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Bottled Water: Friend or Foe?

March 12th, 2018

So, you’re working out, eating kale, ditching the soda, drinking endless bottles of water and hopefully, recycling the empties!  You’re feeling pretty good about yourself – but, are you doing your teeth more harm than good?

You may be choosing bottled water over tap because you think it’s a healthier, tastier and more convenient; but studies show that  choosing bottled water over tap can actually be detrimental to your dental health?

When we choose bottled water over tap water, we deprive our pearly whites of something we may need. Most brands of bottled water fail to include a vital ingredient for dental health: fluoride. Fluoride plays an important role in maintaining good oral health because it helps strengthen our teeth. Stronger teeth mean a lower chance of tooth decay, and who doesn’t want that?

The good news is that the American Dental Association has endorsed both community water fluoridation and products that contain fluoride as a safe way to prevent tooth decay. If bottled water happens to be the preference for you or your family, you don’t necessarily have to force everyone to start drinking tap water. Just check the label and make sure the brand you purchase contains fluoride. It’s essential to remember that switching up the water you drink isn’t going to put you on the fast track to perfect teeth, though. We recommend that you visit your dentist every six months and floss and brush daily. If you're wearing braces, keeping teeth clean and healthy can often be challenge. For our top ten tips for keeping braces clean, read our previous blog.

If you have any questions about fluoride or your overall dental health, don’t hesitate to give the team at Bel Air Orthodontics a call.

Eat Healthy Food - Your Teeth Will Thank You!

February 19th, 2018

Having a consistent, healthy diet, is good for your body AND for your smile. Many people don’t realize how important their food is for their teeth. Just like unhealthy food can cause your enamel to wear away and stains to occur, healthy foods can keep your teeth strong and can even make them whiter.

Some of the best foods for healthy teeth may come as a surprise. These foods are easy to incorporate into your everyday diet and make the effects of your good oral hygiene that much more effective. Other than maintaining your teeth by brushing and flossing and visiting your dentist twice each year, adding these nutritious bites will make a huge difference in the health of your teeth.

Enjoy Calcium-Filled Dairy Products

Cheese - If you're one of the many people who profess a love of cheese, you now have another reason to enjoy this tasty food. For one, it is low in sugar and high in calcium and protein, but that’s not all. Cheese is also an essential part of a healthy diet because it contains casein, which is a protein that is particularly useful for fortifying the tooth enamel. An American Academy of General Dentistry study published in the May/June 2013 found that eating cheese raised the pH in the subjects' mouths and lowered their risk of tooth decay.

Yogurt - Like cheese, yogurt is high in calcium and protein, which makes it a good pick for the strength and health of your teeth. The probiotics, or beneficial bacteria, found in yogurt also benefit your gums because the good bacteria crowd out bacteria that cause cavities. Yogurt is a tasty treat that also contains something called phosphates, which actually work to remineralize teeth. If you decide to add more yogurt to your diet, choose a plain variety with no added sugar and top it off with some fresh fruit.

Eat Your Leafy Greens

It turns out the Popeye was right – eating leafy greens, such as spinach and kale helps promote oral health. They're full of vitamins and minerals and are high in calcium, which builds your tooth's enamel. They also contain folic acid, a type of B vitamin that has numerous health benefits. In addition to vitamins, eating leafy greens gives you a boost of antioxidants. These substances remove damaging oxidizing agents from your body. The benefits of antioxidants extend to healthy teeth and gums too. If you have trouble getting leafy greens into your diet, add a handful of baby spinach to your next salad, throw some kale on a pizza, or try adding some greens to a smoothie.

Use Natural Scrubbers

While the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends steering clear of most sweet foods, there are some exceptions. Fruits, such as apples and pears, might be sweet, but they're also high in fiber and water. The action of eating an apple produces saliva in your mouth, which rinses away bacteria and food particles. The fibrous texture of these fruits also stimulates the gums. Eating an apple isn't the same as brushing your teeth, but it can tide you over until you have a chance to brush. Pack some apple slices in your lunch to give your mouth a good scrubbing at the end of the meal.

Crunchy vegetables, like carrots and celery might get a bad reputation for being bland, but they act a bit like a toothbrush, scraping food particles and bacteria away from your teeth. They’re also a good source of vitamins A and C, two antioxidants that give the health of your gums a boost. Having a hard time eating these crunchy fruits and vegetables with braces? Remember to cut them up into bite-size pieces to keep your braces safe.

Think Before You Drink

Along with adding more leafy greens, dairy products and fibrous vegetables to your diet, pay attention to what you're drinking. Soda and sports drinks are bad news for your teeth, and NOT recommended particularly while you’re in braces. Some all-natural fruit juices are also loaded with sugar and acid as well. Sugary drinks contribute to the production of plaque acids that attack the tooth enamel. Eventually these acids can cause tooth enamel to break down, forming a cavity. Consider milk or water instead. Milk offers protein and almost half of your daily calcium.

Taking the time to think through what you’re eating every day is really important for both your oral and overall health. You may already eat some of these great foods for your teeth, but it doesn't hurt to add all of them to your diet and create the healthiest smile ever. If you're still not sure what to eat while you have braces, just ask. The team at Bel Air Orthodontics is here to help!

Top Ten Tips For Keeping Your Braces Clean

February 7th, 2018

It's National Dental Health Month, and the team at Bel Air Orthodontics thought it would be a great time to share some oral hygiene tips.

Having braces can present some new challenges when it comes to keeping your teeth clean. It is essential that you put some extra effort into preventing tooth decay while wearing braces. When your braces are finally removed, you want a beautiful, white smile, not decayed or stained teeth. Here are a few tips to help you keep your teeth healthy while wearing braces:

The Tooth, The Whole Tooth, Nothing But The Tooth

When you brush, take time with each individual tooth and pay careful attention to the spots around the braces where food can become trapped. Brush for two to five minutes using a soft toothbrush with fluoride toothpaste for best results. Using an oral rinse every day will help too. Rinsing with mouthwash helps to disinfect the entire mouth, including the spots under the braces where you brush can't always reach.

It's All About The Angles

Place your brush at a 45-degree angle against the gums in order to clean the whole t00th. It's important to clean the front surface, inner surface (tongue side) as well as the chewing surface. Be sure to clean along the gum line - a key spot for plaque buildup. Don't forget to also brush gently in the area between the wiring and the teeth.

Brush After Every Meal

Since braces block food from naturally escaping your teeth after eating, it's important that you take the time to brush after every meal. Bits of food can easily get caught between braces and teeth. These food bits interact with the natural bacteria in your mouth and can cause plaque buildup and decay. If you are eating somewhere that you can't brush, thoroughly rinse your mouth with water.

Like A Boy Scout, Always Be Prepared

The easiest way to be sure you can brush after every meal is to get in the habit of taking a toothbrush, toothpaste and floss with you wherever you go. Designate a special container just for your teeth-cleaning tools and keep in in your purse, backpack or car.

Fluoride Is Your Friend

Fluoride - a mineral that helps prevent cavities and tooth decay - can help keep your teeth strong! Be sure to brush with fluoride toothpaste and rinse with a fluoride mouthwash. When choosing your fluoride products, look for the American Dental Association's (ADA) seal of acceptance. Products marked with the ADA seal of approval have been carefully examined and have met the criteria of the ADA for safety and effectiveness.

Pointy Brushes Reach Tiny Places

Interproximal brushes (sometimes called proxy brushes or interdental brushes) are cone-shaped, small brushing devices. They come in handy for reaching spots round your braces that standard brushes can't. Feel free to ask our clinical assistants for a sample and instructions for using the interproximal brushes at your next regularly scheduled appointment.

Find The Floss That's Right For You

Regular floss works for many patients, but others find it easier to work with a floss threader which helps you get the floss into tight places. Other patient like the all-in-one products, such as Superfloss, which comes with a stiff end for easy threading, a spongy section for cleaning wide spaces, and regular floss for narrow spaces. These products are relatively inexpensive and available at your local drugstore, so try them all to see which one works best for you.

Be Gentle With Your Teeth

Always avoid biting pens and other hard objects, and use your teeth for chewing food only - not as tools to open containers! Also, if you are a habitual tooth-grinder, let us know. We can help you address that habit to protect your teeth.

Eat Braces-Safe Foods

When you have braces, there are certain foods that you must avoid. For starters, sticky foods such as caramel or gum can get stuck in your braces and are difficult to remove during brushing. Avoid hard foods too, such as nuts and candy. Those goodies can bend wires and even break a bracket. So just what can you eat? We recommend soft foods that are low in enamel-busting acids, such as bananas, mangoes, milk, poultry and pasta. Don't worry, most of these dietary changes are temporary. Soon you'll be back to eating your favorite foods.

Get Regular Checkups

It's your job to take care of the everyday cleaning, but make sure to visit your dentist regularly while in treatment. Your dentist should be seen twice a year for a deep, thorough cleaning. With professional tools, your dentist hygienist can remove plague and tartar buildup that can form around your braces, bands or other appliances which can lead to cavities. Cavities can prolong your orthodontic treatment, and no one wants that.

As long as you practice good oral hygiene and follow these basic tips, you should have no problem keeping your teeth healthy during your orthodontic treatment. If you have any questions, feel free to let us know. We're always here to lend a helping hand.

What Role Do Elastics Play In Orthodontics?

January 29th, 2018

It is not unusual for elastics (a.k.a. rubber bands) to be prescribed as part of your orthodontic treatment when you are wearing braces. Your braces, which consist of brackets and wires, work by gently applying pressure to the teeth, and that pressure causes them to move into the correct position. In some cases, elastics are placed on your  braces in strategic places in order to apply additional pressure.

How Elastics Work

Customized for each patient, the elastics typically stretch over tiny loops on the top and bottom brackets. When worn as prescribed, these tiny elastics will apply the gentle and steady pressure needed to guide your teeth into the desired position and align one arch to the other. Without the use of these elastics, you may not be able to achieve the results you want, or you may have to wear braces for a longer period of time.

The Do's and Don'ts

Elastics must be worn as prescribed, and patient cooperation is essential to a successful outcome. Here's how you can do your part:

  • DO - Change your elastics at least once a day. Remember to always wash your hands before removing and replacing the elastics;
  • DON'T - Double up on elastics as this will cause too much pressure on the tooth or teeth and can actually harm the root of the tooth;
  • DO - Get in the habit of carrying around an extra bag of elastics and replace them as soon as one breaks. By consistently wearing your elastics, you may shorten the overall time needed to wear braces;
  • DON'T - Guess how they should be worn. If you are unsure where to place the elastics, call our office immediately so that we can help you get your elastics placed correctly;
  • DO - Remove your elastics when eating and brushing your teeth, but remember to replace them when you are done.
  • DON'T - Overstretch or overuse the same elastics or they will lose their strength and will be ineffective. You can avoid this by changing your elastics daily.
  • DO - Call us immediately if you lose or run out of elastics. Please do not wait until your next regularly scheduled visit.
  • DON'T - Forget to wear them consistently, as directed. By wearing your elastics exactly as prescribed, you will get better, faster, and more comfortable results. Generally, any discomfort from the elastics will disappear within a day or two, so hang in there.
  • DO - Have fun with your braces and elastics. Elastics come in many different colors, so pick your favorite colors and show off your gorgeous smile!

Elastics are a key part of your orthodontic treatment, and learning how to remove and replace them correctly is an important part of your treatment. Before we send you on your journey to a happy, healthy smile, we'll make sure you understand all there is to know about taking care of your  braces. Of course, if you have any questions about your orthodontic treatment, be sure to give the team at Bel Air Orthodontics a call.

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