Retaining Your Smile

Close up portrait of Smiling Teen girl showing dental braces.Isolated on white background.

Most comprehensive orthodontic treatment will involve the use of braces or aligners. In either case, your treatment involves minor movement of your teeth to correct misalignment. This ensures both a straight smile and an even bite.

However, braces are not the only stage needed for a permanent orthodontic solution. Once your braces have been taken off, the retention phase begins. It is vitally important to follow through with retention in order to to maintain your newly straight smile after treatment. Your final orthodontic results depend on your retainer, so be sure to continue following up with our doctor for treatment even after your braces have been removed.

There are a few different types of retainers that may be recommended to you:

  • Clear Retainers – A removable, clear plastic tray that fits over your teeth.
  • Traditional Retainers – A removable appliance made of acrylic and a wire that sits on the front side of your teeth.
  • Bonded Retainer – A thin, fixed wire that is temporarily bonded to the lingual (tongue) side of the anterior teeth.

Our orthodontist will provide you with the best retainer option that is suited for your orthodontic treatment plan. All retainers should be worn as often as instructed to do so. Keep in mind that your teeth have been in active treatment for months or even years. Wearing your retainer right after treatment is crucial and it should be worn for the appropriate amount of time each day as instructed.

Your retainer is an important part of completing your orthodontic treatment, so take care of it and it will take care of you. Regardless of whether it’s made of acrylic and wire or thermoplastic, the process of cleaning your device should be the same.

When it is not in your mouth, keep your retainer in its case. Bacteria and plaque also pose a significant threat to the life of your retainer. Bacteria can build up on it, just like they do on your teeth, making the apparatus less hygienic and affecting the fit. For theses reasons, regular cleaning is vital for retainer care.

When cleaning your retainer, you can brush it with a wet toothbrush. You will also need to disinfect your retainer by soaking it in a cleansing solution. Thoroughly rinse your retainer with cold or room temperature water before placing it back in your mouth.

For more information about your retainer, please contact our office.

Biting Off More than You Can Chew?

It is not uncommon for many of us to grab a bite to eat in a hurry. Americans have grown accustomed to bigger food portions at restaurants, but our mouths have not. Trying to fit that oversized sandwich or apple in your mouth might be worse for you than you have ever imagined. Below are some reasons why this could be detrimental for your oral health and what you can do about it.

Why This Is a Problem

According to the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), taking bites that are too big for you to chew can not only cause jaw and teeth issues, it can also cause digestive problems. Discomfort, swelling and difficulty eating may result from opening your jaw too wide. Taking large bites may also result in food not being chewed thoroughly, which can lead to weight gain and digestive issues.

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD)

Constantly opening your jaw too wide becomes an even larger problem for people with temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). The temporomandibular joint connects the jaw to the skull bones enabling movement during chewing. People with TMD, usually have a restriction with how wide they can open their jaws. Taking large bites of food, especially hard foods like apples, can aggravate this condition making pain and jaw clicking worse.

What You Can Do

If you have food that is too large to chew or starts to cause jaw discomfort, try cutting your food into smaller portions. This makes food easier to eat with less hassle. Also consider eating softer foods that won’t harm your teeth or irritate your jaw.

Tip: Avoid chewing on ice, popcorn kernels, hard candies, and opening nuts with your teeth. This can lead to a chipped tooth!

Contact our team today to schedule an exam and cleaning.

Orthodontist Midlothian | Keep Kids’ Teeth Safe and Healthy This Winter

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Orthodontist in Midlothian VAAs a parent, you want to keep your child’s teeth safe and healthy all year long. Brushing, flossing, and regular dental visits are great ways to prevent tooth decay. What you may not realize is that the colder weather of the holiday season brings its own challenges to bear. Here are some ways to help protect your child’s oral health this winter.

Encourage Water

While you may think of summer as having dangers of dehydration, winter play holds similar risks for children. The air is drier during this season than in the spring or fall. Activities such as sledding and snowball fighting can lead to sweating out fluids. Have your child sip water throughout the day. This can keep them hydrated and prevent dry mouth, which can raise risk of tooth decay.

Mouth Guard

Whether your child enjoys skiing, sledding, skating, or snowball fights, winter brings increased risks of falls and injuries to both mouth and face. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), up to 40% of kids’ dental injuries occur during sports. Having your child wear a mouth guard during these activities can greatly reduce their risk of damaging teeth or gums.

Strong Hygiene

Regular brushing and flossing are crucial to keeping teeth healthy. If your child becomes ill with a cold or flu virus, continuing dental hygiene can help their immune system concentrate on getting well. If your child vomits, have them rinse their mouth with water right away to avoid leaving acids on their teeth. Discard and replace your child’s toothbrush once they are well to prevent re-infection.

Limit Sugar

Cold weather can lead to sniffles and coughs. Avoid bathing your child’s teeth in sugar from cough drops. Choose sugar-free options to soothe sore throats. Limit juice and cocoa that have high sugar content. Monitor your child’s candy intake through the holidays and ensure they brush after indulging.

Don’t Share

While sharing toys and books is a habit to encourage, sharing cups or silverware is not. Tooth decay, cold sores, and other oral ailments can be spread through saliva. Make sure each family member is using their own drink, spoon, and fork.

For more ways you can keep your child’s teeth safe through the winter season, contact our office.

Midlothian, VA Orthodontist | Protecting Your Enamel

Orthodontist Midlothian

Orthodontist Midlothian VAEnamel is the guardian of your teeth and the hardest material in the body. It’s the first defense against harmful bacteria which may lead to tooth decay. When you eat certain foods, it creates bacteria which attack your tooth enamel. Carbohydrates and sugary foods are examples of these foods. Brushing directly after eating can be harmful to your enamel.

Why this is a problem

When eating or drinking, the pH balance in your mouth changes. After each bite of acidic food, the pH balance moves towards a level which causes demineralization. The new acidity softens the enamel which can cause bacteria to get into the teeth. Brushing right after you eat may damage your enamel. This is important because enamel protects your teeth from damage.

Steps you can take to protect your enamel:

If you’ve had anything acidic, don’t brush for at least 30 minutes.

Fruits with citric acid are one example. If you are planning ingesting acidic foods or drinks, you can brush beforehand.

A glass of water will help remove the acid. Follow this by chewing sugarless gum. These steps help create saliva which will help bring back the necessary pH balance needed for a healthy smile.

Try to avoid soda as prolonged phosphoric acid can cause permanent damage.

Brushing your teeth twice a day is an important habit for optimal oral health.

Have you ever been told you should brush your teeth right after eating? While this may sound like the right habit to adapt, this practice could be detrimental to the health of your teeth. Rinsing your mouth with water after eating may be a better option to keep enamel strong. Visit our office for an exam and we can give you for tips for healthy, strong teeth. Call our office today.

Orthodontist Midlothian | Let’s Get This Straight

Orthodontist in Midlothian, VA

Braces create a beautiful, straight smile, but how do you maintain these results after treatment? Your final orthodontic results depend on your retainer. Retainers help maintain the position of straighten teeth, so be sure to follow up with us for additional treatment after your braces have been removed.  Read the information below to learn more about retainers and how to care for them at home.

Types of Retainers

There are a few different types of retainers that may be recommended to you:

  • Clear Retainers – A removable, clear plastic tray that fits over your teeth.
  • Traditional Retainers – A removable appliance made of acrylic and a wire that sits on the front side of your teeth.
  • Bonded Retainer – A thin, fixed wire that is temporarily bonded to the lingual (tongue) side of the anterior teeth.

Other Ways Retainers Help

Besides maintaining straight teeth, retainers have many other advantages. Straighter teeth are easier to clean which decreases plaque buildup and reduces the chance of developing tooth decay. Special types of retainers may help improve breathing and snoring at night. Retainers can also adjust the placement of your child’s tongue, which helps with speech impediments during vocabulary development.

Caring for Retainers

Just like teeth, retainers should be brushed daily with toothpaste. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and gently brush the entire area. Be extra careful around the wires so that they don’t bend out of place.

Your retainer is an important part of completing your orthodontic treatment, so take care of it and it will take care of you. Once your braces have been taken off, the retention phase begins. It is vitally important to follow through with retention in order to maintain your newly straight smile. Retainers may also help with additional problems like speech impediments or trouble breathing.

Call us to schedule an appointment today to see if retainers are the right fit for you or your child.

Orthodontist in Midlothian, VA | Healthy Teeth for Sick Kids

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Orthodontist in Midlothian VAAlong with cooler weather and the end of year school break, winter brings the return of cold and flu season. When you are focused on a child with a fever, cough, or vomiting, it can be easy to question getting them out of the sickbed to brush their teeth. However, keeping mouths clean and teeth healthy can be even more important during illness. Here are some useful tips for protecting your child’s oral health when they’re sick.

Brush and floss

Brushing and flossing helps prevent build-up of harmful germs and bacteria in your child’s mouth. This helps keep their immune system focused on fighting the cold or flu virus. If your child’s illness includes vomiting, their teeth are exposed to acids that can weaken teeth. Help them rinse thoroughly and brush their teeth to avoid damage.

Hydrate

When your child is sick, they need plenty of water to stay hydrated, soothe a sore throat, and keep sinuses moist. In addition, dry mouth can occur during illness and increase risk of tooth decay. Drinking water helps combat dry mouth and congestion.

Watch out for sugars

Cough drops and cough syrups can contain high amounts of sugar to improve the medicine flavor. However, this can leave sugary residue on the teeth. Look for sugar-free options when possible and rinse well after any medicine with sugar.

Disinfect dental appliances

If your child has a dental appliance, such as a retainer, athletic mouth guard, or night guard, be sure it is cleaned thoroughly between uses. Contact our office for information on the type of cleanser that is appropriate for your child’s device.

Follow-up

When your child is well again, replace their toothbrush. Even a clean toothbrush may retain some bacteria or germs following use. To help protect your child from reinfection, discard the used toothbrush in favor of a new one.

For more tips on keeping teeth healthy through an illness, contact our office.

Orthodontist in Midlothian | The Perfect Bite

Orthodontist in Midlothian, VA

Orthodontist in Midlothian VAYou may have been referred to our office by your dentist because you were told your bite needed work. We see many patients referred to us who are sometimes surprised to hear their bite needs work, because they did not notice. Our doctor looks for a few key things when examining your bite.

The View You See

When you look in the mirror, you can see the front of your teeth. What we look for in our office is to see whether your teeth are too long. If you notice your top teeth are covering more than half of your bottom teeth, we call this a deep bite. We also check to see how your teeth are lining up in relation to your lip.

Looking Down

Imagine your mouth wide open. Our doctor will have you open wide to check your teeth’s alignment from the top looking down. An ideal bite will form an arch shape when viewed from above. This is also a good way for us to see if you have gaps between your teeth.

From the Side

It might be hard for you to see your mouth from the side, but it is another important view of your bite that we check in our office. From this view, we can see if your mouth structure needs to be adjusted from an overbite (where your top teeth stick out in front of the lower set) or an underbite (where your lower teeth stick out beyond the top).

Next Steps

Once we’ve evaluated your bite in our office, we can take the next steps in helping you achieve the results you desire. If you have gaps and spaces, we might consider treatment options such as braces  or aligners. To correct under or overbites, we might consider treatments such as expanders.

Your Bite Matters

It is important to have a good bite because misaligned teeth can lead to difficulties while eating and speaking. Extensive jaw discomfort and tooth decay are also other side-effects of having an improper bite. Your oral health is dependent on having a good bite. Our experienced team is ready to assist you with any questions you might have.

For more information on the perfect bite or to schedule an examination, contact our office.

Orthodontist Midlothian | First Aid for Braces

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When wearing braces, most people may experience occasional minor discomfort. Left unaddressed, some of these issues could lead to larger problems. Most of these issues can be avoided or remedied through practicing proper oral care at home. However, if any of these problems are persistent, it might be time to make an appointment with our team.

Irritation and Soreness

When getting used to braces, a period of minor discomfort is to be expected. The new sensation of the metal on your lips, cheeks, and tongue can sometimes cause irritation or soreness. If you have any existing injuries or sores in your mouth, continual contact with your braces might exacerbate the issue and lead to increased discomfort and longer healing times.

If you’re experiencing discomfort due to your braces irritating your mouth, there are a couple steps you can take to quickly address it. First, be sure to drink plenty of water, as a dry mouth will only worsen the irritated areas. Second, be sure to exercise proper oral care to limit the chance of food or debris contributing to the irritation. Third wax can be used to cover any parts of your braces that are causing irritation. If the issue persists, schedule an examination with our office today to see how we can help.

Damaged Brackets or Wires

Though your braces are built to withstand daily wear and tear, there’s always a slight chance of damage occurring. The most common issues you might experience are a broken or loose wire or a bracket that has come off your tooth. While neither of these are particularly serious issues, you’ll want to schedule an appoint with us as soon as possible to have them corrected. Your braces can’t work properly if damaged.

Mouth Injuries with Braces

There is a risk of increased damage if you sustain a mouth injury while wearing braces. It is recommended that you wear a mouth guard when participating in any sort of physical activity to reduce the risk of damage to your lips. Using non-medicinal wax on the parts of your braces that are particularly irritating can also help protect against injury.

Many people go through their entire orthodontic treatment without encountering any major issues. However, being aware of the potential problems you might have can help you prepare for them. If you experience any pain or discomfort when wearing braces, don’t hesitate to contact our office.

Midlothian Orthodontist | What Happens If I Don’t Wear My Retainer?

Midlothian, VA Orthodontist

10The time immediately following the removal of your braces is the most critical for keeping your teeth straight. Wearing a retainer for the time prescribed by our team is the best way to maintain the smile you have worked so hard to achieve. If you neglect to wear your retainer, your teeth may move back into their original position. This is what may happen if you do not wear your retainer after treatment with braces.

After One Week

Your teeth will begin to move back into their initial place as soon as your braces are removed. Everyones teeth shift at different speeds and even the slightest shift can impact how your retainer fits. Wearing your retainer at night is especially crucial in the first week to prevent any relapse.

After One Month

After a month of not using your retainer, you may notice that your bite has changed and your teeth have started to move back into their original position. At this point, you will need to schedule another appointment with our team to get fitted for a different retainer. You may also need to return to wearing your new retainer during the day as well as at night.

After One Year

Going a year without wearing a retainer means that your teeth will have continued to move back to their original position and may even be crooked. The solution may be to restart treatment with braces. By wearing your retainer as instructed, you can prevent this from happening.

Keeping your teeth straight can be as simple as wearing your retainer after getting your braces off. Not wearing your retainer will make you lose the smile you spent time and money on to achieve. While it may take you a while to get into the habit of wearing a retainer, it will be worth it in the long run.

Contact us for more information or to schedule a consultation.

Orthodontist Midlothian | Braces and Swollen Gums

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midlothian orthodontistBraces are a safe and effective way to straighten misaligned teeth at any age. However, some patients may encounter minor complications such as gum irritation. If your gums are red, sore, or swollen, it is important to determine the cause and find an appropriate solution as soon as possible.

Regular oral hygiene may be challenging with braces. Because of this, plaque can build-up and cause gingivitis, leading to red, swollen, bleeding gums. Children and teens are especially prone to this because hormone changes can accelerate gum disease. When this occurs, teeth and gums can be more difficult to clean, further escalating the issue.

Your gums may be sensitive with braces. Hyperplasia or hypertrophy can cause gums to grow larger in reaction to the metal brackets and wires. Gums will often return to normal once orthodontic treatment is completed and your braces are removed.

The pressure of chewing firm foods causes gums to become more irritated and painful. Avoid hard and crunchy foods, such as raw vegetables and popcorn. Habits such as chewing a pen, biting nails, or pressing your tongue against your teeth can all add discomfort, as well.

To mitigate the effects of swollen, inflamed gums, you can try these basic steps:

  • Use an electric toothbrush with an orthodontic head for more thorough cleaning.
  • Try a water flosser to remove debris and bacteria between teeth.
  • Floss threader and interproximal brushes can clean under and around wires more effectively than a toothbrush.
  • Ask if a mouthwash containing fluoride or antimicrobial is advised.
  • Rinse your mouth with warm water containing a pinch of salt to soothe inflammation.
  • Avoid alcohol and tobacco, which increase irritation.

If gum irritation persists, contact our office for a consultation. We will check to see whether there may be another cause for your inflammation and will advise you on the next steps.

To schedule a visit, please contact our team.

313 Schofield Drive
Midlothian, VA 23113
(804) 464-8711