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Five Ways You Won’t—And One Way You Will—Get Your Braces Off Faster

November 2nd, 2022

It’s only natural when you’re waiting for something good—you count down the weeks until your birthday, or until the summer holidays, or until your braces come off. But while your birthday and your vacation won’t come any faster no matter what you do, you can help determine just how fast that happy day arrives when you’re done with your orthodontic treatment.

When you first got your appliance, Dr. Jeffrey Ball gave you an estimate of how long your treatment would take. Of course, that estimate is based on everything going according to plan. What are some detours that can delay your progress?

  • Missing Appointments

With every adjustment at our Clear Lake or League City office, you are moving closer to the ideal positioning for your teeth. If you miss or postpone appointments, it can take just that much longer to complete your orthodontic work.

  • Eating the Wrong Foods

You have a list of foods that are on the do-not-eat list. Hard, chewy, sticky bites are famous braces-breakers, but don’t forget that size also matters! Biting into a juicy apple or a buttery ear of corn can damage your brackets and wires just as much as chewy candy can. Be sure everything you eat is size-appropriate and braces-friendly. Obviously, damaged braces can’t straighten teeth as effectively as intact appliances!

  • Sticking with Bad Habits

Pressure from nail biting, chewing pencils, or crunching on ice can cause chips and cracks in your teeth, so just think what they can do to your appliance. Ask us for tips for quitting if you’ve picked up any of these habits. We know habits can be hard to break, but they are harder on your teeth and braces. If you bend or break a wire or loosen a bracket, you might be delaying your orthodontic progress. Which leads us to . . .

  • Ignoring Appliance Accidents

Accidents happen. Brackets or metal bands can become loose; wires can bend or break; spacers can fall out. If you notice a problem, call our office right away. Sometimes a minor problem can wait, but if your appliance is damaged, your teeth aren’t moving into position on schedule.

  • Blowing Off Bands

If you have bands to help correct your bite, be sure that you wear them as directed. If you skip hours or days of band-wear, you are adding to the time it will take to correct the bite problems they are meant to fix. And don’t double band to speed things up—that might put too much pressure on your teeth. Just follow our recommendations, and you will be done with those bands—and those braces—as soon as possible.

But, wait! We promised you one sure way to keep your orthodontic progress on track:

  • Follow Your Treatment Plan

If you keep your appointments, take care of your braces, call us promptly if they are damaged, and wear your appliance as directed, you will be doing your part to keep your treatment on track. And that happy day when your braces come off? It will arrive right on schedule!

Just Add Water

October 26th, 2022

One of the many benefits of your clear aligners is that you can remove them to eat. You should brush after every meal, just like you would with traditional braces, but cleaning your teeth is much easier without having to work around and between brackets and wires.

But when you wear your aligners 22 hours a day, you might be tempted to leave them in when you’re just having a sip of something when you’re thirsty. Unless you’re drinking water, please don’t.

What’s the problem with a can of cola or a cup of coffee?

  • Staining

The virtue of your clear aligners is that they are, well, clear! Probably one of the reasons you decided on this method of treatment was because you liked the idea of an inconspicuous appliance.  Unfortunately, dark beverages such as colas, coffee, tea, and red wine can stain your aligner, making it more visible.

  • Warping

Very hot beverages might actually affect the shape of your aligners. Since they are formed using heat, it makes sense that heat can also de-form them. If hot teas and coffee drinks cause a change in the shape of your aligners, they will not move your teeth the way they were meant to.

  • Affecting Tooth Health

Even though our enamel is very strong, sugary and acidic drinks can damage it. Acidic foods can erode enamel, and the sugars in our diet provide food for cavity-causing bacteria, which then produce acids that erode enamel.

Normally, saliva provides some protection from acids and sugars by diluting them and washing them away from the teeth. When you drink a cola or an orange juice with your aligners on, some of the liquid will get in them, and can stay in them until the aligners are removed. You will actually give these problem beverages the opportunity to bathe your teeth in sugar and acid over a longer period of time, without exposure to saliva to help offset potential harm. And after all your work to create a beautiful smile, you certainly don’t want new cavities!

How to protect your aligners and keep them their cleanest—and most invisible?

  • Take your aligners out before drinking beverages that can stain them, or, if you can’t, try using a straw. Clean your aligners according to Dr. Jeffrey Ball and our team’s instructions to keep them as clear as possible.
  • Don’t drink very hot beverages with your aligners in place. Try icing your coffee and tea if you can’t remove your aligners. And if you think your aligners have changed shape, please give us a call.
  • Drink water! Water hydrates you, doesn’t damage enamel, and keeps your aligners clean. Tap water is your best option, as even bottled waters can be acidic.

If your aligners should become stained, remember that you change them frequently, so the staining can be a temporary problem. If you do have a drink of something hot and your aligners feel “off,” give our Clear Lake or League City office a call. We’ll let you know if you need to replace them.

But prevention is always best! Avoid staining from the start by removing your aligners before you drink dark beverages. Don’t expose your aligners to heat. Think about replacing unhealthy drinks with water. And certainly brush right away, or rinse with water if that’s not possible, if you drink a sugary or acidic beverage. These simple precautions will help keep your aligners, and, most important, your teeth, looking their best.

Overbite or Overjet?

October 19th, 2022

The words “overbite” and “overjet” certainly sound similar. Both conditions concern your front teeth. Both conditions fall under the same category of bite problems—Class II malocclusions, if you want to be technical. So it’s not surprising that they’re often used interchangeably. But while there are similarities, overbite and overjet are also distinctly different.

  • Overbite/Overjet Geometry

In a healthy bite, the front top teeth project slightly beyond, and slightly overlap, the bottom teeth. The key word here is “slightly.” With a Class II malocclusion, the upper front teeth project further beyond the lower teeth than they should.

Of course, teeth and bites are as individual as we are, so there are variations in just how and just how much the overlap occurs. In diagnosing an overbite vs. an overjet, the difference comes down to a matter of vertical vs. horizontal.

An overbite, or deep bite, occurs when the top teeth vertically overlap the bottom teeth more than they should for a healthy bite. Generally, when a person’s top teeth cover more than a quarter of the bottom teeth when biting down, or more than two to three millimeters, that person is said to have an overbite.

An overjet, commonly known as protruding or buck teeth, is the result of a horizontal overlap that is broader than normal. This causes the top teeth to project outward toward the lips more than they do in a typical bite. An overjet is usually diagnosed when the horizontal distance between the top and bottom teeth exceeds two to three millimeters.

  • Overbite/Overjet Causes

The causes for both an overbite and an overjet might be dental (caused by tooth alignment), or skeletal (caused by bone development), or a combination of both. These bite problems can run in families. They are also affected by the size and position of the jaws and the shape and position of the teeth.

Early oral habits, such as prolonged and vigorous thumb-sucking or pacifier use, can also contribute to the development of a Class II malocclusion, particularly an overjet. Consistent pressure from thump or pacifier pushes the teeth outward as they erupt, which encourages them to protrude. These oral habits can affect the shape of the palate and jaw, too.

  • Overbite/Overjet Treatments

There are many types of treatment available to correct teeth and bite misalignments. Dr. Jeffrey Ball will tailor your treatment to your specific malocclusion for the best orthodontic outcome.

If you have a mild malocclusion, and minor dental issues are the main cause of that malocclusion, either braces or clear aligners can be effective for an overjet or an overbite. Elastics (rubber bands) are often used as part of this treatment.

If the malocclusion is due to bite problems caused by uneven upper and lower jaw development, devices called functional appliances can be used with braces to help guide the growth of the jawbones while young patients’ bones are still forming. These include appliances that work inside the mouth to help the upper and lower jaws grow proportionally, and external appliances such as headgear.

In some cases, where the malocclusion is skeletal in nature as well as dental, surgical treatment might be necessary to reshape the jawbone itself. Orthodontic treatment is usually needed as well both before and after surgery.

  • Overbite/Overjet Consequences

Over time, a deep overbite can cause damaged gum tissue, worn enamel, and fractured teeth. When teeth protrude because of an overjet, they can lead to self-consciousness and are more at risk for injury. Both malocclusions share dental and medical consequences, including concerns about facial and jaw appearance, problems speaking or chewing, headaches, and face and jaw pain.

Class II malocclusions aren’t all the same, and orthodontic patients aren’t all the same either. You may have a minor malocclusion or a significant one. You may have an overbite, or an overjet, or a combination of different bite and alignment concerns. Your malocclusion may not bother you at all, or it may cause pain, discomfort, or self-consciousness.

That’s why every overbite or overjet should be evaluated by an orthodontist. When you visit our Clear Lake or League City orthodontic office, Dr. Jeffrey Ball will be able to diagnose the exact nature of your malocclusion, the reason for it, and your best individualized treatment plan. An overbite and an overjet are different malocclusions, but you and your orthodontist want the same outcome for each: a healthy, attractive, and confident smile!

What is a palatal expander?

October 12th, 2022

If Dr. Jeffrey Ball and our team at Jeffrey W. Ball DDS have recommended a palatal expander, you might be wondering what it is and how it will help you. A palatal expander is a small appliance fitted in your mouth to create a wider space in the upper jaw. It is often used when there is a problem with overcrowding of the teeth or when the upper and lower molars don’t fit together correctly. While it is most commonly used in children, some teens and adults may also need a palatal expander.

Reasons to get a palatal expander

There are several reasons you might need to get a palatal expander:

  • Insufficient room for permanent teeth currently erupting
  • Insufficient space for permanent teeth still developing which might need extraction in the future
  • A back crossbite with a narrow upper arch
  • A front crossbite with a narrow upper arch

How long will you need the palatal expander?

On average, patients have the palatal expander for four to seven months, although this is based on the individual and the amount of correction needed. Several months are needed to allow the bone to form and move to the desired width. It is not removable and must remain in the mouth for the entire time.

Does it prevent the necessity for braces?

The palatal expander doesn’t necessarily remove the need for braces in the future, but it can in some cases. Some people only need braces because of a crossbite or overcrowding of the teeth, which a palatal expander can help correct during childhood, when teeth are just beginning to erupt. However, others may eventually need braces if, once all their permanent teeth come in, they have grown in crookedly or with additional spaces between.

If you think your child could benefit from a palatal expander, or want to learn about your own orthodontic treatment options, please feel free to contact our Clear Lake or League City office!

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