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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.

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!

Dental Services You Need During Braces

Posted on: October 4, 2018

Young woman with braces on her teeth that is sitting in a dental chair getting dental services.

Getting braces through an orthodontist does not mean you should stop seeing a dentist for dental services. In fact, you may even need to get dental services more often with braces. This is because brackets and wires inevitably raise your risk for getting food and plaque stuck in your teeth. Those substances can then lead to quicker tooth decay, gum problems and tooth erosion. Find out what you can expect from your orthodontic visits and why you should keep scheduling in dental services during your treatment.

 

How Do Braces Change Your Teeth?

Not everyone will get braces during their lifetime. However, for those that do, they can change a smile in incredible ways. You may see children wearing braces from time to time. This is just so they can get a great smile, but that is part of it. Children should see the orthodontist around age 7 or 8 to determine if bite or alignment issues are present. If so, a child could grow up with speech impediments, problems with tooth decay and gum disease, and difficulty chewing, eating and biting. With interceptive orthodontics—or child orthodontics—we can correct those problems so a child develops properly.

 

With adults and teens, straightening treatment generally starts around age 11 or 12 and older. This is when most (if not all) of the adult teeth have come into the mouth. However, it’s common for the adult teeth to come in crooked, which can make people self-conscious about their smiles. When patients decide to get braces to straighten their teeth, studies show that confidence grows and people show their smiles more. That confidence can lead to more success in the future, motivation to do more and be more, and better oral health.

 

Straightening the teeth makes the teeth easier to clean. This is because crooked teeth can create areas in the mouth where the teeth are incredibly hard to clean. If you can’t brush nooks and crannies well or if you can’t pass floss through the teeth, those areas are likely to decay. Teeth that are crooked or at different angles also have different amounts of pressure placed on them, which can cause the teeth to crack or break under pressure. That is why straightening the teeth can help prevent not only dental emergencies, but also problems like tooth decay and gum disease.

 

Young adult woman that is holding a toothbrush and has braces on her teeth.

Changes You Want to Avoid

With your dental health, you always want to invest in dental services like dental cleanings, comprehensive exams and your own at-home cleaning. If not, you can start to develop problems with cavities and gum disease. Both of these conditions (as well as bad breath, oral sores and more) stem from poor oral hygiene. When you eat, bacteria in the mouth mix with sugars in your food to create a sticky film called plaque. That film is acidic and it sticks to your teeth instead of being swallowed. The acid erodes the layers of your teeth, decaying them to create cavities. This is how they form, and they can happen much easier with braces.

 

Three types of braces you can choose (traditional, lingual, ceramic) will require brackets and wires attached to your teeth. The brackets are bonded to the center of your teeth, with a wire that runs through them. Your brackets are areas where plaque and food can easily get stuck. If they become stuck or particles build up around your brackets, this can create areas of decay rather quickly. Many people also don’t floss like they should with braces because it takes just a bit longer. However, when food sticks around and you skip flossing, you are leaving about 40% of your tooth surfaces open to decay. That means, when you get your braces off, you’ll be left with areas of tooth erosion (or craters) and cavities.

 

You also want to avoid foods with dyes in them, including drinks. When you drink or eat something with dyes (like blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and drinks died those colors), then your tooth color can change over time. This could mean that you have small squares on all of your teeth at the end of treatment that are a different color than the rest of your teeth. Soda, juices and carbonated drinks can all do this as well, except that they will also wear away parts of your teeth.

 

Dental professional looking at a patient's teeth that has braces on their teeth.

Continue Dental Services During Braces

All of those changes to your teeth can be avoided if you keep up on your personal hygiene at home and dental services in-office. This means, you should:

  • Brush your teeth every single day, after every single meal, for two minutes each time you brush. Practice brushing at 45-degree angles to dislodge food from brackets and cover all the tooth surfaces. Use a proxabrush to dislodge stuck food even easier.
  • Floss each day, at least 1-2 times. Use a floss threader or threadable floss to make this easy for you.
  • Use a waterpik tool if you tend to get food stuck in specific places.
  • Keep up on your braces adjustments and your orthodontic appointments.
  • For dental services, make sure you visit the dentist at least twice a year for comprehensive exams and dental cleanings.

 

We want to focus on that last one. Dental cleanings and comprehensive exams are so important for the health of your mouth. With dental cleanings, the hygienists can do thorough cleanings on your teeth and brackets and spot the signs of erosion, decay and color changes. Those professionals can spot the signs of decay and gum issues. If needed, we can work with them to remove certain brackets where dental work is needed. Orthodontists and dentists are not the same even though they have had the same schooling. Make sure you are visiting both during your time with braces. If you want to avoid problems with cleaning brackets and wires, ask us about our Invisalign treatment option. You can do this by calling Belmar Orthodontics at (303) 225-9016!

Fun Facts About Orthodontics

Posted on: September 25, 2018

Orthodontic professional showing a patient a model of a mouth that has two different types of braces on it.

Did you know that an orthodontist is different than a dentist? Orthodontics is a dental specialty all its own, that has different goals and processes than what dentists do. There are many ways to fix the teeth and many methods that have been tried for many centuries. Find out the amazing history of orthodontics and some facts you may not know!

 

History of Orthodontics

People have been straightening their teeth since the time of the Ancient Egyptians, as can be seen from mummies from this era. Even the Romans and Etruscans used crude orthodontic straightening methods to get a better smile. Many philosophers hypothesized better ways to straighten the teeth. A Roman writer Celsus (1 A.D.) thought the teeth could be pushed into place. Pliny—around the same time—thought the teeth could be filed to be the ideal shape and size.

 

It wasn’t until 1728 that Pierre Fauchard—or the “Father of Dentistry”—made great strides with orthodontics. He first practiced crudely removing the teeth, replacing them straight, and tying them to other teeth so they could heal straighter. From his influence and others after him, modern orthodontics came to be. Matthaeus Gottfried Purmann developed dental impressions in the 17th century. In the early U.S. years, barbers and medical professionals experimented and performing small orthodontic treatments. This was until the first dental school was established in 1828.

 

Afterwards, J.S. Gunnell invented a form of headgear that was successful in straightening the teeth. Dental students and professionals figured out how to make a metal appliance to straighten individual teeth, which led to the now-used bracket and wire design in modern orthodontics. Before 1970, orthodontists wrapped wires around each tooth and required that headgear to straighten. This practice involved lots of metal in the mouth, which is why a better form (that we use today) was invented in the following years. Now, in the last 20 years lingual braces (braces behind the teeth) and Invisalign (transparent aligners) were invented to allow patients a hidden apparatus with orthodontics.

 

Close-up view of clear braces on a patient's teeth.

What Do Orthodontists Do?

Did you know that orthodontists are dentists? Every orthodontist is a dentist because they have completed dental school and then some. However, not all dentists are orthodontists. The standard requirements for dentists are to complete 4 years of undergraduate schooling and then 4 years at a dental school. They will have to pass exams and become certified to do dental work. Orthodontists do all of those 8 years, plus they complete 2-3 more years of orthodontics, training in bite and alignment correction and surgical orthodontics. All throughout their career, both dentists and orthodontists must do continuing education courses as well as pass tests to continue working.

 

An orthodontist will not fix your cavity even though they may spot the signs of tooth decay. Often, an orthodontist works closely with a dentist, as both professionals work on your mouth. What one professional doesn’t do, the other will do. Dentists do everything relating to tooth decay (cavities), gum disease and other oral health diseases as well as remedying dental emergencies. An orthodontist performs services that a dentist doesn’t do such as:

  • Bite and alignment correction in children and adults (child orthodontics and adult orthodontics)
  • Surgical orthodontics, which is surgery to help remedy a misaligned jaw or bite.
  • Braces design, fitting, adjusting and complete process with lingual braces, ceramic (clear) braces, traditional metal, and Invisalign treatment.
  • Training in placing temporary anchorage devices, which are tiny screws in the mouth that push, pull, lift or intrude teeth that are being straightened.
  • Designing and creating retainer devices to keep bite, alignment and teeth in proper position.

 

Facts About Braces

  • An orthodontist must complete 4 years of dental school, plus 3700 hours or specialized training in orthodontics to get their degree.
  • There are more than 19,000 orthodontist members under the American Association of Orthodontics in the U.S., Canada and abroad.
  • 1 in 4 people with braces are adults.
  • Children make up another 1/4th of people wearing braces to correct bite and alignment.
  • Because of modern technology, all four of your dental options (lingual, metal, ceramic and Invisalign) can straighten your teeth in about the same amount of time.
  • It is possible to only get braces in either your upper or lower jaw if the other jaw is straight.
  • The jaws stop growing as a child ages. That growth stops towards the end of the teenage years around 17 or 18. Straightening the teeth is effective for people after this age, but it may take longer than it would for children.
  • Patients generally see their orthodontist every 6-10 weeks for braces adjustments. Patients with severe bite and alignment issues may need to come in more often.
  • Orthodontists often usually have “DDS” or “DMD” after their names. This stands for “Doctor of Dental Surgery” and “Doctor of Dental Medicine”. Both are considered equal degrees, but the degree given depends on the dental school attended before orthodontic training.
  • Materials used in metal braces are so light that they won’t set off metal detectors in airports.

 

Close-up view of a woman with clear braces on her teeth that are being adjusted by an orthodontic professional.

How Do Orthodontics Help People?

If you’ve never been to an orthodontist, you may wonder why you need one. Not everyone may need orthodontics to correct bite and alignment issues, but everyone should see an orthodontist at some point. The American Association of Orthodontics recommends that every person have an orthodontic visit between ages 7 and 8. This is prime time to detect bite and alignment issues that would lead to crooked teeth, speech impediments, oral hygiene diseases, and problems chewing, biting and functioning normally.

 

When issues are found, they can quickly be corrected so children can grow and develop normally. If a teen or adult wants to straighten their teeth to boost their confidence and success, they can receive braces starting around age 11. For specific questions about our orthodontic services, call Belmar Orthodontics today at (303 225-9016!

Choosing to Have Adult Braces

Posted on: September 17, 2018

Woman with clear braces that is smiling at the camera.

If you are an adult with crooked teeth, you may think that you already missed your opportunity to get braces. However, adult braces are very popular. In fact, at least 1/4th of all braces wearers are adults. You simply might not see braces on many of your peers because adults have a couple orthodontic options that stay hidden in the mouth. Find out if you should choose to have adult braces, what the benefits are, and what options you have to straighten your teeth discreetly!

 

Do Adults Wear Braces?

The American Association of Orthodontics recommends that every person have an orthodontic evaluation between the ages of 7 and 8. This is prime time for orthodontists to correct bite and alignment issues that can become severe as a child ages. However, not everyone knows that they need to see an orthodontist, nor do many people have the means to receive orthodontic care due to cost. That opportunity may come when you are an adult. Have you missed the mark if you’re already an adult instead of a child? Certainly not!

 

Orthodontic treatment is a bit harder when you are an adult, but it is not too tricky for us to manage. Orthodontists recommend that children and teens get braces for bite, alignment and issues with crooked tooth when young. This is because the jaws are still growing and the teeth and jaws are more moldable until a teen grows older. As an adult, the jaws have hardened into place, so shifting the teeth and jaws is much more difficult.

 

However, modern technology definitely allows adults to change their smiles as they please. In fact, 1/4th of all people wearing braces are adults! Adult braces are becoming more and more popular as jobs become more competitive. Adult braces can really give people the edge they need to succeed because it creates a more beautiful, straight smile.

 

Close-up view of a woman's mouth that has Invisalign transparent aligners on the teeth.

Benefits of Choosing Adult Braces

There is more than just the aesthetics of receiving adult braces. Getting braces can not only improve your appearance, but they can radically change your oral health. Did you know that your risk for tooth decay and gum disease is significantly less with braces? This is because the teeth become straighter, getting rid of all the nooks and crannies plaque and bacteria cluster in with crooked teeth. The teeth are easier to clean, and your smile looks much better, so you’ll actually want to clean your teeth more often.

 

Many people do love what adult braces can offer their smile. The main advantage is confidence. Many studies have been conducted on the confidence that a smile can bring not only to a person but to others. When you feel self-conscious of how your teeth look, you’re less likely to show your smile to others. This can happen even with children, who may become more introverted because they are self-conscious. However, when smiles are healthy and straight, people tend to show them off more. The more smiling, the more confidence a person feels and the more likely they are to be perceived as such.

 

The company that invented Invisalign actually conducted studies about this very thing. They found that people who had better, straighter smiles appeared much more confident than those with crooked smiles. The patients themselves felt 60% happier, more attractive and more successful, and others saw them as such. Those with straight smiles were more likely to land a job over their competition and were more likely to be successful with home, school and social life. They were also perceived as 72% more trustworthy just based on first impressions. The benefits of adult braces are endless and all benefit you!

 

What Options Do You Have?

Adults have all the orthodontic options available to them for straightening:

  • Traditional Metal Braces: Consists of a metal bracket and wire design.
  • Ceramic Braces: These are very similar to traditional braces, except they are made from white, ceramic material that helps hide them in the mouth. Ceramic material helps prevent tooth demineralization.
  • Lingual Adult Braces: These are metal braces that fit behind the teeth and are bonded to the backs of your teeth. Molds are made of the teeth so that the metal can be custom-made to cover your teeth. This option is a preferred one among adults seeking adult braces.
  • Invisalign: This orthodontic treatment consists of transparent aligners that are customized to your mouth with a digital machine. You will get a new aligner each week, which you place in your mouth like a retainer. They stay hidden in your mouth, can be removed for regular oral hygiene cleaning and eating, and you get a better smile!

 

Woman looking towards the camera and smiling while she is about to put transparent orthodontic aligners in her mouth.

What Can You Expect?

Many people aren’t quite sure what to expect from their first orthodontic visit, as orthodontists don’t do the same work that dentists do. Dr. Hardy will meet with you for an oral evaluation and orthodontics consultation. He will examine your bite and alignment and will determine your candidacy for specific procedures if they are needed. Oral health issues—such as periodontal (gum) disease—will have to be resolved before the teeth can be straightened.

 

If bite and alignment issues are not present, you can move forward with regular straightening treatment. Dr. Hardy will take impressions of your teeth and will plan out a trajectory of your orthodontic plan. This is where you can know how long you will wear braces and how your mouth should look by the end of your treatment. You will also choose which orthodontic option you would like (traditional, lingual, ceramic or Invisalign) so that appliances can be made to fit your mouth.

 

After your consultation, your next appointment will be your braces fitting. After that, it’s easy to care for your mouth between quick adjustment appointments. Always brush and floss your teeth, and do these two habits more often than you used to. If you are wanting adult braces, consider Invisalign or lingual braces, as these options keep your orthodontics concealed if you need them to be. For all your questions about adult braces, call Belmar Orthodontics today at (303) 225-9016!

How Bite Correction Can Change Your Life?

Posted on: September 11, 2018

Close-up view of a person with crooked adult teeth.

Do you or your child have a problem with their bite or alignment? These problems can seem small at first. However, as a child grows into an adult, bite or alignment issues could cause many health problems. It can even cause speech impediments and difficulty chewing in the future. Find out how bite correction can improve your health and just how important it is to get bite correction via braces if you need it!

 

Your Bite Should Be a Certain Way

The structure of your mouth is defined by how your teeth and jaws are formed. Your upper jaw and your lower jaw should both follow the same arch in a U shape. Those arches should also line up together. The teeth as well, should lie on top of one another evenly, with your back top molars resting on your back bottom molars all the way towards the front. In a normal bite, the front top teeth will rest on top of your bottom teeth, except they will be just slightly in front of those bottom teeth.

 

Orthodontic care is not just for teens that are looking to get a straighter smile. In fact, about 1/4th of all people that wear braces are actually children! The American Association of Orthodontics recommends that children have their first orthodontic visit between the ages of 7 and 8. Having an examination early-on helps prevent the progression of orthodontic issues, such as a misaligned bite. How a child’s mouth is forming is a great indication of what their mouth will look like as an adult. If we can already see that their teeth are growing at the wrong angles, or that their jaws don’t line up, we can predict that oral health issues will be present in the future. That is why having this orthodontic appointment at 7 or 8 is so important.

 

A close-up view of a person that has braces on their top teeth. The teeth are not all the same heights.

Types of Bites

When a child comes in to have their mouth examined, we can see how the top and bottom jaws line up. In a mouth with correct bite formation, the jaws will line up. If they do and the teeth are not coming in at crooked angles, then a child won’t need orthodontic care unless they want to straighten their teeth later on in life. However, prompt treatment will be needed for alignment and bite correction if a child or older patient has:

  • Overbite – The upper front teeth overlap too much over the bottom front teeth.
  • Underbite – The upper front teeth rest behind the bottom front teeth.
  • Crossbite – Teeth are at varying angles in the mouth, which can lead to decay, broken teeth and speech problems.

 

Benefits of Bite Correction for Children

The ideal time to receive any treatment for bite correction is during the childhood years. This is when the mouth and jaws are still growing. Because the bones aren’t set yet, it is much easier for an orthodontic appliance to mold a bite into the correct shape without too much effort. This is generally why a child would receive bite correction treatment before they are 10 years old.

 

If a child receives bite correction via braces, they benefit from their mouth forming correctly. Where there were once speech problems developing, their speech can start to sound normal without lisps or other impediments. Facial features will appear more normal because the structure of the mouth will be maintained with orthodontic appliances. In a child with severe bite problems, some people can physically see parts of the jaws jutting outward. This makes the face look different than it should, and speech will almost certainly be compromised. We stop that incorrect shaping before the jaws harden later on and before dental diseases and problems are developed.

 

Even if you don’t detect any dental issues with yourself or a child, there are still many advantages for bite correction and braces at an early age such as:

  • Observing the progress of incoming teeth
  • Monitoring facial and jaw development
  • Guiding incoming teeth into their ideal position
  • Detecting hidden dental issues
  • Reducing the risk of impacted teeth
  • Decreasing the risk for permanent tooth extractions (as teeth won’t get uneven pressure that breaks them)
  • Reducing the risk of cavities and gum issues that happen when the teeth are crooked and harder to clean

 

Dental mirror reflecting the surface of a bite correction retainer on a dental model of a lower jaw.

Benefits of Bite Correction for Adults

If you didn’t receive orthodontic care as a child, it is not too late to receive it later on in life. Adults and teens make up the other 3/4ths of patients that get braces. At about age 11 or 12, most of the permanent teeth should be in the mouth. At this time, we can look at a patient’s teeth and see if they need their teeth straightened. When bite problems are present (because child orthodontics was not done), it is harder to do them as teens and adults, but it can be done with normal orthodontic appliances. In some cases, some surgery may be done to reshape areas of the mouth that have hardened into place.

 

However, the benefits of bite correction and tooth alignment for teens and adults is astounding. Studies show that people perceive you as more successful, healthy and happy if you have straighter teeth than if you have crooked teeth. You’re more likely to get a job over someone that has crooked teeth, because your smile is an expression of your health and how well you care for yourself. That can translate into how well you care for other things, like your obligations.

 

Studies show that in adults and children alike, that confidence soars and smiles are shared more often when people feel good about their smiles. That confidence boost can change your entire outlook on life, and can lead you to be a more successful person than you otherwise could be. If you have teeth in need of bite correction or straightening, don’t hesitate to see what orthodontic care can do for you! Call Belmar Orthodontics today at (303) 225-9016!

Preventing Cavities During Braces

Posted on: September 4, 2018

Woman that is cleaning her braces brackets with an interdental brush.

Braces is an exciting time for getting that straight smile you’ve always wanted. The not-so-exciting part about braces though, is that they give you a greater risk for cavities. Because there are appliances attached to your teeth, they can become havens for bacteria and plaque buildup. Proper oral hygiene, avoiding certain foods can help you prevent cavities during your time with braces!

 

Your First Orthodontic Appointment

Finding cavities before you get braces is key to ensuring that you have a healthy smile before getting brackets and wires on your teeth. With braces, you will meet often with your orthodontist to have your braces adjusted.  However, you still need to go to your dental appointments to make sure you don’t have cavities during braces.

 

Traditional metal braces, ceramic braces and lingual braces all have brackets and wires that go on your teeth. Before you get fitted for these braces, you will have dental x-rays taken by the dentist to detect cavities. It’s very important to get your exam so tooth decay is detected. Otherwise, you could end up with large cavities during braces. If cavities are found, they must be fixed before we put your braces on.

 

Young woman with braces that is at a dental appointment having her teeth examined.

Oral Hygiene Is a Must

The status of your smile and your oral health will depend on what you do once you get your braces. The American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing 1-2 times. That recommendation is for patients who don’t have braces. When you have braces, you have to be extra meticulous with oral hygiene practices and you will have to do them more than you used to. That means, brushing after every single meal if you can.

To avoid cavities during braces:

  • Brush your teeth after every meal. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush with fluoride toothpaste, and brush for 2 minutes every time, making sure to go in all different directions to dislodge food.
  • Floss your teeth. This is a habit many people skip with braces because it takes a bit more time. However, it’s time well spent. Floss at least twice a day, using threadable floss. This kind of floss allows you to thread it through the spaces between your teeth, pulling it through so you can floss like normal. It makes flossing a breeze and helps prevent cavities during braces.
  • Use orthodontic cleaning tools. A waterpik is a great water-spraying tool that can help you dislodge stuck food. A braces brush (that looks like a Christmas tree brush) can get food out of brackets.
  • Watch what you eat! More sugar means more cavities during braces. Limit how much sugar you eat. You want to avoid sticky, sugary foods such as taffy, Starbursts, dried fruit, gummies, fruit snacks, caramels, and anything similar.

 

Close-up view of a woman's mouth as she is brushing her teeth with braces.

Developing Cavities During Braces

Sometimes, tooth enamel is simply weak and tooth decay happens, despite all your hard effort to avoid cavities. When you eat, sugars in your food mixes with mouth bacteria to create plaque. That plaque sticks to your teeth and slowly eats it away, creating decay. You only need plaque stuck in the right place to develop cavities during braces. When you have hidden tooth decay, you may start to feel symptoms such as a toothache, tooth sensitivity or pains with hot and cold. When you see these signs, get dental x-rays taken to see if you have cavities during braces.

 

If there is a cavity, you actually can have it fixed even if you have braces. It all depends on where the decay is. In most cases, cavities during braces can be fixed because many will lie on surfaces not covered with brackets or wires. You would have the decay drilled out and filled as you normally would. However, if you have a band on your teeth or brackets and wires right where decay is, we would have to remove the bracket or wire while you get it fixed at the dental office. We would then have you come back to our office to get your dental appliance reattached. Patients can sometimes develop such severe cavities during braces that they will need root canals. However, if you are taking care of your teeth, you won’t ever have to worry about that.

 

 

Best Option to Avoid Cavities

If you are worried about cavities during braces or have seen a family member get cavities during braces, then getting braces might make you nervous. However, no matter what braces option you choose, the benefits of a straight, beautiful smile can last a lifetime. It’s definitely worth it to get braces; you will just have to be careful to take care of them. If cavities during braces are a concern, consider the benefits of using Invisalign aligners. This is one of our most popular orthodontic options for teens and adults because it is a hidden option for straightening your teeth.

 

Invisalign transparent aligners are a series of custom-made aligners (like retainers) that fit incredibly snug to your teeth. We take digital calculations of your mouth, where we then design transparent aligners around the shape of your teeth and where we want them to be 18-24 months from that time. Each week, you will switch to a new aligner, which will slowly put pressure on different areas of your mouth, shaping the teeth into a straight line. The aligners are clear and designed to be virtually unnoticeable on your teeth.

 

When it comes to cavities during braces, you are the one that decides if you will get them with this orthodontic option. That’s because that are completely removable for eating, drinking, flossing and brushing your teeth. It takes less time to brush and floss because of this and there are no appliances on your teeth. This can reduce your risk for cavities during braces, especially if you already know that you have weak tooth enamel. For any questions about cavities during braces, call Belmar Orthodontics at (303) 225-9016!

 

Be Vigilant with Your Child’s Oral Health

Posted on: August 28, 2018

A young girl having her mouth looked at by a dentist.

More than half the people that wear braces are children and teens. This can be an exciting time for kids to fix bite problems and crooked teeth. However, tooth decay and oral health problems also run rampant during braces if oral hygiene guidelines aren’t followed. Sometimes children and teens need a nudge to help them with their oral health. Find out what they should be doing to care for their braces during this time!

 

Facts About Braces

Did you know that there are over 4 million people in the United States each year that wear braces? About 1/4th of those are adults and the rest are children and teens. Patients use braces as teens to straighten the adult, permanent teeth that have come in. When children have child orthodontics, those brackets and wires are meant to correct bite and alignment issues that could cause a child severe problems in the future. Children can then straighten their permanent teeth later on.

 

There are common oral health problems that many children face today. It’s called tooth decay, and the National Institutes of Health reports that it’s the most “prevalent, chronic disease” among children and adults. 42% of children will have tooth decay before they are 12. 23% of those will have untreated dental decay. About 92% of adults have had tooth decay sometime in their life. The worst part about this is that tooth decay is completely preventable if a child, teen or adult has good oral health through practicing proper oral hygiene.

 

It may take several years for a child to have the right dexterity in their hands to brush and floss correctly. That is why parents must take care of their child’s oral health when they are young, or it could lead to serious problems. Children rely on parents to help their mouth stay healthy. Even teens need to be told to brush and floss, as it’s something they often forget. These habits are especially important during braces, as oral health is most affected when there are brackets and wires on the teeth.

 

A young boy with braces on his teeth smiling at the camera.

Helping Your Child’s Oral Health

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children see a dentist around 1 year or within 6 months of their first tooth coming in. After that, they should go biannually to the dentist. This is how a dentist can start to see signs of bite and alignment problems, which are then referred to an orthodontist.

 

With some orthodontic appointments, a child can be fitted for braces to correct problems that are easy to fix with a young, moldable jaw, but hard to fix when a person is older and their jaws are set. Without braces, you will have to help your child brush and floss their teeth at least twice a day as the American Dental Association recommends. Use child toothpaste enhanced with decay-fighting fluoride and a toothbrush that fits the size of your child’s mouth.

 

Children will need to floss between their teeth, but might have to start out with flossers for kids. With braces, children should be brushing at least twice a day, but after every meal is even better. They should brush at 45-degree angles, making sure to move in all different directions to dislodge food that has been stuck in the braces. Flossing is incredibly important as well, as it gets 40% of tooth surfaces that are missed if flossing is skipped. Help them learn how to use threadable floss. This gets poked through the spaces between their teeth, pulled through, and flossed like you would normally do. Use a Christmas tree brush or a waterpik to help them dislodge stuck food.

 

Do You Have Good Habits?

One of the best ways to help your child with their oral health is to show them its importance through your own actions. If you don’t brush and floss your teeth, your child or teen may not either. When you’re also not visiting the dentist, odds are that your child isn’t either. If you eat a poor diet full of sugar, then your child will do the same. Children often copy what their parents do.

 

Make sure you are brushing your teeth at least twice a day, especially when your children can see you. Floss your teeth and teach them how to floss properly as well. When you need to go to the dentist, take your children with you and have them get their comprehensive exams and cleanings. All these oral health measures will ensure their mouths stay clean and healthy for years!

 

Close-up view of a young patient's mouth while they are brushing their braces with a toothbrush.

Other Factors to Consider

Your child can brush and floss their teeth often and may still end up with cavities. Cavities come from plaque in the mouth that has set on the teeth for too long. Your mouth makes plaque when you eat sugary foods and that sugar mixes with mouth bacteria to make acidic plaque. That acid is what causes the tooth decay. However, if you limit your sugar intake to begin with, you won’t have the problem with tooth decay.

 

Unfortunately, sugar is one of the most-consumed substances in the world. It is literally found in almost every food. That is why tooth decay is so common, especially in children. Limit your child’s sugar intake if you want them to have healthy teeth when their braces come off. Teeth that don’t get brushed or flossed often with braces, may end up having cavities, gum disease and eroded areas of their teeth when braces come off.

 

Their food can also leave them with squares on their teeth from the brackets, because the surrounding tooth has been damaged by food. Make sure to consider what your child is putting in their mouth if you want to help them have good oral health! For more tips or answers to questions about your child’s braces, call Belmar Orthodontics today at (303) 225-9016!