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Tips for Going to the Movies with Braces

November 8th, 2018

Who doesn’t love a fun night at the movies with friends or family? From the big screen picture to the surround sound to the delicious snacks, the immersive experience of the movie theater can lift anyone’s spirits. If you are wearing metal braces or clear braces, however, you’ll need to take a moment to rethink the snacks from the concession stand. Eat one of those large bags of popcorn, and you’ll end up in our chair faster than you can say “extra butter.” So NO Popcorn with Kernels!

This doesn’t mean you can’t have a fun snack while you sit back in the movie theater chair and smile along with your friends.

Here are just a few examples of foods that go great with movies AND braces!

Soft Pretzels: Hot, salty, and buttery, but without the dangerous crunch – soft pretzels are a great alternative to popcorn. Don’t forget the cheesy sauce for dipping!

Hot Dogs: You can’t go wrong with a soft bun and juicy hot dog, and most if not all of the toppings are safe bets, too.

Pizza: Pizza can a good option as long as the crust isn’t overly chewy or crunchy. If it is, that might tweak your brackets or irritate tender gums.

Chocolate Candy: Sticky treats like Skittles, caramel, Sour Patch Kids, gummy worms, and licorice can cause problems with your brackets. Instead, chocolate candies including M&Ms, Hershey’s Kisses, Kit Kats, Mounds bars, Sno-Caps, and Reese’s Pieces are a much safer bet.

Ice Cream and Other Frozen Goodies: Many movie theaters now carry a variety of frozen desserts, and some luxury outlets even have milkshakes, slushies, and smoothies. Everything from ice cream sandwiches to bonbons to sundaes is fine, but think twice about blended treats with hard candies mixed into them.

Snacks from Home: If your movie theater doesn’t mind you bringing your own snacks, consider packing a few things to bring to the movies that are safe for your braces. Some ideas of what you can bring include soft fruit (bananas, berries, grapes, or orange segments), string cheese, cucumber slices and hummus, rolled up cold cuts, or baked chips and salsa.

This article is not meant as medical advice and is for educational purposes only. If you would like to know more about braces, call us at 630.907.9680 or 847.961.5515.

At what age should children see the orthodontist?

November 7th, 2018

This is one of the most common questions we’re asked from parents and dentists. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends all children have their first orthodontic consultation around age 7. Many of the permanent teeth haven’t erupted at that age, but there may be an underlying issue that isn’t obviously apparent. The goal of these early visits is to identify problems before they develop into something more serious.
Orthodontists will evaluate how your child is growing and check for any potential risks to the bone, gums, teeth, or jaws. Some of the things we need to evaluate are crowding, tooth loss, spacing, and the type of bite your child has.

Crowding is a common dental problem and concern for both parents and dentists. It develops when the jaws are too small or the teeth are too big, and can exist simultaneously. If a child loses a baby tooth prematurely, other teeth may shift into the vacant space, resulting in not enough room for the permanent teeth to erupt. The gums and bone around crowded teeth could become thin and recede in more severe cases of crowding. In these severe cases, the arches need to be expanded or teeth may need to be removed to create the needed space. On the other hand, large spacing occurs if teeth are small or missing, or if the arches have developed too wide.

The period of development during which the baby teeth are lost and permanent teeth erupt is extremely important. The placement of the primary teeth and when they fall out is also crucial. Permanent teeth should erupt in a fairly specific order. By the age of 7, children should have four permanent molars and two-to-four permanent incisors. Any significant deviation from the normal sequence could indicate crowded, missing, or extra teeth. If primary teeth were lost prematurely, patients may benefit from either an appliance that maintains the space where a tooth was, or the removal of a primary tooth to help minimize issues down the road.

Although teeth can be aligned when patients are older, crooked teeth in children can often lead to problems with chewing and function. Poorly positioned teeth are more susceptible to uneven wear or trauma, and can lead to periodontal (gum) and/or speech issues. Crooked teeth can also have negative social implications in children. Correcting maligned teeth at an earlier age not only improves chewing, but can also have a large impact on a child’s self-esteem.

If the top jaw is too narrow, kids often shift the lower jaw side to side to “find” a functional bite. This lateral shifting (crossbite) can lead to early tooth wear or asymmetric jaw growth. Early expansion of the upper jaw around the ages of 7-11 can eliminate crowding or shifting and improve irregular jaw growth.

Underbites occur when the lower jaw juts out ahead of the upper jaw, often making eating, swallowing, and speaking difficult. The condition is often hereditary, meaning that parents with underbites tend to have children with underbites. While we typically have to wait until the patient has finished growing to complete treatment, early detection is important so that the bite can be normalized to avoid any bite-shifting or damage to the front teeth. Patients with underbites who receive early treatment (between the ages of 7 and 10) are much less likely to need corrective jaw surgery later in life.

Early evaluation by an orthodontist can also identify an overbite, which is when a child’s upper teeth extend too far forward or the lower teeth don’t extend forward enough. The clinical term for this condition is 'overjet', and often indicates a poor bite and/or poor jaw growth. Thumb sucking in children is a common cause, creating flared teeth susceptible to being chipped or knocked out. While it isn’t always possible to completely correct the problem at a young age, early treatment can greatly reduce the severity of the problem and improve dental function and patient self-esteem.

It’s possible to detect vertical bite issues as early as age 7. Openbites occur when the top and bottom front teeth are unable to make contact when the jaws are closed. Often caused by a finger, thumb, or tongue habit, openbites can cause accelerated wear of the back teeth, speech impairments, and make eating and drinking difficult. Deep-bites occur when the top teeth completely cover the bottom teeth, potentially causing damage to the teeth and gums. Vertical problems normally worsen as the patient grows, making early detection and correction important.

While not every orthodontic problem can (or should) be treated at this age, an early screening at the age of 7 allows us to identify serious issues and correct them before they worsen. Many times, the best treatment decision is deciding to do nothing! The majority of kids are simply seen annually so we can monitor their progress if or until they are ready for treatment. If we see a situation that could benefit from early treatment, we’ll discuss the benefits of interceptive treatment. But most importantly, these visits allow us to launch into a fun, relaxed, and trusting doctor/patient relationship.

Halloween candy tips

October 30th, 2018

As a parent with 3 kids, I understand not wanting to ruin the fun of Halloween treats. That being said, there are some easy steps you can take to reduce the chances of cavitites as well as help to instill healthy habits-this goes for aduts too! We know that when any food is eaten, the natural bacteria in our mouths produce acid. It is this acid that eats away at the enamel of our teeth and causes tooth decay. It is possible to minimize the effect of all that sugar.

Start with a discussion before Halloween, thinking of ideas about what the family can do with all the candy from trick-or-treating. Our school typically collects candy for the troops after Halloween. This is a great way to give back to those who serve and reduce the number of those tempations around the house. Begin to establish some Halloween candy-eating guidelines. For instance, tell your own trick-or-treaters that they can pick out 25 pieces (or less) of the candy they most want.

Second, after the candy is brought home, help your children pick their treats they can keep. Sticky, gooey candy and items like lollipops and jawbreakers cause the most damage because they stay in the mouth for a long time compared to other candy treats. Plain chocolate bars or chocolate kisses turn out to be the better choices.

Third, eat Halloween candy (or any candy for that matter) immediately after a meal because the acid production from eating has already been activated. Keep in mind that eating candy between meals is not a good idea because of the extra acid it generates in the mouth.

Fourth, everybody should brush thier teeth after eating. If this is not possible or practical, then drink some water to wash away the sugars and starches. The longer these substances stay on your teeth, the more likely they are to cause cavities.

Last of all, keep the candy stash out of sight so no one will be tempted by it – parents included!

The Academy of General Dentistry reports that our nation consumes more than 7 billion pounds of candy each year and Halloween trick-or-treating contributes to a large percentage of that consumption. If we teach our children to use moderation, to make good choices, and to practice good dental hygiene, then it should be a Happy Halloween!

Is it Safe to Undergo Dental X-Rays and Orthodontic Treatment While Pregnant?

May 7th, 2018

Expecting a little bundle of joy is an exciting time in your life, and it is important to take every step possible to protect the health of your developing baby. After all, you have already implemented lifestyle changes such as abstaining from alcohol and attending regular prenatal appointments. For this reason, it is common for women to be concerned about having dental x-rays during pregnancy. As you explore your options, here is what you should know about orthodontic care and your pregnancy.

Pregnancy is a time when taking care of your health takes on new importance, and this is also true for your oral health care needs. During pregnancy, your increasing hormones can cause your gums to swell and lead to irritation if food gets caught in between. Developing oral health issues, such as cavities, can also leave you vulnerable to infections that could affect your baby. Healthy teeth are also vital for being able to eat a nutritious diet that supports you and your baby’s needs for their development. Since oral health can rapidly change during your pregnancy, it is important to work as a team with Dr. Varghese to identify any changes that need to be made to your treatment plan as soon as possible.

There are many things to avoid while you are pregnant, and your doctor probably already gave you a list a mile long that is filled with things you cannot eat or drink. However, you can rest assured that both the American Dental Association and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists typically consider a dental x-ray during pregnancy to be safe when proper shielding is provided. Dr. Varghese can talk to you about the necessity of any prescribed x-rays and show you how our shields work to prevent radiation from reaching your baby. It is also important to note that most orthodontists, including Dr. Varghese, only conduct x-rays when they are medically necessary so the risk of having a rare one performed is very small.

Due to the length of time that orthodontic treatments take, many women wear braces while pregnant. Typically, your braces should not cause you any additional discomfort during your pregnancy, and they should not hinder your ability to eat a healthy diet. You may need to balance your orthodontic appointments with your prenatal visits, however, so be sure to plan ahead. As you progress towards delivery, Dr. Varghese will provide you with more information about maintaining braces during your recovery.

Due to the increased pregnancy hormones that can bother your gums, it is important to follow your oral hygiene routine Dr. Varghese recommends for maintaining braces during your pregnancy. Make sure to avoid eating sticky sweets, even when you are craving them since they increase the risk of cavities. You will also need to brush after meals, and be sure to use interdental cleaners to get around your brackets and wires. If you cannot brush soon after eating, then rinse your mouth out with water to remove any leftover food. If you wear Invisalign, remember to remove your aligners during meals, and clean them according to your normal routine. Schedule your routine dental cleanings just as you would when you were not pregnant, although you may need to go more often if you experience any pregnancy-related problems such as gingivitis.

As you advance in your pregnancy, it can be harder to get comfortable when you are sitting for long periods of time. Make sure to let Dr. Varghese know if you need to have the chair adjusted so that you are not lying flat on your back for long periods of time, and you may need to bring a small pillow to provide additional support. Keep your blood circulating by uncrossing your legs while you are in the chair, and consider bringing some music to serve as a distraction if you find yourself getting antsy. While most braces procedures are short, you can also talk to Dr. Varghese about taking a quick break so you can stretch your legs during longer visits.

Dr. Varghese has experience working with women who wear braces while pregnant, so he will be more than willing to talk to you about any issues that arise during the next few exciting months. While having dental x-rays during pregnancy is generally considered safe, we will be able to work with you if you decide to forgo the procedure. If your braces cause discomfort, we can recommend safe pain management strategies to increase your comfort. When it comes to your comfort, consider Dr. Varghese a partner in your decision to create a beautiful smile, so be willing to let them know about any issues that arise.

Call us today for your complimentary orthodontic exam! ☺

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