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.

Head into Spring with Bright, White Smile!

Your smile is one of the first things people notice about you, so you want to make sure to always put your best and brightest smile forward. This spring, keep your smile shining bright with just a few simple tricks and tips.

  • Maintain good oral hygiene. There are a million reasons why keeping up your oral hygiene is extremely important, especially when you have braces, but good hygiene also leads to a more beautiful smile. Always make sure you brush your teeth twice a day, and don’t skip out on flossing! Braces can make it difficult to clean your teeth and gums that are in between brackets and wires, so at your next appointment make sure we show you the most effective ways to get at these hard to reach spots.
  • Skip that extra cup of coffee or glass of red wine. Coffee, tea, red wine, and soda can all stain your teeth. In order to keep your pearly whites pearly and white, cut back on consumption of these beverages.
  • Use a straw when consuming the above beverages. Sipping through a straw allows you to consume your favorite drinks without the liquid touching your teeth. This way you can enjoy any beverage without worrying it will stain your teeth. They even make straws that are specially designed for the consumption of hot beverages.
  • Quit smoking. Besides taking an enormous toll on your health and causing severe problems like gingivitis and lung cancer, smoking cigarettes can stain your teeth brown. The more you smoke, the harder it is to remove these stains. Simply brushing is often not enough to get rid of the discoloration, so if you have stains from smoking you should consult one of our physicians on the best options to remove tobacco stains.
  • Try teeth-whitening toothpaste. Ask Dr. Hutta for his suggestions on toothpaste that thoroughly cleans your teeth and helps prevent stains and discoloration.

Whether you have just had a teeth-whitening procedure and want to maintain your results or you want to keep your gorgeous smile beautiful, these tips will help brighten your smile. The best part of working to keep your teeth white is that you will also be protecting them at the same time!

Braces-Friendly Winter Smoothie Recipe

Once you’ve had a smoothie, you’ve had them all, right? That’s what we thought until we came across Rodale’s Organic Life seasonal smoothie recipes.

This month, we’re featuring their winter smoothie because it’s braces-friendly and a sure way to get your kiddo to eat breakfast. Notice that many of these ingredients are not braces-friendly in their pre-smoothie state. That’s what we love about this recipe—your growing teen is still going to benefit from these nutrient-dense foods even with their orthodontic appliances!

Let us know what you think. If you like this one, we’ll be sure to feature the others as the year goes along.

Rodale’s Organic Life Winter Smoothie

¼ cup carrot juice*
½ cup orange juice
1 cup spinach
1 cup roughly chopped kale, ribs removed
4 small broccoli florets, sliced and frozen
1 banana, peeled, sliced, and frozen
1 apple, cored and roughly chopped

Combine ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Makes 3 cups. For more protein, consider adding a tablespoon or two of ground flaxseed or ground hemp seeds. (Make sure they’re ground to keep those little seeds out of the braces!)

*Cook the carrots before blending them for their juice, unless you have a high-powered blender (800 watts or higher).

Stay warm and healthy this winter!

Holiday Movies Guaranteed to Make You Smile

We tend to smile more around the holidays. The family gathers, delicious food finds its way to the table, and holiday movies grace our televisions. Get yourself under a warm blanket, light a fire and show off those braces as you bask in the glow of holiday movie goodness. If you’d like some suggestions, here’s our personal favorites guaranteed to make you smile.

  • Elf (2003). It’s almost impossible not to smile at Buddy the Elf. Warm, good natured humor . . . it’s perfect for adults and the kiddos.
  • White Christmas (1954). A certain member of our staff makes a ritual of watching this movie every year. The story is campy and predictable, but the songs are oh-so-memorable.
  • A Christmas Story (1983). There’s a reason they play this movie on a 24-hour loop. No matter how many times we see it, the smiles just keep coming!
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993). This is one of the rare movies that people like to watch during the Christmas and Halloween seasons. With fantastic music and a heartwarming story, it’s certainly a different take on the traditional holiday movie.
  • Miracle on 34th Street (1947). You know it’s a good holiday flick when even the hardheaded adults start to believe in Christmas magic.
  • It’s a Wonderful Life (1946). This movie is always a helpful reminder about how one life can affect so many people.
  • Christmas Vacation (1989). Sure, it’s completely unrealistic, and that’s what Christmas movies are all about! Clark’s misery brings us laughter, and that’s the best holiday medicine.

From our staff to your family . . . HAPPY HOLIDAYS!