Office Blog

National Children’s Dental Health Month!

Pulsipher-Ortho-FAQEach February for the past 62 years, the American Dental Association (ADA) has sponsored National Children’s Dental Health Month to raise awareness about the importance of oral health. Developing good habits at an early age and scheduling regular dental visits helps children get a good start on a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.

With Valentine’s Day almost here, and all that candy making its rounds, it’s once again time to remind all our patients to be extra careful when choosing those candies and treats!

All those sweet, sour and sticky candies may taste great, but these treats are known to damage teeth, as well as braces! Did you know sour candies can be acidic to your teeth, and actually wear down the enamel that protects them? This can cause tooth decay and cavities! Sour and fruity candy, such as Starburst and Skittles, are the worst for your teeth since these candies have a low pH value, which is known to ruin enamel.

We recommend softer treats, such as soft chocolate or peanut butter cups, or melt-in-your-mouth foods. Those who indulge should make sure they brush and floss between teeth, around brackets and at the gum line.

Cavities can develop when sugar-containing foods are allowed to stay in the mouth for a long time. Bacteria that live on the teeth feast on these bits of food and can eat away at tooth enamel. Saliva washes away the acid between meals, but if your child is always eating, there may not be time for this acid to get washed away.

For kids wearing braces, brushing and flossing can become more difficult, requiring extra time and vigilance to remove food particles that accumulate on and between the teeth and in braces.

If the health of your teeth is ignored during treatment with braces, the results can be significantly compromised. Effective brushing and flossing is one of the most critical actions needed from patients during orthodontic treatment.

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How to Clean Your Retainers

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Orthodontic retainers are the devices that orthodontists give patients to minimize the movement of their teeth after the braces have been removed. Retainers are forever! There is no part of the human body that does not sag or wrinkle with age, and the teeth are no exception. Since you’re going to need a retainer from now on, let’s talk about how to keep it clean.

First of all, realize that all retainers get dirty and wear out with use. Like contact lenses or shoes that are worn daily, your retainer will change in appearance, fit, and will get dirty. No matter how well you brush and floss your teeth, there are always bacteria in your mouth. Bacteria are a primary component of plaque and are part of what scientists call your “normal flora.” Bacterial plaque colonizes on your teeth and your retainer. They can make it look, taste, and smell bad. Additionally, if you are a patient that forms tartar or “calculus” (hard mineral deposits) on your teeth, you may also notice white calcium deposits on your retainers.

The key to a clean retainer is preventing it from getting dirty in the first place. Knowing there are bacteria, plaque, and tartar that attach themselves to your retainer every time it is in your mouth is the first step. It is critical to clean your retainer immediately after removing it from your mouth while it is still wet. Letting debris harden on your retainer will complicate its removal. Even if you can’t see anything on your retainer, you may notice that it has developed an odor over time. This is most often due to invisible plaque. Although brushing your retainer can remove bacteria, there are areas that are not easily accessible on certain designs. For this reason, I recommend that patients wash their retainers with warm water and anti-bacterial soap daily. After removing your retainer from your mouth, give it a scrub and good rinse and your retainer will taste and smell better the next time you put it in.

If you notice visible plaque or debris on your retainer, you should remove it with a soft brush (like a tooth brush, denture brush, vegetable brush, etc.). Use only water or anti-bacterial soap and never use abrasives (like toothpaste) or the finish will become scratched. If you wear clear plastic retainers, you may need to use a cotton swab (“Q-Tip”) to clean down into the deepest parts. Again, avoid using any cleaning agent which might scratch your retainer.

If you notice calcium deposits on your retainer that do not come off with brushing, you may need to enlist the help of your orthodontist. There are tartar removing solutions that he can use to professionally clean your retainer in his office. If the calcium has become incorporated into the plastic over time however, even he may not be able to get it off. In that case, you may have to live with a discolored retainer or buy a new one. Discoloration won’t affect its function.

You may have noticed that the steps for keeping your retainer clean are very similar to keeping your teeth clean. You must physically remove the plaque (brushing), chemically treat the bacteria and bad breath (toothpaste), and sometimes go to your dentist to get tartar removed. If you take care of your retainers, they will look better and last longer.

Straight Teeth Without Metal Braces

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Looking for an alternative to metal braces?

ClearCorrect is the clear and simple choice. No wires. No brackets. Just clear, convenient comfort-every reason to smile.

With ClearCorrect, Dr. Pulsipher can straighten your teeth using a series of clear, custom, removable aligners. Each aligner moves your teeth just a little bit at a time until you eventually get straight teeth.

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How does it work?
Dr. Pulsipher will evaluate your teeth and talk about any problems or goals you have for your smile. Once you and Dr Pulsipher establish ClearCorrect is the right treatment option for you, we will take impressions, photos, and x-rays of your teeth that ClearCorrect uses in manufacturing your custom aligners. Then Dr. Pulsipher writes a prescription for your custom aligners and sends it to ClearCorrect.

What can it do?
ClearCorrect can treat a wide variety of issues that keep people from achieving their ideal smiles. Straighter teeth don’t just look better; they work better too. Poorly-aligned teeth can interfere with bite function, wear out quicker, and are more prone to cavities. Ask Dr. Pulsipher how ClearCorrect can help you.

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Orthodontic Emergencies

True orthodontic emergencies are very rare; but when they do occur, we are available to you. As a general rule, you should call the office when you experience severe pain, or when you have a painful appliance problem that you can’t take care of yourself. We’ll be able to schedule an appointment to resolve the problem.
You might be surprised to learn that you can temporarily solve many problems yourself until you can get in the office to get the situation resolved.
The following are some common orthodontic problems and solutions:

Poking Wire: By using a pencil eraser, push the poking wire down or place wax on it to alleviate the discomfort.

Loose Bracket: If your bracket is still attached to the wire, you should leave it in place and put wax on it. If the wire bracket comes off completely, place it in a ziploc bag, and save it to bring to your next appointment.

Loose Wire: Using tweezers, try to place it back into place. If doing this and using wax does not help, as a last resort use a small fingernail clipper to clip the wire behind the last tooth to which it is securely fastened. If your discomfort continues, place wax on it.

Loose Appliance: If your appliance is poking you, place wax on the offending part of your appliance.

General Soreness: When you get your braces on, you may feel general soreness in your mouth and your teeth may be tender to biting pressures for three to five days. This can be relieved by rinsing your mouth with a warm saltwater rinse. Dissolve one teaspoonful of salt in 8oz of warm water and rinse your mouth vigorously. Placing an oral numbing gel may also help. If the tenderness is severe, take ibuprofen or what you generally take for aches and pains.
The lips, cheeks and tongue may also become irritated for one to two weeks as they toughen and become accustomed to the surface of the braces. You can put wax on the braces to lessen this. We are always happy to show you how!

Helpful Hints for Dealing with Braces Pain

 

Your first few days with braces will feel rather odd, awkward, and even painful. The day you get your braces you will probably just feel weird, like you something in your mouth – because you do! You are most likely to feel discomfort during the second and third days. After that, you should be fine. If you experience any pain with your braces, there are a few things you can do to get some relief.
Rinsing your mouth with warm salt water will soothe and promote healing. Rinse several times a day or when your mouth, particularly mouth sores, are hurting. You can also take some Tylenol every four hours.
You can eat cold foods like ice cream or frozen yogurt. The cold of the food will help dull the pain. Ice packs applied to your mouth help as well. You can also swish ice water around your mouth, but DO NOT eat ice!
Products for canker sores can be applied to mouth sores you may develop from your braces. There are various rinses you can use that act as a shield or barrier in your mouth, and protect your mouth sores from further irritation.
You were also most likely given dental wax to put on the abrasive areas of your braces to protect your mouth. Putting dental wax on the brackets creates a barrier that keeps your mouth from getting scraped and sore.
Just know this. The pain won’t last forever! One day you will wake up and you won’t have any discomfort. In fact, you probably won’t even notice the braces in your mouth at all!

Fresh Breath Tips for Braces Wearers

– Eat a healthy diet. Unhealthy foods that are laden with sugar can contribute to bad breath. Stick with healthy produce, proteins, grains, and dairy found on the list of foods your orthodontist says are safe to eat with braces.
– Drink Non-Sugary Beverages. Likewise, steer clear of sugary sodas and juices for the same reason. They contribute to bad breath.
– Stay Hydrated. A mouth that’s continually dry can lead to bad breath by inhibiting your production of saliva. Regular production of saliva removes bacteria and excess food from your mouth, both of which cause bad breath.
– Brush often. Brush your teeth and tongue first thing in the morning, after each meal and snack and before you go to bed to remove food particles and bacteria that cause bad breath.
– Don’t forget to floss. Flossing with braces might seem tricky but it is a necessity. Ask Dr. Pulsipher to show you the best way to floss effectively with braces.
– Mouthwash Use. Use mouthwash recommended by the office. For best results, swish the mouthwash around in your mouth for 30 seconds.
– Get Regular Cleanings. Regular dental exams and cleanings are more important when you have braces. Cavities can delay your treatment progress, so be sure to visit your dentist every six months.