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The blog of Belmar Orthodontics gives Dr. T.C. Hardy an opportunity to keep current and prospective patients updated on the latest in orthodontic treatment. A graduate of Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, Dr. Hardy has published and presented his research both nationally and internationally. Here, Dr. Hardy speaks about common questions and concerns regarding issues such as ceramic braces, treatments for teenagers and adults, Invisalign®, and other orthodontic treatments – as well as issues about general oral health. If you would like more information about any of the topics covered below, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

Why You Need Both a Dentist and Orthodontist

Posted on: December 17, 2018

A young adult male that is having his teeth examined by a dental hygienist.

Dentists and orthodontists are both highly-trained professionals that can transform your smile. However, they provide completely different services to patients and both may be needed to help get your smile as healthy as possible. Orthodontic treatment connects to dentistry in many ways, as do the professionals themselves. If you’re like many others, you may need both professionals to keep your oral health in check.

 

Your Oral Care

Did you know that your oral health can affect all other aspects of your health? This is especially true if you already have some chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. If your oral health isn’t taken care of, your overall health can worse and you are more susceptible to infection. If you don’t control chronic conditions, your oral health can worsen, as the blood vessels that nourish your teeth and gums can become damaged. Your teeth are more likely to decay and get infections that lead to tooth loss.

 

That is why taking care of your oral health is so important. It can help determine the state of your overall health and if you keep your teeth for a few years or for many. Many people need both an orthodontist and a dentist to help keep their mouth healthy. Not everyone needs an orthodontist alongside their dental care, but millions do. At least 4 million are getting braces each year in the United States alone to correct bite, alignment and problems with the teeth that lead to oral health diseases. When oral health care is happening at home, yet gum disease tooth decay continue to happen, it’s time to also seek help from an orthodontist.

A young adult woman that is having her teeth looked at by a dental hygienist. She is looking up at the hygienist as she does her exam.

How Can a Dentist Help You?

A dentist is a professional that every person needs. Dentists are vital to you having good oral health for life. They can detect the presence of tooth decay, gum disease, oral cancer, oral sores and any other oral problem, plus they do the work to help correct those issues. These professionals go to school for 10 years just learning about your mouth and facial structures so they can help you stay healthy. Orthodontists receive all that same training, plus 2-3 extra years learning about straightening teeth, bite and alignment issues and structural problems with the mouth.

 

Because these professionals do different work, you will probably need both. Dentists have the primary duty to find the presence of tooth decay (cavities) using digital and x-ray technology. Then they have many different procedures to remove decay, fill the cavity, and restore your smile. They can do cosmetic work to make your smile look better and they deal primarily with oral health diseases and helping you avoid them so you don’t have early tooth loss. Orthodontists are trained to see cavities and oral health issues, but they will do structural work to help change your smile instead of dealing with the disease aspect of your oral health. Their work focuses on prevention of those issues in the first place.

 

How Can an Orthodontist Help You?

Did you know that people have had orthodontic care at least since the time of the Ancient Egyptians? More discoveries are finding orthodontic appliances on teeth thousands of years ago. Why? Because people that long ago also understood the benefits of straighter teeth. It took many centuries for orthodontists and orthodontic work to become established.

 

Studies found that straighter teeth made dental issues less likely to happen. When patients received orthodontic straightening—even through crude methods—they were less likely to have their teeth decay or break and less likely to have gum issues. The same holds true today. Crooked teeth are teeth that are much harder to clean. In a straight, even bite, the top front teeth rest just slightly in front of the bottom front teeth. From the front to the back, the teeth rest evenly on one another, evening out pressure from biting, chewing, eating, talking and more.

 

When the teeth are crooked, patients will get areas where they simply can’t get a toothbrush or floss to and those areas decay. The teeth may be at odd angles, and with uneven pressure placed on those teeth all the time, they may simply break. If you have crooked teeth, an orthodontist can easily make a plan to straighten them. Using digital x-rays, an orthodontist can examine your bite, alignment and incoming teeth and can make a plan to ensure all your teeth line up for the best oral health you could have.

 

A young adult woman that is having her teeth and gums looked at by both a dental hygienist and dentist.

Do You Need an Orthodontist?

Not everyone will need an orthodontist, but their care can benefit most people. Even getting slight straightening of the teeth can reduce your dental breaks, emergencies and issues with oral health diseases. Orthodontic care can even help with bad breath if that stems from plaque and bacteria in the mouth that you can’t quite get rid of. To know for sure if you need an orthodontist, make sure to schedule an examination.

 

For children, the national recommendation by groups such as the American Association of Orthodontics is to visit an orthodontist around age 7 or 8. This is a key time for an orthodontist to be able to tell if the incoming adult teeth are coming in at the correct angle and place in the mouth. Oral health issues that can become severe later on in life can be caught early and childhood and many oral problems can be prevented with some orthodontic care. For all other issues with finding and filling cavities, gum disease, sores and more, make sure to call your dentist. To schedule your consultation with the orthodontist, call Belmar Orthodontics today at (303) 225-9016!

 

Dressing Up Your Smile During the Holidays

Posted on: December 14, 2018

A young, blond teenager that is smiling at the camera and wearing a Santa Claus hat. She has metal braces on her teeth to get a better smile.

The holidays are here, which means parties, dinners, photo opportunities and more. Now is a great time to make your smile shine, and you can do that through orthodontic treatment. If you’re smile is lack-luster, consider our four orthodontic options that can help you have a straighter smile. For those already with braces, you can dress up your brackets with bright colors to reflect the season. Use these tips for getting a more beautiful smile with braces and having that show in your holiday snapshots this year!

 

Dress Up Your Smile with Orthodontics

The higher number of holidays during the winter season is believed to be because of the many pagan festivals that surrounded the Winter Solstice many years ago. That solstice happens in the third week of december, where there is Christmas, Hanukkah, New Years and other holidays all happening. With all those holidays and the gatherings that come with them, it’s likely to mean many opportunities for photos and showing off your smile. You want that smile to impress.

 

Studies show that people that straighten their smiles often feel more confident than those who don’t. That confidence can be visible even while you are currently getting orthodontic treatment. Straight teeth are so important to people that 87% of people are willing to forego something they want for a year or more to be able to get braces. If you have braces, not only is it something to be proud of, but something to be admired. If you don’t have braces, getting them is a great way to give yourself an amazing gift just in time for the holidays.

 

An image of a young adult male and female that are taking a photo together. The female has clear, ceramic braces on her teeth to get a better smile during the holidays.

Your Treatment Options

In the past, metal braces were your only option. However, you have many cool options today that you can gift yourself such as:

  • Traditional Metal Braces – These are the classic metal bracket and wire option that is most commonly chosen by patients. Patients who chose this option come in to have their wires tightened at each appointment.
  • Ceramic Braces – These braces are a close cousin to metal braces. They have the same bracket and wire design of metal braces, except that they are made out of ceramic material. This helps decrease demineralization during your orthodontic treatment. Ceramic material is also naturally white, helping these braces to blend in with your teeth more than metal would.
  • Lingual Braces – These are metal braces that are placed on the back of your teeth. Instead of just a square bracket, the metal must be custom-made to the shape of the back of your teeth. This is a discrete option that adults and teens love.
  • Invisalign Treatment – This is the most invisible option available to our patients. Invisalign is a series of transparent aligners that you wear at night and throughout the day. You can remove them for eating, playing sports, cleaning your teeth and more.

If You Already Have Braces

Maybe you already have braces. You can still make your smile wow in pictures by taking care of your smile. If you have metal or ceramic braces, our patients love to get colored bands that reflect the colors of the holidays. You can make your bands green and red for Christmas, blue and white for winter or any color you would like. Colorful bracket bands are just one way you can dress up your smile.

 

If you already have braces, then you have already started on your journey to a better smile. Orthodontic treatment can correct mild to severe issues with bite and alignment, and can help correct speech impediments. It can bring the teeth and jaws into proper position, reducing your risk for oral health diseases such as tooth decay and gum disease. Straighter teeth are teeth that are easier to clean and less likely to have breaks and fractures from uneven mouth pressure.

 

However, if you want your smile to dazzle in photos and at holiday get-togethers, you have to take care of it. The best way to do that is by brushing and flossing your teeth. Those two simple steps should be dones several times a day to keep your brackets clean and your teeth polished. Patients should brush 3 times a day or more to dislodge food and to clean the teeth after meals. Flossing should be done 1-2 times a day. Even though it takes a bit longer to do, don’t skip this step! If you do, you miss cleaning 40% of your tooth surfaces that can leave them open to decay, erosion and staining. Those are not things you want in a holiday photo.

 

An attractive teen girl that is smiling and shaping her hands around her mouth. Her teeth have clear, ceramic braces on them to straighten them.

Better Health for the New Year

The end of the year is a time to start making goals for the new year. One of those goals can be focused around having better health in the new year. Many people don’t realize just how connected oral health is with overall health. Countless chronic conditions can become more mild or they can intensify depending on how well you are taking care of your oral health. For example, if you have diabetes, not taking care of your teeth and gums can lead to oral infections that are really hard to battle because you have diabetes. Your body is less able to fight those infections and the infections can spread, worsening your condition.

 

However, if you do the basics of brushing your teeth, flossing and visiting your dentist and orthodontist like you should, you can keep your oral health in great shape. That makes it so your smile is amazing when your braces come off instead of damaged or decayed. To get some tips for taking care of your braces or for starting on an orthodontic plan, call Belmar Orthodontics today at (303) 225-9016!

Tooth Sensitivity with Braces

Posted on: December 6, 2018

tooth sensitivity

If you’ve gotten braces on your teeth, then you know the tooth sensitivity and soreness that can happen right when they’re put on. That soreness can also happen when braces are adjusted. However, there is a bit of a difference between soreness and tooth sensitivity. Sensitivity can suggest receding gums, tooth decay or other oral issues going on. Use this information to see why your tooth sensitivity is happening and how to remedy it!

What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?

Tooth sensitivity can stem from several different sources. Tooth sensitivity and pain can happen suddenly or it can come on gradually over time. Do you grind or clench your teeth? If you do, this can wear down your tooth enamel and make your gums inflamed.  Do you have difficult flossing your teeth with braces? This is a common source of tooth sensitivity.

One way to combat the challenge of flossing with braces is to use a threadable floss or floss threader. Using the small or the pointed end, insert the floss or floss threader between the teeth, but below the archwire. Gently move it back and forth until it is able to thread the floss between the teeth. Once in place, you can floss the two teeth on either side of where you have inserted the floss, taking care not to apply force or pressure against the archwire. Repeat between all teeth.

A WaterPik or water flosser can also be an essential tool to keep tooth decay away from gums and prevent gum recession–a leading cause of tooth sensitivity.

Why Are Teeth at Increased Risk for Tooth Sensitivity with Braces?

Technology has improved over the years allowing for less and less of an apparatus on the tooth enamel, but, still, there IS an apparatus sitting on your teeth for the duration of your treatment. Unless you are wearing removable Invisalign aligners for your orthodontic treatment, your apparatus will consist of wires and brackets which make it difficult to remove food particles that get stuck under, between and in your brackets and wires. Food left to fester can decay and eat away at your tooth’s vital tooth enamel leading to tooth sensitivity and pain.

How Can You Prevent Tooth Sensitivity During Orthodontic Treatment?

If ever there was a time to skimp on your oral hygiene it is NOT when you have braces. Diligent home care can make a significant difference in your smile results post-orthodontic treatment. Here are three steps to follow to help you find success:

  • Brush after every meal. Because your braces can easily attract and trap food particles, brushing after each meal can help prevent staining and reduce the potential for bacteria buildup. To brush teeth with a regular soft brush, brush down from the top, then up from the bottom on each tooth with a bracket.
  • Use a proxabrush (interdental brush). After brushing with a toothbrush, use a proxabrush, commonly referred to as a “Christmas tree brush,” to clean between each bracket. Place the proxabrush between two brackets, below the archwire, brushing up and down. After several strokes, repeat this motion by inserting the brush from the opposite side (either down from the top or up from the bottom).
  • Schedule regular cleanings with your dentist.  The best way to get a thorough cleaning is by booking one with your dentist. They have the tools needed to remove stubborn plaque and to reach tricky areas. They can also fortify your teeth enamel with an in-office fluoride treatment.

Schedule a Braces Consultation to Protect Your Tooth Enamel

Your time with braces will come and go in a flash, although you might not believe that in the beginning. The efforts you make from day one with your braces to protect your tooth enamel will show in the results of sparkling, white, strong, healthy teeth. Our friendly staff at Belmar Orthodontics is available to train you in methods and tools for keeping your teeth clean and strong. Make sure to keep your regular cleaning and check-up appointments so we can examine your teeth and make suggestions for improvements. Make an appointment by contacting our office today at 303.225.9016.  We are excited to meet you and help you reach your smile goals!

Be Thankful for Orthodontic Treatment

Posted on: November 27, 2018

An attractive, young adult male that is sitting in a dental chair as a dental hygienist prepares tools in the background.

Studies show that not enough Americans are taking good care of their teeth, especially through dental and orthodontic treatment. The advanced technology available today is what allows patients to keep their natural teeth healthy for life and is something that millions in the world don’t have access to. Find out why oral health services such as orthodontic treatment is so important to patients and something to be thankful for this time of year!

 

Your Oral Health

When you think of the most chronic conditions and diseases that plague people today, you may not think of cavities as being one of the them. The National Institutes of Health reports that tooth decay—or cavities—are the most “chronic, prevalent disease” among American children and adults. In fact, about 92% of people have tooth decay by the time they reach adulthood. In all age groups, roughly between 20% and 25% of people have untreated decay they are not aware of.

 

What does tooth decay have to do with orthodontic treatment? This decay can happen to anyone at anytime and you are more likely to have tooth decay during your orthodontic treatment. Many patients opt for lingual, ceramic or traditional metal braces to straighten their teeth. These methods require brackets that are bonded to the teeth with wires that pass through those brackets. Even though these appliances are highly effective for providing beautiful straightening power, they can make it harder to clean your teeth. Because it’s harder to clean them, and some patients don’t take the extra time to do this, you can end up with tooth decay. That adds to that 92% statistic.

 

The best way to eliminate your risk for that tooth decay (as well as other oral health diseases), is to properly care for your teeth both with and without braces. That involves brushing your teeth at least twice a day for 2 minutes at a time, as recommended by the American Dental Association. When you have braces, you have to do this after every meal to avoid acidic plaque buildup, which happens when your food and drink sugars mix with mouth bacteria. With braces, threadable floss to go around brackets and wires is generally needed, as well as cleaning items such as a waterpik (water shooter) tool and a proxabrush for brackets. Your oral health can be stellar during orthodontic treatment with the right oral hygiene.

 

A beautiful brunette teen that has braces on her teeth and that is holding a toothbrush and interdental brush in her hands.

How Does the U.S. Compare?

Orthodontic treatment is a time when those in the U.S. can have a greater risk for developing cavities. This comes from a lack of oral hygiene during your orthodontic treatment period. However, the world at large is battling oral health diseases and poor dental and orthodontic care on an epidemic scale. The World Health Organization reports that cavities (tooth decay) and gum disease (periodontal disease) “have historically been considered the most important global oral health burdens”.

 

60%-90% of people worldwide have tooth decay and oral diseases connected to this condition. Children are affected the most, but statistics are almost as high in adults worldwide. Even though the U.S. is at a high percentage when it comes to tooth decay (92%), the presence of tooth decay is generally eliminated in most of the population through proper dental work and access to dental services. In the majority of other countries—especially underdeveloped ones—dental or orthodontic work is not a possibility for most. Oral health diseases are simply left untreated or the teeth are pulled when they become too painful.

 

The Connection to Orthodontic Treatment

Getting a cavity or having an oral health problem during your life can definitely be avoided, but most people will have some sort of oral problem, even if it is small. There are ways to prevent those problems such as proper brushing and flossing every single day. A great way to reduce your risk for oral health diseases is through orthodontic treatment. For children, this is known as child orthodontics. The American Association of Orthodontics recommends that children have their first orthodontic appointment between age 7 or 8.

 

This is a time when baby teeth are starting to fall out and adult, permanent teeth are starting to come into the mouth. Proper examination by an orthodontist can sport bite and alignment issues that are developing in children. When these issues occur, the teeth can come in crooked all over or they may not rest in the position they are supposed to. This can lead to speech impediments, many dental emergencies and broken teeth in the future from uneven dental pressure, higher instances of tooth decay and gum disease, and problems with oral health diseases.

 

Orthodontic treatment when young can help align the teeth and jaws to prevent oral problems as a child grows. When teens and adults receive orthodontic treatment via braces, they can better straighten permanent teeth when they come in. This sets everything straight and functional before the jaws harden in adulthood. Straight teeth and aligned jaws make it so cleaning the teeth becomes almost effortless. The risk for tooth decay and gum disease is also significantly lower.

 

A young brunette teen girl that has just gotten braces on her teeth and is smiling at her reflection in a mirror at the dental office.

Be Thankful for Your Orthodontic Treatment

Dentistry and orthodontic treatment helps diminish the presence of oral diseases.Yes, tooth decay and gum disease happen frequently due to poor oral hygiene habits. However, orthodontic treatment can help prevent those problems in the first place. Great oral care can prevent developing problems throughout your life. Even when these issues do happen, you won’t have to simply get your teeth pulled or let them decay and fall out of your mouth.

 

You have great orthodontic and dental options in the United States that allow you to keep your teeth, while many people across the globe have to lose them. Remember that the next time you think about skipping your oral care appointments. To reduce your risk for oral health diseases, you can call Belmar Orthodontics at (303) 225-9016 and ask about your orthodontic treatment plan.

 

Foods and Drinks that Harm Your Teeth

Posted on: November 20, 2018

Female patient with braces that is drinking a drink through a straw and experiencing tooth pain.

Did you know that what you’re drinking might be hurting your oral health? Many patients experience problems like tooth erosion and thinning without realizing that the problem is what they’re eating. Use this guide to know the effects of foods and drinks on the teeth and what to watch out for!

 

Wear and Tear on Your Teeth

Your teeth are made of tightly-packed minerals that keep them strong and healthy. Those include calcium, phosphate, magnesium and more. Your saliva helps break down your food and helps to remineralize your teeth each day. Eating certain foods and drinks can strip minerals from your teeth slowly over time, making them weak, sensitive and thinner. These are common oral health problems with age. However, thinning (or enamel erosion) and sensitivity usually come from a lack of oral hygiene. If you enjoy a daily soda or you love your sweet treats throughout the day, you may be weakening your teeth at a rapid pace.

 

A dark soda in a glass that is surrounded by sugary treats.

Foods that Cause Damage

Some foods build up your tooth enamel and help it, like dairy products helping to remineralize calcium. Others—like sugar—tear it down. Avoid these foods to keep your smile healthy:

  • Anything Citrus: This includes both foods and drinks. Citrus fruits (lemon, lime, orange, etc.) and drinks contain citric acid. This is there naturally or as an additive to maintain flavor. Any type of acid on a label will erode your teeth if you ingest it.
  • Sugar: Sugar mixes directly with mouth bacteria to form a sticky film called plaque. That plaque sticks to teeth and causes decay. Because it’s acidic, it will work on your teeth to erode and decay them. The more sugar you eat, the more plaque your mouth makes, and the more erosion and decay you get. This is especially true while wearing braces.
  • Hard Candies/Mints: Any candy or mint you suck on (like a sucker) exposes your teeth to sugar constantly, which leads to decay from plaque acid.
  • Chewy/Sticky Candy: Any chewy/sticky consistency is destined to get stuck in brackets and wires. It also sticks like glue to the teeth if they’re not brushed properly.
  • Starchy Foods: Breads, cookies, crackers, pasta and anything starchy will get stuck in your teeth. All of these quickly break down into sugar, which can affect your teeth and your overall health.
  • Popcorn: Popcorn and hard foods like nuts, hard veggies and fruits and non-food items can be bad for your teeth with braces, as they can break your orthodontic appliance. Limit them to avoid orthodontic emergencies.

 

A soda, sparkling water and juice in three separate glass cups all lined up in a row on a white background.

Drinks to Avoid

Drinks can be even more damaging than food in many cases. That’s because you can drink all day long, and if your drink is acidic, those acids stay on your teeth up to 30 minutes. Soft drinks (soda/sports drinks) are notorious for high sugar content. That sugar can create tons of plaque in your mouth that causes decay. As we mentioned, that combination is acidic. Every time you drink, your are making plaque that can weaken your teeth.

 

Avoid these drinks that are acidic, sugary or can stain:

  • Soda: This contains carbonic acid, which comes from a chemical reaction between carbon dioxide and water. It stays acidic on your teeth for up to 30 minutes. Most sodas are incredibly high in sugar, which means they are doubly bad for you.
  • Energy drinks, etc.: Energy drinks, sparkling water, and any drink of the sort that contains carbonic acid. Avoid drinks with fizzy bubbles or limit their contact with the teeth by drinking through a straw.
  • Sports Drinks: These drinks are often full of sugar, plus citric acid to maintain flavor. Avoid them and stick to water.
  • Water Enhancers: Water-flavoring liquids or powders generally contain citric acid to maintain flavor. Even if the substance is clear, the acid will still erode teeth even if the drink isn’t staining them.
  • Alcohol: Many contain carbonation (carbonic acid) and all will kill nerves in your mouth, leading to loss of feeling over time.
  • Coffee: This drink, tea, wine and anything with blue, purple or red pigments will stain the teeth. If you teeth are eroding over time, the dyes get into small cracks in the teeth, changing tooth color rapidly.

 

Damaging Habits that Harm Your Teeth

If you want to have your teeth for life, you have to take care of them. You have to try even harder to care for them when you have braces. More than 4 million Americans are wearing braces each year. Some opt for Invisalign aligners, which are removable and which make cleaning the teeth fairly easy. However, many patients—especially children and teens—wear lingual, traditional metal or ceramic braces. All of these types of braces have brackets bonded to the tooth surface and wires that hold them in place.

 

If you don’t brush and floss like normal, your teeth can decay, erode and you can have problems with both gingivitis or severe gum disease. Your teeth can weaken and break easy and they can fall out. That’s why you want to have meticulous oral hygiene all throughout life. Proper brushing, flossing, visiting the dentist or orthodontist, and using oral health products like mouthwash and fluoride can all help you keep your natural teeth healthy.

 

With braces, you can have your teeth become thin and weak based on what you eat, or they can decay and change colors based on how you care for them. You can definitely harm your teeth if you’re not cleaning your brackets, wires and teeth several times a day. Good oral hygiene care is vital to having a healthy and beautiful smile at the end of your treatment. An easy step to avoid problems is to avoid the foods and drinks we listed above. Be even more careful about those foods and drinks with braces. For specific questions about certain foods or drinks, or help for proper braces care, call Belmar Orthodontics today at (303) 225-9016!

 

Adjusting to Lingual Braces

Posted on: November 13, 2018

A beautiful brunette woman smiling at the camera with her hands cupped under her smile.

There are four main types of braces that include traditional metal braces, ceramic braces, lingual and Invisalign treatment. When patients want sturdy metal for effective straightening power, but they don’t want visible metal, lingual braces is the option to choose. This consists of an orthodontic appliance attached to the back of the teeth. With any orthodontic appliance attached to the teeth, there will be an adjustment period for patients.

 

Why Get Braces?

Many people wonder why they would need orthodontic treatment if they are already seeing a dentist. However, a dentist is not the same as an orthodontist. Both have gone to dental school, but only an orthodontist can correct bite and alignment issues that would cause oral health diseases, problems with speech and issues with eating. Straighter teeth are teeth that are easier to clean, helping you avoid oral health diseases.

 

The teeth are less likely to crack, chip, fracture or break from uneven biting pressure when they are straighter. Studies show that people who straighten their teeth often feel more attractive, confident and motivated, and others view them that way as well. Braces can not only help reduce your risk of oral health problems (or help them to go away), but they can make you feel like a million bucks from the beautiful smile you receive.

 

A collage of images of the mouth with metal braces and with lingual braces.

What Are Your Options?

In the past, traditional metal braces were the only braces option patients could get. Today, there are four main orthodontic options. Those include:

  • Traditional Metal Braces – These are the classic metal bracket and wire option that is most commonly chosen by patients. Patients who chose this option come in to have their wires tightened at each appointment.
  • Ceramic Braces – These braces are a close cousin to metal braces. They have the same bracket and wire design of metal braces, except that they are made out of ceramic material. This helps decrease demineralization during your orthodontic treatment. Ceramic material is also naturally white, helping these braces to blend in with your teeth more than metal would.
  • Lingual Braces – These are metal braces that are placed on the back of your teeth. Instead of just a square bracket, the metal must be custom-made to the shape of the back of your teeth. This is a discrete option that adults and teens love.
  • Invisalign Treatment – This is the most invisible option available to our patients. Invisalign is a series of transparent aligners that you wear at night and throughout the day. You can remove them for eating, playing sports, cleaning your teeth and more.

Adjusting to Lingual Braces and More

For many patients, the adjustment period with their orthodontic appliance will be a new experience. Getting braces on the teeth is a new and exciting chapter for anyone that is starting on their journey to a better smile. However, your mouth does have to physically adjust to orthodontic appliances. With traditional metal, ceramic, or lingual braces, there are orthodontic parts that will be bonded to the teeth with a cement-like bonding material.

 

The application of that bonding material with your teeth will place extra pressure on them for several days. You may have to take an over-the-counter painkiller (like Tylenol) to help ease that aching feeling. Soft foods like yogurt or pasta will be better after the braces application for sensitive teeth. Your tongue will have to adjust to orthodontic appliances as well. For traditional metal braces on the front of your teeth, they may feel bulky as they rest against your lips.

 

With lingual braces, your tongue may feel more crowded or may constantly run into the brackets. With both of these options, a patient’s mouth becomes used to the appliances so quickly that they won’t even notice the braces after a few days. Your smile won’t look bulky with your appliance, but it will start to look straighter over time. Cleaning your teeth will take a bit more work, but this too will become second nature to you. With each new braces adjustment, your teeth may feel a bit sore, but that feeling will go away quickly.

 

A young adult woman sitting in an orthodontic chair smiling at the hygienist.

Keeping Your Smile Healthy

You can spend 18 or more months straightening your teeth, only to have them be decayed at the end of your treatment. However, this doesn’t have to happen if you are taking meticulous care of your teeth with braces on them. Patients should be brushing and flossing their teeth whether or not they have braces on them. The American Dental Association recommends that every person brush their teeth at least twice a day. With braces, you want to brush them very well after every meal to dislodge food that would cause decay.

 

Flossing is key as well, as flossing gets about 40% of your tooth surfaces that brushing misses. If you skip flossing all the time, all those tooth surfaces can decay. With braces, you won’t be able to do the normal flossing you’re used to. Lingual braces can be even harder if you can’t see where you are flossing. This is where flossing tools for braces come in handy. Invest in threadable floss or flossers (which is very similar). This is floss that you stick through the cracks in your teeth and pull through like a sewing needle. You floss the tooth, scraping the teeth as you go, and pull the floss all the way through the tooth to start on a new one. It only takes a minute or so more than normal flossing, but will help prevent decay with your lingual braces.

 

Braces Are an Investment

Your teeth may take a bit more time to keep clean with braces on them than they were before. However, with braces such as lingual braces, you’re making your smile straighter and more beautiful for years to come. That straightness will not only help make cleaning the teeth easier for years, but it will help your appearance and your confidence. If you want all the benefits of a beautiful, straight smile, call Belmar Orthodontics today at (303) 225-9016!

 

Braces Can Change Your Life

Posted on: November 6, 2018

A beautiful brunette woman that is smiling and holding transparent orthodontic aligners in front of her.

Your oral health can determine much of your overall health. Food and substances enter through your mouth, affecting your waistline, your appearance and your health. Your oral health can improve your overall health when you make changes in oral hygiene and bite and alignment. Misalignments in bites and crooked teeth can cause health and social problems, as they can lead to speech impediments, oral health diseases, and worsening chronic conditions. With braces, you can not only change how healthy your mouth is, but can change your life too!

 

Growing In Straight Teeth

Many people picture teens when they think of braces. However, 1/4th of people with braces are kids. Child orthodontics help straighten out teeth that would cause them speech problems, broken teeth and trouble growing in the permanent teeth. Adults and teens usually get them for crooked teeth.

 

However, braces aren’t just for people with crooked teeth. You may see patients young and old that appear to have a straight smile and yet they have to get braces. In this case, there is probably an oral health issue with the bite or alignment. Your teeth should line up along both the upper jaw and the lower jaw. When you go to the dentist, they will ask you to bite together so that they can view how your bite rests. How your teeth sit when they are resting together can determine if you will have dental issues and even speech impediments. This is especially true for young kids who are losing baby teeth and having adult teeth grow in.

 

Children have their baby teeth for years—even up to age 12 or later at times. Those baby teeth start to space out a bit more as a child grows from an infant to a school-aged child. Their mouth grows with them, making room for adult teeth. 20 baby teeth will become 32 adult teeth (including the wisdom teeth). However, those teeth don’t always come into the mouth in the right position or the right direction. With a healthy bite, the upper and lower jaws should have the teeth lining up evenly with one another. The teeth should be straight up and down, and the front upper teeth will rest just slightly in front of the bottom front teeth.

 

A close-up view of a person's mouth that has ceramic braces on the teeth.

 

Braces Can Prevent Dental Injuries

When teeth aren’t straight and they jut out at different angles, it can mean broken, cracked or chipped teeth in the future. Those dental injuries would be caused by uneven pressure on certain teeth which will eventually break them or will cause areas of decay that you can’t clean well. The alignment of the teeth can also cause speech impediments when forming words, and those impediments can last for life if bite, alignment and crooked teeth aren’t corrected. For young children and adults alike, receiving braces for these issues can certainly change not only their oral health, but their life.

 

Braces are sometimes needed to make space in a patient’s mouth. Not all mouths grow to fit the incoming teeth, but that doesn’t mean the adult teeth won’t stop coming in. All your teeth will come in, even if they have to crowd out other teeth. That crowding can be painful and even one tooth coming in where there isn’t room can cause all of your teeth to go crooked. As a tooth comes in, it will slowly push other teeth from the area, which then have to shift. This is what wisdom teeth commonly do, and it can be painful as it messes up a smile. Braces can stop that from happening by making plenty of space in the mouth for teeth that are still coming in.

 

What If You Have Your Teeth Already?

The dental issues we have mentioned will generally happen before a person has reached adulthood. The American Association of Orthodontics recommends that children have their first orthodontic appointment around age 7 or 8. This is when we can see how the baby teeth are falling out and how the permanent teeth are coming in. We stop dental issues before they start forming, and during this time when the jaw bones are still soft enough to mold. However, at least 1/4th of patients that have braces get them when they are adults. The jaws have grow completely and have hardened into place by adulthood, making orthodontic treatment harder.

 

However, we said “harder”, not “impossible”. Orthodontic advancements can definitely help an adult change their smile to change their life. Now, more than ever, it is becoming increasingly important to have a straight smile as an adult. Studies show that others make an opinion of you based off of the first few seconds of meeting you. Your appearance can go a long way. Your smile is also one of the top 3 features others will notice first when formulating an opinion about you. Studies show that those with straighter teeth are seen as more attractive, successful, smart, healthy and trustworthy. Employers are more likely to hire those with straight smiles over those who don’t have them.

 

A beautiful brunette young adult woman that has magenta lipstick on and she is smiling very wide at the camera.

Your Options

If you’re an adult, you can straighten your smile without it being noticeable. Children often go the route of traditional metal braces or ceramic braces, which are the same but made from ceramic material. Adults and many teens opt for hidden options like lingual braces or Invisalign treatment. Lingual braces are metal braces that attach behind the teeth, staying hidden as they correct bite, alignment and your teeth. Invisalign treatment consists of transparent aligners patients change out every week. However, they don’t do as well with larger bite and alignment issues. It’s never too late to receive orthodontic treatment.

 

Whether you are young or old, you can change your smile to reduce or eliminate your problems with speech, tooth decay, oral health issues, dental injuries and to even feel more attractive. Want to see just how much braces can change your life? Call Belmar Orthodontics today at (303) 225-9016 to receive your free consultation!

 

Lingual Braces: History and Benefits

Posted on: October 25, 2018

A brunette woman with red lipstick on tilting her head to the right slightly and smiling at the camera.

Several decades ago, traditional metal braces were the only option available for patients to get a beautiful, straight smile. However, the traditional take on braces changed when lingual braces were introduced. These are metal braces that go in your mouth, except they are bonded to the back of your teeth instead of the front. This option is a popular one for teens and adults, as they can hide their metal braces in their mouth as they straighten the teeth.

 

What Are Traditional Metal Braces?

Metal braces are “traditional” because the bracket-and-wire design they have has been used for decades. Before 1970, orthodontists anchored metal brackets to the center of each tooth and wound wires around the teeth to straighten them. After 1970, orthodontists continued to use metal anchorage devices (called brackets) on the front and center of each tooth.

 

A metal archwire was sufficient for straightening when it ran along the upper and lower jaws across the front of the teeth. Traditional braces use a system of archwires and brackets that are bonded to the teeth to shift them into their ideal position. When we see you at your frequent checkups, we will adjust the archwire, which will exert more pressure on your teeth, moving them in place.

 

The back molars will have metal bands that fit all the way around the back molars of the teeth. This is where the archwire will attach and be stabilized. Both top and bottom jaws will have these bands on them. The brackets on each tooth will have a rubber band around them, which are removable. They help keep your bracket hooks from catching on your mouth.

 

Close-up view of the inside of a patient's mouth with lingual braces on the teeth.

How Are Lingual Braces Different?

Lingual braces are similar to traditional metal braces. Many people don’t aesthetically like the look of metal braces, but they love their final straight smile. Metal braces are the strongest and are highly effective for achieving a beautiful smile. What can patients do if they want a straight smile but they don’t want braces front and center? Put that metal on the inside of the mouth between the teeth and the tongue!

 

Lingual braces are metal braces just like the traditional version, except that they are on the tongue-side of your teeth. However, there isn’t as much room on the back of your teeth like there is on the front of your teeth. If you notice, there is also a bit of a curve to the back of some of your teeth. That bracket-and-wire design can’t be exactly like the traditional version, but the design can be similar.

 

Using the same idea as traditional metal braces, you can achieve the same results as traditional braces, only with a hidden treatment apparatus on the tongue-side of your teeth. Patients that choose this option have impressions made of their mouth that focus on the backs of their teeth. After those impressions are sent to a special lab, metal backings for the teeth are made that are then bonded to the back of your teeth. They are almost like metal coverings for the entire tooth back, and often are silver or gold in color. These metal coverings also have small metal brackets and wires that discreetly correct bite and alignment issues over time. The concept is similar, but the design is tweaked to give lingual braces the same stability as traditional metal ones.

 

A close-up view of a woman's teeth that are beautiful and straight.

The Invention of Lingual Braces

  • The push for hidden braces first started in the 70s with celebrities and public figures that wanted straighter teeth without visible metal braces.
  • Craven Kurz and Jim Mulick were the first to develop prototypes for these braces in 1975. Craven Kurz was an orthodontist who later founded the American Lingual Orthodontic Association. Jim Mulick was the man Kurz partnered with from the UCLA School of Dentistry.
  • The first prototypes of lingual braces led to tongue irritation and bracket breaks, which were resolved by inventing an inclined plane for these braces.
  • Lingual braces are usually made of stainless steel, but they can also be made out of titanium.
  • Craven Kurz applied for a patent in 1976 and the first lingual braces were produced in 1979. Ormco was the company Kurz partnered with that eventually created 7 different generations of lingual models until the current model.
  • Each model involved changes to the orthodontic appliance including the additions of hooks and crannies, anterior and molar brackets and hooks, inclined planes, torque values, transpalatal bar hooks and a heart-shaped inclined plane.
  • There are various designs of lingual braces that will vary based on how they look and how they are attached to the teeth. We use the “Incognito” style, but you may also hear types such as “iBraces”, “In-Ovation”, “STb Light Lingual System” and “Suresmile Lingual QT”.

 

How Do You Benefit?

Getting braces at all is a major step in the right direction if you want to be successful. Studies show that people who straighten their teeth often feel more confident in themselves, and their actions become more confident. Due to social, economic or aesthetic concerns, many patients may have the desire to straighten their teeth, but they don’t want to have metal braces on their teeth. For adults with careers or active social lives, they may view traditional metal braces as something only children and teens have.

 

However, at least 1/4th of patients with braces are adults. You simply may not see those braces because they have invisible braces like lingual braces. Lingual braces can achieve the same effect as regular metal braces without being seen. For a career setting, you can keep your white smile as it slowly becomes straighter overtime. For athletes, there isn’t a worry about dental injuries, as brackets and wires won’t cut up the cheeks or gums. Those who play wind instruments will find that lingual braces are much easier to play with than traditional braces. You get both the aesthetic appeal with sturdy straightening power with lingual braces. If you would like your free consultation, call Belmar Orthodontics today at (303) 225-9016!

 

Young girl teen that is smiling at the camera wearing braces and giving the thumbs up sign.

Halloween can be an incredibly fun time for kids and adults alike. However, the not-so-fun part is developing cavities later on because of that Halloween candy. Sugar is directly related to tooth decay, but it’s even worse if you have braces on your teeth. There are specific candies you should try to avoid if you have brackets and wires, as they can get stuck easier. Find out what these are and tips to reduce your risk for tooth decay during the holidays!

 

How Popular Is Halloween?

About $2.4 billion dollars is spent in Easter candy each year. However, Halloween candy is a close second at around $2.1 billion in sales. Divided up into individual households, that’s about $44-$47 dollars spent on Halloween candy in each household.

 

If you think Halloween candy sales are scary, here are the facts on the actual candy consumed on Halloween day itself:

  • Almost all children and at least ½ of all adults eat candy on Halloween day.
  • However, the amount of candy consumed is well-past the recommended 6 or less teaspoons children should have in a day. Adults should only have between 6 and 9 teaspoons of sugar (tops) per day. On Halloween itself, up to 3 cups of candy is consumed per child.
  • That equates to about 48 teaspoons of sugar per cup, or about 144 teaspoons of sugar, or 675 grams of sugar in one day.
  • USA Today reports that 4% of all the candy eaten in the U.S. is eaten on Halloween day.
  • Reader’s Digest reports that the amount of calories children and adults alike eat on Halloween equals anywhere between 3,000 and 7,000 calories.
  • Not only can this much sugar lead to incredible health problems and diabetes, but sugar—the main ingredient in that candy—is the direct cause of tooth decay.

 

Chevron candy bag that has candy spilling out of it. The words "trick or treat" is written next to it on a black background.

How Can Candy Hurt Your Teeth?

Candy is damaging to your teeth because of the sugar, which is a direct factor in your risk for tooth decay. The more sugar you eat, the more cavities you could get. When you eat or drink, sugars in food will mix with certain bacterias in your mouth. That mixture will create a sticky substance called plaque. You can’t simply swallow that plaque either. It sticks to your teeth and becomes an acidic substance when it mixes.

 

Because it’s acidic, as it sticks to your tooth enamel like a film, it will work to erode and decay your teeth. It does this by breaking up the minerals that make up your tooth enamel layer. If you don’t brush and floss your teeth often enough, or you eat a ton of sugar, you have plaque working hard on your teeth to destroy them.

 

Plaque can decay your tooth surface to create surface cavities. If enough decay happens on that layer, it can get through to the inner layers of the teeth, causing internal (and sometimes large) cavities that can turn into infections and tooth loss. Sugar is the main food for plaque, which is why candy—whose main ingredient is sugar—can hurt your teeth.

 

Close up view of a woman's mouth that has braces on it and she is holding a toothbrush and a proxabrush in her hands.

Avoiding Specific Sweet Treats with Braces

Anyone can get cavities and other oral health problems from a large candy or sugar consumption. You don’t only have to worry about candy either when it comes to cavities—you have to worry about all foods. Most foods you can buy at the store have added sugars in them. That includes juices, sports drinks, and sodas, as well as the obvious sugar foods like candy, cakes, ice cream and cookies. Always check food labels to see how much sugar a food contains.

 

There are specific foods you want to avoid if you wear braces, as those foods and candies can make it much easier for you to get cavities. Especially at Halloween, popular candies are ones that are chewy and sticky. Anything chewy and sticky will get stuck in your brackets and wires if you wear lingual, ceramic or metal braces. Sweet treats you want to avoid if you wear braces include:

  • Gum: Gum is made to be elastic and sticky and can stick to brackets like crazy. Avoid it completely with braces. After your braces are off, chew sugar-free gum.
  • Chewy/Sticky Candy: Examples include caramels, taffy, Tootsie Rolls, Starburst, licorice, Skittles, Sugar Daddies and any candies that are similar. Avoid fruit snacks, gummies and dried fruit as well, which are all incredibly sticky.
  • Hard Candies: These go hand-in-hand with suckers and mints. All of these candies expose your teeth to sugars for prolonged periods of time, which means a prolonged risk for acidic plaque and tooth decay.
  • Sodas/Citrus Drinks: These and any carbonated drinks all contain either citric acid or carbonic acid, which erode the teeth. That can mean you have tooth erosion and decay all around your brackets, which will be very noticeable when your braces come off.

 

Enjoy Some Sweetness This Halloween

When it comes to Halloween, we want all of our patients to have fun and to enjoy the holiday. Candy is naturally a part of that holiday, but it doesn’t mean that you have to experience tooth decay in the weeks following it. Every person needs to be conscious of their candy consumption on Halloween to avoid tooth decay, erosion and health problems in general.

 

You don’t want to work hard for 18-24 months getting a straight smile if it’s decayed when your braces finally come off. Enjoy your Halloween sweet treats, but be mindful of your oral health. Brush your teeth 3 times a day or after every meal with fluoride toothpaste. Floss your teeth at least 1-2 times a day. Avoid sticky and sugary treats and clean the teeth very well if you do eat them at Halloween. Avoid acidic drinks and watch your sugar consumption. For tips on cleaning your teeth correctly with braces to avoid tooth decay, call Belmar Orthodontics today at (303) 225-9016!

 

Blonde woman smiling and pointing to her mouth to emphasize her straight teeth.

Did you know that getting your teeth straightened can be a form of restorative dentistry? This is because restorative dentistry seeks to restore or bring your smile to a more perfect state. Crooked teeth can become straight, which in turn starts to relieve the burdens of tooth decay, gum disease, bad breath and other oral health problems. If you want to restore your smile once more, see what our 4 different orthodontic options can do for you!

 

Why Is Your Smile Important?

Some patients don’t realize just how important a smile really is. Studies show that your smile is one of the first things another person will notice about you. Is that smile showing that you are healthy and confident? Or do you hide your smile because of crooked teeth, discoloration or other aspects you don’t like? When a smile looks good, studies show that people often feel more confident and they exude that confidence much easier. A better smile can lead a person to be more social and confident to pursue successful endeavors.

 

It’s not only what a smile does for a person themself that’s important. How your smile looks to others also will determine a lot about how successful you are. The makes of the orthodontic appliance Invisalign conducted a study about smiles, and what they found was quite amazing:

  • 1/3rd of people notice a person’s smile before any other feature.
  • Those who have a straighter, more beautiful smile are 45% more likely to get a job over a competitor with a crooked or discolored smile.
  • Your smile can send messages about how healthy you are and how happy you seem. When that smile is straighter and more beautiful, others will see you as 21% more likely to be healthier and 47% happier.
  • 73% of people are more likely to trust you at first glance if you have a better smile.
  • You’re 58% more likely to be perceived as wealthy and 57% more likely to get a date if you have a great smile.

 

Brunette woman smiling and holding transparent orthodontic aligners.

What Is Restorative Dentistry?

Your teeth will determine most of how good your oral health. When you eat, sugars in the food you eat mix with mouth bacteria. That creates plaque, or that sticky, acidic substance that coats your teeth. Over time, if proper oral hygiene habits aren’t observed, the teeth will change colors and decay. This happens much easier to the teeth if they are crooked. That’s because it’s harder to clean between the teeth if there is no way to get floss through crooked teeth.

 

Restorative dentistry seeks to restore smiles that are crooked or damaged through decay or gum disease (a disease to the gums that happens just like tooth decay). This form of dentistry consists of dental services such as teeth whitening, same-day crowns, root canal therapy and tooth-colored fillings. There are many dental patients that will get dental veneers—also known as “porcelain veneers”—to restore their smile. This is a dental service where the top layer of your teeth is taken off and replaced with a perfect, white tooth shell. However, once that part of your natural tooth is taken off, you can’t get that natural part back. Porcelain veneers do make your smile look beautiful, but they don’t change your crooked teeth or oral health issues underneath.

 

Fixing the Problem with Orthodontic Treatment

Fixing the problem permanently is a great solution to getting a beautiful smile and reducing your problems with tooth decay, gum disease, bad breath and more. Straighter smiles are ones that are easier to clean and ones that look attractive and healthy. Plus, once you straighten your smile with orthodontic treatment, it can stay that way for life. Orthodontics is different than dentistry, but is absolutely important to your oral health.

 

Dentists will fix problems with tooth decay and gum disease. Orthodontic treatment and restorative dentistry through those braces can help prevent problems in the first place. Plus, orthodontic braces are able to correct bite and alignment issues that are caused by misaligned bites and jaws. Those issues can cause speech and development problems without intervention. Without orthodontic treatment, other restorative dentistry methods can only do so much.

 

Close-up view of a woman's mouth as she is putting in transparent orthodontic aligners.

Restorative Dentistry for You

Our easiest method of restorative dentistry for teens and adults is through Invisalign treatment. This option works just as well as our lingual braces, ceramic braces and traditional metal braces. However, with Invisalign, the focus is on aesthetics as well as straightening. We want you to have a beautiful smile as you straighten, and Invisalign is a great way to achieve that.

 

Invisalign is a orthodontic treatment that is designed to be virtually unnoticeable on your teeth. Patients have their teeth digitally scanned in-office and a treatment plan is made for them, mapping out how orthodontic treatment will transform their smile in 18 months or less. Often, patients can straighten their smile in 1/3rd of that time, depending on the condition of the teeth, bite and alignment. Less office visits are typically needed for this type of restorative dentistry.

 

You simply wear your aligners for 20-22 hours each day (and overnight), and by switching out the aligners each week, your teeth shift into a straight smile over time. The benefit of this restorative dentistry option is that you are actually fixing the root cause of oral health problems. Crooked teeth cause tooth decay and gum disease to worsen, but you avoid that with a straight smile. With other restorative dentistry options (such as teeth whitening or veneers), you will still have the crooked teeth (although masked), and possibly the dental problems. Avoid all that while still getting a beautiful smile with Invisalign. If you want to learn more about this restorative dentistry option for adults and teens, contact Belmar Orthodontics today at (303) 225-9016!