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Time to Brush Up on Brushing and Flossing

August 25th, 2021

If your child has just gotten braces, chances are it’s a good time to brush up on dental hygiene! Why now? What’s different? And how can you help? Let’s take a few minutes and explore these timely questions.

Brushing and Flossing Are Especially Important with Braces

There’s no getting around it, it’s harder to clean teeth with brackets and wires. But it’s essential to pay attention to dental hygiene. When bacteria and plaque start building up, your child is at risk for gum disease, cavities, and tooth discoloration.

  • Gingivitis

This early stage of gum disease is the result of gum irritation caused by plaque. The gums become red, swollen, sore, and can bleed or start to recede. With proper brushing and flossing, gingivitis can be eliminated, along with the risk of developing more serious gum disease.

  • Tooth Decay

One of the major reasons for cavities is the erosion of enamel caused by oral bacteria. These bacteria feed on sugars from our diet and produce acids that attack the tooth’s surface. Plaque, formed by a mass of these bacteria, sticks around brackets and the gum line, putting your child at risk for cavities near his orthodontic work—which might require removing wires and brackets to treat.

  • Demineralization

When acids attack teeth, they remove the minerals from our enamel. This demineralization eventually leads to cavities, but in its early stages can cause white spots to appear where the mineral structure has been weakened. Braces wearers are at special risk for demineralization, especially around brackets and near the gums, where plaque can be missed while brushing.

Time for New Brushing and Flossing Techniques

Even if your child has always done a wonderful job of brushing and flossing, braces provide a new challenge for getting teeth their cleanest. Unfortunately, plaque buildup around the brackets and the gum line is all too common in orthodontic patients. Dr. Smith can recommend some tools that make the cleaning process easier and more effective.

  • Toothbrushes

Manual brushes are available with small, soft-bristled heads designed especially for braces wearers. If your child still has problems getting rid of plaque and food debris, an electric toothbrush might be helpful. And remember, encourage your child to be thorough but gentle for the sake of both braces and gums.

  • Flossing with Braces

Flossing can be challenging for children at any time, but especially with braces. We’ll show you how floss threaders work, and how special flosses designed just for braces can fit under wires. This might also be a good time to invest in a water flosser. Your help demonstrating how to floss even with brackets and wires blocking the way will be appreciated by your child and your dentist!

  • Products Just for Braces

Interproximal brushes are tiny cone-shaped brushes designed to fit around brackets and wires and between teeth. We can also suggest special toothpastes and rinses to help fight plaque and prevent cavities from developing. Ask us about what to shop for to make both of your lives easier.

You Can Help!

  • Teamwork—Works!

When your child first gets braces, practice brushing and flossing together. Our Washington DC team will be happy to show you both the very best techniques for keeping teeth their cleanest and healthiest. Especially for young children, your help will make sure those techniques are learned and used.

  • Make Time for Cleaning

Your child’s before-braces routine might have meant brushing two minutes each morning and two minutes at night. But thorough cleaning around brackets and wires might take a bit longer. (And, with braces, it’s best to brush after every meal rather than the common twice-a-day routine). Be available, at least at first, for a quick check to make sure braces and teeth are their cleanest. And you may have to help with removing and replacing bands until your child gets the hang of it.

  • Be Prepared!

Whether it’s a day at school or an overnighter with friends, be sure your child has a kit filled with cleaning supplies ready to take along. A toothbrush, floss, an interproximal brush, toothpaste, a mirror—with these necessities, your child can keep on top of any cleaning emergencies.

For younger children especially, learning how to keep teeth and braces their cleanest can take some time. Be patient, be prepared, and be willing to help, and you and your child will have a new routine mastered—in no time at all!

What causes crooked teeth?

August 18th, 2021

Teeth erupt crookedly for a number of reasons that range from genetics to mouth deformities and serious oral diseases. When extra teeth or abnormally large teeth create a malocclusion (crookedness or misplacement of teeth), the culprit is usually genetic in nature. Other inherited traits involve jaws that are too small to accommodate a full set of teeth and misaligned jaws that did not form properly in the womb.

Can crooked teeth be prevented?

In most cases, underbites, overbites, and crooked teeth are genetically derived and can’t be avoided. Orthodontic treatment with braces will be necessary to correct the condition once the child is old enough to wear them. However, certain early childhood behaviors may also contribute to the development of crooked teeth that can be avoided. These include:

  • Thumb sucking and tongue thrusting
  • Losing baby teeth to decay before permanent teeth have naturally pushed them out of their sockets
  • Allowing pacifier use to continue after front teeth have erupted

Permanent teeth underneath baby teeth are directly affected by the health of baby teeth. If baby teeth are prematurely lost due to decay or trauma, permanent teeth will shift when they start moving upward. Baby teeth are like anchors for permanent teeth that help guide them as they erupt through the gums.

In addition, excellent care of baby teeth is vital to having healthy permanent teeth free of discoloration or decay. Harmful oral bacteria can spread into the gums and reach permanent teeth still buried in the gums. Once attached to a tooth’s enamel, bacteria will begin eroding the tooth even before it has a chance to take its first bite!

When to Start Orthodontic Treatment for Crooked Teeth

Dr. Smith and our staff suggest that parents bring your child to Infinity Orthodontics around age seven to rule out potential issues with permanent teeth eruption. If problems are discovered, it is not unusual to begin orthodontic treatment at that age. In fact, specific conditions such as crowding and gaps between teeth are easier to correct at an early age.

Early treatment also benefits from the growth process of the jaw, which helps move teeth to normal positions.

What role do elastics (rubber bands) play in orthodontics?

August 11th, 2021

Wearing orthodontic braces may be the best choice for correcting your teeth and improving your smile, and that's why you've come to see Dr. Smith at Infinity Orthodontics. Braces, which consist of brackets and wires, work by gently applying pressure to the teeth, and that pressure causes them to move into the correct position. In some cases elastics, or rubber bands, are used to apply additional pressure needed to move your teeth.

The Purpose of Elastics

Customized for each patient, the rubber bands typically stretch over tiny loops on the top and bottom brackets. If worn consistently, and every day, these tiny elastics will apply the steady pressure needed to guide your teeth into the correct position.

These elastics are crafted from medical-grade latex, which is safe to be in contact with your mouth. It's common to remove the elastics during meals if opening your mouth wide enough to eat is difficult. Our staff will demonstrate how to affix the elastics so it will soon become second nature to replace them.

The Do’s and the Don'ts

DO - Get in the habit of carrying around extra rubber bands and replace them as soon as one breaks. By consistently wearing the elastics, you may shorten the overall time needed to wear braces.

DON'T - Double up on elastics as this will cause too much pressure on the tooth or teeth and can actually harm the root of the tooth.

DO - Always wash your hands before removing or replacing the rubber bands.

DON'T - Overstretch the rubber band or it will lose its strength and it will be ineffective.

DO - Call us if you run out of rubber bands.

DO - Have fun with your braces and elastics. There are many different colors available that can let you show off your soon-to-be perfect smile.

Rubber bands are a key part of your orthodontic treatment, and learning how to remove and replace them is an important part to maintaining your braces. Before we set you on your journey to a perfect smile, we'll make sure you understand all there is to know about how to take care of your braces. Of course, if you have any questions about your orthodontic treatment, or orthodontics in general, be sure to contact our Washington DC office, and our staff will be happy to assist you!

Ugh, Not Braces!

July 14th, 2021

Getting your child excited about braces is a lot like: A) convincing a grumpy toddler that it’s time to take a nap? B) convincing a teenager to stop texting during dinner? C) convincing your husband to eat his peas? The answer, obviously, is all of the above.

And that’s why you may need a few thoughtful ways to get your child on board with braces.

  1. Throw a pre-braces party. It can’t be just any party, however, but a Willy Wonka celebration of candy, chips, gum, and all the sticky and sweet foods your child won’t be able to indulge in during the time he or she is wearing braces. Promise a post-braces celebration, too, and watch as your child’s eyes widen at the thought of an all-you-can-eat junk food buffet.
  2. Encouraging phrases like “braces aren’t eternal, but your straight smile will be” can go a long way.
  3. If your daughter is worried about getting picked on because of braces, then name-drop some A-list celebrities who have worn them. The list includes Cameron Diaz, Kelly Clarkson, Dakota Fanning, and Gwen Stefani.
  4. Emphasize that braces today aren’t the same as they were in the Stone Age. From clear ceramic braces to different-colored braces, more options are available. Braces can be cool accessories to express a personal style.
  5. To get your child to embrace braces, you need to sing the praises of beautiful teeth, even if that means pointing out how crooked your teeth are because you never got braces.
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