Blog

A Quick Guide To Retainer Maintenance

 

THE DAY YOUR BRACES come off will arrive sooner than you think, but your orthodontic treatment won’t quite be over yet. In order to keep the straight smile you and our practice are working so hard for, you’ll need to wear your retainers. Retainers are different from braces in many ways, including how to take care of them.

Why Does A Retainer Need Cleaning?

As you wear your retainer, it accumulates bacteria, plaque, and tartar. We brush and floss to prevent this buildup on our teeth and gums, and we have to clean our retainers for the same reason. Without sufficient cleaning, a retainer can become smelly, foul-tasting, filmy, cloudy, and covered in small white spots.

Removable retainers should be rinsed with cool water and brushed at least once a day. It can be tricky to floss around a permanent retainer, but doing so is crucial to prevent tartar from building up in the crevices around it. You can use threaders to make flossing easier or invest in a water flosser if you don’t have one already.

Deep-Cleaning Your Retainer

Like with teeth, daily cleanings can only do so much, which is why retainers need the occasional deep clean to remain good as new. For a permanent retainer, the hygienist will be able to take care of this at your regular cleaning appointments, but you can clean a removable retainer yourself.

Deep-cleaning a retainer is easy and can be done very cheaply. You can use special retainer cleaning tablets if you prefer, but a simple mixture of baking soda and water will do the trick. Water and vinegar would also work, or you could use hydrogen peroxide, but never use harsh chemicals like bleach. Soak the retainer for a few minutes, then rinse it and let it dry.

Proper Retainer Storage

If you only have to wear your retainer part time, then it’s crucial to know how to store it when it’s out of your mouth. Harmful bacteria love warm, damp, enclosed environments, so make sure you keep your retainer somewhere safe and cool that it can fully dry when you aren’t wearing it. (The same goes for how you should store your toothbrush!) For some types of retainers, it’s better to soak them in water to store them, so be sure to check with us about what your type of retainer needs.

Are Retainers Really So Important?

Yes! Our teeth are held in place by the jaw bone and the periodontal ligament. These supporting structures need time to get used to the new, straight position of your teeth. Wearing a retainer for the amount of time specified by the orthodontist ensures that your jaws will get used to the new arrangement. Without the retainer, your teeth can slide back towards their original position until you need another round of braces to fix it! Nobody wants that.

Come To Us With Any Retainer Questions

Whether your retainers are clear plastic or wire and acrylic, bonded or removable, we’re here to answer any questions you have about how to take care of them. This is a crucial part of your orthodontic treatment and we want you to have the best experience and result possible!

Congratulations on graduating from braces to retainers!

Retain Your New Smile After Braces with a Retainer - Eastman ...
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

The Hidden Sugars In Our Food

Various candies on a table.

 

WHEN WE THINK OF SUGARY FOOD, we usually picture things like candy, cake, pie, ice cream, and soda, but there is sugar hiding in many of the foods we buy at the grocery store — even foods we don’t think of as sweet! This is bad news for our oral health, because the harmful bacteria in our mouths love all that sugar, whether we know we’re eating it or not.

Sugar’s Many Disguises

Unfortunately, finding the sugar in the food we buy isn’t so simple these days, because it hides behind many tricky-sounding names. Here are some of the terms to look for when checking ingredient lists:

  • The “-ose” words: Fructose, sucrose, dextrose, lactose, maltose, glucose. All of these are scientific names for types of sugar molecules.
  • The syrups: Corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, maple/rice syrup, etc.
  • The sugars: Brown sugar, malt sugar, cane sugar, beet sugar, coconut sugar, etc. Whether brown or white, liquid or powder, sugar is still sugar.
  • The “natural replacements”: agave nectar, honey, evaporated cane juice, fruit juice concentrate, 100 percent fruit juice. While whole fruit is definitely a healthier snack than a candy bar, fruit juice isn’t any better for your teeth than soda.
  • Molasses. 

While these are the most common disguises sugar may take, there are plenty more. A good clue is in the “added sugars” line on the nutrition labels. Unfortunately, these sugars can be found in everyday foods we often think of as healthy (or at least not unhealthy), like Raisin Bran, fruit-flavored yogurt, ketchup, barbecue sauce, granola, and even most types of bread! This is why it’s important to always read the labels!

Recommended Daily Sugar Intake

With sugar hiding in so much of our food, avoiding it entirely can be a difficult task, but our teeth (and the rest of us) will be healthier and happier if we can keep the overall amount to a minimum. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 25 grams (6 teaspoons) a day for women, 36 grams (9 teaspoons) for men. That might not seem like much, but the good news is that the longer you go with less sugar in your day, the less you’ll miss it!

Healthy Sugar Replacements

At least as important as the amount of sugar we consume is how we consume it. The reason whole fruit is healthier than fruit juice is that the sugar in fruit comes with a lot of water and fiber, making it harder for our bodies to absorb. Whole fruit is also more filling, where as we could drink the equivalent of several oranges in juice and still have room for bacon, eggs, and toast. That right there is the difference between natural and processed sugars!

But what about when you get those sweet cravings and fruit just won’t cut it? That’s when sugar-free sweeteners like Stevia, xylitol, and erythritol or low-sugar alternatives like applesauce, bananas, dates, and figs come in handy. You’ll also have an easier time avoiding those insidious added sugars if you stick to whole foods.

 

Our practice has the sweetest patients!

 

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Fighting Back Against Oral Bacteria

A BATTLE IS CONSTANTLY raging inside your mouth for the fate of your teeth. The only one who can turn the tide and make sure your teeth win this battle is you.

The Defenders And The Attackers

Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body. It’s like the castle walls, protecting the softer dentin and pulp inside each tooth. Unfortunately, it is porous and vulnerable to erosion by acids.

When the enamel loses minerals to acid exposure (a process called demineralization), it weakens the teeth and leaves them more susceptible to decay. However, we can fortify that enamel by getting enough minerals and nutrients, remineralizing our teeth. This is the battle our mouths are fighting every day: demineralization versus remineralization.

The invaders in this battle are bacteria. They feed on sugar and carbs left in our mouths after a meal, and they excrete enamel-eroding acid onto our teeth. Luckily, we have a natural defense against the bacteria, and that’s our saliva. If enamel is like castle walls, then saliva is like the moat. A lot of harmful bacteria falls into this moat and gets washed away instead of being able to attack the castle walls.

Which Side Will You Fight On?

While our enamel and saliva are built-in defenses, there is a lot we can actively do to make sure the good guys are winning the battle in our mouths. When we practice mouth-healthy habits, we’re fighting on the right side, but when we neglect them, we’re fighting on the side of the bacteria.

One thing you can do to fight back against harmful bacteria is cut back on junk food. Sugar-filled treats and drinks and other processed foods supercharge the bacteria that lead to tooth decay, but foods like apples, cheese, eggs, carrots, celery, fish, and dark leafy greens promote remineralization of your enamel. Choose your snacks with your teeth in mind!

You can also prevent demineralization by brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride remineralizes your enamel too, and it also reduces bacteria’s ability to produce acid.

Never Give Up!  Never Surrender!

You are the most important part of the battle for your teeth, so make sure to do everything you can so that your teeth can win the fight. Your reward will be a healthy smile for life. Keep up the good work brushing, flossing, and eating a mouth-healthy diet, and don’t forget that you can always schedule a dental appointment to give your teeth’s defenses a boost!

We’re grateful for our awesome patients!

 

Image result for teeth health

Protect Your Smile With A New Custom Made Mouthguard

THE CRISP SMELL OF FRESHLY CUT GRASS on the soccer field, the gleam of the basketball court before a game, the cheering fans at the football stadium, the feeling of the baseball bat, familiar in your hands… There’s no doubt about it–playing sports can be a magical thing.

We love when our patients are having fun and being active, but unfortunately, sports-related dental injuries happen all the time. That’s why we make custom mouthguards in our practice, so you and your children can always play it safe!

Wear A Mouthguard And Reduce Your Risk Of Injury

You may be surprised to learn that up to 40 percent of dental injuries are sustained during sports activities. In fact, not wearing a mouth-guard makes you 60 times more likely to sustain an injury to the face and mouth! Wearing a mouthguard during recreational as well as competitive sports activities decreases both the frequency and severity of injury.

A fractured, chipped or knocked-out tooth isn’t the only thing a mouthguard safeguards against. Did you know that wearing a mouthguard can also help prevent more serious injuries such as concussions, jaw fractures, and neck injuries? Not to mention the protection it provides for the soft tissues of the mouth like the tongue, lips and cheeks.

This is especially true for those of you with braces. Not only are your braces an investment you should protect, but those metal brackets can be especially damaging to your mouth if you’re hit by a stray ball or elbow. On top of that, if your braces are damaged, there may be a delay in your orthodontic treatment.

Custom Mouthguards Provide More Comfort And Protection

When it comes to purchasing a mouth-guard, you have a couple different options. A custom-fit mouthguard made specifically for you by a dental professional is the most effective and comfortable choice. We can even specially customize your mouthguard for the specific sport you play. Custom mouth-guards are:

  • Less likely to be displaced during the action because of their custom fit.
  • Durable and tear-resistant. Custom mouth-guards last longer due to the higher quality of materials used to construct them.
  • More fitted and less bulky. This adds to the overall comfort and makes talking, breathing and swallowing easier.

Your Smile Is Worth Protecting

Customized specifically for your smile, the mouthguards we make in our practice provide safety and genuine comfort.

Your smile is worth protecting.

Talk to us today about your own custom mouthguard!