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Practice Updates Regarding Coronavirus

BASED ON RECOMMENDATIONS from the ADA and the CDC, we’re temporarily changing the way our practice operates. We recommend that all of our patients check the CDC’s website for information on the coronavirus and what we can do to slow the spread.

Temporary Changes to Our Schedule

For now, the office will remain closed until the governor’s shelter-in-place directive is modified (hopefully in May?). The front office team (admin, scheduling) are working remotely, monitoring and answering phone calls, texts, and emails.

Emergency Treatment

Most orthodontic problems (like poking wires and loose brackets) can be managed at home until we reopen. We have short video clips that will help on the website. We also have instructions on how to make temporary retainers should you lose your custom made ones. These will hold teeth until we can reopen and make you new custom ones.

If you have rubber band or aligner questions, please call us and send photos so we can help. If you are running out of elastics, please call and send a photo of your bag so we can mail you more. If you have a true dental emergency like significant swelling with pain and infection or trauma, please contact your dentist immediately; if you do not get a prompt response, go to the E.R.

We Are Strong When We Work Together

Right now, one of the best ways that we as healthcare professionals can help to slow the spread of coronavirus is to follow the guidance of these health organizations, and we encourage our patients to do the same. We will be sure to update you about additional changes at our practice.

We love all our patients!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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Dealing with COVID-19: How to Shelter at Home and Not Go Stir Crazy

IF YOU ARE LIKE me, the hardest part of managing the current pandemic is to stay at home and not go completely bonkers! We are a nation that has always been an on-the-go-and-get-stuff-done society, so hunkering down for several weeks can be a huge challenge — not just to our physical well-being and economy but to our mental and emotional balance as well.

The good news is that social distancing and other mitigation measures are starting to work and we are about to turn the corner. So it is important to remember that if we stay vigilant and follow the rules, this is temporary and it will get better soon. In the meantime, I am including in this article some good ideas to help you weather the storm, stay home and safe, and deal with the “cabin fever” of self-quarantine.

Here are a couple of ideas I read in a great article posted on March 12, 2020 in the Wall Street Journal by author Ruth Margolis.

First, Ruth suggests dividing your home into zones to maintain the peace when adults are trying to get work done at home and still educate, enrich, and raise their kids. She says make sure to establish a work zone/room, a quiet or rest zone/room, and lastly to zone off a play and recreation area or room. Then figure out a schedule for when different family members are in each respective zone. Enforce penalties and offer rewards for compliance. Oh yes, this is important too: one adult monitors the kids and the other does their work, then switch.

Second, right now, screens are your friend. So keep iPads and phones charged and don’t worry about excessive screen time for now if it keeps the peace. We’ll wean ourselves off of them once quarantines are lifted.

In most situations, as long as we follow social distancing rules, we can still go outside and avail ourselves of the wonderful spring weather. For me, exercise (primarily walking with family members) has been the best release for cabin fever. Plus it offers the double benefit of improving your physical health and immunity while lifting spirits — and importantly, you get to wave at the neighbors, feel less isolated, and realize we are all in this together.

Another way to stay sane is to engage in your hobbies or start new ones, watch all those documentaries you shelved when there wasn’t enough time, or do some catch-up reading. This is all about making lemonade out of lemons right now; don’t feel guilty about it or that you should be working on something. Life is a balance of work, rest, and play. Some extra rest and play right now won’t hurt and will sure help a lot in getting through this and maintaining your sanity!

SK

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Protect Your Braces While Playing Sports

YOU CAN STILL PLAY THE SPORTS YOU LOVE while you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment! But safety first, right? Wear your mouthguard!

Mouthguards Are SO Important

You may already have a mouthguard. Many contact sports require you to wear one. But once your braces are placed, that mouthguard may not fit properly. An ill-fitting mouthguard is not only uncomfortable, it’s also less effective at protecting you from impact, injury, and damage.

Protect Your Teeth, AND Your Braces

Even if you’re someone who doesn’t usually bother with a mouthguard, you’ll want to reconsider while wearing braces. Even a minor hit to the mouth can cause a lot of pain.

Plus, any delay in repairing damage to your brackets and how they fit could mean extra appointments and extended time wearing your braces. So, if you ever get hit while you’re playing sports, let us know right away!

Wearing Mouthguards As Teeth Are Shifting

Because your teeth are moving, it seems like a fitted mouthguard won’t fit very long. Talk to us about a solution! We’ll help you find a mouthguard designed to work with braces. There are also lip protectors to guard the soft tissue of your mouth from cuts and damage while you’re playing sports.

Minimize Sports Drinks Too

If you’re sipping Gatorade or other sports drinks through practice time and games, just stop! They’re really not good for your teeth. Your best option is water. If you have an occasional sports drink, rinse your mouth with water after you finish drinking it.

Be Safe Out There!

Braces don’t need to limit you! Talk to us about the activities and projects that you’re involved in and we’ll make sure you have all the resources you need.

Let us know if you ever have any questions. Thanks for your trust in our practice!

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Dinner Ideas For The Days Your Braces Are Tightened


ON BRACES-TIGHTENING DAY, you might want to eat something soft and easy when you get home. There are plenty of options for meals that are not only easy to eat, but delicious as well! The key to braces-friendly cooking is to replace hard, crunchy foods or ingredients with softer substitutes. 

7 Tips For Easy Chewing

Foods that don’t require much chewing make mealtime easier. We’ve done the thinking for you and yes… There are more options than just Jell-O! These tips should be handy when planning your menu on tightening day:

  1. Macaroni and cheese is easy to eat with braces, since pasta is soft and the cheese won’t stick to braces. There’s a reason mac ’n cheese is such an infamous comfort food!
  2. Soft foods like burritos and lasagna are a better choice than crunchy foods like tacos or pizza–unless you can make a homemade soft crust pizza!
  3. Prepare meals with cooked vegetables instead of raw vegetables. A soft vegetable stir-fry is a healthy and soft dinner choice for tightening day.
  4. Although meat is a great source of protein, it can be tricky to eat with braces. Softened beef in sloppy joes is a good option. Avoid working around a bone, or chewing tough meat.
  5. Mashed potatoes or polenta are great sides for any dish on tightening day.
  6. Smoothies, applesauce, yogurt, and hummus are great snack options.
  7. For a sweet treat, consider soft cookies, ice cream, cake, or a mousse.

More Great Ideas:

What’s Your Favorite Post-Tightening Meal?

Sensitivity after a tightening should go away after a day or two, but choosing the right foods can help you feel comfortable sooner. There are lots of great ideas and recipes for tender teeth. Do you have your own favorite food to eat after tightening? Share with us below! We love hearing from you.

Thanks for being our valued patient and friend. We appreciate you!

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Coronavirus Health and Safety Tips

CORONAVIRUS IS AFFECTING all of our lives right now as we work together to slow the spread of the virus, keep everyone safe, and stay positive. Unfortunately, there’s also a lot of misinformation going around, and we want to make sure our patients are well-informed.

Symptoms and Testing

The main symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, shortness of breath, a dry cough, and sometimes tiredness. Don’t confuse it with seasonal allergies, which mostly involve congestion, itchy throat, and sneezing, or the flu, which involves vomiting, diarrhea, runny nose, coughing, sore throat, aches, and fatigue. Until tests for COVID-19 are widely available, only people exhibiting the typical COVID-19 symptoms should seek testing.

The number of confirmed cases is likely to go up as more tests become available. Higher numbers might seem alarming, but remember that it won’t represent an increase in the number of people who have COVID-19, it will represent an increase in the number of people who have been tested, which is a big step in the right direction. The more information we have about who has the virus, the easier it will be to contain and ultimately treat it.

Social Distancing and Protecting At-Risk Demographics

Why are we being encouraged to avoid large gatherings and work from home if possible? Coronavirus spreads person-to-person through close contact and when an infected person coughs or sneezes and germs get on their hands or surfaces other people touch. Elderly people and those with respiratory problems or compromised immune systems are especially vulnerable, and the best way to protect them is by following social distancing recommendations.

Hand-Washing and the Power of Soap

Because there is currently no vaccine for COVID-19, washing our hands frequently is one of the best ways that we can slow the spread of the virus. Thanks to simple chemistry, regular soap is a highly effective weapon against coronavirus. These microscopic germs have a fatty layer that holds them together, and when the fatty layer comes in contact with soap, it breaks apart and the virus is destroyed.

This is why washing our hands is so effective. We should make sure to take at least 20 seconds and get every surface, then dry our hands thoroughly. Hand sanitizer with 60% or more alcohol content is a decent (but less effective) substitute. It’s also important to avoid touching our faces as much as possible.

Cleaning and Disinfecting Surfaces

Washing our hands is great, but it’s even better if we can clean the germs off the things we touch. We should be disinfecting our electronic devices and the surfaces in our homes and workspaces. Don’t forget doorknobs and light switches! Soap and water, alcohol-based cleaners, or bleach are all good options, but vinegar hasn’t been shown to be effective in this case. Make sure to give those surfaces a good scrub, not just a single swipe!

Getting Information from the Best Sources

As healthcare professionals, our top priority is ensuring that our patients have the best information in times like these, particularly with such a serious subject where the situation is changing rapidly. To learn more about the coronavirus and what you can do to help slow the spread, go to the CDC’s website. In the meantime, remember that taking good care of your teeth and gums is just as important now as ever!

Stay safe and happy. We look forward to seeing you soon!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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4 Reasons Seeing Your Dentist During Orthodontic Treatment Is Important

WHILE ORTHODONTIC TREATMENT MAY GIVE YOU the impression that you are keeping your teeth healthy, your dentist is the one who can assure your overall oral health is at its best.

So, should you continue seeing your dentist while receiving orthodontic treatment? The answer is always YES! Here are some reasons why…

1. Avoid Bracket Buildup

Braces can create more nooks and crannies for food and bacteria, causing tartar and plaque buildup. At your regular dental appointments, the buildup around brackets is removed and managed. Teeth cleanings will be worth it when you see your pearly whites sparkle after getting your braces off!

2. Keep All Your Calcium

Decalcification can leave white spots on your teeth during orthodontic treatment, if left untreated. You can prevent the loss of calcium in your teeth by practicing good oral hygiene while undergoing treatment, eating right, and seeing a dentist regularly. Preventing these white spots will make for an all-around perfect smile at the end of your orthodontic treatment!

3. Prevent Possible Delays

Cavities can prolong orthodontic treatment. To prevent these delays and ensure your teeth are healthy when your orthodontic treatment is over, get exams and cleanings at your dental office every 6 months, or as recommended by your dentist.

4. Ensure Good Health And Appearance

You don’t want your teeth to only look good at the end of orthodontic treatment, you want them to feel good as well. Without cavities, gum problems, and irritation your teeth will feel and look like a million bucks when your braces come off! Remember: your dentist is the best person to see for the overall health of your teeth and gums!

Is It Time For Your Next Cleaning?

Dental checkups are equally—if not more—important when undergoing orthodontic treatment. Regardless of what type of orthodontic treatment you or your loved ones are getting, we are committed to providing you with the best care and information to keep your smile healthy during the treatment process.

Thank you for being our valued patient and friend.

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Gum Disease Can Delay Orthodontic Treatment

RECENT STUDIES ESTIMATE about half of all adults have some form of gum disease. Shocking, isn’t it?

One reason the spread of periodontal conditions is so common is because gum problems progress slowly and often painlessly. In many cases, dental neglect and skipping regular checkups allow periodontal disease to seriously damage gums and even underlying bone structure before action is taken!

When bone structure is weakened, teeth can begin to drift out of place. Normally, when teeth need to be aligned, orthodontic treatment including braces or retainers can do the job. But when gums are infected, things become more complicated.

Periodontal Disease Can Delay Orthodontic Treatment

Attempting orthodontic treatment on a mouth affected by periodontal disease can invite even more problems. The pressure of braces on already weak bone structure can cause teeth to move unpredictably and cause further damage.

The first order of business should be getting periodontal disease under control. Once gums are healthy enough to provide the needed support for orthodontic treatment, gaps can be closed and teeth can be straightened.

Expert Diagnosis is Key

In general, periodontal disease should be addressed before moving any teeth. However, in some cases, applying orthodontic treatment sooner can help to alleviate gum problems!

Each individual situation is different, and by getting to know your unique dental profile, we can develop the optimal treatment plan for you. Information provided by your general dentist also helps us decide the best way to proceed.

Take Care of Your Gums, With Braces or Not

Even if you’re not planning on getting braces anytime soon, caring for your gums is crucial for oral health—and total-body health! Healthy gums are linked to lower risk of chronic conditions like heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes.

We view orthodontics as an essential part of your overall well-being. Along with treatment, our goal is to help you establish dental habits that will not only benefit your smile, but your total health and quality of life!

Thanks for being our valued and patient and friend! We invite you to talk with us on your next visit if you have any questions.

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What Causes Crooked Teeth?


WHY DO ADULT TEETH come in crooked so often even though baby teeth always seem to be straight? It turns out that a number of different factors can contribute to bad bites and poor alignment in adult teeth, from age to genetics to the daily habits we don’t even think about.

The Soft Foods Theory And Dental Alignment

Experts are still debating the causes of crooked teeth, but archeologists have supplied one of the leading theories: the Soft Foods Theory. Essentially, the idea here is that our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate foods that were much tougher than what we eat now, which stimulated bone growth in their jaws, giving their teeth a solid foundation to come in straight.

This theory suggests that modern people have crooked teeth more often because our soft, processed food doesn’t encourage as much jaw bone growth and because we’re missing some of the vitamins and minerals that help bones and teeth grow. (Don’t feel too jealous of those strong jaws, though, because the tradeoff was that their teeth wore out much faster.)

Genetic Ties That Bind

Aside from the theorized effects of soft foods on dental alignment, our teeth are also affected by our genes. A child who inherits a small jaw from Mom and big teeth from Dad is going to have a problem with crowding, and children whose parents wore braces will likely also need them.

Daily Habits Versus Dental Alignment

It would be pretty hard to stick to a hunter-gatherer diet these days and we have no control over our own genes, but there is one factor we can control when it comes to how straight or crooked our teeth are, and that’s daily habits. Thumb sucking, mouth breathing, tongue thrusting, and even the simple action of resting your chin on your hand all contribute to shifting teeth.

Tongue thrusting, if you aren’t familiar, is the way babies swallow — pressing the tongue against the front teeth instead of the roof of the mouth. It’s perfectly normal for them, but we’re supposed to grow out of it. People who continue to tongue thrust after babyhood put a lot of pressure on their front teeth, causing them to shift. Special orthodontic appliances can help break the habit.

Mesial Drift: Dental Alignment Changing As We Age

Our teeth come into contact with each other countless times over decades of chewing and talking, and this can wear away at the sides of each tooth where it touches its neighbors. Teeth end up taking up less space from side to side, and then they scoot closer together, gradually pushing towards the front. This is mesial drift, which happens to most of us as we age, whether or not we’ve had braces in the past!

A Job For The Orthodontist

No matter what’s causing problems with bite or crowding, orthodontic treatment is the solution. If you’re worried about your dental alignment or that of a family member, contact us to set up a consultation so that we can take a look. Having straight teeth isn’t just about appearances; it’s about having healthier teeth that can do their job properly!

We love giving our patients the perfectly aligned smiles they deserve!

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The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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A Quick Guide To Retainer Maintenance

THE DAY YOUR BRACES come off will arrive sooner than you think, but your orthodontic treatment won’t quite be over yet. In order to keep the straight smile you and our practice are working so hard for, you’ll need to wear your retainers. Retainers are different from braces in many ways, including how to take care of them.

Why Does A Retainer Need Cleaning?

As you wear your retainer, it accumulates bacteria, plaque, and tartar. We brush and floss to prevent this buildup on our teeth and gums, and we have to clean our retainers for the same reason. Without sufficient cleaning, a retainer can become smelly, foul-tasting, filmy, cloudy, and covered in small white spots.

Removable retainers should be rinsed with cool water and brushed at least once a day. It can be tricky to floss around a permanent retainer, but doing so is crucial to prevent tartar from building up in the crevices around it. You can use threaders to make flossing easier or invest in a water flosser if you don’t have one already.

Deep-Cleaning Your Retainer

Like with teeth, daily cleanings can only do so much, which is why retainers need the occasional deep clean to remain good as new. For a permanent retainer, the hygienist will be able to take care of this at your regular cleaning appointments, but you can clean a removable retainer yourself.

Deep-cleaning a retainer is easy and can be done very cheaply. You can use special retainer cleaning tablets if you prefer, but a simple mixture of baking soda and water will do the trick. Water and vinegar would also work, or you could use hydrogen peroxide, but never use harsh chemicals like bleach. Soak the retainer for a few minutes, then rinse it and let it dry.

Proper Retainer Storage

If you only have to wear your retainer part time, then it’s crucial to know how to store it when it’s out of your mouth. Harmful bacteria love warm, damp, enclosed environments, so make sure you keep your retainer somewhere safe and cool that it can fully dry when you aren’t wearing it. (The same goes for how you should store your toothbrush!) For some types of retainers, it’s better to soak them in water to store them, so be sure to check with us about what your type of retainer needs.

Are Retainers Really So Important?

Yes! Our teeth are held in place by the jaw bone and the periodontal ligament. These supporting structures need time to get used to the new, straight position of your teeth. Wearing a retainer for the amount of time specified by the orthodontist ensures that your jaws will get used to the new arrangement. Without the retainer, your teeth can slide back towards their original position until you need another round of braces to fix it! Nobody wants that.

Come To Us With Any Retainer Questions

Whether your retainers are clear plastic or wire and acrylic, bonded or removable, we’re here to answer any questions you have about how to take care of them. This is a crucial part of your orthodontic treatment and we want you to have the best experience and result possible!

Congratulations on graduating from braces to retainers!

Top image by Flickr user Will used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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The Advantages of Straight Teeth

CONTRARY TO WHAT some people might think, having straight teeth isn’t just about looking good — not that there aren’t aesthetic benefits too. Studies show that a person with straight teeth is seen as being happier, wealthier, and more attractive than a person with crooked teeth, and knowing your smile looks good can be a real confidence boost. But there are also real health benefits to having properly aligned teeth.

Straight Teeth Are Easier to Clean

Teeth that are crowded and overlap each other tend to be harder to brush and floss effectively, which makes them more vulnerable to tooth decay. When teeth are straight, there’s plenty of space to floss between them and brush all the surfaces, so it’s easier to keep plaque under control.

Our Teeth Help Us Speak Clearly

Having poorly aligned teeth or a malocclusion such as an underbite or severe overbite can actually make it harder to enunciate words properly, contributing to speech impediments like lisps. It might take some time to get used to speaking with braces or a retainer, but when the orthodontic treatment is over, it will be easier than ever to speak clearly!

Proper Chewing Is Crucial to Good Digestion

Chewing isn’t just about breaking our food into small enough pieces to swallow, it’s actually the first step in the chemical digestion process. While our teeth grind up the food, our saliva begins to break it down. Poorly aligned teeth are less able to chew food as much as it should be chewed, placing a greater burden on the rest of the digestive system. This can lead to a variety of gastrointestinal issues, including making it harder to lose weight.

Breathe Easier with Straight Teeth

Even breathing can be influenced by the way teeth fit together. If you can’t comfortably close your jaws when resting, you’re more likely to end up breathing through your mouth. This might not seem like a big deal, but mouth breathing has numerous negative health effects. Among them are chronic bad breath and dry mouth (which in turn increases the risk of gum disease and tooth decay).

Crooked Teeth Can Be a Pain in the Jaw

When there’s a problem with the bite, the chances of jaw problems like temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ or TMS) go way up. Symptoms include things like a clicking jaw joint when doing normal mouth movements, jaw pain, and frequent headaches.

Want Straight Teeth? We Can Help!

If you’ve avoided getting braces because you’re happy with the way your smile works, you could still benefit from orthodontic treatment in numerous ways that are arguably more substantial from a health perspective. Straight teeth are easier to clean, make it easier to chew, speak, and breathe correctly, and are better for good digestion and jaw health. Want to learn more about the benefits of orthodontic treatment? Just give us a call!

We think everyone deserves the benefits of having a properly aligned smile!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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