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Caring For Your Teeth

Avoiding Delays During Your Orthodontic Treatment

October 3rd, 2018

Many of our patients are excited to start orthodontic treatment, but they also look forward to getting them off to reveal their amazing new smiles. Your commitment to treatment protocols and caring for your braces can affect how long your treatment takes. While there is no way to predict exactly how quickly your teeth and bite will move into their correct position, there are ways that you can help the process move along smoothly and timely. Here are a few ways you can avoid progress delays during your orthodontic treatment.

Keep Your Scheduled Visits

When days are filled with carpooling, work demands, and errands, you may be tempted to delay or cancel an appointment thinking that it will have little or no impact on treatment goals when in fact the opposite is true. Each of your visits while you are undergoing treatment is carefully planned to move your teeth a specific way in a certain time frame. Regular visits allow our team to make necessary adjustments to your braces and identify any problem areas that need correcting. Postponing or canceling these important visits can extend treatment time and significantly delay your progress — adding weeks or even months to the total treatment time.

Take Care of Your Braces

A surefire way to delay your orthodontic treatment is to continually damage your braces. An occasional break or bend of the brackets and wires is not uncommon, but if you encounter damage too frequently, it will interfere with the treatment timeline. You can prevent damage to your braces by always wearing a mouth guard when playing sports. You should also be mindful of the foods you eat to avoid breakage, especially those that are hard, sticky and chewy — such as popcorn, nuts, taffy, caramel, gum, corn on the cob and hard pretzels. It's also important to limit foods high in sugar.

Repair Damaged Braces As Soon As Possible

If your braces break or get damaged, contact our office right away. Ill-fitting brackets and wires aren’t capable of effectively correcting your teeth, which can cause major setbacks in the entire treatment process. Similarly, if you wear Invisalign® aligners and break or misplace them, notify our office immediately. It is critical that you replace your trays as soon as possible so that treatment can progress on schedule. Failure to notify our team of any issues can even create bigger, more permanent problems that require you to spend more time in braces.

Maintain Good Oral Hygiene Habits

It's always important to practice good oral hygiene, but this is especially true when you are straightening your teeth. When you are wearing braces, food and debris can easily become trapped around the brackets and wires. This puts you at a greater risk for infections and cavities, which can complicate and prolong your treatment. As a general rule, brush your teeth after eating meals and snacks to keep teeth and gums healthy throughout the duration of your orthodontic treatment. Seeing your regular dentist for exams and cleaning will also keep your teeth and gums in tip-top condition, enabling teeth to move more efficiently.

Follow Instructions From The Bel Air Orthodontics Team

Apart from routine adjustment visits, patient compliance will play an important part in treatment time and results. For example, many patients with braces will also need to wear elastics (aka rubber bands) at some point during their treatment. These rubber bands play a critical role in aligning your teeth and bite. Failure to follow instructions as directed is a guaranteed way to prevent your teeth from moving as scheduled.

Getting braces may seem like a long road, but we're here to tell you it is well worth it! Whether you choose traditional braces, Invisalign or other orthodontic procedures, the team at Bel Air Orthodontics is here to help you reach the best possible treatment outcome in the least amount of time and visits. By following these easy tips, you can stay on track with your orthodontic treatment and achieve the teeth and smile you’ve always wanted.

As always, your Bel Air Orthodontics team is here to help answer any questions you have along the way.

Giving School Nurses A Helping Hand

September 19th, 2018

It's back-to-school time, and that means the school nurses have their hands full. To make their job a little easier, Bel Air Orthodontics recently visited schools throughout Harford County to make sure that nurses are prepared to handle orthodontic emergencies during the school day. Our complimentary kits provide school nurses with much needed dental supplies such as orthodontic wax, floss, toothbrushes and paste, along with a Nurse's Guide which is filled with helpful tips and emergency care information.

With some minor intervention and guidance from the school nurse, many of our patients with minor emergencies such as broken brackets, loose and/or poking wires can return to class and finish out their school day. So if you're not sure how to handle an orthodontic emergency while at school, stop by the nurse's office. They've got the know-how and supplies to help you out thanks to the team at Bel Air Orthodontics.

Since some orthodontic emergencies may require repair by your orthodontist, Dr. Godwin also recommends that you contact our office as soon as possible so that we can address your concerns and/or schedule an appointment.

Back To School With Braces

September 5th, 2018

With the start of a new school year, parents and kids everywhere are heading out to stock up on back-to-school supplies. If you're undergoing orthodontic treatment, we'd suggest adding a few extra supplies to your backpack. Here's a list of items that will help make your school year braces-friendly and worry free:

Orthodontic wax - Sometimes braces can be irritating to the mouth. If you have a poking wire or a loose bracket, a small amount of non-medicinal relief wax makes an excellent buffer for your gums. It will keep you in school and out of discomfort until you can visit our office for repair.

Elastics (rubber bands) - If Dr. Godwin has prescribed elastics, they must be worn as instructed. Often, they are worn 24/7, except while eating and brushing your teeth. During the school day, you should remove the elastics for lunch, but don't forget to replace them with fresh, clean elastics when you are through. Packing an extra bag of elastics will ensure that you have them available at all times.

Travel toothbrush and Floss - Keeping your teeth and braces clean throughout orthodontic treatment is a priority. Besides that, your friends and teachers don't want to look at food stuck to your braces - Yuk!  Keep your teeth and Dr. Godwin happy . . . Remember to brush after every meal.

Floss Threaders and Interproximal Brushes -  Orthodontic appliances can often make flossing and brushing more challenging. Products like floss threaders and proxy brushes can help take the hassle out of cleaning around brackets and wires. Proxy brushes are great for removing trapped food particles that can get lodged in and around orthodontic appliances. Floss threaders and products like Oral-B Superfloss are made with special, rigid ends that make flossing with braces much easier and more effective.

Retainer case - If you are wearing removable orthodontic appliances, you'll need to take them out before eating lunch. When retainers or other removable appliances are not in your mouth, they should ALWAYS be in a retainer case. Most retainers are lost in school cafeterias or restaurants, so keep yours safe . . . Take your retainer case to school!

Braces-friendly snacks and/or lunches - Pack non-stick snacks and lunches that are easy to chew and won't damage your orthodontic appliances. Don't forget to stay away from sugary drinks and treats that can lead to cavities. There are lots of braces-friendly alternatives. For more ideas, visit bracescookbook.com

If you have any questions, or need any of the above items for your backpack, feel free to contact the team at Bel Air Orthodontics. We hope you have a fun and successful school year!

Foods That Can Damage Tooth Enamel

August 8th, 2018

We've all heard the saying, You Are What You Eat, and that's particularly true for your teeth and gums. Several factors affect wear and tear on tooth enamel. Diet is a major factor, with certain foods increasing the likelihood that your enamel will become discolored or decayed. The team at Bel Air Orthodontics suggests that you pay close attention to the foods you eat to keep your pearly whites looking healthy and clean.

What causes enamel damage?

Tooth enamel is primarily composed of minerals that are strong but susceptible to highly acidic foods. When acid reacts with the minerals in enamel, it can result in tooth decay. Strongly pigmented foods can also damage enamel by discoloring the surface of the tooth. Acidic foods are the greatest source of enamel damage. To determine whether a food is acidic, look up its pH. Scientists use pH, on a one-to-seven scale, to define the relative acidity or alkalinity of a substance. Foods with low pH levels, between a one and three, are high in acidity and may damage your enamel. Foods with high pH levels, such as a six or seven, are far less likely to cause enamel harm.

So which foods should you avoid?

Watch Your Citrus Intake

Even though a squeeze of lemon or lime can turn a simple glass of water into a fun beverage, it's not always the best choice for your mouth.  Fruit juices, especially citrus, apple, and berry varieties, are loaded with the kinds of acids that wear down tooth enamel. Of course, juices also have some great-for-you qualities, too—like vitamins and antioxidants, so don't write them off completely. Just drink them in moderation. Frequent fruit juice consumption has been linked to an increased risk of enamel erosion. As an extra measure, try eating them with a meal — as opposed to on their own — so they're less likely to harm your teeth. Also remember to use a straw, rinse afterward, and choose calcium-fortified juices that may pose less of a hazard to tooth enamel.

Sugary Foods Are Scary For Your Teeth

We all know sugar is bad for our teeth, but it’s important to know why. The bad bacteria in your mouth feed on sugars to create acids and cavities are an infection caused by acids. The point here is that sugars in your mouth are often the first step in cavity formation. It’s virtually impossible to eliminate all sugars from your diet, but it’s important to try to minimize sugar intake (especially refined sugar) as much as possible. It’s also crucial to not let sugar linger in your mouth for a long time. So, brushing your teeth after meals or at least drinking lots of water is vital.

Ice Is For Chilling, Not Chewing

You’d be surprised at how many people think ice is good for their teeth. It’s made of water, after all, and doesn’t contain any sugar or other additives. Chewing on hard substances can leave your teeth vulnerable to a dental emergency and damage enamel.  Break the habit and enjoy water in its pure, liquid form. Your teeth and your braces will thank you.

Not All Coffee Is Good For You

In their natural form, coffee and tea can be healthy beverage choices. Unfortunately, many people can’t resist adding sugar. Caffeinated coffee and tea can also dry out your mouth. Frequent drinks of coffee and tea may also stain your teeth. If you do consume, make sure to drink plenty of water and try to keep the add-ons to a minimum.

Sticky Foods Are Your Mouth's Worst Nightmare

Sticky foods are off-limits for those and braces since they can damage brackets and wires. Sticky foods can also damage your teeth since they tend to stay on the teeth longer than other types of food. If you find yourself eating dried fruits or trail mix often, make sure to rinse with water after and to brush and floss carefully.

Swap Out Soda With Water

Guess what? Sugar isn't the biggest culprit when it comes to a fizzy drink's impact on teeth. These beverages—diet or not—strip minerals from tooth enamel because of their high acid content. Caffeinated beverages, such as colas can also dry out your mouth. If you do occasionally consume soft drinks, don't sip them all day long and try to drink alongside a cup of water.

Watch out for sports drinks

They may sound healthy, but sugar is a top ingredient for many sports and energy drinks. The American Academy of Pediatrics says sports drinks are especially bad idea for adolescents and young adults whose tooth enamel is less mature and more porous. Before your next sip, check the label to make sure your drink of choice is low in sugar or drink water instead.

With some easy preventive measures, your teeth will stay strong, and healthy for years to come! Give us a call at Bel Air Orthodontics to learn more.

It's National Facial Protection Month - Here's How You Can Play It Safe

April 9th, 2018

April is National Facial Protection Month, and the team at Bel Air Orthodontics want to remind parents, coaches and athletes to play it safe as they prepare to suit up for recreational and organized sports. Whether at practice, at a game, or simply enjoying some fun in the neighborhood, a sports-related injury can happen in an instant. That's why it's important to take precautions to protect your face and teeth from injury. Dr. Godwin suggests you take these simple steps to prevent injuries so you can stay in the game:

  • Wear a mouthguard when playing contact sports; if you have braces, make sure you use a mouthguard designed specially for orthodontic patients;
  • Wear a helmet. Helmets reduce of risk of head injury by absorbing the energy of an impact.
  • Wear protective eye wear. According to the Coalition to Prevent Sports Eye Injuries, protective eye wear designed specifically for the sport can prevent more than 90 percent of all eye injuries;
  • Wear a face shield to avoid scratched or bruised skin;
  • Be alert - as a player or spectator!

Did You Know? . . .

  • Athletes who don't wear mouthguards are 60 times more likely to damage their teeth. Mouthguards are particularly important if you are in orthodontic treatment.  A minor blow to the face can be uncomfortable if you don't have braces; but add metal to the mix and a minor blow to the face can leave you with abrasions and cuts inside your mouth from your soft tissue being pressed against the brackets and wires on your teeth;
  • Sports-related injuries are the leading cause of emergency room visits in children ages 12 to 17 according to the Center for Disease Control;
  • Whatever your sport, the right protective gear can save your teeth, your face, and even your life. If you or your child suffers dental trauma such as a knocked-out or broken tooth, Dr. Godwin suggests that you contact your dentist for immediate attention. For those in braces, it's also important to contact our office to schedule an appointment for repair since damage to braces can lengthen treatment time and affect treatment results.

About National Facial Protection Month: Every April, the American Association of Orthodontists, the American Dental Society, the Academy for Sports Dentistry, the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry team up to remind parents, coaches and athletes about the importance of taking precautions to preserve their teeth and protect them from facial injuries.

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.

Give the Gift of Good Health this Holiday Season

December 13th, 2017

Before you finish your holiday shopping, we have one more gift suggestion for you!

If a hockey or lacrosse stick is on the holiday wish list, we'd suggest that parents or grandparents tuck another gift in the package - a mouth guard. Dr. Godwin and the team at Bel Air Orthodontics recommend the use of a mouth guard for all contact-related sports to athletes of all ages. With various winter sports now in full swing and the holidays just around the corner, it is a great time to pick up a mouth guard for your favorite athlete. Great as a Christmas stocking stuffer or Hanukkah present, something as simple and affordable as a mouth guard can protect smiles and prevent sports-related dental injuries.

Each year, two million teeth get knocked out due out due to sports-related injuries such as a baseball to the mouth. According to WebMD and the American Dental Association, sports injuries are the main source of tooth and mouth injuries in older adolescents and adults. In some cases, these injuries result in permanent damage to the jaw, teeth or surrounding facial bones. Surprisingly, dental injuries are one of the most easily avoidable sports injuries. Yet a recent study commissioned by the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) found that sixty-seven percent of parents stated that their children do not wear a mouth guard during organized sports.

A mouth guard may be one of the least expensive pieces of protection gear available to young athletes, and it can provide a lifetime of savings - especially when you compare the cost of a mouth guard to the cost of losing or damaging a tooth.

If you have athletes on your holiday gift list, make sure they're protected in 2018!

There are several types of mouth guards, and if you're wearing braces you need to wear a mouth guard designed specifically for orthodontic patients. The "Boil and Bite" guards available at most sporting goods stores should not be used while you are in active orthodontic treatment. To pick up a free orthodontic mouth guard or to learn more about which mouth guard is right for you or your child, contact our office.

Keeping Your Retainers Safe This Holiday Season

November 15th, 2017

The busy holiday season is just around the corner, and so are the social activities and parties that go with it. It's also a time when Bel Air Orthodontics is busy replacing broken or lost retainers. 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! Holiday 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.
  • Don't Put It In Your Pocket - Your retainer is more fragile than you think. Placing it in your pocket  or purse 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. 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 holidays, 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 us today if you have any questions about your retainer wear and care. We hope you have a wonderful holiday season!

Do You Know Where Your Mouthguard Is?

October 5th, 2017

With school and fall sports in full swing, we thought it would be a great time to remind all our patients to protect their teeth and orthodontic appliances while out on the playing fields.  According to the National Youth Sports Safety Foundation, school-aged athletes have more than 3 million teeth knocked out in youth sporting events annually.

So how do you protect your teeth?

One of the most important pieces of sports equipment you can wear on the field is a mouthguard, especially when playing contact sports such as soccer, football and field hockey. Wearing a mouthguard can help kids with and without braces avoid serious sports injuries. In fact, the National Youth Sports Safety Foundation reported that athletes who don’t wear mouthguards are 60 times more likely to damage their teeth.

Whatever your sport, the right protective gear can save your face, your teeth, and your braces. If you or your child suffers dental trauma such as a knocked-out or broken tooth, Dr. Godwin suggest that you contact your dentist for immediate attention. For those in braces, it's also important to contact our office to schedule an appointment for repair since damage to braces can lengthen treatment time and affect treatment results.

If you're wearing braces, Dr. Godwin and the team at Bel Air Orthodontics are happy to supply you with a special orthodontic mouthguard. Feel free to ask us more about mouthguards and sports safety at your next visit. Have a great sports season!

Are You Brushing Your Teeth Correctly?

August 17th, 2017

You've been brushing your teeth most of your life,  but have you ever considered whether you’re brushing your teeth correctly? The importance of brushing teeth properly is often overlooked, but it's one of the most important things you can do to maintain your oral health. While brushing your teeth properly isn't rocket science, it does require a conscious effort to make sure it's done right. Here are some tips to make your brushing routine as effective and safe as possible:

  • The most common pitfall that keeps people from brushing properly is that they don't brush long enough. Dr. Godwin recommends that you brush for two minutes (that’s 120 seconds), twice a day, with a soft-bristled, small-headed toothbrush. As an alternative, you can use a powered toothbrush for increased cleaning efficacy. If you have braces, teeth are much harder to clean because food often gets trapped around your brackets and wires. That means you'll need to increase your brushing time to five minutes.
  • Brush the outside surfaces of your teeth using small, gentle, circular motions while positioning the head of the toothbrush at a 45° angle to the gum line. Concentrate on small areas at a time until you’ve cleaned your entire mouth.
  • Brush the inside surfaces of your teeth using the same motion, and chewing surfaces using short, gentle, back-and-forth motions.
  • Gently brush your tongue (or use a tongue scraper). This will remove bacteria and dead cells from your tongue and lead to fresher breath.
  • Pay particular attention to the gum line, hard-to-reach areas in the back of the mouth, around dental and orthodontic appliances, and near fillings, crowns, or any other restorative work.
  • Choosing a toothpaste depends on your individual needs and preferences. Many different types are available for oral health issues such as tartar, gingivitis, or sensitive teeth. But proper brushing technique is the most important tactic for removing tartar from your teeth.
  • We recommend that you replace your toothbrush every three months or when the bristles begin to wear, whichever comes first. It’s also advisable to replace your toothbrush after you’ve been sick, since the bristles of the toothbrush can trap bacteria and allow them to proliferate.

Along with flossing, proper brushing will keep your mouth healthy and beautiful. Please let the team at Bel Air Orthodontics know if you have questions about your brushing and/or flossing routine. As always, we're here to help!

April Is National Facial Protection Month . . . Make Sure You Play It Safe

April 3rd, 2017

April is National Facial Protection Month, and Dr. Stephen Godwin and the team at Bel Air Orthodontics want to remind parents, coaches and athletes to play it safe as they prepare to suit up for recreational and organized sports. Whether at practice, at a game, or simply enjoying some fun in the neighborhood, a sports-related injury can happen in an instant. That's why it's important to take precautions to protect your face and teeth from injury. Dr. Godwin suggests that you take these simple steps to prevent injuries so you can stay in the game:

  • Wear a mouthguard when playing contact sports; if you are wearing braces, make sure you use a mouthguard designed specially for orthodontic patients;
  • Wear a helmet. Helmets reduce the risk of head injury by absorbing the energy of an impact.
  • Wear protective eye wear. According to the Coalition to Prevent Sports Eye Injuries, protective eye wear designed specifically for the sport can prevent more than 90 percent of all eye injuries.
  • Wear a face shield to avoid scratched or bruised skin;
  • Be alert - as a player or spectator!

Did You Know? . . .

Athletes who don't wear mouthguards are 60 times more likely to damage their teeth;

Sports-related injuries are the leading cause of emergency room visits in children ages 12 to 17 according to the Center for Disease Control.

Whatever your sport, the right protective gear can save your teeth, your face, even your life. If you or your child suffers dental trauma such as a knocked-out or broken tooth, Dr. Godwin suggest that you contact your dentist for immediate attention. For those in braces, it's also important to contact our office to schedule an appointment for repair since damage to braces can lengthen treatment time and affect treatment results.

About National Facial Protection Month: Every April, the American Association of Orthodontists, the American Dental Society, the Academy for Sports Dentistry, the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry team up to remind parents and parents, coaches and athletes about the importance of taking precautions to preserve their teeth and protect them from facial injuries.

Retaining Your New Smile

March 15th, 2017

Even though your braces have been removed, your orthodontic treatment isn’t quite finished yet. Retainers must be worn routinely after treatment in order to hold your teeth in their proper, new position while your gums, ligaments, and bones adapt. You’ll be required to wear your retainer full time (twenty-four hours a day) for the first six months (except while eating and brushing your teeth), after which your wear time will typically be reduced to just at night while you sleep.

Why do I need retainers?

Your teeth will shift and become crooked again if you do not wear your retainers.  Bone remodeling around the roots of your teeth allows the braces to move your teeth.  Research demonstrates that remodeled bone requires up to six months to regain original strength.   As the bone restores its strength, your retainers maintain your beautiful smile by holding the crowns of your teeth in their proper position.

Removable Retainers

The main advantage of removable retainers is their ease of use. You can take them out when you eat and when you brush and floss your teeth. Most importantly, removable retainers need to be used as directed to be effective. There are downsides to using a removable retainer, however. They can easily be forgotten at times; and if you are not wearing them as prescribed, they can't do their job of retaining your teeth. Even worse, because they are removable, they are easy to misplace.

Types of Removable Retainers

  • Essix (Clear) Retainers: The Essix retainer is a clear, removable retainer that fits over the entire arch of your teeth. Similar to clear aligner trays, Essix retainers contain no metal or wires. They can also be used to produce minor tooth movements, and can be helpful in prevention of tooth wear due to tooth grinding at night.
  • Hawley Retainers: The Hawley is one of the most common types of removable retainer. It consists of a combination of a metal wire that typically surrounds the six front teeth and an acrylic framing to hold it in place. The acrylic can also be personalized with a large selection of colors or patterns.

Permanent (Bonded) Retainers

Permanent retainers are placed onto the inside surface of your top and bottom front six teeth. They are made of small, thin brackets which are connected with a wire. Once your permanent retainers are placed in your mouth, you won’t need to worry about daily retainer schedules, since they are permanently affixed to your teeth. Because teeth start to shift naturally as we age, permanent retainers typically offer better long-term results for keeping your teeth straight than removable ones do. You can’t forget to put it in; it’s already there!

Retainers help to maintain your new, healthy smile; but they only work if you wear them as prescribed. You've worked hard for that great smile, so don't take any chances. Remember to keep your retention appointments and follow Dr. Godwin's instructions, and you can have a healthy smile that lasts a lifetime!

Top Ten Ways To Keep Your Braces Clean

February 1st, 2017

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 Is Expected Of Me During Orthodontic Treatment?

August 22nd, 2016

During your initial consultation, Dr. Godwin will map out a specific treatment plan for you which includes a timeline of when we expect to complete your treatment.  Like most types of health care, patient cooperation is key in determining the length of treatment and the quality of the outcome.

Creating A Healthy Smile Requires Team Effort & You Are The Key Player

Luckily there are things you can do to ensure that your treatment wraps up in a timely manner and that you have an amazing, healthy smile when braces are removed.  Here's how you can do your part:

  • Make sure to keep your regularly scheduled appointments. Postponing or cancelling can delay treatment;
  • When prescribed, make sure you are diligent about wearing your rubber bands or other appliances according to Dr. Godwin's guidelines;
  • Avoid damage to your braces and teeth by wearing a mouthguard during all sports activities;
  • Steer clear of sticky, chewy or hard foods that can lead to broken brackets and loose wires. Damage to your braces often cause delays in treatment;
  • Keep teeth and gums healthy by brushing and flossing daily, and don't forget to visit your general dentist twice a year for regular dental cleanings;
  • Stay away from sugary and acidic drinks that weaken tooth enamel. Soft drinks, fruit drinks and sports drinks contain acid. This acid pulls calcium out of the enamel, dissolves tooth enamel, and causes a process called decalcification. Once enamel is lost, it does not come back - it's permanent!

If you remember to follow these guidelines, you'll be on your way to the dazzling, healthy smile you've always wanted. As for us, out team at Bel Air Orthodontics will do our part to move your orthodontic treatment along efficiently. If you have any questions about your treatment or your responsibilities in care, please feel free to ask.

A Guide To Preventing Tooth Decay While Wearing Braces

August 10th, 2016

Having braces can present some new challenges when it comes to oral hygiene. It is essential that you put some extra attention into preventing tooth decay while wearing your 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 your braces:

Learn Proper Brushing Techniques

Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the gums in order to clean the whole tooth, and brush gently in the area between the wiring and the teeth. Use a softer toothbrush with fluoride toothpaste for best results. Using an oral rinse every day will help, too. Rinsing with mouthwash is important regardless, but especially important when you have braces, as you need to disinfect the entire mouth, including those spots under the braces where your brush can’t always reach.

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 and floss after every meal. The less time food has to sit on your teeth, the less likely it is to cause decay. This may seem like an inconvenience, but when you get your braces off, you will be very glad you brushed after every meal.

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 or even break a bracket. And while you may love apples, carrots, or corn on the cob, they’re too firm or hard to bite into and can damage your braces. Crunchy treats can also harm your orthodontic appliances. It’s best to stay away from chips and popcorn, which can damage your braces. So just what can you eat? We recommend soft foods that are low in enamel-busting acids, such as bananas, mangoes, milk, water, poultry, and pasta.

Get Regular Checkups

It’s important to keep your routine appointments with your dentist and dental hygienist for a thorough cleaning twice a year or as directed. The exact frequency of these visits will be up to your dentist, as some types of braces are more demanding of a regular cleaning than others.

As long as you practice good oral hygiene and follow these basic tips, you should have no problem keeping your teeth healthy while you wear braces.

Top Ten Ways To Keep Your Retainer and Your Smile Safe This Summer

June 13th, 2016

family summer funSummer is in full swing! It’s time for lazy days by the pool, summer camp 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 that 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. 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 us today if you have any questions about your retainer wear and care. We hope you have a safe, fun-filled summer!

Why Should You Care About Straight Teeth?

March 7th, 2016

It goes without saying that straight teeth are attractive, but there are many other reasons why you should care about straight teeth. Straight teeth help you to effectively bite, chew and speak. They also contribute to healthy teeth and gums, and may alleviate or prevent physical health problems. Teeth that work better also tend to look better - a nice "side effect" of orthodontic treatment.

An Attractive Smile Is A Wonderful Asset

Think the way your teeth look doesn't really matter? Survey says: think again. According to a study conducted by the American Association of Orthodontists, people often make snap judgements about an individual based solely on the condition of their teeth. The study also confirmed that a healthy, attractive smile contributes to self-esteem, self-confidence and self-image which are important qualities at every age. A person's self-esteem often improves as orthodontic treatment brings the teeth, lips, and face into proportion. In this way, orthodontic treatment can benefit social and career success, as well as improve a person's general attitude towards life.

Straight Teeth Are Healthier Teeth

You may be surprised to learn that straight teeth are less prone to decay, gum disease and injury. Crooked and crowded teeth are hard to clean and maintain, so they are prone to more plaque, a colorless, sticky film composed of bacteria, food and saliva. Decay results when the bacteria in plaque feed on carbohydrates (sugar and starch) we eat or drink to produce acids that can cause cavities. Plaque can also increase the risk of periodontal (gum) disease.When teeth are properly aligned, these risks decline, resulting in better oral health.

Properly Aligned Teeth = Better Physical Health

Studies show that properly aligned teeth and jaws may alleviate or prevent physical health problems. Aligned teeth create a better bite, which can reduce stress and strain on your supporting bone and gum tissue. When left untreated, many minor orthodontic problems may become worse, contributing to abnormal wear of tooth surfaces, inefficient chewing, and misalignment of the jaw joints. This can lead to speech difficulties, digestive issues, chronic headaches or pain in the face of neck.

According to the American Association, straight teeth may also reduce injuries to teeth. Protruding upper teeth are more likely to be broken in an accident. Proper tooth alignment reduces the risk of tooth fracture.

For many, treatment by an orthodontic specialist is less costly than the additional dental care required to treat more serious problems that can develop in later years. So, no matter what age you are, it is never to early or late to enhance your smile. To learn  more about how orthodontics can enhance your smile and dental health, call to schedule your complimentary initial exam.

Not All Toothbrushes Are Created Equal

February 17th, 2016

How To Choose The Right Toothbrush For You

Brushing regularly is one of the most important things you can do to  maintain the health and beauty of your smile. With so many toothbrushes on the market, you may be wondering which one is right for you. Of course, you can always ask us at your next checkup, but until then, here are a few helpful tips in choosing the best toothbrush for you.

Regardless of the type of toothbrush you use, your brushing technique, how often you brush, and the length of time you spend brushing will directly affect how much plaque is removed. And remember, visiting your general dentist every six months for a professional cleaning and checkup is essential to ensuring all the harmful, cavity-causing tartar is removed from those hard-to-reach areas.

General Tips For Choosing The Right Toothbrush

Whether you are using a manual or power toothbrush, here are a few general tips to keep in mind:

  • Size - The best toothbrush will have a head small enough to reach into hard-to-reach areas in your mouth and a long, easy-to-grip handle.
  • Bristles - Most toothbrush bristles come in three varieties: soft, medium, or hard. Dr. Godwin recommends that his patients use a soft brush head to minimize damage to your tooth enamel and gums.

Manual vs. Power Toothbrushes

  • Effectiveness - While numerous studies have been conducted to investigate whether or not power brushes are more effective than manual brushes, most suggest there isn't a significant difference between the two when used properly. Since both types of toothbrushes are effective, the one you choose to keep your teeth clean will depend on your personal preference.
  • Cost - While there are many options for both manual and power toothbrushes, manual brushes tend to be significantly less expensive and more accessible than their power counterparts. Additionally, power toothbrush heads may need to be replaced more often than manual brushes.
  • Comfort and Convenience - Technology aside, the best toothbrush is the one you'll actually use! Some people may not be comfortable with the vibration created by a power toothbrush, while those with limited mobility may find a power toothbrush easier to maneuver. Studies show that children who dislike the daily chore of brushing, find power toothbrushes easier and more fun. It’s less work, it tickles their teeth, and the timer will let them know they’re all done!

Lastly, a good quality toothbrush will always have the American Dental Association Seal of Approval. This means that the brush has been tested for effectiveness and safety under normal brushing conditions.

Remember to change your toothbrush or power brush head every three months or sooner if the bristles look worn to ensure maximum effectiveness.

Can't Find A Toothbrush?

February 10th, 2016

Foods That Are Natural Plaque FightersFoods That Are Natural Plaque Fighters

Out with friends? On the road? Sometimes, carrying around a toothbrush to keep your pearly whites clean isn't so easy. When brushing and flossing isn't a convenient option, you can still keep your teeth and mouth clean and feeling fresh simply by eating delicious, healthy food. In fact, you're probably eating many of these foods on a regular basis anyway and helping fight plaque without even knowing it.

An Apple A Day Keeps The Doctor Away And Tooth Decay, Too!

This goes for most crunchy fruits and vegetables as well. Apples, carrots and celery are just a few examples of foods that require extra chewing which produces saliva that neutralizes bacteria that can cause cavities. Plus, chomping on naturally abrasive foods removes stuck-on food particles, massages gums, and cleans between teeth too. If you're in orthodontic treatment, make sure you cut hard, crunchy foods like apples and carrots into bite-size pieces before eating to avoid damage to your braces.

Water, Water, Water!

Drinking water keeps your gums hydrated and is the best way to stimulate saliva, your body's greatest defense against the bacteria that cause plaque and cavities. Rinsing your mouth with water also helps wash away trapped food particles and cause bad breath. If you can't brush after eating, the most important thing you can do to prevent cavities is rinse your mouth with water.

Use Natural Acidity

Limes, lemons, and oranges contain a natural acidity which helps increase the production of saliva to wash away the food you have eaten. Because these acidic fruits also have a high concentration of water in them, they aid the tooth rinsing process as well and help keep your mouth free from harmful bacteria. It's important to follow up with a drink of water to remove any excess citric acid though, as this can also eat away at your tooth enamel.

Be Green With Tea

Green tea contains substances called catechins that kill the bacteria in your mouth that turn sugar into plaque. Catechins also wipe out the bacteria that cause bad breath. So, instead of reaching for that can of soda, steep some green tea instead!

Say Cheese!

Cheese, which is low in carbohydrates and high in calcium, provides several benefits to your teeth. It helps to balance your mouth's acidity level, preserves and rebuilds tooth enamel, prevents plaque, and produces saliva which kills the bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease.

Protect Your Teeth And Gums with Sugarless Gum

The xylitol in many sugarless gums helps to prevent plaque, aids in producing saliva, and can help remove food stuck to your teeth after a meal. Plus, chewing sugar-free gum keeps your breath smelling great!

Of course, no food or drink can take the place of daily brushing and flossing; but when you're on the go, you can still take a bite out of tooth daily.

Flossing Buddies For Braces

February 4th, 2016

February is National Dental Health Month, and the team at Bel Air Orthodontics want to remind everyone about the importance of good oral hygiene and the role it plays in the health of your teeth and the success of your orthodontic treatment.

Brushing for two minutes, two times a day is the golden rule when it comes to taking care of your teeth; but did you know that brushing alone isn't enough to keep your mouth clean and disease free? The gum tissue between your teeth where your toothbrush can't reach is prone to infection. That's why flossing regularly is just as essential to your overall health care as brushing. The American Dental Association (ADA) suggests flossing at least once a day to promote total oral health.

Flossing With Braces

Flossing is more important that ever when you're in orthodontic treatment. Braces can catch food and allow plaque to build up around them, increasing the risk of gum disease. Flossing removes plaque from the areas of your teeth that your toothbrush can't reach. If you don't remove this plaque, it can harden into tartar and lead to gum inflammation and disease. Fortunately there are products to help you successfully floss around and between your braces. Here are some handy helpers that make it easier to floss while you're in treatment:

Floss Threaders

A floss threader is the most common tool to help you floss with braces. Made of a special, rigid plastic, a threader works like a sewing needle to help you guide the floss under the archwire so that you can floss as usual. Here's how it works:

  1. Pull off 12 to 18 inches of your preferred dental floss.
  2. Insert one end of the dental floss about five inches into the loop of the threader.
  3. Pass the floss threader under or over the archwire.
  4. Remove the threader from the floss and floss gently back and forth and up and down into the gumline between the teeth.
  5. Repeat the process between each tooth.

Stiff-Ended Floss

Made with a bendable but rigid segment at its end, this special floss works much the same as a floss threader. Products such as Oral-B's Super Floss have three unique components—a stiffened-end dental floss threader, spongy floss and regular floss.

Simply maneuver the stiff end under the archwire of your braces, pull it through and floss as usual. All three flossing tools work together to give you maximum benefits.

Oral Irrigators

An oral irrigator, such as a Waterpik®, works by shooting a very fine jet of water between and around teeth to clear away plaque and food. This system can make cleaning around your braces much easier and more thorough. Dr. Godwin highly recommends the use of an oral irrigator throughout orthodontic treatment.

Regardless of the type flossing tool you use, make sure that you floss on a regular basis - at least once a day. Though flossing may add one more step to your daily routine, it's just as important to achieving a healthy smile as brushing. As always, let us know if you have any questions about the best way to keep your teeth clean and healthy while you're in treatment.

Do You Know Where Your Mouthguard Is?

August 26th, 2015

With school and fall sports just around the corner, we thought it would be a great time to remind all our patients to protect their teeth and orthodontic appliances while out on the playing fields.  According to the National Youth Sports Safety Foundation, school-aged athletes have more than 3 million teeth knocked out in youth sporting events annually.

So how do you protect your teeth? One of the most important pieces of sports equipment you can wear on the field is a mouthguard, especially when playing contact sports such as soccer, football and field hockey. Wearing a mouthguard can help kids with and without braces avoid serious sports injuries. In fact, the National Youth Sports Safety Foundation reported that athletes who don’t wear mouthguards are 60 times more likely to damage their teeth.

Whatever your sport, the right protective gear can save your face, your teeth, and your braces. If you or your child suffers dental trauma such as a knocked-out or broken tooth, Dr. Godwin suggest that you contact your dentist for immediate attention. For those in braces, it's also important to contact our office to schedule an appointment for repair since damage to braces can lengthen treatment time and affect treatment results.

If you're wearing braces, Dr. Godwin and the team at Bel Air Orthodontics are happy to supply you with a special orthodontic mouthguard. Feel free to ask us more about mouthguards and sports safety at your next visit. Have a great sports season!

Start Your Orthodontic Treatment Off Right

July 13th, 2015

If you recently started orthodontic treatment, you may still be adjusting to your new braces. Believe it or not, you and your braces will become good friends over the coming months and years, so it's important to get your relationship off to a good start. Dr. Godwin has the following recommendations to prevent rocky times ahead:

Floss, floss, floss! Yes, it's a daunting task to floss around your braces, but it's the best way to prevent gum disease and other oral health problems. To make the chore easier, ask Dr. Godwin or our staff for floss threaders that can help you get dental floss into otherwise impossible areas. Just a few minutes per day will ensure that you don't face significant dental health issues when the braces come off.

Avoid sticky or hard foods. We know it's tough to forgo toffee, caramel, gum, and other sticky treats, but your braces will thank you. Sticky or hard foods can break a bracket or wire, so it's best to avoid them altogether to keep your orthodontic treatment on track.

Chew with your back teeth. If you're used to taking large bites with your front teeth, it might be time to switch your eating habits. Taking a large bite of food with your front teeth can leave your braces vulnerable to damage. Instead, cut large foods into small pieces and use your back teeth to chew. This is especially important with corn on the cob, which should always be cut from the cob.

Wear your rubber bands (aka elastics) as prescribed. While rubber bands may seem annoying, failing to wearing them according to Dr. Godwin's instructions can increase the length of your treatment by months. Wear them now to avoid problems in the future.

Be patient and give it time. While it does take some time to adjust to braces, it won't be long before your teeth and gums become accustomed to orthodontic treatment. So be patient because it will get easier. Teeth don't move over night, but before long you'll see amazing changes in your smile!

Say Cheese . . . It's National Smile Month

June 8th, 2015

According to the American Dental Association, a person’s smile outranked eyes, hair and body as the most important physical feature. While smiling is a great way to get yourself noticed, it turns out that it can also help your body function better. Since June is National Smile Month, we thought it would be a great time to share some good reasons to show off your pearly whites:

Smiling Makes You More Attractive

Studies now support what we’ve long known . . . we’re more attracted to people who smile. Smiling, happy people are perceived to be more relaxed, confident and approachable—a characteristic that we’re naturally drawn to.

Smiling Changes Your Mood

There’s nothing quite like a cheerful smile for perking you up, as well as those around you. So next time you’re feeling down, try putting on a smile. There’s a good chance your mood will change for the better.

Smiling is Contagious

It turns out that emotions are catchy. When someone is smiling, they lighten up the room, change the mood of others, and make things happier. Dr. David Lewis, a psychologist and Director of Research at Mindlab International, says, “Seeing a smile creates what’s known as a halo effect, helping us to remember happy events, feel more optimistic, more positive and more motivated.”

Smiling Relieves Stress

According to a study at Columbia University, smiling can help to reduce symptoms associated with stress. Studies show that chronic stress does significant damage to the body and mind, so the next time you're stressed out, try to put on a smile. Better yet, find something to laugh about. Studies show that laughing reduces levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, and gives you a quick burst of energy.

Smiling Boosts Your Immune System

“The research is clear,” says Christopher Peterson, PhD, a University of Michigan professor. “There is a link between optimistic attitudes and good health.” His research supports that smiling, optimistic people have a more robust immune system. So, what are you waiting for . . . smile your way to better health!

Smiling Releases Endorphins, Natural Pain Killers & Serotonin

Studies show that smiling releases natural “feel good” brain chemicals which reduce pain and make us feel happy. So remember to smile every day. Not only will you be happier, you’ll be healthier too.

Smiling Makes You Look Younger

The muscles we use to smile lift the face, making a person appear younger. Don’t go for a face lift, just try smiling your way though the day. You’ll look younger and feel better!

Smiling Helps You Stay Positive

Try this test: Just smile for 30 seconds. Now try to think of something negative without losing the smile. It’s hard, right? When we smile, our body is sending the rest of us a message that “Life is Good!”

A smile is one of the most simple, inexpensive and wonderful things you can do . . . Share yours with the world today!

Sources: Abel, MH, Hester, R. (2002); The therapeutic effects of smiling; British Dental health Foundation (2005); Positive Psychology News (2008) Health & Emotional Benefits of Smiling.

It's National Facial Protection Month . . . Here's How You Can Play It Safe

April 6th, 2015

April is National Facial Protection Month, and Dr. Stephen Godwin and the team at Bel Air Orthodontics want to remind parents, coaches and athletes to play it safe as they prepare to suit up for recreational and organized sports. Whether at practice, at a game, or simply enjoying some fun in the neighborhood, a sports-related injury can happen in an instant. That's why it's important to take precautions to protect your face and teeth from injury. Dr. Godwin suggests that you take these simple steps to prevent injuries so you can stay in the game:

  • Wear a mouthguard when playing contact sports; if you are wearing braces, make sure you use a mouthguard designed specially for orthodontic patients;
  • Wear a helmet. Helmets reduce the risk of head injury by absorbing the energy of an impact.
  • Wear protective eye wear. According to the Coalition to Prevent Sports Eye Injuries, protective eye wear designed specifically for the sport can prevent more than 90 percent of all eye injuries.
  • Wear a face shield to avoid scratched or bruised skin;
  • Be alert - as a player or spectator!

Did You Know? . . .

Athletes who don't wear mouthguards are 60 times more likely to damage their teeth;

Sports-related injuries are the leading cause of emergency room visits in children ages 12 to 17 according to the Center for Disease Control.

Whatever your sport, the right protective gear can save your teeth, your face, even your life. If you or your child suffers dental trauma such as a knocked-out or broken tooth, Dr. Godwin suggest that you contact your dentist for immediate attention. For those in braces, it's also important to contact our office to schedule an appointment for repair since damage to braces can lengthen treatment time and affect treatment results.

About National Facial Protection Month: Every April, the American Association of Orthodontists, the American Dental Society, the Academy for Sports Dentistry, the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry team up to remind parents and parents, coaches and athletes about the importance of taking precautions to preserve their teeth and protect them from facial injuries.

Your Pal, Fluoride

February 24th, 2015

There are so many ways you can protect your teeth throughout your orthodontic treatment.   We recommend you brush your teeth at least two times per day, floss regularly and protect your mouth and appliances from damage by making smart food choices. But did you know there is another, often forgotten, way to keep your teeth clean and healthy during your treatment? Fluoride, a mineral found in your water and many dental products can keep your teeth strong!

What is Fluoride And How is It Used?

Fluoride is a mineral that helps prevent cavities and tooth decay. It comes in two varieties: topical and systemic. Topical fluorides are applied directly to the tooth enamel. Some examples include fluoride toothpastes and mouth rinses, as well as fluoride treatments at your dentist's office. Systemic fluoride is swallowed and benefits the teeth before and after they erupt in the mouth. Examples include fluoridated water and dietary fluoride supplements.

The topical fluoride preparation used in the dental office is a much stronger concentration than that in toothpastes or mouth rinses that are available at your local pharmacy. A fluoride treatment typically takes just a few minutes. After the treatment, patients are asked not to rinse, eat or drink for at least 30 minutes in order to allow the teeth to absorb the fluoride. Your dentist may also prescribe a fluoride product such as fluoride gels or antibacterial mouth rinses.   Dentists have used in-office fluoride treatments for decades to help protect their patients' oral health; so if you have questions about fluoride treatments and their benefits, don't hesitate to ask Dr. Godwin and/or your general dentist.

Look For The American Dental Association's Seal of Acceptance.

When choosing your own over-the-counter fluoride products, be sure to check for the American Dental Association's (ADA) seal of acceptance. Products marked with the ADA seal of approval have been examined carefully by the ADA's Council on Scientific Affairs and have met it's criteria for safety and effectiveness. Take care of your teeth and share your beautiful smile!

Is It Time To Toss Your Toothbrush?

February 18th, 2015

Has your toothbrush seen better days? No matter what type of toothbrush you use - electric or manual  - when the bristles become frayed and worn, it is no longer effective for keeping your teeth and gums clean and healthy. The American Dental Association recommends you change your toothbrush every three months, and so do we! Also keep in mind that you should replace your toothbrush after an illness to avoid re-infection.

Choosing The Right Toothbrush

So which kind of toothbrush is right for you? Whether manual or electric, choose a toothbrush that is appropriate for your age and oral health needs.

Size: The head of the toothbrush should allow you easy access to all your teeth, especially those hard-to-reach molars. A toothbrush that is too large will be cumbersome to maneuver in a smaller mouth, while a toothbrush that is too small won't be as effective in reaching all the surface areas of your teeth.

Bristle Type: A soft-bristle toothbrush is your best bet to achieve a comfortable, safe, and effective teeth cleaning. Medium and hard-bristled brushes can damage your enamel and gums, especially if you tend to be an aggressive brusher.

Expert Recommendation: Make sure the toothbrush you choose has undergone rigorous safety and effectiveness testing. Look for the American Dental Association's (ADA) seal of approval or consult our team for recommendations on the best type of toothbrush to meet your needs, especially if you are wearing braces.

Technique: Finding the right toothbrush is the first step in great oral health. The second is ensuring that you're using the right brushing technique. Placing the toothbrush closer to the gum line and brushing with gentle circular motions for two minutes is important to achieve the best results.

Do you have questions about choosing the right toothbrush for your smile? If so, contact our office or ask us at your next appointment.

Top Ten Tips For Keeping Your Braces Clean

February 10th, 2015

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.

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