Oral Health

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.

Follow us on TwitterInstagram, or Facebook  for more helpful dental information!

 

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.

Follow us on TwitterInstagram, or Facebook  for more helpful dental information!

Benefits of Reading “Teeth Books” with Children

March 5th, 2021

 

We love a good book – especially if it is a “tooth book”! No, we don’t mean a book from Dr. Barden’s time in dental school. We love books written for children about teeth and dental health. There are a number of excellent children's books with a tooth or dental theme. There are books that tell the story of the tooth fairy, demonstrate good dental hygiene, and teach about first visits to the dentist. Dr. Barden even has a book about how a moose brushes his teeth (which happens to be a favorite with his children)!

What are the benefits of reading a "tooth book" with your children?

  • For younger children, reading a book about their favorite character going to the dentist can help to reduce any nervous feelings they might have before their appointment. Children are afraid of things that are unfamiliar, so reading a book that explains what will happen during their visit can be very helpful.
  • Tooth books promote healthy teeth and good oral hygiene. In our office you can find books that highlight healthy eating and teach proper brushing and flossing techniques, in fun, age-appropriate stories.
  • Tooth books teach about teeth. Who knows - you might be raising a future dentist, hygienist, or orthodontist!
  • Reading with your children helps them develop a love of reading and is often a special bonding time.

There are so many reasons to read with your children. Do you recommend a good tooth book that your children  love to read? Share the title and author with us on our TwitterInstagram, or Facebook page!

Happy reading!

Recommended Valentine’s Day Treats

February 5th, 2021

At Barden Orthodontics we love Valentine’s day.  Especially during these challenging times, it is important to show your love and appreciation for your family, friends, and other special people in your life.

As you think about the different treats to share with these special people, don’t forget about your teeth. You want everyone to have a beautiful, healthy smile and too much candy can negatively impact your smile!

Dr. Douglas Barden’s Recommendations for Celebrating Valentine’s day:

Do:

  • Share your love with people you care about in your life. We can all use some cheer and appreciation!
  • If you have braces, pick treats that are soft and will not damage your brackets or appliances. Chocolate covered strawberries are a good choice. Dark chocolate even has some health benefits!
  • If you have Invisalign or clear aligners, you can eat whatever treats you want as you will take out your aligners. Remember, DO brush your teeth before putting them back in.
  • Show your love for someone with something other than candy or treats. Kids enjoy stuffed animals, balloons, stickers, and small toys. Adults might enjoy flowers, a special dinner delivered, or other things that show you care.

Don’t

  • If you have braces or other orthodontic appliances Do not eat treats that are hard and sticky. That means candy with nuts, hard candy (sorry, but no Valentine conversation hearts!), and sticky treats such as gum, caramels or licorice should be avoided. These can damage your appliances and slow down treatment.
  • Do not eat treats all day long as that prolongs the amount of time the sugar is on your teeth. Pick one time for a treat and then brush and floss your teeth.

Show the people in your life some love this Valentine’s day. Then show your teeth some love too! Brush, floss, and use a fluoride rinse every day.  We love a beautiful, healthy smile!

Happy Valentine’s Day from Dr Barden and his team at Barden Orthodontics!

Be sure to follow us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook for more fun tips.

Brushing Children's Teeth

September 18th, 2020

Are you having trouble getting your kids to brush and floss their teeth regularly and thoroughly? We understand – little kids wiggle, don’t open wide, and it can be tough to get them to brush. Don’t stop trying: brushing and flossing are important for preventing cavities and maintaining good oral health.

Parents often ask why it’s important to brush “just” baby teeth. They might be baby teeth, but some of these teeth will be in your child’s mouth until they are 12 years old. Cavities in baby teeth will need to be taken care of which can be painful and expensive. Infections in teeth can also cause other health problems in your child.

Teaching your child good brushing and flossing skills takes time. But, if you start at a young age they will develop an important lifelong skill.

Dr. Douglas Barden’s advice on teaching kids to brush and floss:

  • Start when your child is a baby! Before the first tooth even erupts gently wipe your child’s gums with a soft, wet washcloth.
  • Once the first tooth erupts continue to wipe the tooth and consider getting a soft bristle baby brush. You don’t need to use any toothpaste yet.
  • As your child gets more teeth use a tiny bit of children’s fluoride toothpaste. Think the size of a piece of rice. Gently brush the child’s teeth using a rotation.
  • Around the age of 2 your child will likely want to brush their own teeth. Great! Let them brush their own teeth but the parent should do a second brush until the child is able to clean the teeth well on their own (around age 12!)
  • Use special children’s mouth wash that shows areas missed when brushing. This can help the child (and parent) learn how to brush more thoroughly.
  • Floss using floss sticks. They are easier to use than string. Children should floss daily.
  • Do you have a reluctant brusher? Use a sticker or reward chart. Every time your child brushes without a struggle—they earn a sticker on the chart. After a set number of stickers, they earn a desired prize. Just make sure the reward is not candy-related!

We recommend that children start to see a family dentist or pediatric dentist around their first birthday. This dentist will closely monitor your child’s teeth, check for cavities, and determine if treatments, such as sealants, would be beneficial for your child.

Dr. Barden and his team provide every patient with a chart that gives feedback on their brushing and flossing.  We are happy to work with you to teach your child good brushing and flossing skills.

Do you have any creative suggestions that helped your child learn to brush and floss? Share them with everyone on Instagram or Facebook

Stress and your Teeth

April 10th, 2020

Stress can cause teeth-related problems including bruxism (grinding), which can lead to jaw and facial pain, and headaches.

Here are some suggestions on Healthy Ways to Manage Life Stress based on psychological research.

  • Manage your stress around the COVID-19 media coverage with helpful recommendations from the American Psychological Association. Their suggestions include keeping things in perspective and getting the facts from reputable media sources. Learn more at https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/pandemics
  • Engage in activities that you enjoy. Even while social distancing, you can still engage in pleasurable activities. If you enjoy listening to music, a number of musicians are streaming their concerts online. We love that the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra is streaming concerts online. Try watching a movie or reading a good book. The Milwaukee Public Library has online books and movies to check out.  Or, you could try cooking a new "braces friendly" recipe.
  • Find ways to relax. The internet is filled with yoga and meditation videos. Psychologists recommend these activities to promote relaxation and reduce anxiety.
  • Stay connected to friends and family. Social distancing doesn’t mean social isolation. Chat on the phone, text, or use video calls to talk with friends and family members.  Social relationships are important for reducing loneliness and maintaining a positive attitude.
  • Focus on behaviors that promote your overall health.  Continue to eat healthy, exercise the best you can in your home or go for walks outside (staying 6 feet from others), and try to maintain a regular sleep pattern.
  • Don’t forget to brush and floss your teeth daily! You might be social distancing, but good oral hygiene is still necessary.

Like us on InstagramTwitter or Facebook to stay up-to-date on what is happening in the office and for orthodontic tips and information.

Healthy Food = Healthy Teeth

January 3rd, 2020

At Barden Orthodontics we love beautiful, healthy smiles. A healthy diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables is an important part of ensuring the health of your teeth. The U.S.D.A. recommends that half of your lunch and dinner plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables.

A healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables can provide good energy levels, strengthen your immune system, support children’s growth, and a healthy weight. Fruits and vegetables are also packed with vitamins and minerals that are important for healthy teeth. In contrast, a diet with lots of sugary foods and drinks can damage your teeth and result in cavities.

Some food and drink choices to keep your teeth healthy:

  • Water is a healthy choice to drink between meals. Water with fluoride (most tap water!) can help to strengthen your teeth. Water can also help to dilute sugar and rinse your mouth of food from your snacks.
  • Fruits and vegetables are healthy food choices for snacks and meals.
  • Foods high in calcium are great for growing bones and strong teeth. Consider snacking on a cheese stick or plain yogurt that is topped with fresh berries or slices of bananas.
  • Limit snacking throughout the day.
  • Are you packing your child’s lunch or a school snack? Remember they probably do not brush their teeth during the school day. Pack healthy, lower sugar snacks and save the treats for home or special times.

Avoid:

  • Avoid foods and drinks that are high in sugar. This includes soda, sports drinks, flavored water, and even juice (there is sugar in juice!)
  • Sticky foods are especially problematic as they can stick to your teeth and prolong the sugar attack. This includes “fruit snacks,” that are really candy in disguise.

If you have braces:

  • Be sure to cut hard fruits and vegetables into bite size pieces, or cook until soft, to prevent damage to your braces.
  • Avoid sticky foods that can damage your orthodontic appliances.

Remember: proper brushing, flossing, and using a fluoride rinse are important to keep teeth clean after eating! Ask Dr. Douglas Barden and his staff if you have any questions about foods you should, and should not, eat while in braces.

Teeth Friendly Halloween Treats

October 6th, 2019

Halloween is Dr. Barden’s favorite holiday! Dressing up in costumes, hanging spooky decorations, pumpkin picking and carving, and trick-or-treating are fun, family friendly activities. But, the Halloween candy gives Dr. Douglas Barden and his staff a real scare.

A friendly reminder for our patients: if you have braces be sure to avoid any candy that is sticky (gum, taffy, caramel) or hard (hard candies or candy with nuts). These can damage your brackets and wires. This will require an extra appointment and can slow down your treatment progress. This means caramel apples are a real danger! If you are being treated with Invisalign® you will be happy to know you can eat anything you want as you will take off your aligners while eating.

Everyone should be careful about the amount of candy that they eat. The sugar on your teeth can cause cavities. So, please eat in moderation and then brush and floss thoroughly!

Here is our challenge to you for this year. Instead of handing out candy for trick-or-treating, how about trying some teeth-friendly alternatives? Here are some of our favorite ideas:

  • Stickers
  • Balloons
  • Stamps
  • Glow in the dark wands
  • Halloween themed pencils
  • Bat shaped rings
  • Vampire teeth
  • Mini coloring books and crayons

Barden Orthodontics will be participating again in the Merchants of Whitefish Bay trick-or-treating event. We hope you stop by for some teeth-friendly treats!

Happy Halloween!

Orthodontic Back-to-School Checklist

September 6th, 2019

Hooray the kids are headed back to school! The summer activities and trips are over and now everyone has their days filled with reading, math, science….and dental health!

Make sure your children are ready for any orthodontic situation that might occur during the school day! Dr. Douglas Barden recommends that your student pack a small travel orthodontic supply kit in their backpack.

  • Travel toothbrush and floss sticks. It’s important that food doesn’t get stuck in braces or orthodontic appliances and sit on teeth all day long! If your child isn’t able to brush during the school day, teach them to rinse their mouth with water after eating to remove the food particles and dilute the sugar on their teeth.
  • Wax to cover any poking wires.
  • Mouth guards are essential for students who are playing sports. Be sure to get a mouth guard that works with braces. We can custom make a mouth guard for maximum protection.
  • Storage Case. Bring along a retainer or clear aligner storage case. Teach your children put their retainers or clear trays in the storage case when they eat. Never store a retainer or clear aligner in a napkin –it’s too easy to toss it accidentally! Retainers that are put in a pocket or backpack without a case can become damaged.

 If your child has braces, or other orthodontic appliances, avoid packing gum, sticky candy or treats, or hard fruits and veggies in their lunch box. Fruits and veggies are a healthy lunch choice but cut apples and carrots into bite size pieces or else choose softer options (think bananas, oranges, tomatoes, cucumber slices etc). For some other lunch ideas, check out our blog on healthy snacks.

 Life gets busy during the school year, but it is important that you continue to monitor your child’s brushing and flossing. Remember to brush 2 times a day for two minutes each time. Don’t forget to floss daily! Great dental hygiene should become a normal part of your child’s routine and the reward is a beautiful, healthy smile.

Be sure to ask Dr. Barden and his team at their Whitefish Bay office if you have any questions about making sure your child is ready for any orthodontic situation during the school day. We hope all of our patients and their families have a great school year!

Enjoy reading our blog? Be sure to follow us on Facebook and stay informed of the latest blogs and office events! https://www.facebook.com/BardenOrthodontics

What is Gum Disease?

August 2nd, 2019

What is gum disease? It’s also called Periodontal Disease and it is an infection of the tissues and bones around your teeth. Periodontal disease is caused by plaque. Infected gum tissue pulls away from your tooth and as the disease progresses the tissues and bones around your teeth are destroyed. This can result in teeth falling out or needing to be removed! Unfortunately, periodontal disease is common and can affect people regardless of age or gender.

Here are a few of the signs of possible periodontal disease:
- Red, swollen gums, or pus between teeth
- Bleeding after brushing or flossing
- Bad breath that doesn’t seem to go away even with brushing and rinsing
- Loose teeth

If you notice these signs, or have concerns about your teeth and gum health, make an appointment to see your dentist.

Things that may increase your risk of periodontal disease:
- Use of tobacco products
- Diseases that weaken the body’s immune system
- Pregnancy or changes in female hormone levels
- Certain medications
- Stress
- Genetics

The best way to prevent periodontal disease is to practice excellent dental hygiene. Please ask Dr. Douglas Barden or any of his dental assistants if you have questions about flossing and brushing while receiving orthodontic care. Finally, remember that regular dental exams and cleanings are important and can find signs of periodontal disease before it becomes a serious problem!

Resolutions for a Beautiful Smile

January 3rd, 2019

The start of the year is a great time to renew your commitment to maintaining your beautiful, healthy smile with great dental hygiene.

You have chosen to get orthodontic treatment because you value having a beautiful, healthy smile.  Dr. Barden and his team are working with you to improve your teeth positioning and jaw alignment.  To ensure a beautiful smile you will also need to do your part -- it is important that you follow all instructions about wearing your appliances and rubber bands. It is also important that you have excellent dental hygiene to keep your teeth clean and cavity free.  Below are some of our top tips for a healthy smile!

New Year's Resolutions for a Healthy Smile

  • Follow the 2-2 rule.  Brush your teeth 2 times a day for 2 minutes each time. Use a timer to make sure you don’t cut the time short.
  • Use fluoride toothpaste.
  • Floss, or use an interdental brush, to clean in between your teeth. Floss every day!
  • Rinse with a mouthwash designed to show missed food particles.  This way you are sure to get everything clean and improve your brushing skills!
  • Visit your dentist for an exam and cleaning every 6 months, or more regularly as directed by the doctor.
  • Choose healthy foods and beverages.  Limit sugary foods and snacks to special treats and then brush after eating!

Remember to ask Dr. Barden and his team if you have any questions about what you can do to keep your teeth healthy and clean to ensure a smile that you will love for a lifetime!

Everyone at Barden Orthodontics wishes you the best in the New Year. We hope this year is filled with lots of love, good cheer, and happy, healthy smiles!

Post-Braces Care: Wear your retainer!

September 6th, 2018

Many patients underestimate the importance of wearing their retainers after their braces come off, but it is one of the most critical post care practices to keep your teeth in alignment. Why spend all that time, energy, and money to straighten your teeth when you don't plan to keep them straightened after treatment?

What is a retainer?

As the name implies, a retainer keeps teeth from moving back to the positions in which they started before treatment was administered; they "retain" your smile and bite. There are many different types of retainers—some are removable and some are permanent. Some retainers are made of plastic and metal (known as Hawley retainers) and others are all plastic or all metal. Some retainers can even be bonded to the back of your teeth!

How long do I need to wear it?

If you've been given a removable retainer by Dr. Douglas Barden, you may be wondering how long you need to wear it. It takes time for the tissues and bones around your teeth to reorganize and set into place after braces treatment.

The amount of time you’ll need to wear your retainer depends on your unique situation, but typically, retainers should be worn at least as long as the time you spent in braces. You might need to wear them full-time for a while, and then transition to wearing them only at night. Dr. Douglas Barden will have a treatment plan especially for you, and if you stick to it, you'll always have a straight smile.

Nothing is forever (at least without retainers!)

Research has shown that there is no “permanent” position for your teeth to remain in. In fact, some studies say upward of 70% of patients will see a change to their bite and tooth alignment as they get older. This applies to people who have had orthodontic treatment and those who have not. Of course, some people's teeth never seem to shift—you can consider them the lucky ones, as most people's teeth do.

And this is precisely where retainers come in. The only way to ensure your teeth stay in alignment long-term is by wearing your retainers. If you have any questions about retainers or your treatment plan, please ask any member of our Milwaukee, WI staff.

Orthodontic Care on the Go!

May 22nd, 2018

Whether you’re heading out for a day with friends or running from classroom to volleyball practice, you don’t always have the luxury of taking care of your braces or aligners in the comfort of your home. But don’t stress! Here are some suggestions for handy items you can take with you to handle most of the dental situations that might come up.

Basic Care Kit

  • Travel Toothbrush—the perfect size for quick cleanings after a meal on the go. You might want to bring a travel size tube of toothpaste as well.
  • Dental Floss, Threader, and Dental Picks—you don’t want something stuck in your teeth or braces through three hours of play rehearsal.
  • Water Bottle—if you don’t have time to brush, a good rinse will help keep teeth and appliances clean.
  • Small Mirror—to make sure your smile is picture perfect after eating.
  • Our office phone number—just in case. If something happens to your braces or aligners, or if you suffer a dental emergency, call our Milwaukee, WI office immediately.

For Braces

  • Orthodontic Wax—if one of your brackets is irritating your mouth, you’ll be ready.
  • Braces-Friendly Snacks—soft, healthy foods that will help keep your energy up while keeping your braces intact.

For Aligners or a Retainer

  • Your case! If you need to take your aligners or retainer out, use your case to protect them and keep them from getting lost. You have better things to do after lunch than sifting through a garbage can full of used napkins. Much better things.

All of these items can fit easily in a case or bag in your glove compartment, locker, or backpack. Want more tips? Talk to Dr. Douglas Barden and our team on your next visit, and let’s work together to make caring for your orthodontic appliances a quick and convenient addition to your busy schedule!

Toothbrush Care

April 10th, 2018

You found the perfect toothbrush! The bristles are soft, to avoid irritating your delicate gum tissue. The angle of the bristles is perfect for removing plaque. The handle is durable and comfortable when you spend at least two minutes brushing in the morning and two at night. Why, you love this toothbrush and you’ll never let it go… for the next three or four months.

The life of a toothbrush is naturally a short one. Dr. Douglas Barden and our team recommend replacement every three to four months because the bristles become frayed and worn with daily use. They cannot clean as effectively when the bristles begin to break down, and, depending on your brushing style, may wear out even more rapidly. (Children will probably need to replace toothbrushes at least every three months.) But even in the short time you have your toothbrush, there are ways to keep it ready for healthy brushing.

  • Don’t share. While sharing is normally a virtue, sharing toothbrushes can lead to an increased risk of infections, especially for those with compromised immune systems or existing infectious diseases. Similarly, keep different brushes separate when drying to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Rinse thoroughly after brushing. Make sure to remove any toothpaste or debris left after you brush.
  • Store the brush upright. Air-drying is the preferred way to dry your brush, as covering the brush or keeping it in a closed container can promote the growth of bacteria more easily.

There are several products on the market that promise to sanitize your brush. The verdict is still out on its success, but if you or someone in your home has a compromised immune system, call our Milwaukee, WI office to see if it might be worth your while to check them out.

Even though your toothbrush won’t be with you long, make its stay as effective and hygienic as possible. And if you find a brush you love—stock up!

Considerations When Picking the Right Mouthwash

August 8th, 2017

A solid oral health routine begins with daily brushing, flossing, and rinsing. Without a consistent oral health regimen, you may begin to experience tooth decay and bacterial infections. Few patients ask Dr. Douglas Barden about different mouthwash options, so we’ve put together a list of the conditions that mouthwashes can treat. This should help you decide which oral rinse would be best for you.

Gum Health

Antiseptic mouthwashes reduce large amounts of bacteria on and near the gum line and generally help to decrease your chances of developing gingivitis. The key ingredients of antiseptic mouthwashes are antibacterial and antimicrobial items. Antiseptic mouthwash is a preferable option if you are concerned about the general gum health of your mouth.

Fluoride

Fluoride is a great tool for preventive tooth decay treatment. It prevents tooth decay and is great for oral health in general because it kills germs that can live in your mouth. Fluoride also builds stronger teeth. If you’re a bottled water drinker, Dr. Douglas Barden may recommend that you purchase a simple fluoride rinse to use after brushing.

Bad Breath

Fluoride mouthwash can be used to fight any bad breath issues you may be facing. It’s designed to combat any bacteria that might be building up in your mouth. Most mouthwashes will help eliminate bad breath, but some are specifically designed to address this difficult problem. If you feel as though this might be turning into a chronic problem, please contact Dr. Douglas Barden to discuss other options that would be effective for treating your symptoms.

American Dental Association (ADA Approval)

The ADA reviews all mouth rinses for safety measures and to prove effectiveness. Any mouthwash approved by the ADA has met strict guidelines according to whether the manufacturer’s claims are supported with scientific evidence. If you’re looking for a quality mouthwash, look for one that has the ADA seal of approval to ensure you have a great rinse for your mouth.

Considerations

When you’re trying to decide which mouthwash to pick, contact our Milwaukee, WI or ask Dr. Douglas Barden during your next appointment. If you experience a burning sensation in the soft tissues of your mouth, be sure to discontinue use immediately. Avoid letting children under age six use a mouth rinse, and be sure to keep all mouthwashes out of the reach of children, because they contain alcohol and other substances that could be harmful.

Importance of Oral Hygiene with Braces

June 27th, 2017

 

Proper oral hygiene techniques are always worthwhile, but they are especially crucial when you’re wearing orthodontic appliances such as braces. When you don’t maintain an effective oral hygiene routine, you can be more susceptible to gum disease as well as tooth decay, cavities, decalcification, discoloration, and/or staining of the teeth.

Braces themselves don’t cause these issues, but since they create spaces that are difficult to clean, they provide extra sources of food (dental plaque and food debris) for the bacteria that do. Bacteria create a biofilm on the surface of a tooth that can spread if not addressed. That bacteria food can only be removed by a mechanical action: brushing and flossing your teeth!

Here’s a list of smart hygiene steps to follow for the duration of your braces treatment:

Proper tooth brushing technique: Make sure to brush your teeth thoroughly (for a total of about two minutes), but not too hard. Point the head of the toothbrush at the gum line and brush just hard enough so that you feel slight pressure against the gums. Use a soft, small-headed toothbrush or an electric toothbrush if you’d like. Try your best always to clean on and around every tooth, bracket, and wire in your mouth!

Flossing: Braces can make flossing a chore, but it’s an essential adjunct to proper tooth brushing. Make sure to floss between all your teeth and brackets. Dr. Douglas Barden can provide you with braces floss threaders and interproximal toothbrushes (small brushes used to clean areas under wires and between brackets) to make the task easier. You might also consider purchasing an oral irrigator that uses a stream of water to blast food particles and debris from between teeth and gums.

Rinse with water: This may sound slight, but it’s a good idea, especially if you aren’t able to brush. Rinsing your mouth with water throughout the day helps to dislodge the decay-causing food particles that become lodged in braces.

Hygiene away from home: It’s a good idea to have a kit with a toothbrush, floss, floss threaders, mirror, and small water cup on hand at school or work. That way, you’ll be sure to have all the tools you need to keep your mouth clean.

Regular professional cleanings: As always, it’s best to visit your dentist regularly to verify everything in your mouth is in order and your oral hygiene routine is effective. Twice a year is sufficient, unless the dentist recommends more frequent visits.

Looking for more information? Check out these Top Tips for Great Dental Hygiene from Dr. Douglas Barden!

It's vital to keep your teeth and gums clean during your braces treatment, and that requires your care and attention. If feel like you need help with any of the techniques above, a member of our Milwaukee, WI team can demonstrate them for you!

June is National Smile Month: Show off your smile!

June 6th, 2017

The community health awareness group Oral Health America has reported that 82 percent of adults are unaware of the role that infectious bacteria can play in tooth decay or cavities, and almost three out of five children aged 12 to 19 have tooth decay. Since June is National Smile Month, Dr. Douglas Barden and our team at Barden Orthodontics thought we’d remind our patients about the importance of good oral hygiene visits between office visits.

To keep your family’s smiles healthy and beautiful for years to come, be sure to:

  • Brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
  • Floss every day to clean between your teeth
  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet
  • Reduce your intake of sugary foods and drinks
  • Visit Dr. Douglas Barden for scheduled appointments

If you want to know more about healthy home care habits, feel free to ask our team at your next appointment.

Follow us on TwitterInstagram, or Facebook  for more helpful dental information!

When should I floss during the day?

May 23rd, 2017

A vital step in your oral health routine is flossing. We hope our patients at Barden Orthodontics maintain good oral hygiene, including daily flossing between each visit to our Milwaukee, WI office. A toothbrush is not always enough to get to the hard-to-reach areas of your mouth. When food remains between your teeth, bacteria starts to grow and will break down your enamel. This is where flossing comes in!

Should you floss before or after brushing?

Whatever your personal preference, you may floss before or after you brush your teeth. When you floss first, you can brush away any leftover dislodged food debris from your teeth. On the other hand, when you brush first, you will loosen the plaque between your teeth, which makes flossing more effective.

The essential aspect is that you floss thoroughly by using a fresh strand of floss and make sure to get between every tooth. Even if your teeth look and feel clean, don’t skip flossing or plaque will begin to build up on your teeth.

When is the best time to floss?

Although you should brush your teeth at least twice a day, Dr. Douglas Barden and our team recommend flossing your teeth thoroughly once a day. Many people prefer to floss before bed, so that plaque doesn’t sit between their teeth all night.

What kind of floss should I use?

You may choose between interdental cleaning picks or flexible floss strands to perform your daily flossing routine. If you have permanent oral appliances or restorations, be sure to follow the flossing instructions provided to you.

Do you need help flossing?

If you’re having trouble flossing or have questions about which floss is best for your teeth, contact our Milwaukee, WI office and we can provide you with support. Be sure to keep up with your daily flossing routine, and we will see you at your next appointment!

Check out Dr. Douglas Barden's other Top Tips for a Healthy Smile.

Follow us on TwitterInstagram, or Facebook  for more helpful dental information!

Treatment Options for TMD

April 11th, 2017

Temporomandibular dysfunction (TMD) refers to a diverse range of disorders that relate to muscular function in the jaw and face — the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). That could mean difficulty opening your mouth, pain in the jaw or face, or any sort of problem with the jaw joint.

TMD can be difficult to diagnose because of the varied causes. Whatever the case, an accurate diagnosis from Dr. Douglas Barden helps make treatment as successful as possible.

Most often, jaw problems will resolve themselves within several weeks or months. Surgeries like arthrocentesis, arthroscopy, and open-joint surgery should be a last resort. More conservative and reversible treatments should come first and are in fact the most critical step in the treatment of TMD.

Less invasive treatments like acupuncture and splints can be helpful, but that will depend on your particular case. It’s worth your while to speak with Dr. Douglas Barden at our Milwaukee, WI office to learn about solutions that could work for you.

A combination of treatments will most often produce the greatest relief for TMJ patients. It’s a good idea to avoid activities that overuse the jaws, such as chewing gum or clenching your jaws.

You can be proactive in finding relief for TMD by trying the following remedies at home:

  • Eat soft food: When you eat soft and/or blended food, your jaw gets an opportunity to rest. Avoid chewy and crunchy food, and food that requires you to open your mouth wide, like apples or corn on the cob.
  • Apply moist heat: A hot water bottle wrapped in a moist towel can help reduce symptoms.
  • Apply ice: Applying an ice pack wrapped in a cloth or towel for no longer than 15 minutes may also reduce pain and promote healing.
  • Do jaw exercises: A physical therapist can help identify the exercises that will work for you. Jaw exercises have been shown to be an effective treatment method that can be performed at home.
  • Relaxation: Actively try to relax the muscles of the face and lips, and let your teeth come apart. Many find meditation, yoga, and slow, deep breathing to be helpful for reducing stress and tension.
  • Avoid wide yawns: Keep your fist under your jaw when you feel a yawn coming on, to keep your jaw from opening too widely.

Follow us on TwitterInstagram, or Facebook  for more helpful dental information!

Crushing the Ice-Chewing Habit

February 28th, 2017

It's a habit many people have and not only can it be annoying to the people around you, it can be detrimental to your dental health. Chewing ice is so common that it even has its own name, pagophagia. We're not talking about a slushy or shaved ice (although those artificially sugary treats should be avoided too!) but more like the hunks of ice rattling around in the bottom of your glass.

Ice chewing can be a sign of emotional problems like stress or obsessive-compulsive disorder, but it can also be a marker for iron deficiency anemia and other physical problems. Then again, some people just like to have something to chew on. For whatever reason you find yourself chewing on it, it's a habit you need to break.

Chewing on ice can cause:

  • Chipped and cracked teeth
  • Damaged enamel
  • Sore jaw muscles
  • Damage to dental work such as crowns, fillings, or other appliances

If chewing on ice is becoming a problem in your life, don’t hesitate to speak with Dr. Douglas Barden about it. But if you find yourself still wanting to chew on something, here are a few alternatives to ice:

  • Baby carrots
  • Celery sticks
  • Sugar-free (xylitol) gum

We know you need to chill sometimes, but chomping down your entire glass of ice is not the way to do it. If you have any other questions on the topic, feel free to talk with a member of our Milwaukee, WI team. It may be beneficial in solving the issue and helping to remediate any damage to your teeth.

Follow us on TwitterInstagram, or Facebook  for more helpful dental information!

Curing the Nail-Biting Habit

February 14th, 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 Dr. Douglas Barden. 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 Dr. Douglas Barden during your next visit to our Milwaukee, WI office.

Follow us on TwitterInstagram, or Facebook  for more helpful dental information!

To use or not to use mouthwash; that is the question

January 17th, 2017

A famous mouthwash company chose the marketing slogan, “Better than flossing.” As a consumer, would you believe a high-end commercial that essentially tells you to stop flossing? Just use this brand of mouthwash and the risk of gingivitis, cavities, etc., is gone. What a wonderful idea! Now for the reality: This is simply not true.

The company that made these claims received some negative feedback for making this false claim. Does this mean that all mouthwashes are ineffective? Absolutely not. It takes a little bit of research to know which mouthwashes are most effective and best suited for you. Here are some key points to remember when choosing a mouthwash.

First, think about why you want to use a mouthwash. If you are at high risk for cavities, you would benefit from a fluoride mouthwash. Check the labels to see which ones contain fluoride.

If you have active gingivitis, a mouthwash with some antibacterial properties would be preferable. Read the labels carefully. You do not want a mouthwash containing alcohol. If you have active periodontal disease, an antibacterial mouthwash is appropriate, though you may want to discuss which kind would be best for your individual needs.

Prescription mouthwashes are also an option. You should pay close attention to the directions, such as how much and how long to use them. There is one brand in particular whose effectiveness can steadily diminish if you use it continually. There can also be side effects you should discuss with our office and/or your pharmacist.

Some great mouthwashes for kids change the color of plaque on their teeth to help them see how they are doing with their brushing. This is a great learning tool for the child and the parent! Why not pick up a bottle for yourself next time you’re at the store and evaluate your own performance?

Beware of claims that a mouthwash can loosen plaque. This is not accurate. Beware of any mouthwash that has alcohol. This is worth mentioning twice. Take care of your taste buds. If you are using a strong mouthwash, it can reduce your sense of taste.

These tips should help you choose the right mouthwash for your needs. Please contact Dr. Douglas Barden at our Milwaukee, WI office with any specific questions!

Follow us on TwitterInstagram, or Facebook  for more helpful dental information!

How do I know if I have dry mouth?

January 10th, 2017

Dry mouth, also medically known as xerostomia, is the condition of not having enough saliva, or spit, to keep your mouth wet. There are many ways to keep dry mouth at bay, including:

  • Brushing your teeth after every meal with a fluoride toothpaste
  • Flossing every day after a meal
  • Avoiding tobacco, as well as drinks containing alcohol or caffeine
  • Avoiding dry foods, as well as foods containing high salt, acid, spice, or sugar levels
  • Drinking water frequently or sucking on ice chips
  • Using a humidifier at night

Please call our convenient Milwaukee, WI dental office to learn more about dry mouth, or ask us during your next visit!

Follow us on TwitterInstagram, or Facebook  for more helpful dental information!

Dangers of DIY Orthodontics on the Internet

December 20th, 2016

All over the Internet you'll find videos and articles showing how you can close the gap between teeth or space them out. There is a plethora of DIY orthodontic techniques out there — you can even mail order your own impressions to get clear aligners, without even seeing a dentist or orthodontist. Following the instructions laid out in these videos and articles (by people who have zero training in orthodontics) is about the worst decision you can make for your overall oral health.

Performing DIY or at-home orthodontia can lead to or cause:

  • Loss of teeth
  • Infection
  • Cavities or infections that are missed or undiagnosed
  • Gum damage

Dr. Christina Carter, president of the Northeastern Society of Orthodontists, says that DIY orthodontics can have terrible consequences. She spoke to TODAY about closing gaps between teeth using rubber bands or elastics:

"The teeth are connected to the gums and the blood supply and there is a risk of infection, of tearing the gums which might not heal properly, and a risk of damaging the attachment between the tooth and gums so the tooth no longer gets the support it needs." She also noted, "A simple rubber band can actually slide up the tooth and cut all the attachments to it and you can actually lose a tooth."

One of the worst parts about DIY orthodontics is that you never consult with a trained orthodontist, so you're really operating on a dangerous lack of information. It's best not to risk damage to your teeth or infection. Let Dr. Douglas Barden know what you want to accomplish with your teeth and we will help you find the safest and most cost-effective way to achieve it.

Dr. Douglas Barden want you to be informed and practical about your oral health. He has put together some useful internet resources on dental health from reputable sources. Should you have any questions about orthodontic treatment options, please do not hesitate to give us a call at our convenient Milwaukee, WI office.

Follow us on TwitterInstagram, or Facebook  for more helpful dental information!

Toothpaste Guide

November 29th, 2016

Between the huge number of toothpaste brands on the market today, the different flavors, and claims from most to do different things, it isn’t surprising that people feel so confused when it comes to something that should be as simple as buying a tube of toothpaste. This guide will help you identify the common ingredients in toothpaste, and help you understand the important factors to consider before buying toothpaste again.

Toothpaste comes in gel, paste, and powdered forms. When it comes to the type of toothpaste, the choice is more a matter of preference.

Basic Ingredients

  • Abrasive Agents – Abrasive agents are the scratchy substances added to toothpastes to help in the removal of food particles, bacteria, and minor stains. Calcium carbonate is one of many abrasive materials, and arguably the most common.
  • Flavor – When toothpastes are flavored, they almost always have artificial sweeteners to enhance the flavor of the toothpaste and increase the likelihood that you’ll use it. Flavors run the gamut from traditional mint to cinnamon that may appeal to adults, and bubble gum or lemon lime – flavors to target children.
  • Humectants – Humectants are moisturizing agents that keep paste and gel toothpastes from drying out. Glycerol is commonly used as a humectant.
  • Thickeners – Thickeners are used to give toothpaste its distinctive consistency, and to make it maintain a uniform consistency and come out of the tube easily.
  • Detergents – Sodium lauryl sulfate is the most common detergent used in products that foam up, like toothpaste does in your mouth.

What to Look For in Toothpaste

Fluoride is naturally occurring mineral. It is the most important ingredient to look for in a toothpaste. Although there are people who argue against using fluoride toothpaste, dental professionals like Dr. Douglas Barden emphasize that the fact that the incidence of tooth decay has decreased so significantly in the past 50 years is because of fluoridated toothpaste.

The suggestion that fluoridated water gives you enough fluoride to protect your teeth is wrong. Fluoride toothpaste is the best cavity protection there is. In addition to strengthening tooth enamel and protecting teeth from acid erosion (from acidic foods and drinks,) it remineralizes the surfaces of teeth that are suffering from early acid damage and may prevent developing tooth decay from worsening.

Tartar Control

Tartar is the result of hardened plaque buildup on the teeth. Good oral hygiene and in between twice yearly cleanings from a dental hygienist are the best defense against plaque buildup. Plaque turns to tartar when people neglect their oral hygiene. Over time, tartar can build up on teeth and under the gums, increasing the risk of gum disease.

Your best bet is to use a toothpaste that has a combination of anti-plaque agents. Products containing more than one plaque reducer may be more effective than products that only one. Common ingredients to look for are zinc citrate or pyrophosphates. Triclosan is an antibiotic that is believed to kill bacteria in the mouth, and it can be found in some anti-plaque toothpaste.

Look for toothpaste that bears the seal of the American Dental Association. That seal is an endorsement of the ADA – and it means that many dentists agree that that particular toothpaste does what toothpaste is designed to do. We can also recommend toothpaste to meet your specific oral health concerns at your next visit to our Milwaukee, WI office.

Follow us on TwitterInstagram, or Facebook  for more helpful dental information!

The Hazards of Smokeless Tobacco

November 22nd, 2016

Many smokers believe that chewing tobacco is a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes. This simply isn't the case! In fact, smokeless tobacco can cause serious health concerns.

Smokeless tobacco comes in many forms and goes by many names: dip, snuff, snus, or simply chewing tobacco. Use of these products usually involves sucking or chewing on shredded or loose tobacco leaves, sometimes flavored, for a prolonged period. There are even products that emulate a dissolvable candy-like consistency which are made of compressed tobacco powder.

What are risks and smokeless tobacco?

Whichever form a tobacco product takes, the dangers of using or consuming them is very real. According to a 2007 study by the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer, there are upwards of 28 cancer-causing chemicals in smokeless tobacco that are known to cause cancer. And these products are habit-forming just like any other tobacco product that contains nicotine. Using them will increase your risk for many serious diseases including but not limited to: cancer (especially oral and esophageal), gum and heart disease, cavities, and pre-cancerous mouth lesions.

At the end of the day, long-term use of smokeless tobacco can cause serious health issues. These products really take a toll on both your oral and overall health. They put a strain on your immune system and make it less capable of warding off infection and disease.

Dr. Douglas Barden and our team strongly advise you to stop using smokeless tobacco—or any kind of tobacco product—and not to pick up the habit if you aren't. There is no safe level of tobacco use, smokeless or otherwise.

Need to quit smoking or using smokeless tobacco products?

You can and should always talk to your doctor, healthcare practitioner, or Dr. Douglas Barden for help quitting. But there are many other resources available today for those who'd like to quit. The National Cancer Institute offers information, support (local and online), and tools to help smokers and smokeless tobacco users quit. They offer live online chat with cessation counselors Monday through Friday and even have a smartphone application available to help people who are serious about quitting.

You can take a look at their website at smokefree.gov or call them toll-free at 1–877–44U–QUIT (1-877-448-7848). There is also help available from your state's quit line at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).

Make the best choice for your health and well-being; avoid the bad habit of tobacco products. If you have any questions about how tobacco related products affect your oral health and hygiene, please don't hesitate to ask one of our Milwaukee, WI staff members.

Follow us on TwitterInstagram, or Facebook  for more helpful dental information!

Which type of mouthwash is best?

September 20th, 2016

Taking care of your oral health involves a daily regimen of brushing, flossing, and rinsing to prevent tooth decay and bacterial infections. Though you may have asked us which toothbrush to use, few patients at Barden Orthodontics ask about mouthwash.

However, different mouthwashes you might choose will have varying effects on your oral health. So which type is best for you?

Gum Health

Antiseptic mouthwashes are designed to reduce the majority of bacteria on and near the gum line. Using an antiseptic mouthwash can help decrease your chances of developing gingivitis. If possible, look for a mouthwash with antibacterial or antimicrobial ingredients.

Fluoride

Fluoride is beneficial for oral health and can help prevent tooth decay. If you drink a lot of bottled water without fluoride, we may recommend that you purchase a rinse with fluoride in it.

Bad Breath

Although mouthwash is designed to prevent bacterial build-up within the mouth, many people use it to combat bad breath. Most mouthwashes will help eliminate the bacteria that cause bad breath, and some are specifically designed to do so.

However, if bad breath is a chronic problem that requires daily treatment with a mouth rinse, contact Barden Orthodontics to discuss your symptoms.

American Dental Association Approval

The ADA reviews mouth rinses for safety and effectiveness. A mouthwash with the ADA Seal of Approval will meet strict criteria, and will have scientific evidence or clinical studies that support the claims of the manufacturer. If possible, select a mouthwash that bears the ADA Seal of Approval to ensure you are using a quality rinse.

Considerations

If you are unsure as to which mouthwash is right for you, contact our Milwaukee, WI office or ask Dr. Douglas Barden during your next visit. Also, be sure to keep mouthwash out of the reach of children, as it contains alcohol and other substances that could be harmful to them. Avoid letting children under age six use a mouth rinse, and discontinue use if you experience a burning sensation in the soft tissues of your mouth.

Follow us on TwitterInstagram, or Facebook  for more helpful dental information!

Can I use mouthwash instead of flossing?

August 23rd, 2016

While mouthwash goes a long way in improving your oral care, it is not a substitute for flossing. Mouthwashes and flossing provide different benefits that you should understand.

Mouthwash Benefits

Mouthwash comes in two categories. Some are considered cosmetic. This type of rinse provides temporary relief from bad breath and has a pleasant taste. These do not actually kill any bacteria.

Therapeutic mouthwashes provide the healthier benefits. These may contain different ingredients including fluoride or antimicrobial agents. This type is used to remove plaque buildup and reduce the potential for calculus formation. Therapeutic rinses can also help prevent cavities, bad breath, and gingivitis. In addition, Dr. Douglas Barden can prescribe special rinses to assist patients after periodontal surgery or other procedures.

Flossing Benefits

Flossing is what removes the plaque formation before it can harden and become calculus. While a rinse reduces buildup, only flossing will fully remove plaque, especially between teeth. The bristles on a toothbrush do not get between teeth completely. If plaque is not removed, it hardens into tartar or calculus. When this builds below the gum line, gum disease can start.

Types of Floss

Floss is available in a thin string form or a tape. It can be waxed or unwaxed. If you find flossing difficult, you might want to try a different type of floss. You can buy bulk floss in containers or purchase the disposable type with a plastic handle attached. This style can be easier for many individuals to use. Interdental picks are available for bridgework or other situations where regular floss cannot be used.

If you have questions regarding the best mouthwash or floss, or need tips for easier flossing, please ask our Milwaukee, WI team for advice. We will be glad to give you solutions to help keep your mouth clean and healthy.

Follow us on TwitterInstagram, or Facebook  for more tips on dental health.