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Electric Toothbrushes vs. Regular Toothbrushes

December 12th, 2018

Convertible or sedan? Downtown or suburbs? Electric or manual toothbrush? As life decisions go, it’s certainly not choosing your next car, or deciding where you want to live. But, even when you are selecting a toothbrush, it helps to make a list of the pros and cons of the contenders before you make that final selection.

  • Efficiency

The most important factor in choosing a toothbrush is finding out which model works best to eliminate bacteria and plaque. And studies have shown that, used properly, both electric and manual toothbrushes do a great job of removing plaque. Some electric models can reach the backs of teeth and the gumline more easily, some manual head designs work better for your individual mouth and teeth, so your particular needs should dictate which style of toothbrush you use. Talk to us about the best methods to brush with your preferred toothbrush, and we’ll let you know if one type of toothbrush or the other might work better for you.

  • Health Considerations

Brushing too energetically can actually harm teeth and gums, causing sensitivity and damage to the enamel and gum tissue. An electric toothbrush should provide a continuous brushing motion without needing any pressure from the brusher. This might be the model for you if you have a too-vigorous approach to brushing, or sensitive teeth and gums.

An electric toothbrush can also be more efficient for older and younger brushers, those with limited mobility, and those with health conditions or injuries that make brushing with a regular toothbrush more difficult.

  • Cost

An electric toothbrush is not a one-time investment. You should change the removable head as often as you change your manual toothbrush (every three to four months, please). But this cost is offset if an electric toothbrush is more efficient in removing your plaque, easier to use, or even if you just prefer it to manual brushing. If you find that you brush better and more often with an electric toothbrush, the added expense is well worth it.

Whichever brush you decide on, the most important part of the brush is the person holding it! A regular appointment with your toothbrush for two minutes of thorough brushing in the morning and two in the evening, daily flossing, and regular visits to our office for checkups and cleanings will keep your teeth healthy and strong no matter which toothbrush you choose.

Questions about your toothbrush choices? Don’t hesitate to ask Dr. Andrew Nalin at our Mount Vernon, WA office.

Not-So-Sweet Sweets

December 5th, 2018

Birthdays. Valentine’s Day. Halloween. A trip to the movies. There are just some occasions where a sweet treat is on the menu. Now that you are getting braces, does that mean you have to give up desserts completely? Not at all! The trick to finding the right treat is to know which foods are safe for your braces and which should wait until your treatment is complete.

There are some foods which should always be avoided. They fall into three main categories:

  • Hard and Crunchy

Hard candies, peanut brittle, popcorn balls, nutty candy bars—anything that is hard to bite into is hard on your braces, and can damage brackets or even break them.

  • Chewy

Caramels, taffy, chewy squares and rolls, licorice and other super-chewy candies can break brackets and bend wires. Not to mention, they are really difficult to clean from the surface of teeth and braces.

  • Sticky

Soft foods are generally fine, but soft and sticky candies are another thing entirely. Gumdrops, jelly beans, most gum and other sticky treats stick to your braces, making it hard to clean all that sugar from around your brackets. And even soft sticky candies can bend wires or damage your brackets.

As you have probably noticed, almost all candy falls into one of these categories. Of course, while sugary treats shouldn’t be a major part of anyone’s diet, and careful brushing and flossing are always on the menu if you do indulge, wearing braces does not mean giving up on treats entirely. A better alternative when you are craving something sweet is to choose something that avoids crunchy, chewy and sticky hazards, such as soft puddings, cupcakes or cookies. There are even some candy brands that are safe for your braces.

Talk to Dr. Andrew Nalin the next time you visit our Mount Vernon, WA office about the dos and don’ts of desserts—we have tasty suggestions that will make those special occasions both sweet for you and safe for your orthodontic work!

Early Orthodontics

November 28th, 2018

Perhaps you are already planning for the years when your teenager will need orthodontic work. But hearing that your seven-year-old would benefit from orthodontic treatment? That might come as a complete surprise! It’s a recommendation with real benefits, though—early intervention can save children from tooth and bite problems now, and even simplify their future orthodontic care.

Treating young children for orthodontic problems is called “interceptive orthodontics.” When the permanent teeth start arriving, there might be problems with spacing, bite or protruding teeth. Often, treatment while the bones are still growing is the best way to prevent more serious problems later.

We recommend that your child have an orthodontic consultation with Dr. Andrew Nalin around the age of seven. This exam is especially important for children who may have been thumb suckers or used a pacifier after the age of three, or if you notice obvious teeth, speech or bite issues.

  • Crowding and Spacing Issues

Teeth are arranged in two crescent shapes called arches. When the arch of your child’s mouth is small, the permanent teeth can become very crowded as they erupt. Formerly, teeth were removed to make more room. Now, early use of a palatal expander can enlarge the upper dental arch in order to help the permanent teeth come in without crowding. The need for future tooth extraction is reduced, and there is a better chance for correct spacing and alignment with early treatment.

On the other hand, when a child loses a tooth too soon, too much space left between baby teeth can also be a problem. The remaining teeth can shift, leaving the wrong place open for the adult tooth to come in. We might recommend a space maintainer so that there is no shifting of the teeth and there is room for the proper adult tooth to erupt in its proper spot.

  • Malocclusions (Bite Problems)

Some malocclusions, like a crossbite, can be caused by problems with jaw and facial structure. Again, we might recommend a palatal expander to help the upper arch of the teeth to fit properly with the lower jaw. Problems with overbite, open bite and other bite issues can also be addressed at this age if necessary. Early care can discourage TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders, reduce speech problems, and improve facial symmetry. 

  • Protruding Front Teeth

Teeth that protrude are much more likely to be damaged when playing or after a fall. Methods such as braces or appliances can reposition them and protect them from breaking or fracturing.

Many children will not need early intervention, and many can wait until they are older for orthodontic work. But if your young child has orthodontic problems that should be addressed, early intervention can do more than set the stage for successful orthodontics in the teen years. Talk to our Mount Vernon, WA team about what we can do for your child. Interceptive orthodontics can protect teeth, guide jaw and speech development, modify harmful oral habits and help to adjust bite problems before they become serious—when it comes to your child’s dental health, the best solutions are early ones!

Are lingual braces for you?

November 21st, 2018

Lingual braces are one of the most subtle ways to transform your smile. Because the brackets and wires are attached to the inside of your teeth, there is almost no visible sign that you are wearing braces. If this is an important consideration for you for personal or professional reasons, this advantage might make lingual braces your best choice for orthodontic treatment.

Every method of straightening teeth also presents potential disadvantages to consider. In the case of lingual braces, patients should be aware of some issues both similar to and different from those posed by regular braces.

  • Tongue Sensitivity

Just as your lip and cheek areas need to get used to typical front-facing braces, your tongue might be sensitive at first to lingual braces. The same orthodontic wax that protects your lips and mouth from irritation caused by metal brackets and wires on the front of teeth can also be used to reduce the tongue irritation caused by brackets behind your teeth.

  • Speech Difficulties

Since your tongue will not be hitting the backs of your teeth in the usual way, you might find some initial difficulty pronouncing words properly. This problem usually disappears over time. Practicing speaking aloud will help your tongue adjust to your new braces. Talk to us if this is a special concern for you.

  • Eating/Cleaning Teeth

Just as with regular braces, you will need to avoid any foods that can damage your orthodontic work. All the usual culprits, such as caramel, hard candy, and popcorn, should be avoided with any type of braces. But because lingual braces are inside the teeth, they can be trickier to clean. Careful brushing and flossing are still vital, and we have suggestions for making sure your lingual braces are free from food particles and plaque.

  • Time

Lingual braces can require a slightly longer treatment schedule. We can let you know the approximate treatment times for whatever orthodontic plans you are considering.

  • Cost

Because lingual braces are customized to fit you, they can be somewhat pricier than other options.

We have the special training and skill needed to provide you with lingual braces if that is the option that you choose. We also have suggestions for adjusting to your lingual braces comfortably and making them work for you. Talk to Dr. Andrew Nalin at our Mount Vernon, WA office about all the possibilities for straightening your teeth, including any potential concerns or advantages each treatment method presents. If you would prefer that your braces be almost unnoticeable, that advantage might be the deciding factor in making lingual braces the ideal choice for you.