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Bracketology

November 2nd, 2022

Analyzing strong points, looking for potential problems, making comparisons—it’s bracketology time! Nope, not basketball (although we hear they have something similar), but a brief analysis of your orthodontic options when it comes to choosing a winning bracket.

If you’re getting braces, you’re probably already familiar with how they work—brackets are bonded to the teeth to hold an archwire, which provides gentle, controlled pressure to move the teeth into alignment. But within that basic bracket-and-wire system, there are several different bracket designs available to you at our Fargo, Wahpeton, ND orthodontic office. Let’s see what the scouting report has turned up on our final four, pointing out their distinct advantages as well as some potential mismatches.

Traditional metal brackets

Advantages:

  • Traditional braces with metal brackets are effective for more than just straightening teeth. They can be used to correct rotated teeth, differences in tooth height, and bite problems. For severe bite and alignment problems, traditional braces are most often the right choice.
  • Metal construction makes these brackets able to handle the controlled pressure needed to treat serious malocclusions.
  • Cost-effective. These are usually the least expensive option.

Potential Disadvantage:

Clear/Ceramic Brackets

Advantages:

  • Lack of visibility! Whether you go for clear brackets or brackets tinted to match your enamel, you’ll be keeping a low-profile with this choice.
  • Stronger and more stain-resistant than ever before, using the latest in ceramic, porcelain, or plastic materials.

Potential Disadvantages:

  • Not as durable. Unlike metal, these clear brackets can crack or break. If you play a contact sport, these might not be for you.
  • Some ceramic brackets are larger than other choices, so might be recommended only for the top teeth.
  • Clear or tinted brackets can be more expensive.

Self-Ligating Brackets

Advantages:

  • These brackets use a clip or trapdoor mechanism to hold your archwire without the need of bands. Ceramic options are available if you want an even more discreet appearance.
  • Can be more comfortable with less friction between wire and bracket.

Potential Disadvantages:

  • Self-ligating braces are generally more expensive.

Lingual Braces

Advantages:

  • Lingual braces use metal brackets, but they attach to the back of each tooth for almost invisible bite correction.
  • Custom-made. Lingual brackets can be designed and fabricated to fit your individual teeth perfectly.

Potential Disadvantages:

  • Trickier to clean because of their placement behind teeth.
  • Might not be suitable for a deep bite if there’s not enough clearance between top and bottom teeth.
  • Initial discomfort caused by the tongue’s contact with the braces when you speak and eat.
  • Custom-made brackets are more expensive.

So that’s a brief rundown of your bracket choices. But, unlike sports bracketology, there are no losers here! Dr. Gill can give you the pros and cons of each bracket design, so you can make an informed decision based on the kind of braces which will work best for you. With coaching like that, no matter which bracket option you choose, the final result is the same—a winning smile!

Hot Day? Three Drinks to Leave Home When You’re Packing the Cooler

October 26th, 2022

Whew! It’s a hot one! And whenever the temperature soars, you need to stay hydrated, especially when you’re outside or exercising. But all cold drinks aren’t equal when it comes to healthy hydration. Which beverages shouldn’t have a prime spot in your cooler when you’re wearing braces or aligners?

  • Soft Drinks

You’re probably not surprised to find soft drinks at the top of the list. After all, sugar is a) a big part of what makes soda so popular, and b) not a healthy choice for your teeth.

Sugar is a favorite food source for the oral bacteria that make up plaque. These bacteria convert sugar into acids, and these acids attack the surface of your tooth enamel. Over time, the minerals which keep enamel strong begin to erode, and weakened, eroded enamel is a lot more susceptible to cavities.

So, what about sugar-free drinks? Does this make soft drinks a better choice? Unfortunately, you can take the sugar out of many sodas, but you can’t take the acids out. Most soft drinks are very acidic, even without sugar, and will cause enamel erosion just like the acids created by bacteria will.

  • Fruit Drinks

Fruit juice provides us with vitamins, which is great, but it’s also full of natural sugars and acids. And blended fruit drinks and fruit punches often contain added sugars and added citric acids. Best to choose 100% fruit content and check the labels before you buy. (And you can always get refreshing fruit flavor by adding a slice of fruit to a glass of water.)

  • Sports Drinks

You might be surprised to see these on the list—after all, they promise healthy hydration while you’re working out. And hydration is healthy—but sugars and acids aren’t. Even when the label tells you there’s no added sugar, that same label will often reveal high amounts of citric acid. In fact, some sports drinks are more acidic than sodas.

We’ll make an exception, though, for thirsty people who participate in sports or activities that require a lot of physical exercise and produce a lot of sweat. When we sweat, we lose electrolytes, those ionized minerals which help regulate many vital bodily functions. Talk to Dr. Gill about which sports drinks are best for you if you need to replenish your electrolytes when working out.

So, what’s your best hydration choice on a hot day? Water! It not only hydrates you, it cleans your teeth, it helps you produce saliva, and it often contains tooth-strengthening fluoride. But if you only have sports drinks in the cooler, or if you just want to enjoy a soft drink or a bottle of juice from time to time, no need to go thirsty. We have some ways to make sure your teeth are safer, even with this tricky trio:

  • Rinse with water after you drink a sugary or acidic drink. And remember to brush when you get home.
  • Be choosy. Check labels for added sugars and acids.
  • Don’t sip your drinks all day long. Saliva actually helps neutralize acids in the mouth, but sipping acidic beverages throughout the day doesn’t give saliva a chance to work.
  • Use a straw to avoid washing your enamel in sugars and acids.

While sugar and acids are never good for your teeth, it’s especially important to reduce your exposure while you’re in braces or aligners.

  • Increased sugar means increased plaque and bacteria, which can collect around your brackets. When plaque isn’t cleaned away, bacterial acids cause mineral erosion, which shows up as white spots on your enamel. You don’t want to see a collection of white spots when those brackets come off!
  • Filling a cavity might require the (temporary) removal of part of your braces.
  • There’s a reason Dr. Gill and our team recommend that you only drink water with your aligners on. If you wear them while you drink sugary and acidic beverages, the liquid collects in your aligner tray, literally bathing your teeth in sugar and acid—and speeding up the process of erosion and decay.

You need to keep hydrated when it’s hot. When you’re packing your cooler, choose drinks that are healthy for your entire body, including your teeth and gums. Ask our Fargo, Wahpeton, ND team for the best choices in cold drinks to make sure you’re getting the hydration you need—without the sugar and acids you don’t!

Keeping It Clean—Better for Your Retainer, Better for Your Oral Health!

October 19th, 2022

Now that you’ve graduated from your braces or aligners, you might think you’re finished with orthodontic cleaning tips. Not quite yet! Your retainer needs love, too—not just because it can look or smell “less than appealing” without your help, but because it’s good for your dental health.

Removable Retainers

If you have a Hawley retainer or a clear retainer, cleaning it whenever you remove it is a great idea. Unappetizing white patches mean plaque or mineral deposits from your saliva have dried and hardened on your retainer’s surface. And if you notice an unpleasant taste or odor, it probably means that germs and bacteria have made themselves at home and are growing in and on your appliance.

You don’t want old plaque or new bacteria in your mouth! Here are some ways to keep your retainer clean and fresh:

  • After wearing it, you can clean your retainer with a toothbrush, but don’t brush too vigorously. You might scratch it. Use a soft or even extra-soft brush to clean out all the nooks and crannies, and then rinse.
  • Use cleaning products which have been recommended by Dr. Gill if your retainer needs a deeper clean. Denture cleaners, retainer cleaners, and even toothpastes can be too abrasive or cause discoloration, so use the products made for your specific retainer.
  • Let your retainer dry before storing it in a dry place after cleaning. Shutting a damp retainer into a closed case provides bacteria with the damp, dark environment they thrive in. (PS—clean your case regularly, too!)
  • One of the benefits of a clear retainer is that it’s almost invisible. And you can help keep it that way by removing it whenever you eat or drink. Your retainer can become stained from colored foods or liquids.

Fixed Retainers

A permanent retainer is a small piece of wire that is custom-fit and bonded to the inside of selected teeth to keep them from shifting. Because food particles and plaque can accumulate around a fixed retainer, brushing after meals and at least twice a day is recommended. Bacteria and plaque cause bad breath, cavities, and tartar buildup, and removing tartar might require removing your retainer.

While a fixed retainer can be tricky to clean, there are techniques and products that make cleaning easier and more effective:

  • An orthodontic toothbrush with a smaller head might reach behind your teeth more comfortably.
  • Don’t forget to floss! Using a floss threader will help you get that wriggly floss behind the retainer and between your teeth.
  • Try a water flosser. These handy devices direct a stream of water right into hard-to-reach places for more thorough cleaning.

If you’re having trouble keeping your retainer clean, our Fargo, Wahpeton, ND orthodontic team can teach you all you need to know about tools and techniques to keep your retainer—and your teeth and gums—healthy. An attractive smile is a great thing. A healthy, attractive smile is even better!

Be Prepared!

October 12th, 2022

When you’re busy at school or work, when you’re on vacation, when you’re on the road to adventure—preparation helps everything go smoothly. Especially when the unexpected happens! So, how can you be prepared for any orthodontic and dental situations which might arise? By creating these useful—and portable—travel kits.

Everyday Basics Kit

Dentists recommend brushing twice a day and flossing at least once each day for clean and healthy teeth. But after a long day at school or work with no time to head home before your date, or a garlic-heavy lunch in the cafeteria, or a dash from the classroom to after-school activities, you might feel like there’s no time like the present to give your smile a bit of a boost.

Be prepared with a small travel bag filled with these easy-to-carry basics to get you through your busy day with clean teeth, fresh breath, and a confident smile:

  • Toothbrush and case—and do make sure your case is ventilated so your brush can air dry. Bacteria love a closed, damp environment!
  • Toothpaste
  • Mini-bottle of mouthwash
  • Small mirror—to check for any lunch leftovers
  • Dental floss—to remove any lunch leftovers. Use braces-friendly dental floss if you have traditional braces.
  • Dental Wax—to cover any uncomfortable wires or brackets
  • Interproximal brushes—to remove food particles from around your braces and between your teeth
  • Extra rubber bands
  • Aligner/Retainer case—keep your aligner or retainer safe and clean while you’re eating

Flight Gear

Getting set to travel by air again after this long lay-over? Your basic kit will do the job with just a few minor additions and alterations.

  • A travel version of your manual or electric toothbrush and travel case
  • Plug adapter or voltage converter as needed for your electric brush if you’re visiting another country
  • Quart size, resealable plastic bag to hold your carry-on supplies. Toothpaste and mouthwash are included in the list of items which need to fit carry-on guidelines.
  • Travel-size toothpaste—3.4 oz (100 ml) or smaller tube size. (And an almost-empty regular size tube doesn’t count!)
  • Travel-size mouthwash—also in a 3.4 oz (100 ml) or smaller container
  • Our Fargo, Wahpeton, ND office’s phone number. In case of emergency, Dr. Gill can give you advice on how to handle any problem which might arise when you’re far from home.

Looking for Adventure?

If you’re camping in the forest, leaving for the lake, going for a road trip, or heading out on any travel adventure, you’ll be bringing the dental care basics, of course. We’d also like to recommend some items to take along in the event of a dental emergency while you’re away from home:

  • Dental mirror
  • Cotton rolls
  • Over-the-counter pain relief—including a tube of oral pain relief gel
  • Ice pack
  • Dental wax—this handy item not only protects against sharp wires, it can cover the sharp edges of a broken bracket
  • Temporary fillings—to protect your sensitive tooth if a filling or crown is lost
  • Tooth preservation kit—to protect a dislodged tooth in case it can be reimplanted. (This means seeing a dentist very quickly, usually within 30 minutes of the accident.)

And, if you’ll be mountain biking, water skiing, or enjoying any activity where there’s potential for impact, don’t forget to pack your mouthguard!

Preparation is key to eliminating a lot of stress in our daily lives, and who couldn’t use a bit of stress-relief these days? Make room in your bag, locker, desk, luggage, or backpack for some portable, lightweight dental necessities. Be prepared to share your confident, healthy smile no matter what life has in store!

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