Will My Teeth Stay Where My Orthodontist Moved Them?

January 23rd, 2019

Change is a natural part of life. Just as our bodies change throughout our whole life, our teeth change too. We start out with no teeth, then get baby teeth, and shed those in favor of permanent teeth. Sometimes there are problems with tooth placement and jaw positions. That’s where the orthodontist is called in to bring about a change for the better, and transform misaligned teeth and jaws into a healthy and beautiful smile.

After orthodontic treatment is complete the most reliable way to keep your teeth where you and your orthodontist moved them is by wearing your retainers as prescribed. Your teeth will not stay where your orthodontist moved them unless you do. Changes in tooth position are a lifelong and naturally occurring phenomenon, and to maintain the result created by your orthodontic treatment, retainers must be worn. While small changes after treatment concludes are normal, retainers prevent teeth from going back to their original positions.

When treatment is complete, there is a “settling in” period; teeth adjust as you bite, chew, swallow and speak – actions that all place forces on your teeth. These small changes in tooth position are not a failure of orthodontic treatment, but are a natural process. If your retainer is not worn as prescribed, however, large changes occur instead. Large changes are disappointing to the patient, and to the orthodontist. If you are in retainers, and should you notice an unwanted change in your bite or your smile, or if you should lose a removable retainer or damage a fixed retainer (bonded in behind teeth), contact your orthodontist right away. Don’t give teeth an opportunity to shift. Commit to wearing retainers as prescribed by your orthodontist and limit undesirable changes!

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Tips For Adults With Braces

January 10th, 2019

When you have braces on teeth, those teeth need extra attention to protect them from decay, staining and gum disease. You should also take precautions to avoid damaging the braces.

For example, activities to avoid include eating chewy or sticky sweets, eating hard or crunchy foods, biting your lip, breathing excessively through your mouth and pushing your tongue against your teeth, according to the Academy of General Dentistry.

Brushing

Although brushing twice a day is the standard oral care recommendation, when you wear braces, you should brush after every time you eat — even after that mid-afternoon vending machine snack or some late-night munchies. That's because food particles easily become trapped in the braces, and the longer those particles stay trapped, the greater risk you have of developing dental problems. Use a soft toothbrush with round bristles, or an electric toothbrush if you prefer.

Start by rinsing your mouth with water to loosen food stuck in and around your braces. It's important to brush each tooth at the gum line and both above and below the brackets. Brush your gum line first, holding the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle. Next, clean the brackets by brushing at a downward angle on top of the brackets and brushing at an upward angle at the bottom of the brackets. Rinse again after brushing.

Other Cleaning Methods

Floss at least once a day, making sure you floss not only between the braces but also under the wires. To more easily floss under the wires, use a floss threader or orthodontic flosser, which you can buy at drug stores. Waxed floss is easier to slide between your teeth and less likely to snag on your braces than unwaxed floss.

If you have space between your teeth, you might find that an interproximal (also called interdental) brush that goes between the teeth works better than flossing. Another option for hard-to-reach areas is an oral irrigator. Its stream of pulsating water can remove plaque and food debris. You can also rinse with mouthwash to kill any bacteria missed by brushing and flossing.

Watch What You Eat

When you wear braces, you need to be more aware of what you eat. Eating too many sugary and starchy foods can cause plaque to build up around the brackets, which can cause staining of the teeth, causing cavities or leading to gum disease. You should especially avoid sticky and chewy foods, such as dried fruits, caramel, taffy, corn on the cob and chewing gum, all of which can become stuck and be hard to remove from braces.

Hard foods are another no-no. Foods such as nuts, ice, popcorn and beef jerky can break the wires of the braces and loosen the brackets. Even otherwise healthy foods, such as raw apples and carrots, can be problematic because their hard texture can damage the wires. To eat crunchy foods, cut them into small, bite-size pieces.

Additional Tips

If you are caught without a toothbrush, vigorously rinse your mouth with water (or mouthwash) and brush as soon as possible. Also, if your braces or wires chafe the inside of your lips, you can place a special wax on them to prevent this from happening. You can get this wax at drug stores, or just ask your dentist or orthodontist.

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How to Clean Your Retainer

December 10th, 2018

The same bacteria that build up on teeth can grow on a retainer. As a result, putting an unclean retainer in your mouth is like applying a bacteria and plaque-laden solution to the teeth and gums.

7 Myths About Orthodontics

November 22nd, 2018

October is National Orthodontic Health Month, the perfect time of year for the American Association of Orthodontists to set the record straight on seven common myths about orthodontic treatment.

Myth #1. Anyone who provides braces or aligners is an orthodontist.

False. While some general dentists or online companies offer braces or aligners, only an orthodontist who has taken the additional years of advanced training at an accredited residency can call themselves an orthodontic specialist or be a member of the AAO. It’s not worth the risk of permanent damage to your face and smile to allow anyone who isn’t an orthodontist to attempt to move your teeth. By selecting an AAO orthodontist, you are choosing a specialist who possesses the skills and experience to give you your best smile.  Look for the AAO logo at your orthodontist’s office, or locate an AAO orthodontist using ‘Find an Orthodontist’ at aaoinfo.org/truth.

Myth #2. Orthodontists are so expensive.

AAO orthodontists are unique health care providers who carefully customize their patients’ treatment plans and as a result, their fees directly reflect the complexity of each case. From simple cases which only take months to treat, to very difficult ones which may take a couple of years, the benefits of having an expert provide your orthodontic care will be well worth it. Most AAO orthodontists offer free consultations and flexible payment plans, and are willing to work with their patients in order to help them achieve a beautiful smile. Trust your smile to an AAO orthodontic specialist who will safely straighten your teeth and closely monitor your progress to ensure that your bite is the best that it can be.

Myth #3. Office visits are not necessary to get straight teeth.

No Visits = No Monitoring = No Good

The reality is that the health of your gums, teeth and jaws cannot be monitored during treatment if you are never seen by a qualified orthodontist. Even the most carefully planned treatments need to be closely monitored to ensure that your treatment stays on course. These visits must be completed by a trained orthodontist should a problem arise or a mid-course treatment correction be needed. The good news is that today’s technology has allowed patients to extend intervals between appointments to as long as 8 to 10 weeks.

Myth #4. Orthodontic treatment takes several years.

Orthodontic treatment requires careful, controlled movements of the teeth to ensure they are moving into proper positions. From simple cases (which may only take a few months to treat) to the most complex cases (which could take longer), your AAO orthodontist has the training, experience, and skill to deliver an excellent result in the shortest amount of time. It’s not worth the risk to have someone who attempts to do orthodontics as a side business because of the possible irreversible damage that could occur.

Myth #5. Orthodontic treatment is purely cosmetic.

There’s much more to orthodontic treatment than meets the eye. An improved appearance is the most obvious result. But when teeth and jaws are in alignment, it means function (biting, chewing, speaking) is improved, too – a dual treatment benefit!

That beautiful smile is the outward sign of good oral health, and sets the stage for the patient’s overall well-being. Orthodontists play a larger role in healthcare than is generally realized.

Myth #6. Orthodontists only offer metal braces.

Orthodontists spend years studying and training in how teeth move. It makes them expertly qualified to use all the tools available to provide the best care possible for their patients. That includes metal braces, as well as a full range of other appliances (devices designed to move teeth) that can be fixed or removable, with clear options available. Rather than pressuring a patient into using a particular product or service offered by individual companies, orthodontists are craftsmen with a variety of tools at their fingertips. An AAO orthodontist has the expertise to provide the best appliance (at the right time) to achieve the best result in the most timely manner.

Myth #7. Orthodontic treatment is just for kids.

False. Patients of all ages, young and old, can benefit from orthodontic treatment. Age is not a concern when it comes to getting a healthy, beautiful smile. In 2014, close to 1.5 million adults were treated by AAO orthodontists! Because adults may have more complicated cases from prior dental work or gum disease, it is imperative that their treatment be provided by an AAO orthodontist who has the training, expertise and experiences to deliver the best results.

The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) is open exclusively to orthodontists – only orthodontists are admitted for membership. The only doctors who can call themselves “orthodontists” have graduated from dental school and then successfully completed the additional two-to-three years of education in an accredited orthodontic residency program.

When you choose an AAO orthodontist for orthodontic treatment, you can be assured that you have selected a specialist orthodontist, an expert in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics who possesses the skills and experience to give you your best smile. Locate AAO orthodontists through Find an Orthodontist at aaoinfo.org.

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