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!

How to Keep your Braces Clean

March 29th, 2019

The biggest, and perhaps most difficult change to make when you get braces is learning a whole new oral care routine. No longer will your routine involve just running into the bathroom, quickly brush and floss, and go on with your day. Instead, your new oral care routine will be a bit more complex and time-consuming. That’s why we’ve put together these braces hacks to learn how to keep them clean.

Braces Hack #1: Use the Right Type of Toothbrush

It’s extremely important to make sure you’re brushing with the right type of toothbrush. Using the wrong type when you have braces can cause a number of problems. Doing so can damage the enamel on your teeth, scratch your gums, bend the wires of your braces, and damage the brackets that are bonded to your teeth.

The type of toothbrush that you should be using if you have braces is one with the following features:

  • Soft-bristles
  • Smaller head on the toothbrush
  • Manual or battery powered
  • No frayed bristles

Note: You may need to replace your toothbrush more than every three months when you have braces as the bristles on your brush will fray faster due to the wires and brackets.

Braces Hack #2: Proper Tooth Brushing Technique When You Have Braces

Brushing your teeth with braces isn’t all that different from brushing without braces. The only real difference is that you’ll want to brush gently to avoid damaging the wires and brackets. It’ll also be a bit more time consuming since you’ll be working the toothbrush around all the brackets and wires.

Here’s the proper way to brush your teeth when you have braces:

  • Step 1: Gently rinse your mouth out with warm water to remove any large food particles
  • Step 2: Make sure you’re holding your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle
  • Step 3: Use small, gentle forward and backward motions when brushing
  • Step 4: Brush all of the surfaces of your teeth, including chewing surfaces and inner and outer surfaces.
  • Step 5: Move your toothbrush around so you’re brushing between the wires
  • Step 6: Brush your tongue and roof of your mouth

Note: To keep your teeth and braces really clean, you’ll want to brush after every meal and right before bed.

Braces Hack #3: How to Floss with Braces

Another important part of your new oral care routine with braces involves flossing. You can’t just run the floss between your teeth anymore. Instead, you’ll have to work it around the wires, brackets, and in between your teeth. Luckily, there is a small dental tool that helps a lot known as a floss threader.

A floss threader helps you get the floss in those hard-to-reach areas. Once the floss has been threaded into those hard-to-reach areas, you can effectively remove any plaque or food particles that have gotten stuck between your teeth.

Braces Hack #4: Use an Interdental Toothbrush

Interdental toothbrushes are a new dental tool that should become part of your new oral care routine. These tiny little bristled brushes are used to clean around the wires and brackets of your braces. This tiny toothbrush reaches those areas which your regular toothbrush may miss.

Braces Hack #5: Try to Avoid Foods that Cause Tooth Decay or Damage Tooth Enamel

Watching what you eat throughout the day can really help to make your oral care routine a little easier to do. Avoiding foods that are known to increase your risk of tooth decay or damage your braces or the protective enamel on your teeth can help keep your mouth healthy and clean.

Some foods you may want to avoid (or only consume in moderation) include:

  • Soda
  • Fruit juices
  • Potato chips
  • Crackers
  • Extremely sugary foods or drinks such as coffee-based drinks, milkshakes, and energy drinks
  • Hard candy
  • Toffee and other sticky foods or candy

Have additional questions about how your oral care routine will change once you have braces? Feel free to ask any questions you may have during your orthodontic consultation with the orthodontists at OrthoCare Orthodontics.

During the orthodontic consultation, our orthodontists will explore treatment options with you, discuss what types of results you can expect to see, and answer any questions you may have about orthodontic treatment. Call us today to schedule an appointment. We look forward to helping you improve your smile!

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.

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • 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.

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • 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.

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • 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.

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