dental health

What's the Spookiest thing about Halloween for Orthodontists??

October 1st, 2018

It's the candy, of course!  We love your favorite candies too (because, duh... they're delicious), but the abundance of candy present at Halloween is a good reason for us to take a moment to discuss why we should be extra careful with it while wearing braces.

There are two reasons that patients wearing braces should be extra careful with their Halloween candy.

  1. If you're a candy-lover, then you already know that many of your delicious sweet treats can be hard, crunchy, sticky, or chewy.  Biting hard onto candies like this can cause braces to become loosened or break.  As you know, broken braces can be uncomfortable and may even cause your treatment to take longer!
  2. Sugar!!  Candy is full of delicious sugar!  EEK!  Sugar has a way of finding its way into the nooks and crannies of your braces, and it gives you extra work to do to keep things nice and clean.  Sticky sugar is especially insidious since it really wants to stay put.

Ok, so what can you do?  Is Halloween ruined?  No!!  Don't be silly.  There are plenty of candies that you can eat - just remember these tricks:

  • Choose softer candies, and eat them gently.
  • Never bite and crunch on hard candies
  • Always brush and floss well after eating anything with sugar!

Is My Dentist Also an Orthodontist?

September 24th, 2018

The American Association of Orthodontists posts lots of useful content on their website, and once again, they've provided some answers to common questions we frequently hear.  To learn what makes an orthodontists a specialist in straightening your teeth, check out this link to the AAO Article, Is My Dentist Also an Orthodontist?

Join Us at the Taste of Hilliard!

August 6th, 2018

We're excited to be participating again this year in the Taste of Hilliard event at the Makoy Center on August 8th!  Last year, the Taste of Hilliard was the first ever community event that we participated in before opening our office in September, and it continues to hold a special place in our hearts!

We loved meeting members of the community - hearing stories from parents about their own experiences with braces and meeting little ones with eyes wide as they checked out our orthodontic treatment models and started proactively choosing what colors they would choose on their own braces.

We'll be ready for the crowd again this year, with coupons and giveaways, and one lucky raffle winner will receive a WaterPik, perfect for keeping braces clean!

The Taste of Hilliard will be held from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. on August 8th at the Makoy Center 5462 Center Street, Hilliard, OH  43026.  For $15, you can plan to come hungry and enjoy TONS of amazing food from some of Hilliard's finest restaurants. See you there!!

AAO Guide to Understanding Early Treatment

July 2nd, 2018

Last week I mentioned an important resource, the AAO Guide for Parents.  It discusses so many detailed aspects of orthodontic treatment and asks all the right questions.

This week and in coming weeks, I'm going to highlight specific sections from this guide.  Today I'd like to direct your attention to the topic of "Understanding Early Treatment."  Early orthodontic treatment is something that we get TONS of questions about.  Many parents remember having braces around age 11 or 12, and when the dentist recommends a visit to the orthodontist around age 7 or 8, their first thought is, "Isn't this a little early?"

The answer?  In some cases, yes.  However, in other cases, some level of orthodontic intervention at this age may reduce the risk of requiring more invasive treatment later and may facilitate a more successful result by influencing growth and development at just the right time.

If you have questions about early treatment, check out this amazing resource!

Understanding Early Check-Ups

Sports Drinks and Braces

May 28th, 2018

Today I thought we could chat about one of the common challenges for patients with braces and clear aligners - sports drinks!
Many of our patients are in middle and high school. Not surprisingly, at this age, they’re often becoming increasingly competitive in their favorite sports and taking their competition more seriously. This usually means more time spent training, and often, the use of sports drinks for hydration.
Sports drinks serve an important purpose. They replenish electrolytes and provide energy for continued exercise. However, due to their sugar content, they present some risks to be aware of. Many children and teens think of sports drinks as “healthy” because they go hand-in-hand with sporting events, but as far as your teeth and your blood sugar are concerned, they essentially behave no differently than soda!
Our advice when using sports drinks can be summed up in three key points:
1. Use them only during sports. It isn’t necessary to drink sports drinks throughout the day. They’re meant to get sugar and electrolytes into your bloodstream quickly for use during activity. When used at other times of day, they provide empty calories and no advantages compared to fueling and hydrating with healthy foods and water.
2. Perform good dental hygiene after using sports drinks just like you would with any other sugary foods. After use, it can be helpful to swish with water if brushing isn’t an immediate option. And, of course, never head to bed without brushing thoroughly!! (Even if you’re exhausted from the big game!)
3. Never use sports drinks while wearing clear aligners. The fluid can get trapped against your teeth under the aligner and result in prolonged exposure of your teeth to the sugar. The worst part is that your saliva can’t reach the teeth to rinse them off, and the result is much worse than simply sipping the beverage with an empty mouth.
If you keep these tips in mind, you should be able to use sports drinks AND enjoy a healthy smile!!

At Home Solutions Part 2: Loose Brace

May 21st, 2018

Another common concern that can be addressed at home is a brace coming loose.  You'll be able to tell that a brace is loose by feeling it.  When you push on the brace, it will move up and down.  It may even come completely unattached and fall out of your mouth.

Why do braces come loose?  There are a number of reasons, but the most common is related to eating.  Eating foods that are especially hard, crunchy, or chewy can easily result in broken/loose braces.  Patients often tell me that a brace came loose spontaneously.  Odds are, the brace was loosened while eating and not noticed until later.  No matter what the case is, don't panic!

While we almost always need to eventually repair the loose brace, it usually isn't urgent enough to require a special trip to the office unless it's causing substantial discomfort.  Here's what we recommend:

  • Call the office to let us know that the brace is loose, and we can help you decide if we should make a special appointment to repair the brace or if it can wait until your next visit.
  • If the brace is detached, you can remove it from your mouth.
  • If there is a remnant of wire sticking out where the brace came loose, you can treat this as you would any other poking wire.  (See my post from two weeks ago.) In other words, use wax to protect it, or clip the wire if you're able.

How do we decide whether the brace needs to be replaced as soon as possible?  It depends on several factors including which part of the mouth is affected and how close you are to completing your treatment.

If you've had a brace come loose, don't feel bad!  While the goal is always to complete treatment without any loose braces, it isn't uncommon to have one or two become unattached during your time in treatment.  If you're able to pinpoint the reason, then it can be a learning experience that can help you avoid more loose braces in the future!

At Home Solutions Part 1: Poking Wire

May 7th, 2018

I've decided to write a short series on at-home solutions for common orthodontic problems, and today I'm starting with the most common - the poking wire!  Sometimes wires can shift inside the mouth for various reasons, and often this results in discomfort if the end of the wire can catch the lips or cheeks.

First, let's talk about why wires might start to shift after your appointment.  A common reason is space closure.  When space closes between your teeth, the wire that supported them may be too long for the new position of your teeth.  This is very normal and to be expected. Sometimes it's minor and doesn't result in discomfort, but in other cases, the space closure is substantial and the wire may poke.  Another common reason is improved alignment of the teeth. As the teeth (and thus the brackets) get straighter, the wire can slide more passively within the brackets and may shift to one side or the other.  Another common cause of poking wires is breaking or bending.  Wires can be broken or bent by chewing on foods that are a little too hard, or using hands and fingers to manipulate the wires.

No matter how your wire has gotten out of place, the solution is usually the same!  First, we suggest using the strips of wax that we gave you when you started treatment with your braces. If you've run out, you're always welcome to visit the office to receive more. You can also normally find orthodontic wax in most drug stores.  Take a small piece of the wax and warm it between your fingers before "smashing" it onto the sharp end of the wire.  If you find that this is ineffective or you desire a more permanent solution, you may use a small wire clipper (or as is more commonly found in homes, a pair of nail clippers) to cut the end of the wire shorter.  Don't worry about ruining the wire - it can be repaired at your  next visit!

We always work hard to provide you with useful solutions that help you avoid extra trips to the office, but if these fixes don't work for you, you are always welcome to schedule a quick appointment and get our help to take care of the issue!  Your comfort is our top priority!

Guidelines for Eating with Braces

April 16th, 2018

Guidelines for Eating with Braces

When it comes to taking good care of your braces, one of the key factors is making great choices when choosing foods to eat!  There are a few factors to consider when you're choosing braces-friendly foods.  We don't "forbid" very many foods as they did in the past, but we recommend using common sense, a gentle bite, and great hygiene in order to continue to enjoy most of the foods you love.  In many cases, simple substitutions can make a poor choice into a good one!   Here are the primary factors to consider when selecting foods to eat with braces.

  1. Comfort!  When you first have your braces placed or adjusted and for the day or two following these visits, your teeth will be a little bit more tender than usual.  We suggest choosing foods that are easy to chew but that require you to use your teeth nonetheless.  Using your teeth for gentle chewing helps to increase the blood flow around the root of the tooth and will speed up the process of alleviating that soreness!  In other words, instead of limiting yourself to nothing but smoothies and ice cream for three days (which does sound delicious), you should also choose some foods like bananas, steamed veggies, or omelets.
  2. Gentleness!  What we mean by this is that the foods you choose should be gentle on your braces.  We often remind patients that the braces are meant to come off some day, and eating hard, crunchy foods that require you to apply a lot of force to your teeth can loosen the braces early.  Examples of foods that could easily cause braces to come loose would include things like chewy/stale pizza crust or bagels that require tearing with your teeth, whole raw nuts like almonds, and raw vegetables like carrots.  As we mentioned, however, this doesn't mean that your favorite foods are off limits, but rather that you must change how you eat them.  Try tearing off tiny pieces of that bagel and chewing it gently on your back teeth.  Instead of whole raw almonds, try slivered almonds.  And instead of raw carrots, try shredded or steamed carrots.  Easy!
  3. Hygiene!  Whether you're wearing braces or not, it pays to avoid eating too many sugary foods - especially if those foods are sticky and tend to get stuck in the nooks and crannies around braces.  Things like chewy candies can linger around your braces and be very difficult to clean off.  These can lead to white spot lesions or even cavities.  In addition, it's a good idea to limit sugary beverages like Gatorade and soda.  This is especially true if you tend to sip your beverages over the course of several hours.  Generally, if you are going to have a sugary drink, it's wise to drink it with a meal, limit the duration of exposure, and rinse with water immediately after.  Then brush at your next opportunity in order to remove traces of the sugar.

If you follow these simple instructions, you should have great success with the comfort, function, and cleanliness of your braces without making any major changes to your lifestyle or missing out on your favorite foods!  As always, please visit our website for more information.  You can find us at  Happy eating, friends!

Braces and Sports

April 2nd, 2018

Orthodontic Mouth Guard

Spring sports season is in full swing these days, and we get lots of questions about how braces will influence playing sports.  These questions usually surround concerns regarding 1) injury, and 2) time spent wearing elastics and retainers.

In the case of many sports, especially those involving lots of contact like basketball and wrestling, or those involving balls and/or equipment that could accidentally contact a player's face, parents are wise to seek extra protection for their child's teeth.  Generally we advise that any sport that recommends a mouthguard, even if it isn't a requirement, is a sport in which the player should definitely be proactive about protecting his or  her teeth.  Certainly, you want to be cautious even without braces.  Any patient can experience an injury that leads to the loss of or damage to a tooth or teeth.  With braces on, the risk of injury to the lips and gums are also increased because of the extra appliances in the mouth.  Wearing a mouthguard can reduce the risk of teeth being broken or knocked out.  In addition, the plastic from the mouthguard separates the braces from the lips, helping to avoid cuts and soft-tissue injury.

Sometimes wearing a mouthguard can be more challenging with braces.  There are ready-made orthodontic mouthguards available that you can invest in with special grooves where the braces fit.  You can also use a traditional boil-and-bite mouthguard with braces.  The way you fabricate your guard will simply be a little bit different.  Before biting into the warm mouthguard, take a strip of wax and lay it across your braces.  This will prevent the plastic from flowing into the grooves around the braces and wires and becoming difficult to remove.  Finally, there are some appliances that we use in conjunction with braces (like the Forsus appliance, for example) which make it difficult to wear a full-length mouthguard.  We advise, in these cases, that you cut the back portion of the mouthguard off to shorten it slightly and make it possible to fit in with your appliance.

If an injury does occur, your first call should be to your general or pediatric dentist who is the expert in assessing damage to and repairing the teeth.  They may take an x-ray to ensure that no teeth or bones have been broken.  If a tooth has broken or knocked out, they will recommend the proper course of action.  In many cases, the orthodontist may be involved in the recovery as well.  Sometimes if a tooth has loosened due to injury, the braces can be used to stabilize the tooth, and your dentist can advise you if they'd like you to see us to assist with this stabilization.  In addition, once the risks to the teeth, lips, and bones have been addressed with your dentist, you should also evaluate to see if any braces or other appliances are broken or loose.  If so, as with any other broken appliances, you should give our office a call, and we can advise you on whether you need to come in right away or if the breakage is minor enough and can wait until your next visit for an easy repair.

As I mentioned, another concern that often arises during sports seasons is finding time to wear things like elastics and retainers.  If a mouthguard is required for your sport, then this takes precedence over the use of any special appliances!  We always give permission to leave rubber bands and retainers out while you're engaged in playing your sport.  (If you play a non-contact sport (like track and field) and feel comfortable wearing your rubber bands or retainers, it's ok to go ahead and keep them in, but we do not require it.)  Often, especially for serious athletes, there can be many hours spent each day on practices, games, and meets.  It's can be challenging to find enough time to wear your appliances, but rest assured that it can be done!  We suggest keeping extra bags of rubber bands around at all times and putting a fresh pair in every time you have an opportunity.  At a tournament all weekend?  Make sure the rubber bands are in between games.  Even if you only have half an hour, it's important to put them back in and let them keep working.  By making the effort, you can still make progress during your sports season, or at least avoid taking a step backwards!

Keep smiling, friends!

Preventing White Spot Lesions During Orthodontic Treatment

March 26th, 2018

One of the challenges we deal with during orthodontic treatment is maintaining excellent oral hygiene.  This is a challenge for a couple of reasons.  First, many of our patients are young and still struggle with the necessary motor skills necessary to be truly effective at achieving great hygiene.  And second, whether using braces or aligners, while in orthodontic treatment, there are often more places for plaque and bacteria to hide out which means that getting a good result from brushing might take a little more time and effort than usual.  Why is this so important?  Poor hygiene can lead to cavities and gum disease, or white spot lesions.  Not familiar?  Here's a picture of white spots that were seen on someone's teeth after braces were removed:

White Spot Lesions

So what should we do about this?  Well, the best defense is a good offense!  In other words, I'm saying that prevention is key.  White spots are difficult to treat once they've occurred, so avoiding them in the first place is your best bet.  Here are some tips for avoiding white spots!

  1. Parents should help, especially for very young patients. I meet lots of parents who are eager to put all the responsibility for brushing in their child's hands.  In some cases, however, the child isn't interested in being compliant, or doesn't yet have the necessary skills to do a good job.  In these cases, it's important to remember that as the parent, it will be your responsibility to monitor their brushing and flossing routines and help them if needed.
  2. Avoid excessive sugary foods and drinks. Sugar contributes to plaque and bacteria formation on the surface of the teeth.  It's ok to enjoy as a treat here and there, but you should avoid consuming sugar continuously throughout the day, and you should always brush (or rinse with water if you can't brush right away) after enjoying sugary treats.
  3. Try using the special toothbrush we offer when you start braces! We use a special toothbrush when starting treatment with braces.  It's specially designed to make it easier to brush under the wires and around the brackets so that you can be more effective at removing plaque.
  4. Watch for bleeding or puffy gums. These can be indications of inflammation which often means that brushing and flossing aren't being done effectively enough.  If you're trying your hardest and still seeing results like this, please let us know.  We'd be happy to review instructions as many times as you need us to!
  5. A Waterpik might be your new best friend. Waterpiks are gaining increasing popularity for good reason.  They're fun for kids, and they do a great job of irrigating in hard to reach places!
  6. Feel free to ask for feedback on your brushing. We are here to help you.  If you aren't sure how you're doing, let us know!  We'll be happy to check and point out areas for improvement!

With a little effort, you can finish your braces treatment with beautiful stain-free teeth!!  As always, you can find more information on our website at  Keep smiling, friends! :)

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