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.

Brace Yourself!

What to expect in your first few days in braces.

So you are getting your braces on. Congratulations! Getting braces is an exciting experience, and as you ponder what colors you will choose on your big day and what your friends will think of your new smile, you might also ponder what it will feel like to have braces. After all, you will have something attached to your teeth that was not there before!

The process of getting braces is very easy. All you have to do is sit back and relax as the orthodontist and the assistant place the individual brackets and the wire on your teeth. After your braces are on, the assistant will teach you how to maintain your new smile with special techniques for brushing and flossing. They even give you a tool kit with everything you need to keep your teeth sparkling clean.

On the first day of having braces, it will feel funny, and you might have to adjust your lips a little as they can’t rest in their usual position on your teeth. Your teeth will most likely feel a bit tight as the wire is already hard at work, gently moving your teeth to a better position.

After the first day, you will feel the impact of having braces a little more, and the discomfort will probably be the greatest at this point. The inside of your lips and cheeks are used to having the smooth surface of your teeth to move around on, and now, all of a sudden, there are raised objects on your teeth that your lips have to navigate around. Sometimes this can cause small sores, which might be uncomfortable. Your mouth heals very fast, however, and once it gets used to the braces, generally within a week or less, the sores will go away. You can use a variety of tricks such as salt water rinses and wax to treat this discomfort.

Tooth soreness is also common when you first get your braces. While in braces, you now have a wire that is working to guide your teeth to their proper positions. Teeth are stubborn and have been in their places for a long time, so they are not eager to move. This means that your teeth will probably be a little sore, and you will want to stick to soft foods for a few days after getting your braces put on. Use your preferred, regular pain-killer such as Advil, Tylenol or Aleve to help reduce soreness.

Your first week in braces is definitely a transition period as your teeth are undergoing a big change. While you might experience some discomfort for the first week, do not worry. It is far from permanent, and is never severe enough to make you miss school, work or other activities. Once your mouth gets used to the braces, you will be amazed at how easy orthodontic treatment is.

Elastics in Orthodontic Treatment

Elastics: Why you need them

So, you are at your orthodontist for an exam or for your regular appointment, and the doctor tells you that you will need to wear elastics during your time in braces. This may leave you wondering what elastics are and why you need to wear them in the first place? Read on to get the full scoop on the what and why of elastics in orthodontic treatment.

What Are Elastics, Anyways?

Almost everyone who has braces will at some point be told they need to wear elastics. The elastics resemble tiny rubber bands, but they are composed of latex, though non-latex elastics are available to those who are allergic or sensitive to latex. They come in a variety of sizes, which, in our office, are given animal names to help you remember which elastics you are wearing. The elastics are worn by attaching them to hooks that are placed strategically on your brackets.

Usually, you can place the elastics with your fingers. It takes a little practice, but given time, you will be able to put them in and take them out without even looking. You may have a few appointments before you have to wear elastics, and when its time to start wearing them, your orthodontist will instruct you on how they want you to wear them.

Why Are Elastics So Important?

Your orthodontist and the orthodontic assistant at your appointment will probably stress your cooperation with elastic wear when it is time to start wearing them. Something so small might seem like its of minor importance, but elastics are incredibly important to orthodontic treatment.

Your elastics are designed to retrain your jaw, and wearing them as recommended by your orthodontist will help correct your bite in ways that the wire and brackets alone cannot. Make sure to pay attention to the instructions as there are a number of ways the elastics can be worn, and you want to make sure you are wearing them correctly.  You can even request a diagram from your orthodontist that you can reference after your appointment to ensure you are wearing your elastics correctly long after you leave their office.

If you do not wear your elastics as often as you are told, or if you wear them improperly, your treatment can go on longer than originally estimated. Your orthodontist can always tell if you have worn your elastics properly, so make sure to be diligent and consistent in their wear, and be honest with your orthodontist if you could have done better with wearing them since your last appointment.

For additional questions on why elastics are important, or if you have questions on how you should be wearing them, do not hesitate to call your orthodontists’ office. If you are a patient of Walker Dixon Orthodontics with questions on elastics wear, or if you are interested in pursuing treatment with us, call our Fishers office at 317-570-0011, or our Indianapolis location at 317-849-0110.

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.

TMJ and TMD

What is TMJ and TMD? Your questions answered.

What is TMJ/TMD?

TMJ is a commonly used abbreviation for the temporomandibular joint, also known as the jaw joint. These joints connect the mandible to the skull and allow for the range of jaw motion through the muscles in the area. When the joints do not work together with the muscles, that is when TMD, or temporomandibular joint disorder, occurs. TMD symptoms can include jaw pain and limitations in jaw movement such as locking or limited ability to open or close the jaw.

How do you treat TMD?

The correct course of treatment for TMD varies from case to case, and depends largely on the type and severity of symptoms. Self-treatment is always recommended first and includes the use of cold and warm moist compresses, over-the-counter pain reliever and a soft diet until symptoms subside. It is also recommended to avoid activities that put additional strain on the jaw muscles which includes yawning widely, chewing gum and eating hard or chewy foods. If symptoms persist, or are greater in severity, it is a good idea to consult with your dentist or your local orthodontic specialist who might recommend a splint or orthodontic treatment to correct a bite discrepancy that might be causing TMD. Surgery for TMD is usually only recommended as a last resort to treat TMD after all other methods of treatment have been exhausted, and extreme caution is advised for those seeking surgical treatment for TMD.

If you are experiencing TMD symptoms, and would like additional information on how bite correction can help provide you with relief, contact your local orthodontic specialists at Walker Dixon Orthodontics to schedule an exam. For the Fishers location, call 317-570-0011, or for the Indianapolis location, call 317-849-0110.

Emergency Care: Wire Poke

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 of your teeth. Since there are a lot of parts that move a lot, and they are attached to your mouth, which also moves a lot, it is likely that you might have some part of your braces that breaks, falls off, or just does something flat out weird that you can’t quite figure out.

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 if you encounter them. 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 for a helping hand.

Wire Poke:

You wake up one morning, or are going about your day, and all of a sudden you start to get the feeling that something is scratching at the back of the inside of your cheek, or when you talk, you feel as though your cheek is getting caught on something sharp. Surprise! You have what orthodontic offices like to call a wire poke. Probably the most common problem seen with braces, this issue is most often seen in the early stages of treatment as space between teeth is closing the quickest at this time. Naturally, as the space between your teeth closes up, the wire has to go somewhere, and often, it has nowhere else to go but out of the brackets on your very back teeth, making for an uncomfortable situation for you!

You can tell if you have a wire poke a lot of times just by how it feels, but if you are not sure, you can pull you cheek back and look in your bathroom mirror at your back brackets. You might just see a tiny piece of wire hanging out back there. If its too dark to  see exactly what is going on back there, you can use a flashlight (like the one on your phone) or recruit a parent to help you take a look.

Once you determine that you have a wire poke, it is then time to determine how to go about getting it fixed. Sometimes, a wire poke can be fixed at home with no extra trip to the orthodontist required. If you are recently in braces, your first wires are really thin and flexible, which means a simple nail clipper can sometimes do the trick. Simply slide the nail clipper back towards the offending piece of wire, holding your cheek back and out away from the brackets and snip that piece of wire as close to the bracket as you can. Kiddos, recruit the help of your parents for this one! If it is too far back to reach with the nail clipper, you can clip the wire up closer to the front where it is easier to see and get to until you can get into your orthodontist for a permanent fix. Your orthodontist can always replace a wire, but your comfort should come first.

If you are unable to fix the problem at home, call your orthodontist to see about making an appointment. Until you can get into your orthodontist, you can use wax to cushion the wire. Make sure to get the area as dry as possible (a paper towel works great for this), roll a pea-sized piece of wax into a ball, and press the wax firmly on the sharp piece of wire. This should make you a lot more comfortable until your orthodontist can get you in for a wire clip.

Remember, while a wire poke might be uncomfortable, it is easily fixed and no reason to panic. Take a deep breath, follow the steps above, and see about getting into your orthodontist.