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Woman with glasses smiling with braces

Good oral hygiene is one of the most important goals that we should all have to maintain the health and strength of our teeth and gums. Once we get braces, however, our oral hygiene regimen will change to account for the new appliance in our mouths that we will have to clean around. Whether you have traditional braces or lingual braces, cleaning around the brackets and wires is essential in preventing cavities and tooth decay. There are many options to choose from to clean between teeth, such as a proxabrush, and other tools to thoroughly brush around the brackets, such as an electric toothbrush. Find out what all you can do to keep your smile healthy and bright with braces with these tips!

 

Extra Care For Teeth During Orthodontic Treatment

Orthodontic care is one of the most helpful and important dental treatments that patients have readily available to them. While there are many versions of braces that help straighten our teeth and fix misaligned bites, there are certain precautions that we need to take to ensure proper care for our orthodontic appliances and teeth. Brackets and wires in the mouth make it easier for food particles to get stuck in, which can lead to dental problems, like cavities. Proper oral hygiene is essential during your time with braces to avoid any preventable issues that can lengthen your treatment time or need special care to be fixed.

 

Since braces naturally create nooks and crannies where bacteria can hide, it is important to maintain a good oral hygiene regimen everyday so that you can avoid tooth decay and gum problems during orthodontic treatment. If teeth and brackets are not kept clean, permanent damage can occur to the tooth enamel, as well. When this occurs, white spots (tooth decay) can begin appearing on the teeth where the enamel surface has lost minerals, which cannot be reversed. Bleeding or inflamed gums, called gingivitis, is also common whenever patients don’t clean their teeth thoroughly enough with braces, and it can be very painful. While it is not likely that all of these issues will occur if you miss brushing your teeth or flossing well a few times, you will be more prone to an increased risk, which will hurt your oral health and complicate the rest of your orthodontic care.

 

Teeth Cleaning OptionsFemale mouth smiling with braces as she cleans in between teeth with interdental brush

Although cleaning your teeth with braces isn’t too difficult of a process for most patients, there are some tools that you can use to better clean around the hard-to-reach areas in your mouth and make your time cleaning more efficient. First and foremost, make sure that you (or your child) are brushing after each meal. It may seem insignificant, but brushing after you eat removes food particles that are stuck in braces, reduces staining and prevents bacteria buildup. Secondly, use a threadable floss or floss threader to clean underneath the wire of your braces. A floss threader works by inserting the pointed end between the teeth and under the archwire. From there, move it back and forth until it is able to thread the floss between the teeth. Then, you can floss the two teeth, on either side, to remove all food that may be stuck there. If you’re having trouble with your floss getting stuck, consider using waxed floss, which slides between the teeth easier and doesn’t get snagged.

 

After brushing and flossing, using a proxabrush is helpful in cleaning between each bracket. Commonly referred to as an interproximal brush or  “Christmas tree brush,” a proxabrush is placed between two brackets, below the archwire, and uses an up-and-down motion to remove any lodged food particles that brushing and flossing can’t get to. Clean the brackets with the proxabrush on both sides, starting either up from the bottom or down from the top, and repeat between each tooth. Another option for hard-to-reach areas is an oral irrigator, which uses a pulsating stream of water to remove plaque and food debris. Mouthwash is also a helpful tool to kill and bacteria that may have been left after brushing and flossing. For an extra clean, try using an electric toothbrush to maximize cleaning and brush those difficult areas of the mouth that are hard to reach.

 

Braces-Friendly Diet

The foods we eat and the diet we have affect our oral health and can interfere with orthodontic appliances. Eating sugary or starchy foods can let plaque develop around the brackets, which can lead to cavities, staining or even gum disease. Sticky or chewy foods, such as caramel, taffy, chewing gum and corn on the cob, should also be avoided as they can easily become stuck between brackets and be difficult to remove. Hard foods, such as candy, beef jerky, nuts and popcorn, are also no-nos as they are known to break wires and loosen brackets. If you’re going to eat hard or crunchy foods, such as apples or carrots, make sure to cut them into small, bite-sized pieces to avoid any possible damage.

 

Regular Orthodontic Checkups

Even if you or your child are following these rules, it is essential that you visit with your orthodontist regularly so that they can monitor teeth movement and adjust any wires or brackets. Your orthodontist or hygienist can show you how to use the tools previously described and give you additional teeth cleaning supplies to aid you during treatment. For more questions about how to clean your teeth with braces or what foods to stay away from, contact Belmar Orthodontics at (303) 225-9016!

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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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A brunette woman with red lipstick on tilting her head to the right slightly and smiling at the camera.

Several decades ago, traditional metal braces were the only option available for patients to get a beautiful, straight smile. However, the traditional take on braces changed when lingual braces were introduced. These are metal braces that go in your mouth, except they are bonded to the back of your teeth instead of the front. This option is a popular one for teens and adults, as they can hide their metal braces in their mouth as they straighten the teeth.

 

What Are Traditional Metal Braces?

Metal braces are “traditional” because the bracket-and-wire design they have has been used for decades. Before 1970, orthodontists anchored metal brackets to the center of each tooth and wound wires around the teeth to straighten them. After 1970, orthodontists continued to use metal anchorage devices (called brackets) on the front and center of each tooth.

 

A metal archwire was sufficient for straightening when it ran along the upper and lower jaws across the front of the teeth. Traditional braces use a system of archwires and brackets that are bonded to the teeth to shift them into their ideal position. When we see you at your frequent checkups, we will adjust the archwire, which will exert more pressure on your teeth, moving them in place.

 

The back molars will have metal bands that fit all the way around the back molars of the teeth. This is where the archwire will attach and be stabilized. Both top and bottom jaws will have these bands on them. The brackets on each tooth will have a rubber band around them, which are removable. They help keep your bracket hooks from catching on your mouth.

 

Close-up view of the inside of a patient's mouth with lingual braces on the teeth.

How Are Lingual Braces Different?

Lingual braces are similar to traditional metal braces. Many people don’t aesthetically like the look of metal braces, but they love their final straight smile. Metal braces are the strongest and are highly effective for achieving a beautiful smile. What can patients do if they want a straight smile but they don’t want braces front and center? Put that metal on the inside of the mouth between the teeth and the tongue!

 

Lingual braces are metal braces just like the traditional version, except that they are on the tongue-side of your teeth. However, there isn’t as much room on the back of your teeth like there is on the front of your teeth. If you notice, there is also a bit of a curve to the back of some of your teeth. That bracket-and-wire design can’t be exactly like the traditional version, but the design can be similar.

 

Using the same idea as traditional metal braces, you can achieve the same results as traditional braces, only with a hidden treatment apparatus on the tongue-side of your teeth. Patients that choose this option have impressions made of their mouth that focus on the backs of their teeth. After those impressions are sent to a special lab, metal backings for the teeth are made that are then bonded to the back of your teeth. They are almost like metal coverings for the entire tooth back, and often are silver or gold in color. These metal coverings also have small metal brackets and wires that discreetly correct bite and alignment issues over time. The concept is similar, but the design is tweaked to give lingual braces the same stability as traditional metal ones.

 

A close-up view of a woman's teeth that are beautiful and straight.

The Invention of Lingual Braces

  • The push for hidden braces first started in the 70s with celebrities and public figures that wanted straighter teeth without visible metal braces.
  • Craven Kurz and Jim Mulick were the first to develop prototypes for these braces in 1975. Craven Kurz was an orthodontist who later founded the American Lingual Orthodontic Association. Jim Mulick was the man Kurz partnered with from the UCLA School of Dentistry.
  • The first prototypes of lingual braces led to tongue irritation and bracket breaks, which were resolved by inventing an inclined plane for these braces.
  • Lingual braces are usually made of stainless steel, but they can also be made out of titanium.
  • Craven Kurz applied for a patent in 1976 and the first lingual braces were produced in 1979. Ormco was the company Kurz partnered with that eventually created 7 different generations of lingual models until the current model.
  • Each model involved changes to the orthodontic appliance including the additions of hooks and crannies, anterior and molar brackets and hooks, inclined planes, torque values, transpalatal bar hooks and a heart-shaped inclined plane.
  • There are various designs of lingual braces that will vary based on how they look and how they are attached to the teeth. We use the “Incognito” style, but you may also hear types such as “iBraces”, “In-Ovation”, “STb Light Lingual System” and “Suresmile Lingual QT”.

 

How Do You Benefit?

Getting braces at all is a major step in the right direction if you want to be successful. Studies show that people who straighten their teeth often feel more confident in themselves, and their actions become more confident. Due to social, economic or aesthetic concerns, many patients may have the desire to straighten their teeth, but they don’t want to have metal braces on their teeth. For adults with careers or active social lives, they may view traditional metal braces as something only children and teens have.

 

However, at least 1/4th of patients with braces are adults. You simply may not see those braces because they have invisible braces like lingual braces. Lingual braces can achieve the same effect as regular metal braces without being seen. For a career setting, you can keep your white smile as it slowly becomes straighter overtime. For athletes, there isn’t a worry about dental injuries, as brackets and wires won’t cut up the cheeks or gums. Those who play wind instruments will find that lingual braces are much easier to play with than traditional braces. You get both the aesthetic appeal with sturdy straightening power with lingual braces. If you would like your free consultation, call Belmar Orthodontics today at (303) 225-9016!

 

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What role does each part of braces play? The brackets, bands, wires and even our oral health guidelines all play a vital role to the health of your teeth and the success of your teeth straightening. Braces have been perfected over the years to provide you various options for teeth straightening through traditional metal braces, lingual braces, ceramic clear braces, Invisalign and more. These options weren’t available in years past, and each option has been perfected to provide you quick and efficient teeth straightening. Find out why each part of braces is important and what role each piece plays when it comes to your oral health.

 

Parts of Braces

Traditional metal braces have been around for decades. We still offer these braces because frankly, they work so well. Metal braces are also the most popular orthodontic option because they work to straighten your teeth the quickest and are the most cost-effective orthodontic option you can find. The metal we use is strong and sturdy. Metal braces are made from stainless steel, but can also be used in combination with titanium. There are three main parts of braces: the brackets, the wire, and the ligature elastics that go around the brackets:

  • Brackets – These are the small metal pieces that are bonded to each tooth center using special glue. This glue ensures that the brackets stick to your teeth. The glue is gentle enough that it can be removed once your time with braces has finished. Brackets are made of stainless steel but also can be made white (tooth colored) or clear. These brackets hold the archwire for the teeth.
  • Wire – This wire is actually known as the “archwire”. It is the metal wire that connects all of the brackets together in your mouth. You will have one archwire that is along the upper teeth and one that is along the lower teeth. This wire curves around the teeth and puts pressure on the teeth so that they come into proper alignment in the mouth. This is the main player that works to move your teeth in the right direction.
  • Ligature Elastics – These are the rubber bands that attach the archwire to the brackets on each tooth. Without these ligature elastics, the archwire would not be sturdy and couldn’t do its job.

 

Additional Parts of Braces

There are more than just these three parts of braces.

  • Headgear – This is an external appliance used in orthodontic care to help realign the face and jaw during your time with braces. There is retraction headgear and protraction headgear. Retraction headgear is an appliance used to retract the upper jaw. Protraction headgear moves the upper jaw forward and into proper alignment with the lower jaw. Headgear will consists of a single strap that fits around your neck and attaches to the front of your teeth. There is a second type of headgear that attaches to your braces, but the headgear has straps that fit over your head and neck. Not all patients will receive headgear unless it is really needed.
  • Springs – Many braces have springs to help push and pull the teeth in the right direction. These springs generally attach to the arch wires and are located between the brackets of each tooth. The purpose of the springs are to open up or close up spaces between the teeth as they shift.
  • Elastic Rubber Bands – Some patients need the additional shifting power of rubber bands to help the teeth move into place on schedule. These bands are attached to the brackets and will go from a lower tooth bracket to an upper tooth bracket. You will receive these rubber bands at your checkup and instruction for attaching your elastic bands at home until your next checkup.

 

Different Types of Braces

There are more than types of braces than just traditional metal ones. At Belmar Orthodontics we offer the following additional braces options:

  • Incognito Lingual Braces – These braces quite literally go “incognito” as they are hidden inside your mouth. You will receive the same type of treatment as traditional metal braces. However, lingual braces are a hidden treatment apparatus on the tongue-side of your teeth. The brackets and metal are attached here and straighten your teeth without anyone else knowing.
  • Invisalign – Invisalign is one of the stealthiest forms of teeth straightening. It is a series of transparent aligners customized to your teeth. You will change these aligners every 1-2 weeks until your smile is straight. They are easy to clean, easy to remove for eating and sports, and are virtually invisible in the mouth.
  • Clear Ceramic Braces – Instead of metal, these braces are made from strong ceramic. They appear very similar to metal braces but are colored to match the shade of your teeth so they blend into the mouth. Even the archwires can be made white.
  • Retainers – You will receive a retainer after your orthodontic braces treatment has been completed. Wearing your customized retainer is vital to maintaining a straight smile, as the teeth can quickly shift out of place. The first month is the most crucial as this is the time when your teeth will shift the most if a retainer isn’t worn.  

 

Your Free Consultation

Keeping the parts of braces clean will greatly enhance your experience, so following our guidelines will help you find success with your orthodontic care. Proper braces appliances and all their parts will ensure that your teeth shift into perfect alignment in the least amount of time. If you would like to learn more about braces or need to schedule your appointment, call our Belmar Orthodontics office today at (303) 225-9016!