The Importance of Wearing Your Retainer after Braces or Invisalign

October 18th, 2019

Whether you wear metal braces, clear braces or use Invisalign to straighten your teeth, your dentist will probably recommend that you follow up that treatment by wearing a retainer. While it may seem inconvenient to wear a retainer after undergoing the long process of tooth straightening, wearing a retainer can help keep your smile long after you finish your teeth-straightening treatment.

Crooked teeth are common, and so is the use of braces. More than four million people in the United States wear some sort of braces to straighten their teeth. About 25 percent of these people are adults, but most are teens. A recent survey of orthodontists found that 60 percent of patients wore their retainers more than 10 hours each day in the first three months of treatment; about 4 percent never wore their retainers at all. Neglecting their retainer leaves these patients at risk for developing misaligned teeth later in life.

Understanding How the Tooth Straightening Process Works

It is important to correct crooked, misaligned or gap teeth. While crooked teeth are a cosmetic issue, they can also cause dental problems – crooked teeth can put extra pressure on different parts of your mouth to cause problems later on in life. Misaligned teeth can also be difficult to brush and floss around, which can lead to gum disease and tooth decay. Poorly aligned teeth can also result in a poor bite that prevents you from chewing your food well.

Dentists use a number of treatment plans, such as metal braces, clear braces and Invisalign, to straighten teeth. These treatments work by applying pressure to the teeth to gradually moving them into their optimal position in your jaw. Metal braces feature brackets cemented to your teeth and wires that apply pressure. Invisalign is a series of plastic trays that slowly push your teeth into place.

The good news is that, under pressure, the teeth move into place relatively easily. The bad news is that, without the pressure of braces or Invisalign, the teeth can move out of place again. This is especially true in the first year after you stop using Invisalign or have your braces removed. A retainer applies just enough pressure to keep your teeth in place while they settle into the new location in your jaw.

The Purpose of Wearing Your Retainer after Braces

There are two main types of retainers: fixed and removable. Fixed retainers are cemented in place, so you cannot remove them. You can easily slide a removable retainer in and out of your mouth. There are two types of removable retainers - Your dentist can recommend which type of retainer might be right for you.

Your orthodontist will also advise you on how long you should wear your retainer. Dentists usually recommend that you wear a removable retainer full time for at least one year after you have your braces removed or you stop wearing your Invisalign. If your teeth have stopped moving after a year of full time retainer use, your dentist may recommend that you wear your removable retainer only at night.

In some cases, your dentist may recommend that you wear a retainer at night for several years – or even forever, if your teeth tend to drift out of place.

If you don’t wear your retainer for the recommended amount of time, or not at all, your teeth may drift out of place and undo all of the hard work you have put into your beautiful smile. Neglecting your retainer can also put you at risk for a bad bite, tooth decay, gum disease and pressure from poorly aligned teeth. 

For more information on the importance of wearing your retainer after wearing braces or Invisalign to straighten your teeth, contact OrthoCare Orthodontics. Dr. Ford Cooper, the founder of OrthoCare Orthodontics, works alongside two additional orthodontists to provide early orthodontic treatment, metal braces, clear braces, Invisalign, corrective jaw surgery, dentofacial orthopedics, and emergency care. OrthoCare Orthodontics provides orthodontic care in four South Carolina locations, including Spartanburg, Rock Hill, and two offices in Charlotte, SC.

New patients can take advantage of a $500 off orthodontic treatment promotion at any of the four practice locations.

What to Expect in the First 30 Days After Orthodontic Treatment

September 23rd, 2019

Taking time to learn about what to expect during your first 30 days after orthodontic treatment will provide you with valuable information that will help you adjust to life wearing braces or using clear plastic aligner trays.

OrthoCare Orthodontics wants to help you as you start your orthodontic treatment. That is why we have created a comprehensive guide that will provide you with a better understanding of what to expect while you are adjusting to living with a mouth full of metal, wires, rubber bands, or brackets or wearing a clear plastic aligner tray.

Mouth Soreness will Occur During the First Few Weeks 

It is not uncommon to experience slight pain, soreness, or discomfort in the first few weeks after your first orthodontic treatment. Pain, discomfort, and soreness occur because you are learning how to adjust to having a mouth filled with big, bulky metal wires, brackets, and other orthodontic appliances.

Most of the pain or soreness you experience in the first week is from irritation caused by the orthodontic appliances in your mouth. The soft skin around your gums, teeth, and cheek are unused to coming into contact with metal wires and brackets. Until the soft skin starts to toughen up, which will usually happen within the first month after orthodontic treatment, you will experience pain, soreness, and irritation sporadically throughout the day.

How to Handle or Treat Mouth Soreness Caused by Your Orthodontic Treatment 

There are a few things you can do to help relieve any pain or discomfort you experience during the first few weeks of your orthodontic treatment. Some of the ways you can reduce mouth soreness and pain caused by orthodontic treatment include:

  • Using orthodontic wax — orthodontic wax can be placed around sharp wires and brackets to ease irritation of the gums or soft tissue in the mouth
  • Rinsing with warm salt water — rinsing with warm salt water for approximately 30 seconds can help reduce any inflammation or swelling of the gums and it can help the soft tissue heal after being irritated by brackets and wires
  • Sucking on ice cubes — sucking on ice cubes can help reduce any swelling that is occurring around your gums. It can also help reduce any pain or soreness. It is important to make sure you don't crunch on the ice cubes as that could cause damage to your orthodontic appliances.
  • Using an ice pack to reduce swelling and relieve any pain
  • Taking an over-the-counter pain reliever — before taking any medication for pain it is important that you speak with your doctor, dentist, or orthodontist

Prepare to Eat Soft Foods for the First Week or Two 

The pain and discomfort you experience may be so extreme that you will not want to be biting and chewing. While you wait for your mouth to adjust to your braces, you may want to only eat foods that are soft and easy to chew.

Some foods that are easy to eat during the first two weeks of your orthodontic treatment include:

  • Oatmeal
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Seedless breads
  • Pasta
  • Pudding
  • Soup

After any pain or discomfort has subsided, you can start to eat some of your favorite foods. However, make sure that you don't eat anything that could cause any damage to your braces or other orthodontic appliances.

Brushing and Flossing Will Take Longer While Undergoing Orthodontic Treatment 

Before you started your orthodontic treatment, you were probably able to brush and floss your teeth in approximately five minutes. Unfortunately, it will take more time to properly brush and floss your teeth.

Brushing and flossing with braces and other orthodontic appliances will take longer because there are more spaces and areas to clean. You will have to clean not only the surface of your teeth, but the areas around the wires, around the brackets, and in between your teeth. It will take longer to clean all these areas.

Some tips to help you with brushing and flossing during the first month of your orthodontic treatment include:

  • Plan enough time to brush and floss your teeth - you don't want to rush brushing and flossing your teeth as it could cause you to not remove all the food particles or plaque. It can also cause you to damage your braces. Make sure you give yourself enough time to properly brush and floss.
  • Consider using a water flosser - this doesn't replace regular flossing, but it can help remove food particles and plaque
  • Use a floss threader - a floss threader will help you remove plaque and food from around your wires
  • Use a soft bristled toothbrush — this will allow you to clean your teeth, but won't damage your brackets or wires
  • Try to brush and floss after every meal — before you were able to brush 2 times a day and floss once a day. However, with braces you will want to try to brush and floss after every meal as food is more likely to get stuck in your braces and around your teeth
  • Rinse your mouth out with water — if you are unable to brush after eating, rinse your mouth out with water. This will remove any large food particles from your mouth.

Always be Prepared with the Proper Supplies 

Before you leave your orthodontist's office after that first appointment, you will be given a bag filled with all the supplies you need to properly care for your teeth and braces. Make sure that you have all the supplies you need. If you don't have enough supplies, feel free to ask your orthodontist for more.

Some of the supplies that you will want to make sure you have during the first month of your orthodontic treatment include:

  • Orthodontic wax
  • Small soft bristled toothbrush
  • Elastic bands
  • Floss
  • Floss threader
  • List of instructions - instructions will be given on how to properly brush and floss, how often to change out your rubber bands and elastics, when to return for a follow up appointment, and what to do if you experience an orthodontic emergency such as a broken wire or a bracket falls off
  • Dental pick

Everyone's Experience the First Month of Orthodontic Treatment will be Different 

Everyone's experience during the first month of orthodontic treatment will be different. Some people will experience pain and discomfort for almost a month while others will only experience pain and discomfort for a few days. Hopefully this overview gives you a better understanding of what you might experience during the first month of your orthodontic treatment.

After reading about what to expect during the first month of wearing braces or using clear aligners, if you are ready to improve your smile call OrthoCare Orthodontics to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced orthodontists. All new patients who choose to undergo orthodontic treatment with OrthoCare Orthodontics after their consultation will receive $500 off their orthodontic treatment.

Call our office today to schedule an appointment for a consultation and you will be one step closer to improving your smile.

Eating with Braces: What to Eat and What to Avoid

July 23rd, 2019

Whether we’re talking about teens or adults, braces are extremely common throughout the world. And given their proven teeth straightening abilities, it’s easy to understand the benefits of getting braces. However, many usually consider restrictions on eating food. While eating with braces does have its limitations, you can still have a well-balanced, nutritious diet while still having the foods you love. However, it’s important to consider what to eat with braces and the top foods to avoid so you don’t run into any costly issues down the road.

Feast on the Following with Braces

Once you feel those wires around your teeth for the first time, it can feel restricting when eating with braces. Once you get used to the orthodontic treatment, its easy want to go back to consuming the same types of foods you had before—but that’s where you should take a pause. If you have braces, it’s best to eat the following foods for a nutritious, yet still delicious diet:

Soft Fruit

If you have braces, you can't go wrong with eating most types of fruit (as long as they’re of the softer variety). From strawberries and blueberries to oranges and pineapple, these fruits are considered safe for your braces.

However, there are a number of fruits you should avoid—and we’ll discuss those later on. But for now, just know that soft fruits are just fine to eat and leave you with the peace of mind you deserve. Fruit is a healthy treat that will keep you and your braces happy and healthy.

Cooked Vegetables

Cooked vegetables are another fantastic food option for those eating with braces. The reason being – raw vegetables are naturally hard, making them a nightmare for your braces. Not only can they become stuck in your braces, but they can also cause brackets to loosen or detach from your tooth.

A great way to soften vegetables is by steaming them, but you can also boil them or cook them in the microwave for a quick solution.

Tender Meats

As you've probably already guessed, you’ll want to enjoy softer, more tender meats to keep your braces intact. The tougher the meat, the more discomfort you’ll have—not to mention the annoyance of having food stuck in your braces and damage to your orthodontic treatment.

For tender, scrumptious meats, try fish, lean pork or beef, and chicken. Additionally, it’s best to cut these meats into small, bite-sized pieces for easier chewing.


Many dairy products are soft – yogurt, cheese, etc. which make them perfect options for eating with braces. Plus, they are packed with calcium. Calcium is proven to support healthy teeth, and strong teeth are key for any dental treatment, including braces. If you decide to eat cheeses that seem to be a little harder, make sure to cut them into tiny pieces in order to chew them more easily.

Avoid These

Now that you know what’s okay to eat with braces, now you should understand what not to eat. Many of the following food items can still be eaten with braces, but it’s important to prepare them properly and know that you’re risking the chance of having a broken wire, bracket or other issues, which will require an expected trip to your orthodontist. While you may love the foods listed below, you will need to hold off and make some sacrifices to have that perfect smile you’ve been waiting for. Do your best to avoid these foods:

Hard Candy

Let's face it, most of us enjoy a good piece of candy from time to time. However, if you have braces, most candy is definitely something to avoid. While you may think that soft, chewy candy should be fine, these sticky sweets tend to get stuck in your braces more often than not.

Hard candy, on the other hand, can be detrimental to your braces and many times cause a broken bracket or wire. So, leave the hard peppermints and caramels in the candy bowl for now.

Certain Fruits

Although many fruits are okay to eat with braces, there are some types of fruit that should be avoided. However, how you prepare them also plays a big role. Here are some examples:

  • Apples tend to be very harsh on braces but slicing them into small pieces is a great way to still enjoy them.
  • Blackberries are another type of fruit you should stay away from given their hard seeds.
  • Unripe pears and peaches can also pose some issues, but these can also be cut into small pieces for your enjoyment.

Raw Vegetables

While we all enjoy a good veggie tray from time to time, these hard, raw vegetables can be damaging to your braces. Carrots, broccoli, cauliflower—all are very healthy, but not so healthy for your braces. So, if you enjoy eating a lot of vegetables, make sure to cook them beforehand. You can also cook them in other dishes such as casseroles and pasta to soften them.


Nuts are another type of food group that should not be eaten with braces. Peanuts, cashews, pistachios, almonds, and walnuts - not only are they very hard, but they can also easily become stuck around your braces. In addition, given the small size of most nuts, a broken bracket or wire is extremely possible when chewing these.

Bone-In Meats

Consuming meat with bones can very damaging if you bite down on them with braces on. Foods such as chicken wings, boney fish, and pork spare ribs. However, it is still possible to eat the meat, as long as it is removed prior to mealtime.

OrthoCare Orthodontics is Here to Help

While it’s important to understand what foods to eat and what foods to avoid when wearing braces, it’s also vital to choose a great orthodontist. There may be a time when you consume the wrong food and break a bracket or wire. Our team at OrthoCare Orthodontics is here to help.

From our friendly and experienced staff to our professional, top-notch services, we’re here to offer the best orthodontic treatment in the greater Charlotte area. If you’re looking to get started with braces, call us today to take advantage of a $500 off orthodontic treatment promotion at any of our four practice locations. Contact us to make an appointment!

Why Are Rubber Bands Used With Braces?

May 14th, 2019

Whether you have braces now or have a teen in your family with braces, you may notice there are other patients with braces are using tiny rubber bands. Wondering why that is? Let’s discover why your orthodontist may be recommending the use of rubber bands as part of your orthodontic treatment.

What is the Purpose of Rubber Bands for Braces?

Ultimately, the purpose of rubber bands for braces, which are sometimes known as interarch rubber bands or elastics, is to help make sure your jaw is placed in such a way that your teeth, once they are shifted to their new position, will properly line up. The rubber bands work by applying a constant and steady amount of force and pressure to the jaw area. The force and pressure help to shift the jaw into the desired new position.

Who Needs to Use Rubber Bands?

Not every person who gets metal braces will need to use rubber bands. It will all depend on the alignment of the jaw. If the jaw is unaligned and causes a cross-bite, underbite, or overbite, rubber bands will need to be used in order to subtly and slowly move the jaw into proper alignment.

Are Rubber Bands Used for the Whole Length of Orthodontic Treatment?

How long you will have to wear rubber bands as part of your orthodontic treatment will depend upon how much your jaw and teeth need to be adjusted. If the jaw and teeth only need to be slightly shifted, you may only have to wear the rubber bands for several weeks. However, if your jaw and bite need major adjustments you could end up wearing rubber bands for almost the entire time of your orthodontic treatment.

What to Expect if You Should Need to Use Rubber Bands

Wearing rubber bands in your mouth will be a completely new experience. Luckily, it isn’t painful; just a little uncomfortable. As you adjust to wearing rubber bands, the discomfort you are experiencing will often decrease and eventually, you won’t even notice them in your mouth.

You will be completely responsible for the placement, care, and maintenance of interarch rubber bands for braces. If your orthodontist recommends wearing rubber bands for your braces, you can expect to have to do the following things on a regular basis:

  • Remove the rubber bands when eating or snacking
  • Remove the rubber bands when brushing and flossing
  • Replacing the rubber bands with new rubber bands every single day

Not doing these things could cause you to experience delays in orthodontic treatment or it could prevent you from getting the best results from your orthodontic treatment.

What Happens if You Choose to Not Use Rubber Bands with Your Metal Braces?

Not everyone is thrilled about having to wear rubber bands as part of their orthodontic treatment. However, it has to be done if you wish to improve your smile.

If you choose to undergo orthodontic care and not use rubber bands, your teeth will still be straightened out. They just might not look as straight as you wish them to look because the alignment of your jaw is causing your smile to appear slightly distorted.

Schedule a Consultation with an Experienced Orthodontist

Our experienced orthodontists will take x-rays and digital imaging, which will be used to create a comprehensive orthodontic treatment plan for you. That treatment plan may or may not use rubber bands as it will depend upon the alignment of your jaw.

Curious to see if you may need rubber bands for your braces? Call OrthoCare Orthodontics to schedule an orthodontic consultation.

Invisalign vs Braces: Which Orthodontic Treatment is Right for You?

April 16th, 2019

If you're considering orthodontic treatment for yourself or your teen, you've got a decision to make. Do you opt for traditional treatment using metal braces? Or do you go with Invisalign, which uses a series of clear plastic trays to straighten your teeth? At OrthoCare Orthodontics, we get asked the "Invisalign vs braces" question quite a bit. While the decision is ultimately yours to make, we'll lay out the pros and cons of each treatment option.

Invisalign treatment

With Invisalign treatment, a series of 3D printed trays are used to move your upper and lower teeth to more aesthetically pleasing positions. You'll change the trays periodically, typically every week. Each new tray slowly brings your teeth into a better position.  There's no need to come to the office every month for adjustments like you would with metal braces. You can manage your own treatment as long as you replace the trays on the schedule directed by your orthodontist.

Invisalign trays are taken out when you're eating or cleaning your teeth. That means you won't have to change what you eat or avoid the foods you enjoy in order to accommodate your orthodontic treatment. You also won't have to purchase specialty equipment just to keep your teeth clean while they're being straightened. The only thing you'll have to remember is to brush your teeth before you put the Invisalign tray back over your teeth after eating.

There are other benefits to Invisalign as well. Invisalign doesn't come with the discomfort and problems often associated with metal braces. Invisalign trays are comfortable and don't leave your gums and cheeks sore. Plus, the trays are completely clear. No one will ever know you're having orthodontic treatment unless you choose to tell them!

While they have many benefits, Invisalign may not be right for people with significant spacing issues or over/under bites. The system is good for people with relatively straightforward straightening requirements.

Metal braces

Used for decades to straighten teeth, traditional braces are usually best for more complicated cases that require bites to be corrected or the palate expanded along with straightening the teeth.

Braces consist of metal bands and brackets with wires threaded through that connect your teeth. These elements work together to slowly move your teeth into the correct position.

Metal braces are glued to your teeth, so you can't remove them. That means they can be a challenge to keep clean. Food particles get stuck in the brackets and under the wires. You may need to purchase a water pik or other equipment so you can adequately clean food from your braces.

You'll also need to avoid some foods completely. Sticky, crunchy and hard foods are not permitted during orthodontic treatment with metal braces. If you play contact sports, you'll also need to wear a mouth guard to protect your braces during the game.

Metal braces also must be adjusted regularly. So, you'll need to return to the orthodontist's office at least once a month for adjustments to be made. Your specific treatment plan will dictate exactly how often you must return. And the adjustments can cause discomfort to your mouth. The metal brackets rub raw areas on your mouth which makes it difficult to chew or talk.

Even with these drawbacks, metal braces are the best choice for many adults and teens who need a good deal of correction.

If you have additional questions about treatment with Invisalign vs braces, please contact our office. We're happy to help you decide which option is right for you. Plus, new patients can receive $500 off orthodontic treatment at any of our locations!

Which Type of Retainer is Best?

March 15th, 2019

Whether you had extensive orthodontic treatment or just partial treatment, once your treatment with braces is complete, you'll need a retainer. Retainers are designed to keep your teeth from shifting back to their previous positions after your braces are removed.

Types of Retainers: Permanent, Clear Plastic, and Hawley

There are permanent (i.e., fixed lingual retainer), clear plastic, and Hawley retainers. These retainers serve the same purpose; however, as with any product or appliance, each type of retainer has its own pros and cons. Let’s explore these three types of retainers below.

Permanent Retainers

A permanent retainer consists of a wire that is bonded to the back of the teeth. If your teeth were rotated, had a lot of space between them, or were crowded prior to treatment, a permanent retainer may be a good option for you.


  • Since this retainer is bonded to your teeth, you won’t have to think about putting it in or taking it out.
  • You probably won’t damage it
  • You can’t lose it
  • It isn’t visible
  • Most people state that permanent retainers are more comfortable than their removable counterparts


  • Pieces of food may get stuck in the wire; therefore, brushing after meals is very important
  • Floss threaders need to be used. These allow you to floss between the retainer and your teeth.
  • Some movement of the teeth may occur; however, any movement is minimal
  • Brushing and flossing is essential to ensure plaque does not build up

Clear Plastic Retainers (Brand Names: Essix, Vivera, and Zendura)

These retainers resemble Invisalign trays because they’re thin, clear and fit securely over the teeth.


  • Since the retainer is nearly invisible, no one knows you are wearing
  • Because the retainer is form-fitted to each tooth, these retainers are comfortable to wear
  • Clear retainers are removed for cleaning and eating
  • By molding the retainer to fit each tooth perfectly, the clear retainer does the best job at preventing the shifting of teeth


  • These clear retainers are more expensive than traditional Hawley retainers
  • Since these retainers aren’t as durable as their traditional counterpart, they’re not recommended for people who play contact sports or grind their teeth
  • Cleaning a clear plastic retainer using a product like toothpaste can damage the material
  • Due to normal wear and tear, you may need a new retainer over time

Hawley Retainer

When you think about a retainer, chances are you picture the Hawley retainer. These retainers are made of acrylic that is molded to fit the inside of the roof or floor of the mouth. There are metal wires that wrap around your teeth to hold the retainer in place. These retainers are removable.


  • When cared for properly, Hawley retainers can last for a long time
  • These retainers are durable, stain-resistant, somewhat adjustable and easy to care for
  • Can be taken out before eating, brushing, and flossing
  • Hawley retainers are available in a variety of colors
  • You can clean your retainer using a toothbrush and toothpaste or denture cleaner


  • People who grind their teeth will quickly wear down these retainers
  • Talking and swallowing while wearing these retainers can be challenging.
  • Losing your retainer can be costly
  • The metal wire of this retainer is visible
  • You may produce more saliva than usual while wearing this retainer
  • Bacteria can accumulate if you don’t clean your retainer properly

Your orthodontist will discuss your retainer options and which type is best for your situation. After your braces are removed, it’s critical to wear your retainer as recommended by your orthodontist. If you don’t, your teeth will likely shift over time.

Contact OrthoCare Orthodontics today to learn more about how we can help you attain the beautiful smile you have always wanted. We have two offices located in Charlotte, North Carolina. We also have offices located in Spartanburg and Rock Hill, South Carolina. Contact one of our offices today to schedule your free consultation.

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!


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.


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.


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

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


What Age Should Your Child Start Orthodontics?

November 10th, 2018

Braces are probably one of the most dreaded words for a parent to hear when taking their child for a dental check-up. Orthodontics relate to many issues for young developing children including their self-image. For a parent, the concern for their child to develop a healthy smile is also confounded by the sometimes prohibitive cost of braces.

However crooked teeth can indicate developmental problems for a child that influence their breathing, posture and sleep habits. While the traditional idea of an orthodontic correction is through bracketing (braces), many orthodontists and dentists are now employing preventative treatments to correct habits that potentially prevent braces altogether.

When Your Child Should Get an Orthodontic Checkup

If you think your child has crooked teeth, when should you plan for orthodontic treatment? There seems to be a lot of misconceptions about when a child should commence orthodontic work. The American Academy Of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that most children should have an orthodontic assessment by age 7.

With studies have shown that braces are more frequently applied to children at a later date (11-13) than the younger prepubescent (8-10) bracket.  Which is correct for your child?

Traditional Approaches to Orthodontics

Up until recent times, there has been a general consensus that a child with dental arch problems should wait until around the age of 12 when all of their baby teeth have fallen out before having orthodontic braces. The idea was that the treatment course is much more predictable when the adult dentition has fully erupted to avoid the need for repeat treatment.

However today we now know that crooked teeth can be a sign that the upper and lower jaw aren’t developing properly, which impacts a child’s facial, airway and spinal posture. Therefore a child’s dental growth may mean that corrective therapy should be considered to assist a child’s facial and dental growth.

Signs Your Child Needs Braces

Until age 10, your child will go through crucial growth phases that shape many of the important structures of their face and head. At birth, the skull is made up of softer material that makes up cartilage in our joints. As the child grows, cartilage is converted to the bone that will form the adult skull.

Upper teeth are related to the development of the upper jawbone or maxilla. When the upper dental arch is crooked, it may indicate that the upper airways or sinuses are cramped which can cause a child to breathe through their mouth.  Mouth breathing, along with other signs that child needs braces include, snoring at night, slumped posture, poor sleep, and dark circles or venous pooling under the eyes. All of these observations in a child may indicate that a child is at risk of future sleep-disorders and potential ill-health.

Myofunctional and Prepubescent Orthodontic Treatment

With crooked teeth being related to the airway, breathing, and facial development, orthodontists are now taking all of these factors into consideration when assessing a child’s dental development. Earlier dental diagnosis and treatment of airway dysfunction and facial growth now gives a much broader scope of childhood dental assessment.

Early intervention orthodontics includes using functional appliances that assist the child’s jawbones to develop properly. For example, palatal expanders can be employed to encourage nasal airway formation alongside functional breathing and swallowing. When the habits of the child are corrected, the bones and teeth are allowed to grow as they are meant to it may avoid the need for orthodontic braces altogether.

Prepare Your Child for Early Assessment

There are many factors that influence your child’s smile growing healthy and straight. However, the health factors surrounding breathing and sleep that can accompany crooked teeth mean that parents should always take their child for early dental checkups to see if early intervention orthodontics is suitable for them.


Should I See An Orthodontist or General Dentist?

October 25th, 2018

If you believe your dentist is also an orthodontist, take a minute to read this post.

Your confusion is understandable. After all, both dentists and orthodontists work on teeth. Both provide professional care that helps patients have good oral health, and both are dental school graduates. Your dentist may even offer orthodontic services, leading you to assume that he/she is an orthodontist. But the truth is that putting aligners or braces on teeth does not make a doctor an orthodontist.

Dentists, who are also known as general (or family) dentists, are concerned with overall oral health. Dentists treat decayed teeth (fillings) and remove failed teeth (extractions). They usually provide services such as crowns, veneers or bonding to improve the appearance and function of teeth that have extensive decay, or are misshapen or broken. Dentists look for abnormalities in the mouth and teach patients how to prevent dental disease.

As knowledgeable and skillful as dentists are, certain areas of dentistry have educational programs beyond dental school. Orthodontics is one of those areas. And that’s where specialists, such as orthodontists, come in.

Dental specialists get to be specialists by completing four years of general dental education in dental school, and then continuing in an accredited program where they study their specific specialty full-time for two or more years. When dentists studying a specialty area successfully complete their formal specialty education, they are able to use a title that denotes their area of specialization. “Orthodontist” is one example.

Other dental specialists include endodontists, who specialize in root canals; periodontists, who specialize in treating gum disease; pediatric dentists, who specialize in dental care for the under-21 age group; and oral and maxillofacial surgeons, who specialize in face, mouth and jaw surgery. Orthodontists are specialists who focus on the bite – how teeth meet and function, how they are aligned, how they are set in the jaws, and the positioning and sizes of the upper and lower jaws.

General dentists are licensed to practice dentistry. Some states allow them to provide specialty care, even if they do not have formal post-dental school training in the specialty services. For example, a dentist may be able to perform a root canal, but that does not mean he/she is an endodontist. A dentist may be able to extract a tooth, but that does not mean he/she is an oral surgeon. Likewise, a dentist may be able to provide braces or aligners to move teeth, but that does not mean the dentist is an orthodontist. Only orthodontists have the additional two or more years of orthodontic education from a program accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation, providing them with specialized training in moving teeth.

So that you can tell the difference between a dental specialist (such as an orthodontist) and a general dentist, be aware of the doctor’s:


  • Dentists and dental specialists graduate from dental school
  • After dental school, a dental specialist goes on to study full-time in an accredited program in their specialty area for two or more years. After graduating, a dental specialist may call himself/herself by a title to denote their specialty training (e.g., orthodontist)

Scope of practice

  • General dentists are licensed to provide general care and, in some states, are allowed to provide specialty care even if they do not have formal post-dental school training in an accredited residency program
  • In many cases, specialists focus their practice on their dental specialty


Spacers for Braces - A First Step

October 5th, 2018

Smiling is one of the friendliest gestures you can make, and many people choose braces to help obtain a smile they're proud to flash. Even if you've had braces, you might not realize all the parts that make them function. Spacers for braces are just one of those parts.

Why Braces?

If your teeth are crooked or crowded, braces are an orthodontic solution to the problem. Braces can correct bite issues, also known as malocclusion, if the upper and lower jaws don't properly align when closed.

Braces also serve another function besides that sought-after straight smile. Uncorrected bite issues can result in various mouth health problems, including gum disease, tooth decay, tooth loss and worn enamel, according to the American Dental Association. Correcting malocclusion and alignment issues with braces is another preventative measure against poor oral health.

The Parts of Braces

When you conjure the image of braces, you most likely picture a mouth full of metal. Bands are installed around the molars to anchor the structure of braces. Brackets are connected to bands and each other by arch wires and rubber ligatures, and sometimes by orthodontic rubber bands. But before any of this hardware can be installed, your orthodontist must insert spacers.

Spacers for Braces

Spacers aren't a part of braces, but they help prepare teeth for fixed braces to be fastened on, notes the Mayo Clinic. Before the orthodontic bands can be attached to the molars, space needs to be created between the teeth for the bands. That space is created by inserting small metal springs or rubber bands between the back teeth.

Fitting spacers (also known as orthodontic separators) is a simple procedure, but some patients feel a bit of discomfort. According to Braces Guide, the orthodontist stretches the elastic or metal spacer and firmly presses it between the teeth. Once the spacers are properly inserted, they'll stay in for the week before you get your braces.

The pressure created by the forced separation of your teeth can cause jaw, teeth and gum pain that typically lasts for a couple of days. However, it can be easily managed with over-the-counter pain relievers.

How to Protect Your Spacers

One of the drawbacks of wearing spacers and braces is that certain foods are off-limits. Some of the main culprits are sticky foods, such as gum, caramel and taffy, which can become stuck on and around the braces. Hard foods like corn on the cob, raw apples and nuts can break wires and loosen brackets. Finally, foods high in sugar and starch can cause plaque to collect around the brackets, so be extra careful to brush thoroughly to avoid decay and staining.

Reading up on the many steps and parts involved in braces can help you care for your smile while it's under construction. From the start of spacers to the day the brackets come off, remember to see your orthodontist and dentist regularly and maintain excellent oral care at home.


Back to Top
Contact Us!
call call call call