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child eating a sugary treat

Did you know that the more sugar you eat, the more at-risk you are for cavities? Sugar itself doesn’t necessarily cause a an immediate cavity, but you do get tooth decay because of the effects of sugar on your teeth. That is why it’s so important to brush and floss your teeth every day and to keep your mouth clean. You may be watching your sugar intake, not realizing that you are still going over  recommended sugar guidelines. Even diet or “healthy” foods are full of sugar in many cases, which means you might be at a higher risk for tooth decay than you think. Find out what the sugar guidelines are for each age group, what sugar does to your teeth and how you can prevent cavities for both you and your children!


How Does Sugar Affect You?

Sugar can be so sweet, but not when it comes to your teeth or your body. Did you know that sugar does not actually have any nutritional value? It is an added substance that is found in too many foods to name. It’s even found in baby food, meaning even a small baby may be getting too much sugar in their diet. Sugar has damaging effects to children and adults alike. It not only leads to cavities (more about that later), but it can lead to obesity and weight gain, and inability to lose weight, and can increase your risk for diabetes and other chronic diseases. Sugar can be addicting, and the more you eat, the more you crave.


Many people will eat a meal and want to end each meal with something sweet. This is because sugar causes a release of dopamine in your system, which leads to a “feel-good” emotion that people crave. However, sugar also leads to an energy crash, generally within a half hour. Before you think about putting that sugary treat in your mouth, think about how it will affect your teeth and your oral health.


model of teeth with tooth decay surrounded by piles of sugar

Sugar and Your Teeth

Did you know that sugar is one of the worst substances for your teeth? Your tooth enamel and sugar does not mix well. In fact, sugar actually attacks your teeth in a way. Sugar is found in most foods and drinks that people consume. When you eat, that sugar dissolves and mixes with bacteria in your mouth. That mixture forms a sticky, transparent substance that sticks to your teeth like glue. We like to called this substance plaque, and you might even have some on your teeth right now if you look closely.


The more sugar you eat, the more plaque your mouth will make. Even though plaque is clear, it is acidic in nature. When it coats your teeth, it starts to erode away your tooth enamel. That’s why sugar is such a concern when it comes to your oral health, and why dentists are always recommending patients to limit their sugar intake. More sugar means more plaque, which means more cavities for you. If you start to cut out sugar from your diet, or your child’s you may notice that your child will start to have fewer minor health problems and fewer cavities. If children and adults alike limit the sugar they consume while they have braces, they are much less likely to have eroded or decayed teeth when they get their braces off. Plaque already sticks to the teeth like crazy without braces. With them, it sticks even more and gets into the brackets as well.


Woman holding a sign that says eat less sugar

Sugar Guidelines for Your Age Group

Did you know that there are sugar guidelines for how much sugar you should eat in a day? Those sugar guidelines don’t only come from a dentist, but countless health institutions. The National Institute of Health and the American Heart Association report that too many people are over-exceeding their daily sugar recommendation by more than double! Men should only be having up to 9 teaspoons of sugar a day, which is about 36 total grams of sugar or 150 calories. Women should only have up to 6 teaspoons, or 25 grams or 100 calories. Children should have little to no sugar and should consume well below 6 grams of added sugars a day.


However, studies show that many people over 18 are consuming an average of 34 grams of sugar a day. Children over 6 are getting 20 grams or more of added sugar a day and even babies 1-3 years old are getting 12 grams or more. It’s no wonder that the NIH reports that tooth decay (known as “cavities”) is the most chronic prevalent disease among children and adults!


Combat Tooth Decay During Braces

You want to be incredibly vigilant with taking care of your oral health, especially with braces. Brush and floss your teeth several times a day. We recommend brushing your teeth after every single meal to get rid of acidic plaque and food particles that get stuck so easily in brackets. Don’t forget to floss your teeth. Use floss threaders to make this part of cleaning your braces easier. Cleaning your teeth only takes a few minutes a day (even with braces) and it’s never something you want to skip.


You’re spending 18-24 months straightening your teeth. You don’t want that beautiful smile to be full of areas of tooth decay and tooth erosion when your braces come off. If you want a beautiful smile, follow the recommended sugar guidelines for your age group. Brush and floss your teeth meticulously and take care of your oral health. If you need help making cleaning your braces easier, call our Belmar Orthodontics office anytime at (303) 225-9016!


cleaning habits

Braces can keep your teeth straighter, making them more beautiful and attractive. However, if your teeth cleaning habits are poor, your smile will take a hit. How well you take care of your teeth before and during braces will be an indication of how your smile will be after your orthodontic care has come to an end. If you don’t brush and floss the teeth enough, you might damage your smile and weaken your enamel. You must step up your cleaning routine during braces to make sure your smile isn’t full of cavities and oral health problems at the end of your care. We can give you the proper recommendations and guidelines to ensure you keep your smile healthy and strong during your time with braces and throughout life.


Brushing With and Without Braces

The American Dental Association recommends brushing and flossing the teeth at least twice a day to keep your mouth healthy and to lower your risk for tooth decay and gum disease. We go beyond that twice-a-day recommendation and suggest that you brush your teeth after every meal. Because your braces can easily attract and trap food particles, brushing after each meal can help prevent staining and reduce the potential for bacteria buildup.


You should use a soft-bristled brush and use one that’s size fits your mouth well. For teeth without braces, the ADA recommends brushing the teeth at a 45 degree angle. Brush each individual tooth, making sure to go all the way up to the gumline. You use a soft-bristled brush to avoid irritating the gums and eroding your tooth enamel. With braces, you want to brush down from the top, then up from the bottom on each tooth with a bracket. This will help dislodge food particles that have become trapped inside the brackets, which is extremely easy to do. Brushing your teeth multiple times a day is one of the best cleaning habits for avoiding decay.


Flossing the Teeth

We recommend flossing your teeth at least once a day. However, that’s for patients that don’t have braces. When you have braces, it’s even more important to floss each and every tooth. It’s also much more time consuming, but the effort you put into your teeth cleaning habits will pay off in the long run. A toothbrush and mouthwash simply can’t get in between the teeth like floss can, so if you skip flossing, you could have food sit and decay your teeth.


You will have to use threadable floss or a floss threader to accomplish this feat with brackets. If you use a floss threader for your teeth, think of your cleaning habits like you’re sewing. You floss the eye of the threader through your teeth and below the archwire. Then you floss the space, pull it out and thread once more. Make sure you don’t apply force or pressure against the archwire as you do this. For some patients, it may take about 10 minutes to floss, but it’s worth taking the time to avoid tooth decay.


Caring for Braces

Caring for your teeth becomes trickier with braces. You will find that you have to devote some extra time to caring for your braces, as you know have about 32 teeth that all have brackets that can collect food. During your time with braces, it is particularly important to maintain good oral health through attention to proper oral hygiene and cleaning habits. If you don’t, you could have your braces removed only to find that many of your teeth have areas of tooth decay. You could also be left with demineralization that leaves marks on all your teeth where the brackets were.


When it comes to caring for your braces, it’s not only important to clear away food particles that are on the teeth, but to be careful of what foods you put into your mouth. To avoid damage to your braces and your teeth during orthodontic treatment, you want to avoid hard foods, sticky foods, and foods high in sugar. This means you should avoid eating foods such as hard candy, chips, ice, apples, nuts, popcorn, carrots, corn on the cob, gum, caramel, taffy, licorice, gummies, and similar foods. Prevention is always key for avoid oral health issues!


Proper Teeth Cleaning Habits

If you’re going to spend 18-24 months straightening your teeth, you might as well keep those teeth healthy so they look nice at the end of your treatment. Brush your teeth every single day, multiple times a day. Floss as well and be meticulous with your cleaning habits. The better care you take of your braces while they’re on, the more you’ll enjoy your smile when they come off. If you would like help with your cleaning habits or tips, call our Belmar Orthodontics office today at (303) 225-9016!


Adult Braces

How important are adult braces? Not only do braces enhance your appearance, but they help prevent tooth decay and oral health problems. The American Dental Association tells us that braces are used to correct bite problems and malocclusion. Correcting these problems helps prevent oral health issues such as tooth decay, gum disease, jaw problems and even tooth loss. Proper orthodontic care goes beyond simply improving your oral health.  Braces will give you added confidence that will boost performance in all facets of your life. Let us show you just how important braces are and why you should invest in them whether you are an adult or a child!


Braces for Children and Teens

About 75 percent of orthodontic patients are children and teens. Of that number, the majority opt to have traditional metal braces. Traditional metal braces are the most economic choice for orthodontic care if you are looking to improve your smile without breaking the bank. Children can receive braces as early as 7 or 8 years old depending on their needs.  The adolescent years are the most common period for receiving braces when the head and mouth are still growing (especially the jaw). When children as young as 7 or 8 receive orthodontic treatment, it is usually to correct problems with alignment or bite that can become severe in later years. This early intervention ensures that teeth come in correctly in a child’s mouth and that the bite is aligned correctly. This will help correct problems with speech, biting, chewing, talking and even physical appearance.


Why Orthodontic Care Is Important

Orthodontic care during the adolescent years is generally used to correct alignment by straightening the teeth. Both bite correction and proper alignment is vitally important to oral health. When the teeth are crooked, problems such as tooth decay and gum disease can easily set in. This is because food becomes trapped in the teeth when you eat and is much harder to remove when the teeth are crooked. Gums can become irritated when plaque sits on the teeth for too long. Over time, plaque-infested gums can become red, swollen and can bleed easily–especially when flossing.  Gums can even begin to recede to the point where the teeth fall out. Recession occurs more frequently with teeth that are crooked and harder to clean.  Teeth that have been straightened through orthodontic care avoid some of these challenges.


When bite is misaligned, the teeth can come in crooked in a child. Patients may have overbite, underbite, crossbite, openbite or malocclusion. All of these types of misaligned bites will interfere with eating and speaking as well as the physical appearance of the mouth and face. This is because many of the teeth overlap one another abnormally or one jaw protrudes more than the other. Orthodontic care through braces for children and adult braces can correct these problems. Orthodontic treatment through adolescent and adult braces can help ensure that there is enough space for all the teeth to sit comfortably in the mouth.


Other Reasons to Invest in Braces

Are braces something you should invest in? The answer is yes! Whether you seek adult braces or braces for children and teens, you are making a decision that has far-reaching effects. The majority of people will experience crooked teeth at some point. What you decide to do about it is up to you.  


Braces—even adult braces—are actually quite desirable today according to reports by the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and more. The amount of adults wearing braces rose 24% between 1989 and 2008 alone and that number has continued to rise. Why? Braces have become more affordable and more attractive. Insurance even covers part of the cost for many patients. Braces are also more comfortable than they were in the past and there are more options for patients seeking orthodontic treatment. The social benefits of braces alone draw people in as well.


Studies About Adult Braces

There have been many studies done about the importance of braces. Invisalign conducted one such study several years ago that recorded more than 1000 responses by pedestrians on the street. These pedestrians were asked to choose from two pictures of people placed side-by-side. Who would they trust more? Who seemed more confident? Respondents did not not beforehand that the comparison was between people with straight smiles and people with crooked smiles. From that study, it was found that those with straighter smiles were perceived as more confident, more successful, more attractive and up to 70% more trustworthy. All from a better, straighter smile!


Proper orthodontic care can also get you ahead when it comes to job interviews and new opportunities. Because a straighter, more beautiful smile has been shown to exude all of the characteristics above, those traits are also perceived in job interviews and during first impressions. Adult braces can help you land that job you’ve wanted and can help you get ahead professionally.


Your Options at Belmar Orthodontics

Traditional metal braces are just that: traditional. This is the most common option chosen by patients when selecting what type of orthodontic care they want. This choice is often popular with children and many teens and has proven through the years to provide exceptional straightening power. Adults and teenagers alike will sometimes avoid needed orthodontic treatment because they find traditional metal braces to be distracting or unattractive. Because of this, we provide you other options when it comes to straightening those pearly whites. These include:

  • Incognito Lingual Braces: Metal braces attached to the inside of the teeth that stay hidden.
  • Invisalign Transparent Aligners: Transparent aligners that are changed every few weeks to shape your teeth into proper alignment.
  • Ceramic Clear Braces: The look of traditional metal brackets made in ceramic form. Both the brackets and wires can be made white to match your natural teeth.

At Belmar Orthodontics, we do all that we can to ensure your mouth stays healthy and your smile bright. Our success is dependent on your success. This is why we offer you so many options when it comes to straightening children’s teeth or investing in adult braces. To learn more about child and adult braces, call our office today at (303) 225-9016!


oral hygiene

Millions of Americans don’t practice good oral hygiene, which is the #1 reason teeth decay and fall out. Good oral hygiene coupled with good nutrition can help prevent gum disease, tooth decay and even bad breath. It will also help us to be able to straighten your teeth without damage and provide you with a more brilliant, beautiful smile. There are many tips for keeping your teeth healthy and strong. Many of these tips have to do with nutrition and overall good oral hygiene. Good nutrition can aid in better health for you and for your teeth. We want all of our patients to be able to achieve a healthy mouth, but the first steps begin before you even come to our office. At Belmar Orthodontics, learn more about good oral hygiene and how orthodontic care can help you!


Practice Good Oral Hygiene

Sometimes, the basics are the hardest to do because they seem so simple. You skip brushing one night, then you do it again, and soon it starts to become a habit. When it comes to braces, we see patients skip on the basics here and there all the time. Why? This is most likely because braces take a little bit longer to care for than teeth without braces. Skipping on proper brushing and flossing can seriously damage and erode the tooth enamel.


The Prevalence of Decay

We recommend brushing and flossing at least twice a day, if not more. After every meal would be ideal, but not everyone makes a habit of doing that. What happens when you don’t brush and floss the teeth properly? You develop dental caries. The American Dental Association reports that 91% of adults 20 years old and older have had dental caries. 27% had untreated tooth decay. What does this mean? It means that 91% of people have had cavities and 27% had untreated cavities that will continue decaying. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research reports that dental caries is the most prevalent chronic disease in the United States in both children and adults. The sad part? It’s completely preventable.


Tooth decay occurs when proper oral hygiene practices are not followed. When we eat and drink, bacteria in the mouth mixes with sugar to make acidic plaque. That plaque coats your teeth and over time, erodes the hard tooth enamel. Inside the tooth is a soft, pulpy center that contains nerves and sensitive parts of the tooth. When hygiene practices are skipped, that plaque will erode the teeth enough to break down the enamel and seep into the soft, pulpy center. It will then have a heyday and cause as much decay as it possibly can. Mild tooth decay will result in fillings for cavities. Severe tooth decay will result in a root canal or a dental extraction.  The great part about all of this? Tooth decay is completely preventable! All you have to do is take care of your oral health!


Be Extra Careful with Braces

Braces make cleaning the teeth slightly more tricky, but definitely not impossible! With braces, you generally have brackets that are glued to each tooth. A wire connects those brackets on the upper and lower jaws. Brackets and wires in your mouth make it easier for food particles to get stuck. This leads to other dental issues if proper care is not taken. Here are some tips to help prevent tooth decay:

  • Brush after every meal. Brushing will help prevent staining and will reduce the potential for bacteria buildup. Food can easily become trapped in the brackets and can erode the tooth enamel around the brackets. Make sure to use a soft brush to brush down from the top, then up from the bottom on each bracket and tooth.
  • Use a floss threader. You can’t skip flossing when it comes to braces as it’s even more important now than ever. Tooth decay often happens between the teeth with braces. Using a floss threader will allow you to insert the floss through the teeth and above or below the wire. This allows you to clean effectively in between each tooth. Do this several times a day!
  • Avoid certain foods. Hard foods are a no-no with braces and can break brackets or become stuck in the teeth. Avoid hard candy, chips, ice, apples, crusty bread, nuts, popcorn, corn on the cob, carrots and any other hard candies. Avoid chewy candies or foods such as caramel, toffee, taffy, starbursts, licorice, tootsie rolls, gummy bears and more. For a more comprehensive list of food items, you can always call our office.


Over 64 million Americans suffer from gum disease, tooth loss and tooth decay. Poor dental hygiene and tooth decay make orthodontic care that much harder to perform. The point is to get your smile straight and beautiful without making it weaker. Our orthodontic techniques are effective and strong when it comes to getting your teeth in proper position. We want all our patients to have beautiful, straight and strong smiles. It’s vital that you follow proper oral hygiene practices every single day and that you double your efforts while wearing braces. If you need help with your oral hygiene routine or braces maintenance, call our Belmar Orthodontics office today at (303) 225-9016.