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The Top 10 Things Your Orthodontist Wants You to Know

Each year, orthodontists help millions of patients obtain their healthiest, happiest smiles. Yet, even though so many Americans have braces, there’s still plenty that patients should learn about orthodontics. We’ve compiled a list of the top 10 things that our orthodontists want you to know about braces, treatment, and oral care

1. Braces are about more than aesthetics.

Although braces do create beautifully aligned smiles, orthodontics have a variety of non-cosmetic goals. Aligned teeth can make it easier to clean teeth properly, leading to healthier oral health. Plus, orthodontics can align your jaw position, aiding speaking, chewing, and daily life.

2. We can tell if you haven’t been wearing your retainer or Invisalign®trays.

Your smile can shift out of place over time, so if you are not wearing your retainer as instructed, your orthodontist will know. In the case of Invisalign, little blue marks on the tray will disappear with proper use, showing your orthodontist if you’ve been wearing the aligners as instructed. Don’t undo time-intensive treatment by neglecting to wear your retainer or Invisalign trays!

3. Treatment can be affordable for all.

At Hutta & Hutta Orthodontics, we work with everyone to create financing or payment plans that accommodate every family’s budget. We know how important an aligned smile is for health, confidence, and oral hygiene, so we are committed to helping people obtain this important care!

4. Even if you don’t think your child needs orthodontics, they should be checked early.

Even if your child doesn’t show any obvious signs of needing braces, the American Association of Orthodontists suggests children should have a check-up with an orthodontist when they are seven. Early treatment can help detect and prevent future dental, jaw, and oral health problems—often saving children from unnecessary tooth extractions later in life.

5. Adults get braces, too!

Orthodontists treat patients of all ages who want to improve their smiles. In fact, according to the Academy of General Dentistry, currently more than one million U.S. adults wear braces. If you are interested in improving your health and smile alignment, call us today—it’s never too late!

6. Braces have come a long way.

Though the thought of braces may conjure up images of headgear and mouths full of metal, orthodontic technology now offers discreet, comfortable, and efficient results. In addition to clear aligners like Invisalign, there are also options like tooth-colored ceramic braces and lingual braces, which are hidden from view on the inside (tongue side) of the teeth. 

7. Don’t try to fix teeth yourself.

The internet has plenty of do-it-yourself techniques that promise a beautiful smile. Yet, these often do more harm than good. Some patients have even lost teeth using DIY braces! To stay safe, always visit a board certified orthodontist who will design a treatment plan according to the needs of each individual patient—taking into account facial structure, jaw development, and oral health—to safely create a healthy smile.

8. Follow-through is necessary.

Failing to wear retainers after finishing treatment will cause teeth to drift apart, creating problems like crowding, spacing, or flaring of the teeth. Protect your investment by wearing your retainer as instructed!

9. We don’t stop until the teeth are perfect.

Orthodontists provide an estimated time frame for the length of treatment, but this may need to be adjusted in order to achieve the desired results. To avoid delays, adhere to your orthodontist’s instructions and ask for a growth study. A growth study includes things like taking X-rays of your child’s hands and referencing parents’ and siblings’ jaws to help determine future growth speed and patterns.

10. Every treatment plan is customized and unique to the patient. 

There are often clear approaches for common conditions like cross-bites, but more complicated cases may involve a variety of complex solutions—every patient’s treatment plan is unique! Be sure to discuss your options with your orthodontist, who will ensure that you achieve your best smile through customized treatment.

If you have questions about any of our treatments or services, call us today to schedule an appointment. Our friendly staff looks forward to helping you get your best smile yet!

Choosing the Right Sweets for Valentine’s Day

Conversation hearts, boxes of chocolates, or pink and red lollipops all scream Valentine’s Day. But, for patients with braces or other orthodontic work, not all of these candies are equally sweet! Rather than risking damage to your wires or brackets this holiday, treat your braces and teeth with love. We’ve compiled our top tips to help you determine which sweets are braces-friendly and which are better left uneaten.

Candies to Avoid

Candies are not all equally safe for braces. This holiday, sticky candies are very likely to damage your braces, so be sure to avoid them. Options like gum, caramel, or Jelly Belly stick to wires, brackets, or teeth, ultimately putting orthodontics at risk. Even worse, sticky candy residue and particles tend to linger on teeth longer—even after brushing—contributing to tooth decay and cavities. 

Chewy candies are also problems for your braces. Some options, like Tootsie Rolls, not only get stuck in braces, but also could possibly stain them. As often as possible, avoid candies like Twizzlers, Air Heads, or salt water taffy since all of these can cause problems with wires, bending them or causing them to shift positions while you chew.

Finally, avoid hard candies. Chewing on hard candy poses an immediate threat to your wires and braces. Even if patients resist the urge to bite down on sticky, hard candies, many options, like jawbreakers, are meant to stay in the mouth for a long period of time, allowing tooth-decaying acid more time to eat away at enamel. Therefore, options like Jolly Ranchers, rock candy, lollipops, and unfortunately, conversation hearts, not only threaten orthodontic work, but also damage tooth health, too.

Better Options for Teeth and Orthodontics

Instead of risking damage to your braces, the American Association of Orthodontists urges patients with braces to try softer foods or candy during Valentine’s Day. If you want to treat your valentine to something traditional, stick to soft chocolates—the darker the better! Hershey’s Bars, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, or Kit Kats are perfect since they are easy to brush off of teeth and braces without bending or dislodging any part of your orthodontics. If you aren’t a fan of soft chocolates, or if you want more sweet options, try ice cream, cupcakes, hot cocoa, or soft cookies. These are great candy substitutes for Valentine’s Day—as long as you remember to brush your teeth!

While these suggestions are ideal for patients with braces, even patients with removable aligners or without orthodontic work can benefit from these tips. When in doubt, soft, non-sticky, non-acidic candies are typically better for orthodontics, though, choosing to avoid excessive sugar altogether is always the sweetest for your oral hygiene! If you have any questions about caring for your braces or if you want to schedule an appointment, call us today. We can’t wait to help you get your happiest, healthiest smile yet.

Winter Braces Survival Guide

Winter is the perfect season for building snowmen, dusting off the sleds, and making holiday memories with friends and family. However, sensitive teeth and poor oral hygiene can also come alongside the winter months, leading to pain and discomfort during an otherwise cheerful season. Fortunately, there are many ways you can protect against seasonal problems and enjoy the winter wonderland while wearing orthodontics. Read on for our best tips to help you care for your smile all winter long!

Remember Your Routine

During the holidays, many of us may switch up our schedules by sleeping in, traveling, and spending more time sipping warm drinks. However, don’t neglect good dental habits just because the season is bustling with activity. Remembering to brush for two minutes twice a day, flossing daily, and consistently wearing any removable retainers or aligners will ensure that you can enjoy your healthiest smile.

Be Sensitive to Your Teeth’s Needs

The drop in temperatures and harsh winds can leave your teeth more sore or sensitive than usual. Luckily, there are several strategies you can use to combat pain. If your sensitivity is mild, breathing only through your nose when outside may be effective enough to minimize any soreness. For more intense sensitivity, consider brushing teeth with desensitizing toothpastes, which can dramatically ease discomfort and help with tooth sensitivity.

Don’t Forget Your Lips

Wind, sun, and cold temperatures can harm the delicate skin on your lips, so be sure to protect them from damage. If chapped lips bother you this season, petroleum jelly is a cost-effective option that locks in moisture. You can also combat both the cold and UV rays by wearing a daily lip balm with SPF 15 or higher. To improve your skin overall, drink plenty of water and consider installing a humidifier in your home to provide extra moisture to help keep your lips healthy this season.

Treat Yourself and Your Smile

While it may be tempting to indulge in a variety of seasonal foods during the holidays, it’s best to avoid hard and sticky foods that can damage your braces, get stuck in your teeth, and promote tooth decay. Be sure to also limit sweet drinks since they are high in acidic content, can damage your tooth enamel, and expose your teeth’s inner layers to the cold. Regardless of the weather, there are plenty of braces-friendly, holiday treats like pumpkin pie, ice cream, pudding, and sliced fruits that are sure to keep you happy and your teeth, healthy.

Winter Can Create Positive Change for Your Teeth

Don’t let the weather impact your smile’s health. Be sure to maintain daily routines of brushing and flossing while keeping up with your orthodontist appointments to get your best smile this season and beyond!

Celebrate the Holidays with Braces-Friendly Beverages

With the holidays here, it’s time to start prepping for holiday parties and gatherings. But if you’re looking for fun and braces-friendly holiday drinks, we’ve got you covered!

 Spiced Mexican Hot Chocolate

If you enjoy cinnamon-flavored, wintery drinks, then this is perfect for you! Add some marshmallows for extra sweetness.

Find the recipe here.

Gingerbread Hot Chocolate 

If you are in the holiday mood and love gingerbread, try this twist on frozen hot chocolate! 

Find the recipe here.

Pumpkin Spice Latte

This is one of the more famous drinks around the holidays. Experiment with this healthier version that uses real pumpkin puree and honey in the recipe.

 Find the recipe here.

Spiced Vanilla Pear Apple Cider

This easy-to-prepare cider recipe combines both pear and apple for a holiday favorite.

Find the recipe here.

Ginger Latte

This minimalistic recipe is perfect if you have ginger, sugar, and almond milk around the house.

Find the recipe here.

Caramel Vanilla Bean Hazelnut Milk

This holiday drink gets you in the festive spirit with its hazelnut and vanilla bean combo. Even better, it substitutes dates for sugar to make the drink sweeter. (Blending the dates makes them braces-safe!)

Find the recipe here.

Cherry Bombs

This drink is a play on the kid-favorite Shirley Temple.

Find the recipe here.

Iced Mint Protein Mocha

This sugarless recipe combines mint and coffee to make a refreshing caffeinated drink. It’s also a great pick-me-up for winter mornings.

Find the recipe here.

As always, we recommend foods and drinks with little to no sugar.  Not only are they better for your dental health, but minimizing your sugar intake is better for the rest of your body, too. These drinks are some fun ideas to get you started with your holiday planning, but there’s one more thing to remember: keep up with your regular dental hygiene to ensure you maintain that sparkling smile!

All About TMJ for National TMJ Awareness Month

If you experience throbbing headaches, pain and tenderness in your jaw, or have difficulty chewing, you may be one of the millions of Americans who suffer from a TMJ disorder. This November is TMJ Awareness Month, and we’re breaking down the causes, symptoms, and treatments of TMJ disorders so you can learn the most effective ways to stay pain-free year -round.

What is TMJ?

Every person has two temporomandibular joints (TMJ) that rest in front of each ear. These joints allow your jaw to move in hinge and sliding motions so you can talk, chew, or swallow. When TMJ disorders strike, they can cause pain and restriction of the jaw, along with a myriad of other unpleasant side effects that can critically damage quality of life, including:

●      Difficulty opening and closing the mouth (jaw locking)

●      Tenderness and pain in the jaw

●      Pain in or around the ears

●      Migraines and tension headaches

●      Neck and shoulder pain

 Oftentimes, there are a number of factors that can contribute to painful TMJ disorders, ranging from stress, to teeth grinding, to a bad bite. Most of these factors place undue pressure on your jaw’s joints, leading to the characteristic symptoms of pain, tightness, and restricted range of motion.

Treatment Options for TMJ

Because TMJ disorders can affect your ability to speak, eat, and even sleep, managing the pain and discomfort brought on by TMJ problems can feel overwhelming. However, regardless of stage, there are a number of effective treatments for patients to try. While most TMJ disorders are resolved with conservative treatments, surgical intervention is sometimes needed to relieve discomfort and pain. Some conservative treatments include an adjusted diet, bite realignment, wearing a mouth guard, or restorative dentistry. Patients with stress-induced TMJ may find counseling and exercises to be helpful.

If patients have TMJ caused by malocclusion (an improper bite), one of the most effective treatments is orthodontics. Orthodontic treatment can correct the improper bite and ensure that the jaw functions without compensating for misaligned teeth. In many cases, orthodontics can also reduce rates of jaw clenching or teeth grinding, since misaligned teeth are more prone to these TMJ-inducing habits.

If you routinely suffer from painful TMJ disorders, take the first step toward a pain-free life by scheduling an appointment with us today. By determining the causes of your pain, we can discuss treatment options that will transform the way you feel and leave you with your happiest, healthiest smile yet.

Helpful Halloween Tips to Keep Your Teeth Healthy and Braces Safe!

Halloween is right around the corner and many Americans are eagerly awaiting the festivities, candies, and sweets that the holiday brings. While families are stockpiling their sugary treats, it’s crucial to be extra mindful of orthodontic and dental care this season to keep your teeth healthy, clean, and pearly white. In preparation for the sweet season, we’ve compiled these expert tips that will keep your smile looking its best during Halloween and beyond!

Do remember to maintain regular dental care routines.

It’s important to maintain good oral hygiene when you have braces— especially during a season known for candy consumption! Remember to brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste, replacing your toothbrush every three to four months (or sooner if you notice the bristles are fraying). Continue to floss once a day as it will help remove plaque and food particles stuck in your braces or teeth.

Don’t snack on and off throughout the day and night.

It’s best to have Halloween candy or other sugary foods around mealtime. Saliva production increases during meals, which helps maintain the pH balance in your mouth and rinse away food particles. Snacking, especially on sugary snacks, can increase your risk of cavities because there is less saliva to mitigate the bacteria or acid in the mouth.

Do choose candy carefully.

Although reducing your sugar intake is a safe way to lower your risk of developing cavities, you can still satisfy your sweet tooth without compromising your dental health or braces! Soft chocolates like Hershey Bars, Reese’s Cups and Three Musketeers make excellent choices for a healthy smile this Halloween. Just be sure to avoid chocolates that have nuts or caramel inside (Snickers…we’re looking at you!)

Don’t get into a sticky situation.

Sticky, chewy, and gummy candies are the most difficult to thoroughly remove from your mouth—plus they put your braces (specifically wires and brackets) at risk. These candies additionally stick to the grooves of teeth and increase risk of tooth decay, making them the worst candy for both your oral health and orthodontic treatment.

Do treat yourself to sweet options beyond the candy bag.

While candy is certainly in abundance during the Halloween season, encourage your family and friends to enjoy more braces-friendly treats like fruit, milkshakes, or cookies since they tend to stick to braces and teeth less than candy.

Don’t forget to drink water.

Water is a dental superhero, loosening food that gets stuck in braces and washing it away. Fluoridated water can even help prevent tooth decay, so be sure to stay hydrated for better oral health.

By establishing healthy braces habits this season and beyond, you can enjoy your healthiest and happiest smile yet. If you have any questions about orthodontic care or want to schedule an appointment, call us today. From all of us, we wish you a happy and safe Halloween!

Meet a Smile Icon: The Tooth Fairy

For many families, a lost baby tooth means a visit from the Tooth Fairy and the exchange of money for the pearly white. But have you ever wondered how the friendly, businesslike fairy came to be? While tales of Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny have long been traced back by historians and folklorists, the Tooth Fairy’s beginnings remained a mystery until the 1990s, when folklorists Rosemary Wells and Tad Tuleja released their research on her origins.

 As it turns out, the Tooth Fairy is a recent addition to the mythological world. She first appeared in print as part of an eight-page playlet for children by Esther Watkins Arnold in 1927. Oral traditions date her to around the turn of the 20th century, but rituals for tooth loss date back much further than that. Many cultures, both ancient and modern, have traditions for disposing of teeth. Some of these involve burning the tooth, burying it in a hole or a wall, or even swallowing it.

The loss of a baby tooth tends to be the first of many rites of passages in a child’s life, and the Tooth Fairy serves as a source of comfort during an experience that can be scary. Not by accident, the Tooth Fairy ritual reflects the three stages of a rite of passage: separation (when the child loses a tooth and leaves it under the pillow), transition (when the child falls asleep), and incorporation (when the child wakes up to find money). In “Flights of Fancy, Leaps of Faith,” anthropologist Cindy Dell Clark explains that the monetary reward is an American invention meant to help children pass into the world of adulthood, where cash is a symbol of responsibility and independence.

In countries around the world, children leave their lost teeth out at bedtime to be exchanged for money or some other gift by a mythical creature. For French children, this creature is a mouse called La Petite Souris, and in several Spanish-speaking nations, it’s Ratóncito Pérez. The Tooth Fairy is thought to be an American combination of two mythical figures: the mouse that exchanges teeth for cash and the “good fairy,” a traditional European figure who gained traction in the U.S. in the 1950s thanks to Disney’s Tinkerbell and Cinderella. Pop culture helped the Tooth Fairy become a household name, and she’s been a beloved icon ever since.

Braces-Friendly After School Snacks

As the school year starts back up again, parents are faced with a new challenge: finding after-school snacks that will get kids through the afternoon until dinnertime (and be safe for their braces, too). To make your search a bit easier, here are some braces-friendly snack ideas to get you started.

Cheese and apple slices

Cheese is high in the minerals calcium and phosphorus, both of which promote strong tooth enamel. Apple slices are high in fiber, making this snack balanced with protein and fiber. We advise patients to avoid whole apples to protect braces, but cutting up these fresh fruits makes them braces-friendly.

Peanut butter on whole wheat toast

Peanut butter provides protein (go for the smooth variety to make it less likely to get stuck in braces), while whole grains give this snack fiber to satisfy cravings and keep students full between meals.

Cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes, and ranch or Greek yogurt dip

The dip will make the healthy veggies more appealing to younger taste buds, while the bite-sized veggies give this option a satisfying crunch.

Cottage cheese, blueberries, and strawberries

Cottage cheese has a high density of protein, and fruits like berries are sweet, fibrous, and refreshing.

Banana and string cheese

A banana is soft enough to enjoy with braces, and it contains many important nutrients like potassium, magnesium, and Vitamin C. You can make it even easier on new or recently adjusted braces by cutting a whole banana into slices. The string cheese finishes off this balanced snack with protein and calcium, which can help strengthen enamel and provide an added boost of energy.

 Cooked sweet potato cubes with cinnamon

Sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamins and minerals like iron, Vitamin D, and beta carotene. With cinnamon or a different sweet seasoning of your choice, they can be made into a delicious, secretly healthy, and braces-safe treat!

Enjoy Fourth of July Barbecues While Caring for Your Smile

Happy Fourth of July from all of us at Hutta & Hutta Orthodontics! For some people, July 4th is synonymous with parades and concerts, while for others, it is all about the backyard barbecues. It’s been estimated that about 74 million Americans grill out every Fourth of July. No matter what your final destination is for the 4th, for most of us, food will be a highlight along the way.

We’ve compiled a few ways to keep your smile bright and braces safe this barbecue season. Read on for key tips to avoid unnecessary dental treatment down the road.

1.     Avoid hard foods

This includes common barbecue snacks and appetizers like pretzels, potato chips, and hard candies. Pretzels and chips are filled with starch, which tends to get trapped in your teeth. If you choose to indulge in snacks like these, be sure to floss afterward to remove any extra plaque-causing food particles. Hard candy, on the other hand, is full of sugar and can also lead to broken or chipped teeth or broken brackets.

2.     Don’t chew ice

Chances are, you’ve crunched on an ice cube or two on occasion. Unfortunately, this hard-to-resist habit can cause dental damage including cracked and chipped teeth, damage to tooth enamel, problems with existing dental work such as fillings and braces, and sore jaw muscles. The impact of chewing ice can make teeth more prone to cavities and create sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures, so we recommend avoiding this crunchy temptation as much as possible.

3.     Don’t open beer, soda, or water bottles with your teeth

When the bottle opener goes missing, people may resort to some unsafe methods that often involve their teeth. Beer bottle tooth injuries make up a large percentage of barbecue-related dental issues.

4.     Practice grill safety

If you clean your barbecue grill with a wire bristle brush, make sure no bristles get left behind, or they might end up in your food and cause serious problems. Most of the injuries from consuming these small bristles—yes, this does actually happen—are to the throat, tongue, mouth, palate, and teeth. As a result, it’s best to inspect grilled food before serving it or find alternative cleaning methods like nylon bristle brushes, stainless steel grid scrapers, or pumice stones.

5.     Drink plenty of water

One of the best—and easiest—ways to care for your teeth at cookouts is to alternate drinks like beer and soda with water. This will help keep your teeth clean and the pH level in your mouth normal.

No matter how your family chooses to celebrate the Fourth of July, we hope you enjoy it, stay safe, and brush your teeth as soon as you get home!

Cool Off with Braces-Safe Smoothies

Now that summer is here, it’s time to relax and enjoy the outdoors! As temperatures rise, it’s natural to reach for drinks to cool you off. Smoothies are also a great option after starting orthodontic treatment or after a routine visit. For a few days after an adjustment, the tightening of wires may cause some discomfort, so smoothies are a convenient choice for relief.

With these recipes, you can satisfy your craving for something sweet and refreshing without worrying about damaging your braces!

Simple Summer Smoothie by Allrecipes.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 cup frozen cherries
  • 4 ice cubes
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • ¾ cup vanilla yogurt
  • ½ teaspoon honey (optional)

Directions:

Place the banana, strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and ice cubes into a blender. Pour in the orange juice, vanilla yogurt, and honey. Puree until smooth.

Tropical Blueberry Smoothie by Martha Stewart

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons sugar (optional)
  • 1 cup chopped pineapple
  • 1 ½ cups frozen blueberries
  • 1 orange, cut into quarters, peeled and seeded
  • ½ – ¾ cups water

Directions:

Blend!

Pina-Colada Green Smoothie by Cleanfoodcrush.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh pineapple chunks
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup (or more) fresh baby spinach
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • ¼ cup ice cubes, optional
  • 2 teaspoons raw honey, optional

Directions:

Blend!

Chocolate Banana Smoothie by Tasteofhome.com

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cold 2% milk
  • 1 package (1.4 ounces) sugar-free instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large ripe frozen bananas, sliced
  • 2 cups crushed ice cubes

Directions:

Place all ingredients except for the ice in a high-speed blender and puree for 30-45 seconds. Add ice and puree until smooth, about 45 additional seconds.