Headgear 101

What Is Headgear?
This orthodontic solution uses special appliances that operate in and outside the mouth to guide the teeth to a desired position. There are multiple types of headgear, and each is designed to work in specific scenarios based on the patient’s needs.  The two corrective types of headgear are:
Cervical-Pull and High-Pull
The cervical-pull design  is what most people think of when they hear the term “headgear.” This U-shaped appliance is used to correct an overbite by attaching a wire to bands on the back teeth, holding the upper jaw in place while the lower jaw can move outward. To keep the design in place, a single strap is worn behind the neck. The high-pull design is similar, but it uses straps that go behind the head and wrap around the back of the neck.
Reverse-Pull or “Facemask”
This design accomplishes the reverse operation of a cervical and high pull since it corrects an underbite. This appliance pulls the upper jaw forward until it matches the position of the lower jaw. The design consists of two pads on the forehead and chin that connect to a vertical frame that uses wires or elastic pieces that attach directly to the braces.
Schedule Your Appointment
There is no right or wrong type of headgear, only what your mouth needs to achieve a beautiful, perfect smile. For the best results, it’s important to consult with your orthodontist concerning which type of headgear is necessary, how long you will need to wear the appliance, and more. If you are experiencing an under or overbite, or desire other corrections regarding your smile, contact us to schedule a consultation! At Speaks Orthodontics, we are thrilled to offer treatment [...]

5 Fun Orthodontic Facts

Our first goal is to improve your smile, but our second goal is to make it fun! There are a lot of fun facts about orthodontics and the dental industry that we enjoy, but these are 5 of our favorites:
 1. All Orthodontists are Dentists
All orthodontists are dentists, but not all dentists are orthodontists! Only about 5 or 6 percent of dentists are trained orthodontists.
 2. Around 80% of Americans have had at least one cavity by the age of 17
If you have never had a cavity, good for you! Cavities are extremely common, and if you have yet to experience one, you must be taking great care of your teeth.
 3. Retainers are equally as important as braces
Wear your retainer! You didn’t go through months or years or braces to have your teeth move right back where they were, did you? After braces, the teeth can still easily shift. Make sure to wear your retainer to keep the position of your newly straightened teeth.
 4. NASA is a part of modern braces
That’s right, NASA. NASA developed the alloy that is used to make braces. This alloy is called Nitinol and is a mixture of nickel and titanium.
 5. Straight teeth goes all the way back to ancient times
Braces may not have been designed until the 18th century, but people have had a strong desire for straight, beautiful teeth for thousands of years.

In ancient Egypt, mummies were found with cords made from animal intestines wrapped around their teeth to keep them straight. Gross, but cool!

Do you have any favorite orthodontist facts? If so, we’d love to hear them. Bring them with you to your next visit and make our [...]

Why Elastics Are Important

At Speaks Orthodontics, what your orthodontist recommends during treatment is exactly what you should follow. We put these guidelines into place to give you the smile you love as quickly and as painless as possible.

When it comes to elastics, many patients forget to wear them, lose them, take them out and don’t put them back in, or ignore the process altogether. We want to emphasize the importance of these little bands and why you should wear them.
What Are Elastics?
Elastics are small rubber bands created to assist in the alignment of the teeth and jaw. These come in different sizes and strengths, which is dependent on the width of the band and its ability to stretch.

At Speaks Orthodontics, we more than encourage you to use your elastics. These are often a crucial part of orthodontic treatment and can make that final difference towards straight, perfect teeth.
What Do Elastics Do?
Elastics work with your metal braces to gently align your teeth. Slight overbites and underbites can be fixed with elastic wear as well as small movements that the metal alone can’t fix.
How Are They Worn?
A lot of patients find it difficult to locate where elastics go in the mouth. The band will be strategically placed to hooks created on the top and bottom braces. If you are someone that needs elastics, we will be sure to show you exactly where they go and have you practice taking them on and off in our office.

For more questions about elastics and their importance, come in and see us. If you need more or are having any complications, contact us today!

What To Expect When First Getting Metal Braces

It’s important that our patients feel comfortable and know what to expect when getting braces put on. Having an idea of how the process works will reduce fear and allow room for understanding the aftermath. Here’s what to expect when getting braces at Speaks Orthodontics.
Day 1: Getting Them Put On
At Speaks Orthodontics, when we put regular, metal braces on your teeth, there will initially be no pain. You might feel a bit sore, but that’s just your mouth getting used to the new equipment and adjusting to the process. Steps include:

Drying and cleaning the teeth
Applying glue
Attaching the brackets
Adding the connecting wire
Picking a color
Any additional adjustments for comfort

Week 1: Adjusting To Your New Braces
This week can feel the weirdest as your mouth starts to get a little sore and mild discomfort comes about. This simply means your teeth are starting to move, aligning toward the end goal of a straight, beautiful smile. To ease pain and reduce discomfort:

Apply an over-the-counter anesthetic
Take over-the-counter pain relievers
Apply wax to any areas poking the mouth
Ask your orthodontist for suggestions

Week 6-8: Time To Come In For A Follow Up
After 6-8 weeks, we’ll need to see you again to make sure everything is working and moving properly. Dependent on the severity of your orthodontic treatment, we may need to see you sooner. After each appointment, you can expect some mild soreness as your mouth continues to readjust.

By this time, you’ll be used to the feel of your braces and what to expect, but if any complications arise, please feel free to contact us.

What To Do After Corrective Jaw Surgery

Corrective jaw surgery is one of the more serious orthodontic treatments we offer and can take some time to fully recover from. To ensure a happy, healthy recovery, we encourage you to follow these tips:
At The Surgical Center
Once the surgery is completed, it’s time to relax and wait for the anesthesia to wear off. Depending on the location of your surgery, you will most likely be moved to a post-operative room where you can rest, be seen by your doctor, and begin the healing process.

Most likely, you will be given medication to assist with pain and healing. Do not take anything unless a doctor or nurse has given it to you.
The First Days
The most important part of healing is rest, but you should make sure to take other precautions including:
Changing Your Diet

Stay hydrated by drinking as much water as possible
Do your best to limit sugary liquids like soda and juice
Follow the liquid diet given to you by your doctor

Keeping Your Mouth Clean

Use a soft, baby toothbrush to clean your teeth
Watch out for the incisions
Rinse your mouth with water or your doctors recommendation at least two times daily
Take your advised medications

The First Week
Some side effects of the surgery will start to show. Make sure you are doing these things to heal as fast as possible:
Reducing Swelling And Bruising

Apply a cold compress to the cheeks and jaw to reduce inflammation
Take your prescribed medication

Reduce Physical Activity

Do not work out
You can do small activities around the house but nothing strenuous

Change Your Diet Again

You should be on a full liquid diet by [...]

Why Do We Have Crooked Teeth?

As you’ll notice, most people around you have perfectly aligned teeth. Straight teeth have become a priority for many people since a smile is the focal point of our faces. This phenomenon stems from the strides the dental practice has made over the last four decades.  While dentists can fix crooked teeth, they are unable to stop warped smiles from occurring in the first place. Why is this? Because crooked teeth naturally occur from a wide variety of factors.
Do your parents have crooked teeth? If so, your teeth coming in at different angles could be associated with your genetics. Think of your teeth as you would your other facial features! You “inherit” your looks from your parents just like you inherit your teeth from your parents. In this case, there’s not much you can do to prevent crooked teeth, but the good news is that we can straighten them out at Speaks Orthodontics once the adult teeth have grown in!
When we suffer accidents in our youths, our bone structures may grow imperfectly. This fact holds true in regards to teeth and smiles. If your jaw becomes misaligned from trauma, your teeth can grow improperly, if they raise at all, and your bite will be off-center.  If you are a parent, make sure your child is wearing a mouthguard during sports to try and prevent oral complications that arise from accidents.
Bad Habits
Consistent thumb sucking, certain sippy cups, and even poorly made pacifiers can affect the way the teeth grow. Children’s mouths are softer than adults during the development process, which means repetitive habits will misaligned teeth as they mature. Try to break these habits at a young age to [...]

Brushing Techniques After Braces

Proper brushing techniques, which include brushing your inner cheeks, help ensure you effectively remove bacteria from your mouth. Too much bacteria in your mouth can lead to serious problems, such as gingivitis, which can lead to gum disease.
The Proper Brushing Techniques for Adults
Step 1: Brush At Least Two Minutes
Brushing your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste for at least two minutes helps ensure you are getting your teeth thoroughly clean. However, avoid applying too much pressure as it can scratch the enamel and damage delicate gum tissue.

To ensure you’re brushing at least two minutes, simply time yourself using a timer, which will give a feel for approximately how long it takes.
Step 2: Brush the Gum Line
While tilting the brush at a 45-degree angle, gently sweep outwardly along the gumline.
Step 3: Clean the Outer, Inner, and Chewing Surfaces of Your Teeth
Hold the brush vertically, and then use short back-and-forth strokes to gently brush the outer, inner, and chewing surfaces of each tooth.
Step 4: Brush Your Tongue
Gently brush your tongue, the area below your tongue, your cheeks, your upper and lower inner lips, and the roof of your mouth to remove harmful bacteria and sweeten your breath.
The Proper Brushing Techniques for Kids
Step 1: Use Just a Pea-Sized Amount of Toothpaste
Too much fluoride can be damaging to children’s growing teeth. Therefore, use just a smear of fluoride toothpaste on your baby’s teeth and just a pea-sized amount for children age 3 to 6.
Step 2: Brush Your Child’s Teeth
Brush your child’s teeth just as you would using the proper brushing techniques for adults. Once they are old enough, simply have them practice the proper [...]

5 Facts About Adult Braces

Braces are certainly becoming more common for adults. Now, there are multiple options for types of braces you can wear, making it easier, more convenient, and less noticeable.
1. Many Celebrities Wore Braces as Adults
If you think that braces are just for kids, remember that many celebrities have been wearing them – as adults! Stars such as Tom Cruise, Katy Perry, Whoopi Goldberg, Gwen Stefani, and Faith Hill, among others, have had them. Faye Dunaway even had them installed at the age of 61.
2. 4 Million People Are Wearing Them Now
While those who are thinking about braces tend to think they are the only ones, the truth is that there are about 4 million people in the United States wearing them right now. This is because they, or their parents, realize the benefit of getting straight and beautiful teeth. While most of this number, about 3 million, are less than 18 years old, it still means there are about 1 million adults wearing braces for better looking teeth.
3. There Are Several Styles of Braces
If you are especially concerned about wearing braces as an adult, you have some options. Of course, the most common type is the standard metal wires. Ceramic braces are made out of clear, transparent, ceramic materials. This makes them much less noticeable.
4. Braces Can Be Placed Behind the Teeth
These types of braces are called lingual braces. They work the same way as traditional braces but are placed behind the teeth. This makes it easy to hide them and few people will ever know you are wearing them.
5. Braces Can Be Invisible
A system of clear plastic aligners can be designed to fit right [...]

4 Tips For Healthy Summer Teeth

The ritual of enjoying sugary summertime treats which can wreak havoc on your family’s teeth if consumed in excess approaches with the summer months. However, the following tips can help maintain your family’s smile and keep everyone looking great!
Limit High-Sugar Snacks and Drinks
Many summer events such as fireworks, sporting events, theme parks, and backyard barbecues typically call for the indulgence of sugary snacks and drinks, which can increase your family’s sugar intake and their risk of obtaining cavities.

Instead of eating processed food at every party, try to limit sugary snacks as an occasional treat, or simply opt for low-sugar substitutes. Additionally, replace acidic sodas and juices with fluoridated water to help fortify your children’s enamel.

If you can’t resist those sugary snacks, nibble on a piece of cheese or sip some milk after you’re finished. These products will wash away food debris and coat your teeth with protein and calcium, which are known to make your enamel stronger and protect against decay.

Keeping an array of healthy snacks on hand: apples, bananas, strawberries, carrots, and celery, can also limit your intake of sugary foods. These fruits and veggies are full of vitamins and minerals necessary for building strong bones, and will protect your teeth against cavities and tooth decay.
Protect Your Kids Teeth During Summer Activities
Many summer activities such as bike riding, softball, basketball, swimming, and other summer sports pose inherent risks to your child’s teeth. In fact, many emergency dentist visits are due to summertime injuries such as slipping near the pool or getting hit in the face with a ball. These accidents can result in broken jaws or chipped teeth and will need immediate dentist work.

Overexposure to chlorine also poses [...]

What in the World is TMJ?

No wonder they call it TMJ. Who could pronounce Temporomandibular Joint Disorder anyway? To begin, let’s discuss the temporomandibular joint. This joint is like a sliding hinge and it connects the jawbone to the skull. Think about how often this joint gets used. Here are some examples:

Each time you talk
Each time you yawn
When you sing
When you chew
When you grind your teeth

Our bodies are filled with hinges and they often get used even more than the hinges on your car door or that screen door on your back porch. Still, they continue to open and close regularly with very little maintenance. When TMJ pain or inflammation occur, in a sense, that hinge needs a little maintenance just like your squeaky door.

There is one of these joints on either side of your head. Medical and dental research has failed to identify the specific cause of TMJ, and tend to contribute it to a combination of factors. These include genetics, facial injury or arthritis. For some, it may be related to the clenching and grinding of teeth. Some people do this at night during sleep, but others may subconsciously clench or grind throughout their waking hours.

The good news is that in most cases, TMJ tends to be temporary and can be relieved using non-intrusive therapies. The most common treatment is over the counter anti-inflammatory medication such as Ibuprofen. Your doctor or dentist can provide stronger medication if deemed necessary.

If you are wondering whether or not you have this condition, the best way to clarify your diagnosis is to see your dentist. Some red flags for TMJ include:

Facial pain
Aching around either jaw joint