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Different Types of Retainers

March 23rd, 2020

Completing your orthodontic treatment is a great feeling. Getting your braces off feels amazing and freeing. And the fact that you have wonderfully gorgeous straight teeth is also pretty cool. Once you enjoy that feeling for a few minutes, it will be time for your orthodontist to talk with you about the different types of retainers. The retainer is likely the final piece of your ortho journey.

Although your teeth are now mostly hardware-free, they have yet to attain complete independence. They still need some help to stay in place so that you don’t undo all the work from the months you spent getting straight teeth.

For any orthodontic help for you or your family, check out Smiles for Life. Our experienced and friendly staff can answer your questions and get a plan in place for your beautiful smile.

Cleaning and Maintenance

No matter which type of retainer your orthodontist suggests, you will need to be careful to clean it properly. Your doctor will go over instructions for cleaning, and you should take the time to ask any questions you can think of about your new retainer. 

Brush your retainer regularly with a toothbrush and water. Check with your orthodontist if it’s ok to use toothpaste. Some materials can develop scratches when you use toothpaste, and the scratches can harbor bacteria.

Your orthodontist might also suggest a retainer cleaner. These options are usually in a tablet or powder form. You add them to water and soak the retainer in the solution according to package directions. Talk with your doctor to see if you should use something like this for your retainer.

Hang Onto It!

Helpful obvious hint: retainers are not free. Typically, your orthodontic fee covers your initial retainer. But if you lose it or damage it, you will have to pay for a replacement. 

Generally speaking, at least when you first get the retainer, you should wear it around the clock except when you are eating. Here are some tips to make sure you hang onto yours, keep it in good shape, and avoid dumpster diving:

  • Do not place it on a cafeteria tray. You can almost guarantee it will end up in the trash. The same goes for fast food trays. (Anyone else ever dig through a DQ garbage can before?)
  • Do not place a napkin over it in an attempt to be discreet. Again, this leaves your retainer destined for the garbage can.
  • Keep it away from pets.
  • When you are eating, consider tucking it safely into a purse or pocket to avoid accidentally throwing it away. Better yet, put it in its case first.
  • Keep it out of direct heat. Retainers left in hot cars or near other heat sources can melt.

Different Types of Retainers for Today’s Straight Teeth

As orthodontic care has changed and evolved over the years, so have the different types of retainers you have available. Your orthodontist may decide which choice is best for you, or they might leave the decision up to you. Here are the usual options for you to consider.

Hawley Wire Retainers

The Hawley wire choice is what most people think of as a retainer. These are the ones with the hard plastic piece that forms to the palate. And they have a wire attached that goes around the teeth. Today’s Hawley retainers come with the choice of colorful plastic to make them a little more noticeable if they are sitting next to a dinner plate. 

This type of retainer is removable, which is why it so often ends up the subject of a garbage searching expedition. You must remove it before eating, so you have to take extra care not to lose it.  

Some benefits to having this style of retainer:

  • They have staying power and are built to last.
  • They are relatively simple to fix and adjust.
  • They allow the bite to settle.
  • They can have a fun color. Add a bit of personality to your newest fashion accessory.
  • They are simple to clean and maintain.

These standard and go-to retainers do have some drawbacks to keep in mind:

  • They are visible in the mouth. There is no hiding the wire.
  • They are simple to lose. 
  • They do not protect against teeth grinding since the biting surfaces remain exposed.
  • They are costly to replace.
  • They can give teeth room to move a little bit.
  • They can feel uncomfortable against the palate at first.

Clear Plastic Retainers

This type of retainer is a modern evolution of orthodontic care. It will do the best job of keeping your teeth in their new positions. Here are some other benefits of choosing a clear plastic retainer:

  • They prevent the wearing down of teeth due to grinding.
  • They are just about invisible.
  • They are not as expensive to replace as other styles.
  • They can be corrective. If your teeth shift a bit over time, the clear plastic retainers can help move them back in place.

And the disadvantages of these retainers?

  • They are not as strong as other types since they are made of plastic.
  • Their nearly invisible nature makes them extremely easy to misplace. Take our word for it.
  • Over time, the plastic can discolor, adding a yellow tint to your teeth when you wear the retainer.

Permanent Retainers

This last type of retainer is bonded directly to your teeth. Do you have problems with losing things? Problem solved! This durable option offers a few critical benefits:

  • They can’t accidentally end up in the trash.
  • They have a very long life span.
  • They are not visible to others unless they are getting really up close and personal.

There are a couple of drawbacks to permanent retainers. 

  • They are harder to clean and maintain and require more work for brushing and flossing than do other retainers.
  • They can feel irritating to your tongue at first.
  • They are not removable.

Smiles for Life Is Ready to Serve You

With the renowned Dr. Machado at the helm, Smiles for Life is eager to help you achieve your dream smile. Reach out today for your complimentary consultation.

Does Getting Your Braces Off Hurt

March 5th, 2020

As time marches on, and the day arrives to get your braces off, you probably have a lot of questions. After all the inevitable discomfort that comes with having orthodontic work done, this day is a relief. But some people want to know, does getting braces off hurt? In fact, most patients have a lot of questions about this process.

At Smiles for Life Orthodontics, we love partnering with families for all their smile needs. From braces to retainers, we have you covered. You will enjoy expert care from our friendly team from start to finish.

Now that it’s time to say “Adios” to your braces, let’s take a look at some common questions and concerns that patients have, including the pain factor.

How Long Will It Take for My Braces to Come Off?

Aside from the day you got into braces, the removal is probably one of your longest appointments. From start to finish, you should plan on about an hour in the orthodontist’s chair. They will take an impression of your new bite to fit you for a retainer during this appointment as well. 

You also need to plan about ten extra minutes for the doctor to go over the care and maintenance of your retainer. And don’t forget to account for the time you spend smiling in the mirror at your new reflection, because that part is the most fun piece of the braces journey.

How Will They Remove the Braces?

Removal of your bling is a pretty simple process, but it takes time to get all of the brackets off. The brackets have a bonding compound on them to keep them in place. The orthodontist or an assistant will use special pliers to pry off each bracket.

Once your teeth are bracket-free, the adhesive remains behind. The orthodontic team will use a polishing tool to remove this so that you have smooth teeth before you walk out the door. They will check over your teeth to make sure everything looks right and that none of the bonding compound is still on.

So, Does Getting Braces Off Hurt?

Here is the great news. It doesn’t hurt! You have likely spent months dreading your ortho appointments and the inevitable soup and smoothie diet that follows. But for this appointment, you should be totally comfortable. The tools for removing the cement compound sometimes irritate the gum line, but the irritation goes away quickly and is not a cause for concern. 

Some patients feel pressure as the brackets pop off, but there shouldn’t be any pain unless you are really sad and broken-hearted about leaving your braces behind. If you think you will miss them too much, the orthodontist can even put your braces in a plastic baggie for you to keep!

Occasionally, some people experience a bit of sensitivity in their teeth and gums for a few days. If this happens to you, it is a good idea to wait a couple of days before enjoying chewy or crunchy foods. Cold foods might feel uncomfortable for a little while, as well. Typically, within a week, everything is back to normal.

How Will My Teeth Look and Feel?

Your chompers are probably going to feel and look better than they ever have before. Assuming, of course, you were diligent about your brushing and flossing throughout treatment. A few minutes of polishing cannot make up for poor oral hygiene. But if you were careful about taking care of your teeth while the braces were on, then you’re going to be thrilled with how they look and feel now.

In some rare cases, the brackets leave a slight discoloration where they were attached to the teeth. Please make sure to consult with your orthodontist before utilizing any whitening products. In general, is it a good idea to avoid any whitening process for at least 30 days after the braces come off.

Your teeth will feel smooth and sleek, and your mouth might feel really spacious. You might even think that your teeth look bigger since you’re seeing them unencumbered for the first time in months. Soon, you will grow accustomed to their magnificence. Enjoy!

How Do They Fit My Retainer?

Once the braces are off, the ortho team will take impressions of your bite and palate. These go to a lab where they make your new retainer that you will pick up at the next appointment. For some patients, making the mold is the worst part of getting their braces off. But even that step is quick and painless.

What Comes After the Appointment Is Over?

You will make another appointment to get your retainer. At that time, the orthodontist will make sure it fits properly and will go over instructions for taking good care of it. Your next step is to keep your teeth, gums, and retainer in the best condition possible. Nothing should change with your oral care as you work to keep your beautiful smile healthy and stunning.

The most important thing you can do to make all the hassle and discomfort of braces worth it is to wear your retainer. This simple step is the key to keeping your smile as bright and as straight as possible. Of course, using a retainer means appropriately caring for the device. The better you treat your retainer, the better it will treat you. 

You will likely have one more appointment after a month or so for a retainer check. At that point, you probably won’t need to return. You and your teeth will be free to shine.

Be sure to continue with regular dental cleanings, check-ups, and x-rays, per your dentist’s instruction. With proper care and faithful retainer use, your new smile should hold steady.

Smiles for Life Is Here to Serve

Are you thinking about braces for you or a family member? The Smiles for Life Orthodontics staff are happy to be of service. We create a personalized treatment plan for each patient so that you get the best possible outcome. Reach out today to start your journey to a beautiful smile.

How To Clean Invisalign

February 20th, 2020

Now that you have chosen to use Invisalign aligners, it is important to ensure they stay in tip-top shape. They work best when they receive proper maintenance. Taking the time and effort to ensure your Invisalign system is in good working order is critical for a better smile. When properly cleaned, your Invisalign aligners will deliver the results you desire. Not sure how to clean Invisalign? You’re in the right spot.

The team at Smiles for Life Orthodontics is here to serve you. No matter your stage of life, from tween years to twilight years, you can enjoy a healthy and beautiful smile. Reach out today for a consultation.

Why Is It So Critical to Clean Invisalign?

There are many reasons to keep your Invisalign aligners clean. The most basic reason is that this habit helps to keep your whole mouth clean, as well. Good oral hygiene is crucial, with or without aligners. The benefits of good oral hygiene include healthy teeth and gums and fresh breath. Once Invisalign aligners are part of your routine, it is essential to keep them in excellent shape.

Other issues can arise if your Invisalign aligners do not receive adequate, consistent cleaning. They can develop stains, and this causes your teeth to discolor, affecting the smile you’re trying to make perfect. Dingy aligners make for a dingy smile. You can avoid this problem by paying attention to the cleanliness of your Invisalign.

Bacteria is definitely a dirty word when it comes to your Invisalign. The grubby little germs can thrive in neglected aligners. Bacteria build-up will affect the overall health of your teeth and gums and can even pose a threat to your heart. It also is likely to give you a case of dragon breath. Regular cleaning of your Invisalign aligners will remove the offensive odor-causing bacteria.

How to Clean Invisalign Correctly

So now that you know the dangers of dirty aligners, how do you keep them clean? The good news is that it is not difficult at all to provide proper care for your Invisalign and your mouth. Invisalign maintenance merely involves forming a couple of key habits.

Be Consistent in Your Scrubbing

There are a handful of things you need to do. And to be effective, you need to do them regularly and consistently. This will build the necessary habits to keep your oral health in great shape.

The first habit to establish is to clean the trays each morning and night, following your doctor’s instructions. Hopefully, you already have the habit of brushing your teeth every day at those times. So it is just a matter of including the Invisalign trays in your routine when you wake up and before bed.

Give your aligners a rinse any time you take them out. This plan is a simple habit that helps to keep your trays clean. A quick rinse under the water can minimize the build-up of saliva in the aligners. You should wear your Invisalign as much as the orthodontist recommends. But when they are out, a little preventative maintenance can go a long way.

Give Your Invisalign a Soak

To help control odor and keep your trays looking their best, soak them once a day. You can use a standard denture cleaner or Invisalign cleaning crystals. After a soak, use a spare toothbrush to brush stray food particles off the trays. Give your aligners a quick rinse, and then they are in good shape again.

Before popping them back in your mouth, do a thorough brushing and flossing on your teeth. This is a crucial step. Many Invisalign users find that their oral health improves once they begin caring for their trays. Good habits bring good results.

Be Prepared

Make sure you can maintain your great habits by having a plan for caring for your aligners. One of the top excuses for why patients don’t do their cleaning is that they don’t have enough time. You can avoid this pitfall with a little bit of planning.

First, be ready with the tools on hand to keep the aligner trays clean. Spare toothbrushes are a good start. And having a case or container close by for mealtimes and teeth brushing times is helpful. 

It is also important to have a portable care kit for your trays. When you are at school or work and need to remove your aligners, you should have a safe spot to put them. Do not leave them out in the open, since this puts them at risk of bacteria build-up. That exposure also makes them more likely to end up lost or damaged. 

We recommend that you have more than one storage case if possible. This habit will allow you to keep one at home and one with you to use when you are out and about.

Remember that you will get a new set of aligners every few weeks. If you will be out of town when it’s time for a new pair of trays, be sure to plan with your doctor so you can take the aligners with you.


Brushing Teeth for Kids: How To Get Them To Do it

February 2nd, 2020

When you think about all the stuff that kids have to figure out, it's pretty remarkable. Day in and day, out children face something most adults do not have to handle anymore: something new. Children have to learn all the little things that adults take for granted. Even something like brushing teeth for kids is a new skill to learn.

As a parent, you know that the little things can be the most important for your child’s overall health. And learning to brush their teeth correctly is a critical skill for kids to master. Good oral hygiene is one the keys to a healthy life, and its benefits extend beyond the mouth.

The Smiles for Life team loves to partner with families in their orthodontic journey. If you have questions or concerns about how your child’s teeth are developing, give us a call. We’re happy to help.

Brushing Teeth for Kids: Build Up Good Habits

When parents wait too long to introduce teeth brushing habits, children can resist the intrusion. So experts recommend starting very early and following the following guidelines:

  1. Before teeth appear for your baby, gently wipe your child’s gums after they eat. Use a wet washcloth wrapped around your finger and give the gums a quick couple of swipes.
  2. Once teeth break through, you can introduce a toothbrush with a soft head. You can also use toothpaste at this time but use a minimal amount. About the size of a grain of rice is sufficient.
  3. At age three, children can use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.
  4. Parents typically need to help brush their child's teeth until their kiddo is around six years old.

Teaching a skill like proper teeth brushing can take more time than you might expect. And until the child can adequately clean all surfaces of their teeth, they will need you to help or monitor as they brush.

And once they get the knack, be sure to continue reminding them each morning and evening. And periodically watch to make sure your child is still doing a good job on their own. 

Poor dental hygiene can bring tremendous discomfort and poor health, so proper brushing teeth for kids is crucial. We can help spare kids from painful or costly dental procedures by simply teaching them how to brush their teeth. 

Don’t let your kids off the hook. They must brush their teeth at least twice a day: in the morning when they wake up and before they go to bed in the evening. And if they eat something particularly sticky during the day, another brushing is in order.

How Do You Get Your Kids to Brush?

Brushing teeth for kids doesn’t have to be a chore. It’s actually a simple way to help ensure lifelong health. But, of course, kids don’t think that way. They like to have fun, and standing in front of a mirror for two minutes can seem like an eternity to most children. Try some of these tips to help take the work out of this vital daily routine.

Be There 

One of the most important things you can do is stay by their side as they establish this habit. Just being there next to them can help them form routine and consistency. 

Once they move onto solo brushing, your job isn’t done. Spot checks remain necessary, even into the teen years. Think of it as an episode of the TV show “Undercover Boss” and pop in unexpectedly to monitor their technique. Kids need to know that there could be someone checking in, or they may just squeeze the toothpaste and make faces in the mirror for a few minutes.

And a post-brushing quality assurance check is a good idea too. A sniff test for the minty freshness of well-scrubbed teeth can give you useful data here. Your child will learn that they can’t skip out on this job, and you can stay on top of their oral health. And when they have done a great job, tell them!

Bring the Song and Dance

Brushing teeth for kids can have a little bit of a party element added in. For younger children, especially, it can be something they look forward to and participate in enthusiastically. 

Make up songs about teeth brushing. Set a timer that has a funny sound when it goes off to tell them they brushed long enough. Or work on some dance moves in front of the mirror while brushing. There are even toothbrushes that have built-in timers and music to help your child stay on track.

Some children enjoy having a parent read them a short story while they brush. Literacy and hygiene all rolled into one! 

Let Them Watch Some Videos

Some children are visual learners and do well if they can watch a demonstration of a new skill. You could search online for videos on proper teeth brushing techniques for your child to see. And if the video is of another child rather than an adult, that is even better. Most kids respond well to other youngsters and peers. 

Back It Up with Bling

A reward system can be highly effective in helping your child establish and maintain a good teeth brushing habit. Stickers, quarters, screen time, or little prizes can be awesome motivators for kids. Since it can take up to two months for a person to build a new habit, offering some encouragement in the form of a reward can help them stick with it that long. Kind of like going to your job because you know there will be a paycheck coming, right?

We’ll Help Your Child Love Their Smile

So much of parenting involves worrying about your child’s health. We partner with families to help take some of that worry off their plates. Our friendly, expert staff looks forward to the chance to meet you and walk through the orthodontic process together. 

From traditional braces to Invisalign aligners, Smiles for Life has many options for you to consider. Call for an appointment and let’s get to know each other.

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