orthodontist

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8m3tOMGdR-Y

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

The Tricks to Treats for Braces-Wearers

October 20th, 2020

CAN YOU BELIEVE HALLOWEEN is coming up so soon? It’s always a fun time of year, with the spooky movies, the decorations, the costumes, and the tasty treats. We’re not here to drop toothbrushes in anyone’s candy buckets, but we do want to offer some tips on making Halloween as healthy for our patients’ teeth — and as safe for their braces — as possible.

The Worst Halloween Candy for Teeth and Braces

Hard, sour, and sticky candies are definitely in the bad category, even for those without braces. It takes time for hard candy to dissolve, which means an extended sugar bath for the teeth, and they can easily pop a bracket loose. Sticky candy adheres to our teeth and gums, which brings all that sugar directly to the harmful bacteria. Sour candy is acidic as well as sugary, making it doubly harmful.

Better Treats for Dental and Orthodontic Health

So what’s the good news after all that? Chocolate! It contains compounds like flavonoids and polyphenols, which limit oral bacteria, slow tooth decay, and fight bad breath. However, the more sugar there is in it, the more it cancels out the good effects, which is why dentists prefer dark chocolate. No nuts, though! Those can snag a bracket.

The best candy for teeth is anything sweetened with xylitol instead of sugar. This sugar-free sweetener is not only inedible to harmful bacteria, it even hurts them! The only problem is that there aren’t many xylitol candy options besides sugar-free gum in most candy bowls, and gum is on the banned foods list too. Hopefully we’ll see xylitol in more braces-friendly types of candy before long!

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-Bj__lu2GU

Minimizing Sugar’s Effects on Your Teeth

If you have a sweet tooth that won’t be denied, there are other ways to fight back against the effect sugar has on teeth, such as:

  • Keep the candy consumption to mealtimes. Snacking on it between meals gives oral bacteria an all-day sugar buffet, but only eating it at mealtimes gives your saliva a chance to wash away traces of sugar and neutralize your oral pH.
  • Follow the candy with a drink of water. That will rinse off some of the sugar.
  • Don’t slack on brushing and flossing! These daily habits are essential to keep sugar from doing lasting harm to tooth enamel.

Make Use of Your Dental Health Professionals

Another resource you have for keeping your teeth healthy even with all the candy Halloween brings is the dentist. Make sure you’re sticking to your usual twice-yearly appointments so the dentist can make sure you don’t have any post-Halloween cavities! And if a bracket does come loose, don’t hesitate to give us a call so we can keep your treatment on schedule.

Wishing all our patients a healthy, happy 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.

Welcome to our blog

October 31st, 2016

Thank you for taking the time to visit our blog. Please check back often for weekly updates on fun and exciting events happening at our office, important and interesting information about orthodontics and the latest news about our practice.
Feel free to leave a comment or question for our doctor and staff – we hope this will be a valuable resource for our patients, their families, and friends!