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Just Add Water

January 13th, 2021

One of the many benefits of your clear aligners is that you can remove them to eat. You should brush after every meal, just like you would with traditional braces, but cleaning your teeth is much easier without having to work around and between brackets and wires.

But when you wear your aligners 22 hours a day, you might be tempted to leave them in when you’re just having a sip of something when you’re thirsty. Unless you’re drinking water, please don’t.

What’s the problem with a can of cola or a cup of coffee?

  • Staining

The virtue of your clear aligners is that they are, well, clear! Probably one of the reasons you decided on this method of treatment was because you liked the idea of an inconspicuous appliance.  Unfortunately, dark beverages such as colas, coffee, tea, and red wine can stain your aligner, making it more visible.

  • Warping

Very hot beverages might actually affect the shape of your aligners. Since they are formed using heat, it makes sense that heat can also de-form them. If hot teas and coffee drinks cause a change in the shape of your aligners, they will not move your teeth the way they were meant to.

  • Affecting Tooth Health

Even though our enamel is very strong, sugary and acidic drinks can damage it. Acidic foods can erode enamel, and the sugars in our diet provide food for cavity-causing bacteria, which then produce acids that erode enamel.

Normally, saliva provides some protection from acids and sugars by diluting them and washing them away from the teeth. When you drink a cola or an orange juice with your aligners on, some of the liquid will get in them, and can stay in them until the aligners are removed. You will actually give these problem beverages the opportunity to bathe your teeth in sugar and acid over a longer period of time, without exposure to saliva to help offset potential harm. And after all your work to create a beautiful smile, you certainly don’t want new cavities!

How to protect your aligners and keep them their cleanest—and most invisible?

  • Take your aligners out before drinking beverages that can stain them, or, if you can’t, try using a straw. Clean your aligners according to Dr. Ryan Hinckley and our team’s instructions to keep them as clear as possible.
  • Don’t drink very hot beverages with your aligners in place. Try icing your coffee and tea if you can’t remove your aligners. And if you think your aligners have changed shape, please give us a call.
  • Drink water! Water hydrates you, doesn’t damage enamel, and keeps your aligners clean. Tap water is your best option, as even bottled waters can be acidic.

If your aligners should become stained, remember that you change them frequently, so the staining can be a temporary problem. If you do have a drink of something hot and your aligners feel “off,” give our Lufkin, Nacogdoches, Center, Crockett, TX office a call. We’ll let you know if you need to replace them.

But prevention is always best! Avoid staining from the start by removing your aligners before you drink dark beverages. Don’t expose your aligners to heat. Think about replacing unhealthy drinks with water. And certainly brush right away, or rinse with water if that’s not possible, if you drink a sugary or acidic beverage. These simple precautions will help keep your aligners, and, most important, your teeth, looking their best.

Time to Brush Up on Brushing and Flossing

December 23rd, 2020

If your child has just gotten braces, chances are it’s a good time to brush up on dental hygiene! Why now? What’s different? And how can you help? Let’s take a few minutes and explore these timely questions.

Brushing and Flossing Are Especially Important with Braces

There’s no getting around it, it’s harder to clean teeth with brackets and wires. But it’s essential to pay attention to dental hygiene. When bacteria and plaque start building up, your child is at risk for gum disease, cavities, and tooth discoloration.

  • Gingivitis

This early stage of gum disease is the result of gum irritation caused by plaque. The gums become red, swollen, sore, and can bleed or start to recede. With proper brushing and flossing, gingivitis can be eliminated, along with the risk of developing more serious gum disease.

  • Tooth Decay

One of the major reasons for cavities is the erosion of enamel caused by oral bacteria. These bacteria feed on sugars from our diet and produce acids that attack the tooth’s surface. Plaque, formed by a mass of these bacteria, sticks around brackets and the gum line, putting your child at risk for cavities near his orthodontic work—which might require removing wires and brackets to treat.

  • Demineralization

When acids attack teeth, they remove the minerals from our enamel. This demineralization eventually leads to cavities, but in its early stages can cause white spots to appear where the mineral structure has been weakened. Braces wearers are at special risk for demineralization, especially around brackets and near the gums, where plaque can be missed while brushing.

Time for New Brushing and Flossing Techniques

Even if your child has always done a wonderful job of brushing and flossing, braces provide a new challenge for getting teeth their cleanest. Unfortunately, plaque buildup around the brackets and the gum line is all too common in orthodontic patients. Dr. Ryan Hinckley can recommend some tools that make the cleaning process easier and more effective.

  • Toothbrushes

Manual brushes are available with small, soft-bristled heads designed especially for braces wearers. If your child still has problems getting rid of plaque and food debris, an electric toothbrush might be helpful. And remember, encourage your child to be thorough but gentle for the sake of both braces and gums.

  • Flossing with Braces

Flossing can be challenging for children at any time, but especially with braces. We’ll show you how floss threaders work, and how special flosses designed just for braces can fit under wires. This might also be a good time to invest in a water flosser. Your help demonstrating how to floss even with brackets and wires blocking the way will be appreciated by your child and your dentist!

  • Products Just for Braces

Interproximal brushes are tiny cone-shaped brushes designed to fit around brackets and wires and between teeth. We can also suggest special toothpastes and rinses to help fight plaque and prevent cavities from developing. Ask us about what to shop for to make both of your lives easier.

You Can Help!

  • Teamwork—Works!

When your child first gets braces, practice brushing and flossing together. Our Lufkin, Nacogdoches, Center, Crockett, TX team will be happy to show you both the very best techniques for keeping teeth their cleanest and healthiest. Especially for young children, your help will make sure those techniques are learned and used.

  • Make Time for Cleaning

Your child’s before-braces routine might have meant brushing two minutes each morning and two minutes at night. But thorough cleaning around brackets and wires might take a bit longer. (And, with braces, it’s best to brush after every meal rather than the common twice-a-day routine). Be available, at least at first, for a quick check to make sure braces and teeth are their cleanest. And you may have to help with removing and replacing bands until your child gets the hang of it.

  • Be Prepared!

Whether it’s a day at school or an overnighter with friends, be sure your child has a kit filled with cleaning supplies ready to take along. A toothbrush, floss, an interproximal brush, toothpaste, a mirror—with these necessities, your child can keep on top of any cleaning emergencies.

For younger children especially, learning how to keep teeth and braces their cleanest can take some time. Be patient, be prepared, and be willing to help, and you and your child will have a new routine mastered—in no time at all!

I Only Have One Crooked Tooth. Should I See an Orthodontist?

December 16th, 2020

Your smile is just about perfect. There’s just that one tooth that’s out of place. So, do you really need to see an orthodontist?

Absolutely! Why? There are several good reasons.

First, let’s check to make sure there is no physical problem causing that turned tooth. A crooked tooth might result from an early oral trauma while the tooth is developing, or a baby tooth lost too early, or the loss of a nearby adult tooth. But a sudden change in a tooth’s orientation might also be caused by a cyst or a tumor. If you notice any changes in your tooth’s position, it’s a good idea to talk to Dr. Ryan Hinckley.

Second, we want to make sure your bite is aligned properly. If your tooth is crooked due to crowding by your other teeth, or if it has rotated a bit because there is too much space between your teeth, your bite might be affected as well. Malocclusions, or bad bites, can lead to a number of unpleasant consequences, including headaches, jaw pain, and increased pressure and stress on the teeth.

Third, a crooked tooth can lead to more difficulty brushing and flossing between and around the teeth, which increases the chance of tooth decay.

Fourth, we provide the professional medical care you need. Some people with a turned tooth attempt self-help with rubber bands, dental floss, or other home remedies. Not only is this unlikely to work, it can actually lead to infection, root problems, and even tooth loss.

Maybe there are no health concerns causing, or caused by, your crooked tooth. Your bite is strong, and you like your unique smile just the way it is. In that case, smile on!

But if you are interested in aligning that one crooked tooth with the rest, give our Lufkin, Nacogdoches, Center, Crockett, TX office a call, and we’ll get to the root (literally!) of the problem. Depending on the reason your tooth is twisted, we’ll suggest the braces or clear aligners that will provide your most effective orthodontic treatment, and give you safe and lasting options for achieving the smile you’ve always wanted. Perfect!

Your First Winter in Braces? Tips for a Warm and Wonderful Holiday

December 2nd, 2020

If this is your first winter with braces, you might be wondering how to make the best of the holiday season. Dr. Ryan Hinckley and our team have some suggestions for happy and healthy holiday smiles.

Treat Yourself

Winter means tasty holiday treats, and just because you wear braces doesn’t mean you need to step away from the holiday table! You can enjoy your favorites if you remember to check your list for the usual problem foods. Hard, crunchy, chewy, and sticky items? Naughty list.

  • Crunchy vegetables on the appetizer plate
  • Nuts
  • Hard rolls
  • Candy canes and other hard sugar treats
  • Caramels, Toffee and other sticky candies
  • Pecan pie
  • Fruit cake

Luckily, there are plenty of nice alternatives.

  • Turkey and ham—remember, small pieces are best
  • Dressing and stuffing
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Soft breads and rolls
  • Pumpkin pie—but skip a tough crust!
  • Cheesecake
  • Soft cookies and cakes
  • Soft chocolates

We’re happy to provide recommendations for braces-friendly holiday foods. And we don’t expect you to turn down every sweet treat this season.  Just be sure that if you enjoy something sugary, brush carefully after indulging.

Express Yourself

While you’re decking the halls, or pinning up the New Year’s balloons and streamers, or even choosing a great holiday outfit, don't forget that your ligatures can be decorative as well as functional.

  • Celebrating Christmas? Red and green bands around your brackets are jolly and traditional.
  • How about Hanukkah? Try blue and white!
  • Love the season? Icy silvers and pale blues are a frosty statement—and can have the benefit of making your teeth look whiter, as well. Snowy white? The arctic idea is great, but white bands can sometimes make teeth look more yellow, or become stained themselves.
  • Glam New Year? Gold adds sparkle to your smile, but can bring out any yellow tones in your teeth. Silver might be the perfect choice, because it is generally neutral with enamel shades.

Check out our ligature colors for the best possible choices for your teeth and coloring. Take advantage of these options to create a fresh, confident look for the season. Give others the gift of your smile!

Look After Yourself

Winter comes with some special reminders about your dental health.

  • Winter sports are a great way to celebrate the snow and ice, but be sure to protect your teeth and braces. If you enjoy skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, hockey, or any other winter activities, talk to us about why a mouth guard is so important.
  • While you enjoy your winter break, don’t forget to keep up with your dental routine. And because ‘tis the season for holiday treats, be especially careful to clean your teeth and braces after sweet desserts and snacks. Don’t forget to floss!
  • What do cold breezes and hot chocolate have in common? They can both trigger tooth sensitivity! While some sensitivity is normal after an adjustment, if you find you are experiencing tooth sensitivity more often or more strongly than you usually do, give us a call. It might be something as simple as brushing habits, or you might need to see your dentist.

If you have any questions about your braces, in this season or any other, just ask when you visit our Lufkin, Nacogdoches, Center, Crockett, TX office. Your beautiful, healthy, and confident smile can make this the most wonderful time of the year!

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