Should You Pack Your Retainer for College?

The big adventure of college is right around the corner! In a few weeks, you’ll be moving into your dorm, meeting your roommate, and starting new classes. But before all that excitement begins, you will need to pack! It’s a daunting task to fit everything you’ll need for the upcoming semester into a small dorm room, and you might find yourself wondering, “Do I really need to pack this old retainer?”  

We are here to tell you that the answer is YES!  In fact, we recommend wearing your retainer forever.

Why is it important to wear your retainer every night?

Teeth are attached to your gums and surrounding structures through various fibers and ligaments that keep them tightly anchored in their respective places. However, during orthodontic treatment, these fibrous linkages become loose due to the forces generated by the braces or orthodontic appliances. Once treatment is completed, the teeth can rapidly shift back to their original position. Teeth have memory, and, over time, they will move unless they are stopped from doing so by wearing a retainer.

If you don’t wear your retainer on a nightly basis, your months, or even years, of orthodontic treatment may end up going to waste. Don’t give up your beautiful, straight smile just because you don’t want to seem uncool! 

How quickly will your teeth shift if you don’t wear a retainer?

Teeth can shift out of place in a matter of days, which is why it is so important to wear your retainer on a nightly basis. You certainly won’t be able to get away with only putting in your retainer when you’re home for the holidays!  

If you miss a couple of days during the hustle and bustle of back to school, it shouldn’t be an issue.  As long as you don’t miss more than a week, your retainer will probably be able to push your teeth back into proper position.  

However, if your retainer no longer fits, make an appointment to visit our office as soon as possible! The worst thing you can do is wait to come into our office until your teeth have had even more time to shift. If you haven’t been wearing your retainer, go ahead and make an appointment to come in before you head off to college.

When you’re packing up in the next few weeks, be sure to include that retainer (and supplies to keep your retainer clean)! It may seem “dorky,” but there’s nothing cooler than a straight smile. 

What to Do If You Have an Orthodontic Mishap on Vacation

No one wants to spend their vacation dealing with orthodontic discomfort! At Hutta and Hutta Orthodontics, we have some suggestions for dealing with common orthodontic mishaps when you’re out of town and can’t make it into our office. 

First, give us a call! We’re here for you even when you’re on vacation. Our office can help you troubleshoot the issue you’re experiencing and determine the best course of action.

If you can’t get in contact with the office because it’s after business hours or a holiday, here are some simple solutions to deal with the most common orthodontic problems:

  • Poking wires – It’s normal for wires to shift while your teeth are moving into new positions. It’s a great sign that the braces are doing their job, but we know that this can cause some discomfort. We recommend using wax to alleviate the pain caused by poking wires. However, if the wires are too long and are causing a significant amount of discomfort, they can be carefully clipped with nail clippers and covered with wax until you are able to come into the office. 
  • Broken brackets – This issue is typically caused by hard or chewy foods that damage the braces. If a broken bracket is causing pain, you can apply wax to the rough parts of the appliance. Alternatively, the bracket can be taken off the wire, but always make sure to keep track of the bracket and bring it in to your next orthodontic appointment! 
  • Wire slips out of place – Wires often pop out of the back brackets of braces. This is no reason to worry! If you are able, you can slip the wire back into the bracket hole with your fingers or a pair of tweezers. If the wire is causing pain, you can apply wax or clip the wire. However, if you chose to clip the wire, make sure to come by our office to get it repaired when you’re home from vacation! 
  • Missing Invisalign® tray – If you wear a clear aligner rather than braces, you should always carry your case with you and put your aligners in the case immediately whenever you remove them to eat or drink. If you accidentally lose an aligner, don’t panic! Simply put in your previous tray and get in contact with the office ASAP so that your orthodontist can order you a new set.  

If you do happen to experience ongoing orthodontic discomfort when you’re on vacation, we suggest searching online to find other orthodontic practices near you. Most orthodontists will be happy to help you in the case of an emergency situation. Then, when you’re back in town, you can schedule an appointment with your regular doctor to resolve the situation!

Retainer Hygiene Tips for Summer

Summer is just around the corner, bringing sunshine, warmer weather, and unfortunately, a greater chance of bacterial overgrowth on dental apparatus. Since bacteria thrive in warm, moist conditions and can be transmitted through food, a retainer is the perfect place for them to camp out. Luckily, with a little attention to detail and a simple routine, you can keep your retainer sparkling clean all summer. Use these five tips to make sure you’re keeping your retainer (and your mouth) in tip-top shape. 

1. Freshen up with water: Don’t have time for a full cleaning? If your retainer feels dirty while you’re out and about, try swishing some water around your mouth a few times. Staying hydrated, which is especially important in warmer weather, can help prevent bacterial overgrowth. It is also helpful in combatting a dry mouth, which has been linked to tooth decay. Remember to remove your retainer before enjoying a sugary beverage, or avoid the hassle and choose water, instead. 

2. Brush it: Use a toothbrush and a non-whitening toothpaste to gently clean the retainer, and then rinse it thoroughly before storing it or putting it in your mouth. This should be done as often as you brush your teeth. If the retainer looks cloudy, has white spots on it, carries a bad odor or taste, or hasn’t been cleaned in over a week, it’s definitely time to clean it. You’d never go a week without brushing your teeth and the same should apply to your retainer. 

3. Store it: Store your retainer in a case when you aren’t using it. If a case is unavailable, you can use a damp paper towel as a temporary solution to soak it. Retainers that are dried out are more likely to be damaged, so this ensures your retainer will last a long time and won’t break or lose its shape. Your retainer can also be soaked in denture-cleaning liquid, which can sometimes cause it to have a slight odor or taste. If this is bothersome, it can be eradicated by a quick water rinse.  

4. Alternative methods: White vinegar, Castille soap, and mouthwash are all gentle disinfectants that can be used to clean your retainer. If you are unsure which option is best for you, ask your orthodontist or dental provider to recommend a retainer cleaner that is suited to your individual needs. 

5. Set a reminder: Consistency is key. If you have a hard time remembering to clean your retainer, try setting a reminder in your phone or sticking a note to your bathroom mirror so you remember to clean it each night and morning. It takes a few weeks to form a new habit, but doing it in the same place at the same time every day will help establish a pattern of behavior that will stick in your mind. Soon, you won’t need the reminder. It only takes a few minutes, and your teeth will thank you. 

The Top 3 Reasons to Start Orthodontic Treatment This Summer

Beginning an orthodontic treatment for you or your child is an exciting time, but before you start, there are a number of considerations to take into account. One that is often overlooked is when to begin treatment. Though getting braces at any time of the year is incredibly beneficial, beginning your child’s orthodontic journey in the summer does offer a few unique advantages. We’ve compiled our top three reasons why you should consider starting your child’s orthodontic treatment this upcoming season.

1. It’s easy to schedule appointments

Between tests, after-school activities, and homework, the school year can be hectic—especially for a new orthodontic patient who may require several visits when beginning a treatment. In the summer, without school as a commitment, your child’s schedule is likely to be much more open, making it easier to schedule all the appointments you need!

2. Summer gives your child time to rest

When children receive braces or any other orthodontic treatment, some may also want time to rest—even if that rest is only for a few hours or for a day. For some children, teeth may be a little sore at first, although they shouldn’t be painful or uncomfortable. Preparing soft (rather than hard or chewy) foods and helping your child use orthodontic wax to prevent discomfort are two easy ways to help your child rest after their treatment.

If your child plays sports or is involved in other activities, they may also want a day off to fully adjust to their braces. This is also normal! Remember—getting braces is a new experience for your child, so be patient and supportive as they begin their smile transformation.

3. There’s plenty of time to master life with braces

Getting used to braces or a retainer can take time for new patients. And, though patients can easily adjust to orthodontics throughout the year, the summer gives your child plenty of time to master life with braces. Because braces come along with new oral hygiene practices, foods that can’t be eaten, and different sensations in the mouth, the summer gives your child supervised time at home or with friends where they can learn how to care for their new smile.

Ready to begin your orthodontic journey?

If you are ready to get started with a new orthodontic treatment during the summer months, call us today to schedule an appointment. We can’t wait to help you get your healthiest, happiest smile!

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!