Decatur AL orthodontist

Permanent or Removable Retainers: Which is Right for You?

November 9th, 2012

When the time to remove your braces finally arrives, it is very exciting. Unfortunately, it can be somewhat confusing, too, because you are faced with choosing between two kinds of retainers. Should you go with permanent, removable, or a combination of the two? It is always wise to follow your orthodontist’s recommendations, but knowing more about the two types of retainer beforehand can be helpful.

Removable Retainers
Removable retainers offer the advantage of easy use: you will generally put a removable retainer in at night and take it out in the morning. Regardless of your retainer schedule, you'll be able to enjoy some time with no retainer. However, a removable retainer can easily be forgotten at times, and this means you won't be taking full advantage of teeth retention.

Another potential advantage of a removable retainer is that you can take it out and brush and floss your teeth with ease, which is more of a challenge with a permanent retainer. Although removable retainers can be very effective, they don't tend to be as effective as permanent retainers, especially if they are not used as directed.

Permanent Retainers
Permanent retainers are the clear choice for patients who want to “get it and forget it.” Once your permanent retainer is placed in your mouth, you won’t need to worry about daily retainer schedules, since it is permanently affixed to your teeth.

Because teeth begin to shift naturally as we age, a permanent retainer typically offers better long-term results for teeth straightening than a removable one. You can't forget to put it in — it's already there! Temporary retainers get lost or are forgotten on trips, and often fail to get used as often as they should be.

One drawback to permanent retainers is flossing. Some patients find it more difficult to floss with a permanent retainer, but we can show you effective ways to floss fairly quickly with your permanent retainer.

Some orthodontists may recommend a combination of the two; for example, a removable retainer for the top teeth and a permanent one for the lower ones because the lower teeth are smaller and tend to shift more.

Ultimately, the most important thing to remember is that wearing your retainer as directed is extremely important. As long as you follow our orthodontist’s advice, you will get the best results from your retainer, regardless of its type.

Avoiding Common Problems Associated With Braces

November 2nd, 2012

While braces play an important part in helping to create a healthy mouth and teeth, you might experience a few side effects while wearing them that are common and can be easily treated.

Even with the best of care, braces can cause soreness to your mouth. As your teeth begin to move, it is natural for your teeth to feel aches and your jaw to develop soreness.

If there are broken wires or loose bands on your braces, a sore tongue, mouth, or canker sore will occur. Canker sores are a common occurrence when braces rub inside the mouth. There are ointments available to reduce the pain and irritation associated with mouth sores. If you experience a sore mouth or any of the following problems, call our office to schedule an appointment.

• Loose brackets: Apply a small amount of orthodontic wax to the bracket temporarily. You might also apply a little between the braces and the soft tissue of your mouth.
• Loose bands: These must be secured in place by our office. Try to save the band for repair.
• Protruding or broken wires: The eraser end of a pencil can be used to move the wire carefully to a less painful spot. If you are unable to move it, apply orthodontic wax to the tip. If a mouth sore develops, rinse with warm salt water or antiseptic rinse.
• Loose spacers: These will need to be repositioned and sometimes replaced.

Foods to Avoid
Some foods can also help or hurt you while you’re wearing braces. Remember to cut your food into small pieces that can be easily chewed. You will want to avoid hard and chewy foods that can break your hardware. Foods such as corn on the cob, nuts, carrots, apples, ice, and bubble gum should be avoided.

Braces, rubber bands, springs, and other mouth appliances associated with braces will normally attract food particles and plaque. Without the proper care, this could cause staining of your teeth.

We recommend brushing after every meal or snack and carefully removing any food that might be lodged in the braces. A fluoride mouthwash might be helpful as well as flossing. At your next appointment, we can advise you how to floss with a brush specially designed for braces!

Rubber Band Horoscopes: What Your Color Says About You

October 26th, 2012

One exciting part about wearing braces is getting to choose the colors of your rubber bands. Orthodontists place elastic bands, or ligatures, over each bracket to secure the archwire in place. These rubber bands may be individual or connected, depending on your mouth’s needs. You have the option of choosing the color of your elastics, which are changed about once every month at every visit. Our offices keep a color wheel handy to help you choose which ones suit you best!

Children and teens often enjoy picking different colors each month to express their creativity and coordinate their braces with outfits. Decorating your mouth with your favorite colors is fun for kids and takes some of the stress out of wearing braces. Adults who wish for subtlety have color options that blend in with the metal brackets and archwire. Common choices for adults include silver, clear, and gray tones.

Common Color Combinations for Rubber Bands
With individual ligatures for each bracket, you may choose different color combinations for special events. You can have alternating colors or place an entire rainbow over your teeth. Here are a few options to consider:
• School spirit colors
• Favorite sports team colors
• Patriotic colors
• Holiday themes

Some patients choose only one color to match their mood, personality, or favorite outfits. The palette of choices allows you to make bold statements with your braces or go for subtler tones that blend in with the metal structures. Keep in mind that bright colors make your teeth look whiter, while lighter shades, such as yellow and white, may cause your teeth to appear less bright.

What Your Rubber Band Color Says About You
• Red tones indicate that you are ready for action and take charge of your life with aggressive, forward-thinking steps.
• Blue tones are calm and relaxing. You are conservative and exhibit integrity when dealing with situations.
• Green tones represent growth and balance. You are level-headed and look for opportunities to grow emotionally and spiritually.
• Purple tones attract creative energies. You like to have fun and use your imagination in every aspect of your life.
• Orange tones indicate that you are optimistic and thrive in social situations where communication is open.
• Pink is a romantic color that represents a caring personality. You also enjoy having fun with silly games and endless laughter.

The Evolution of Braces

October 19th, 2012

Did you know that even in ancient times, people wanted to improve the look and function of their smiles? We think of modern orthodontic appliances as sleek, efficient technology, but this was not always the case! Take a look at the highlights in the evolution of braces.

Ancient Times: From Greece to Rome
• According to The Angle Orthodontist, Aristotle and Hippocrates first thought about methods for straightening teeth between 400 and 300 BC.
• The Etruscans, in what we now know as Italy, buried their dead with appliances that maintained spaces and prevented collapse of their teeth and jaws during life. Archaeologists have discovered mummified remains in various locations that have metal bands wrapped around the teeth.
• A Roman tomb has also been discovered in which the teeth were bound with gold wire, including documentation on the wire’s use as a dental device.

18th Century: A French Development
• The French dentist Pierre Fauchard is acknowledged as the father of modern dentistry. In 1728 he published a book that described various methods for straightening teeth. Fauchard also used a device known as a “blandeau” to widen the upper palate.
• Louis Bourdet was another French dentist who published a book in 1754 that discussed tooth alignment. Bourdet further refined the blandeau and was the first dentist to extract bicuspids, or the premolar teeth between canines and molars, for the purpose of reducing tooth crowding.

19th Century: Orthodontics Defined
• Orthodontics started to become a separate dental specialty during the early 19th century. The first wire crib was used in 1819, marking the beginning of modern orthodontics.
• During this period, gold, platinum, silver, steel, gum rubber, vulcanite, and occasionally wood, ivory, zinc, and copper were used — as was brass in the form of loops, hooks, spurs, and ligatures.
• Edward Maynard first used gum elastics in 1843 and E. J. Tucker began making rubber bands for braces in 1850.
• Norman W. Kingsley published the first paper on modern orthodontics in 1858 and J. N. Farrar was the first dentist to recommend the use of force over timed intervals to straighten teeth.

20th Century: New Materials Abound
• Edward Angle developed the first classification systems for malocclusions (misaligned teeth) during the early 20th century in the United States, and it is still in use today. Angle founded the American Society of Orthodontia in 1901, which was renamed the American Association of Orthodontists in the 1930s.
• By the 1960s, gold was universally abandoned in favor of stainless steel.
• Lingual braces were the “invisible” braces of choice until the early 1980s, when tooth-colored aesthetic brackets made from single-crystal sapphire and ceramics became popular.

Today
As we arrive in the present, you need only look at your own braces to see how far we’ve come. Your treatment plan was probably created with a 3D digital model, and we’ve likely used a computerized process to customize your archwires. Perhaps you have clear aligners, self-ligating brackets, or highly resilient ceramic brackets with heat-activated wires.

Orthodontics has come a long way from the days of Aristotle, and even the bulky wrap-around braces of just 60 years ago. Regardless of your specific treatment plan, the development of high-tech materials and methods has made it possible for your orthodontic experience to be as effective, efficient, and comfortable as possible.

Besides Straight Teeth, What are the Benefits of Braces?

October 12th, 2012

Everyone wants a naturally aligned and beautiful smile, and it is no secret that orthodontic braces can help deliver one. However, there are greater benefits to wearing braces than just having straight teeth. You’ll gain many oral health benefits in addition to the cosmetic ones.

Tooth Decay and Gum Disease
Crooked or crowded teeth may overlap each other and create tight spaces in between. These can make it very difficult to brush and floss effectively, allowing bacteria and plaque to build up, and eventually leading to tooth decay and gum disease. With orthodontic treatment, your teeth will become properly aligned and spaced, which allows for more effective brushing.

Difficulties with Speech
Your teeth play an essential role in speech. When they are out of line or lean too far forward or backward, this can affect your speaking patterns, and possibly cause embarrassment and frustration. Braces can readjust the positioning of the teeth to allow for clearer, more professional speech.

Bone Erosion
Bone and gum tissues begin to erode when there are no teeth to support. This is also true for poorly aligned teeth that leave gaps and spaces or place too much pressure on the jawbone due to a bad bite. With braces, the bones and tissues are less likely to erode and can continue to support the teeth in their new alignment.

Digestion
Your teeth play an important role in digestion. Before food ever enters your stomach, it has been partially digested by the teeth. If teeth are severely out of line, however, they may not play their role in breaking down food as effectively as they should. With braces, your teeth will be straightened into optimal alignment for eating and chewing.

How much do you know about your toothbrush?

September 28th, 2012

Taking care of your smile is nothing new! People have been brushing their teeth for thousands of years. In fact, the first “toothbrush” was created around 3000BC! Ancient civilizations used a thin twig with a frayed edge to rub against their teeth for cleaning.

The first toothbrush with bristles – similar to today’s toothbrushes – was invented in 1498 in China. Brushes were made out of bone or bamboo with bristles made from the hairs on the back of a hog’s neck.

It wasn’t until 1938 that the first nylon bristle toothbrush was introduced and people quickly became aware of practicing good oral hygiene.

Here are some other interesting facts about your toothbrush (and toothpaste):
• Most people are said to use blue toothbrushes over any other color
• The first toothpaste was used in 500 BC in China and India
• On average, children smile about 400 times per day
• Your toothbrush should be replaced every two months
• The first known toothpaste was used in 1780, Crest was introduced in 1955 and Colgate in 1873

You're Never Too Old to Treat Yourself to a New Smile!

September 21st, 2012

Did you know one in every five orthodontic patients is an adult? We’re living longer and technology is improving, making orthodontic treatment an appealing and safe option for patients of all ages. As the trend toward treatment later in life grows, we’re seeing braces on parents as well as children – and even adult celebrities such as Tom Cruise, Gwen Stefani and Nicholas Cage have shown off their braces. It’s never too late to look and feel your best!

Can Braces Work for Adults?

People of all ages can benefit from orthodontic treatment. The physical process for moving teeth is the same, young or old, which means it’s never too late to address issues such as an overbite or underbite, crooked or crowded teeth, or jaw disorders.

How Do I Get Started?

If you’re considering orthodontic treatment, we’ll make a consultation appointment with you. During this meeting we will perform a general assessment of your oral health, discuss options for treatment, and answer any questions you may have. We will also discuss matters of cost and insurance. The next step is an orthodontic records appointment in which we take x-rays, photos, and an impression of your teeth. This information drives your unique treatment plan.

What Are the Benefits?

Straightening your teeth can improve your smile, your self-esteem, and your dental health. Technologically advanced new treatments make it easier to identify the option that best fits your lifestyle. Modern techniques and materials have made braces and aligners more effective, comfortable and unobtrusive than ever.

If you think you might benefit from orthodontic treatment, give our team a call so we may set up a consultation to determine what type of treatment best meets your needs!

Playing fall sports? Don't forget your mouth guard!

September 13th, 2012

Now that school is back in session, fall sports are, too! Fall brings an increase in outdoor activities and a greater chance of damaging your beautiful smile. Our team also knows sports-related injuries are common among children and teens. It's been found that 70 percent of parents said their biggest worry is that their child will get hurt while playing sports. Another 67 percent admitted their child doesn't wear a mouth guard when playing sports such as football, volleyball, baseball and soccer.

That’s why we think it’s a good time to remind you that many facial sports injuries can be avoided by wearing mouth guards. Whether you’re in the middle of orthodontic treatment or enjoying a stunning new smile, we’re happy to recommend a mouth guard to suit your needs.

In addition, the following tips can help athletes of all ages stay safe on the field:

  • Wear mouth guards during contact sports
  • Wear a helmet
  • Stretch before and after a game or practice
  • Wear protective eye wear
  • Wear a face shield to avoid scratched or bruised skin
  • Be observant—even as a spectator

All of these can reduce injuries. Only by using a mouth guard and other forms of facial protection can kids with and without braces avoid serious sports injuries. If you have any questions about mouth guards, feel free to call or ask the next time you you’re in the office!

Understanding Orthodontic Appliances for Jaw Growth Correction

September 7th, 2012

Children and adults often feel confused and a little frightened because of the various metal tools and appliances used for orthodontic treatment. Knowing the applications of such devices can help ease a patient's mind when undergoing treatment. Dentofacial orthopedics is a specialty that uses appliances to adjust the jaws for ideal compatibility. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends these treatment options for children between the ages of eight and 12 to make adjustments during developmental stages. Adults also experience dental changes throughout their lives and can benefit from dentofacial orthopedic appliances. Some common problems with jaw alignment or development include:

  • Underdeveloped lower jaw
  • Protrusion of upper teeth
  • Malocclusions
  • Crossbite
  • Overbite

Orthodontic Appliances for Correcting Jaw Growth Problems

Jaw-correcting appliances are either fixed or removable. Fixed appliances are applied to the teeth with the use of cement. Removable appliances require dedication from the patient to wear the devices as instructed. You will receive better results by wearing your orthodontic gear and following the treatment plan designed for your specific needs. Understanding the potential results will help you stay motivated, and parents can help their children to follow recommendations. Some appliances can cause slight discomfort during adjustment periods, but wearing them regularly will help shorten the time frame for treatment. Here are some of the most common appliances for correcting jaw growth problems.

  • Headgear: This appliance is removable and consists of a stainless steel facebow and fabric safety strap. The orthodontist fixes metal bands to your upper-back teeth where you attach the facebow. The safety strap wraps around your head and secures the facebow. Headgear affects jaw growth and tooth movement by applying pressure to the upper teeth and maxilla.
  • Herbst® Appliance: Typically permanent, these appliances attach to the upper and lower molars to hold the mandible forward. The purpose of this type of treatment is to eliminate an overbite. With expansion screws, the Herbst can also widen the jaw.
  • Mara: This appliance pushes the mandible forward to reduce overbite. Crowns are placed on your top and bottom molars, and a metal elbow connects the crowns.
  • Bite Corrector: This appliance is combined with braces to correct different malocclusions. Metal bars with enclosed springs apply pressure to both the upper and lower jaws. The placement of such bars will depend on the bite type.
  • Bionator: This removable appliance guides the lower jaw so that it grows in proportion to the upper jaw. Children can develop aligned bites by wearing bionators.
  • Palatal Expansion: There are two options for placement, fixed, or removable palatal expansions, to fix crossbites. The appliance attaches to the upper-back teeth and widens the jaw.

You will get used to the feeling of most appliances within one month, and the adjustment period is easier if you follow the treatment plan that our staff designs. The average time it takes to correct jaw problems is 12 months, so you can expect to see a more beautiful smile in about one year.

What questions should I ask during an orthodontic consultation?

August 31st, 2012

Are you thinking about orthodontic treatment to straighten teeth or correct jaw alignment?  Consider making your first step an orthodontic consultation. During the consultation we will address your questions, concerns, and talk about a treatment plan that would best suit your situation.

We want you to feel prepared and in charge of your orthodontic treatment decisions, so keep these questions in mind when you come in for your appointment.

  • If I do need some adjustments to my teeth, what options will I have besides braces?
    (This will help you determine what approaches we use to straighten your teeth.)
  • What kind of preparation is needed to get braces? How many visits will it take?
    (It’s important to know how many appointments may be needed and what you will need to do between appointments to be ready for braces.)
  • Can I expect any pain when getting braces?
    (Ask about the ways we address pain management.)
  • What determines how long I have to wear braces?
    (The length of treatment will vary from patient to patient.  During your consultation we can evaluate your teeth and jaw alignment to determine the correct course and length of treatment.)
  • How will braces affect my lifestyle? Foods I can eat? Activities I can do?
    (You may find that little needs to change in your daily routine to have a successful orthodontic outcome. We can discuss and address any changes so you can be prepared before you get your braces.)
  • Who will be involved in the orthodontic work?  Whom can I expect to see during my adjustment visits?
  • What will my orthodontic work cost? What is the ”average” cost and what could be the maximum?
    (Make sure you are clear about what your insurance covers, who contacts the insurance company for pre-authorization, who files the insurance forms, and what flexibility there is to pay the remaining amount not covered.)

Your initial orthodontic consultation may just be the first step in relieving a lot of pain and discomfort in your life. Going in with the right questions will help you to understand the entire process and prepare you to do your part for your own dental health. Be sure to bring a list of your questions!

When Should My Child See an Orthodontist?

August 24th, 2012

Orthodontic treatments vary from dental treatment, in that they primarily address malocclusions, jaw spacing and tooth alignment, rather than the actual health of the teeth. That is why it is often more difficult for parents to determine when a child needs orthodontic treatment rather than dental treatment. So how can you know it is time to take your child to the orthodontist?

Bad Bite - As the adult teeth begin to replace primary teeth, bite occlusions can develop. These often become visible to parents between middle childhood and the pre-teen years, although an orthodontist can identify a bad bite with early evaluation.
Visible Tooth Crowding - If your child's newly emerging teeth are already crowded, you should make an appointment with our office to discuss braces.
Tooth Grinding (Bruxism) - Children who grind their teeth at night may do so unconsciously, but the condition requires treatment to prevent the development of headaches, TMJ, and tooth damage. Oral appliances are available to correct nighttime tooth grinding.
Difficulty Chewing, Biting, or Speaking - If your child is displaying difficulty speaking or eating, or if he or she often experiences cheek biting, schedule an orthodontic consultation.
Asymmetry - If your child's face is asymmetrical, or if his or her teeth do not meet together in a natural way, orthodontic treatment may be necessary.

Evaluation and Preventive Care
Even if your child has no visible tooth or jaw alignment problems, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child visit the orthodontist for an initial examination no later than age seven. The reason for early evaluation is because orthodontists are capable of finding subtle problems with the jaw and teeth growth and spacing before they become more pronounced and also more difficult to treat.

By bringing your child in for an evaluation, you may be able to treat orthodontic conditions with shorter and more simplified treatments that are also more affordable than treatment during the teenage and adult years.

How long does orthodontic treatment take?

August 17th, 2012

Orthodontic treatments are used to correct malocclusion, a condition more commonly known as a bad bite. The length of treatment time varies depending on the severity of the bite problem.

What is a "bad bite"?
A bad bite occurs when spacing or alignment problems are present. This often includes teeth that are protruding, crowded, or crooked. Sometimes teeth appear straight, but have an uneven bite because the upper and lower jaws do not align properly. Teeth that are irregularly spaced - either too far apart or too close together - can also cause bite problems.

Frequent causes of bite problems:

  • Heredity
  • Thumb-sucking
  • Premature tooth loss
  • Accidents

Benefits of orthodontic treatment:

Appearance -
Correcting a bad bite often creates a more attractive smile, which frequently raises the patient's self esteem.

Preventing Decay -
It also results in a healthier mouth. It is much more difficult to thoroughly clean teeth that are crooked, protruding, overlapped, or crowed. This may allow plaque to build up, which can lead to gum disease, tooth decay and even tooth loss. Orthodontic treatment corrects these conditions, so cleaning can be more efficient.

Avoiding Alignment Issues -
An uneven bite can interfere with the motions of chewing and speaking. This can cause abnormal wear to tooth enamel, which may require pricey cosmetic restorative treatments, such as crowns or veneers, to correct. It can also lead to problems with the jaws. Orthodontic treatment lessens the likelihood of those issues, as well.

Types of orthodontic treatment:

- Braces: Metal or ceramic brackets are bonded to the front of teeth. Wires and elastics are attached to the brackets to straighten teeth.

- Invisalign®: Advanced 3D computer images of the patients' mouth are used to create clear, custom aligners that slowly move teeth. They are nearly invisible and are more comfortable than traditional braces. They are also removable, which makes it possible to continue with normal brushing and flossing.

- Retainers: A retainer is a removable piece worn inside the mouth that uses pressure to force teeth to move into proper alignment. They are used after braces are removed.

Length of orthodontic treatment:
Treatment typically ranges from 12 to 36 months. Factors include the age, cooperation level, and growth occurrence of the patient. The complexity of the case also impacts the treatment time.

What are the Early Signs of Orthodontic Problems?

August 10th, 2012


Visibly crooked teeth are not the only reason to take your child into the orthodontist. There are some subtle things to look for as well, which may indicate the onset of more serious orthodontic issues. Many orthodontic issues are much easier to address if treated and corrected during a child's development.

Waiting until facial development is complete or until the permanent teeth have come in can make correction of many orthodontic issues more challenging. Both children and adults can benefit from orthodontic care at any age, but addressing issues early is almost always the ideal choice.

If you're wondering if you or your child might have need for orthodontic care, there are some things you can be on the lookout for. Here are some of the most common warning signs of orthodontic issues:

• Difficulty when chewing or biting
• Chronic mouth-breathing
• Sucking the thumb, the fingers, or any other oral sucking habits that continue after the age of six
• Overbite - when the upper teeth overlap the lower teeth by more than 5mm
• Top front teeth that cover more than 25% of the bottom teeth while biting
• Underbite - when the top front teeth go behind the bottom row of teeth when biting
• Crowded, crooked, overlapped, misshapen, misplaced teeth or extra teeth of any size
• Crossbite - when one or more teeth tilt toward the cheek or toward the tongue causing excessive stress on the jawbone
• The center of the top and bottom teeth don't line up
• Uneven teeth-wearing
• Baby teeth coming out too early for the child's age
• Pain in jaws
• Clicking in the jaw joints
• The jaw shifts off-center while chewing or biting
• A jaw that protrudes, or recedes, too much
• Difficulty speaking or enunciating clearly
• Chronic biting of the inner cheek or roof of the mouth
• Asymmetrical facial structure
• Grinding or clenching of the teeth

If you notice that either you or your child has one or more of these conditions, they could be signs that there is a risk of orthodontic or health problems. The sooner these problems are addressed, the wider and brighter you will be able to smile going forward!

Braces without Embarrassment

August 2nd, 2012

Adults who need orthodontic care often share the misconception that they are too old for braces and would rather not deal with the embarrassment. You are probably familiar with horror stories about rubber bands snapping, mishaps with kissing, and unsightly food sticking in metal braces. Many adults believe that braces are just for children, but they are neglecting all the benefits of correcting misaligned teeth. Braces may cause you to feel self-conscious, but they are temporary. Along with straightening your teeth, braces also provide the following benefits:

  • Better oral hygiene
  • Easier to clean aligned teeth
  • Less complicated dental procedures
  • Eliminate the embarrassment of crooked teeth

One common reason for not correcting misaligned teeth is the appearance of metal braces. Adults do not want to face co-workers and friends with colored rubber bands and metal laced throughout their mouths. The expert healthcare professionals at SingHealth suggest several alternatives that are just as effective as metal braces. You have three options for correcting your misaligned teeth without the embarrassment, and they include:

  • Ceramic braces
  • Lingual braces
  • Invisalign®

Ceramic braces are like metal ones except that they match the natural color of your teeth. This option is less noticeable and will usually not show up in photographs. Lingual braces are attached to your back teeth only, so no one will know that you have a corrective device. Invisalign consists of clear plastic coverings that you can remove for eating and teeth brushing. All of these options lead to a more attractive smile that you do not have to feel embarrassed about.

If you do choose metal braces to correct your teeth, you should consider the following suggestions for limiting embarrassing moments. The rubber bands holding the brackets in place come in silver, which will draw less attention to your mouth. Changing the removable rubber bands on a regular basis will help prevent the material from wearing down and snapping. If you chew with your back molars and cut your food into manageable bites, you are less likely to get particles stuck in your braces. Following our treatment advice and instructions will limit the time you have to wear corrective devices. Focus on the end result of straighter teeth whenever you feel particularly self-conscious about your braces.

Preventing Decay While Wearing Braces

July 25th, 2012

Having braces can present some new challenges when it comes to oral hygiene. Preventing tooth decay can be a big challenge simply because of the tendency for braces to trap food under the wires and between the teeth and the brackets. Here are a few tips to keep your teeth healthy while wearing your braces:

1. Eat Braces-Safe Foods.

Keeping your teeth from decay starts with a proper diet. Foods that are high in sugar or starch can cause more plaque which is difficult to remove during your brushing. There are certain foods that should be avoided while wearing your braces. First, sticky foods like caramel or gum can get stuck in your braces and be difficult to remove during brushing. Next, hard foods such as nuts and candy could bend wires or even break a bracket. Foods that are firm or hard to bite into like apples, carrots, or corn on the cob should be avoided. As much as we like to snack on them, those crunchy treats can harm your braces. Things like chips, ice, popcorn can also bend or break your braces. On the other hand, bananas, mangoes, milk, water, poultry, and pasta all tend to be low in enamel-busting acids.

2. Proper Brushing.

You want to 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 paste for best results. Rinsing every day will help, too. Rinsing 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.

3. Ask About Special Cleaning Tools.

There are also special brushes, or other tools, to get under and clean your braces. You can also find many of these items at your local pharmacy.

4. Regular Teeth Cleaning.

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 from decaying while you wear braces.

What's a palatal expander and why would I need one?

July 19th, 2012

A palatal expander "expands" (or widens) your upper jaw by putting gentle pressure on your upper molars and is used to make the bottom and upper teeth fit together better. It also makes more room for teeth and helps to promote a broader, more aesthetic smile.

Palatal expansion is usually not painful, but you may feel some minor discomfort. It’ll take a little time for you to get used to your appliance, so you may experience difficulty speaking and swallowing for the first day or two.

Adjusting your appliance as directed will ensure you keep on schedule with the rest of your orthodontic treatment plan. It takes about a few weeks to achieve the desired amount of expansion, after which you’ll keep wearing your expander for about six months, giving time for the new bone to form and stabilize. Our team at will give you detailed instructions about how to adjust your appliance and can answer any questions you may have about your palatal expander.

Making Your Life Better with Orthodontics

June 14th, 2012




The number one goal of orthodontic treatment is to give you or your child a good bite, meaning straight teeth that work well with the teeth in the opposite jaw. A good bite makes it easier for you to eat, chew and speak. It can enhance your dental health and your overall health, and may well improve your self-esteem. As a part of your comprehensive dental health care plan, orthodontic treatment can help you retain your teeth—and your smile—for a lifetime.


Let your smile express yourself! Nothing can show the world how happy you are quite like a beautiful smile. In fact, it’s one of the first things others notice about you, too. With orthodontics, you can be proud to flash your smile, because you’ll know that your smile truly represents your positive attitude.


Make your mouth healthy! Straight teeth aren’t just pretty, they’re healthy as well. Teeth that are properly aligned are easier to clean, reducing the amount of plaque buildup and risk for gingivitis. The cleaner you keep your teeth, the longer they’ll last!


Feel free to live your life! Orthodontics is easier today than ever before, with treatment options that fit your lifestyle and schedule. We can personalize your treatment to suit all of your needs!

Summer is Almost Here- Tips for a Bright, White Smile!

June 1st, 2012

Summer is only weeks away, which means a season full of vacations, adventures and great memories is just around the corner for most of our patients. Whether you are headed to a barbecue, a camping trip, hitting America’s open roads or just having fun in the backyard this summer, we want to hear all about it! Make sure to let us know what you’re up to as spring winds down and summer begins on our Facebook page!

Everyone wants a glowing and radiant white smile when the sun comes around and we have a few reminders to keep your pearly whites healthy and beautiful over the summer! Try to stay away from drinks that will stain your teeth like coffee, soft drinks or dark colored juices- Not only will drinks like this weaken your enamel but they will also darken that fabulous smile your working on! Another tip is to try and focus on brushing your teeth- everyone knows when busy schedules start picking up, getting a good brushing session in tends to take the backseat! A good tip for keeping your mouth safe from staining and other possible pitfalls is to try and swirl your mouth with water after any meal you can’t fully brush your teeth after- your teeth, inside and out, will benefit!

We also encourage you to post any photos from your adventures!

Wishing you a safe and relaxing Memorial Day weekend!

May 21st, 2012

Memorial Day weekend, a time to remember and honor the men and women lost while serving for our country. Memorial Day is also the unofficial start of summer, and for many folks getting out of town for three days after being cooped up in the classroom or the office spells sweet, sweet relief.

What about you? What are you up to this Memorial Day weekend? Whether you are headed to a barbecue, a camping trip, or just hitting the great American open roads, we’d like to hear all about it!

Our entire team wishes you a happy, safe and relaxing Memorial Day weekend!

“Am I Too Old for Braces?”

May 16th, 2012

Absolutely not! Orthodontic treatment for adults is becoming more and more common. In fact, the number of adults getting braces has actually climbed 24 percent since 1996! More adults than ever are realizing that orthodontic treatment is not just for kids, and can help improve the aesthetics and health of a smile of any age! In a society where appearance matters and can help make the difference between getting a job or a promotion, adults are choosing wisely to invest in orthodontic treatment.

Some of the most common reasons our adult patients come to us considering orthodontic treatment include:
• Teeth that are crowded or spaced apart, sometimes as a result of tooth decay or gum disease
• Pain or pressure from crooked teeth or a misaligned jaw
• A bad bite or malocclusion, causing teeth to fit together incorrectly

Most of all though, adult patients come to our office seeking a healthier mouth and a more confident smile! Orthodontic treatment at our office can be successful at any age, and adults especially can appreciate the benefits of a beautiful smile.

As an adult patient, we recognize that you have different needs than our younger patients, and we will work with you to ensure you receive the most appropriate treatment and that your needs are met with understanding and respect from us.

If you’ve been thinking about getting that perfect smile, we would love to have you visit for a consultation. We understand you have a busy schedule, and will work with you to find a time that is convenient for you. Please visit our website or give our office a call to schedule your appointment today!

The Clear Benefits of Invisalign

February 28th, 2012

Invisalign clear aligners can be a great option for improving the look of your smile. Dr. Ronald E. Brown has lots of experience using this technology to give our patients the straight, beautiful smile they’ve always wanted. Plus, because it’s so convenient, Invisalign won’t interfere with your daily life.

• Invisalign aligners are clear, discrete and effective at moving your teeth into their ideal positions.
• You don’t need to change your eating habits, because your aligners can be easily removed.
• Invisalign aligners are made of comfortable, smooth plastic, so you don’t have to worry about taking care of metal brackets.
• Invisalign aligners make daily oral hygiene easier, reducing the risk of possible problems.
• Invisalign treatment is covered by most insurance providers, just like traditional braces.

A straight smile makes you look great, but it also can help you keep the rest of your mouth healthy. Correctly aligned teeth can decrease health issues that can be caused by an improper bite, speech or chewing difficulties, jaw problems, and increased wear on the tooth enamel.

Give us a call to schedule your consultation!

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, from Dr. Ronald Brown

February 10th, 2012

Each February for the past 62 years, the American Dental Association (ADA) has sponsored National Children's Dental Health Month to raise awareness about the importance of oral health. Developing good habits at an early age and scheduling regular dental visits helps children get a good start on a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.

For kids wearing braces, brushing and flossing can become more difficult, requiring extra time and vigilance to remove food particles that accumulate on and between the teeth and in braces. New options for braces such as Invisalign Teen, which is removable, make it easier for kids to maintain good oral health during orthodontic treatment.

If the health of your teeth is ignored during treatment with braces, the results can be significantly compromised. Dr. Ronald Brown is available and happy to explain why effective brushing and flossing is one of the most critical actions needed from patients during orthodontic treatment. Have you visited us lately? Give us a call and schedule an appointment!

Foods to avoid during your orthodontic treatment with Dr. Brown

December 12th, 2011

There are a variety of foods Dr. Ronald E. Brown wants you to avoid while you're wearing braces. Some foods can occasionally damage braces, but certain foods can bend the wires or even break the brackets on your braces. If you’re wearing braces, you should avoid starch, sugar and gummy foods, as these foods can be difficult to remove during brushing. Foods that are high in sugar and starch tend to cause plaque, cavities and even tooth decay.

Avoid tough meats, hard breads and raw vegetables such as carrots and celery. Before long, you'll be able to bite a cucumber again. But you'll need to protect your orthodontic appliances when you eat for as long as you're wearing braces.

Foods you should avoid include:

• Chewy foods: bagels, hard rolls, licorice
• Crunchy foods: popcorn, ice, chips
• Sticky foods: caramels, gum
• Hard foods: nuts, candy
• Foods you have to bite into: corn on the cob, apples, carrots

Also, chewing on hard things (for example, pens, pencils or fingernails) can damage the braces. Damaged braces will cause treatment to take longer.

If you have any questions on which foods you should be avoiding and why, we invite you to give us a call or ask our staff during your next visit.

October is National Orthodontic Health Month!

October 20th, 2011

Happy October! For those who don't know, it’s National Orthodontic Health Month. This month-long event is organized by our pals at the American Association of Orthodontists, or AAO.

Dr. Ronald Brown and our team realize that this is a great opportunity for us to raise awareness about the importance of oral hygiene. National Orthodontic Health Month also aims to recognize the dedicated work of orthodontists like Dr. Brown and other dental professionals.

The AAO recommends patients avoid the following Halloween treats, or recipes with these ingredients:

• Caramel
• Nuts
• Popcorn (including un-popped kernels)
• Taffy
• Jelly beans
• Hard pretzels
• Licorice
• Bubblegum
• Ice

If you have any questions, please feel free to give us a call, ask us on Facebook, or ask Dr. Brown during your visit this month!

What's so bad about nail biting?

July 19th, 2011

We’ve all heard that biting your nails is an awful habit, but you many wonder- really- what’s so bad about it? Recently, our team at the offices of Dr. Ronald Brown found an interesting article that discusses how biting your nails affect your teeth and oral health.

Nail biting, also known as Onychophagia, is a common habit among various age groups, including primarily children, teens and young adults. Nail biting is generally triggered by stress and most often decreases with age. That being said, nail biting is unsanitary, unattractive, as well as unhealthy for your teeth!

Here’s why:

It’s unsanitary. Your nails are dirty, almost twice as dirty as your fingers! Hence, biting your nails is just asking for germs and bacteria.

No good things come to your teeth. Nail biting causes your teeth to constantly be chewing, which is not good for them. This excessive motion wears your teeth down faster than a non-nail biter’s and puts a large amount of stress on your front teeth- contributing to teeth misalignment.

Braces don’t love it either. Braces already put pressure on teeth, nail biting ads unnecessary pressure, further stressing your teeth and weakening their roots.

It can be costly. Nail biting can result in up to $4,000 in additional dental bills over one lifetime, according to the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD). Yikes!

What can you do about it?

Now that you know how harmful nail biting can be, it’s time to take action to break your nail biting habit. Try to be conscious of your fingernails and to keep them looking good- this will help you resist the temptation. Ask Dr. Brown or visit the article for tips on how to break a nail biting habit.

Good luck!

Your friends at Dr. Brown's offices

Have you been using your fluoride?

July 13th, 2011

There are so many ways you protect your teeth throughout your orthodontic treatment at the offices of Ronald E. Brown. You brush your teeth twice a day, floss regularly and protect your mouth and appliances from being damaged. But did you know there is another, often forgotten about, way to keep your teeth clean and healthy during your treatment? Fluoride – a mineral that helps prevent cavities and tooth decay – can help keep your teeth strong! Fluoride comes in two varieties: topical and systemic. Topical fluoride is applied directly to the tooth. Topical fluoride includes toothpastes and mouth rinses. Systemic fluorides are swallowed in the form of a dietary supplement.

Fluoride used in the dentist or orthodontists’ office is often times a stronger concentration than in toothpaste or mouthwash, but is available at some drug stores or a pharmacy (ask Dr. Brown how to purchase professional strength fluoride). A fluoride treatment typically takes just a few minutes. After the treatment patients may be asked not to rinse, eat or drink for at least 30 minutes in order to allow the teeth to absorb the fluoride. Depending on your oral health or doctor’s recommendation, you may be required to have a fluoride treatment every three, six or 12 months. Your doctor may also prescribe a fluoride product such as mouthwashes, gels or antibacterial rinses for at-home treatment.

When choosing your own fluoride product, be sure to check 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. Take care of your teeth, and smile bright!

How to keep your breath fresh, from Dr. Brown

July 6th, 2011

Dr. Ronald Brown, your North Alabama orthodontist, recognizes that many of our patients are concerned about bad breath, or halitosis. While some cases of bad breath are persistent (chronic bad breath), generally bad breath is transient, and can be prevented.

We recently came across this helpful video about bad breath and thought it was worth sharing with our patients. The video explains what might cause bad breath and some ways that it can be avoided. In most instances, bad breath can be prevented by practicing common oral hygiene techniques that you have probably heard us emphasize during a visit to the offices of Dr. Robert Brown, such as brushing and flossing daily. We encourage you to watch this video for additional tips on how to keep bad breath at bay. Enjoy!

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