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The Dog Days Of Summer...Have You Ever Wondered Where The Phrase Came From?

July 14th, 2021

The dog days of summer are known for being among the hottest of the season. Such days conjure up listless floating in the pool, scrambling to find shade and, of course, dogs panting in the heat.

With the hottest, sultriest days of summer upon us, the team at Bel Air Orthodontics decided to do a little research to find out what this expression actually means.  Some say that summer’s “dog days” signify hot days “not fit for a dog”, while other’s suggest that it’s just another crazy old saying their grandmother made up. Despite the phrase's association with heat-struck canines, it has nothing to do with them. Well, it turns out that it has nothing to do with earthbound dogs anyway. Here are some fun facts that may just surprise you.

When Are the Dog Days of Summer?

The Dog Days aren’t just when your dog starts panting on a sweltering summer day. According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, the Dog Days of summer are traditionally the 40 days beginning July 3 and ending August 11, which coincide with the dawn rising of the Sirius, the Dog Star.

What Are the Dog Days of Summer?

Well, it turns out that the phrase dates back to ancient Rome. The Latin phrase, dies caniculares, or “days of the dog star” was what the Romans called the period from mid July to mid August. Some ancient stargazers concluded that during those months Sirius, aka the dog star, rose in conjunction with the sun. They believed the star’s brightness added to the heat of the sun, creating a stretch of hot and sultry weather.

Sirius is by far the brightest star in the nighttime sky, but the star has nothing to do with the heat. The sun gets all the credit for that. Sirius, part of the constellation Canis Major, is actually about half a million times farther away from the sun—something the Romans didn’t know. So when they blamed the “Dog Star” for boosting the heat during the summer, they were barking up the wrong tree.

The Meaning of the Dog Star Today

These days, the expression refers to the hot, lazy days of summer which typically run from July through early September. While the Dog Days of summer are sure to bring sweltering heat, they also bring fun times. We hope your Dog Days of summer are filled with family, friends, poolside fun, and vacation adventures!

Wisdom Teeth And Braces

July 1st, 2021

One of the big rites of passage for young adults is wisdom teeth removal. Of course, there are people who can actually fit those third molars in their jaws comfortably and there are a startling number who don’t even grow them in the first place, but for people who do need their wisdom teeth removed, it’s fun to post pictures of their swollen cheeks and videos of anesthesia antics while enjoying lots of ice cream and smoothies. So what’s the deal with these teeth so many people need removed?

Why Do We Have Teeth That Don’t Fit?

What’s the point of growing an extra set of molars if they don’t even fit in our mouths? We used to think it was all about genes leftover from prehistoric days, but more recently, the leading theory is that it’s actually about the foods we eat compared to what our ancient ancestors ate. Bone can atrophy or grow depending on what we put it through (kind of like muscle), and we simply aren’t giving our jaw bones the same resistance our hunter-gatherer ancestors did.

Prehistoric people’s jaws got an intense workout from grinding up the fibrous plants and raw meat in their diet, which stimulated enough bone growth to make room for the third molars. Today, we eat softer foods that are cooked and processed, so it’s less common for someone’s jaw to grow big enough to fit the wisdom teeth. (We don’t recommend attempting to test this theory, though.)

Why Are Wisdom Teeth Often Extracted?

Despite the growing percentage of people who never get wisdom teeth or don’t get the full set of four, most still get them between their late teens and early twenties, and that can be a problem when there isn’t room. These wisdom teeth tend to end up impacted, or trapped under the gums. They can form cysts or damage the bone tissue or roots of neighboring teeth. This is why extraction is recommended so often.

How Do Wisdom Teeth Interact With Orthodontic Treatment?

Modern evidence shows that wisdom teeth don’t contribute greatly to dental crowding, so they don’t need to be removed for the sake of the straightness of the rest of the teeth. If they do need to be removed for other reasons, that can happen during orthodontic treatment. It’s also a myth that a post-braces smile can be made crooked by wisdom teeth. Our teeth naturally drift as we get older and wear them out more, but not due to wisdom teeth. (So make sure to keep wearing your retainers!)

Let’s Take Care of That Smile!

Everyone’s situation with wisdom teeth is different. Some people need them removed due to impaction, some don’t grow all or any of them, and some get to enjoy the added chewing power of an extra set of molars. The team at Bel Air Orthodontics can help you figure out which category you fit into and answer any questions you may have about wisdom teeth and orthodontic treatment.

If you have concerns about your smile or the impact wisdom teeth could have on the health of your teeth, call 410-838-2244 to schedule a complimentary consultation with Dr. Stephen Godwin today!

 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.

How To Handle Orthodontic Emergencies While On Vacation

June 24th, 2021

School is out and summer vacations are just around the corner. Vacations are all about fun, so the last thing you want to do during your summer vacation is to think about or deal with an orthodontic emergency. Don't worry, we've got you covered. Here are a few helpful reminders to keep your orthodontic appliances in check:

We're A Phone Call Away

First and foremost, remember that the team at Bel Air Orthodontics is here for you whether you are in town or away on vacation. If you have an orthodontic emergency, give us a call immediately and we'll do our best to address the problem over the phone.

Find A Helping Hand

Second, if we are unable to help you fix the problem over the phone or if you have difficulty reaching our office, we suggest going online and searching for orthodontic practices in your area. Most orthodontists will lend a helping hand to another orthodontic patient and get them out of discomfort. In fact, Dr. Godwin has helped many out-of-town summer campers himself. It's important for you to schedule a visit with us once you return from vacation so that Dr. Godwin can assess the problem and make any necessary adjustments to your orthodontic appliances. Please keep in mind that broken braces, wires or other appliances will not be repaired at your regular adjustment appointment
unless you notify us in advance.

Keeping Your Braces Safe

Third, if you lose your retainers, don't panic! Call our office immediately so that we can schedule an appointment to take scans for new appliances. Vacations and great food go hand in hand, so we realize that it can be more challenging to keep track of your retainers while away from home. To avoid losing your retainers, please do not wrap them in a napkin. Dr. Godwin suggests putting your retainers in their case for safe keeping.

Last but not least, if you have braces, Dr. Godwin urges you to steer clear of the following foods to avoid broken brackets and/or wires while you are on vacation:

  • Chewy, sticky or gummy food . . . For example, we know that Boardwalk favorites like salt water taffy and caramel popcorn are temping summertime treats, but they're off limits to patients in braces!
  • Apples, pears and other whole foods . . . They're fine if you cut them into thin wedges or bite-size pieces before consuming.
  • Bagels and hard rolls
  • Bubble gum
  • Popcorn
  • Corn on the cob - unless you cut it off the cob
  • Hard candies
  • Hard cookies, pretzels and nuts

Follow these tips and you can have a worry-free vacation. Have a great summer!

Top Ten Ways To Keep Your Retainer Safe This Summer

June 16th, 2021

Summer is in full swing! It’s time for lazy days on the beach, summer cookouts and family vacations. But before you rush out the door to your next summer adventure, the team at Bel Air Orthodontics wants to remind you about the importance of keeping your retainer and your smile safe this summer.

Here's a fact: More retainers are lost over the summer than any other time of the year! Why, you ask? There a number of factors, but it comes down to the fact that your retainer is spending too much time out of your mouth! Summer fun brings a change in your daily routine, more meals with family and friends, and that usually means more opportunities to lose, break or forget your retainer.

Your retainer is an important part of your orthodontic treatment, so follow these tips to keep your retainer and your smile looking great:

  • Never Wrap It In A Napkin - While a retainer on the table might not be the most appetizing sight, hiding it in a napkin is a quick and sure way to accidentally send your retainer into the trash can!
  • Keep It Away From Fido – It’s a fact, dogs love the smell and taste of saliva on retainers, and they’ll go to impressive lengths to get their canines on them. Never leave your retainers on a night stand, counter, or table where they can jump up and snag the appliance. Remember, dogs like to chew on things . . . this includes retainers!
  • Don’t Be Random – While spontaneity is a good thing in life, it’s a bad thing when it comes to storing your retainer. If you put your retainer in random places, you’re bound to eventually forget where it is. Instead, create designated spots to keep your retainer. Whether it’s the same spot in your purse or backpack, a special drawer in your bedroom, or a cabinet in the kitchen, you’ll always know where it is.
  • Take Them Out When Swimming – More than one retainer has ended up lost in the ocean surf, the bottom of a lake or public pool. Don’t let the next one be yours!
  • Don’t Put It In Your Pocket - Your retainer is more fragile than you think. Placing it in your pocket often leads to loss or breakage. Just imagine the look on your Mom’s face when she discovers that she tossed that pair of jeans or jacket in the washer and dryer without knowing the retainer is tuck away in the pocket. Let’s just say that story doesn’t end well.
  • Don’t Throw It In Your Sports/Gym Bag – Let’s face it, your smelly gym bag is no place for your retainer! Picture the contents of that gym bag . . . dirty sneakers, empty food wrappers, and a host of other undesirable things. Once your retainer is in there, you’re likely to damage, forget or misplace it.
  • Clean It With Luke Warm – NOT HOT WATER -  While keeping your retainer clean and bright is important, never use hot water to clean it or boil it to sterilize. Heat will distort and damage your retainers. Instead, soak your retainers in a denture cleaning product like Efferdent® once a week to keep them clean.
  • Don’t Leave It In The Hot Car – Temperatures in a closed car during the summer can reach temperatures in excess of 130 degrees. Retainers will melt in these temperatures, so remember to take them with you.
  • Label Your Retainer Case – If you do happen to misplace your retainer, your chances of having someone return it are much greater if your name, phone number and/or email address are on the case.
  • Don’t Forget To Wear It – If you are wearing your retainer when you’re supposed to, you’re much less likely to lose it.  Make wearing your retainer as prescribed your new healthy habit!
  • Always Keep Your Retainer In Its Case When Not In Your Mouth – This is Dr. Stephen Godwin’s number one rule! Your case is designed to keep your retainer safe when it’s not in your mouth, so remember to use it.

If you do happen to have a retainer mishap over the summer, make sure you contact us as soon as possible so that we can schedule an appointment to make a replacement appliance. Remember, every day that your retainer is not being worn, tooth movement is occurring. So don’t delay, call the team at Bel Air Orthodontics today if you have any questions about your retainer wear and care. We hope you have a safe, fun-filled summer!