Oral Hygiene Tips for Those with Braces

From the day your braces are first put on, you have probably imagined what your smile will look like on the day they are taken off. To avoid any unwanted surprises, it is important to maintain proper oral hygiene from the moment your braces are affixed right up until the day when they are removed.

Proper dental care with braces does require more effort, but it will be well worth it in the end! Adding to your usual oral hygiene routine can prevent decay, staining, and prolonged treatment. To help you tweak your habits, we put together a short list of ways to help you keep your smile sparkling.

  1. Watch what you eat.
    Avoid eating too many sugary or starchy foods. These can make plaque build up quickly around brackets, which can cause staining or even cavities. Sticky foods should also be avoided as they are harder to clean off brackets and wires. Hard foods, such as nuts, popcorn, and beef jerky, can break wires and loosen, or even take off, brackets. Switch up your drinks, too. Stick to water as other beverages may contain dyes and sugar which can sneak into cracks and spaces between your teeth and brackets.
  2. Don’t forget to brush.
    For everyone, brushing your teeth twice a day is important. But when you have braces, you might want to consider brushing more. While this might sound crazy, you should brush your teeth after every time you eat. Even those mid-morning or afternoon snacks! Having brackets and wires in your mouth create more places for plaque to hide. The longer the plaque can hide there, the more likely it is to cause problems in your mouth. You also might need to change how you brush. Be sure to brush around the brackets at an angle to make sure you are getting in that space where the bracket meets your tooth.

    “At FDA, we recommend an electric tooth brush to make your brushing more effective.  The moving bristles can get into those small nooks and crannies better than a manual brush can.”

  3. Rinse it off!
    Don’t have time to brush? Forgot your toothbrush at home? Another effortless way to help get rid of that pesky bacteria is to use an antibacterial mouthwash. After eating, vigorously rinse out your mouth with some water to get rid of any larger pieces of food that may be stuck between brackets or wires. Then, swish with mouthwash to kill off any bacteria. If you can brush (which should always be your first choice), go ahead and use the mouthwash after anyway! The extra attack on bacteria is a terrific way to keep your mouth healthy.
  4. Floss, floss, floss.
    We know, flossing is hard when you have extra hardware to work around. However, it is incredibly important to keep up a regular flossing routine when you have braces. To make it easier, we suggest getting a floss threader to get under those wires and between the braces. You can find those at any drugstore or in our office! While you are there, grab some waxed floss, it is easier to slide into those hard-to-reach areas.
  5. Don’t stop going to the dentist.
    We know you visit the orthodontist often with your new gear, but don’t stop coming to see us! Not only do we want to see you and your changing smile, we want to help keep your mouth and teeth clean. We will also make sure each part of your braces are intact and working effectively. We are here to help with any questions you may have regarding brushing, flossing, or getting those hard-to-clean areas.

In fact, many patients increase their dental hygiene visits to ensure optimal oral hygiene while in orthodontic treatment. If you have questions about keeping your mouth clean with braces, give us a call at 207-781-5900 or schedule a visit today.

Protecting Kids’ Teeth During Sports

Parents know best: kids are bundles of energy often searching for ways to release it. One of the most common ways kids find to release their energy is during individual or group sports! And as we all know, with these activities, there comes a little bit of risk.

As part of Children’s Dental Health month, we’d like to celebrate children and their oral health by offering some strategies and precautions to keep in mind for your kids as they begin participating in sports and other activities. All you need to begin is a little bit of education!

Some Sports are Riskier than Others

Luckily, there are precautions you can take to minimize risks. Some sports with higher risk of mouth or head injury are:

  • Ball & stick games (i.e. lacrosse, baseball, hockey)
  • Skateboarding
  • Football
  • Basketball
  • Martial Arts, Wrestling, and Boxing

No surprises there! So how can you reduce risk of injury for your kids?

Use a mouthguard or a helmet whenever possible!

“To protect your smile, always wear your mouthguard while playing sports!” — Dr. Brunacini

Mouthguards are the easiest, most convenient and affordable way to prevent oral injuries. While there is a chance kids could remove protective items while horsing around, there is great value in teaching them to take precaution. We suggest introducing the idea of wearing protective gear to kids at an early age to make mouthguards & helmets a fun and everyday element of their favorite activities.

In sports like cycling, skiing or skating, there is less chance of colliding with other children, but rather greater chance to collide with hard surfaces like the ground, parked cars, and other inanimate objects so there is still opportunity for injury. In these cases, it’s important for kids to wear a helmet, preferably with a face guard, as a preventative measure. Helmets with face guards are especially key in contact sports like hockey and football.

In some cases, maybe your child can wear both! After all, the cost of replacing a tooth is much greater than the cost of a mouthguard or helmet.

Other Ways to Help Protect Your Child’s Teeth

Teaching children the rules of sports and the risks associated with them can go a long way. Oftentimes, sports injuries can occur because people (of any age) disregard the rules, just want to win, or just plain get too rough.

Also, strengthening enamel early on is important for the rest of your child’s life. Consider enamel-strengthening toothpaste to help contribute to stronger teeth. While it may not directly prevent an injury, stronger enamel can’t hurt your chances!

 

If you have any questions about getting a mouthguard for your child, we want to know! We’d love to help. And while we hope it doesn’t happen, in the event that your child needs emergency dental care, we are here for you! Call in to Falmouth Dental Arts after hours and we provide phone numbers to call Dr. Brunacini or Dr. Karagiorgos directly to arrange care.

The Truth About Maintaining a White Smile

We all want white teeth, but the best way to achieve that is to understand what stains the teeth to begin with. It’s important to know that teeth have pores and absorb similarly to our skin. We often think twice about applying certain products and chemicals to our bodies, so we should care the same for our teeth! Luckily for all of us, there are methods to remove stains from teeth, and allow us to regain their natural shade of white.

What stains our teeth?

The foods and drinks we consume have much to do with the discoloration on our teeth. Though they’re packed with nutrients, acidic foods such as citrus fruits or tomatoes have a tendency to stain teeth a yellowish color. These foods also strip enamel from teeth, revealing the dentin beneath.  Coffee, black/green tea, blackberries, soda, and red wine all cause discoloration. The bacteria in our mouths latch on to sugar, and when bacteria feed on sugar they release acids in the process: acids that create tooth decay. Even those who enjoy seltzer water are not off the hook; tooth discoloration can happen with anything carbonated due to the acids involved.

Teeth Whitening  

We understand that no one wants to worry about their teeth when enjoying morning coffee, so we’re here to help you achieve your best smile. There are several safe and effective methods to remove food and drink stains; however, before trying any sort of whitening you should be aware that the ingredients in whitener dehydrate the teeth. When teeth become dehydrated, they also become porous. It’s then difficult for them to insulate the nerve which causes the teeth/gums to experience temperature sensitivity that could last for 16-36 hours after whitening. The teeth naturally rehydrate within this time from saliva.

Professional teeth whitening is perfectly safe. The best time to whiten teeth is before bed and it’s good to wait 48 hours before consuming dark liquids. This should allow enough time for the teeth to rehydrate making them more impermeable. The main ingredient in most whiteners is hydrogen peroxide or baking soda.

Whitening Methods

If you’re interested in whitening your teeth here are some methods for you to look into. Please note that some methods may take more time than others. Also, not everyone will see the same results. Unfortunately, if the enamel has been stripped from your teeth there is no way to whiten the dentin beneath.

  • Paint-ons
  • Over-the-Counter trays and gels
  • Whitening strips
  • Coconut oil pulling
  • Professional whitening

If you have any questions about the best option for you, or if you’d like to learn more about our professional whitening service, please give us a call at 207-781-5900.

How Diet Affects Oral Health

We all know how food choices affect the body, but did you know they also affect oral health? It may not be as evident, but if you were to examine your mouth on a cellular level, you would find a wealth of health information there, often before health problems manifest elsewhere in your body. With that in mind, we’d like to share some dietary nutrients that impact your oral health, and offer some recommendations to improve your diet and your oral health.

Vitamins & Nutrients to Support Oral Health

So what did we mean when we said that you can detect health issues by analyzing your mouth? Well, our mouths contain special cells called mucosal cells, and they generally have a life cycle of 3-7 days. This means that they’re turning over and regenerating frequently, and providing up to date information on the rest of your system. So the first place you’ll be able to find nutritional surplus or deficiency is in your mouth! With this in mind, we wanted to share some nutritional findings that can help support oral (and overall) health.

  • Protein, calcium, and phosphorus contribute to strong tooth structure. You can get protein from a wide variety of foods depending on your diet. Calcium can be found in almonds, broccoli, oranges, and cheese, while phosphorus can be found in a number of dairy, fish, and meat products. You could also opt to get phosphorus from certain nuts and beans.
  • Nutrients like zinc, folate, iron, vitamins A, C, and D, Omega-3 fats, and antioxidants contribute to the development of mucosal cells and connective tissues as well as immune function. B vitamins support epithelial cell turnover.
    • Studies have suggested that low levels of folate are associated with periodontal disease, so make sure you’re getting enough from foods like dark leafy greens, beans, peas, & lentils, or citrus fruits.
    • Studies suggest that vitamin D and calcium may also enhance enamel remineralization. To support your usual hygiene efforts and strengthen enamel, snack on cheese, yogurt, tofu, salmon, or milk!
  • Vitamin C also has been reported to help collagen maturation, which in turn helps maintain the integrity of the periodontal ligament. For this, make sure to have a share of strawberries, acerola cherries, bell peppers, or citrus fruit!
  • Lastly, Omega-3 fats help with inflammatory response in the body. Mackerel, salmon, oysters, sardines, and anchovies have omega-3 fats in abundance. Not up for sea fare? Try working flaxseeds, chia seeds, or walnuts into your diet. Alternatively, you can opt for a fish oil supplement!

It’s important to keep in mind that each of these nutrients might have different outcomes for individuals based on their respective health situations. Be sure to consult a doctor before making any major dietary changes and to ensure there won’t be any adverse effects.

If we’ve gotten you thinking about diet and oral health, make sure to bring your questions or concerns to your next appointment! We are happy to advise you more on the subject and we look forward to it!

Dental Care During Pregnancy

Moms-to-be out there can agree – pregnancy is an exciting time of life! It is a time when you become more mindful of your health – for your sake and your baby’s. While it is evident that your body needs to be well cared for during this time, we like to remind moms that it’s also important to stay on top of your dental health as well. Here are a few important dental health facts and practices to keep in mind when you’re expecting.

Changes to Oral Health During Pregnancy

To start, many people may not be aware but oral health changes during pregnancy, primarily due to an upsurge in hormones like estrogen and progesterone. These hormonal changes can affect gum tissues’ reactions to plaque. In fact, this is so common among expecting mothers that it is referred to as ‘pregnancy gingivitis.’ Because of this change, it is important that you stick to your normal dental care regimen: flossing well each day and brushing (with an electric toothbrush) at least twice per day and after eating when and if you are able.

Related to pregnancy gingivitis, expecting patients could also develop pregnancy tumors, which are non-cancerous growths on swollen and irritated gums. Usually these disappear on their own. However, if they get in the way of chewing or carrying out your normal oral hygiene rituals, let us know and we can discuss what to do.

Maintaining Your Dental Care Regimen

While there are challenges to oral health during pregnancy, those challenges can be met easily as long as you take care of your teeth. We recommend coming in for a cleaning as soon as you know you are pregnant, so that we can build a plan and complete any important or outstanding work within the first trimester. We will also plan to have another cleaning in your second trimester to keep plaque in check.

And while it may seem trivial, please provide us with all the medications and vitamins you are taking throughout your pregnancy – we might need to adjust our treatments based on that information.

If you discover you are getting morning sickness in connection to brushing, try switching to a bland-flavored toothpaste throughout your pregnancy – we are happy to recommend some brands to you! We also recommend rinsing your mouth with water and anti-plaque and fluoride mouthwashes if you have frequent bouts of vomiting.

Good nutrition is also important throughout your pregnancy. While your obstetrician will advise you on these matters, we also recommend plenty of vitamins C and B12, to help support strong oral health. Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet will also put your baby on an early track to good oral health – dairy items like cheese and yogurt provide critical minerals to support the development of your baby’s bones, teeth, and gums. And as always, we recommend keeping sugary cravings in check to keep tooth decay at bay.

 

Do you have more questions about dental care during pregnancy? If so, we encourage you to ask! We’d love to help you during this time. Call us to schedule your appointment today!