Our Blog

Food to Avoid with Braces

July 9th, 2021

Congratulations you have braces and are on your way to a healthy, beautiful smile! For your orthodontic treatment to be most effective, and stay on schedule, it is important that you follow Dr. Barden's instructions and take care of your orthodontic appliances. Breaking your brackets, arch wires, and other orthodontic appliances will slow down your treatment (resulting in wearing braces for longer time!) and result in more visits to fix and repair the damage.

This means that while you have braces, or other orthodontic appliances, you will need to be careful about what you eat. Eating the wrong foods can result in loose or broken brackets and bent arch wires.  Take care of your braces and appliances by avoiding hard or sticky food. This includes things like popcorn and nuts. Also avoid sticky candy  such as caramels, taffy, gum.

Hard vegetables and fruits like apples and carrots are healthy food choices, but eating them whole can cause broken brackets and bent arch wires. During orthodontic treatment we recommend cooking hard vegetables and fruits until they are soft or cutting them into small, bite size pieces.

Other things to avoid that can cause damage to your braces include chewing on ice or objects such as pencils (you should avoid doing these things even if not in braces as they can damage your teeth!)

Taking these precautions will reduce the number of broken brackets, reduce your number of emergency visits and help keep you on track to a healthy, beautiful smile.  Ask Dr. Douglas Barden and his assistants if you have any questions about what you can, and can’t, eat while in treatment!

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Do you Grind your Teeth?

June 4th, 2021

Are you concerned about grinding teeth and jaw pain? Grinding or clenching teeth is also known as bruxism. Grinding is sliding teeth back and forth over each other. Clenching is when you hold your top and bottom teeth tightly together. Both grinding and clenching can damage teeth and cause facial or jaw pain.

Symptoms of bruxism include:

  • Headache or earache
  • Sore jaw
  • Jaw clicking
  • Frequent toothaches
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Facial pain
  • Worn or cracked teeth
  • Insomnia

Bruxism can be caused by many different things and should be diagnosed by your dentist. Once your dentist diagnoses the problem, they will work with you to outline a treatment plan that addresses your unique needs and concerns. Some treatments that may be recommended include stress management, nightguards while sleeping, medication for pain, jaw exercises to relax the muscles, and dental treatments to fix any damage to your teeth.

If you have any questions or concerns about grinding or clenching your teeth be sure to check with your dentist or ask Dr. Douglas Barden at your next visit in our Whitefish Bay office.

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Children’s Thumb and Pacifier Use

May 7th, 2021

Young children commonly suck on their thumbs, fingers, or a pacifier. For babies and young children this action can be soothing and helps them to feel secure. At an early age, sucking habits are not something to cause concern. However, remember that pacifiers should never be dipped in sugar or other sweeteners as this can promote cavities.

By the age of two years, children should be encouraged to stop sucking on pacifiers and their thumb. This is because thumb and pacifier sucking can become problematic as children become older.  Continued sucking can cause problems with the proper growth of the mouth and teeth alignment. It can also cause changes to the roof of the mouth.

Generally, by age of two to four years most children stop sucking behaviors on their own.  You can encourage your child to quit by praising and rewarding them for not sucking during times that they normally engage in that behavior (such as being away from you or during bedtime). You can also bandage your child’s thumb at night as a way to discourage them from sucking.

If your child has a favorite pacifier you might want to consider sewing it into a new stuffed animal so the pacifier is still there, but not in a way that can be used orally.  Some parents have found that a “pacifier fairy” who takes away a pacifier and leaves a “big kid toy” can also be effective at ending the pacifier habit. If these suggestions don’t work for you, be sure to check with your pediatric dentist for more ideas.

Starting at the age of one year, children should see a pediatric dentist who will monitor the child's dental health. Their dentist can also help you identify if there are problems from continued thumb sucking or pacifier use.

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Sports and Teeth

April 2nd, 2021

Patients often ask if they can still play sports while in orthodontic treatment. The answer is YES!  Many of our patients (children, teens, and adults) are active with sports.

Dr. Barden recommends that everyone always protect their smile with a properly fitted mouthguard when playing sports and there is the potential for injury to your mouth or jaw. This is true even if you are not in orthodontic treatment.

When should you wear a mouthguard?

  • Mouthguards should be used when playing any contact sport such as football, hockey, baseball, softball, wrestling, field hockey, boxing, martial arts, rugby, soccer, basketball, and lacrosse.
  • Mouth guards can also be helpful for non-contact sports such as gymnastics or skateboarding where falls and accidents can cause mouth and jaw injuries.
  • Wear the mouthguard for practices as well as games.

Mouthguard tips:

  • Mouthguards should have enough flex that they won’t break or tear.
  • Mouthguards should fit properly and be comfortable.
  • Mouthguards should not impair speech or breathing.
  • Custom made mouthguards often work the best and are the most comfortable. See your dentist if you need a custom fit mouthguard.
  • If you have braces you will need a mouthguard that fits with braces. See Dr. Barden if you need one.
  • Don’t wear orthodontic appliances, such as retainers, when wearing a mouthguard.
  • Rinse the mouthguard in cool, soapy water after each use.
  • Store the mouthguard in a hard case and away from the sun or in the heat. Sun and heat may melt or distort mouthguards.
  • Children and teens may need new mouthguards as they grow to ensure proper fit.

Sport-related dental injuries can be painful and expensive.  A quality mouth guard is a good investment to protect your smile.  Ask Dr. Barden if you have any questions about mouthguards and protecting your smile while in orthodontic treatment.

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