the health risks of their habit are acceptable, thinking they will only affect them, but secondhand smoke has serious effects too. Studies suggest a link between regular exposure to secondhand smoke and the development of cavities. Beyond oral health risks, there are also broader health risks — particularly for small children and infants, from asthma attacks all the way up to SIDS.

It’s Never Too Late to Quit

Risk factors can’t always be controlled. We can’t help what our genetics are or that we grow old, but smoking is a major risk factor for so many health problems, and unlike aging and genes, we can avoid smoking or stop if we’ve started. It’s definitely better never to start in the first place, but even a longtime smoker can significantly improve their health outlook by quitting!

You Don’t Have to Do It Alone

Quitting something as addictive as a smoking habit is difficult, but there are so many allies and resources available to help, including friends, family, counselors, and a wealth of useful information online. Another great resource is the dentist, who can check for early symptoms of oral health problems and help you work to keep your mouth healthy!

We love to see 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