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Young woman pointing to braces with a questionable look on her face.

As you begin orthodontic treatment, changes will occur in your mouth that could be uncomfortable or unexpected. Braces help patients get the beautiful and straight smiles that they deserve, but orthodontic treatment is not an easy process. As your teeth begin to shift, you can experience some tooth tenderness, lip sores, or pokey wires. These are all normal occurrences, but some patients can feel uneasy. Regular orthodontic visits can remedy these situations and help you feel back to normal in no time. Find out what to expect with braces and how you can treat these issues!

 

Problems That Braces Can Cause

As you begin orthodontic care, there are some problems to look out for that are commonly associated with braces. Although most of these issues are not serious, it is still good to know what to expect whenever you begin care. Once braces are placed, the process of fixing your malocclusion begins and your teeth will start to shift into their correct positions. As this occurs, soreness and swollen gums are both very common reactions to braces. Swollen gums can also influence tooth tenderness, which normally lasts between 2-4 days after braces are first placed. Dull aches can also accompany tooth tenderness but can be relieved by eating soft foods and an over-the-counter pain medication, if needed. Other common problems with braces include lip and cheek sores, pokey wires, and loose bands and/or brackets. Lip and cheek sores develop as the brackets rub against your mouth but can be remedied by placing a small piece of wax on the part of the braces that’s causing the irritation. Pokey wires can be caused by sticky foods or when a patient picks at their braces, and wax can also be used to cover the pokey piece or you can try pushing the wire back into place with a Q-tip or pencil eraser. Loose or broken bands and brackets normally aren’t considered an emergency and can be covered in wax until the next orthodontic appointment. If the broken bracket holds a rubber band in place or if a bracket on one of the upper or lower front teeth breaks, you will need an appointment as soon as possible to fix the bracket.

 

Serious problems that can be caused by braces include demineralization and gingivitis. Demineralization creates white scars that look like tiny white boxes and outline the area where the bracket used to be. These white scars are caused as food left on teeth come in contact with bacteria and create acid. The acid destroys calcium and phosphate in the teeth, which causes decalcification or white scars. Braces do not cause demineralization, but bad hygiene during treatment usually leads to white scars. Unfortunately, white scars normally don’t disappear after braces are removed and can even lead to cavities. Gingivitis, on the other hand, occurs as the gum tissues become inflamed and is one of the first steps to gum disease. Redness, swelling, tenderness and bleeding can result from gingivitis, but can be entirely prevented by brushing rigorously around the brackets and flossing regularly.

 

Importance of Good Oral HygieneUp close photo of woman cleaning in between her braces with a proxabrush.

Many problems that come with braces can be avoided or lessened by sticking to a strict oral hygiene regimen. To properly maintain your braces, make sure to brush after every meal, use threadable floss or a floss threader and use a proxabrush. Even though it may seem excessive to brush after each meal, this practice can get rid of remaining food that may be stuck in your braces and prevent plaque and acid from building up (which helps prevent demineralization and gingivitis). Floss threaders are placed between the teeth and under the wire to aid in flossing. Threaders help you floss between each tooth, which can be difficult to do with braces in the way. A proxabrush is typically referred to as a “Christmas tree brush” and helps clean between each bracket. By placing the proxabrush under the archwire and between each bracket, you can thoroughly clean the bracket and remove any stuck food particles.

 

Maintaining a good diet, especially during orthodontic care, should be another important part of your oral health routine. Sticky or hard foods, such as nuts, popcorn, gum, caramel and chips, can damage your orthodontic appliance and hurt your teeth. Although the temptation may be great to cheat and eat one of these items, the consequence of doing so can be costly and painful. Eating these foods also gives you a higher risk of developing cavities during your time with braces, which can be difficult to treat. Make a list of the foods you should and should not eat, and stick to your oral health goals to keep your teeth and braces healthy.

 

Starting Orthodontic Care On The Right Foot

If you or a member of your family is in need of orthodontic care, call Belmar Orthodontics at (303) 225-9016! Our dedicated staff is ready to help you achieve your oral health goals and get a beautiful, straight smile. Call now to find out what options we have for braces and how soon you can begin treatment!

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Smiling people of different countries

Our teeth are one of the most important parts of our bodies, and they are each unique to us. Our teeth are like a fingerprint: they are individual to us and never the same as anyone else’s. Teeth perform specific functions that are essential for speaking and eating. Our teeth have enamel, which is the hardest substance in the body and it protects our teeth from decay. The more that we learn about our teeth, the more important it is for us to take care of them. Find out what all our teeth do and how they help us with this guide!

 

Facts About Dentistry

For hundreds, and even thousands, of years, dentistry has been an important aspect of human’s lives. Even though dental technology and knowledge might not have been as well known a few thousand years ago, our ancestors still understood the importance of taking care of their teeth. People have been caring for their teeth for centuries, and historians have found evidence of dental care dating back to 5000 B.C. in ancient Egypt. The Egyptians would use crushed eggshells and ground animal hooves to clean and polish their teeth, before toothbrushes were invented. The first toothbrushes that were used anciently were actually twigs, or tree bark, that our ancestors would chew on, hoping that the frayed ends would clean their teeth. It wouldn’t be until the 1700s when a British inventor created an adapted version of a toothbrush that he had seen in China, one with a bone handle with boar bristles inserted into small holes that lined the brush and then secured with wire. Even up to the 1930s, toothbrushes were still rudimentary, until brushes with nylon bristles and ergonomic handles were developed, which is what we still use today.

 

Facts About Teeth

Although oral hygiene was important to our ancestors, little was known about the function and specifics of teeth that modern technology has allowed us to learn about in our day and age. Teeth are the hardest substances in our bodies, and enamel helps keep them strong and durable. We use teeth to eat, speak and chew, so they’re an important part of how we live. Even though they are hard, white and contain calcium, teeth are not bones! They cannot heal themselves or grow back if they sustain damage, so it’s very important that we are careful with what we eat and the activities that we engage in to avoid any unnecessary trauma. Additionally, teeth contain stem cells. Some researchers are even trying to use dental stem cells to regrow human teeth, which, if they can do it, would mean that we could replace lost adult teeth for the first time in history. Not only do teeth have stem cells, but they are also unique to each one of us and tell a story. Each tooth in our mouths is unique and different from the rest, and never is identical to someone else’s. Our teeth reveal how old we are, what we eat and even areas of the world that we have lived in! They are a lasting record of our life’s history.

 

Our mouths, and the teeth that are found therein, perform amazing functions that facilitate our ability to eat and digest food properly. Although they may be amazing, our mouths have some unusual quirks that most people don’t know about. The following are some of the weird facts about our mouth and teeth that one should think about:

 

  • Teeth form in the womb, months before a child is even born. The crowns of babies’ first 20 teeth are already under the gumline when they are born, waiting to erupt.
  • The average human produces 25,000 quarts of saliva in their lifetime, enough to fill two swimming pools.
  • Plaque found on teeth contains more than 300 kinds of bacteria.
  • Humans spend 38.5 days of their life brushing their teeth.

 

Good Dental Habits To HaveA man and woman brushing their teeth in front of a mirror together

Now more than any generation before us, we have a limitless amount of options to choose from to protect our oral health and develop strong, healthy teeth. Our teeth do so much for us, so it’s important that we do everything we can to protect them. First and foremost, brushing and flossing should become part of our daily routine. Especially if your or your child has braces or an orthodontic device, maintaining a strict brushing and flossing regimen will prevent tooth decay and cavities. Brushing removes debris on the surface of the tooth while flossing removes food particles that can get stuck between teeth or near the gumline, where plaque can easily build up. Furthermore, regular checkups for both you and your child with your dentist and/or orthodontist will allow them to monitor teeth movement and keep your teeth as shiny and beautiful as possible.

 

For more information on what you can do to protect your teeth with or without braces, call Belmar Orthodontics at (303) 225-9016! Our dedicated team is committed to helping you and your family receive the care that you need and get the smiles that you deserve!

 

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Picture of smiling female adolescent with braces

As orthodontic technology has improved throughout the years, so have the different appliances that are used to treat children with braces. Depending on their jaw and bone structure, your child may need an orthodontic device to help guide their teeth and jaw into proper alignment. These orthodontic appliances are used to maintain space in the mouth and allow for proper tooth eruption and movement. Find out what types of appliances are available and which is best for your child’s needs through these tips!

 

Benefits of Child Orthodontics

Many, if not most, dental patients will receive some form of orthodontic treatment during their lifetime. Even if one’s teeth doesn’t show any kind of orthodontic issues, it is advantageous that patients, especially children, visit with an orthodontist to maintain good oral health. The American Association of Orthodontics recommends that children have their first orthodontic visit between the ages of 7 and 8 to prevent the progression of any orthodontic issues that may already be developing. Orthodontic treatment can lead to healthy, beautiful smiles at any age, but is most beneficial when completed at an earlier age. Some benefits of visiting the orthodontist early on include observing the progress of incoming teeth, reducing the risk of impacted teeth, and monitoring facial and jaw development. Early orthodontic evaluations can discover hidden dental issues and decrease the risk for permanent teeth extractions, as well. Early detection of any dental issue is vital in maintaining good oral health for patients of all ages, and should be a goal that all children should obtain from an early age.

 

Types of AppliancesView of child's mouth palate with an orthodontic appliance

Whenever patients think of “orthodontia,” they typically think of braces. For young patients, braces are common orthodontic appliances that they can receive to straighten their teeth and correct any dental issues. Child orthodontics includes other appliances than just braces, though, and these appliances fulfill an important function in your child’s overall treatment. Orthodontic appliances change the way your child’s mouth works by correcting certain bone problems. Headgear, for example, guides the jaw into the proper direction by holding the upper jaw until the lower jaw can catch up with it. Retainers are other useful tools that keep teeth in the correct position after braces are removed, and most children will use some type of retainer during or after their treatment.

 

There are other orthodontic appliances that aren’t as well known but are used quite often in child orthodontics. The Nance “Button” is one of those appliances that uses a holding arch to maintain space in the mouth for children who have lost their baby teeth and are waiting for permanent teeth to grow in. If baby teeth are lost prematurely, the first molars might move forward into an incorrect position as they erupt because there is nothing holding them back. The Nance is an acrylic plate (the button) that covers a section of the palate with two metal bands around the back teeth to hold them into position until permanent teeth develop. This process helps maintain the proper space for permanent teeth to grow into. Another less-known appliance is the lower lingual holding arch, which does the same thing as the Nance but for the lower teeth. Two metal bands are cemented to the lower molars, joined by a U-shaped bar that rests behind the lower teeth. This keeps the back teeth from moving forward and maintains the space needed for future permanent teeth to erupt. Lastly, twin blocks are used to correct misalignments in the jaw that cause your child’s top teeth to stick out in front of the lower teeth further than normal. The blocks consist of two plates, one on the upper teeth and the other on the lower. These work together to bring your child’s lower jaw forward into the correct position, but is most successful when inserted while your child’s bones are still growing. They are the fastest-working appliances, and create quick results. Any of these appliances can be used in your child’s orthodontic treatment, so if you have questions about how they function or which one would be best to implement, make sure to ask your orthodontist.

 

What To Expect At The First Appointment

Most adult teeth erupt between the ages of 6 and 12, so whenever your child’s first permanent molars begin developing, the dentist will need to evaluate them to see how they work together. This process is called a “bite check,” and it helps orthodontists determine in what stage your child’s teeth are and what their treatment will require. The dentist will then decide which type of appliance would work best for your child and what instructions they will need to follow to get the best results out of their treatment. When using an orthodontic appliance, good oral hygiene will be necessary to prevent plaque buildup and other dental complications that could extend your child’s treatment time. Having your child brush and floss their teeth every day, along with cleaning whichever orthodontic appliance they’re given, will ensure that they get the healthiest and fastest treatment possible.

 

If your child is due for an orthodontic visit, or if they’re experiencing any of the orthodontic issues that we’ve discussed, call Belmar Orthodontics at (303) 225-9016 for a consultation to improve their oral health. Our dedicated team is ready to help you create a plan for your child to get them the smile that they deserve!

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Side view of a woman's mouth smiling with braces on

Surgical orthodontics is sometimes needed for those patients whose upper and lower jaws don’t align correctly and a proper bite cannot be achieved. Surgical orthodontics will change the alignment of your jaw, which will affect your teeth. Braces are normally involved in this process to correct teeth movement. Since this is a surgical process, there are many different options for patients to choose from to fix misaligned jaws. Find out whether you’re eligible for surgical orthodontics and what it can do to fix your smile!

 

What Surgical Orthodontics Entails

In some cases, surgical orthodontics is recommended for patients whose upper or lower jaws do not line up properly and thus cannot obtain a correct bite with orthodontics alone. Known also as jaw surgery or orthognathic surgery, this process involves correcting irregularities of the jaw bone and realigns the jaw and teeth to function together properly. Surgical orthodontics also can be used to fix aesthetic concerns about a patient’s profile or jaw shape/size. Since this type of orthodontic work involves correcting the alignment of your jaw, your teeth will most likely shift, as well, so braces are used in combination with this treatment.

 

Those patients who suffer from problems with their chewing, breathing, or speaking due to a misaligned jaw are prime candidates for surgical orthodontics. As mentioned earlier as well, patients who have aesthetic facial concerns can also benefit from these treatments to see what improvements can be made, after consulting with their orthodontist. The downside to treatment is that it cannot be performed until a patient’s jaw is fully formed, so for children and children who struggle with any of the aforementioned issues, they must wait to fully develop before any surgery can be performed. For males, jaw growth typically finishes at age 18, and for females it is completed earlier, at around 16 years of age.

 

What To Expect During SurgeryClose up view of a patient in dental surgery

Surgical orthodontics include both pre and post-surgical phases in which treatment is tailored to the individual patient’s needs and jaw structure. Pre-surgery involves aligning your teeth and moving them into a more ideal position before surgery. In many cases, braces are put on 12-18 months prior to surgery to level and align your teeth in preparation for surgery. Orthodontic surgery on your upper jaw can shift it backward, forward, upward, and downward, while surgery on the lower jaw shifts the jawbone either forward or backward. Surgery is performed by an oral surgeon on the inside of the mouth, so there are no facial scars on the mouth, chin, or other surrounding areas. The surgeon makes cuts in the jawbone, which are then moved into the correct position. Tiny bone plates, screws, wires and rubber bands are used to hold the newly aligned jawbone into their new position. While smaller than the bracket that is fixed onto a tooth with braces, these screws eventually become integrated into the bone over time. In some cases, extra bone may be added to the jaw from your hip, leg, or rib, and secured with screws and plates. During your consult with your orthodontist, you will both discuss the pre and post-surgical treatments that you will be receiving, dependent upon your needs.

 

Post-Surgery Care

After surgery, the oral surgeon will provide you with certain instructions to help in the healing process, such as:

 

  • What you can eat
  • Oral hygiene
  • Avoiding tobacco
  • Avoiding strenuous activity
  • Medications to control pain
  • Timeline to return to work/school

 

Typically, you will need to wait at least two weeks after surgery to resume your normal activities. Initial jaw healing occurs at around six weeks, but complete healing can take up to twelve weeks. After the one month post-operation check up, most patients will be in braces for 6-12 months after surgery, in which the orthodontist will then check the progress of your smile and alignment of the jaw. The entire process, including surgery and your time with braces, can last several years, depending on the severity of the issue and what adjustments are needed.

 

The results of surgical orthodontics are varied and can lead to a balanced appearance of your lower face, improved function of your teeth, health benefits from improved sleeping, eating, and chewing, and improvement in speech impediments. Secondary benefits include improved self-esteem and appearance for those who seek out surgical orthodontics for aesthetic purposes.

 

Preventing Surgical Orthodontics

It is recommended that children visit an orthodontist between the ages of 7 to 8 for the main purpose of preventing invasive or drastic treatments later on in life. If a jaw abnormality is discovered earlier on in a child’s life, it can be evaluated and treated sooner without surgery having to be involved. If you or your child are suffering from troubled chewing, eating, breathing, or swallowing, or if you have a misaligned jaw, call Belmar Orthodontics at (303) 225-9016 for an evaluation. Our trained staff can help prepare you as you make this important step in your oral health and guide you to a healthier smile.

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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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Young woman pointing at braces

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

 

Origins of Braces

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

 

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

 

Dental Emergencies and What To Do About Them

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

 

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

 

How To Protect Your BracesMan flossing braces and smiling

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

 

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

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

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

 

Your Oral Health

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

How Does the U.S. Compare?

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

 

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

 

The Connection to Orthodontic Treatment

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Be Thankful for Your Orthodontic Treatment

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

 

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

 

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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 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!

 

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