our blog

Caring for your teeth during orthodontic treatment

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.

Bel Air Orthodontics Gives School Nurses A Helping Hand

September 21st, 2016

It's back-to-school time, and that means the school nurses have their hands full. To make they're 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. We hope everyone has a great school year!

Making Your Orthodontic Treatment Comfortable

July 18th, 2016

We want you to have the best possible orthodontic experience … one that will leave you smiling in more ways than one! However, having braces means you’ll have to alter your lifestyle a little: You’ll need to be careful about what you eat, make sure you brush and floss regularly, and protect your braces if you play sports. If you care for your braces properly, your treatment should be smooth sailing!

The best way to ensure your comfort during orthodontic treatment is to eat a braces-friendly diet. Certain foods are better suited for the purpose, as opposed to hard and sticky foods that can cause damage. So what types of foods should you eat if you have braces?

The best are low in sugar and do not require excessive chewing. For breakfast, try eggs, yogurt, wheat toast, or oatmeal. Lunch may steer toward a banana rather than an apple, a salad without nuts, and string cheese instead of chips. A healthy dinner might include most types of vegetables, as long as they are cooked to an appropriate softness. Pair that with a lean protein such as fish or chicken, and follow up with dessert. Just be sure to brush afterward!

Post-Tightening Foods

If you’ve just had your braces tightened, you’re probably feeling a bit of discomfort. That’s completely normal and should disappear in a day or so, but in the meantime, you’ll want to stick to easy-to-chew foods:

  • Pudding
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Soup
  • Ice cream
  • Cottage cheese
  • Peas
  • Pancakes
  • Pasta

Foods to Avoid

Anyone who wears braces—whether fixed or removable—should avoid excessive snacking and aim to eat a healthy and balanced diet. It’s also important to avoid foods that could cause damage to your braces, including:

  • Hard candies
  • Gum
  • Nuts
  • Popcorn

Hard, crunchy, or chewy foods can bend wires, or even rip a bracket right off your tooth! Any kind of damage will result in a longer treatment time and additional office visits. You won’t have braces forever, so save the sticky snacking for after they’re removed.

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.

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!

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.

Top of Page