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Tips for Cleaning Lingual Braces

May 16th, 2019

Lingual braces are a lot like regular braces, but they have brackets and wires on the inside of the teeth instead of the outside. Why choose this type of appliance? Because lingual braces offer some benefits other braces don’t.

Lingual braces are almost invisible to the people around you. If you’re involved in a contact sport, they are much less likely to contact your lips and mouth. (But you should still wear a mouthguard!) If you play a reed or brass instrument, they won’t have as much impact on your lips, your mouth, and your performance. And, did we mention they’re almost invisible?

Just like regular braces, lingual braces require careful cleaning to protect your teeth from staining, plaque and cavities. But because the brackets are located on the inside of the teeth, making sure your teeth are their cleanest can be a bit more challenging. Here are some suggestions for making your life with lingual braces a little easier.

  • Think Small

Because you will be working on the inside of your mouth, a brush with a smaller head might be more maneuverable (and more comfortable!) in a tighter space. If you use an electric toothbrush, look for a head attachment in a smaller size or one especially designed for orthodontic appliances.

And for the tiniest spaces, use the tiniest brushes. Interdental brushes, also called interproximal brushes, can fit between your wires to clean around brackets as well as removing plaque between teeth.

  • Thread Alert

How to get that floss under the wire? Special tools called floss threaders can help get your dental floss where it needs to be. Or try one of the flosses meant for braces wearers, which offer pre-cut strands with a stiff tip at one end to thread between teeth and through wires more easily.

  • Top Picks

For removing food particles and plaque between teeth, try interdental soft picks. These have a flexible, textured pick at the tip to fit gently into smaller, tighter spaces. They are also easy to carry on the go if you aren’t able to floss.

  • Water Power

Water flossers use a pulsing stream of water to clean between and around teeth. If you find it very difficult to floss around your lingual brackets, this might be a good option. Make sure any model you choose has a seal of approval, and has been tested for safety and effectiveness.

  • Keep Current

Remember to keep up with your regular appointments at our San Diego, CA office. It’s especially important to care for your mouth and teeth while you are wearing braces.

No matter what type of appliance you use, get in the habit of cleaning your teeth and braces after every meal and snack.  You will be rewarded with a beautiful and healthy smile when your orthodontic work is completed—and that’s the greatest benefit of all!

What is a palatal expander?

May 9th, 2019

Orthodontists like Dr. Melanie Parker recommend a first orthodontic visit and evaluation for your child around the age of seven. We will evaluate your child’s jaw and facial development and make sure that there is enough room in the mouth for the permanent teeth when they arrive. One of the recommendations we might make for early treatment is the use of a palatal expander. If you are unfamiliar with this device, let’s take a closer look at why it’s necessary and what exactly it does.

Why do we recommend the palatal expander?

There are two dental arches, composed of the upper and the lower teeth, in your child’s mouth. This arch-shaped design is meant to accommodate all the permanent teeth. Further, when the upper and lower teeth meet, they should result in a healthy occlusion, or bite.

Sometimes, the upper dental arch is simply too small to accommodate all of your child’s permanent teeth, leading to crowding, extractions, and impacted teeth. Also, a too-narrow arch can result in a crossbite, where some of the upper teeth bite inside the lower ones. An improper bite can lead to problems such as TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder, improper wear and stress on teeth, certain speech difficulties, and other potential complications. The palatal expander was designed to prevent these problems from occurring.

What is a palatal expander and how does it work?

The expander itself is a device that increases the size of the upper dental arch. Before your child’s bones are finished growing, the space between the two bones of the upper palate is filled with cartilage. This tissue is flexible when children are young, but gradually fuses solidly into place by the time they are finished growing (usually in the early to mid-teens). If the arch can be widened to accommodate the emerging permanent teeth, or to reduce malocclusions, this improvement can also affect the need for, and length of, future dental work.

There are several types of expanders available at our San Diego, CA office. These are custom-made appliances, commonly attached between the upper teeth on each side of the jaw. The two halves of the device are connected with a screw-type mechanism that can be adjusted to widen the upper palate and dental arch with gentle pressure. This is a gradual process, with small adjustments usually made once or twice a day to slowly move the bones further apart. As weeks go by, you will notice a successful change in the spacing of the teeth. Your child might even develop a gap in the front teeth, which is normal and will generally close on its own.

If you would like more detailed information, talk to Dr. Melanie Parker about the palate expander. We can tell you what to expect from this treatment if we think it is best for your child’s unique needs, and how to make it as easy as possible for your child. Our goal is to provide your child with the healthiest teeth and bite possible, always making use of treatments that are both gentle and effective.

What is lingual orthodontic treatment?

May 2nd, 2019

This might be the year that you’ve absolutely decided to do something to improve your smile. Perhaps your teeth are not as straight as you would like. Perhaps your bite is a bit off. Perhaps you want the increased confidence that a beautiful smile brings. But, for any number of reasons, perhaps you don’t want to sport traditional braces for a year or two. In that case, talk to Dr. Melanie Parker about lingual braces!

What are lingual braces?

In normal braces, brackets are attached to the front of each tooth with a special dental cement, and rubber bands or clips within the brackets grip an arch wire that moves the teeth into alignment through gradual adjustments. These braces are very effective, but, even with ceramic or clear brackets, they are visible.

Lingual means “toward the tongue,” and this is the key difference between lingual braces and traditional types of orthodontic braces. With this option, brackets are custom-designed to be applied to the inside of your teeth. A precise treatment plan is designed specifically for you, and individually crafted arch wires (again, on the inside of the teeth) guide your teeth to their best alignment. The resulting braces are almost impossible to detect.

Will lingual braces work for you?

You might be a good candidate for lingual braces if:

  • You want the least visible orthodontic treatment available.
  • You don’t have a major malocclusion (bite problem). A severe overbite might not leave room for the brackets.
  • Your tooth surface is large enough for lingual brackets. Children or adults with small teeth might not be ideal candidates.

Because lingual braces are more difficult to install and adjust, orthodontists require special training and education to provide them to patients. If you think that lingual braces might be a good fit for you, talk to a member of our San Diego, CA team. We are happy to provide the information you will need to decide if lingual braces are the best option for you, and the expertise to design your custom treatment if you choose them. We want the best outcome for you and your smile, and there is absolutely no “perhaps” about that.

Braces-Friendly School Lunches

April 25th, 2019

If your pre-teen or teenager is home for the summer, it’s easy to provide braces-friendly lunch options. The school lunchroom, though, presents another challenge altogether. What menu selections are most compatible with braces? And what can you put in that lunch box or brown bag to provide a tempting, healthy lunch during school hours? Let’s look at some options!

From the Cafeteria

Encourage your student to stick with soft foods that don’t require biting into. Some good choices include:

  • Soup, either creamy or with soft vegetables
  • Salads without crunchy vegetables or croutons
  • Soft, shredded chicken or beef
  • Egg or tuna salad
  • Tofu
  • Pasta
  • Meatloaf
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Soft casseroles
  • Steamed vegetables
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Soft breads or tortillas

Bringing a Lunch?

There are many great options for packing a lunch bag! Just remember to keep foods at the proper temperature, with insulated containers for hot foods and two cold sources, such as two frozen gel packs, for cold foods.

  • Sandwiches with soft filling (no chunky peanut butter!) on soft bread. Thinly sliced, easy to chew cold cuts will work, but cold cuts like salami are too chewy. Cut the crusts off if necessary. Cutting sandwich wedges into smaller portions will also make them easier to eat.
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Hummus and soft pita wedges
  • String cheese and soft crackers
  • Applesauce
  • Yogurt
  • Soft fruits such as berries or bananas
  • Jell-O or other gelatin dessert cups
  • Pudding cups

When to Say “No, Thank You”

If you have to bite into it, if it’s chewy, or if it’s crunchy, it’s best to choose something else! Here are some common culprits when it comes to broken brackets and wires:

  • Caramel
  • Hard candy
  • Popcorn
  • Whole carrots
  • Whole apples
  • Hard rolls
  • Pizza
  • Corn on the cob

And remember to send your child to school with a brush and floss to clean teeth and braces after lunch. Dental hygiene is very important now, because brackets and wires can both trap food particles and make brushing them away more difficult. This can lead to increased plaque, cavities, and staining around the area of the braces. If it’s impossible to brush, be sure to remind your student to rinse thoroughly with water after eating.

Lunch hour should be a time to relax, get together with friends, and recharge for the rest of the school day. Talk to us about the most (and least) braces-friendly foods and recipes. By learning what foods to avoid and adjusting some old favorites, your school-age child can continue to enjoy healthy, tasty lunches. Most important, visiting Dr. Melanie Parker at our San Diego, CA office for an emergency repair will not be on anyone’s list of afterschool activities!