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Pain Relief for sore lips, cheeks, or tongues from braces

July 19th, 2017

GKG orthodontics - dealing with pain from braces

Here's something you already know: braces can cause some discomfort, especially around your lips, cheeks, and tongue.

But there's good news: At GKG, our orthodontists and treatment team has a number of ways to help with the pain and discomfort that comes from friction against the braces or a stray wire. We want you to feel good while your teeth are being straightened.

Here are just a few of the best practices which our team uses:

Use orthodontic wax. The best way to deal with the pain is to apply orthodontic wax to the brackets or wires that are causing the discomfort. Be sure to only use orthodontic wax. No bees wax here:) Ask your orthodontist or the assistant working with you for a supply of wax to take home, if you run out, just give us a call and you can pick up some more. If its a weekend,  check your local pharmacy for orthodontic wax. 

Nibble soft foods with your front teeth. It's true: how you eat is almost as important as what you eat, and if you train yourself to put minimal stress on your braces from the very beginning, you'll make your life a lot easier for the entire process. The first few days after you initially get braces on or after you have them adjusted can be painful. Just take it slow and eat mindfully.

Use your very back teeth and the side of your mouth, too. Your braces will experience much less pressure and damage if you learn to use your rear molars and the sides of your mouth to chew, and taking smaller bites will help as well.

Wear lip balm or chapstick when you go for checkups and braces adjusted. The greatest strain on your lips is when they're stretched and stressed during visits, so take the time to “prep” them with a lip balm. A little special attention will prevent you from getting dry, chapped lips afterwards.

In the first few days after you get the braces … try not to let your bottom teeth touch your top teeth. Putting braces on  is a big change for you and your mouth, and much of the pain and discomfort that you experience is most pronounced in the first few days. Part of that is simply getting used to the new 'experience' of having braces at all; part of it is the physical process of your gums, lips, and tongue adjusting to the new demands of braces. You can reduce the strain on your mouth during those first few days by temporarily altering the way you eat and what you eat. Stick to soft foods for a while, and try to keep your bottom teeth from touching your top teeth. You'll adjust soon. Things will get easier.

Don't mess with your grill. Your braces and appliances have been carefully made and expertly placed, but that doesn't make them indestructible. The fact is, wires can break easily, especially if they're fiddled with, and repairing or replacing broken brackets can be expensive and time-consuming … and even worse, it may prolong your treatment.

Braces can be a challenge, but remember: straight teeth, better dental health, and a lifetime of beautiful smiles make it all worthwhile. And there are ways you can make the whole process far less difficult by following these simple tips.

Whatever the cause, pain is never fun and always something we want to help you avoid. If you have any questions about your braces or any pain in your mouth, please don't hesitate to ask Drs. Grady, Kastner, and Gornick during your next visit to our Wexford, PA office.

5 Facts to Remember About Your Rubber Bands (Elastics)

July 13th, 2017

Rubber bands are often one of the common and effective tools that orthodontists use to correct misaligned teeth. The braces help to straighten them, of course, but special orthodontic rubber bands are part of the process, often used to correct an overbite or an underbite.

If rubber bands are part of the plan that your orthodontist recommends, don’t worry: we will talk with you in detail about the reasons you’re using them, how they’re helping, and how to handle them on a day-to-day use with you in detail.

Here are four important facts to remember:

  • Follow your orthodontist’s instructions. You may be tempted to “re-interpret” what your doctor tells you to do, but there are reasons for each one of those instructions. Make a real effort to follow them to the letter, and you'll be finished with them and enjoying a more beautiful smile before you know it.
    • Only remove the bands for main meals. That means breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You can leave them in for small snacks, but remove the bands for the ‘big’ meals.
    • Carry a spare set with you at all times, to deal with breakage or loss of elasticity.
      • Plan to replace the bands four times a day. Rubber bands will lose their elasticity and efficacy after about 6 hours of wear.
      • · Treat your bands like a medication prescription. Keep an eye on how many you have, and contact us when you run low.
      • Take out your rubber bands only to eat or brush your teeth. Otherwise they should be worn at all times, including while you sleep.

If you develop a strong set of skills and good “rubber band habits” early on, you’ll find that they’re a simple part of the process … and essential to complete success. Stick with it!

Curing the Nail-Biting Habit

April 25th, 2017

Do you ever find yourself gnawing at your nails? Nail-biting is a very common and difficult to break habit which usually has its beginnings in childhood. It can leave your fingers and nail beds red and swollen. But if you think that your nails are the only ones getting roughed up by nail-biting you'd be mistaken—so are your teeth!

According to a study by the Academy of General Dentistry, those who bite their nails, clench their teeth, or chew on pencils are at much higher risk to develop bruxism (unintentional grinding of the teeth). Bruxism can lead to tooth sensitivity, tooth loss, receding gums, headaches, and general facial pain.

Those are some nasty sounding side effects from chewing on your nails. Most nail-biting is a sign of stress or anxiety and its something you should deal with. So what steps can you take if you have a nail-biting habit?

There are several things you can do to ease up on nail-biting:

  • Trim your nails shorter and/or get regular manicures – Trimming your nails shorter is an effective remedy. In so doing, they'll be less tempting and more difficult to bite on. If you also get regular manicures, you’ll be less likely to ruin the investment you’ve made in your hands and fingernails!
  • Find a different kind of stress reduction – Try meditation, deep breathing, practicing qigong or yoga, or doing something that will keep your hands occupied like squeezing a stress ball or playing with a yo-yo.
  • Wear a bitter-tasting nail polish – When your nails taste awful, you won't bite them! Clear or colored, it doesn't matter. This is also a helpful technique for helping children get over the habit.
  • Figure out what triggers your nail-biting – Sometimes it's triggered by stress or anxiety and other times it can be a physical stressor, like having hang nails. Knowing what situations cause you to bite your nails will help you to avoid them and break the habit.
  • Wear gloves or bandages on your fingers – If you've tried the steps above and they aren't working, this technique can prove effective since your fingernails won't be accessible to bite.

If you're still having trouble with nail-biting after trying these self-help steps, it's best to consult your doctor, dermatologist, or Drs. Grady, Kastner, and Gornick. For some, it may also be the sign of a deeper psychological or emotional problem.

Whatever the cause, nail-biting is a habit you need to break for your physical and emotional well-being. If you have any questions about the effects it can have on your oral health, please don't hesitate to ask Drs. Grady, Kastner, and Gornick during your next visit to our Wexford, PA office.

Sports and Energy Drink Consumption Damages Tooth Enamel

April 18th, 2017

While they may sound refreshing, especially after participating in sports activities or after a jog, recent studies suggest that energy and sports drinks can damage tooth enamel, thus elevating your cavity risk. These drinks are especially popular among our younger patients.

In the study, researchers analyzed the fluoride content and pH levels of 13 sports and nine energy drinks by soaking tooth enamel samples in the aforementioned drinks. The samples were soaked for 15 minutes in each drink, and then were soaked for two hours in artificial saliva four times a day for five days.

As much as sports drinks are harmful to your teeth, researchers found that exposure to energy drinks such as Rockstar, Monster®, and Red Bull® resulted in twice as much enamel loss as exposure to sports drinks such as Powerade®, Gatorade®, and Propel® (3.1 percent to 1.5 percent).

Yes, there are health benefits to consuming orange juice, fruit juices, sports drinks, and flavored waters, which can contain valuable ingredients such as vitamin C and other antioxidants; these drinks can also replenish nutrients lost during a sporting event and lower the chance of heart disease and cancer. But, if not consumed carefully, these beverages can harm your teeth. They are full of sugar, which converts to acid and wears away at your teeth, causing cavities, sensitivity, and eventually tooth loss.

Even one drink a day is potentially harmful, but if you are absolutely unable to give up that sports or energy drink habit, we encourage you to minimize their use and rinse with water afterward or chew a sugar-free piece of gum. Do not brush immediately after drinking them; softened enamel due to acid is easier to damage, even when brushing. Remember, it takes your mouth approximately 30 minutes to bring its pH level back to normal. The best thing to do is to wait an hour, then brush to remove sugar that lingers on your teeth and gums.

There are many sports drinks, energy drinks, and flavored waters out there today. Drs. Grady, Kastner, and Gornick and our team recommend you take the time to read the labels. Check for sugar content and citric acid in the ingredients. If you have any questions, or would like suggestions on the best sports drink options, please give us a call at our Wexford, PA office or ask us during your next visit!

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