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Orthodontics

Braces-On-Top-Teeth-Only

Can You Just Get Braces on Your Bottom Teeth or Top Teeth?

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We sometimes get asked at our Bellaire and Houston orthodontic practice about getting braces on the bottom teeth only or just getting braces on the top teeth. In the world of orthodontics, this is what we call single-arch orthodontic treatment. There are the occasional instances where it’s a possibility, which we’ll cover. Yet, there are a number of considerations we take into account to determine if a patient is a candidate for getting braces on their top teeth or bottom teeth alone. 

What is Single Arch Orthodontic Treatment?

Single-arch treatment, sometimes called one-arch treatment, is when we use Invisalign or braces on bottom teeth only or top teeth only but not both simultaneously. Every so often, an orthodontist will put braces on the top teeth first and then address the bottom teeth, or vice versa, but this is a little different than true single-arch orthodontic treatment because, eventually, we’ll be shifting the teeth in both arches into place. 

When Would Top or Bottom Teeth Only Braces be Effective?

Single-arch treatment can work in a limited number of cases. However, to determine whether it’s feasible, your orthodontist has to perform a careful evaluation. It’s important to keep in mind that when you move the teeth, you’re impacting the bite, or the way the bottom and top teeth come together. Some cases where single-arch treatment might work include:

  • If you have crowded bottom teeth, straight top teeth and a large overbite, getting braces on the bottom teeth only may be an option. This is because the crowded bottom teeth would shift forward a bit once they were straightened, which could help reduce the size of the overbite
  • Getting braces on the top teeth only could work in some instances when a patient has spaces between the top teeth, straight bottom teeth and an overbite. While straightening crowded teeth tends to cause them to move forward, closing gaps does the opposite and teeth often shift back. This would mean we could eliminate the spacing between the teeth and lessen the overbite. 
  • If you have an underbite, where the top teeth sit inside of the bottom teeth, and you also have crowding in the upper arch, single-arch treatment might be a consideration. However, it will depend on your bite in the back. 

The Drawbacks of Just Getting Braces on the Top or Bottom Teeth

There are risks to single-arch orthodontic treatment. Your orthodontist isn’t just concerned with how straight your teeth are, they also look at your bite, or how your teeth come together. Your bite is a surprisingly complex relationship that involves both teeth and jaws. Ultimately, you want straight teeth and aligned jaws so the upper and lower teeth will meet properly. This allows your jaw to distribute forces evenly so that you can chew and speak properly, prevent uneven wear of the teeth and prevent undue stress on your jaw joints. Single-arch treatment shifts the teeth in only one arch, which can throw off the entire bite.

For example, as we noted before, crowded teeth tend to move forward once straightened while the teeth shift back when we close gaps. If you have an overbite and crowded top teeth, getting braces on the top teeth only will cause your overbite to get bigger throughout your treatment. If you have an underbite and crooked bottom teeth, bottom teeth only braces will worsen your underbite. While in both cases your teeth would look straighter, the way your teeth meet would be off and this would have negative consequences on the function and health of your smile. 

The only way to find out if getting braces on your bottom teeth or top teeth only is a possibility, is to visit a certified specialist in orthodontics for an evaluation. Our expert Bellaire and Houston orthodontists are able to determine the best treatment plan to safely and effectively give you your dream smile. If you only have mild issues and you’re hesitant to sign off on comprehensive treatment, often, instead of single-arch treatment, limited treatment would be your best bet. We offer Smile Express at our practice as an option for patients who want a shorter, less expensive way to touch up their smile while still getting amazing, functional results. Schedule a complimentary in-person or virtual consultation at Houston Orthodontic Specialists today to learn more!

Everything You Need to Know About Retainers

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When you finish your braces or Invisalign, there’s still one more step in your orthodontic treatment: wearing a retainer. It’s the only way to maintain your results for life. We promise when you see how fantastic your new smile looks, it won’t seem like a big deal at all. Today, we’ll be covering why you need a retainer after braces or Invisalign, what the different types of retainers are and how to care for them.

Why Do I Need to Wear a Retainer After Braces or Invisalign?

When you’re actually wearing braces or Invisalign and your teeth are shifting into place, this is what’s known as the active phase of your orthodontic treatment. When it’s complete, you enter the retention phase, which is when you wear a retainer. During the active phase, your braces or aligners exert steady, gentle pressure to move your teeth, which stimulates the process of bone remodeling. During bone remodeling, the bone and tissue that support the teeth break down, allowing the teeth to move in the direction we want. When you remove the pressure (i.e., have your braces taken off or stop wearing your aligners), the teeth have a natural tendency to shift back to where they were.

A retainer prevents the teeth from moving by holding them in their new positions until the bone and tissue tighten back up and lock your new smile into place. Additionally, the teeth drift as part of the natural ageing process and a retainer can minimize this shifting. Not wearing a retainer after braces or Invisalign will eventually result in a relapse. So, how long do you have to wear a retainer? Typically you’ll only wear it full-time for a short period before transitioning to just wearing it at night. Eventually, you’ll only have to use it a few nights a week.

The Types of Retainers After Braces or Invisalign

There are two main types of retainers after braces or Invisalign: fixed and removable retainers. Here are the basics of each kind

  • Fixed Retainer – A fixed retainer consists of a thin metal wire that’s bonded to the back of the teeth on the tongue side. It can’t be seen when you smile and it can stay in place for years, or even decades, if properly cared for. Your orthodontist will be able to determine if a fixed retainer, often called a permanent retainer, will be the best choice for your smile needs. Sometimes, we’ll use a fixed retainer on one arch and a removable retainer on the other arch.
  • Removable Retainer – There are two types of removable retainers:

 o Hawley Retainer – A Hawley retainer is probably what comes to mind when you hear the word “retainer.” It has a piece of acrylic that rests against the roof or bottom of your mouth, depending on which arch it’s used on, and an attached wire that goes around your teeth. While it is visible, it’s less noticeable than metal braces. A Hawley retainer can be adjusted if we need to make minor corrections. However, an increasing number of patients are opting for clear retainers instead so we don’t use Hawley retainer as much as we used to.

o Essix Retainer, Also Known as a Clear Retainer– An Essix retainer is a clear retainer made from smooth, BPA-free plastic. It’s very similar to an Invisalign aligner. In fact, the company that makes Invisalign also makes Vivera clear retainers, a brand of Essix retainer. Clear retainers, or Essix retainers, slip over the teeth, are comfortable and are nearly invisible. They’re the most popular option with our Bellaire and Houston orthodontics patients.

How to Care for Your Orthodontic Retainer

Here are some tips for caring for your retainer after braces or Invisalign:

  • Brush and floss around your fixed retainer. The wire can accumulate food and plaque just like braces can, so oral hygiene is important. You’ll also want to keep up with your regular dental appointments so your dentist can ensure the area is clean and cavity-free.
  • Always keep your removable retainer in its retainer case when you’re not wearing it. Never place it on a napkin or in a tissue because it can get thrown away. You’ll even want to store it in its retainer case when you take it out to brush and floss because pets love retainers. The last thing you want is your dog damaging it.
  • Remove your retainer before eating and drinking anything aside from plain water. If you have an Essix retainer, like a Vivera clear retainer, it’s especially important to take it out even if you’re just taking a sip of a drink. The liquid and sugars can get stuck between your teeth and your retainer, which will increase your risk of tooth decay.
  • As for how to clean your retainer, gently brush it with a soft-bristled toothbrush and some non-abrasive toothpaste whenever you brush your teeth. This will get rid of plaque and any food debris. For a deeper clean, you can also occasionally use a retainer cleaner and let it soak. This will prevent it from smelling and will get rid of any build up.
  • Don’t store clear retainers in hot vehicles or drink hot drinks with them in your mouth. The heat can warp the retainer, which will affect the fit and could potentially result in your teeth shifting.
  • If you lose a retainer, call our office right away to have it replaced. Not wearing your retainer after braces or Invisalign, even for a few nights, will result in your teeth shifting. It’s important to get a new one so we can maintain your smile.
  • Bring your retainer with you to appointments so we can make sure it’s still in good shape and it fits correctly.

Now that you know all of the details about wearing a retainer after braces or Invisalign, we hope you’ll take excellent care of your appliance to keep your smile in tip-top shape. At our practice, we have a Retainer Club Membership program to ensure you always have a retainer and can keep your new smile looking its best. Call our office for more details!

If you haven’t had orthodontic treatment yet and you’d like to meet with a Bellaire or Houston orthodontist, schedule a free consultation at Houston Orthodontic Specialists today!

The Ins and Outs of Brushing and Flossing With Braces

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Oral hygiene is an important aspect of your braces treatment. After all, you’ll want your new smile to be as healthy as it is beautiful. At first, brushing and flossing with braces can seem daunting but once you get the hang of it, it will become second nature. To help, the team here at Houston Orthodontics Specialists is sharing our guide to oral hygiene and braces.

The Importance of Oral Hygiene for Braces Wearers

Before we get into exactly how to brush and floss with braces, let’s talk about why it’s so important. Well, we all have bacteria in our mouth no matter how awesome we are at brushing our teeth. The bacteria feed on the sugars and starches we eat and release acids. The acids, saliva, food and bacteria then band together to form plaque, which is the sticky substance that builds up on teeth. The plaque acids eat away at the tooth enamel, which is how cavities form. It’s essential to brush and floss away plaque and food debris to prevent decay from occurring.

The brackets and wires from braces tend to trap food and plaque, so cleaning around them is essential. Getting cavities or experiencing other oral health challenges while you’re wearing braces can set your treatment back. Additionally, teeth move most effectively in a healthy oral environment.

So do you have to see your regular dentist during orthodontic treatment? Yup! It’s actually more important than ever. Continue to visit your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings at least twice a year, or as often as they recommend. A professional cleaning can remove hardened plaque that you can’t get rid of with a regular toothbrush. A dental exam can also detect issues while they’re still easy to treat, helping to keep your smile progress on track. 

How to Brush Your Teeth With Braces

You will want to brush with braces in the morning, after meals and snacks, and before bed. As for how to brush teeth with braces, use a non-whitening, fluoride toothpaste along with a soft-bristled toothbrush, which we find gives you more control than an electric toothbrush. Say you’re starting with your bottom teeth, hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle at the gum line pointing toward the tooth and, using moderate pressure, make sure to get under the bottom of the brackets and along the gums. Then brush straight on, cleaning the bracket. Finally, brush at a 45-degree angle pointing towards the gums so you’re getting the top of the bracket. You’ll also want to brush the chewing surfaces and back of the teeth. Repeat this on your top teeth. Give each individual tooth attention and be sure to brush around the back molars as well. Brush for at least two minutes each session.

How to Floss Teeth With Braces

Flossing with braces does bring new challenges because you have hardware in the way. We recommend opting for special floss for braces like an orthodontic flosser or floss threader to make your life easier. Be sure to floss once a day, preferably at night, in order to get rid of any plaque that has accumulated during the day. While the exact method for how to floss teeth with braces will vary depending on the tool you choose, it all starts by getting underneath your wires and in between any two set of teeth. Floss up and down the side of one tooth, going all the way to the gum line, and then up and down the side of the other. Move on to the next set of teeth until you’ve addressed every tooth. Floss around your molars too. 

Oral Hygiene Extras

Beyond a toothbrush and floss for braces, there are some extras that you can use to really get your smile sparkling clean. An interproximal brush or proxy brush is a great add-on and something we recommend to our Houston braces patients. You can use this tiny brush in addition to your regular toothbrush to dislodge food and get into tight spaces around your brackets. These are great tools to bring with you on the go because they’re small, portable and perfect in a pinch if you get food trapped in your braces. If you’re at risk for tooth decay, we may also recommend including a fluoride mouthwash into your oral hygiene mix to strengthen your enamel and decrease your risk of cavities.

Our patients often ask us if they can use a Waterpik for braces. The answer is, absolutely. A Waterpik, which is a brand name of water flosser, is excellent for getting your teeth squeaky clean when you have braces. Just be sure to note that a Waterpik for braces doesn’t replace flossing. It’s something you’ll want to use in addition to your regular dental floss. The tool can help improve gum health and get rid of food and plaque.

Now that you know all about caring for your appliance, if you’re interested in Houston, TX braces or Invisalign, schedule a complimentary consultation at Houston Orthodontic Specialists today! Book your visit online or by giving us a call at (281) 752-4222 (West Houston) or (713) 667-6000 (Bellaire). 

Dr. Bloome, Dr. Tabakman, Dr. Muller

Your Invisalign Survival Guide

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Dr. Bloome, Dr. Tabakman, Dr. Muller

Invisalign treatment is convenient, comfortable and virtually invisible. In fact, one of the biggest benefits of clear aligners is they have minimal impact on your day-to-day life. However, there are still steps you’ll have to take to ensure you make the most of your treatment and keep your smile healthy throughout. The team here at Houston Orthodontic Specialists is covering what you need to know in order to breeze through your smile journey in our Invisalign survival guide.

What is Invisalign and How Does it Work?

Invisalign involves a series of clear, BPA-free, plastic aligners that are custom designed to fit snugly over your teeth. The aligners are comfortable and removable, which makes them extremely convenient. We kick off the process by taking digital impressions with our iTero scanner. A computerized 3D model of your mouth is created and one of our Bellaire or Houston Invisalign providers plans out your treatment directly on the model. The aligners are crafted based on the doctor’s prescription. Each set of aligners is programmed to achieve certain tooth movements. As you make your way through the series, your new smile takes shape little by little.

Wearing Your Invisalign

Invisalign can only do its job if you wear the aligners as prescribed. We recommend wearing Invisalign aligners for about 22 hours per day for the best results. You can download the My Invisalign app from Align Technology to keep track of how many hours per day you’ve worn your aligners and get alerts when it’s time to change to a new set. Invisalign Teen has blue compliance indicators that will let you know if your teenager has been wearing their aligners for the ideal amount of time.

Keeping Your Invisalign Safe

One of the best Invisalign tips and tricks is to use your Invisalign case. Whenever you’re not wearing your aligners, make sure to store them in their case. Placing them in a napkin while you’re eating or leaving them in your dog’s path while you brush your teeth are surefire ways for them to be misplaced or damaged. If you lose your aligners, you may have to have a duplicate set created for you.

If you’re not good with keeping tabs on things, create a routine. Try brushing and eating around the same time each day and using your Invisalign case when you do so that it becomes a habit. If you have trouble remembering where you put the case or you leave it places like school or work, you can also try storing the case in something larger like a toiletry or cosmetics bag so that it’s even harder to lose.

Aside from not losing your aligners and keeping them away from pets, you’ll also want to avoid exposing them to extreme heat. If you leave your aligners in your car on a hot day or rinse them in really hot water, they can warp, which will affect the fit.

Getting the Perfect Fit

It’s important to do your daily chewing exercises to get the aligners to slip over your teeth and attachments and fit like a glove. The better they fit against your teeth, which we refer to as aligner seating, the better the results will be. At Houston Orthodontic Specialists, we do offer PROPEL® VPro5™, which further helps with aligner seating. The small, hands-free, take-home device features a mouthpiece that you bite down on. It generates gentle vibrations that improve how well your aligners fit when used for just five minutes per day.

Invisalign Comfort Care

Does Invisalign hurt? No, it does not. In fact, since there aren’t any brackets and wires, it’s very comfortable. However, when you first start treatment or sometimes when you put in a new set of aligners, your teeth can be a little sensitive. If that’s the case, sticking with soft foods and cold drinks until the tenderness subsides (similar to how you would with braces) is another of our favorite Invisalign tips and tricks. Things like smoothies, ice water, milkshakes, mashed potatoes and soup are easy on sensitive teeth. You can also take an over-the-counter pain reliever like Tylenol if necessary, though most patients don’t need to. Discomfort will go away in a day or two and it really just means your Invisalign is working.

Drinking and Eating With Invisalign

If you’re wondering what foods to eat with Invisalign, we’re happy to report, you can eat whatever you’d like during your treatment. You’ll take your aligners out to eat and drink anything aside from plain water, so there are no food restrictions. Since you need to wear your aligners for about 22 hours per day and, as we’ll get to shortly, you’ll have to brush your teeth after eating, you may find you snack a lot less. If you know you’re dining out at night or have plans for a long, leisurely dinner, keep the recommended wear time in mind and adjust your other meals accordingly.

Invisalign and Speech

Some of our Bellaire and Houston Invisalign patients have no issues with their speech when wearing Invisalign. Others do notice a slight lisp when they first start treatment. If that’s the case, the lisp will go away and your speech will return to normal once you get used to wearing your aligners. The best thing you can do to speed up the process is keep talking. Read aloud to yourself, talk on the phone with friends and sing along to your favorite songs in your car. This will help you get acclimated to wearing Invisalign more quickly.

How to Clean Invisalign Trays

We’re often asked how to clean Invisalign. Well, you can purchase the Invisalign cleaning crystals. However, the best Invisalign cleaner is simply water and your toothbrush! After taking your aligners out, brush them gently with your toothbrush and rinse them with lukewarm water (never hot as it can damage your aligners) before popping them back in. This should get rid of any plaque and buildup to keep them nice and clear. We don’t recommend using toothpaste since some types are abrasive, which can scratch and dull the surface of the aligners. If, for some reason, your aligners need a deeper clean, you can occasionally clean them with a mild, clear dish soap and lukewarm water.

Invisalign and Oral Hygiene

Even more important than how to clean Invisalign trays is how to keep your teeth clean when you’re wearing Invisalign. Even though Invisalign doesn’t involve brackets and wires, you will have to step up your oral hygiene routine. If you have sugar or starches on your teeth and then you put in your aligners, you’re trapping the food debris against your teeth, which can increase your risk of cavities. Additionally, when your aligners are in, since they’re tight against your pearly whites, your saliva isn’t able to rinse away plaque and food like it typically can. So, whenever you eat or drink anything, be sure to brush your teeth afterwards. Packing a travel toothbrush when you’re at school or at work is a great idea. If you forget it, at the very least, rinse your mouth out really well before putting your aligners back in.

Now that you have plenty of Invisalign tips and tricks from our Invisalign survival guide, if you’re ready to start treatment, book a complimentary consultation with a Houston or Bellaire orthodontist today! Schedule your visit at Houston Orthodontic Specialists by giving us a call at (281) 752-4222 (West Houston) or (713) 667-6000 (Bellaire) or book an online consultation.

friends drinking at a table

What You Should Know About Drinking with Invisalign or Braces

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friends drinking at a table

Patients at Houston Orthodontic Specialists sometimes ask things like can I drink alcohol with braces or can you drink with Invisalign? The answer varies depending on whether you have traditional braces or clear aligners. With traditional braces, they’re bonded to your teeth and they’re typically made of stainless steel or a ceramic material that resists staining, so you can drink whatever you’d like to a certain extent. With Invisalign, you’ll have to remove your aligners (we’ll get to why shortly) before you drink anything aside from cool or room temperature water.

Drinking and Teeth: The Basics

We all have bacteria in our mouth, some of which is good and some harmful. The harmful bacteria feed off the sugar and starches you eat and drink. When they do this, they release acids that eat away at your tooth enamel and form a sticky substance called plaque. Eventually, this can lead to cavities. This is why it’s best to have drinks like soda, sweetened iced tea, certain cocktails, juice and sports drinks in moderation, whether you’re in orthodontic treatment or not. 

Other drinks, such as coffee, tea and red wine, may not have as much sugar as say, soda, but they can stain the teeth. Again, in order to keep your smile looking bright and fresh, you’ll also want to enjoy these in moderation. Some of the worst drinks for your teeth are actually acidic beverages. The acid in drinks, including orange juice, lemonade and white wine, can weaken the tooth enamel, making you more prone to cavities and staining. Adult beverages like mixed drinks with alcohol and fruit juice have the one-two punch of acidity and sugar. While the occasional alcoholic drink is fine, drinking them regularly, particularly if you’re not keeping up with your oral hygiene routine, can have a negative impact on your smile.

What Should I Consider When Drinking With Braces?

Can you drink coffee with braces? Can you drink soda with braces? What about alcohol? Like we mentioned, there are no restrictions when it comes to beverages when you have clear braces or metal braces. Drinking with braces won’t damage your bracket and wires. That being said, wearing braces does make you more susceptible to plaque build-up because there are extra nooks and crannies for plaque and bacteria to hide. This is why we usually recommend that our Houston braces patients limit their intake of sugary drinks and acidic beverages, including soda, mixed alcoholic beverages and sports drinks. Getting cavities at any point in your life is no fun, however, getting cavities while you’re in braces, could cause your treatment to go longer than it would have. Plus, teeth move most efficiently in a healthy oral environment.

Beyond sugary drinks, you’ll want to be careful when drinking coffee with braces (that goes for tea, red wine, cranberry juice or anything else dark colored too). These types of beverages can stain your teeth. Since you have brackets covering portions of your teeth, when your braces come off, you could have a two-toned smile depending on how frequently you’re drinking them.

What Can I Drink With Invisalign?

Just like with braces, you can drink whatever you want with Invisalign but only when you’re not wearing your aligners. It’s extremely important to take your aligners out to drink anything aside from plain water. Here’s why:

  • Invisalign aligners are crafted from clear plastic. Drinking coffee with Invisalign or any other hot beverages can cause the plastic to warp. The effectiveness of Invisalign depends on the fit. If the plastic warps and the fit is off, your teeth won’t get the necessary force to achieve the movements your orthodontist programmed into that set of aligners. This can compromise your results or mean you’ll have to wear that tray again.
  • Drinking something sugary or acidic with Invisalign aligners in your mouth or drinking and then immediately putting your aligners back in without rinsing your mouth out, can lead to cavities or erosion of your tooth enamel. The aligners fit snugly against the teeth and will trap the sugar or acid, holding it against your teeth for a longer period of time, potentially causing more damage. It won’t get washed away like it normally would by your saliva. Drinking alcohol with Invisalign or having the occasional glass of soda is fine but only if you’ve taken your aligners out and rinse your mouth out after.
  •  Drinking with Invisalign aligners in your mouth will cause the plastic to stain if you’re having things like coffee, red wine or tea. This kind of defeats the purpose of having virtually invisible treatment since your aligners will be noticeable.

How Can I Prevent Issues from Drinking with Invisalign or Braces?

  •  To keep cavities, staining and other issues at bay, when drinking with Invisalign or braces, follow these tips:
  • Take your Invisalign aligners out and put them in their case before having a drink.
  • Avoid the temptation to sip slowly or nurse a drink over the course of several hours. While, of course, you don’t want to drink too quickly when having an alcoholic beverage, at least when it comes to soda or sports drinks, drink it in one sitting. Otherwise, the remineralization process doesn’t get a chance to spring into action and the acids have more time to damage your teeth.
  • Drink lots of water. Drinking water will wash away some of the sugar, acid and plaque. It also stimulates saliva, which is important for neutralizing plaque acids and keeping teeth healthy.
  •  Before putting your aligners back in, if you can, swish some water around in your mouth and then spit it out after having a drink. If you’re out for a night on the town enjoying adult beverages, whether you have braces or Invisalign, occasionally rinsing your mouth out can’t hurt.
  • Don’t skimp on your oral hygiene routine. Brush your teeth using a fluoride toothpaste in the morning, after meals and snacks, and before bed. Floss once a day as well.
  • Remember, everything in moderation. A glass of wine or coffee is perfectly fine but moderation is the key to a healthy smile.

Now that you’re a pro when it comes to beverages and your smile, if you’re interested in Invisalign or braces in Houston, schedule a complimentary consultation at Houston Orthodontic Specialists today!

houston orthodontic specialists doctor with patient wearing braces

8 Tips for Your First Week With Braces

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At Houston Orthodontic Specialists, we’re all about using the most up-to-date, high-tech treatment options to ensure your experience in braces or Invisalign® is as quick, effective and painless as possible. While we’ll help you breeze right through treatment and soon you’ll forget you’re even wearing braces, there is an adjustment period. As one of the leading providers of braces in Houston and Bellaire, we’ve got you covered with all of the details you need to know to get acclimated to your new hardware. Here are our tips for your first week with braces.

  1. Get a Head Start on First Day Braces Discomfort

Patients often ask, do braces hurt? The answer is, no, they do not. While you may experience some minor discomfort, you won’t feel any actual braces pain. The sensitivity is mild and goes away in a few days. You can get a jump on this by taking an over-the-counter pain reliever right before your bonding appointment or prior to adjustments. This way, it will kick in by the time any sensitivity begins.

  1.   Stock Up on Braces-Friendly Food and Drinks

We’ll fill you in on what to eat with braces the first week and beyond at your consultation. Your first day with braces or even your first several days, your teeth will be sensitive as we said, so sticking with soft foods and cold drinks is your best bet. Things like mashed potatoes, smoothies, applesauce, soup, pudding, yogurt, ice cream and ice water are great options. Cold beverages have the added bonus of numbing your mouth.

Once you are acclimated to your braces, you can go back to eating most of the foods you love. However, you will want to avoid really hard, sticky or chewy foods like caramel, toffee, popcorn, hard bagels, tough meats, nuts and pizza crust or anything that can damage your braces. You also shouldn’t bite or tear directly into foods like raw apples and carrots or corn on the cob. Instead, strip corn off the cob and cut foods into small, bite-sized pieces and chew with your back teeth. 

Once you’re back into the swing of eating your normal fare, here are some of the best foods we typically recommend to our Houston, TX braces patients: 

o   Soft breads such as sandwich breads, pancakes and tortillas

o   Soft cheese, yogurt, ice cream and other dairy

o   Pasta and grains, including quinoa, rice, couscous, barley and noodles

o   Steamed veggies

o   Fork-tender meats

o   Peanut butter

o   Stew and soup

o   Fruit cups

o   Applesauce

o   Ripe fruits

o   Fish sticks or soft-cooked fish

o   Hummus

o   Egg salad, tuna salad and chicken salad

o   Pudding

o   Tofu

o   Guacamole

o   Beans

o   Cold drinks such as smoothies, milkshakes and ice water

  1. Embrace Salt Water Rinses and Orthodontic Relief Wax

During your first week with braces, you may experience some irritation on the inside of your lips and cheeks. Your mouth will toughen up and after a while, your brackets and wires won’t bother you anymore. During the acclimation period, you can relieve the irritation with a salt water rinse. Add a teaspoon of salt to a glass of warm water and swish it around in your mouth before spitting it out. You can repeat this several times during the day as needed. If that doesn’t help, you can also warm up a small piece of orthodontic wax between your fingers and place it on the areas of your braces that are bothering you.

  1.   Become a Pro at Brushing and Flossing with Braces

One of the things that will feel the strangest during your first week with braces is brushing and flossing around the brackets and wires. Just as with everything else, we promise you will quickly get used to it. We’ll show you how to brush and floss correctly but here are some basic tips for braces wearers:

 o   Brush your teeth in the morning, after meals and snacks and before bed for at least three minutes each session using a non-whitening, fluoride toothpaste. If you’re out and about and you forget to bring your toothbrush, simply rinse your mouth out well before eating and then brush as soon as you get home.

 

o   Using a soft-bristled toothbrush and moderate pressure, tilt the brush at a 45-degree angle and brush along the top and bottom of your brackets. Be sure to give your gum line plenty of attention too. Get all of the surfaces of each and every tooth and behind your molars.

 

o   Floss once daily. You may find an orthodontic flosser or a floss threader makes the process a whole lot easier, especially during those first days with braces. Get in between any set of teeth and floss up and down the side of each tooth all the way up to your gums before moving on to the next set of teeth.

 

o   Tools like interproximal brushes can be helpful for brushing around your brackets and under the wires and getting any hard-to-reach places. A waterpik can also be a great tool for reaching into the nooks and crannies and leaving your teeth feeling sparkling clean. You’ll still have to use regular floss along with the waterpik but some of our Houston, TX braces patients really love the tool.

  1.   Don’t Panic if Your Teeth Feel Loose

A little known fact about braces is that your teeth can feel loose during treatment. We know this can cause patients to panic! Don’t worry though; your teeth won’t fall out. It’s actually completely normal. The teeth have to loosen in order to move into their new positions. When your treatment is over, they’ll lock into place.

  1.   Learn How to Handle Braces Emergencies

First, we have to say, a true braces emergency is extremely rare. However there can be some minor discomforts and mishaps. Knowing how to handle them at home can help you feel more confident during those first days in braces and throughout your entire treatment. Here are a few common ones:

o   Soreness – As we mentioned earlier, your teeth can feel sore after you first get your braces on and following adjustments. Again, sticking with soft foods and cold drinks will work wonders. You can also use a saltwater rinse or an over-the-counter pain reliever if you’re still uncomfortable.

 

o   Broken or Loose Braces Bracket – If your braces bracket is still attached to the wire, don’t take it off. Gently push it back to its correct place and then cover it with a small piece of orthodontic wax. If the bracket breaks and comes off of your wire, wrap a piece of tissue around it and take it out of your mouth. Be sure to give our office a call so we can schedule you for an appointment to fix it.

 

o   Poking Wire – Before you leave your bonding appointment, we’ll make sure no wires are poking you. However, sometimes when a bracket is loose or breaks, you can be left with a long piece of wire that pokes into your cheek. If that’s the case, gently use the eraser end of a pencil or a clean cotton swab to push it out of the way and against the nearest tooth. Dry it off with some tissue and then cover it in orthodontic wax before giving us a call.

  1.   Don’t Forget Your Mouthguard

If you are an athlete, wearing a mouthguard is essential when you’re playing sports or doing any physical activity with a risk of injury to the face. It should be part of your routine all of the time but it’s especially important when you’re wearing braces. It will act as a barrier between your braces and the soft tissues of the mouth, preventing lacerations and irritation if you get hit in the face. It will also prevent damage to your braces and reduce the likelihood of losing or damaging your teeth, which can set your treatment back. A custom mouthguard will give you the best fit and superior protection and we can provide you with one at Houston Orthodontic Specialists.

  1. Focus on Those End Results!

On your first day with braces, your appliance will feel a little weird. After all, your tongue and lips aren’t used to sharing space with brackets and wires. You may also feel as if you look different or like your braces are sticking out. We promise, you’ll acclimate to your braces quickly and you’ll barely notice them after a while. If you feel discouraged, focus on the end result and think about how amazing your smile will look when you’re done.

Now that you know what to expect, if you’re interested in braces in Houston or Bellaire, book a consultation at Houston Orthodontic Specialists today! We offer a variety of braces options, including conventional metal and clear braces, self-ligating metal and clear braces and lingual braces. We’re also a Diamond Invisalign® and Invisalign Teen provider. We’ll help you decide on the best option for your needs so you can get a healthy, beautiful smile you love. 

 

girl smiling with braces

Want to Speed Up Orthodontic Treatment? Meet Propel®!

By | Blog, Orthodontics | No Comments

Patients are often curious about whether or not they can speed up orthodontic treatment, At Houston Orthodontic Specialists, the answer is, yes you can! We’re a Houston Propel® VPro5™ provider and the technology can improve the fit of your Invisalign aligners, which in turn leads to fewer appointments and refinements. We pride ourselves on embracing proven, safe advances that help our patients see results sooner and with less discomfort and Propel does just that. Here’s everything you need to know about accelerated orthodontics with this revolutionary treatment option.

What is Propel VPro5?

Propel Orthodontics has a line of devices aimed at improving the efficiency and effectiveness of orthodontic treatment. Dr. Tabakman, Dr. Wadler, Dr. Muller and Dr. Bloome offer Propel VPro5.  

Propel VPro5 is a take-home device for patients using Invisalign. The small, portable accessory consists of an activator and a mouthpiece. To use it, you’ll connect the mouthpiece to the oscillator and hit the on-switch to start the vibrations. Then, you’ll bite down on the mouthpiece (it’s hands-free) while wearing your Invisalign aligners as it slowly ramps up in intensity. You’ll use the device for five minutes a day. It will shut off automatically when you finish a session. When you’re done, detach the mouthpiece, rinse it with water and allow it to dry. If the oscillator gets dirty, simply wipe it with a moist cloth. However, don’t submerge it in water.

The high-frequency vibrations the device creates painlessly enhance aligner seating, which is how well your Invisalign aligners fit against your teeth. Aligner seating is the key to effective Invisalign treatment and it ensures the aligners can deliver the proper forces to shift the teeth exactly how we want. The device can make a big difference in just five minutes of use per day and makes treatment more comfortable and faster, while also leading to fewer appointments and refinements and, overall, better results.

How Does Propel Work?

The VPro5 relies on gentle, high-frequency vibrations to essentially shake your aligners into place. Often times with Invisalign, we also use tooth-colored attachments. The vibrations from the VPro5 offer up a super-charged way of getting the aligners to snap perfectly onto the attachments and fit like a glove over your teeth. By having the aligners sit tight against your pearly whites, you get the perfect amount of force, which, in turn, helps teeth shift into place more quickly. Vibration therapy is also associated with decreased discomfort and patients often report less soreness when they switch to a new set of aligners when using Propel VPro5.

Is Propel Safe?

Yes. Propel VPro5 has been cleared by the FDA as a Class I medical device that is safe for use in orthodontics. Studies have shown it can safely and comfortably help you get amazing results. While most patients are a candidate for Propel, every mouth is unique. We’ll let you know if Propel is right for you once we’ve had a chance to evaluate you at your consultation.  

If you’re ready to hit fast forward on your Invisalign treatment with Propel, book a free consultation at Houston Orthodontic Specialists in Bellaire or West Houston today!

 

I just got my braces off…what happens now?

By | Orthodontics

retainer-blog

Many patients look forward to the end of their treatment with braces and are curious as to the next steps. When it comes to getting your braces off, next comes the retention part of the treatment and getting your retainers.

As a patient, you just spent a lot of time and money on getting the beautiful smile of your dreams. Your orthodontist will most likely recommend you wear your retainers for 24 hours each day for the first several months. This means just about all the time, except when eating or brushing your teeth (don’t forget to brush your retainer if it’s removable). It’s important to wear your retainers as Dr. Tabakman, Dr. Wadler and Bellaire Family Orthodontics recommends, since your teeth are more prone to moving, especially right when you get your braces off. The last thing you want to do is not wear your retainers and lose all the hard work you just went through.

As time goes on, you will be asked to periodically visit your orthodontist for retainer check-up appointments to ensure that everything is staying in place. Once the doctor deems that you’ve been wearing your retainer properly and often, eventually you will probably be instructed to wear your retainer at night.

It’s important to remember that each person’s treatment is different and some patients may be required to wear their retainer more than others. Listen to your doctor’s instructions and you will maintain your beautiful smile for life!

retainer-blog

What type of retainers are available after my Orthodontic treatment in Houston?

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Congrats! You just finished a long process to get the beautiful smile you’ve always dreamed of! Now you may be wondering, what happens next?

You and your Houston orthodontist will discuss your recommended retainer options that will best suit you. Everyone typically has to wear a retainer, but what may work best is different from person to person. There may be several options to choose from, including:

Vivera retainers
These are thick, Invisalign clear retainers, made straight from Invisalign. You probably will not be able to see them, but they will hold your teeth in place. Your Houston Invisalign orthodontist will digitally scan your teeth to have these made.

Essex retainers
These are also clear plastic, removeable retainers. Your Houston orthodontist will have an impression made. They will hold your teeth in place and allow for great oral hygiene!

Permanent retainer
This type of retainer is typically a permanent metal bar that is glued to the back of your teeth. This is a favorite of many because you don’t have to worry about losing the retainer since it is more or less “permanent” in your mouth. Just be sure to use floss threaders when flossing.

Hawley Retainers
These retainers are made of both acrylic and metal and may be the typical retainer you think of that has a metal bar going across your teeth. Your orthodontist may recommend you wear this on both your upper and lower teeth.

Whichever retainer is best for you, be rest assured these will hold your beautiful new smile in place!

Back to School Tips for Braces

By | Orthodontics


We can’t believe where the summer has gone, but School is finally here! Bellaire Family Orthodontics is proud to support our local Bellaire and Houston area schools and is the best orthodontist in the area. Making the transition back into the daily routine of school can be a challenge for some, including those students that wear braces. Your transition into school life should go as smooth as possible. Dr. Tabakman, Dr. Wadler and our staff has compiled a list of helpful tips for our school age patients.

Keep your Braces Care Kit Handy

All of our patients receive a care kit at the time they get their braces put on. This kit includes floss, a toothbrush, a mirror, wax, timer, and floss threaders. If you are in the process of wearing elastics at this time, it’s a good idea to carry extra elastics inside the kit. You can store your zippered pouch in your locker, backpack or your desk to use when you need it.

Eat Right!

When you have braces, it’s important to eat right to avoid food getting caught in your braces. You should take small bites or event cut your food into smaller pieces. Soft foods are definitely best to eat. Be sure to stay clear of hard foods. These can cause brackets to break and then you will need an emergency orthodontist appointment. If you wear Invisalign, its best to take your aligners out when you eat and make sure you put them in your retainer case for storage. Don’t forget to put them back in after lunch!

Drink Water

By drinking water during the day, you will clean any food that may get lodged in the braces or under the wires. Drinking plenty of water is also good for the overall health of your teeth and your body.

Wear A Mouthguard

If you are a school athlete, it’s important to protect your teeth from injury. Wearing a mouthguard will do just that. It will also protect your braces. Be sure you find the best mouthguard to fit your size mouth.
Contact us for Braces & Invisalign in Houston. We wish all our patients and their families a happy school year and we hope everyone studies hard!