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Woman smiling with white teeth and braces

Keeping teeth clean during braces is an important part of your oral health regimen, but keeping teeth white with braces sometimes presents a problem. Teeth whitening with braces is a common practice that orthodontic patients have done to keep their teeth white during orthodontic care. Which teeth whitening treatment you use will depend on what type of braces you have. Achieving a whiter smile is not impossible with braces, but will need extra effort and care to protect your braces. Find out how you can both whiten and straighten your teeth at the same time with these tips and tricks!

 

In-Office versus At-Home Treatments

Teeth whitening has been a popular choice of treatment for dental patients for years now, but orthodontic patients can now receive the same treatment, too, while getting their teeth straightened at the same time. Keeping your teeth clean while undergoing orthodontic treatment is an important step in maintaining good oral health, and teeth whitening options can enhance that process. With the variety of treatment options that orthodontic patients now have to straighten their teeth, there are plenty of ways to whiten teeth while receiving care. For patients who prefer whitening their teeth at the dental office, one option that patients can choose is “chairside bleaching.” This process requires one or two office visits in which a strong bleaching agent is applied to the teeth combined with a special light to accelerate the whitening effect and lift stains. For patients with brackets on the front of their teeth, chairside bleaching can cause a two-tone effect after traditional braces are removed, so sometimes it is best to bleach after your treatment is over. For patients with lingual braces (on the backside of teeth), though, it is relatively easy to whiten teeth during treatment since teeth whitening focuses on the front of the teeth and not the back. Removable braces and retainers also allow for successful teeth whitening as they allow all of the teeth to be uncovered.

 

Many patients prefer at-home teeth whitening treatments over in-office treatments because it allows them the flexibility to decide when and where they whiten their teeth. For at-home treatments, gel similar to those used in dental offices will be given to you that is inserted into a customized tray which is fit to your mouth. The gel uses peroxide to bleach the tooth enamel and whiten the tooth. Even those with braces can use these custom trays after braces have been placed in the mouth. The trays have to account for the space that brackets use so the gel doesn’t displace the bracket from the tooth. With at-home treatments, though, there is a larger risk of sensitivity and gum irritation if bleaching material leaks out of the tray. Both options for teeth whitening allow patients the freedom to get the best results during their orthodontic treatment but still get the same benefits that braces offer.

 

Things To Consider

When deciding on which type of teeth whitening you should do, it is important to remember that the type of braces you have dictates what kind of teeth whitening you can receive. As teeth shift during orthodontic treatment, tooth sensitivity and gum irritation can increase when using mouth trays or teeth whitening strips at home. Traditional braces use brackets on the front side of the teeth to correct malocclusion while other options, like lingual braces, use brackets on the backside of teeth to straighten teeth. Whitening teeth with lingual or removable braces is much easier for patients than those with traditional braces as brackets prevent a good portion of the tooth from bleaching agents. For this reason, most orthodontists recommend using teeth whitening products once braces are removed for most effectiveness. If you do choose to use teeth whitener during treatment with traditional braces and you feel some sensitivity/tenderness, make sure to avoid whitening for a while to give your teeth a break. Chewing gum can also help with any pain you might feel from whitening agents, as well as using sensitivity toothpaste. For additional insights into what to expect when using teeth whitener with braces, meet with your orthodontist to discuss which option is best for your mouth.

 

Everyday Teeth WhiteningWoman putting whitening stripes on teeth while looking in the mirrow

Many patients use everyday teeth whitening products to improve their smile rather than going to a dental office or using expensive products. As teeth whitening has become more popular, more and more products have been created to enhance smiles in the comfort of one’s home with a smaller price tag than traditional methods. For anyone, with or without braces, using a teeth whitening toothpaste is a great and easy way to whiten your smile and maintain good oral health at the same time. Even if you have sensitive teeth, there are still plenty of options for toothpaste that whiten teeth without putting your sensitive mouth at risk. There is also teeth whitening mouthwash that whitens and protects teeth from stains while freshening your breath at the same time. Switching from a manual to electric toothbrush can further whiten your teeth by polishing away surface stains that appear under braces. With all of the different dental items that can be tailored to your individual needs, you can have a whiter smile with braces in no time.

 

For more information on how you can whiten your teeth during orthodontic treatment, call Belmar Orthodontics at (303) 225-9016! Our team is committed to helping you and your family get the healthiest and brightest smile possible!

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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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Smiling senior couple in front of blue background

Most orthodontic patients receive their braces at a young age, typically during the teenage years. Are the teenage years the best time to receive braces, or will treatment work just as well as an adult? With the technological advances that have occurred, adult orthodontics have more options than ever to straighten smiles of all ages. Some benefits of adult orthodontics include correction of life-time dental issues, faster treatment time than former technology, and increased confidence. If you’re ready to change your smile, learn how adult orthodontics can help you through these tips!

 

Braces Throughout The Years

Modern advances in orthodontic treatment has revolutionized how quickly children and adults alike get the healthy and straight smiles they want, and allowed people of all ages to improve their oral health, no matter their age. For many years, traditional metal brackets were the only option to straighten teeth, but as technology has advanced, a variety of aesthetic bracket systems have been developed to give you the smile you want with braces that are less noticeable and easier to maintain. Permanent braces now come in two options: metal or ceramic. Ceramic braces are matched to teeth color, making them nearly invisible during treatment.  Lingual braces are also an option, which are completely disguised from others as they are attached to the back of the teeth. Removable orthodontic appliances have recently come into play as a clear plastic aligner that is used and removed as needed. These aligners are advantageous to adults because they are less visible and easier to clean and maintain, which comes in handy for those adults busy with work and family life. As the options for braces have broadened throughout the years, so has the number of adult patients being treated for braces. Technological advances in the orthodontic industry now allows for more patients, even those who have passed the prime age for orthodontic care, to change their smiles during any part of life.

 

Benefits of Adult Orthodontics

The American Association of Orthodontists reports that of the 4.5 million Americans that are currently receiving orthodontic care, 25% of them are adults. Although childhood is the ideal time to receive braces, adult orthodontics has become a popular option for those who couldn’t receive treatment during adolescence. Some benefits of adult orthodontics include:

 

  • More discreet treatment methods
  • Correction of lifetime dental issues
  • Faster treatment time
  • Increased self-esteem and confidence

 

Adults ultimately have more options when choosing what braces and treatment plan is best for them. Orthodontic care protects both kids and adults against tooth decay, tooth loss, gum disease, impaired speech, chewing and jaw problems. While cost is a factor, you will still need an oral evaluation and orthodontics consultation to determine your candidacy for certain procedures and treatments. For the first time, adults of any age who have otherwise healthy teeth can benefit from orthodontic treatment at any point in life.

 

What To Expect With Adult OrthodonticsSenior man putting teeth aligner in mouth

Typically, it is more difficult to manipulate an adult’s fully-developed jawbone compared to the pliable jawbone of a child, but modern-day advances now allow orthodontists to correct crooked teeth with great success and precision. Any oral health issues, such as periodontal (gum) disease, will have to be resolved before teeth can be straightened, so meeting with your dentist and orthodontist will be an important first step to take before treatment can begin. If you’re considering orthodontic treatment to correct any cosmetic or bite issues, consider the following:

 

  • The entire process may take longer for an adult than a child. Typical treatment time averages two years, but varies from person to person.
  • Fully-developed bones in adults have stopped growing, so some structural changes cannot be achieved without surgery.
  • Adults may need to see a periodontist, as well as a dentist and orthodontist, to ensure that treatment will not be complicated by bone loss due to gum disease.

 

Adults who have had teeth removed in the past might have difficulties with orthodontic care as old extraction sites might not be suitable for teeth to move into. Adult patients receiving treatment also have a higher risk for root absorption than children do as their bodies reabsorb the root of the tooth, leaving no room for anchorage. This process causes teeth to loosen and fall out over time due to gum instability. Since braces and other appliances are cemented directly to the teeth themselves, it is important that all patients, even adults, maintain good oral health practices that will prevent the areas around the brackets from developing plaque and tooth decay, which will ensure that they get the best (and healthiest) smile possible.

 

Schedule An Appointment Today

If you are interested in adult orthodontics or are wanting to improve the look of your smile, call Belmar Orthodontics at (303) 225-9016 for a consultation to learn about which options are available for you. Our dedicated team of professionals are determined to help you get the smile that you want and improve your oral health!

 

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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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Picture of young adult wearing braces and smiling

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

 

Origins of Orthodontia

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

 

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

 

Orthodontic DevicesOrthodontic model of orthodontic devices used in the mouth

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

 

TADs

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

 

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

 

Get Straighter Teeth Today

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

 

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

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

 

Metal Braces and Your Teeth

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

 

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

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

 

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

How Teeth Straighten

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Ceramic and Lingual Braces

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

 

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

 

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

 

Invisalign: Customized to the Patient

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

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

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

 

Dress Up Your Smile with Orthodontics

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

 

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

 

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

Your Treatment Options

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

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

If You Already Have Braces

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Better Health for the New Year

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

 

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

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