Become a Retainer Defender

Taking care of your retainer is easy! Read on to find out how to keep your retainer well-cared for.

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After your braces come off, it is important to remember that your responsibility for your orthodontic treatment is not over yet. Retainers are essential to maintaining your perfect smile once braces come off. Your teeth are alive and always want to move, so ensuring you wear your retainer and prevent it from being lost or damaged will ensure you keep your smile perfect.

  1. Keep your retainer in its case: Your retainer is small and might be clear, which means it can be easily lost or overlooked as it can fall into tiny places and also seem invisible. Retainer cases, however, are larger and usually bright in color, ensuring your retainer is not lost or thrown away by accident. *Extra tip: Be sure to fill in the sticker on your retainer with your name, address and phone number so if you lose your retainer and someone else finds it they can easily return it to you!
  2. Leave your retainer at home: If you are just going to spend the night at a friend’s or relative’s house, it might be best to leave your retainer at home. Your retainer might fit a little tighter the next time you put it in, but its better to deal with a night of a tight retainer than have it lost in transit. *Note: If you will be out of town for more than a night or two, take your retainer with you, but be sure to keep it in its case when its not in use!
  3. Contain the retainer in a drawer: This tip is especially useful if you have a dog, as they love to chew on retainers, but keeping your retainer in a drawer when not in use prevents your retainer from being knocked to the floor.
  4. Remember to wear it: Your retainer does no good if it is not worn, and you spent all that time in braces for nothing if you do not maintain your straight smile. Be sure to wear your retainer every night. *Extra tip: For those who struggle to remember, try taping a note to your mirror reminding you to wear your retainer, and get in the habit of putting it in immediately after you brush your teeth for the night.
  5. Keep your retainer clean: Use dish soap and warm water to keep your retainer clean as needed. Do not use overly hot water as this can disfigure your retainer and will result in it losing its perfect fit.

By following the tips above, you are well on your way to ensuring that your retainer lasts a long time. If you find that your retainer has been lost or damaged, be sure to contact your orthodontist quickly to ensure they can get you in quickly to have a new retainer made. Do not wait too long as your teeth might move without the retainer to hold them in place.

For additional questions regarding retainers or orthodontic treatment in general, we would love to hear from you! Please call our Fishers office at 317-570-0011, or our Indianapolis office at 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.

 

Wisdom Teeth

Why your Orthodontist might say they need to go!

What is a Wisdom Tooth?

Wisdom teeth are commonly referred to as a third molar, and they are usually the last teeth to develop. Contrary to their name, wisdom teeth have nothing to do with an individual’s wisdom, but get their nickname from their time of eruption, which usually occurs in early adulthood.

Do I Need to Get Them Removed?

Whether or not an individual can keep their wisdom teeth varies. Generally, most people do not have enough room in their jaws to allow for their wisdom teeth to stay. It is believed that in the long-distant past, humans had longer laws that allowed the wisdom teeth to erupt, but over time, human jaw size has been reduced, leaving the wisdom teeth with nowhere to go! So, when it is time for the wisdom teeth to emerge, they can become impacted, or only partially emerge which can result in tooth decay on the partially exposed tooth. Wisdom teeth can also travel in directions that can pose a threat to your other teeth, especially if they are traveling in the direction of your molars’ roots.

There are rare instances where wisdom tooth removal is not needed. If an individual is missing a tooth, sometimes a wisdom tooth can be beneficial. Some individuals are even born without wisdom teeth altogether, which would eliminate the need for their removal.

Your dentist or orthodontist will make the recommendation if your wisdom teeth need to be removed, so consult with them if you have questions on the timing of wisdom tooth removal. If they believe it is time, they will be able to write you a referral to an oral surgeon for the procedure.

Waterpiks and Braces

Benefits and Drawbacks to Using a Waterpik While in Braces.

So you, or your child, are in braces and your orthodontist has suggested a Waterpik to assist in maintaining great oral hygiene while in treatment. You might be wondering what the benefit is to having a Waterpik, and you might also be wondering if there is anything else you should be aware of before making the purchase?

What is a Waterpik?:

A Waterpik is a oral hygiene device composed of a wand connected to a canister that is filled with water before use. The Waterpik propels the water from the canister through the wand with a strong force which, when aimed at teeth, is effective at dislodging food particles that might be stuck between teeth or stuck in appliances such as braces and permanent retainers.

Benefits:

Braces are composed of a lot of small parts that adhere to teeth. These parts, such as the wires, elastics, coils and brackets, make for perfect food traps, and therefore, present more of an obstacle to brushing and flossing. For children where dexterity and attention to detail might still be a work in progress, even with brushing and flossing, some things might be missed. A Waterpik can assist in dislodging stubborn or hidden food particles missed with regular brushing and flossing.

Since it uses streams of water to “floss,” the Waterpik can often reach challenging areas with greater ease than with regular dental floss alone. As an extra “insurance policy” in an oral hygiene routine, a Waterpik might help reduce the risk of cavities and decalcification while in orthodontic treatment.

Drawbacks:

Many individuals might think that having a Waterpik is a substitute to regular flossing. While a Waterpik is certainly effective in dislodging food particles, regular flossing is still essential during treatment, and using a Waterpik is not a substitute for great brushing and flossing while in braces. If you purchase a Waterpik for a child, it is essential that your child knows that they must continue to brush and floss in addition to the use of their Waterpik.

As a device that is designed to shoot water at a great speed and with a considerable amount of force, Waterpiks can also understandably be quite messy for those not expecting the speed and rate at which water is expelled from the device. To minimize the mess, ensure that children are supervised and possibly use the Waterpik over the bathtub or in the shower until its use is mastered.

In Conclusion:

A Waterpik can be an asset during orthodontic treatment as it can help dislodge food particles that might have been missed with regular brushing and flossing. However, keep in mind that it is not a substitute for great oral hygiene practices including brushing, flossing and using a fluoride rinse daily. It can be messy at first, but once mastered, the mess should be minimized. For those who want or need an extra bit of help with their oral hygiene routine, a Waterpik can be an excellent choice.

Walker Dixon Orthodontics is proud to offer Waterpiks to our patients at a discounted price. For patients wanting to ask questions or purchase a Waterpik, or for those with questions on orthodontic treatment, please call our office. For the Fishers location, call: 317-570-0011, or for our Shadeland location, call: 317-849-0110.

Those Dreaded White Spots…

What are those white spots on teeth, and how can you prevent them?

What is, and What Causes Decalcification?

When you first get your braces on, your orthodontist will stress the importance of excellent oral hygiene while in braces. They also will probably show you new techniques to ensure you have the knowledge to keep your teeth clean while in treatment. All of this extra emphasis on oral hygiene might make you wonder what all of the fuss is about? In truth, you orthodontist wants to ensure that when your braces come off, your teeth are visually perfect in addition to being perfectly aligned. For those patients who do not follow an excellent oral hygiene routine, they will often finish treatment with what is called decalcification. Decalcification is also commonly referred to as “white spots” on your teeth.

If food is allowed to sit on your teeth, it will eventually form plaque, which eats away at your teeth, breaking down the calcium and other minerals your teeth are composed of. This chemical break down creates white areas on your teeth. Essentially, these white spots are the start of cavities, which left untreated will turn into cavities.

Is There a Way to Remove The White Spots?

Unfortunately, once decalcification occurs on your teeth, there is no way to reverse it. This is why it is absolutely necessary to get in the habit of practicing excellent oral hygiene from day one in treatment. If you have developed decalcification, you can prevent it from becoming a full-fledged cavity by practicing excellent oral hygiene and by using a restorative toothpaste (such as Pronamel or Prevident) and fluoride rinse (such as Act or PhosFlur). Your orthodontist might also recommend or provide a prescription-strength toothpaste, such as MI Paste (this is a prescription product and cannot be purchased over the counter) to prevent further decay.

In Conclusion

The best way to treat decalcification is to prevent it from the start by sticking to an excellent oral hygiene routine which includes brushing your teeth after every meal, flossing regularly, and using a fluoride rinse daily. Your orthodontist will provide you with the tools and knowledge to prevent decalcification from the start of your treatment, but the responsibility for caring for your teeth while you are in braces ultimately rests on your shoulders.

For questions about oral hygiene while in braces, contact your local orthodontist. For patients of Walker Dixon Orthodontics, or for those who are interested in pursuing treatment with us, please call our office. For our Fishers location, call: 317-570-0011, or for our Indianapolis location, call: 317-849-0011.

Discomfort 101: The Best Ways to Treat Discomfort When in Braces

How do you treat discomfort when you are in braces? Read on for the best tips and tricks for treating orthodontic discomfort.

When you have braces, a little discomfort is to be expected. Luckily, all discomfort with braces is minor, and you should never be in so much pain that you miss school or work. Most discomfort caused by braces vanishes within a few days as your mouth and teeth adjust. With a little extra effort, you can reduce your discomfort levels until your mouth and teeth have had time to adjust!

Tooth Soreness:

This is very common after you have had your braces first put on and after each adjustment appointment. If you experience tooth soreness, take your preferred over the counter pain reliever such as Tylenol, Aleve or Advil, and refrain from eating any hard or chewy foods until the soreness goes away. Tooth soreness after appointments usually goes away after a few days, so just hang in there until its gone!

Mouth Sores:

Mouth sores are inside of your cheeks and sometimes the inside of your lips as well. Braces are composed of a lot of parts that are rubbing the inside of your mouth, so mouth sores are quite common when you have braces. To treat them, try a simple saltwater rinse composed of a cup of warm, not hot, water and 1-2 teaspoons of salt. Swish the solution around your teeth for about 15-30 seconds before spitting and continue the process until all of the solution is gone. It may taste funny, but a salt water rinse is easy and highly effective at healing mouth sores and making them less painful. There are rinses such as Peroxyl which we sell at our office that are designed specifically for mouth sores as well.

Using orthodontic wax is an effective way to cover and cushion a spot that is causing a mouth sore. Make sure to get the area you want to cover very dry to ensure the wax sticks. Paper towel works well for getting an area dry enough! While wax will help, use it sparingly as you will want the area getting the sore to get used to the braces being there. Over time, your mouth will get used to the braces and mouth sores will heal.

Something is Sharp or Poking

This can be the result of a couple of different things, but often, as your teeth begin to move and space between them closes, the wire has nowhere else to go but out the back of your bracket which can be a little uncomfortable. Using fingernail clippers or jewelry wire cutters, you can clip the offending wire on your own, or with the help of a parent if you are young. If the wire is impossible to reach, you can use orthodontic wax to cushion the sharp point. Again, make sure to get the area as dry as possible to help the wax stick. Use a salt water rinse to help your mouth heal if the poking wire has caused a sore.

If you have followed all of the steps above, and are still experiencing discomfort, call your orthodontist’s office. They will be able to tell you whether or not your discomfort can be treated at home, or if you need to come in for an appointment or see your dentist.

Emergency Care: Loose or Scratching Hook

What to do when your elastics hook is acting up.

When you start to wear elastics, you will might have new parts added to your brackets that allow you to wear your elastics. These parts look almost like tiny rods that the assistant will slide up through your bracket. The rods (often referred to as “drop-ins,” “posts” or “hooks”) have wire ends that fold over your bracket to hold it in place, ensuring you can wear your elastics with ease. Once you start wearing your elastics, this puts some tension on those posts and can sometimes cause them to start to wiggle loose. If this happens, you might notice that you have a slightly scratchy sensation near the bracket with the post. The good news is, this problem you can easily fix at home!

First, examine the bracket using your mirror. You might have to get close, but you should be able to see the offending wire end sticking up from the top of the bracket. Once you locate the problem, its simply a matter of pushing that little piece of wire back down into the bracket. You have a few options as to how you can do this. One option is to fix it using tweezers. Squeeze the tweezers to where they are closed and use the pointed end to push the wire end back down towards the bracket. This should only take a couple of tries. Other fine-ended hard objects can be used for this too. Just make sure what you are using is clean and not too sharp! If you do not have tweezers or do not feel comfortable using hard objects, you can also use the same technique with a pencil eraser to push the wire back into place.

If the wire end still does not want to go back down, orthodontic wax can be used to cushion your lip or cheek from the rough spot until your next regularly scheduled appointment. To ensure maximum effectiveness of orthodontic wax, be sure to get the area dry first. Paper towel works well at getting an area dry enough for wax to stick.

While an elastic hook coming loose might be irritating, it is not an orthodontic emergency, so there is no need to worry or rush to the orthodontist’s office. Just follow the steps above, and you will have the problem fixed on your own in minutes.