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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!

 

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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!

 

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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!

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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!

 

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

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

 

Wear and Tear on Your Teeth

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

 

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

Foods that Cause Damage

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

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

 

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

Drinks to Avoid

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

 

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

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

 

Damaging Habits that Harm Your Teeth

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

 

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

 

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

 

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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!

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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!

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Girl with braces having a dental exam

Did you know that an orthodontist and a dentist are not the same? Only a dentist can help with cavities, gum disease and more, while only an orthodontist can straighten your teeth in a certain way. A patient’s time with braces is a time when cavities happen very quickly, because the teeth are harder to clean. To prevent cavities during your time with braces, it is vital that you continue to see a dentist. If you do happen to get a cavity, find out what that cavity treatment will look like!

 

Proper Oral Hygiene

The American Dental Association recommends that every patient brush their teeth at least twice a day to avoid tooth decay. Brushing after every meal is even better for avoiding plaque buildup that leads to decay. Every patient should also floss their teeth at least once a day. Using fluoride toothpaste is best, because fluoride helps coat the teeth in a protective layer that prevents decay and keeps tooth enamel stronger. Patients can also benefit from mouthwash, as it can kill bacteria that would otherwise create plaque.

 

However, these recommendations are for people that don’t have braces. Every single person—children, teens and adults—should follow these recommendations. Infants should not use fluoride or mouthwash, but their child toothpastes generally have safe amounts of fluoride in them. If you are a patient that is receiving orthodontic care via braces, you have to go the extra mile with your oral hygiene. That means more frequent brushing, more flossing and watching what you eat.

 

Close-up view of braces that are being brushed with a toothbrush

Taking Care of Braces

Braces can be tricky to clean. However, their design provides the best and quickest way for you to straighten your teeth, which is why traditional metal braces have been around for so many decades. Metal braces, ceramic braces and lingual braces all have a brackets-and-wires design.

 

However, with braces, you must be meticulous with cleaning them or you will have food and plaque get stuck places. If you don’t unstick those substances, they will quickly erode your tooth enamel and cause decay around your appliances. This can happen on every tooth as well.

Follow these tips for cleaning your braces:

  • Brush after every single meal. This reduces staining and bacteria buildup. Use a regular soft-bristled brush and brush down from the top, then up from the bottom. Brush in all different directions to dislodge food.
  • Use a threadable floss or a floss threader. Both will require that you thread the floss through each space between your teeth. You will have to go under the wire to do this, and it will take slightly longer than normal flossing. This is one of the most important oral hygiene recommendations to follow!
  • Use helpful tools. A proxabrush is a small braces brush that can help unstick foods. It looks like a tiny Christmas Tree brush. A waterpik is also helpful. This is a tool that helps blast away food particles with a stream of water.

 

Tooth Decay with Braces

Many children and teens skip flossing or brushing here and there. Every time you skip on an oral hygiene habit, it increases your risk for tooth decay—or cavities—with braces. Your time with braces is one where you have to be super careful about your oral health. Most people picture their beautiful smile after getting their braces off, but they don’t think about cavities and tooth erosion. You can end up with tooth decay and parts of your teeth that have eroded due to your oral hygiene habits with braces.

 

Nobody wants to spend 18-24 months perfecting their teeth only to be disappointed in their smile. That’s why oral hygiene is so important. Tooth decay happens rapidly, and it can happen where the brackets are bonded to your teeth and in-between your teeth because it is harder to floss. Normally, you would simply visit the dentist and have your cavity removed and filled. However, cavity treatment is a bit different with braces.

 

Young boy with braces getting a cavity treatment at a dental office

 

Cavity Treatment with Braces

Cavity treatment is slightly harder if you have braces, but not impossible. Generally, decay happens between teeth cracks and around brackets and wires. If you have tooth decay that is in a tricky spot, we can remove your wire so that a dentist can provide you with a proper cavity treatment. You will have to have your appointments scheduled close together (dentist and orthodontist) so that you can get your cavity filled and your wire replaced.

 

In severe cases of tooth decay, we may have to remove a bracket from the tooth if it interferes with the dental work that needs to be done. We only do this in certain cases, and we replace the missing part as soon as possible so your teeth don’t move. Cavity treatment—with taking out the tooth decay and filling it—is the same with braces as it is without, only you have to work around orthodontic appliances if you have braces. Always let us know if you have tooth sensitivity, sharp (and even mild) pain when chewing and if you have sensitivity to hot or cold foods. This signals that there may be a more severe cavity.

 

Prevent Cavity Treatment

The goal of every patient—old and young—is to avoid tooth decay altogether. If you do, you’ll never have to worry about cavity treatment with braces. If your decay is small and in a tricky spot, you may have to wait until your braces are off to receive your cavity treatment. That might make your cavity grow larger, which is something you don’t want. Always see the dentist to check your mouth for tooth decay before you receive orthodontic treatment. This can avoid many problems in the future.

 

If you are prone to getting cavities or you have weak enamel, consider receiving Invisalign treatment instead of getting brackets and wires. This will help you avoid problems with cavities and needing to get cavity treatment. If you have tooth pain or want to learn more about cavity treatment with braces, call Belmar Orthodontics today at (303) 225-9016!

 

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Child sitting in a chair talking to a good orthodontist

There are many orthodontists out there, but not all are created equal, and not all have the same training or experience as others. Just like dentists, only some are award-winning orthodontists (for good reason), while others are not. A good orthodontist needs to have specific training and credentials to work on your or your child. Their office needs to have specific equipment to perform the necessary work, and a good orthodontist will provide a wide range of services for their patients. Find out what a good orthodontist looks like and how to choose a good one from one you want to avoid!

 

Choosing to Receive Braces

If you have made the choice to get braces, we commend you! Braces is an amazing way to change your life for the better. Studies show that straightening your smile is directly related to increased confidence. The better a person’s smile looks, the more they smile and the more confident they appear to others as well. Studies by Invisalign and countless others have found that a straighter, more beautiful smile makes you appear happier, healthier, wealthier, and more attractive to others. 73% of people are also more likely to find you trustworthy.

 

Now that you have chosen to embark on this new journey of getting braces, you have to decide who you should get your orthodontic care from. All too often, dental practices have started offering orthodontics via transparent aligner systems or Invisalign. Even though we offer Invisalign at our center (and it is effective), the majority of dentists are not trained to perform orthodontics. It’s similar to a spa offering botox injections instead of a medical doctor that provides botox injections. They may have some training in oral health and dentistry, but dentistry is not the same as orthodontics.

 

You always want to choose a trained orthodontist to provide you orthodontic work, and not just a dentist (or even someone without a degree) to perform any work on your mouth. If you do, you take a serious health risk that your teeth will be messed up permanently or that you will have oral health complications. Always go to a certified and trained orthodontist for your orthodontic work.

 

Example of what an orthodontic office looks like

Training to Become a Good Orthodontist

Becoming a good orthodontist takes many hard years. A good orthodontist will receive an undergraduate degree and then will go on to be accepted into dental school. A good orthodontist will receive high marks in their dental school, and will have to be accepted into an orthodontic school afterwards. Some even go beyond their 10 years of base training to do fellowships and additional study. It takes an entire decade to learn how to straighten the teeth properly, even if orthodontic care may seem simple and straightforward.

 

Orthodontists deal with the health of a person’s mouth, which can affect their overall health, their confidence, and even if they are at risk for tooth decay, gum disease and more. Working with children in orthodontics can be even trickier, as many children require specific work to make space in the jaws for incoming teeth.

 

What Is Their Experience with Children?

The majority of good orthodontists work with children on a regular basis. However, there are some that have better training than others. You always want to look for a good orthodontist that has training to work with a child on their intellectual level. Children sometimes fear dental or orthodontic office or having work done on their mouth. We strive to provide a child-friendly atmosphere to our young patients to make them comfortable during their treatment.

 

A good orthodontist is one that can help your child feel at ease and confident about the smile they are getting. When choosing an orthodontist, observe how they act with your child. If they are warm and inviting, this can help children have a positive orthodontic experience for early orthodontic treatment and when they receive braces for straightening later on.

 

Close-up of a child being fitted for a retainer

What Qualities Do We Have?

If you want a good orthodontist, give Belmar Orthodontics a try! Dr. Hardy is an award-winning orthodontist that treats patients at two different locations. He has extensive training in dentistry and orthodontics and actually runs a pediatric dentistry and orthodontics office alongside his wife. He treats pediatric patients and older at Hardy Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics and he treats patients of all ages at Belmar Orthodontics. Dr. Hardy offers every option available in orthodontics to his patients. That includes traditional metal braces, lingual braces, ceramic braces, Invisalign and Invisalign Teen, as well as retainer devices, TADs, and surgical orthodontics. All of these services required countless hours of training, testing and performance to become certified.

 

As we mentioned, you want an orthodontist who has won awards and who others are talking about. Dr. Hardy is board-certified by the American Board of Orthodontics. He is also an active member of the American Dental Association and the American Association of Orthodontics. He received the Everett Shapiro Award in Orthodontics as well as the Dr. Harold Berk Endowed prize Fund for Excellence in Research. He is also a member of many dental organizations that you can find here. He is extensively trained to work not only with teens and adults, but also children—even very young ones. Dr. Hardy also works alongside his wife often, who also has extensive training and psychology experience with young children.

 

We can talk about Dr. Hardy’s qualifications all day long, but the best way to know what a good orthodontist looks like is to come into the office and see for yourself. To schedule your free consultation or to learn more, call Belmar Orthodontics today at (303) 225-9016!

 

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Family of four smiling

Did you know that what you eat makes a major difference in how healthy your mouth is? What you eat can determine your likelihood for tooth decay and other oral health diseases. Did you know that your teeth also aren’t bones like many people think? They are made of an entirely different substance even though they are hard like bones. Find out oral health myths and facts that exist, how to care for your teeth properly, and some facts about orthodontic care!

 

Are Your Teeth Bones?

Many people think the teeth are bones, but they aren’t. They are hard like bone, but are actually harder. Teeth are the hardest substance in your body, as they are made up of about 96% mineral. Bones have a more sponge-like interior and aren’t solid mineral. However, your teeth and bones are made of similar materials such as calcium and phosphate, which is why they are both so hard.

 

Facts About Your Teeth

Infant and adult teeth are not the same:

  • Infants are not born with their teeth. Most start to get teeth between 3 and 9 months of age.
  • Children can receive their teeth up until age 3. Some will get all their teeth within a few months, whereas others get them slowly one-by-one.
  • Children only have 20 baby teeth compared to an adult’s 32.
  • As soon as a child gets a first tooth, it needs to be brushed at least twice a day. Infants also need to see the dentist within 6 months of getting their first tooth.
  • Bite and alignment problems in children are best treated around ages 7 and 8. This is the recommended time for children to visit an orthodontist. If bite and alignment problems are present, child braces can correct the problems before they become severe later on.
  • Children get their teeth in a certain order: the bottom front 2 teeth, followed by the top 2 teeth. Then, the next tooth on either side on the bottom jaw, then the next two on either side on the top jaw, etc.
  • Children lose their teeth in the order that they came into the mouth. Losing the baby teeth makes way for the adult teeth to start coming in once a child has grown larger.
  • Adults will have 32 total teeth. Most will have the 4 wisdom teeth taken out, which drops that total number down to 28.

 

mother and child brushing their teeth together

Brushing and Flossing

Many people brush their teeth but don’t see the importance of flossing. Plaque doesn’t go away unless you physically remove it with brushing and flossing. Only brushing your teeth is like only cleaning the outside of a car and never the inside. The inside parts can fill up with gunk, just like the spaces between your teeth. Flossing is especially important during your time with braces. Not flossing could land you with cavities or cratered parts of your teeth when braces come off.

 

Avoiding the Dentist or Orthodontist

“The dentist/orthodontist is scary”. Although many think the dentist is scary, it’s not actually. Some people fear going to the dentist, even though the dentist is someone who is only interested in helping you be healthier. Going to the actual dental office can evoke negative feelings if you’ve had a bad experience. This is why sedation dentistry was created. This is a form of dentistry where you can receive sedation during your procedure to help make it a more positive experience. If you think the dentist (or the orthodontist) is scary, we can help it be less scary. That’s especially because an orthodontist won’t have needles and drills at your appointment. They either put your braces on or tighten them for you. Not so scary, right?

 

Myths About Orthodontic Care

There are many myths about orthodontic care that could hurt you if you’re not careful. You want to always seek out the best care for your teeth and receive that care from a trained professional.

  • Providers who offer orthodontic treatment are orthodontists: false. Now, more than ever, there are many dentists or oral health professionals that are starting to offer orthodontic treatment. Many offer this treatment in the form of Invisalign aligners. This is a great system for straightening the teeth, but only if you have the right training. Orthodontists are specifically trained to straighten your teeth correctly. Dentists are not unless they have specifically received schooling and training in orthodontics. Check credentials before you let someone touch your teeth.
  • Braces are too expensive: false. Braces aren’t the cheapest purchase in the world, but they can benefit you more than most other things you’ll ever invest in. Many insurance plans work with patients to make braces affordable, and we do the same. We want as many people as possible to receive orthodontic care. If you think they are too expensive, give our office a call and we will work with your budget. Any person can receive great orthodontic treatment if they work closely with an orthodontist.
  • Braces are only for children: false. Studies show that at least ¼ of people that wear braces (so about 1 million+ each year) are adults. Almost half of the people wearing braces are teens. So no, braces are not just for children. Adults also have several virtually-invisible options for orthodontic care such as transparent aligners and lingual braces. These options make braces a great choice for adults.

 

Family with one child at the dental office talking to a dental hygienist

Great Oral Health

No matter the myths or facts you’ve heard about your oral health, the bottom line is that it’s important! How well you take care of your teeth will determine how good your health is and how much confidence you have in yourself. Studies show that people with straighter, more beautiful smiles are happier, healthier and more confident. You can have that confidence to no matter if you are young or old. To learn more about braces and proper oral hygiene while having them, call Belmar Orthodontics today at (303) 223-9016!

 

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