Back-to-School Braces Basics

Read on to see what extras you should include in your child’s backpack this school year.

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It is time for school to begin! Patients in braces should have a few extra things to bring in their backpacks on the first day.

1. Toothbrush and toothpaste: While the school day might be hectic, it is essential that patients take the time after lunch to brush their teeth. Allowing food particles to sit on teeth and on the gum line all afternoon can result in gum swelling and tooth decay not to mention some seriously bad breath!
2. Floss threaders and floss: Flossing is an important part of oral hygiene while in braces, and it helps get to tricky bits of food that brushing might miss.
3. Orthodontic Wax: Nothing is worse than having a wire start to poke or a bracket rubbing all day. Packing some extra orthodontic wax on the first day is a wise move, and you will be so grateful to have it if something on your braces starts causing discomfort. Remember to get the area you plan to apply the wax super dry prior to applying it to ensure it sticks!
4. Mouth sore rinse: While not mandatory, having a small supply of mouth sore rinse such as Peroxyl can come in handy in case something starts rubbing or feels irritated during the school day.
5. Pain reliever: For patients returning to school after an orthodontic appointment, having access to Tylenol, Advil or Aleve is a relief. Check with your school to ensure students are allowed to bring their preferred pain reliever with them. Some schools might require students keep it in the nurse’s office.
6. School excuse: Patients will miss a class or two due to orthodontic appointments during the school year. When this happens, make sure that they get a school excuse from the front desk prior to leaving the office. That way, their absence will be excused. For patients that forget to pick up a school excuse on their way out, don’t worry! Call the office to have one emailed.

While this might seem like a lot to bring on a patient’s first day to school, most of these items can fit into a gallon-sized baggie with plenty of room to spare! If you have questions regarding back-to-school orthodontic care, call our office. For our Fishers office: 317-570-0011 or for our Indianapolis office: 317-849-0110.

Is Your Child’s Brushing Making the Grade?

Oral hygiene is incredibly important while in braces. Braces and other orthodontic appliances create additional hiding spots for food and plaque. If allowed to sit on teeth for an extended period of time, this food and plaque can result in swollen gums and even cavities. We at Walker Dixon Orthodontics believe so strongly in our patients maintaining great oral hygiene practices that we grade our patients’ oral hygiene at each visit, and always inform both the parent and the patient when oral hygiene is excellent and when it needs a little extra work.

Sometimes, a patient is unsure how to practice great oral hygiene. This can be due to the patient’s age. Younger patients have had less practice than older patients, or they strive for independence, and thus, do not want to ask for their parents for assistance. In other instances, patients simply forget due to a busy schedule filled with academics and athletics.

So, you may be wondering, how do I explain what good brushing looks like to my child who is either in braces, or will be in braces at some point in the future? Below, we have provided some guidelines to make it easier for you:

  1. Time: Children should spend at least 2 minutes brushing. Tip: to help ensure your child is brushing for a long enough time, try using an egg timer or find a fun 2 minute-long song to brush to.
  2. Technique: It is common for patients to brush just the front, lower surface of their teeth. Instruct your child to brush gently, but thoroughly along the gum-line as this is where food collects often. Also, stress the importance of brushing the back of the teeth as well. This is a commonly forgotten zone.
  3. Frequency: Brushing should occur at least twice a day for everyone (once in the morning and once at night before bed), though an additional brush after lunch is required for patients in braces. After lunch brushing prevents food from being trapped against the teeth and gums all afternoon.
  4. Flossing: Flossing is important for everyone, but it becomes especially critical for those in braces. Instruct your child in braces to floss after every meal. They can use floss threaders, or for a speedier flossing solution, pick up some orthodontic flossers such as Plackers.
  5. Rinsing: While not required, we always recommend patients use a fluoride rinse daily. This extra boost of fluoride is a great preventative measure for those in braces. Using a rinse nightly before bed can help reduce the risk of cavities and white marks while in braces. We recommend Phos Flur by Colgate, and sell it in our office at cost to our patients, though other fluoride rinses will work as well.

Following the above guidelines should result in an “A” grade for your child at their next appointment, and we encourage any parent or patient who has questions regarding hygiene to call our office or to ask in person at their visit. We are so committed to creating enthusiasm for great oral health, we even offer points in our rewards system to patients who put in the effort to maintain a healthy smile.
For questions regarding oral hygiene, orthodontics in general or to set up an exam, please call our office. For our Fishers office: 317-570-0011, or for our Indianapolis location: 317-849-0110.

Emergency Care: Bracket Has Come Off

Houston, We Have a Problem:
When something with your braces is just not quite right…

Your braces are a system made up of a lot of little parts that work together to make lots of little movements to your teeth. Since there are a lot of parts that move, and they are attached to your mouth, which also moves, it is likely that you might have some part of your braces that breaks, falls off, or just does something flat out weird.

Today, we are going to explore one of the different things that can go wrong while you have your braces, and what you should do. Some problems you might be able to fix on your own (or with a little help from mom and dad), but other problems might be a little more complex. For those, you will definitely want to ask your orthodontist to lend a hand.

Loose Bracket:

So you had a bracket come loose from your tooth. The tell-tale wiggle of a loose bracket is easily noticeable, and might be annoying to you. However, there is no reason to panic or worry if you have a bracket that has decided to break free. For this problem, your orthodontist will have to be involved as you can’t re-bond (what orthodontists call re-attaching a bracket) a bracket to your tooth on your own!

While having a piece of your braces come loose might seem like a big deal, this is not an orthodontic emergency. Having a bracket come loose causes no pain or bleeding, and as long as the rest of your brackets are still attached, there is no rush to get in to your orthodontist to have it re-bonded. In fact, when you call your orthodontist, they will even tell you it is okay to have a bracket off for up to a month and will usually just reattach it at your next regular visit.

In the meantime, here are some ideas to minimize any irritation caused by having a bracket off. If the bracket is still attached to the wire, you can attempt to slide it off if it is the back bracket, or if it is in between other, still attached brackets, you can use wax to keep it from moving around. When using orthodontic wax, make sure to dry the area where you intend to place the wax thoroughly. Paper towel works well for getting an area dry enough. Take a pea-sized amount of wax and roll it into a ball. Press the ball firmly over the loose bracket. The bracket should be stuck in place and no longer able to slide around on the wire.

Remember, having a bracket off is not a true emergency, and wont cause a delay in your orthodontic treatment if you get it re-bonded within a month. If your next appointment is over a month away, and you have a loose bracket, just call your orthodontist and get scheduled to have it repaired. Otherwise, a courtesy call to your orthodontist to just let them know you have one off is great as they will will know they just need to take a few extra minutes with you at your next regularly scheduled appointment.

For any questions regarding orthodontic emergencies, braces in general or to schedule an initial exam, call our office. For our Fishers location, call 317-570-0011, or for our Shadeland office, call 317-849-0110.

A Nightmare on Brace Street

A guide to candy and braces repairs over the Halloween season.

‘Tis the season for pumpkins, costumes and, every orthodontists’ nightmare, sticky candy. Sticky, chewy candy adheres to your braces’ brackets and wires, causing brackets to come off and wires to be pulled out of place. This can cause discomfort for you, the brace wearer, and frustration for your parents who might find themselves having to make an extra trip to the orthodontist to fix your braces.

So, this raises the question: What can you do to prevent damage to your braces, but still have fun over Halloween?

The answer is easy. Avoid sticky, chewy and overly hard candies! You can still enjoy softer candies such as chocolate, circus peanuts, sugar-free gum and marshmallows, and if you must eat a hard candy, do not chew or bite on it. However, it is advised to avoid these types of candy altogether. If you find you have a lot of sticky and chewy candies after trick-or-treating, see if your friends and siblings will trade you for things you can have while in braces, or save these candies for later when you get your braces off.

Parents, you can help your child in braces by checking their candy and removing candies that your child cannot have while in treatment. Offer to put them away until braces come off, or to replace them with brace-safe options to ensure they do not feel like they are losing out on Halloween fun. By doing this, you will save yourself the time that will otherwise be spent calling and visiting the orthodontist for repairs.

If you do eat something sticky and you lose a bracket, do not panic. Having a bracket off is not an emergency, and if you have an appointment within a month’s time, you can wait to have it repaired until then. You just might want to call your orthodontist’s office to let them know a bracket is off. They can put a note in for your next appointment and prepare to repair your bracket when you come in.

So, in summary, while this is the season for scares, don’t scare your orthodontist with damage to your braces caused by candy!

For additional questions regarding what you can and can’t eat with braces on, or questions on orthodontics in general, call our office. For our Fishers location, call: 317-570-0011, or for our Indianapolis location, call: 317-849-0110.

A Nightmare on Brace Street

A guide to candy and braces repairs over the Halloween season.

‘Tis the season for pumpkins, costumes and, every orthodontists’ nightmare, sticky candy. Sticky, chewy candy adheres to your braces’ brackets and wires, causing brackets to come off and wires to be pulled out of place. This can cause discomfort for you, the brace wearer, and frustration for your parents who might find themselves having to make an extra trip to the orthodontist to fix your braces.

So, this raises the question: What can you do to prevent damage to your braces, but still have fun over Halloween?

The answer is easy. Avoid sticky, chewy and overly hard candies! For example, tootsie rolls, laffy taffy, jolly ranchers, starbursts and other similar candies. You can still enjoy softer candies such as chocolate, circus peanuts, sugar-free gum and marshmallows, and if you must eat a hard candy, do not chew or bite on it. However, it is advised to avoid these types of candy altogether. If you find you have a lot of sticky and chewy candies after trick-or-treating, see if your friends and siblings will trade you for things you can have while in braces, or save these candies for later when you get your braces off.

Parents, you can help your child in braces by checking their candy and removing candies that your child cannot have while in treatment. Offer to put them away until braces come off, or to replace them with brace-safe options to ensure they do not feel like they are losing out on Halloween fun. By doing this, you will save yourself the time that will otherwise be spent calling and visiting the orthodontist for repairs.

If you do eat something sticky and you lose a bracket, do not panic. Having a bracket off is not an emergency, and if you have an appointment within a month’s time, you can wait to have it repaired until then. You just might want to call your orthodontist’s office to let them know a bracket is off. They can put a note in for your next appointment and prepare to repair your bracket when you come in.

So, in summary, while this is the season for scares, don’t scare your orthodontist with damage to your braces caused by candy!

For additional questions regarding what you can and can’t eat with braces on, or questions on orthodontics in general, call our office. For our Fishers location, call: 317-570-0011, or for our Indianapolis location, call: 317-849-0110.

The Daily Grind

Why you might be grinding your teeth, and why you might want to get help.

Grinding of teeth, also known as bruxism, is quite common, and almost everyone has done it at some point in their lives. While it is most common to grind your teeth at night in your sleep, there are some who even do it during their waking hours.

Why do we grind?

Bruxism has a number of potential causes, and not everyone grinds their teeth for the same reasons, but there are a couple of causes that might lead to bruxism.

Stress and anxiety
An abnormal bite and/or crooked/missing teeth
Side effects: medication and alcohol and tobacco use can sometimes cause grinding
Age: young children tend to grind their teeth but this usually goes away with age
Caffeine: consuming caffeinated beverages in the evening has been linked to some cases

Should you seek help?

Again, almost everyone will grind their teeth at some point in their lives, however persistent and severe bruxation often requires intervention. If you grind your teeth frequently, you may experience temporomandibular joint disorders, damage to your teeth and pain in your face, teeth and jaw.

 

The Top 10 Things Not to Do While in Braces

What can you avoid doing while in braces to ensure your treatment is a success? We will give you the breakdown of the top 10 things you should know to avoid.

Being in braces, you will find that you are able to do just about everything you did prior to treatment. There are some things you will want to avoid doing while undergoing orthodontic treatment, however. In this post, we will outline the top ten things that will cause problems for you and your braces, so your experience in braces is problem free!

Eating Hard Foods

Hard candy and foods might be tempting, but they can cause problems for you and your braces. When you chew on something hard, you can cause the brackets to break off of your teeth, and you can cause the wire to come out of the brackets, which might poke your cheek and gums causing pain for you! Some examples of hard foods and candy include jaw breakers, sweet-tarts, hard pretzels, hard breadsticks, and nuts.

Eating Sticky and Chewy Foods

Sticky and chewy foods can be delicious, but they are often the causes of problems with braces. Non sugar-free gum, taffy, caramels, and other similar foods can get stuck on braces and pull lose your brackets and wires, which can cause you discomfort if wires start to poke from being pulled loose. Stick with drier foods that are easier to chew and wont adhere to your brackets and wires the way sticky foods will.

Chewing on Things Other Than Food

If you like to chew on pencils, pens, mouth guards or other non-food items, this is a habit you will want to break immediately before pursuing orthodontic treatment. Not only are these items bad for your teeth in general, but they can bad for your braces, too. Chewing on non-food items can result in brackets coming loose or breaking off and can also result in wires being knocked loose, so learn to curb that habit sooner rather than later.

Not Brushing Teeth After Eating

While it might seem inconvenient to have to brush after every meal, excellent oral hygiene is absolutely necessary when you are in braces. Braces act like shelves on your teeth and can hold food on your teeth and gum line, causing irritation that can result in swelling, bleeding and eventually cavities. Keep a small pouch with a travel-sized toothbrush and toothpaste at work, school or in your car to make it more convenient to brush.

Not Flossing

Flossing your teeth is definitely more of a challenge when you have braces, but with the right tools and a little patience, it is possible. Flossing is also necessary when you have braces as the brackets and wires can hold and hide food in places not easily visible to you. Left on your teeth and gums, the food will decay causing gum swelling, bleeding, bad breath and eventually cavities. Use flossers designed especially for braces, floss threaders, or invest in a Waterpik to ensure you are flossing effectively.

Playing With Wires

It might feel strange at first to have braces on your teeth, and when you are bored, it might be easy to reach into your mouth and play with your wires. However, when you choose to play with your wires, you run the risk of breaking the wire, which can result in a wire poking into your cheek and gum line causing you pain. Doing this can also result in a bracket breaking off of your teeth, which might mean an extra trip to the orthodontist’s office. Try to keep from playing with your wires, and if you suffer from fidgety hands, perhaps find another outlet for your boredom such as a stress ball or fidget spinner.

Picking at Brackets

When a bracket is rubbing, or feeling strange to you, you might be tempted to pick at the bracket with your fingernails or other objects. As tempting as it may be, you must refrain from picking at your brackets. Doing so can result in brackets coming loose and causing you additional discomfort and trips to the orthodontist. If a bracket is really bothering you, use orthodontic wax to cushion the irritation, and maybe call your orthodontist if you feel as if the problem is more severe.

Removing the Wire

While you might have figured out how to open the doors on your brackets to remove your wire, you should never do this. It might make brushing and flossing easier, but you run the risk of not putting your wire back in properly, or not being able to get the wire back in at all. Putting a wire in improperly can result in incorrect tooth movement, which might delay treatment completion, and can also in more extreme cases, even cause root damage. Leave the wire removal to your orthodontist, and learn to become a pro at your oral hygiene routine with your wire in.

Playing Sports Without a Mouthguard

If you enjoy playing sports, you will want to get a mouthguard to protect your braces and teeth. Even if you have never had an accident while playing a game, one can happen at any time, and it is better to be protected. Ensure you get a mouthguard, such as the Shock Doctor, that is designed for braces. We sell them at a discount to our patients, but if you are in another state, check with your local orthodontist to see if they offer mouth guards at their office or if they can direct you to a supplier.

Not Wearing Elastics

The biggest thing that is guaranteed to delay your braces coming off is not wearing elastics that your orthodontist recommends to you. Your elastics are essential to correcting your bite, and if you do not wear them, your bite will not change, and your orthodontist will not take off your braces until it is correct. So, wear those elastics day and night!

In conclusion, while it might seem like there are a lot of things you should not do while you are in braces, luckily, these are all things that are easy to avoid or stop doing. If you have further questions on whether or not something will harm your braces, call your orthodontist to ask. They will happy to answer your questions on how to keep your braces and teeth in great shape while you are in treatment.