It’s important to ensure that you are brushing your teeth properly at least twice a day as this is the only way to remove food particles. This lowers the risk of tooth decay and staining, which is often not visible until your braces are removed and it’s too late. Maintaining good oral hygiene during the period that you have braces for, is crucial for the process to be effective.
1. Not Brushing Multiple times throughout the Day
If you’re only brushing your teeth once per day, that’s not enough. You should be brushing your teeth at least twice a day, preferably after each meal if possible. However, we know that it can sometimes be tricky to brush your teeth after lunch if you’re out and about. This is where it helps to carry a toothbrush with you. If not, at least rinse your mouth thoroughly after a meal and ensure that you are brushing properly in the morning and evening.
2. Not Updating your Technique for Braces
It takes some adjusting, but brushing your teeth with braces is a different technique to when you don’t have braces. It’s no longer just your teeth and gums that need caring for, but the brackets and wires also need to be cleaned.
To brush your teeth thoroughly, the best practice is to hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle under the bracket to brush. Next, hold the brush flat on the face of the bracket to brush and then at a 45 degree agree above the bracket to brush. Give every bracket and every tooth your attention to ensure they’re clean and healthy.
3. Skipping flossing
Always remember to floss. A toothbrush can’t get in between the teeth, where small food particles can sit and harden into plaque. Flossing gets into these tricky to reach spaces and cleans them thoroughly. Be sure to floss properly and get in between every tooth!
4. Not brushing long enough
The standard time for brushing your teeth without braces is at least 2 minutes, this should be longer with braces as you have more elements to clean. If you find that you aren’t sure how long you’re brushing your teeth for, set a timer! You might be surprised at how quick 2 minutes goes for. Alternatively, investing in an electric toothbrush is an easy way to ensure that you are brushing your teeth for the appropriate time.
5. Using the Wrong Toothpaste
We recommend using fluoride toothpaste or gel to brush your teeth. Avoid using whitening or charcoal toothpaste, especially when you have braces on. These can cause more harm than good, especially if it’s a cheap alternative! You should also avoid using toothpaste on your retainer, as this can damage the plastic.
6. Not Replacing Your Toothbrush Often Enough
You should replace your toothbrush once it starts showing signs of wear, or every 3 months, whichever comes first. Worn-out toothbrushes aren’t as effective as an intact toothbrush, so replacing it regularly ensures that your teeth are getting the proper clean that they need. Once you have braces, you’ll most likely find that you wear through your toothbrushes more often due to the brackets and wires. Simply rinsing off your toothbrush isn’t enough to remove bacteria that builds up, so replacing your toothbrush means you aren’t using a toothbrush full of bacteria.
The holiday season is just around the corner, so it’s time to start thinking about how you’ll stay on top of your oral care.
1- Book your end of year appointment NOW
The year is almost done and our holiday appointments are filling up quickly, so get in touch today to book your end of year appointment. It’s good to get in before Christmas and New Years to make sure your teeth are on the right track. If you have braces it’s good to make sure that the wires and brackets are still strong and won’t easily pop out over the break. There’s nothing worse than enjoying a big Christmas lunch and having a wire pop out!
2- Get a kit prepared
When you come in for your appointment, we’ll make sure you have all the essentials ready for the holidays- whether it’s your next Invisalign retainer or extra dental wax. You should have a travel kit with all the tools you need to stay on track to a beautiful smile.
3- Be prepared
Making sure you pack all the right things can be overwhelming- from PJs to a phone charger, you don’t want to get to your destination to find out you left something behind! When it comes to packing, many of us make lists to avoid this. So here is our braces and Invisalign packing list:
- Pain relief
- Invisalign tray
- Dental wax
You’ll have picked up some good dental habits throughout your tooth straightening journey and it can be easy to fall out of these habits when the rest of your daily routine is paused for the break. Be sure to bring your habits wherever you go! You don’t want to get a toothache or broken bracket because you stopped looking after your teeth. Keep up the flossing, brushing and avoid sticky or hard foods (as hard as that might be!)
5- Prepare for the unexpected
You should always be prepared for the unexpected to happen, especially with braces over the holidays. A wire could pop out or you could get an unexpected ulcer. This is why we recommend that you take dental wax and some form of pain relief wherever you go.
Tony Weir will be available for emergency appointments should you require it.
Before during and after your braces are placed, we will take you through the process and ensure that you are prepared. Braces can be uncomfortable during the first week or so, so we want to help you as much as we can to ensure that this discomfort isn’t unbearable.
If you get to a point where the discomfort is painful, don’t be afraid to say something, we can often provide you with a simple solution.
During your appointment, we will ensure that everything is correctly in place, including the wires. We will also take you through the aftercare process one more time, so you are prepared to care for your braces. We will make sure you have all the products you might need, including wax, cleaning aids and elastics should they be part of your treatment.
Use Pain Medication
The process of getting your teeth looking their best is inevitably uncomfortable. Your teeth and gums aren’t going to be familiar with the pressure that will be applied by the wires. It won’t last too long though, once your mouth adjusts, the pain will subside. To ease this, try some pain medication – paracetamol or ibuprofen are fine.
Avoid Hot and Cold Foods
Due to the pressure put on your gums, your mouth will most likely be experiencing increased blood flow, which can cause high sensitivity to hot and cold foods. If this is the case, it’s best to stick to foods and drinks that are about room temperature.
Eat Soft Foods
Again, your mouth is going to be more sensitive during the first week or so of having braces, which can make eating more difficult. This might mean you have to stick to soft foods. Opt for pasta, seedless bread, soft veggies, soups, yoghurts and ice creams. Now is a good time to treat yourself a little (but nothing too sugary!).
Get a Soft Bristle Toothbrush
You should always be using a soft toothbrush as hard bristles can cause more harm than good! This is particularly true for the first week of having braces, with heightened sensitivity, brushing is going to be an uncomfortable process, but please remember how important it is to brush regularly! This is why we recommend using a very gentle, soft toothbrush during this time.
We will provide you with some wax when you leave your appointment. The wax is designed to ease the rubbing of the brackets against the inside of your cheeks. Whilst brackets today are designed to be gentle on the skin, it’s a different texture to what your cheeks are used to, so it’s possible that rubbing is going to occur along with discomfort. Over time, this will ease, so in the meantime, the wax is a good solution.
Rinse your mouth with saltwater
Saltwater can help if you are struggling with significant pain from irritation. Rinse your mouth a few times a day for about 30 seconds with warm, salty water. This can help quicken the healing process and relieve some of the pain.
Always practice good oral hygiene
Finally, it’s important to always follow good oral hygiene practices, which will stop any bacteria build-up. We also have people worried about food getting stuck between their brackets, this can be prevented with a quick clean after each meal.
If you are concerned about the discomfort that braces can present, don’t be afraid to ask us about how to best manage the pain. It’s often easily managed and eases quickly.
What is a gummy smile?
A gummy smile is when too much gum is shown when you smile. Commonly, a smile is considered ‘gummy’ when more than 3-4 millimetres of gum tissue is exposed. Gummy smiles are common, and it depends on the person whether the smile needs to be fixed.
What causes a gummy smile?
There are a few causes of a gummy smile, most of which are genetic.
– Short upper lip
– Small or short teeth. Your teeth may be small after not growing correctly and still being covered by some of the gum tissue
– Hyperactive upper lip. This occurs when the upper lip muscles contract too much, revealing more of your gums as the upper lip rises
– Skeletal issue. The upper jaw may be too large or protrude too far out, making the gums appear more prominent than they are.
– Gingival Hypertrophy. An overgrowth of gum tissue around the teeth
How big of a problem is it?
Whilst a gummy smile is not a medical issue, it can damage your confidence. Whether it is significant or not, choosing to fix your gummy smile is a personal decision. Consulting with an orthodontist is a great way to get an insight into how to proceed in getting your gummy smile fixed.
How can braces/Invisalign help?
Braces and Invisalign can help improve your smile, not only through straightening, but can also improve your gummy smile. If you have a gummy smile due to the position of your teeth or jaw, braces or Invisalign can help. Jaw alignment can affect how much of your gums are shown, so fixing this with braces or Invisalign can reduce the amount of gum that you see.
At Tony Weir Orthodontics we pride ourselves in giving our clients beautiful smiles for life, so even if your gummy smile can’t be fixed through orthodontics, we can provide you with some alternate solutions.
If you’re looking for a beautifully straight smile without the appearance of braces, Invisalign may be the solution for you. Known as the clear alternative to braces, Invisalign are perfect for people of all ages and all occupations. During this time of uncertainty, Invisalign are a great option for your teeth straightening journey as they are much easier to maintain safely from home. Whilst they require fewer appointments than traditional braces, it’s important that you care for them properly. Without proper cleaning and care, you could damage the aligners or get an infection, so we will take you through the care process when you visit us for your consultation and fitting, but we have also listed some care instructions for you.
You should be cleaning your aligners and tray every morning and evening. Bacteria builds up and without a thorough clean, this can become problematic. Not only will this ensure your aligners last longer, but it’s also crucial for your oral hygiene.
You will find that you have to remove your aligners multiple times throughout the day, we recommend you rinse them each time. This will remove any plaque and dried saliva. Sometimes you may need to give them a gentle scrub throughout the day, so it helps to always carry what you need wherever you go- a small, soft-bristled toothbrush and some clear anti-bacterial soap will do the trick!
Don’t forget your general dental hygiene! As usual, it’s important to brush and floss twice a day before you put the aligners back on. It’s important to do this as food particles can get stuck against the aligner and cause problems down the track.
If you aren’t wearing your aligners, they should be stored in their case. If they are out in the open they are more exposed to germs. This also puts them at risk of getting a build-up of bacteria, putting you at risk of getting an infection. It’s also important to store them properly as you will be less likely to lose or break them!
Whilst travelling may be limited at the moment, you should always be prepared for any long trips. Make sure you pack what you need to ensure your Invisalign are properly cared for while you’re away. If you are expecting to be away when you should be switching to the next set, be sure to pack these too, this will mean you can smoothly continue the process even while you’re away.
One of the most important things to remember when it comes to Invisalign is that they need to be removed when eating or drinking, not only can you risk damaging them, but food can get stuck in between your teeth and the aligners. The only drink you can have with Invisalign on is water. You risk staining them when consuming other drinks, especially those high in sugar.
Not only do food and drinks cause staining, but scented or coloured toothpaste can discolour the aligners too. So it’s best to avoid these when it comes to cleaning your aligners and trays.
The best at-home cleaning methods are those that provide a thorough clean and minimise the risk of infection. You may automatically assume that hot water will do the trick, however, Invisalign will warp under heat, so only use warm water along with the following methods:
-Antibacterial Soap: Soak the aligners in warm water and soap and gently scrub with a soft toothbrush. Rinse thoroughly.
-Mouthwash: We recommend avoiding the coloured options, but a whitening mouthwash will do the trick. Again, brush and rinse well.
-Vinegar: Create a solution of equal parts of water and vinegar for the aligners to soak in. Brush and rinse thoroughly afterwards.
By properly caring for your Invisalign you can minimise the number of appointments you need to attend, which we understand people are wanting to avoid during this time. We are able to discuss any issues you may experience over the phone, from here we can decide whether you require a face-to-face appointment.
With the dental world ever-changing, it was only a matter of time before at-home solutions made an appearance. Whilst this may be appealing as a cost-effective and quick solution, there are a few aspects of at-home kits that can cause more problems.
Home straightening kits are not monitored by a professional, which is a crucial element of any orthodontic process. When you go to an orthodontist, you are meeting an experienced orthodontist who will analyse your teeth and guide you through the entire process. However, the at-home kits require you to go through the process yourself, which may seem ideal, especially if you are unable to visit a dentist regularly, but this means you have to prepare the initial mould yourself. This is the very first step and it can determine how successful your treatment will be. If the mould is incorrect it can actually cause more harm than good, affecting more than just your teeth.
An orthodontist conducts x-rays and thorough examinations to establish how your orthodontic journey will progress and if your jaw and joints need attention as well. These are the details that are important but can be missed when you go through a DIY option. By only addressing the surface level, aesthetic problems with your teeth, you skim over deeper problems.
Some home kits offer six-month plans, whilst this may seem ideal, this is due to the appliance only fixing the superficial problems. This means that your teeth aren’t receiving post-treatment care and they will quickly shift back to their original positions. As mentioned, the deeper issues aren’t addressed, this can include bite problems and jaw misalignment. When we commence your treatment, we establish what needs to be fixed and monitor the progress of each problem area. This allows us to make any changes that may need to be made throughout the process, unlike the home kits, which have a set timeline.
At the end of your treatment, we will continue to see you and ensure that your teeth are still looking great. We provide both a fixed and temporary retainer, which will ensure that even though your braces or Invisalign are done. These all contribute to creating a beautiful and long-lasting smile.
Invisalign may seem very similar, if not the same, as the products available for at-home treatment, however, when applied by an orthodontist, resin dots are involved in the process. The dots allow the Invisalign to do the job properly.
Every person is different, so no orthodontic treatment is the same. DIY kits don’t allow for customisation, so it’s almost impossible to guarantee that everyone will have success with the delivered products.
If you feel that a home kit might suit you, we highly recommend that you conduct research before you sign up. The low costs may seem tempting, but if you get to the end and it hasn’t worked for you, the process for fixing any damage could prove to be a costly venture. If you are unsure about what treatment will suit you the most, get in touch with our team, we can help you understand the process more thoroughly.
We understand that a trip to the orthodontist can be overwhelming, so once we start discussing the more complicated aspects of your appointment it can be a lot to process. We’ve broken down some of the common terms that you might hear during your appointment.
When we need to ensure that gaps are closed, we can use C-chains. These sit on the brackets and apply a stronger force than wires and brackets alone. So when we want to speed up the process whilst ensuring that your teeth align properly, we place C-chains on.
Archwires are a significant component of your braces, they connect the brackets and bands and align your teeth. They can be flexible and allow us to control how your teeth align. We bend them and shape them to move your teeth to the desired positions
An expander can create more space in the mouth for those who have a narrow upper jaw. This is often a process that we go through with young children, correcting the issue before it becomes a significant problem. The expander is a custom–made appliance that is fitted to the roof of the mouth. Expanders can also improve crossbites, overcrowding and may even reduce the need for jaw surgery.
Patients may often need some extra assistance to help fix a bite or close gaps. Elastics connect to the brackets and can go between the upper and lower jaws. Each patient is different, so how you may wear your elastics will depend on your teeth and braces journey.
Retainers (fixed or removable)
Even after your braces journey, your teeth will need reinforcing. This is assisted with retainers. Retainers may be worn for the rest of your life to ensure that your teeth remain beautiful and straight, because no matter how long you had braces for, your teeth will eventually shift back towards their original position. Retainers can be fixed or removable. Fixed retainers are wires that get placed behind your teeth – usually on the bottom teeth, but often on the upper front teeth also. Removable retainers (plates or thin clear “mouthguards”) should be worn as much as possible for as long as possible. These are customized to suit your mouth and teeth.
Separators may be applied before braces are applied. They are small elastics placed between the back teeth to slightly separate the teeth to create space for metal bands to be placed around the molar teeth to anchor the braces.
Staining can occur whether you have braces or not, and often comes down to diet and dental hygiene. When it comes to cleaning your teeth with braces you need to ensure that you get into the trickier spaces. We can educate you on the best way to go about that. It’s also important to avoid over-consuming sugary food and drinks such as soft drink and lollies. If you don’t care for your teeth during the time that you have braces you will find that once the brackets are removed stains are left and you’ll be left with bracket shaped stains!
Just like a new pair of shoes can rub on your heel, and you put a Band-Aid on to prevent a blister, braces can be uncomfortable when you first have them applied. Wax is used to cover the brackets and protect your cheeks from getting aggravated and causing cuts or ulcers. The wax isn’t permanent and will come off with brushing and eating, so be sure to reapply.
Timing for Baby and Adult teeth
Remember that each child is an individual and may be faster or slower in their dental development than shown in this chart.
Matching teeth on either side of the mouth in the same jaw should usually fall out within 6 months of each other.
If you have concerns about slow dental development, eruption times, or if teeth appear out of sequence, consult your dental professional.
What is Oral Piercing?
Oral piercing involves a needle being passed through the tongue, lips or cheeks to create a hole for inserting jewellery such as studs, rings or barbells. Piercing is usually performed without anaesthetic
What are the complications of Oral piercing?
Complications can occur immediately after the piercing or in the longer term.
Infection can occur, especially if stringent infection control and sterilization procedures are not followed.
Swelling of the tongue can be expected after piercing. In severe cases, the swelling can obstruct the airway and cause severe breathing difficulties.
Slight bleeding is to be expected. Excessive bleeding can occur if major blood vessels are punctured during the piercing.
Pain should be expected post-piercing.
Teeth can be chipped, cracked or fractured due to being continually bumped with the jewellery, especially with barbells in the tongue. Microscopic cracks in the teeth caused by piercing jewellery are extremely painful. These cracks are difficult to treat and often result in the loss of teeth.
Gums and inside cheek tissue can experience trauma due to constant rubbing against the gum by the piercing jewellery, particularly with lip (‘la bret’) piercing.
Oral piercing can interfere with chewing and speaking. Nerve damage caused by an incorrect piercing can cause a loss of taste and/or speech impediments.
Nerve damage due to an incorrect piercing technique can cause facial numbness and/or paralysis.
There is a risk of infection due to foreign debris and bacteria accumulating in the pierced site.
There is a risk of contracting blood-borne diseases such as hepatitis and HIV if contaminated piercing equipment is used.
Hypersensitivity to the metals used in piercing jewellery may be experienced.
Ongoing swelling and pain may be experienced.
How can I minimize the chance of complications?
Even without complications, healing after oral piercing takes 4-6 weeks.
You can minimize the chance of complications by following these tips:
- Ensure the person performing the piercing is experienced, is aware of your oral anatomy and uses strict infection control and sterilization practices
- Gently suck on ice to reduce the risk of tongue swelling due to bleeding
- Seek immediate medical advice if excessive bleeding, swelling or pain occurs following a piercing
- If infection occurs, seek urgent medical advice
Once the piercing is in place, visit a dental professional every 6 months so the piercing and any potential damage can be monitored.
Make sure the size and position of jewellery does not damage teeth and gums. It is preferable to wear good quality plastic jewellery rather than metallic jewellery
To prevent damage to teeth and gums, remove jewellery before participating in sport and before sleeping.
While mouth rinses should not be considered substitutes for regular toothbrushing and flossing, they can be useful for a number of different purposes depending on their ingredients.
Mouth rinses are unable to penetrate existing plaque, making them ineffective below the gums. A mouth rinse is also unable to reach between the teeth.
A dental professional may recommend a specific mouth rinse for a specific oral problem. Dental professionals may also recommend rinses for those who cannot brush due to physical or medical conditions.
Many mouth rinses contain high concentrations of alcohol. Individuals suffering from “dry-mouth”, pregnant women and children should not use mouth rinses containing alcohol
Types of mouth rinses:
Mouth rinses are usually classified as either cosmetic or therapeutic.
Cosmetic mouth rinses: These are commercial over-the-counter products that help remove oral debris before or after brushing, temporarily suppress bad breath, diminish bacteria in the mouth and refresh the mouth with a pleasant taste. At the very least they are effective oral antiseptics that freshen the mouth and alleviate bad breath in the short term.
Therapeutic mouth rinses: These have the same benefits as cosmetic mouth rinses but they also contain an added active ingredient that helps protect against some oral diseases.
Common mouth rinses
These include saltwater, chlorhexidine, essential oils, fluoride and antibacterial rinses.
Saltwater: Mild, warm saltwater rinses may benefit patients who have ulcers, minor throat irritation, and denture sores or braces irritations by alleviating discomfort and aiding healing. Consult a dental professional if the area continues to be irritated or sore for longer than a week.
Chlorhexidine: This is very effective in reducing bacteria found in the oral cavity. Long-term use of chlorhexidine rinses may alter perception of taste, cause brown staining on teeth and increase in the formation of calculus (tartar or scale). The use of chlorhexidine should be recommended by your dental professional and used according to their recommendations.
Essential oils: These are proven to be effective in reducing bad breath.
Fluoride: These are recommended by dental professionals to control and prevent tooth decay. Use of a fluoride mouth rinse along with a fluoride toothpaste, can provide extra protection against tooth decay. However, the use of fluoride mouth rinse is not recommended for children.
Antibacterial: These reduce the bacteria in the mouth and alter the bacterial activity in the plaque. They are particularly helpful in controlling gingivitis and minor throat infections.
Using a mouth rinse
- Brush and floss the teeth before using a mouth rinse
- Measure the recommended amount of the rinse
- Rinse or swish the liquid around your mouth for the time recommended on the packaging
- Spit liquid out of the mouth
To maximise the effects of the mouth rinse, do not rinse, eat, or smoke for thirty minutes after using it.