Young children often put anything and everything in their mouths. Unless it develops into bad habits that carry into later childhood, this curiosity is beneficial. Long-term oral health can be negatively affected by habits like nail-biting, thumb sucking, excessive use of pacifiers, and tongue thrusting as you swallow.
Biting your nails is bad for your general and oral health because you’re introducing bacteria and dirt into your mouth. The germs and grime you ingest while biting your nails can cause illness and the consistent biting is hard on your enamel. While it certainly isn’t a good habit to keep up because of the dirt and germs residing under your nails, there are many more negative effects.
Chewing your nails results in unnecessary wear on your teeth. It weakens the enamel and can even lead to chipping or the teeth becoming crooked. When you have braces, chewing your nails slows down orthodontic treatment. In addition to weakening the roots and making the teeth susceptible to movement, biting your nails can also displace brackets and wires. This makes your braces less effective and can result in more appointments to fix appliances or brackets.
Flossing isn’t the most exciting part of your nightly routine, but it’s essential to your oral health. Maintaining that excellent oral health is an integral part of your orthodontic journey! Before we get into how to become an expert braces flosser, here’s some more information about why flossing is so critical in the first place. Flossing is just as important as brushing your teeth to prevent gum disease, cavities, and bad breath. Flossing helps eliminate the accumulation of harmful bacteria and plaque resulting from food particles that get trapped between the teeth and under the gum line. These are places that the toothbrush can’t always reach!
Often the first step of orthodontic treatment is an expander. Expanders, or palatal expanders, are orthodontic appliances that increase the space between the halves of the upper jaw. While that sounds scary and painful, expanders are very common! Many young and growing orthodontic patients have expanders, and they can help make sure you don’t have to undergo surgery later!
Why Would You Need an Expander?
Sometimes in early orthodontic treatment, there are things an orthodontist can see that a parent can’t. An expert orthodontist can “look into the future” and predict common bite issues when your child first comes in for a visit. Expanders for teeth that show a risk of developing bite problems are common first steps of treatment. Because of this, devices like expanders can be used to mitigate those issues and make sure they never occur at all. Expanders create space for new teeth or space for teeth to move into as braces do their job. Expanders prepare the mouth for braces or other treatments.
One of our most common questions from patients is “What can I eat with my braces?” or “What foods do I have to give up?” and we have a few simple guidelines to share. Getting braces is a big change, and on top of the wires, brackets, or Invisalign trays, there’s a whole new set of habits you must get used to.
Luckily, we’re here to help and answer any questions you may have during treatment! If you keep these in mind, your smile and diet will be happy and healthy!
Suggestions and Tips for Braces Eating
When eating with braces, we always recommend brushing after meals. If you forgot your toothbrush, you could run to the bathroom and swish some water around to loosen stuck food particles.
If a bracket or wire comes loose while eating, you should call your orthodontist as soon as possible to replace or repair it. Keep any pieces of your appliance that fall out for your appointment! As always, contact your orthodontist with questions – we’re here to help!
Parents are usually well-versed in getting their child to the dentist early on. Establishing oral health routines for your toddlers is standard – but many parents have questions about getting their child set up with orthodontic treatment. What about their first visit to the orthodontist? When should they go? Is my child too young for the orthodontist? Is my child too young for braces? Luckily, all these questions have simple answers.
The Lucky Number Seven
Age seven is the magic number for a first orthodontist visit. This is because, at seven, your child’s first set of molars should have come in. This first set of molars erupts between ages six and seven and are in the lower jaw and do not replace any baby teeth.
The seven-year molars are a good indicator of future dental issues once they have fully grown in. Seeing your child right after this growth occurs allows your orthodontist to get a more accurate picture of your child’s mouth and treatment plan than if they were seen before the molars grew in but give them enough time to address possible issues before it’s too late.
Also known as periodontal disease, gum disease is an infection of the tissues that hold your teeth in place. The culprit for this disease is usually poor brushing and flossing habits. These poor habits allow plaque – a sticky film of bacteria – to build up on the teeth and harden.Our mouths are full of bacteria. These bacteria help to form plaque on our teeth. Brushing and flossing help to get rid of plaque. The plaque that is not removed by these practices hardens and forms “tartar” that brushing doesn’t clean. This tartar can only be removed by a dentist or dental hygienist. If the disease worsens, it can lead to sore, bleeding gums, painful chewing problems, and even tooth loss.
There are risk factors for gum disease, but smoking is the most significant. Other risk factors include hormonal changes in women, diabetes, and medications that lessen the flow of saliva.