Soft drinks and orthodontic braces... not a good combination!

According to the American Association of Orthodontists, soft drinks, including regular and diet soda, fruit drinks, sports drinks and energy drinks, weaken tooth enamel and can lead to decay. They are even harder on teeth when orthodontic appliances such as braces or Invisalign are present. It is strongly recommended that soft drinks be avoided during any orthodontic treatment. This will help to ensure your teeth stay healthy and strong during treatment which will lead to a beautiful smile.

Soft drinks contain acids that pull calcium out of the enamel. This makes the enamel softer. The acid continues to dissolve the tooth enamel, creating white spots called decalcification. Decalcification, or white spot lesions, can lead to cavities. Once enamel dissolves, it cannot "grow" back. This is a permanent loss of enamel once it occurs.

Chemicals are classified as acids or bases. The pH value is a measurement of how acidic or basic a chemical is. Soft drinks have a low pH value, and are therefore considered acids. Water has a neutral pH value at 7.0. Pepsi has a pH value of 2.62, for example, making it very acidic and therefore very harmful to tooth enamel, as tooth enamel begins to dissolve at a pH level of 5.5. Water or milk is always the best choice (milk has a pH value of 6.7)!

BE SMART! Avoid soft drinks, juices, sports drinks and energy drinks during orthodontic treatment. If you must have that periodic soft drink, always drink it through a straw and have it with a meal. Brush right away after drinking a soft drink, and if you can't brush right away, be sure and at least rinse your mouth out with water. Drink the soft drink quickly rather than sipping over time as each sip renews that acid attack on your enamel! Be sure and brush with a fluoride toothpaste at least three times a day as fluoride helps to strengthen tooth enamel. And don't forget to floss! You should also remember to see your dentist every six months during your orthodontic treatment for a professional cleaning and check-up.

What is an orthodontic expander?

WHEN YOU THINK of orthodontic treatment, the first things that come to mind are braces and retainers. But there’s more to orthodontics than that! Depending on your child’s unique case, we may use other orthodontic appliances to help them achieve a beautiful smile. One of these appliances is an orthodontic, or palatal expander.

An Expander Helps Widen Narrow Mouths

A palatal expander is a specially made appliance used to widen the palate or roof of the mouth. This appliance is usually used for younger patients whose jaw may be too narrow to accommodate incoming permanent teeth. When the jaw is too narrow for the adult set of teeth, crowding and bite misalignment may develop.

If a narrow upper jaw is left untreated and crowding and bite problems occur, a person may have difficulty with chewing, speech and other functions. It may also cause a need for more dental work as an adult. Put simply, an expander is used to widen a narrow palate early, helping big teeth fit into little mouths!

Here’s a quick look at how an expander works:

Help Your Child Adjust To Their Expander

The first couple of days with an expander may be an adjustment for your child. They may report some discomfort such as a feeling of pressure in the mouth or behind their nose. This pressure fades quickly on its own but over-the-counter pain relievers can also help.

In addition, your child may speak differently for the first few days or slurp more than usual due to an increase in saliva production. All of this is normal and will go away as they get used to the expander in their mouths.

Since your child’s mouth may be a bit sore, eating fun foods that require minimal chewing like yogurt, ice cream, jello, mashed potatoes, pudding, etc. may help them adapt. Normal eating should resume within a few days.

Keep Up An Oral Hygiene Routine

As with any orthodontic appliance, it’s important for your child to keep their expander clean. They should brush twice a day as well as continue daily flossing. Since food may be more prone to get caught under your child’s expander, we recommend a water jet or syringe after meals and before bedtime to flush out any remaining debris.

Every Smile Is Unique

Everyone is unique and may require a different combination of treatment to achieve a beautiful, healthy smile. Our goal is cater to your child’s individual needs to bring about the best results. Do you have any questions about palatal expanders? Give us a call or leave it in the comments below! We always love to hear from you.

Do you need to floss or not?

YOU’VE BEEN HEARING a lot about flossing in the news these days. Recent articles stating that flossing doesn’t do any good for your oral health have left many patients feeling shocked and confused. As your trusted orthodontist, we’re here to set the record straight!
It all started with an article by the Associated Press stating that the benefits of flossing have been unproven. Unfortunately, haters of flossing were quick to take up their torches and pitchforks against the practice. In response to the Associated Press article, the American Dental Association released a statement saying that flossing is “an essential part of taking care of your teeth and gums.” And we’re going to tell you why.

Here’s Why You Should Continue Flossing

Flossing helps to prevent cavities! Think of all the plaque that is visible on your floss when you're done! That plaque was untouchable by your toothbrush, obviously, or it wouldn't have been left behind after brushing. The area between your teeth is often a place that cavities happen because plaque was allowed to hang out there.  Plaque contains bacteria that secrete acids to erode enamel and cause tooth decay.  The only effective way to remove that plaque completely is with dental floss. This is especially important during orthodontic treatment as the braces and wires make it even more difficult for your toothbrush to reach in between the teeth. The wire serves as a "road block" to your tooth brush so threading that floss underneath the wire and getting at those surfaces is extra important.  The American Dental Association recommends that flossing be done before brushing so that the fluoride contained within toothpaste can reach those surfaces between the teeth once that plaque is removed by floss.

Flossing reduces tartar buildup! Calculus is hardened dental plaque.  It is formed by minerals that exist in your saliva and the fluid that hangs out underneath your gingiva (gingival crevicular fluid).  Those minerals precipitate out of those fluids and turn that nasty plaque into hard calculus.  Calculus then serves as a spot for more plaque to hide around and make the situation even worse.  To prevent calculus from forming, all that plaque needs to be removed between the teeth and the only way to reach it is by using dental floss.

Flossing helps to prevent bad breath!  Bacteria causes bad breath.  Bacteria live in plaque.  Flossing removes plaque.  It's that simple.

Flossing helps to prevent gum disease! Gingivitis and periodontitis (a more severe form of gum disease) are caused by bacteria that live in plaque.  Those bacteria cause redness, swelling and bleeding of your gums.  And when that gingivitis is allowed to persist, it can develop into periodontal disease.  When a patient gets periodontal disease, the bone that surrounds your teeth starts to disappear.  That can result in loosening and loss of teeth.

We Care About Our Patients

We only recommend flossing because we care about your oral and overall health! Through our years of experience, we’ve seen the difference that flossing can make. Braces make it even harder to keep those teeth clean, so it's extra important to floss during orthodontic treatment.  So, ignore the headlines and take it from the professionals: flossing works! Keep up the good flossing habits and we promise you’ll feel the difference.