Each year, more than seven million sports and recreation-related injuries are sustained by individuals from ages 5 to 24. The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that anyone participating in group or recreational sports activities protect their faces and mouths by wearing a mouth guard. Now, Moms for Mouth Guards is teaming up with the AAO to encourage other mothers to pledge their support for keeping their athletes safe on the field.
Currently, the AAO data suggest that over 67 percent of parents don’t make their kids wear mouth guards even though mouth guards have been proven to cut down on the seriousness of injuries players sustain. Moms for Mouth Guards hopes to spread the word to parents, coaches, and players about the long-term impact a facial or jaw injury can have on an individual. Wearing a mouth guard can cut down on trips to the emergency room and a lifetime of pain.
When selecting a mouth guard for your child, you have several store-bought options, but a custom mouth guard will provide the best protection. Your orthodontist will take molds of your child’s teeth and send those models to a dental lab so that skilled technicians can produce the individualized appliance. At the follow up visit, your doctor can check the fit of the mouth guard and explain usage as well as cleaning instructions.
Visit Dr. Fotovats Orthodontics office in Sherman Oaks to learn more about mouth guards for your braces.
It’s not unusual for a portion of your braces to become loose at some point during treatment. Whether it’s a wire or a bracket or some other piece, it is not likely to go unnoticed. Loose pieces can poke the insides of your mouth, or affect your eating or speech.
The most frequent reasons for your braces becoming loose include:
• eating foods from the restricted list that your orthodontist provided
• a poor bond between the tooth and the bracket
• bad habits like biting your fingernails or chewing ice
• mouth trauma or injury
• change in your bite
Contact your orthodontist
The first thing you should do is discuss the problem with your orthodontist’s staff. The orthodontist may be able to recommend a temporary fix until your appointment. If an injury caused the problem, get help as soon as possible so that your orthodontist can evaluate the damage.
• If a bracket or wire is poking you and causing discomfort, place a piece of orthodontic wax over the item as needed. If you don’t have any wax, try using a piece of sugarless gum instead.
• If the small rubber elastic around a bracket has come off, try to avoid disturbing the bracket or touching it with your tongue.
• If something is extremely loose, remember that there is a risk of accidentally swallowing it. See your orthodontist if you feel that this might happen.
Taking care of your teeth is important no matter what, but it’s even more crucial when you have braces. Food can get caught between braces or in the wires, increasing your risk for cavities, gum irritation, staining, and bad breath. To keep you smile healthy while wearing braces, follow these guidelines:
• Use a soft toothbrush, change your toothbrush at least every 3 months, and brush after every meal. The sooner you get rid of food trapped in your braces, the less your risk for tooth decay.
• Spend time brushing every single tooth, and make sure you brush each surface. Don’t forget the chewing surfaces and back sides of each tooth.
• Angle your toothbrush down to where the braces meet the tops of your teeth. Then angle the brush upward when you brush the bottoms of the braces and your teeth.
• Take off any removable items like rubber bands and head gear before brushing your teeth.
• Remember to bring a toothbrush and toothpaste with you so that you can brush after eating if possible, even when you’re not at home.
• Make sure you use fluoride toothpaste to provide extra protection in preventing cavities.
• Having braces doesn’t give you a free pass on flossing. Even thought it’s more time consuming, the need for flossing is just as great. If you have trouble using regular dental floss, try using floss threaders to make it easier.
• Continue with your regular dentist checkups and teeth cleanings. Your dentist will be able to get to areas you may have trouble with, and remove tartar to keep your gums and teeth healthy.
One of the tools orthodontists may use to help you achieve a perfect smile is called a palatal expander, which is an appliance that gently widens the upper jaw so that it fits properly with the lower jaw. The goal is to expand the jaw to avoid overcrowding of the teeth. Not every patient needs an expander, but if you do here are some common questions answered.
Who needs an expander?
Your orthodontist will evaluate if your jaw needs to be widened in order to get the results you desire. Expanders work best for people under age 15, because the jaw bones are still pliable and the roof of the mouth has not completely finished growing.
How does it work?
The palatal expander is made up of a screw attached to your upper teeth by bands secured around your molars. It is activated by turning the screw with a key. You will do this yourself after specific instructions from your orthodontist. The expander remains attached in your mouth until your doctor indicates it’s time to remove it.
Does it hurt?
As with many treatments for your mouth, it will take a few days to get used to the palatal expander. There may be some lisping at first, but your speech will return to normal as you get used to the device. You might feel slight pressure when the expander is activated with the key. Pain is rarely experienced, but over-the-counter pain medication usually relieves the discomfort.
How long do I have to wear the expander?
Treatment length varies among patients, but often expanders remain in place for 3-6 months. It is vital to follow your orthodontist’s instructions for activating the expander, in order to achieve the desired results within the anticipated timeframe. You will have periodic visits to your doctor to make sure the appliance is in the right place and is tight enough.
It’s not enough just to wear braces on your teeth; you have to hold up your end of the bargain. You must care for them as your orthodontist instructs, and that includes sticking to the diet guidelines. Some foods can loosen or break braces, which will probably mean you’ll have to wear the braces for a longer period of time. Follow these rules to achieve quicker treatment and a great smile.
DON’T eat hard foods
Anything hard cannot safely be chewed with braces. Avoid items like raw apples and carrots, popcorn, nuts, hard candies, crunchy chips, corn on the cob, and ice.
DON’T eat sticky or chewy foods
Braces can be pulled apart by sticky foods. Don’t eat foods like taffy, caramels, gummy candy, jelly beans, caramel apples, and peanut brittle.
DON’T eat sugary foods
Braces make it harder to keep your teeth clean, and sugar can cause cavities, tarter buildup, and stains. Eat sparingly foods like soda, fruit juices, ice cream, candy, cake, cookies, and pie. If you do eat foods high in sugar, brush your teeth immediately afterwards.
DON’T eat highly acidic foods
Items high in acid content can lead to permanent stains and tooth damage. Avoid items such as sodas (even diet ones), citrus fruits, and lemon juice.
DON’T use your front teeth to bite foods
You can loosen your brackets by biting into foods with your front teeth. Cut meat off the bone from ribs or fried chicken, use a knife to cut corn off the cob, and tear or cut pizza into bite-sized pieces.