Many of today’s teens (and even some adults) will have to wear braces to help straighten their teeth.
The braces are there to help straighten the teeth, and special care is needed to ensure the end result is successful.
Meticulous oral hygiene, watching what you eat, and regular visits to the orthodontist will help ensure the end result is a success.
Below are some pointers on how to best care for your mouth while wearing braces.
1. More places for food and plaque to hide!
When the orthodontist is finished applying the brackets and wires to your teeth (braces), you will notice a considerable difference in how your mouth feels. These brackets and wires create more space where food and plaque will accumulate.
It is crucial that you follow a strict oral hygiene routine because of this. Brushing with an electric toothbrush is essential as the rotating brush head is the only sure way to remove the plaque that has built up between the brackets. Many new electric toothbrushes will be able to fit a specialised brush head that helps get in between the wires of your braces.
Flossing is vital in helping remove all the food and plaque that will get stuck between your braces. You will need to buy specialised floss that allows you to thread the floss between the wires and the teeth.
2. Be gentle on your braces!
One of the many hassles with wearing braces is that they can break or come apart if one is not careful. Avoid eating food that is very hard and/or very sticky. Foods such as nuts, bagels, hard candy, popcorn, sticky/crunchy peanut butter and toffees are NOT recommended while wearing braces.
If a bracket or wire is broken or comes loose you must visit the orthodontist as soon as possible to have it fixed. Using special orthodontic wax (provided by your orthodontist) will help safeguard against traumatising your gums or cheeks if a sharp point develops. Many people wearing braces will experience a traumatic sore or ulcer in their mouth at some point. This is best treated by applying BYE Mouth Ulcer to the affected area which enables the ulcer to heal quickly and painlessly.
3. Stick to the plan!
You orthodontist will give you a breakdown of the treatment plan when fitting your braces for the first time. This will require regular visits to see him or her. Stick to those visits! They will also require that you visit your dentist on a regular basis for cleanings and check-ups. Some dentists recommend that you visit them every three months. During these visits a thorough cleaning will be done and all the teeth will be checked for cavities. Because braces make it harder for you to clean, having a professional assist you will ensure that your mouth stays in the best possible condition.
4. Wear protection!
If you play any form of contact sport it is very important that you protect your mouth and braces from taking a knock. Wearing of a specialised gum guard is vital. Your dentist will be able to assist you in having one of these gum guards made. – IOL, adapted from a press release.
Most people want a great smile. A smile conveys warmth and confidence and can often create an instant bond of positive energy between people.
If you avoid smiling because of unattractive teeth, there are many things you and your dentist can do to improve the situation.
Keep them clean. It may go without saying, but good oral hygiene can improve the appearance of your teeth by removing stains and decreasing puffy or inflamed gums. Brushing and flossing is paramount to good hygiene, so don’t be shy about asking your dentist or dental hygienist about preferred methods and techniques.
Professionally clean them, too. Good oral hygiene is a great start, but it isn’t enough. Your teeth need to be professionally cleaned at least twice a year for improved appearance and optimal dental health.
Get them fixed. Broken and decayed teeth are unattractive and unhealthy. Repairing broken teeth with white or porcelain fillings and crowns can quickly improve your smile.
Get them whiter. If you’re on a budget, there are several ways to get whiter teeth at home. Whitening toothpastes, commercially available products like Crest White Strips and other over-the-counter products can be safe and effective. I recommend seeing your dentist for a complete exam and professional cleaning before using any whitening product.
Your dentist can get them even whiter. In some cases, over-the-counter whitening products can’t get the job done. Dentist-supervised whitening programs that often include laser whitening and the use of custom-made, take-home trays can routinely whiten teeth a dozen shades or more.
Fill in the gaps. Missing teeth can ruin any smile. The closer the lost teeth are to the front of the mouth, the more noticeable they are. Your dentist can replace those missing teeth with a fixed bridge, implants or a removable denture.
Close the spaces. Teeth with gaps between them are often considered unsightly. An orthodontist can use braces or Invisalign to narrow the space.
Get cosmetic dentistry. Cosmetic dental techniques such as porcelain veneers and dental bonding can quickly transform your smile. They can also be a good alternative for closing gaps without the need for braces.
Shape them, too. A simple, inexpensive way to improve the look of your teeth is to have your dentist shape them. Uneven teeth can be leveled and sharp teeth can be rounded in an attractive way.
Get a dentist who can help you. Not all dentists have an interest in cosmetic dentistry. If you are looking for a smile makeover, do your research and find a dentist who has a good reputation and experience in cosmetic dentistry.
Did you know that regularly brushing your dog’s teeth and providing her with a healthy diet and plenty of chew toys can go a long way toward keeping her mouth healthy? Many pooches show signs of gum disease by the time they’re four years old because they aren’t provided with proper mouth care—and bad breath is often the first sign of a problem. Give your dog regular home checks and follow the tips below, and you’ll have a very contented pooch with a dazzling smile.
Image Via ASPCA
1. The Breath Test
Sniff your dog’s breath. Not a field of lilies? That’s okay—normal doggie-breath isn’t particularly fresh-smelling. However, if his breath is especially offensive and is accompanied by a loss of appetite, vomiting or excessive drinking or urinating, it’s a good idea to take your pooch to the vet.
2. Lip Service
Once a week, with your dog facing you, lift his lips and examine his gums and teeth. The gums should be pink, not white or red, and should show no signs of swelling. His teeth should be clean, without any brownish tartar.
3. Signs of Oral Disease
The following are signs that your dog may have a problem in his mouth or gastrointestinal system and should be checked by a veterinarian:
Tumors in the gums
Cysts under the tongue
4. The Lowdown on Tooth Decay
Bacteria and plaque-forming foods can cause build-up on a dog’s teeth. This can harden into tartar, possibly causing gingivitis, receding gums and tooth loss. One solution? Regular teeth cleanings, of course.
5. Canine Tooth-Brushing Kit
Get yourself a toothbrush made especially for canines or a clean piece of soft gauze to wrap around your finger. Ask your vet for a toothpaste made especially for canines or make a paste out of baking soda and water. Never use fluoride with dogs under six months of age—it can interfere with their enamel formation. And please do not use human toothpaste, which can irritate a dog’s stomach. Special mouthwash for dogs is also available—ask your vet.
6. Brightening the Pearly Whites
Taking these steps will make brushing a lot easier for the both of you:
First get your dog used to the idea of having her teeth brushed. Massage her lips with your finger in a circular motion for 30 to 60 seconds once or twice a day for a few weeks. Then move on to her teeth and gums.
When your pooch seems comfortable being touched this way, put a little bit of dog-formulated toothpaste or a paste of baking soda and water on her lips to get her used to the taste.
Next, introduce a toothbrush designed especially for dogs—it should be smaller than a human toothbrush and have softer bristles. Toothbrushes that you can wear over your finger (or a clean piece of gauze) are also available and allow you to give a nice massage to your dog’s gums.
Finally, apply the toothpaste to her teeth for a gentle brushing, as in step 7.
A veterinary exam beforehand may be helpful to find out if your dog’s gums are inflamed. If your dog has mild gingivitis, brushing too hard can hurt her gums.
7. Brushing Technique
Yes, there is actually a technique! Place the brush or your gauze-wrapped finger at a 45-degree angle to the teeth and clean in small, circular motions. Work on one area of your dog’s mouth at a time, lifting her lip as necessary. The side of the tooth that touches the cheek usually has the most tartar, and giving a final downward stroke can help to remove it. If your dog resists having the inner surfaces of her teeth cleaned, don’t fight it—only a small amount of tartar accumulates there. Once you get the technique down, go for a brushing two or three times a week.
8. Know Your Mouth Disorders
Getting familiar with the possible mouth problems your dog may encounter will help you determine when it’s time to see a vet about treatment:
Periodontal disease is a painful infection between the tooth and the gum that can result in tooth loss and spread infection to the rest of the body. Signs are loose teeth, bad breath, tooth pain, sneezing and nasal discharge.
Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums caused mainly by accumulation of plaque, tartar and disease-producing bacteria above and below the gum line. Signs include bleeding, red, swollen gums and bad breath. It is reversible with regular teeth cleanings.
Halitosis—or bad breath—can be the first sign of a mouth problem and is caused by bacteria growing from food particles caught between the teeth or by gum infection. Regular tooth-brushings are a great solution.
Swollen gums develop when tartar builds up and food gets stuck between the teeth. Regularly brushing your dog’s teeth at home and getting annual cleanings at the vet can prevent tartar and gingivitis.
Proliferating gum disease occurs when the gum grows over the teeth and must be treated to avoid gum infection. An inherited condition common to boxers and bull terriers, it can be treated with antibiotics.
Mouth tumors appear as lumps in the gums. Some are malignant and must be surgically removed.
Salivary cysts look like large, fluid-filled blisters under the tongue, but can also develop near the corners of the jaw. They require drainage, and the damaged saliva gland must be removed.
Canine distemper teeth can occur if a dog had distemper as a puppy. Adult teeth can appear looking eroded and can often decay. As damage is permanent, decayed teeth should be removed by a vet.
9. Chew on This
chew toys can satisfy your dog’s natural desire to chomp, while making his teeth strong. Gnawing on a chew toy can also help massage his gums and help keep his teeth clean by scraping away soft tartar. Ask your vet to recommend toxin-free rawhide, nylon and rubber chew toys.
P.S.: Gnawing also reduces your dog’s overall stress level, prevents boredom and gives him an appropriate outlet for his natural need to chew.
10. Diet for Healthy Teeth
Ask your vet about a specially formulated dry food that can slow down the formation of plaque and tartar. Also, avoid feeding your dog table scraps, instead giving him treats that are specially formulated to keep canine teeth healthy.
Last week the Virginia Oral Health Coalition hosted a summit in Richmond to promote better dental care in Virginia. The nonprofit is committed to raising awareness of the connection between dental health and overall health, with a particular emphasis on the health of pregnant women and children. “We have direct service days, but we’re working to change policy so we don’t have to provide charity care,” said Sarah Holland, executive director, VOHC.
The coalition, an outgrowth of Virginians for Increased Access to Dental Care, formed in 2010 and is funded by a grant from the DentaQuest Foundation. It is advocating for an expansion of Medicaid in Virginia — even with a limited dental benefit — because it would improve oral care and reduce associated hospital costs. Its web site points to dental-related problems as the top reason uninsured patients visit the emergency room.
It also supports the Affordable Care Act for its inclusion of dental coverage for children as one of the 10 required essential health benefits in new plans; in Virginia, coverage is up to age 19 to correspond with the CHIP Medicaid program. There are two ways this coverage can be accessed, either as part of a medical plan or in a stand-alone plan. But, like so much else regarding the implementation of Obamacare, the provision is accompanied by some confusion.
Currently, there’s a discrepancy between the requirements of plans offered through the state exchange and those offered outside. Inside the exchange the pediatric dental benefit has to be offered, but doesn’t have to be purchased; outside the exchange, its purchase is required, whether or not the buyer has children, said Chris Pyle, vice president of marketing and government relations for Delta Dental, which has 1.8 million subscribers in Virginia.
“It doesn’t make any sense. It’s causing lots of confusion,” he said. Pyle is hoping that Virginia will follow the example set by regulators in several other states, including Arkansas and Wisconsin, who have determined that the existenceof a plan with pediatric coverage is sufficient, whether offered inside or outside the marketplace exchange. “It’s better for the consumer; it makes the small group market more competitive. It’s a simple fix,” he said, noting that currently more than 90 percent of dental benefits are provided separate from medical plans.
The coalition is touting dental health as key to comprehensive, preventive health care through programs at Eastern Virginia Medical School and Old Dominion University in Norfolk. Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in children, and poor oral health accounts for more than one million lost school hours annually. Oral infections are also linked to heart disease, diabetes and poor pregnancy outcomes.
“One-third of pregnant women have periodontal disease, making them 7.5 times more likely to deliver their baby preterm,” said coalition leader Tegwyn Brickhouse, chair of pediatric dentistry at VCU School of Dentistry. During pregnancy, hormonal changes can lead to the presence of more plaque, which may lead to gingivitis, or gum disease. That, in turn, can increase a mother’s risk for diabetes or high blood pressure.
In 2012, just under 10 percent of Virginia births were preterm, with delivery before 37 weeks gestation, according to Virginia Department of Health statistics. (Forty weeks is considered full-term.) The state has developed several awareness programs, including Virginia Healthy Start Initiative Loving Steps, to work with targeted communities to reduce those numbers.
The VOAHC has these tips for maintaining good oral hygiene:
• Brush your teeth with fluoridated toothpaste twice a day;
• Replace your toothbrush every three or four months, or more often;
Do not share your toothbrush;
• Floss daily;
• Rinse every night with an over-the-counter alcohol-free mouthwash;
• After eating, chew xylitol-containing gum or other products, such as mints, which can help reduce bacteria that cause tooth decay.
Kelly Price knows too well the pain of infected teeth and how they become so sensitive it hurts to eat or drink. He has suffered with that in the past and still has several teeth that need to be extracted, but the 51-year-old unemployed machinist can’t afford to see a dentist.
That’s why on a morning last month he was helping out at the Food Bank of South Central Michigan filling bags for weekend meals for needy children with Special K cereal, cans of spaghetti and meatballs, green beans and a juice drink.
The hours Price volunteers inside the sprawling warehouse in “cereal city” will help him get to see a dentist for free. “I would rather pay with cash, but if this is the only way I can do it (that’s) fine because I am helping someone else and it all works out,” he said.
Price is one of the more than 4,000 adults who since 2007 have received care under the Calhoun County Dentists’ Partnership — a privately financed program that requires patients to perform some volunteer work to qualify for the free dental services. The “pay it forward” model enables low-income, uninsured patients to earn their care by helping local non-profits, including the local homeless shelter, Red Cross and Salvation Army.
The effort, being replicated in a dozen other communities such as Springfield, Mo., and South Bend, Ind., fills a crucial need because the federal health law, which expands insurance coverage to millions of people, does nothing to improve adults’ access to dental care. The law expands dental coverage only to children.
Kip Etheridge, a dentist who sees patients from the program in his office a few hours a month, said the volunteer work makes them more vested in their care and reduces the number of people who don’t show up for the program’s dental appointments.
“It’s not free care, they work for it, and that aspect is what has encouraged dentists to participate,” Etheridge said.
“The Calhoun County program epitomizes the best kind of private sector, community-based solution to access-to-care problems,” said Norm Palm, president of the Michigan Dental Association. “This program is organized in a way that everyone can win.”
A GAP IN CARE
The use of dental services has declined significantly since 2007. About 36% of U.S. residents saw a dentist in 2011, according to the America Dental Association. Nationally, more than 73% of low-income adults younger than 65 lack dental coverage, according to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation. (Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the foundation).
But even that underestimates the problem, because Medicare, the federal program for the elderly and disabled, typically does not cover dental services. Even adults who qualify for Medicaid, the state-federal health insurance program for the poor, have no dental benefits in eight states and in 17 other states only have dental coverage for emergencies such as relief of pain and infection, according to a study commissioned this year by the American Dental Association
Lacking coverage, many patients don’t seek help until the dental pain gets severe, and then they often head to hospital emergency rooms.
The number of dental visits to hospital ERs doubled from 1.1 million in 2000 to 2.1 million 2010, according to a recent study by the American Dental Association.
In 2006, at least three patients a day were showing up at Bronson Battle Creek Hospital complaining of dental pain, but the facility could offer them only pain pills or antibiotics and urge them to see a dentist. That’s when the hospital, local dentists and community health and business leaders conceived the volunteer model.
The partnership has cut by 70% the number of patients with dental pain showing up at the hospital ER, according to a study published in the journal Health Affairs in September.
Patients must volunteer four hours for every $100 worth of care. While some do the minimum, others accrue hundreds of hours so they can use them to obtain dental services for years. To be eligible, people must have incomes below 200% of the federal poverty level, or about $24,000 for an individual in 2013, and lack dental coverage.
Before they see a dentist, patients must also attend a two-hour oral health class and be seen by a hygienist, who reviews their health history and does a dental screening and cleaning. That shortens the time the dentists need to spend with the patients and determines which dentist will treat the patient. Dentists decide which services they prefer to offer.
More than 40 dentists participate — or nearly half of those in the county. Most of the dentists provide their services for free. The program offers a $1,000 annual bonus to the dentists, but very few have accepted that, program officials say.
Using money donated by the United Way and local foundations, the program spends $140,000 a year for the two part-time hygienists, a two-person staff to manage the program and dental supplies.
Michigan is one of about 30 states that allow hygienists to work under indirect supervision of a dentist, meaning the dentist does not have to be in the same location as the hygienist. Program officials say that’s been a key component because it makes it easier to schedule patients, keep costs down and reduce the time dentists need to spend with each patient.
‘AN AWESOME PROGRAM’
Ian Gallagher, 31, who has been unemployed since 2009, signed up for the program last month when his tooth started throbbing. He hasn’t seen a dentist since losing dental coverage in 2003. Before his screening exam, he volunteered at Battle Creek Pride, a gay and lesbian advocacy group. “This is an awesome program,” he said while meeting with the hygienist. He is scheduled to have the tooth extracted in November.
Samantha Pearl, executive director of Community HealthCare Connections that runs the partnership, said she estimates the partnership this year will generate about 16,000 hours of volunteer work — or the equivalent of nine full-time workers. “Every person has something that they are uniquely qualified to give and this works when we are all contributing,” she said.
In the past year, the program has expanded so four hours of volunteer service can buy six months of chiropractic treatment. A local orthodontist has offered to help people under age 23. A local lab also has donated its expertise to make dentures.
Pearl said the challenge is keeping up with demand. The dental program is working to lower wait times to see dentists from a few months to a few weeks. With more employers in Michigan dropping health and dental coverage, more people will need help, she said.
A lot of people want the perfect smile; however, many do not know the proper way to practice dental hygiene. If you are thinking about what you can do to help contribute to a better overall healthy mouth, then you’re in the right place. Read the following great tips for a great education on dental care.
Brush your teeth twice every day. This is the recommendation from most dentists as well as the American Dental Association. Brushing your teeth should be part of your regular routine. Also think about flossing when you do these things.
Dental cleaners are a great way to keep your teeth healthy. Inter-dental cleaners are small disposables brushes that you can use to clean your teeth between brushings. Some examples of interdental cleaners are the Reach Stim-U-Dent, the Oral-B Interdental Brush, and the Sulcabrush.
Keep your toothbrush clean. After brushing, make sure you rinse thoroughly. Get toothbrush holders for your whole family so toothbrushes do not rest on your bathroom sink. To prevent the development of bacteria, do not store your toothbrush in a container. Every eight weeks, you should purchase a new brush.
Your age shows through your teeth. See a restorative dentist if you have broken, discolored, or crooked teeth. An unhealthy smile can lower your self-confidence. Shave years off of your appearance and make a dental appointment to have ugly teeth dealt with.
See your dentist regularly for the best in oral hygiene. Without regular dental checkups, you run the risk of having serious issues in the future. Visiting the dentist provides you with a cleaner mouth. In addition, if there are any small problems, the dentist can immediately fix them before they get serious.
Look for whitening strips and clean your teeth often if you want to have whiter teeth. Always follow the directions, and don’t leave the whitening strips on longer than you’re supposed to. Keep in mind that using whitening products too often can damage your teeth.
Do you know how to properly care for your teeth? You can get white teeth and have good oral hygiene by incorporating these tips into your daily routine. After using these tips, you can share them with others so that they can better their teeth.