Yay! Your Braces Are Finally Off
It’s finally time for your orthodontist to remove your braces and take your ‘after’ photo with your stunning new smile.
But that does not mean that your orthodontic journey is complete. You are now entering the retention stage, which begins as soon as your primary treatment phase ends. This stage is key to the success of the entire orthodontic process.
Back in School... Remember
Don’t throw your retainer away with your school lunch! But if you do, call the office right way so you aren’t without it for long.
Your teeth are not rigidly set; you need to consistently wear your retainers for around the next two years. Your retainers are designed to keep your teeth in place and prevent them from shifting. This is applicable for all our patients who have just removed their braces or aligners.
Retainers are an important part of your orthodontic treatment. Once phase one is complete, you want your teeth to stay aligned in the correct position. Retainers keep your newly straightened teeth in the correct position. If you do not consistently wear your retainer, your teeth will shift back to their original positions and will require further orthodontic treatment to realign them.
Retainers are used for all patients, both teens and adults, and are necessary after both traditional braces and Invisalign.
Just Wear It
Here are a few reasons to keep wearing that retainer:
To Stabilize Your Bite: The soft tissues in your mouth and bones still need time to adapt to their new position. By continually and consistently wearing a retainer, your tissues and bones will stabilize and any shifting that occurs will be minimal.
Wisdom Teeth: For most patients, they will receive braces during their preteen and teen years, meaning right around the time that wisdom teeth show up. By wearing your retainer, you will ensure that the eruption of wisdom teeth don’t move your straight teeth out of their new position.
Bones & Gums Are Aligned: Retainers not only straighten your teeth and keep them in the desired position, but they also align your bones and gums with your teeth. Your retainer will strengthen and stabilize your teeth along with your bones and gums.
Prevent More Orthodontic Treatment: By wearing your retainer every day and night, you will prevent your teeth from shifting, preventing more orthodontic treatment. You’ve put in effort and time wearing your braces. You don’t want to let those efforts go to waste. Your smile will be beautifully straight and your teeth will stay in the correct position by wearing your retainers. Removing your braces got you closer to the finish line, but wearing your retainer will allow you to cross it.
If you have questions or concerns, or you lost your retainer at school, please
call our office at 703-263-0575.
What’s for lunch? If your child got new braces this summer, the answer just got a little more complicated. Once kids return to school, you’ll have to take into consideration the challenges they will face when eating with new braces without your guidance.
Our team has been giving that some thought and here’s what we’ve come up with to help keep your kid on the fastest track to a straight smile:
Healthy Tooth Snacks
Teeth need a steady supply of calcium, phosphate, vitamin D, and other minerals and nutrients, which can be found in foods like:
Each of these are also easy to brush off the dental surface before they need to get to their next class.
Post-Tightening Appointment Lunches
Immediately after your child’s braces tightening appointments, their teeth may be more sensitive than normal. Sandwiches and foods that require a lot of chewing should be avoided for a day or two. Foods that require minimal chewing and discomfort include:
What Not to Pack
Foods that can stick to or damage your child’s braces should be avoided, such as;
Plan Ahead for Braces-Friendly Lunches
Surf into the new school year. You might need to get a little more creative, but packing a lunch that works with your child’s new braces is less difficult when you plan ahead. Need some inspiration? Check out Calla’s recipes for some braces friendly meals!
If you have questions or concerns, please come in for answers. Call our office at 703-263-0575.
Life is busy, and sometimes families need to snack while away from home. But, you don’t have to sacrifice your oral health just because you’re snacking on the go. Here are some ideas for healthy snacks-on-the-go!
Nuts are rich in protein that helps to build stronger teeth. Nuts are a great healthy alternative to potato chips, or other salty snacks that your kids may crave. With braces, it’s best to use nut butters like almond butter and peanut butter. You need to avoid chomping down on hard foods.
Apples are high-fiber fruits, which naturally clean teeth as they’re being eaten! Apples scrub your teeth, gums and tongue, help fight plaque buildup, and help remove surface stains from teeth. Apples also fight bad breath by removing traces of bad plaque and residue from the back of the tongue. Keep the skin on the apple slices, so that your child gets all of the oral health benefits. Cut the apple into slices; don’t risk biting into an apple. Like Snow White, you will regret it.
Cheese is high in calcium and promotes strong teeth. But the benefits of cheese don’t end there. It also contains a protein called casein, which strengthens tooth enamel and helps to prevent cavities. String cheese is a healthy FUN snack that everyone loves to eat!
Always Bring Water
Water is one of the best tools for keeping mouths clean. When preparing a snack for your child on the go, grab a water bottle instead of a juice box. Encourage your kids to swish water around in their mouth after they’re done snacking- it helps remove food bits that get caught in their teeth and can lead to enamel loss and acid buildup.
Healthy Diets Mean Happier Teeth
A mouth-healthy diet is an important part of maintaining optimal oral health. If you’re concerned about how your child’s diet may be affecting their teeth, then bring them into our office. We can discuss healthy, delicious dietary options that kids love, and strengthen teeth.
If you have questions, we are here to answer them! Call our office at 703-263-0575.
Summer is winding down, and that last trip to the beach is behind you. It’s time to gather together your football equipment, hockey sticks, lacrosse gear and all that other stuff you’re going to need for the new school year. Be sure to check out your mouthguard. Clean it up, inspect it for damage, and get a new one if you need to. If it was not cleaned and packed away right, it might not be something you want to put in your mouth, but you can’t play without it.
Almost any sport or activity can be made safer when you use your mouthguard. While you’re playing sports at school or at home, remember to look out for your smile.
Biking, skateboarding, rollerblading—it only takes one fall to make you realize that roads, sidewalks, and concrete are not ideal landing pads. If you do take a spill, using a mouthguard, along with your helmet, will help protect your teeth and jaw.
If you wear braces, we can customize a mouthguard -in our office- that will be a perfect fit for your teeth and bite.
Call our office at 703-263-0575 if you are interested in a custom mouthguard
Here’s a fun fact - babies can imitate smiles as early as the first 36 hours of life. Crazy, right?! Another amazing thing science has discovered is that babies don’t just smile out of reflex, they smile because they want to and because they’re responding to stimuli from their parents from the very beginning! (more here!)
What does this tell us? Smiles are something that is very natural and they matter! So, why then do we put off brushing and flossing?
When you get your braces, dental hygiene becomes even more important. You have to be sure that the teeth under the braces are clean otherwise you can develop cavities on the front, visible side of your teeth! Think of all that effort to get them straight and then you have to get the fronts fixed! Eeek!
Here’s the thing - braces won’t cause cavities, decalcification or gum disease, but not cleaning food particles out from under them could. The good news is that brushing and rinsing often will help eliminate the risk.
Our Famous Brush Talk
When you get your braces at OBC, you’ll sit through our quick but helpful “brush talk” - and you’ll also get an awesome electric toothbrush too. We think gadgets are cool and new technology always helps motivate us!
In our brush talk, we will demonstrate proper techniques. Don’t hesitate to ask questions; it’s important that you feel comfortable with your new task when you go home.
Don’t forget to keep up your regular dentist visits and cleanings. Your orthodontic visits do not replace those. It is still important to get your regular check-ups to make sure your teeth are clean and healthy.
A few quick tips:
Have questions? We’d be happy to answer them - just give us a call!
When is the right time to get braces on? It’s a question we hear a lot - not just from an age standpoint, but from a school year perspective. Parents and kids alike are often apprehensive about getting their braces on because they aren’t sure what they’re signing up for - and sometimes parents have negative memories of wearing braces themselves.
The good news is that technology has changed so much, even in the last 10 years - the braces you may have worn as a kid are definitely different from the smile systems we use at OBC.
Have you stopped by our office? At OBC, we try to put parents and kids at ease by not only keeping things low key and relaxed with our beach themed office but also by providing the information you need to make the right decision for you and your family. While we’re on the topic of the beach, you guessed it, SUMMER is a really great time for your kid (or YOU!) to get braces.
Why? To state the obvious, school is out in summer - that means most kids have more free time. We believe it’s the perfect time to begin orthodontia work because you won’t be stretched to fit both your schedule and your kid’s school schedule into our office hours. (Also, it’s easier, here in the Northern Virginia region where there’s usually lots of traffic, to get in and out even faster!)
Another reason to consider summer is that it will give your child time to adjust to the look and feel of their new braces before heading back to school in the fall. We all know that teenagers are self-conscious and that adjustment period of summer can help them ease into their new look. Having time to get used to the new smile, away from the classroom, is especially good for children who struggle with self-image. They will get used to talking, smiling, and eating with braces before they have to do those things at school.
A benefit of starting in summer is that when kids are at home more, they are less likely to forget to care for the brushing and extra care braces require because they have fewer distractions. It’s a great time to develop good oral hygiene habits that will keep their teeth in good health while the braces are on.
And last but not least, summer is great for ice cream cones and frozen treats - and that is just what feels great on new braces. While we know braces aren’t as painful as they used to be, we are firm believers that ice cream always helps!
If you are among the millions of Americans who suffer from headache pain, including migraines, OBC is excited to offer you some relief with Trudenta. This cutting edge technology uses ultrasound, electrocurrents and low-level laser, in addition to trigger point therapy to reduce and/or eliminate headache and migraine pain.
With the TruDenta system, we can target strained muscle forces in the head, neck, and jaw areas that are often at the root of head, face, jaw, and neck pain. Many people are surprised to learn that their bite can be directly related to the pain they’re experiencing with chronic headaches. Our patients have shared with us how extraordinary the difference is before and after treatment.
If your migraines or headaches have not responded to other treatments that you have tried, make an appointment with us. We will evaluate the musculoskeletal system of your head, neck, and jaw for signs of inflammation and tension that can lead to chronic headaches or migraines. As part of your exam, we will also check the delicate nerves and ligaments that run through your head and jaw for things like misaligned teeth and old injuries that might throw your system out of balance.
OBC is the place to go for therapeutic, state-of-the-art technology and best practice techniques. Committed to staying on the cusp of new technology, Trudenta is just one more way that we are looking to help our patients.
Does your child get the right amount of sleep, but always seems tired during the day? Do you battle to get your little one out of bed in the morning? Do you even sometimes hear problems with their breathing as they sleep? It could be that your son or daughter is one of the 10% of children that suffers from Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
What is OSA?
Obstructive Sleep Apnea, or OSA for short, is a condition that arises during sleep where the upper airway closes off (sometimes hundreds of times a night!) and breathing temporarily stops. This results in oxygen deficiency and highly sporadic sleep patterns as the sufferer repeatedly wakes and falls back to sleep in response to their OSA. Chronic tiredness, falling asleep during the day, and an inability to function well during the day are all key indicators of the problem. Furthermore, it is not an isolated or unusual problem in our society. In fact, OSA is now recognized as the most chronic disorder of all industrialized countries, even though it is estimated that 85% of all cases go undiagnosed
The Dangers of OSA
Having OSA means that you literally cannot get airflow to your lungs. Between the oxygen deficiency and sleeplessness that this causes, OSA can result in high blood pressure and obesity in adults, and increases the likelihood of even more serious, lethal issues, like diabetes, strokes, and heart attacks. Having OSA may cause you to gasp in your sleep, to wake up, or to suffer in silence.
Thankfully, while OSA is not necessarily as life-threatening for children, it can have profound effects on their physical and mental development and general well-being. The profound lack of meaningful sleep that OSA creates can have an impact on weight management and lead to childhood obesity, as well as impaired intellectual functioning and emotional development. As we all know, a rested child is a happy, healthy child.
The Orthodontics/OSA Connection
In the last few years, OSA has moved to the forefront of medical research and thought due to its link to many of these problematic health issues. Doctors and medical researchers know that medication and/or lifestyle changes may help with childhood obesity or lower the probability of a heart attack, but if the underlying cause of OSA is not addressed, these issues will generally continue to be a problem.
The good news is that orthodontics can play a huge role in relieving OSA and OSA-related symptoms!
Orthodontists are the only medical experts specialized in understanding the structure of the oral cavity and as such, are poised to be the frontline of defense against OSA. Your orthodontist shouldn’t just be interested in creating a beautiful smile, and neither should you! Your orthodontist should take a vested interest in the health of the entire person, and how your smile, teeth, jaw, and facial structure might contribute to your overall health, especially in regards to disorders of OSA. Orthodontists have the potential to work hand in hand with sleep specialists to address the problem, but can also independently provide orthodontic treatments that will work to immediately rid you or your child of OSA symptoms.
The OBC Advantage
Here at OBC we take our patients’ overall health very seriously. Because of this, we don’t just simply correct bites or straighten teeth. We take the time to think about the structural changes to a child’s jaw or facial structure that specific orthodontics may create before any work is begun in order to stop OSA sometimes before it can even begin. We also regularly monitor our patients’ progress with an eye for how their orthodontic work may be impacting the airway, and adjust their treatment accordingly.
When we see new patients that had orthodontic work done elsewhere or long ago, we take the time to assess their current structural state and address any issues that may contribute to OSA.
If you or your child exhibits any of the signs of OSA, please come in and let us take a look. Call our office at 703-263-0575.
It’s obvious that your airway is essential for you to live. An open, non-constricted airway allows air to enter into your body, which allows oxygen to be absorbed by your blood through the lungs, and which in turn allows you to live a healthful life. Everyone is aware of this… but did you know that your orthodontics can impact your airway?
How Orthodontics Impacts Airway
When you think about orthodontics and their effects on your airway, the gut reaction may be to panic as you imagine a piece of your braces falling off and down into your throat. You can rest assured -- this doesn’t happen! And that’s not what we are talking about. Instead, we are talking about how restructuring your teeth and jaw, through the use of orthodontics, can either constrict or actually help open up your airway.
To understand how this might happen, you need to first think about the pathway your air takes as you breathe: when you inhale, the air goes in through your nose or mouth, passes over the soft palate and tongue, and then goes down into the lungs. (That’s the simplified version, but you get the idea!)
Anything that occurs along the way in this process can restrict your air. For example, when your tongue is inadvertently moved down and/or back, possibly when you are in a deep sleep in the middle of the night, and it relaxes to the point where it falls, it makes the airway opening smaller. This limits your air intake and could cause you to have a sleepless night.
For us here at OBC, it’s important to understand these concepts because a patient’s facial structure, which is often addressed by orthodontics, can affect the airway. In fact, an open facial structure is usually a good indicator of an open airway.
Unfortunately, some orthodontic work, when not planned properly, can lead to airway constriction. In some cases, tooth extractions or retractions due to overbites and protruding teeth can actually lead to the teeth and jaws falling back from their original position. This makes the tongue and soft palate fall back too, which narrows an otherwise normal and healthy airway.
A patient probably won’t notice this constriction during waking hours, but when they lie down to go to sleep, that narrow airway becomes even smaller, and could lead to serious health issues, including Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). This condition arises when the airway becomes completely cut off, interrupting a person’s sleep and creating a slew of problems.
In the treatment of our patients, it’s important for us to execute modern orthodontics that leave plenty of room in the mouth for the tongue and jaw to rest without obstructing the airway.
This means opting for orthodontics that either keep the jaw in place or expand and develop it forward, instead of allowing the teeth and jaw to fall back. For our patients who have had orthodontic work done somewhere else, or long ago, it means first checking to see what their facial structure looks like, monitoring them for signs of OSA or other problems, and working to fix any airway issues that may arise.
At OBC we want your smile to make a splash, but we also care about your overall health too! Schedule a consult with us so we can evaluate your or your child’s airway. We look forward to giving great service, smiles, and health education to our patients.
If you have crooked teeth, you might want to hide your smile with your hand. But sometimes, a joke is too funny and you want to laugh without apprehension. It’s true that many people don’t seek out orthodontic solutions to fix their crooked teeth because they don’t want to spend time or money on adjusting something “just to make themselves look better.” They may feel selfish, or consider straight teeth to be a luxury. But the reality is that adjusting a smile isn’t just about how you look… it’s also about your overall health.
Teeth that are crooked offer far more problems than just the anxiety caused by what others might think. When you leave crooked teeth unattended to, you are setting yourself up for a host of more painful problems in the future.
Crooked Teeth Mean More Cavities
When your teeth are crooked and improperly aligned, you run the risk of getting more food caught in between the teeth. It is harder to clean crooked teeth, because you can’t always fit the brush in the places that it needs to be. When you can’t clean your teeth properly, you run a greater risk of plaque build-up, not to mention proliferation of the bacteria that can grow in your mouth. This buildup leads to cavities, and a greater risk of developing gum disease. By fixing crooked teeth, you allow your teeth the best possible chance for a healthy, clean, plaque-free smile.
Crooked Teeth Go Through More Wear and Tear
When your teeth don’t line up properly, they end up rubbing against each other in odd places. This brings unnecessary wear and tear upon your teeth. You are more susceptible to chips on your teeth, or even a flattening of a tooth. All of this produces potential problems like cavities, tooth disease, and pain that has to be corrected potentially with surgery.
Crooked Teeth are Painful
Chances are that if you have crooked teeth, your teeth aren’t touching correctly when you chew. This places more pressure on the joints in your jaw (especially the temporomandibular joint aka TMJ), which causes tightness, pain, and “popping” noises, especially when chewing. You might even encounter your jaw “locking up” where you can no longer open it the same amount. Additionally, jaw pain is often linked to headaches, or strain in your face and neck. Have you heard about TruDenta?
Crooked Teeth Can Cause Speech Problems
While crooked teeth can cause dental health issues, did you know that crooked teeth can also result in speech impediments? Things like an overbite or underbite can significantly impact your speech clarity. Your teeth are part of your articulators, which means they help you produce vocal sounds. There are some words that are difficult to pronounce with an overbite, underbite, or even gaps in your teeth, and entire sounds like “sh” and “ch” will sound incorrect. Additionally, your crooked teeth might lead to a lisp or even a slight “whistle sound” that happens when you speak.
Getting Treatment is Self-Care, Not Selfish
Correcting crooked teeth is essential to your health and longevity of your smile. With the variety of orthodontic treatments we offer, Dr. Crutchfield will help you choose the best one to fit your lifestyle while helping you make a splash with your new, improved smile.
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