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Conservative Treatment Aligned With Each Patient’s Goals

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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.

Rubber Bands and Braces

Posted on: February 22, 2019

Closeup view of a woman's mouth with braces and elastics

Why use rubber bands with braces? Some people have them, and some people don’t need to use them at all. Along with brackets, archwires, and ligatures, rubber bands are just another part of braces. Rubber bands are extremely helpful as they help move the teeth and jaw into proper alignment. They are connected to the actual bracket and help improve your bite. If your jaw is misaligned, read on to discover how rubber bands might be the option to straighten your teeth and jaw at the same time!

 

Parts of Braces

Modern technology has changed the lives, and smiles, of millions of patients worldwide who have used or currently use braces. Nowadays, braces can be as inconspicuous as we want, with some brackets being attached to the backs of teeth, rather than the front, for a more aesthetic appeal. With the invention of a variety of orthodontic appliances, such as lingual braces, Invisalign, clear braces, and traditional, the patient can decide what braces fits their oral health goals the best. Along with the many types of braces we learn about, there are also other parts of braces that we aren’t as familiar with, such as “bracket,” “archwire,” “springs,” and “ligatures.” We have heard of the different components of braces, but what does an archwire do? How do springs help adjust our teeth? Depending on your needs, your orthodontist will install any of these appliances to help you get the best smile in the shortest amount of time possible.

 

Brackets are the square part of the braces that are directly attached to the tooth, usually through a cement that bonds it to each individual tooth. They are usually made of steel or clear ceramic, and they guide the archwire into the appropriate placement. The archwire is held by brackets and is designed to guide the movement of the teeth during treatment. They are normally made from stainless steel, but also can be made with titanium. Springs go between brackets and around the archwire and are also made of stainless steel or titanium. They function as a force that opens or closes a space between teeth. The archwire and the bracket are connected through ligatures, which are the little rubber bands that wrap around each bracket to hold the archwire in place. For adolescents, these are usually the best part about braces because they come in a variety of colors that kids can choose from, and are changed after each orthodontic visit whenever the archwire is tightened. Although ligatures are rubber bands, they are not the same thing as interarch rubber bands, which have a major impact on jaw and bite alignment.

 

Rubber Bands

Interarch rubber bands, commonly known as “rubber bands” or “elastics,” ensure that your child’s teeth are lining up properly. They adjust bite and jaw position, such as an overbite or underbite, and are connected to the bracket with hooks. They create a force to move the teeth in a particular direction, specifically closer together. The top and bottom tooth bracket are connected through these bands, which adjusts the position of the teeth in the mouth and the position of the jaw. These rubber bands are removed during meals as well as while cleaning your teeth and brackets. Usually, they are replaced daily because of the wear they endure and their likelihood of breaking if used for too long. When worn to adjust a misaligned bite, interarch rubber bands are typically worn at all times, except for when eating or cleaning your teeth. If the treatment is only minor, you might only have to wear the bands at night. The consistent tension on the teeth and jaw is what makes these bands effective. If a patient doesn’t wear their bands in the prescribed manner, whether it be the length of time is too short or you’re wearing more bands than normal, this can lengthen treatment time and move your teeth in an unintended way. Not every patient will have to use interarch rubber bands, but if your orthodontic prescribes you to wear them, make sure that you follow his or her directions exactly and take good care of your bands.

 

Do’s and Don’ts of BracesYoung boy with braces holding toothbrush

While braces have revolutionized the dental and orthodontic professions, there are some rules that a patient needs to follow to protect and get the most use out of their orthodontic appliances. Always make sure to keep your teeth clean when wearing braces. Brushing and flossing under the archwire and between the brackets is essential to remove plaque, which can easily build up on your teeth with braces. To make sure that your teeth are being cleaned entirely, replace your toothbrush every three months or as soon as the bristles are frayed. Go to all of your orthodontic appointments so that they can adjust your archwire and monitor your teeth’s movement. If you delay your adjustments, your treatment time can be increased, which can be expensive.

 

Even though braces are strong, you can still break a bracket or an archwire with the things that you eat. Avoid foods that can get stuck in your teeth or your braces, such as nuts, popcorn, hard candy, ice, and sticky foods like chewing gum or caramel. Try not to eat as much sugary foods as it can lead to tooth decay around the brackets, which can permanently damage your teeth. Especially for active teenagers and adults, use a mouthguard during physical activity or when playing a sport to protect your mouth and jaw from getting hurt. Following this list of do’s and don’ts will increase the likelihood of having a positive and shorter experience with braces.

 

Getting The Smile You Deserve

For other tips and suggestions about orthodontic appliances and which one is best for you, call Belmar Orthodontics at (303) 225-9016 for a comprehensive exam. With our team of qualified and dedicated individuals, we will provide you or your child with the best orthodontic care for a great price. Call now to learn more!

Does Your Child Really Need Braces?

Posted on: February 15, 2019

Young girl smiling and wearing braces

We typically get our braces put on during our teenage to adult years, but how do you know whether your young child should have braces or not? Child orthodontics is a common practice for those children struggling with crooked, overlapping, or overcrowded teeth, or a misaligned jaw. There are many advantages for children as they receive braces earlier on in life as it can prevent future orthodontic treatment and guide incoming teeth into the proper position. Learn how to recognize whether your child needs braces through these tips!

 

When To Start

Young kids go through a lot of physical changes during adolescence, and some of those changes include jaw and teeth development. Orthodontics has become more and more common in young children to adjust certain orthodontic issues that occasionally occur as a child develops. Traditionally, orthodontic treatment begins once a child has lost most of their baby (primary) teeth and a majority of their permanent teeth have grown in, which typically occurs between the ages of 8 and 14. Even though braces is recommended at this age, it is a good idea to get an orthodontic evaluation for your child by the time they turn 7 years old; at this age, an orthodontist is able to detect early symptoms of orthodontic problems, such as an underbite or crossbite, which can cause severe complications and more treatment later on if left untreated at an early age. Bones are still growing during this age, so it is an ideal time to meet with an orthodontist to monitor bone and jaw development while evaluating any apparent orthodontic issues.

 

Advantages of Child Orthodontics

Although child orthodontics is only necessary if there are physical developmental issues within the mouth, receiving orthodontic treatment as a child has certain advantages. Visiting an orthodontist at an early age allows for observation of incoming teeth and reduces the risk of impacted teeth as your child loses their baby teeth and their permanent teeth take their place. As the orthodontist monitors your child’s teeth, they can help guide their teeth into the correct position as soon as they begin erupting, usually through braces or other orthodontic devices that help move teeth into the correct positions. Regular orthodontic visits also decrease the risk of hidden dental issues and permanent tooth extractions, as it allows for the orthodontist to adjust the jaw so that teeth crowding doesn’t occur.

 

Child orthodontics doesn’t always imply braces. Since a child’s jaw and teeth are still growing, many orthodontic issues, such as crowding, can be addressed before complications occur later on during adolescence. In this case, orthodontic treatment in young children is known as interceptive orthodontics. Many times, a child’s dental arch may be too small to fit all of their teeth. Just a few decades ago, it was a common practice to simply remove some permanent teeth to make space in the mouth. Now, though, child orthodontics can avoid this through the use of a palatal expander that expands the child’s upper dental arch, which allows adult teeth to emerge in a better position. Interceptive orthodontics can speed up the process of aligning teeth into the proper position and cause future treatment to be shorter and less involved.

 

How Much Does It CostTransparent dental orthodontic aligner

If braces are fit too early on a child, treatment can take longer and be more expensive. For this reason, it’s important to have regular orthodontic visits to monitor tooth and jaw development to ensure that whenever your child receives braces, it’s at the correct time. The braces that your orthodontist recommends will depend on your child’s type of problem that he or she has. There are three types of braces that most children will receive, and they each have different advantages and disadvantages:

 

  • Traditional metal braces – Have steel ties holding the wires between the brackets in place. Cost is driven by what your orthodontist will charge for treatment, including multiple office visits.
  • Damon braces – Do not have steel ties, but the brackets themselves hold the wires in place. Typically more expensive and can cost up to $8,000, but you pay for less dental appointments since the braces are self-ligating.
  • Invisalign (or other clear or removable aligners) – Fit over the child’s teeth similar to a mouthguard. Your child will receive a number of aligners during the duration of their treatment, so cost is determined by the amount of aligners needed to achieve correction.

 

Just like adult orthodontics, child orthodontics can cost anywhere between $3,000 and $8,000, depending on what level of correction your child needs. If your child needs to have teeth extracted or be fitted for other appliances, the cost will most likely go up, as well. The way your child complies to orthodontic treatment will also affect the cost. Make sure that they are brushing and flossing everyday so as to avoid tooth decay, which will increase the cost of treatment as your dentist will have to treat around the braces to fix the decay.

 

Is It Necessary?

As mentioned before, whether your child needs braces or not at an earlier age is dependent upon their mouth structure and how their teeth form. For more information about child orthodontics or if you’re interested in scheduling a consultation, contact Belmar Orthodontics at (303) 225-9016!. Our experienced and highly trained orthodontic staff offers a variety of orthodontic treatments and technology so that you can be confident your children are receiving the best care available.

 

Temporary Anchorage Devices: What Are They?

Posted on: February 8, 2019

Picture of young adult wearing braces and smiling

Whenever our teeth need an extra push to shift them into a straighter position, orthodontists will typically install a temporary anchorage device, commonly known as a “TAD.” Although they’re not used in every case, they help pull, push, and lift difficult to adjust teeth into the correct position. If your orthodontist recommends that you have a TAD, read through this guide to understand how they function and what you can do to maintain them!

 

Origins of Orthodontia

Poorly aligned jaws and teeth have been a nuisance to mankind since the beginning of time, so it’s no surprise that orthodontics has been around for so long. Archaeologists have found human remains with crooked teeth dating back 50,000 years; interestingly enough, the remains of some ancient civilizations, like Egypt, have been found with crude metal bands around their teeth, a form of orthodontics very similar to braces that we see nowadays. The ancient Greek, the Etruscans, and the Romans also practiced orthodontia and kept records of their discoveries. The ancient Greek physician, Hippocrates, was the first to describe teeth irregularities around 400 BC, and centuries later, Celcus would advise bringing newly emerging teeth into their proper position by pushing them with your fingers.

 

By the 1700 and 1800s, orthodontics was developing rapidly. Pierre Fauchard, the “Father of Dentistry,” would create the bandeau that allowed teeth to align correctly by using a strip of metal with regularly spaced holes that fit around the teeth. During the 20th century, Edward Hartley Angle would identify the true properties of a malocclusion, or misalignment, and begin addressing them with an effective set of orthodontic appliances that were developed much earlier. By the 1970s, braces would further advance through the invention of dental adhesives that would allow orthodontists to stick brackets to teeth surfaces rather than wiring them around each tooth. Stainless steel replaced gold and silver that were previously used as the wire, which helped reduce the cost of braces significantly. Even with the impressive advances that we have made since the beginning of orthodontics, patients around the world still suffer from advanced teeth and jaw malocclusion that normal braces can’t resolve on their own. For the purpose of increasing the effectiveness of braces, other orthodontic devices have been invented to facilitate this process.

 

Orthodontic DevicesOrthodontic model of orthodontic devices used in the mouth

Whenever we think of “orthodontics,” we innately assume braces. Braces have two basic parts: brackets and wires. Wires move the teeth and brackets serve as a stationary holder for the wires. Contemporary braces can be stainless steel, gold-colored, or tooth-colored ceramic. Most braces go on the front of the teeth, but there are some, called lingual braces, that are fastened onto the backs of teeth that are virtually invisible. Lingual braces are not the same as clear aligners, which is another orthodontic device. Clear aligners are made of a transparent plastic-like material and are considered “invisible braces.” They are made to fit the patient’s teeth at different stages of treatment. Each set of aligners is worn for 1-3 weeks for at least 22 hours a day, and are designed to move the teeth incrementally until the next set is used. While these types of braces are a very common sight to see in many homes, schools, and workplaces, they aren’t the only devices used to move teeth and align jaws. Power chains are sometimes used with braces for an added push. They are stronger than the traditional elastic rings and can apply an extra force when needed. The last orthodontic device that is commonly used, although many patients don’t know what their purpose is, is a temporary anchorage device, or TAD.

 

TADs

Temporary anchorage devices, most commonly known as TADs, are used in some orthodontic cases to help shift the teeth into a straighter position when traditional braces can’t do it on their own. For this reason, not everyone needs them. TADS use titanium mini-screws (sometimes called mini-implants or micro-implants) that provide a fixed object that can be used to push, pull, lift, or intrude teeth that are being straightened. TADS don’t move and can be placed in many different parts of the mouth, so they are highly efficient at moving difficult teeth back into proper alignment. Before TADs are ever inserted into your mouth, though, your orthodontist will evaluate your teeth and determine whether your malocclusion is severe enough to receive a TAD. Before insertion, your gum tissue and jaw area will be numbed so that the procedure will be nearly painless. The TAD is then placed into your jawbone, and will eventually be removed once your orthodontist feels that it is no longer needed for straightening your teeth.

 

Just like braces, it may take a couple of days for the discomfort to subside and your mouth to get used to the TAD. Try taking an over-the-counter pain relief medication to alleviate any excessive discomfort. An important part of maintaining your TAD is continuing your oral hygiene regimen. Continue to brush your teeth at least twice a day and use mouthwash with antimicrobial ingredients. As long as your gums are healthy throughout the duration of your treatment, you shouldn’t have any complications with your TAD.

 

Get Straighter Teeth Today

To learn more about TADS, or to schedule an appointment to begin your treatment plan for braces, call Belmar Orthodontics at (303) 225-9016! At Belmar Orthodontics, we have a highly skilled and experienced team that is happy to help you start your journey to a healthier and happier smile.

 

Why You Should Wear Your Retainer

Posted on: February 1, 2019

Woman holding two types of retainers for the mouth

After you have your braces removed, most patients receive a retainer that they wear at night to keep their teeth from moving. But what kind of retainer should you have, and how long should you wear it? Retainers maintain oral health after braces by keeping your teeth in the correct alignment. Many people fail to use their retainers properly, and have to be fitted for braces again. Learn how to prevent your teeth from moving after braces and how to keep your teeth straight!

 

Purpose of Retainers

After you complete your time with braces, it will be necessary for you to consistently wear the retainer that your orthodontist advises you to wear. A retainer is an apparatus made of plastic and metal that is custom-made for each patient’s teeth and mouth. No two retainers are alike, but they all serve the same function as they seek to keep our teeth aligned properly after our braces are removed. Most people have to wear a retainer after they get their braces off, but many times people wear retainers to close gaps in their teeth, help with a speech impediment, or address specific medical issues. Retainers are especially important after your braces are removed, though, because our teeth will attempt to return to their original position after treatment. Another type of tooth movement that we want to avoid is natural physiological drift, which happens as the width of our smiles gets narrower as we age and our teeth begin to crowd. This occurs to everyone, but consistently using a retainer can prevent this shift in our teeth.

 

Getting your braces removed is definitely an exciting moment, but keeping your teeth straight is a lifetime effort. Our newly-aligned teeth need time to settle into our soft tissue and jawbone, and wearing your retainer helps this process be successful. Wearing your retainer at night and in between meals allows your teeth to hold their new form and prevents them from shifting back into their old position. As our bodies grow, our teeth follow suit, and retainers maintain the new tooth position that your braces achieved during your treatment. At the beginning, it may be necessary to wear your retainer all day for a few months, or you may only have to wear it at night a few times a week. Your orthodontist will advise you on how long and how often you should wear your retainer, and it is important that you follow all recommendations that you are given.

 

Types of Retainers

There are two main types of retainers that are used: removable and fixed. Removable retainers can be removed whenever you eat and brush your teeth, but typically must be worn full-time for at least one year after you get your braces removed. Hawley retainers are the most common type of removable retainer and is fit to your mouth shape with wires that wrap around your teeth. Invisible, or Essix, retainers are made of clear plastic that makes it look as if you’re not wearing anything, which increases its aesthetic appeal. Depending on the treatment plan you received during your time wearing braces, your orthodontist may recommend only wearing either of these two removable retainers at night. On the other hand, fixed retainers are those that are cemented to the backs of your teeth and kept in place for several years, even decades. This type of retainer is useful for those people who don’t want to worry about constantly removing their retainer or whose teeth have a higher likelihood of post-braces movement.

 

Caring For Your RetainerPicture of different types of waterpiks and teeth cleaning apparatuses

Depending on which type of retainer you use, there are certain instructions that are recommended to properly care for your retainer. For fixed retainers, regular dental checkups are essential to monitor for cavities and clean out any tartar or plaque. When flossing, make sure to use a floss threader that will allow you to go underneath the wire and clean between the teeth. As an additional measure, use a waterpik to rinse out food around the wire. Waterpiks should not replace normal flossing because floss physically removes bacteria from the teeth and gums while a waterpik merely rinses those areas. Although fixed retainers are incredibly strong, they can still break. Try to avoid biting hard foods, like carrots and nuts, with your front teeth to avoid any damage to your retainer. For a removable retainer, make sure to scrub it with soap and a toothbrush daily, or you can try soaking them in denture cleaning tablets or vinegar and water. Whenever you take out your removable retainer, make sure to keep it in a reliable case where it can be protected from pesky pets or avoid being accidentally thrown away. Don’t wear your retainer while playing sports, especially swimming, skiing, or contact sports, and make sure to avoid heat by keeping them away from hot water or hot car dashboards.

 

Tips For Maintaining Your Oral Health

Retainers play a vital role in keeping our teeth straight and preventing oral health problems, such as teeth crowding, but they aren’t the only recommendation for maintaining good oral health. Make sure to continue flossing and brushing your teeth daily, while visiting with your dentist every six months for a general checkup. For more information on the different types of retainers that are available and what would be the best fit for you, call Belmar Orthodontics at (303) 225-9016 to learn how to improve your smile and oral health!

 

Dental Emergencies With Braces

Posted on: January 25, 2019

 

Young woman pointing at braces

Braces are incredible devices that can help transform your teeth and reshape your jaws. However, they are not always fool-proof. Every so often, a patient will have a dental emergency. That may be a bad cavity that needs to be fixed, or a bracket or wire will break. There are only a few dental emergencies that can happen with braces. We can help you to know what to do when each of those emergencies happen!

 

Origins of Braces

Orthodontic treatments have been around for a long time-even as far back as the ancient Egyptians! Although their ways were archaic, people for centuries have been trying to fix crooked teeth and develop a prettier smile through orthodontic work. The ancient Greeks, Romans, and Etruscans were known to have practiced orthodontia, and interestingly, the Etruscans used to attach gold bands to women’s teeth to preserve the position of their teeth after death. Orthodontics saw a surge in progress during the 18th century thanks to Pierre Fauchard. Known as the “Father of Dentistry,” he invented an appliance called a bandeau, which was a horseshoe-shaped piece of metal with regularly spaced holes that fit around the teeth to correct the alignment. He would also use forceps to physically realign teeth into their correct positions and tie them to neighboring teeth until they healed.

 

Orthodontics in the United States exploded during the 19th century. J.S. Gunnell created a type of headgear that fashioned to the head and exerted a soft pull on teeth while Charles Goodyear invented vulcanized rubber which would eventually become one of the most commonly used appliances in orthodontics. But Edward Hartley Angle, the “Father of Modern Orthodontics,” took orthodontics to another level by identifying the true properties of malocclusion, or misalignment, and addressed them with his own set of orthodontic appliances in 1880. Until the 1970s, orthodontist would attach anchored brackets around each tooth with winding wires, but with the invention of dental adhesives, orthodontists could then stick the brackets to teeth surfaces. Stainless steel then replaced gold and silver as the most popular option for wires, due to its manipulability, and became the most cost-efficient option for braces.

 

Dental Emergencies and What To Do About Them

Braces have come a long way since their beginnings many centuries ago, but as braces have evolved, so have the problems that come with them. Although dental emergencies are few and far between when it comes to braces, there are some common issues that can be readily addressed and fixed if serious enough. The least serious issues that you can have with your braces is tooth tenderness and lip and cheek sores. As your teeth become accustomed to your braces, your teeth will most likely be sore for 2-4 days. Using headgear, rubber bands, and springs can add to this soreness, but that discomfort normally goes away in the same amount of time. Eating soft foods and taking an over the counter pain reliever can help dull the ache. Loose or broke bands and brackets are also another annoyance that sometimes occur with braces. Although not considered an emergency, they normally break due to patient’s eating prohibited foods or picking at their braces. Whenever this occurs, place a piece of wax on the spot of irritation and wait until your next orthodontic appointment, unless the broken bracket breaks on one of the upper or lower front four teeth, then call your orthodontist as soon as possible.

 

Protruding wires are not only bothersome, but can stab the inside of your lips and mouth if not fixed. Wires can come loose from eating sticky foods, like candy, or by picking at your braces. If this has occurred, try using a Q-tip or pencil eraser to push the wire in towards the teeth. To avoid accidental damage to the wire, make sure to not bite your nails or pens and pencils. In rare occasions, a piece of the appliance may break and be swallowed by the patient. Although alarming, keep calm and have someone look in your mouth to see if the appliance if visible. If confident that you can remove it, you may carefully attempt to do so. If you are unable to see the piece, are coughing excessively, or having difficulty breathing, that could be a sign that the piece could have been aspirated and you should contact your orthodontist immediately.

 

How To Protect Your BracesMan flossing braces and smiling

Unless under extenuating circumstances, most dental emergencies are avoidable. Maintaining good oral health and hygiene throughout your time with braces is vital in ensuring healthy teeth and gums, and preventing cavities. Food particles are easier to get stuck between braces, and when not cleaned thoroughly, can lead to other dental emergencies, like tooth decay, which can cause major complications. Hard foods, sticky foods, and foods high in sugar should be avoided as they are known to break brackets and cause cavities, which you more susceptible of developing while wearing braces. Some of the need-to-avoid foods include hard candy, nuts, apples, popcorn, ice, gum, caramel, and licorice.

 

Because braces are so notorious for getting food stuck in them, make sure that you are brushing after every meal to prevent staining and reducing bacteria buildup in your mouth. Use a soft brush, and brush each tooth by starting at the top and brushing down, then repeating the motion and brushing up around each bracket. Use threadable floss of a floss threader to get the hard to reach areas in between teeth that are covered by the archwire. Using the pointed end, insert between the teeth and gently move the floss back and forth between the two teeth. For added care, use a proxabrush, sometimes called a “Christmas tree brush,” to scrub between each bracket in an up and down motion to get any extra gunk that might be stuck there. For any dental emergencies that you might be having, make sure to contact Belmar Orthodontics at  (303) 225-9016 for your next consultation!

Choosing A Good Toothbrush

Posted on: January 18, 2019

Picture of seven different toothbrushes

Do you ever look at all the toothbrush options at the store and wonder what the difference is between all of them? Toothbrushes come in all shapes and sizes, and it’s for a reason. They are made to fit certain sizes of mouth. Bristles come in various materials and designs, and there are extra features on some toothbrushes. So what should you choose? Use these tips for the next time you pick out your toothbrush so you know you’re getting a good one for your mouth!

 

Why So Many Different Kinds?

For something that is so simple to use, there sure are a lot of different toothbrushes out there. Toothbrushes have been around for centuries, with some historians quoting them as being as old as 3000 BC! Ancient civilizations used a “chew stick,” or a twig that had a frayed end in which they would brush their teeth. The common bristled toothbrushes that we are so familiar with didn’t come into existence until around 1498 in China. The bristles that were used in these toothbrushes were actually hog hair that were attached to handles made of bamboo or bone. Even these evolved, though, into the toothbrushes that we use today, but instead with nylon bristles and plastic handles.

 

Since World War II, oral health has increased in popularity and a variety of different toothbrushes have been invented. But which ones are best? How do you know which toothbrush is for you? Toothbrushes are specifically designed for different sizes and shapes of mouths, plus there are age-specific toothbrushes, like for children, that have smaller (or larger) handles and bristles depending on the age of the person. No matter what toothbrush you use, the principle behind it should be the same: improve your oral health care and prevent disease. Your toothbrush should be helping you do that, if you’re using the right one.

 

Types of Toothbrushes

There are basically two types of toothbrushes: soft-bristled and hard-bristled. Most dental professionals agree that using a soft-bristled toothbrush is best for cleaning plaque and debris on your teeth. Hard-bristled toothbrushes are not recommended as they are known to wear away your enamel and can lead to gum recession and lesions. Although they do remove more plaque than traditional soft-bristled toothbrushes, hard-bristles cause more damage than good, even when trying to get rid of tough plaque. Toothbrushes with small heads are also great to use because they can get into the hard-to-reach places in your mouth. When deciding between a small-headed or large-headed toothbrush, keep in mind that the size of your mouth should be the determinant for which one you buy. Those people with large mouths should use a full-sized toothbrush head, while those with smaller mouths should utilize a more compact head.

 

Toothbrushes also vary in the type of the handle (non-slip grip or flexible neck), shape of the head (tapered or rectangular), and style of bristles (rippled, flat, or dome shape). Although there are a variety of kinds, ultimately the best toothbrush is one that fits your mouth and allows you to reach all of your teeth easily. To figure out which one works best for you, trying toothbrushes with different bristle styles or head shapes is recommended until you find one that is most comfortable.

 

Manual or Electric: Which is Better?Smiling man brushing teeth with an electric toothbrush

With the advent of the electric toothbrush, many people have been drawn to its ease of use and effectiveness. While manual toothbrushes have been used for centuries, the electric toothbrush is faster and more efficient. If you’re a diligent brusher, manual toothbrushes are a great option, but for those who want the toothbrush to do the work for them, electric is the way to go. Just like manual toothbrushes, electric toothbrushes come in different sizes and have a variety of replaceable heads. Electric toothbrushes are known for having smaller heads than manual, so at the beginning, it may take some time getting used to their small size.

 

Because of their size, electric toothbrushes are able to clean teeth more thoroughly and get to hard-to-reach areas of the mouth better than manual toothbrushes can. Electric toothbrushes also use different types of bristles movements, such as oscillating/rotating technology, that has been proven to remove more bacteria and plaque than manual toothbrushes. Additionally, electric toothbrushes have a smaller likelihood of hurting your enamel and gums, which is advantageous for those individuals who have sensitive teeth and gums. Whether you choose manual or electric, the most important takeaway is that both fit your mouth size and allow you to clean each individual tooth. If your toothbrush can do both of those things, you’re on your way to achieving great oral health and a nicer smile.

 

Tips For A Cleaner Mouth

Having the correct toothbrush for your mouth is the first step in maintaining good oral health. But a common question that many have is, “What is the correct way to brush my teeth?” When using a regular soft brush, make sure to angle the brush along the gum line and brush down from the top, then up from the bottom on each tooth in small circles. This motion helps get out the tiny food particles stuck between your teeth, plus it protects your gums from over-brushing. If your gums tend to bleed when brushing, that usually indicates that the gums are inflamed and those areas should actually be brushed more thoroughly and more often. Also make sure that you are brushing your chewing surfaces, the inside of your teeth, and your tongue.

 

For more tips on how to protect your teeth and maintain a healthier mouth, visit your local provider at Belmar Orthodontics. Change your oral health for the better by calling (303) 225-9016 and setting up your first consult for the comfort, care, and personalized treatment that you deserve!

Braces With Oral Health Problems

Posted on: January 11, 2019

Photo of a woman's smile with half of teeth with braces and half without

Did you know that your oral health can affect your overall health? Poor oral health can even worsen health conditions you already have such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease. That is because oral health and overall health are highly connected. Your oral issues can become better with braces, but that is only if certain oral health problems are corrected beforehand. Patients can also develop oral health problems if they don’t have the right knowledge with proper braces care. Use these tips to avoid oral health problems with braces and find out how we work around current problems to provide you with a straighter smile!

 

Oral Health Goals

 

Did you know that orthodontic treatment can give you a healthier mouth? We know that braces help straighten your teeth, but they can also improve the health of your gums and teeth. When you have crooked and crowded teeth, this makes cleaning your mouth more difficult. This can cause serious oral health problems, such as tooth decay, periodontal disease, and tooth loss. Whether you have straight or crooked teeth, before you let an orthodontist start working on you, there are some important oral health tips to be following before any work begins:

 

  • Eat a healthy diet that limits sugary beverages and snacks
  • See a dentist regularly for prevention and treatment of oral disease
  • Brush teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
  • Floss daily
  • Discuss changing certain lifestyle practices, like smoking and using oral piercings

 

Types of Braces

Braces are a big commitment, and you want to make sure you’re using the correct ones whenever you get them put on. Each of us is a different size and shape, and are mouths aren’t any different. Because of this, there are various types of braces for different sizes and shapes of mouths for children, teenagers, and adults. The four most common types of braces are: traditional, short-term, clear, and Invisalign/ClearCorrect.

 

Traditional braces are those that we see on a daily basis: a system of wires and brackets that are bonded to our teeth. This type of braces are the most cost-effective, reliable, and are best suited for severe orthodontic issues. Short-term braces are recommended for those patients who wish to align just their front six teeth-the ones that others see the most. These are used for the shortest amount of time (less teeth to align), but there is no adjustment to your occlusion (bite). So if you have a problem with an under/overbite, short-term braces may not be for you. Clear braces are similar to traditional metal brackets except that they use ceramic brackets that match the color of your teeth. These braces have a high aesthetic appeal for those who don’t want to be seen wearing braces, plus they are highly resistant to staining. Invisalign//ClearCorrect straighten your teeth without the traditional wire brackets, and are completely removable, which makes cleaning your teeth a cinch. This type requires more responsibility for the wearer, but if you’re committed to the strict wearing regimen, you can have a straight smile in as little as 12 months!

 

Taking Care of Your Braces

Woman cleaning in between braces with proxabrush

While similar to managing our oral health, maintaining our braces has a few extra steps. To maintain good oral health with braces, it’s important to adopt good oral hygiene throughout the entire process. Brushing after every meal is one of the most important but most overlooked steps in maintaining good oral health. When eating, food particles get stuck in between our teeth and our braces, which can cause staining and bacterial backup between our teeth. Using a regular soft brush in an up-and-down motion on each tooth will do the trick. Secondly, use threadable floss or a floss threader. These tools allow you to get between each tooth and underneath the wires to clean out any food that may be trapped there. Insert the threader between two teeth and move back and forth until the food is released. Lastly, use a proxabrush, or a “Christmas tree brush.” Place the proxabrush between two brackets, below the archwire, and brush up and down. Like the threader, this will also help loosen up any food that may be stuck between your teeth.

 

A great way to ensure that your braces don’t break and that you don’t get unwanted gunk stuck in them is to watch what foods you’re eating. Foods that are hard, sticky, or high in sugar should be avoided. Eating food that is high in sugar can cause cavities when wearing braces, which can lead to more dental work that you would need to have done. Furthermore, patients with braces should limit between meal snacks and avoid food that could bend the wires, such as caramel, nuts, chewing gum, ice, or popcorn.

 

When To See An Orthodontist

Now that we understand more about the importance of our oral health, plus the different types of braces, when should we make an appointment with an orthodontist? Many times, we only schedule a time to see an orthodontist whenever our teeth are crooked and we want them straightened. But there are other factors that influence when we should start thinking about getting in to see the doctor:

 

  • Jaws that shift, make sounds, protrude, or are recessed
  • Speech difficulty
  • Biting the cheek or biting into the roof of the mouth
  • Facial imbalance or asymmetry (features out of proportion to the rest of the face)
  • Inability to comfortably close lips
  • Grinding or clenching of teeth

 

As mentioned earlier, these are signs that your oral health might not be up to par like it should be. Meeting with your orthodontist and discussing these issues will help them better treat you with one of the four types of braces that we discussed previously. The sooner you get in to see your orthodontist, the sooner any pain or discomfort can be evaluated, treated, and extinguished.

 

Meet Your New Year’s Resolutions With Our Help!

Belmar Orthodontics can help you on your path towards having a straighter smiles and better oral health. With reputable orthodontists, manageable treatment plans, and services for children and adults, we can help you get the smile that you deserve! Call (303) 225-9016!

 

Braces: How Are They Made?

Posted on: January 2, 2019

A brunette woman putting on red lipstick as she gets ready for a New Year's Party. She is wearing ceramic braces on her teeth.

You may wonder what the differences are between metal, ceramic, and lingual braces and how they compare to Invisalign treatment. All are a bit different and they are both made and worn differently. Braces are made from various materials and designed specifically for your mouth.

 

Metal Braces and Your Teeth

You’ve likely seen someone wearing metal braces and you know that they make your teeth straighter. But how? It takes a bit of science and the right orthodontic appliance to make that beautiful smile happen. With the most common type of braces—metal braces—you have a stainless steel material that is shaped into specific orthodontic parts that will all go together in your mouth. Often those parts are molded and shaped in a special lab that then ships those parts to orthodontists.

 

Labs will even do custom-made brackets and wires for patients when the need arises. However, most braces have a specific design like metal braces do. Metal braces have several parts that include:

  • Brackets: These stainless steel pieces are those little squares bonded to the middle of each tooth. We use a special bonding glue that will stay on your teeth for the entire duration of your treatment, but will come off easily with the right orthodontic material. Your brackets are small anchors that hold a wire in place. They will have tiny rubber elastics placed around them to protect your teeth and prevent stuck food.
  • Archwire: This metal wire will pass through the brackets on each tooth, all the way to the back of your mouth. Many patients have a bracket that wraps around the back molar that stabilizes this archwire. The wire will follow the curve of your jaws in an elongated have circle. When a thicker archwire is placed or when this archwire is adjusted, it can help move the teeth into place because of the force placed on the brackets.
  • Ligature Elastics: These are the rubber elastics we mentioned. The elastics are what keep the archwire sturdy so it can straighten your teeth.

 

Dental models that have orthodontic appliances on the teeth. An example of metal braces and ceramic braces is seen.

How Teeth Straighten

Your archwire will be adjusted very slightly at your orthodontic appointments every 4-6 weeks. That slight adjustment may seem very small, but it’s what your mouth needs to make a true, straightening change. The appliance is not the only thing changing your teeth into a straighter position. Your teeth are the hardest substance in the body and can even be harder than many metals. Straightening them would seem very difficult, when it’s not. It simply takes time.

 

Your teeth can take a ton of force from chewing, biting, eating, talking and other actions because they are rooted into your jawbone. However, the jawbone is much weaker than the teeth are. So why doesn’t your jawbone get breaks in it when you chew hard things? You have something called the periodontic ligament that is around every tooth root as it goes into your jaw bone. All those ligaments are shock absorbers for your jaws when you chew, minimizing the force your jawbones take. These are key to straightening the teeth.

 

When orthodontic appliances are on the teeth, they will apply a very slight pressure to your teeth and to the periodontic ligaments that surround them. When that pressure is constantly there, your body will produce acids in the jawbone area that will break down tiny parts around the teeth. With new space created, the teeth can shift. Your body will naturally deposit more minerals in areas that have changed to strengthen the jawbone once more. Over time, your jaw is literally breaking itself down on a microscopic level and then rebuilding itself. That is why orthodontic treatment takes months. However, the result is worth it.

 

A close-up view of metal braces that have the ligature elastics around the brackets. The braces are on a dental model.

Ceramic and Lingual Braces

Ceramic and lingual braces are very similar to traditional metal braces, but are made a bit differently. Lingual braces are also a metal braces type, and most types are made from stainless steel in a lab. There can be other types of metal used or a combination of metals. These braces will have brackets and wires just like traditional metal braces, except that they will be placed on the back of a patient’s teeth.

 

Because of placement, children are not usually candidates for lingual braces because of the size of the teeth. Dental impressions of the back of the teeth are made so that metal coverings can be made for the tooth backs, which is a bit different than traditional metal braces. More anchoring is needed with lingual braces, and this is how it is done. The metal material will cover the entire tooth back with a bracket in the center of the tooth, and each is placed individually when a patient gets their appliance. The archwire works the same as other braces.

 

Ceramic braces are very similar to metal braces in their design and how they work. However, they are made from ceramic material, which is naturally white already. This makes the braces blend in with the teeth more, and the metal can even be frosted to blend in with whiter teeth.

 

Invisalign: Customized to the Patient

Invisalign treatment is an orthodontic option that is vastly different than your other options. The most noticeable difference is that there is no metal or ceramic material in your appliance. A patient will have digital images taken of their mouth. With that image, custom aligners are made that a patient will switch out each week. These are a type of plastic material patented by the Invisalign company. It’s a strong enough plastic to cause the same type of shifting you want your teeth to do. Aligners fit snug in the mouth as they are custom made, are switched out each week, and must be worn 20-22 hours of the day. If you are interested in any of these types of braces or want to see how the braces are put on a patient, call Belmar Orthodontics today at (303) 225-9016 with your questions!

Change Your Smile in 2019

Posted on: December 28, 2018

Large gold balloons that say "2019". There is a beautiful brunette woman standing in the middle of the zero and one that is smiling at the camera.

Millions are ready to make changes in their life with the start of a new year. If you haven’t already, consider adding resolutions to transform your smile in 2019. This is quite easy to do if you have the right tips to get started. Whether you want a whiter smile, straighter smile or you want to change your oral health issues, you can achieve it.

 

Resolutions 2019

Making New Year’s resolutions is something that countless millions will do in the month of December. For many, the start of a new year is a time for reevaluating health and life goals, and a time when many recommit to goals they didn’t quite reach. Some of the top resolutions include:

  • Eating healthier
  • Exercising more
  • Smiling more
  • Saving money
  • Making better health choices
  • Sleeping enough
  • Being social

 

Did you notice that oral health isn’t anywhere on the top resolutions that people make? Oral health is often overlooked because it seems like something so small compared to your overall health. However, your oral health is directly related to how healthy you are. Improvements to your smile and mouth health can improve your health and wellness.

 

Many chronic conditions become worse if your oral hygiene is lacking. Some include diabetes, heart disease, autoimmune disorders, and anything that has to due with your nutrition. With chronic oral health problems such as extensive tooth loss, your overall health will decline rapidly. You may not be able to eat, and chewing, biting, smiling and other basic functions will become difficult. However, most oral health issues are avoidable by simple habits done daily. You have heard of most of these habits already, as they are the basics you hear from the dentist every time you go in for a visit. However, most people can improve their technique with oral hygiene even if they are already doing the basics.

 

A redheaded young adult that is smiling and tilting her head. She has braces on her teeth.

Small Changes, Big Results

Our patients either have braces on their teeth or they are looking to get them. Great oral health is needed if you want to get braces on your teeth. We make sure that our patients are free of cavities and gum issues before orthodontic treatment happens. That means, a dental visit is needed to check for any dental issues beforehand. When dental issues are there, they are fixed and great oral hygiene must be followed thereafter. That includes:

  • Brushing. Brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. With braces, brush after every meal. Use a proxabrush tool or a Waterpik to dislodge stuck food. Brush in all different directions, especially with the brackets. Replace your toothbrush every 3 months or when the bristles become frayed.
  • Flossing. This step is skipped often, but is so important to your smile! Flossing gets 40% of your tooth surfaces. If you want a better smile with braces, you gotta floss or that smile will be damaged. Whether you have braces or are getting them, make the decision to floss 1-2 times every day, using floss threaders or threadable floss.
  • Nutrition: Skip the sugary foods as much as possible. This leads to plaque production and tooth decay. Avoid carbonated drinks or ones with citrus that leads to tooth erosion.

 

Continuous Oral Problems

If you brush, floss, visit the dentist and use oral health aids like mouthwash and fluoride, you may wonder why you still get cavities and gum problems. Studies show that your smile and oral health can be determined by genetics in some cases. Some genes that run in families or specific cultures can make you more susceptible to oral health diseases. For example, those of African descent have specific genes that make them more susceptible to gum disease.

 

If you have specific conditions that run in your family such as heart disease or diabetes, oral health problems will likely follow suit. This is not inevitable, but something you must be aware of. If you have any sort of chronic condition, make sure you are doing all that you can to have good oral hygiene habits throughout your day. If you continue to have frequent oral problems or issues with your smile, we can go over proper oral hygiene methods during one of your orthodontic appointments. Great oral hygiene and following proper techniques is very important to keeping your teeth healthy and strong, especially with braces. Sometimes, all it takes is changing up your technique or what you are eating to have better oral health and a better smile.

 

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

Cosmetic Changes to Your Smile

If you want to completely transform your smile in 2019, don’t wait to get orthodontic treatment. Studies show that getting braces is a great way to not only help you reduce your oral health problems, but an excellent way to get a better smile. Orthodontic treatment generally takes 18 months or less from start to finish. Some patients only need braces for 6 months depending on their teeth and what treatment option they choose.

 

There are many orthodontic options patients have to transform their smile, and half of them are invisible options. That means, you can’t see the appliances on your teeth. You have the options of:

  • Traditional Metal Braces – These are the classic metal bracket and wire option that is most commonly chosen by patients.
  • Ceramic Braces – These have the same bracket and wire design of metal braces, except that they are made out of white ceramic material. This helps decrease demineralization during your orthodontic treatment.
  • Lingual Braces – This is a discrete metal braces option that is 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.
  • 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.

To choose your option today, call Belmar Orthodontics at (303) 225-9016!

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!