As your Smithtown orthodontist, we know there is no greater joy than watching your child grow up smiling. All parents should know their options to best care for their child’s happy, beautiful smile. Braces are an important rite of passage in a child’s life, giving children the benefit of straight teeth, improved self-confidence and healthier smiles. However, it can get a bit confusing when you’re trying to understand the process of orthodontics for your child. When should your child see an orthodontist? Do they need to start treatment right away? The questions are enough to make anyone feel overwhelmed.
Why Age 7 Matters
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends a child have their first orthodontic visit by age 7, which may surprise you. Although your child’s mouth is still developing, it’s easier to intervene if certain problems are already present. Dr. Smith can see how your child’s mouth is taking shape and take the necessary steps to ensure correct development. Early orthodontic treatment can prevent more serious treatment as a child grows older and save you and your child time and money down the road. In short, early detection is the best protection!
Some issues that can often be detected by age 7 are:
- Bite issues: underbites, crossbites, etc.
- Problems caused by excessive thumb sucking
- Teeth grinding
- Mouth breathing
- A narrow jaw
- The number of teeth coming in
Intercepting these problems at a young age can prevent more invasive treatment like tooth extractions and jaw surgery, which are often necessary to treat severe orthodontic problems once a child’s permanent teeth are fully grown in. If you notice any signs that these issues may be developing, it’s a good time to have your child see an orthodontist.
Keep in mind that early screening doesn’t mean treatment must start right away. In fact, most children don’t begin active orthodontic treatment until they’re 9 to 14 years old. However, North Shore Orthodontics offers complimentary consultations, allowing you to get all the facts and make the best decision for your child at an early age. If your child is 7 or older, why not bring your child to see an orthodontist today? Schedule a free consult with Dr. Smith here or give us a call at 631-265-3435.
The human body is in constant flux. Your lungs never stop inhaling and exhaling for as long as you live. Your heart is always beating. At this very moment while your digestive system breaks down your last meal, your hair grows just a tiny bit longer and new skin cells are being generated. If you look at the big picture, your eyes, muscles, and even your memory are always changing as the years pass.
Is it any wonder that in this system of ongoing change, your teeth are in flux too?
The reality is that even after orthodontic treatment is complete, your teeth are still likely to move. Why does this happen? There are a few ways to think about it:
- Ligaments aren’t fixed – The name of the connector that attaches each tooth to a jaw bone is the periodontal ligament. Ligaments aren’t hard like bones. Instead, they are elastic. These ligaments are why orthodontic treatments can move teeth to begin with, and why they can move after treatment.
- Nothing is holding the teeth in place – When you have braces or a retainer on your teeth, the appliance is preventing your teeth from going where they might go on their own. But once any external structures are removed, your teeth are free to follow their own paths.
- Various forces act on the teeth – You’re constantly using your mouth, and whenever you bite down, you’re putting a bit of pressure on your teeth. Your tongue and talking and chomping on an apple all generate forces, however small. Over time, these forces can cause your teeth to move.
- Mouth memory lasts a long time – Those periodontic ligaments and other structures that hold the teeth in place “remember” in a sense where they once were. When the braces come off, your teeth may seek to make their way home.
- Changes in the mouth reset the balance – Suppose you lose a tooth or have one extracted. Your other teeth are going to notice they have room to move and may drift over into the gap. Not all changes to your mouth are as dramatic as a lost tooth, but growth and age-related changes to your mouth will also change how your teeth relate to one another.
If you are currently undergoing or have recently finished orthodontic treatment, this news that your new smile won’t stay straight forever may be disconcerting. But even if your teeth do move somewhat, you will still have a much straighter smile that you did before treatment began. And use any concerns you have to be a motivator to wear your retainers.
The most important time to wear your retainer is the months just after treatment. Wearing them during this period will allow your teeth to settle into their new positions and give time for your jaw bones to solidify around them. As a result, the shifting of your teeth won’t be that extreme. And you should continue to wear a retainer once or twice a week while sleeping for the rest of your life. Ask us for specific recommendations.
Remember, even with a retainer, your teeth still may shift a little for all the reasons listed above. But a retainer will serve to minimize shifting and let your smile shine for a lifetime. Ask Dr. Smith, your Smithtown orthodontist, any questions you may have about your retainers.
If you want to whiten your teeth, professional whitening in a dental office will get you the best results. Professional whitening uses stronger agents than can be sold over the counter and often entails a special light source that speeds up the whitening process.
Of course, professional whitening is a pricier option than at-home teeth whitening kits. But even if price isn’t a factor, you may simply prefer to use a natural solution. Maybe you don’t like the idea of using synthetic chemicals or strong bleaching agents. Maybe you feel the intense whiteness that purchased products sometimes yield doesn’t look…well…natural to you. Maybe it just feels better to you that you can use something you may already have at home in your pantry or refrigerator.
So if you’re one of those people who prefer a natural process for whitening your teeth, you’re in luck. There are several options you can try.
Some natural ingredients that can help whiten your teeth are:
- Baking soda – Baking soda has been used to help clean teeth since before pre-mixed toothpaste was available commercially, and it can be a cornerstone of a natural whitening habit. It is abrasive, but only mildly, which means using it can be a gentle way to scrub away surface stains. To make a paste, mix baking soda with water, hydrogen peroxide (see below), lemon juice, or apple cider vinegar.
- Hydrogen peroxide – Hydrogen peroxide is found in many over-the-counter teeth-whitening products, albeit in a highly concentrated form. Integrating hydrogen peroxide into your oral care regimen, such as a rinse, can help keep stains at bay, but it may not be all that effective at whitening.
- Coconut oil – Coconut oil, which you can often find in jars at natural sections of grocery stores or sometimes the cooking oil aisle, is often used in skin or hair care by natural product aficionados. It is also slightly acidic which means it can kill bacteria that live on the surface of your teeth.
- Apple cider vinegar – Vinegar is often used as a household cleaning product, so it’s no surprise that it can be used to clean teeth as well. Apple cider vinegar can be used as a rinse or mixed with baking soda. Be sure to brush or rinse again after using it, however, because the acidic properties can damage tooth enamel.
- Lemon – We mentioned lemon juice as a possible additive to baking soda above, and the acidic properties are also present in the rind of the fruit. Try brushing with a mixture of lemon juice and water (if you don’t wish to use baking soda), or rub the peel directly on your teeth.
Remember that the best results start with prevention. Avoid stain-creating drinks like coffee and tea, and if you do drink them, brush right away whenever possible. Don’t smoke, keep sugar intake to a minimum, and maintain your teeth’s enamel with proper oral care.
The key to natural teeth whitening is consistency. Don’t expect immediate results. Rather, it could take at least a month, often longer, before you start to notice outcomes. And if you are using an acidic solution such as apple cider vinegar or lemon juice, be careful. The acidic properties can damage the enamel on your teeth. You can try using them a few times a week instead of daily, or be sure to brush just after using to make sure the acid doesn’t sit on your teeth. Lastly, if you’re in braces, it’s best to wait until after orthodontic treatment is over before you begin any sort of whitening regimen. Ask Dr. Smith, your Smithtown orthodontist, for more information.
While you’re reading this, try to push one of your teeth with a finger. It seems to be solidly in place, right? But in reality, your teeth are not fixed into their spots. They can and do move and shift, which is why orthodontics is even possible to begin with. If your teeth couldn’t move, your orthodontist could never have arranged your teeth to make a beautiful smile.
But this aspect of your teeth also has a downside. Namely, it’s that your teeth won’t necessarily stay where they are after orthodontic treatment is over. Over the years, they may begin working their way back to their original positions. In addition, the forces of your jaw and tongue—the opening, closing, biting, chewing, and general activity day after day—will exert minute forces on your teeth. Over time, these forces may impel the teeth to move.
This is why retainers are so important. They are there to keep your teeth from shifting and undoing the work of your orthodontic treatment. Right after your treatment is done is the most important time to wear a retainer because the structures in your jaw that support your teeth need time to set around the new positions. Even later, teeth can shift, and a retainer will prevent this from happening.
There are two general types of retainers, permanent and removable. Each one has its advantages and disadvantages.
A permanent retainer, also sometimes called a bonded retainer, is essentially a wire that’s attached (or bonded) to the back of your teeth.
- Effective – Permanent retainers are always there and doing their job. They can’t be temporarily removed or ever lost. You’ll never accidentally leave it at home when you go on vacation.
- Discreet –They’re installed behind the teeth so it will be hard for others to know you’re wearing one.
- Long–lasting – The glue that holds a bonded retainer on your upper teeth will last several years, and a bonded lower retainer will need to be replaced even less often.
- Harder to clean – Flossing, in particular, can take a little longer as you’ll have to use special threaders or tools.
- Dental visits – Bonded retainers can promote build-up of calculus, meaning you really should stay on top of recommended biannual cleanings.
- Annoying – Bonded retainers are more lightweight than braces, but some people don’t like the feel of the wires on the back of their teeth.
Removable retainers are made of plastic. One type of retainer, called the Hawley retainer, fits into the roof of your mouth or in the space between your tongue and back teeth. Hawley retainers include wires that wrap around the front of teeth to keep them from drifting. Essix retainers, on the other hand, fit directly over your teeth and have no wires.
- Removable – Yes, these are called “removable” retainers for a reason. Nothing is installed in your mouth, and you can take them out when you need to.
- Transparent – Clear plastic means these retainers are even more inconspicuous than bonded retainers.
- Easy cleaning – Because you can remove them, you can stay on top of oral care and clean the retainers easily too.
- Not as versatile – You will need to take them out to eat or play sports.
- Losable – When you take these out, they might get accidentally misplaced or thrown away. It happens.
- Less durable – Removable retainers need to be replaced every so often. You can, however, arrange for new ones to be mailed to you.
This overview should give you a good idea of the differences between types of retainers. Consider which would be best for your specific situation considering your teeth and your lifestyle, and ask Dr. Craig Smith, your Smithtown orthodontist, for more details.
For the duration of the time that you’re in braces, you will have to make some changes to your diet. We generally recommend that you keep away from hard, crunchy foods or any foods that cause you to exert pressure on your jaw (like corn on the cob). You should also avoid sticky foods that will get caught it your hardware beyond the reach of cleaning implements.
Consider this slightly limited diet to be a temporary sacrifice you’ll need to make in order to achieve a straight and healthy smile that you’ll have for the rest your life.
And just because you are supposed to be careful of eating things like crunchy foods when you’re in braces, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to cut them out of your diet entirely. In many cases, you can eat them with a little bit of preparation or flexibility. For example, you shouldn’t bite into an apple, but if you let a knife rather than your teeth do the work, you can cut them up into small pieces. You can steam carrots until they are soft. You can strip corn kernels off the cob. You can even eat potato chips by letting one soften in your mouth from saliva, a technique that will also slow down your snacking and allow you to savor the flavor.
The times when you are likely to make the most concessions in your diet are the days after you first get your braces put on or after an appointment when you’ve had them tightened. These times are when your teeth will be the sorest, and the soreness will likely last a few days.
To get through these periods, we suggest you:
- Eat super-soft foods – Many foods can be nourishing that don’t require that you use your teeth at all. Puréed soups, smoothies, yogurt, and protein drinks are good options. If the soreness isn’t that severe for you, you can have can pasta, bananas, and rice. Meat cooked in a slow-cooker all day long becomes ultra-tender. If you cook scrambled eggs over very, very low heat, they become deliciously creamy.
- Cut food into small bites – Don’t make your teeth do work they don’t have to when they’re sore. In other words, don’t bite with your front teeth. Outsource the task of breaking food into chewable sizes to your knife and fork.
- Use your molars – Molars are the cube-like teeth in the back of your mouth designed for chewing and grinding food. They likely won’t be as sore as your other teeth after a tightening. So direct the food you’re eating to them.
- Eat slowly – If you’re eating too quickly, you won’t be taking the time to cut up food into morsels and to direct them to your molars. Instead, eat slowly and pay attention to what sort of activity your mouth can handle during this sensitive time.
- Drink water while you eat – Keep a tall glass of water within reach while you’re eating to help you wash down food.
- Take painkillers – For general soreness, it’s fine to take over-the-counter painkillers for a few days until the soreness starts to abate. Aspirin, Advil, and Tylenol (or generic versions) are all good.
Remember, the trade-offs you make when eating with new or tightened braces are only temporary, and the reward will arrive with a wonderful smile waiting at the end of orthodontic treatment. If you have any other concerns or questions, ask Dr. Smith.
Here at North Shore Orthodontics in Smithtown, we’ve found that many young patients choose summer as the time to get braces first put on their teeth. By starting treatment when school is out, kids have a low-pressure time to get accustomed to their new appearance, allow the initial discomfort to pass, and get used to eating with braces. Now that the new school year is upon us, parents in Long Island have one more thing to do in the back-to-school bustle: help their children in braces make a smooth transition.
Pack a Teeth-Cleaning Kit
We recommend that our patients who wear braces clean their teeth after each meal or snack. It keeps the teeth healthy, and your child will speak and smile confidently knowing there is no food stuck in their braces. As a parent, you should pack a small kit that includes a toothbrush, toothpaste and any picks, rubber bands, dental wax, or other items that your child needs. Your child simply needs to take a few minutes after lunch to do a quick cleaning regimen in the bathroom. The kit can also include a small mirror to check for trapped food throughout the day.
Use a Retainer Case
You’ve probably heard anecdotes about students wrapping their retainer in a napkin in the cafeteria only to discover later that it has been thrown away. It happens all the time! If your child wears a retainer, ask us for a retainer case or even some extra ones, and be sure your child uses them. Retainer cases are insurance against headaches, unnecessary appointments, and spending extra money.
Select Softer Meals and Snacks to Eat
The food in the cafeteria may be too hard or crunchy for kids with braces, so parents should pack a lunch that their children can easily eat. Foods like applesauce, pudding, yogurt, bananas, hummus, cheese squares, meatballs and soups are all good. As long as it’s fairly soft, it should work. Keep in mind that teeth can feel sore after a visit to our office for a tightening. Even approved foods can be rather difficult to eat for a few days, so be particularly mindful in these times.
Offer Some Reassurance
Even children who normally get excited about going back to school may feel a little uneasy about it now that they’re in braces. The self-consciousness will likely pass, but give your child positive, encouraging words about his or her appearance. Also, remind your child that plenty of their friends will be wearing braces too, and have them keep the long view in mind. The treatment they’re in the middle of now will give them a lifetime of straight teeth and beautiful smiles.
Adults are now a significant segment of many orthodontic practice’s client base, as much as 25% or even more. At our practice, we’ve had patients in their 20’s to their 60’s and even into their 70’s.
For adult patients who are considering orthodontic work, they’ll find that many factors are now in their favor:
- aesthetics – Orthodontic technology keeps breaking new ground and there are more options available, from ceramic braces to lingual braces to Invisalign. Even traditional metal braces are more lightweight and inconspicuous than many adult patients will remember from their childhoods.
- faster – Improvements in orthodontic technology doesn’t only mean more options. It also means that treatment is more precise, and treatment times are shorter than ever.
- affordability – Some of our adult patients always wanted braces but their families couldn’t afford them. Now that they are employed and financially solvent, they can get the straight smile they’ve always wanted.
In addition, some of the reasons people want to get braces are perennial:
- appearance – No matter your age, you always want to look good when you’re out in the world, and a nice smile is one thing that everyone wants.
- confidence – Whether interacting with peers in school or with colleagues in a professional context, a nice smile brings confidence to your demeanor.
- need – even if you had braces as a teenager or not, teeth can shift and become misaligned. You can have crooked teeth at any age, so you can get braces to correct them at any age.
- health – Ultimately, orthodontics is part of the medical field, and everyone should always strive for optimum health. Straight teeth and an aligned bite decrease the chances of gum disease and tooth decay. Good oral health is also linked to other factors, from digestion to diabetes.
We find that adults often make great patients, at least in the sense that they are more likely to wear their appliances consistently, less likely to lose them or damage them, and more conscientious to properly clean their teeth while in braces. At North Shore Orthodontics, we love all of our patients. Orthodontics is for people of any age. Contact our office for any questions you may have about receiving braces in Smithtown.
Orthodontic treatment typically only takes a few years from start to finish, but the results of treatment will last a lifetime. It really does matter who straightens your teeth. Your smile and your oral health are in the balance. Even during the relatively brief treatment period, you want the experience to be as pleasant and welcoming as possible.
When deciding between orthodontic providers in your community, here are five factors to consider:
1. Licensed orthodontist – In an attempt to earn more money, some general dentists have expanded their services to include orthodontic procedures, offering Invisalign treatments in particular. Orthodontics, however, is a specialized branch of dentistry that requires an additional two years of training. For the best outcomes, it’s best to choose someone who knows what they’re doing and has experience in various treatment methods.
2. Various, advanced treatment options – These days, there are many different ways to correct bites, and all the treatment options vary in aesthetics, duration, and price. What works best for someone else may not be best for you. Furthermore, new developments are happening all the time. Find an orthodontist who’s on top of the latest technology.
3. Office design – Most orthodontists have a website for their practices these days, and you should go online to see how professional their clinic looks. Even if the website doesn’t include office pictures, the office atmosphere is something you should take in during your initial visit. It needs to be comfortable and should inspire confidence. Judging a book by its cover might seem superficial, but the office’s appearance is indicative of how much the orthodontist will care about your smile’s appearance.
4. Fees – Costs are always a concern when orthodontic procedures are involved. To ensure that you do not get surprised by hidden costs and fees, you need to ask any questions that pop into your mind about treatment. Make sure that the orthodontist you’re considering explains all the costs properly and the possibility of additional charges. Ask if they have any payment plans or participate in payment programs.
5. Credibility – Research the reputation of any orthodontist you are considering entrusting with your health. If the orthodontist’s name was a referral from a satisfied patient, that’s a good start. Also, check online reviews, and take a note of any common observations from patients. What are the practice’s good points and bad points? What is the customer service like?
Make sure you take advantage of the initial consultation that most orthodontists offer, and during your visit, keep your own interests in mind. It’s a good sign if you leave the practice smiling. We hope that’s how you feel when you leave North Shore Orthodontics. Contact our office if you have any questions.
After you have your regular appointment to tighten your braces (or once you get braces first put on your teeth), it’s common for your mouth to feel somewhat sore. While you may find it a little reassuring to know that the tenderness you feel is normal, this knowledge doesn’t make the pain go away.
To find relief, try some of these tips: (more…)
Your appearance, from the clothes you choose to wear to everything else about your personal style, can be considered an expression of who you are on the inside. Rubber bands for braces come in a rainbow of colors, so your orthodontic treatment gives you another avenue to express your individuality.
To back up for a second, braces with brackets and wires require the use rubber bands, or more specifically “elastics.” The small elastics which fit around each bracket that hold the archwire in place are called ligatures and we’ll let you choose what colors you want for the ligatures. You can choose one color, alternating colors for each tooth, or make all the top teeth one color and all the bottom teeth a different one. These ligatures need to be changed every 4 to 6 weeks. That means you can switch out your colors for something new and novel during any check-up.
What color or colors should you choose? What will your choices say about you? Your rubber band colors might say that:
Coordinate the rubber band colors with the dominant colors of your wardrobe, or match them to a specific outfit you might be wearing to a big, upcoming event. You might also wish to match the color with your eyes or choose hues that complement your skin tone.
Our adult patients (and also some teenagers) tend to prefer colors that don’t pop out when they smile. They’ll choose clear, white, or silver elastics. Silver elastics are often the best choice, because white and clear elastics have a tendency to stain, particularly if someone is a drinker of tea, coffee or red wine.
You Have School Spirit
Every school has its mascot and colors. Use those colors to show your school pride!
You Have Team Spirit
Is your favorite professional or college sports team beginning a new season or doing well this year? Let the world know you’re a fan.
You Feel Festive
During Easter, choose pink and light blue. When Halloween comes around, choose orange and black or glow-in-the-dark variations. Christmastime brings out the red and green. And go for the red, white, and blue around the 4th of July.
You Have Personality
Are you passionate and bold? Red might be the color for you. On the other hand, if you’re cool and laid back, go with the blue. Choose purple if you’re feeling creative, daring or unconventional. Orange may be for you if you have a sunny and social disposition.
Although we have elastics in dozens of colors, ask us for recommendations regarding things you might not have thought of. For example, some colors like black or brown might make people think you have food caught in your teeth. If you go with white and your teeth are slightly yellow (as many people’s teeth are), the contrast could emphasize the yellow tint of your teeth. Yellow bands can have the same effect. And certain light colors can have a tendency to stain. We’re not saying you should never go for these colors, just to consider the bigger picture.
After reading this post, are you excited to try out new possibilities for your rubber band colors? Why not do an online search for inspiration? You’ll find examples of what others have chosen on Pinterest, blogs, and all over the web.