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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.

Braces for Teeth Gap: Will Braces Fix My Gap?

January 27th, 2020

There is an old saying that a smile is worth a thousand words. A smile is something genuinely amazing because one simple smile can have a ripple effect far greater than you ever imagined. If you’re not confident in your smile because of gaps and you feel self-conscious about smiling, then you might find yourself missing out on some amazing moments in life.

You might have thought, “will braces fix my gap?” but you haven’t ever taken the plunge because you feel like you will just deal with it, and you don’t need to spend the money on it.

While every smile is beautiful, it’s important you feel good about yours. You should be able to confidently wear a smile with any outfit you choose. While it might be an expense, your smile and confidence are worth every penny.

Are you ready to change your smile and change your life? Read on to see how gaps happen in the first place, and if braces will be the fix for you.

Four Reasons Why Gaps Happen

Diastema, also known as a gap between teeth, usually happens between the two front teeth. Any teeth can have spaces between them, so read on to find out why gaps occur.

Mismatch Size Between Jaw Bone and Teeth

If there is a size difference between the jaw bone and teeth, then gaps can happen. This mismatch can cause either overcrowding if people have large teeth, or gaps if people have smaller teeth.

It is fairly common for people to have lateral incisors that are too small, and this leaves a lot of space between the front teeth and the next tooth. Your teeth will move around with all this space leaving you with gaps.

Missing Teeth

Missing teeth is an obvious reason for why there would be gaps between teeth. The missing teeth give more room for other teeth to move around, which can cause other gaps as well.

Oversized Labial Frenum

The labial frenum is the thin piece of skin that attaches to your top lip to the top of your front teeth. (You just check to see if you had one, didn’t you?)

Sometimes the labial frenum is too big, and it connects much lower than the front teeth. If this happens, it blocks the space where your front teeth should go.


There are at least two habits that cause teeth gaps. Thumb sucking and swallowing incorrectly.

Thumb sucking

Thumb-sucking pulls the teeth forward overtime. This is a slow process, but it can lead to gaps, little by little.

Swallowing incorrectly

When you swallow, your tongue should press up against the roof of your mouth. Some people press their tongue against their teeth instead. Similar to thumb sucking, this process over time will push the teeth forward and can create gaps.

Tooth gaps can be frustrating, but is there anything you can do to prevent gapping in the first place? Read on to find out, and to find solutions for your gap.

Can I Prevent Tooth Gaps?

In most cases, it is difficult to prevent tooth gaps since tooth gaps can be caused by teeth that are too small. However, if a habit causes the gap, you can retrain yourself and break this habit to prevent further gapping.

Overall, there isn’t much you can do to prevent tooth gaps, which can cause frustration when you aren’t happy with your smile. You might feel like you have been doing everything right as far as taking care of your teeth and gum health and visiting the dentist for your regular cleanings, but you still aren’t happy with your smile.

Fret a little, but not too much because there are easy solutions that can get you the smile you want and deserve.

Will Braces Fix My Gap?

To save you the suspense and finally answer the question, will braces fix my gap, yes, braces can fix your gap. It’s more than just a simple yes, so let’s dig deeper into why you might want to fix your tooth gap and how braces will help.

Why Fix My Tooth Gap?

If habits cause your gap, then over time, your teeth might become loose and even painful when chewing or biting. In this case, you will want your gap fixed.

How Braces Work

Hundreds of different components go into braces. Each person needs something a little different. Some people have fairly straight forward corrections while others need more aggressive work done. Regardless of what work you need to have done, you can have straight, gap-free teeth. All the pieces that go into braces and orthodontics all have the same purpose - applying pressure to change the shape of your bone.

As the pressure is applied continuously over time, your teeth will move. Your orthodontist will be able to guide your teeth and bite, so over time, your gap will become smaller and smaller until it’s finally gone. Braces can be a slow process, but since your bone is changing shape and form, you don’t want it to be done quickly.

How Long Will I Have To Wear Braces?

For people wearing braces, it can seem like forever. It adds one extra step to your mouth care routine, and it limits some of your favorite foods like caramel apples and popcorn. In general, most people need to wear braces for about 18 months to two years. If there is more work that needs to be done, it will take longer. Movement is a slow and steady process and not something that should be rushed. In the end, what is a year or two compared to the rest of your life? The question you should be asking yourself isn’t, “will braces fix my gap?” it’s, “am I ready for the smile of my dreams?”

At Smiles for Life, it is our goal to give you the best smile possible. Give us a call today to see if braces are the right choice for you.

Dental Care Once the Braces are Removed

January 1st, 2020

Getting your braces removed is a big deal and definitely a time for celebration. However, dental care doesn’t stop when those braces are removed. To keep your teeth straight and beautiful, you’ll need to do some long term maintenance.

It’s not a whole new regiment, but there are some steps you’ll want to adopt to maintain your new smile. Here at Smiles for Life Orthodontics, we want you to be prepared for every step in the braces process, from initial consult to that final appointment to get them removed.

What to Expect

Once the braces are off, you’re likely to be uncomfortable because you’ve gotten used to your wires. Give it a few weeks to adjust. Let your lips remember what bare teeth feel like. Just like getting used to life with braces in the first place, you’ll need to make some adjustments.

You’ll want to learn about the new equipment you will have and rebuild your dental routine. As tempting as it is to jump right into all the foods you weren’t allowed to have with braces, you shouldn’t move too fast into overly crunchy or chewy foods.

Retainers and Equipment

After your braces are removed, your orthodontist will fit a retainer that’s made especially for you. It’s critical to wear that retainer as directed for the first few months after the braces are removed. Your teeth have been slowly moved into position and kept there by wires for a while. Therefore, your retainer will keep your teeth aligned while your jaw and gums adjust to the new position of your teeth.

Taking care of your retainer is almost as important as remembering to wear it. Keep your retainer in its case when it’s not in use, such as while eating and sleeping. Clean it as instructed by your dentist, and don’t forget to store it with a little water inside. Letting it become dry can cause cracking or other damage.

Switching from braces to retainers may make speaking difficult. Your mouth needs to get used to working around a new device and may cause you to slur words or produce a lot of saliva. Practice talking and normal daily functions with your retainer in, and this difficulty will pass soon.

Cleaning and Upkeep

Now that your teeth are straight, you may be tempted to jump into making them pearly white. However, your teeth will most likely be sensitive to harsh cleaners, hard brushes, and drastic temperature changes. Give it a few weeks to a month before you get your teeth whitened. Your dentist will be able to assess when it is safe for you to get a deep whitening.

Your dentist will be able to help you choose the best brush and toothpaste type to keep your teeth healthy and avoid discomfort. You’ll want to schedule regular cleanings and keep up with your routine dental care.

Easing into New Foods

For months, maybe years, you’ve resisted eating taffy and kept clear of jawbreakers and hard pretzels. It’s time to celebrate and binge your favorite taboo foods. But not so fast!

Your teeth will be sensitive to new foods, and you should ease in slowly. Again, your teeth were recently repositioned in your mouth. Eating things that are very chewy, super hard and crunchy could shift them back to their original position. Then you’ll be back where you started.

Also, avoid things that are very cold or hot, because your teeth will be temperature sensitive. The first few weeks after the braces are off can be uncomfortable and jumping right in can push your experience into pain rather than discomfort.

The absolute most important part of getting your braces off is to smile. You’ve spent a good amount of time building your perfect smile, so you should show it off. Spread your smile everywhere you go. Let your beautiful pearly whites lighten someone’s day. Sharing a genuine smile can create a ripple effect of happiness for those around you.

In addition to brightening another person’s day, smiling has shown evidence of bringing up your happy brain chemistry levels. Additional confidence and lower stress levels have been correlated to smiling more frequently. According to this article from Psychology Today, smiling can benefit you in many unexpected ways. Such as:

  • You look younger by livening up your face and bringing a shine to your appearance.
  • You look thinner by tightening the muscles around your mouth, bringing up your look.
  • Smiles elevate your mood by reverse muscle memory triggering the release of happy chemicals in your brain.
  • Even forced smiles can give you a boost.
    Smiling triggers more pleasure in your brain than chocolate, but chocolate is still yummy.
  • Studies correlate a prediction of the success of marriage to the frequency of genuine smiling.
  • It makes you seem more courteous and competent, and most of all, more kind to those around you.
  • It can predict your lifespan, or so the theory states. Studies have shown that athletes that smiled in their professional photos versus those that didn't live more years.
  • Smiles are contagious. When you smile at a stranger, they’ll smile too. You may have also just brightened their day and made it better for them.

Post braces dental care is important to keep you and your teeth healthy and stunning for years to come. We’re happy you’re here at Smiles For Life Orthodontics and want to help you make the most of your smile.

Smiles For Life Orthodontics

Dr. Irelia Machado is so excited to be a part of this journey, and genuinely enjoys helping you find your perfect smile. Through consistent training and a passion for education, she and her team maintain the highest levels of knowledge in the ever-evolving orthodontics field.

They are available to answer questions, address concerns, and share their own experiences around braces and post-braces dental care. Give us a call if you have any questions about any step in this process.

American Dental Association American Association of Orthodontists Texas Association of Orthodontists Southwestern Society of Orthodontists