• Choosing Your Chewing Gum Wisely

    Is it really true that chewing gum can be bad for your teeth? The short answer is yes, but it really depends on the kind of gum you choose. We’ll explore what’s good and bad about certain gum types and reveal how what you choose to chew affects your dental health.

    close-up of a pile of gum balls

    Is It as Good as It Looks?

    That colorful gum in the grocery store aisle may look delicious but, when it comes to your health, not so much. All it takes is to flip the package over and look at the sugar content and ingredients.

    Sugar

    Many gum brands contain high amounts of sugar. When combined with the saliva in your mouth, sugar turns into acid that eats away at enamel, increasing your need for orthodontic care.

    And, of course, you also swallow that sugar. We now know much more about the negative effects sugar can have on dental health—it can increase the risk of getting cavities—and then there are the negative effects of sugar on your general health.

    Ingredients

    Some ingredients in chewing gum are best avoided. One example is titanium dioxide—the same ingredient seen in some brands of sunscreen. This is recognized as a potential carcinogen. Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) is a carcinogenic food additive that some countries have banned.

    Aspartame is a common sugar substitute in chewing gums, but these have been linked to cancer. High fructose corn syrup in many bubble gums is now known to drive the weight gain and inflammation, which leads to serious disease.

    Good Gums

    Now that you know about the bad, it’s time to talk about the good. The right chewing gum can keep orthodontic specialists happy and benefit your dental health by neutralizing acids and keeping your mouth clean. It can also benefit overall health by not introducing unneeded sugar, food coloring, or dangerous ingredients to your body.

    Natural Ingredients

    Xylitol is considered a natural sugar because it’s present in vegetables and fruits. Our bodies also produce it in small amounts. Xylitol slows the growth of cavity-causing bacteria and also keeps it from adhering to your enamel. However, too much can cause gastrointestinal upset in some people, making stevia a natural sweetener to consider.

    Casein is a milk protein that penetrates the surface of teeth and delivers phosphate and calcium to remineralize enamel from the inside out.  You can also find probiotics in several brands of chewing gum.

    labbe family orthodontics team

    Probiotics help balance gut bacteria and strengthen the immune system. Some probiotic gums have also been proven to improve bad breath, reduce cavities, and reduce infections in the ears, nose, and throat.

    Be aware that chewing these good gums isn’t a replacement for dental maintenance or orthodontic treatment. Brushing, flossing, and seeing your orthodontist are still necessary to ensure lifelong dental health.

    Labbe Family Orthodontics specializes in care and treatment for adults and kids and, no matter which location you visit, you’re always treated like family. Life is better with a smile! Call us today at (443) 603-3448.

  • The Differences Between Orthodontists and Dentists

    Most people are aware that orthodontists are different from dentists. However, many people aren’t aware of just what those differences are.

    While dentists and orthodontists both take care of your teeth, dentists perform routine dental services, such as cleaning teeth, treating cavities, and even extracting damaged teeth. Orthodontists, on the other hand, specialize in fixing teeth irregularities. While most of the time this translates to installing braces, orthodontists may also perform surgery in order to align a patient’s teeth and even, potentially, their entire jaw.

    This also means that orthodontists have to have higher qualifications than dentists. Orthodontists must comply with all the requirements that dentists have to have, and they also have to have completed a post-dental school residency that can take two to three years. They also have to complete several hours of orthodontic training before they are considered fully qualified.

    While orthodontists and dentists take care of different aspects of your oral health, both professions have the same goal—to make sure your teeth are healthy and strong. To find out more about the differences between dentists and orthodontists, read the infographic below.

    The Differences Between Orthodontists and Dentists Infographic

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  • How Mouthguards Affect Orthodontic Health

    Dental injuries are very common and can occur during recreational and leisure activities, as well as when participating in a sport. The best way to protect the teeth from injury is to wear a mouthguard. This device benefits your orthodontic health in many ways.

    Mouthguard

    Protects and Prevents Injury

    A mouthguard is a device used in orthodontics to prevent injury to your teeth. It does this by absorbing energy from various types of impacts that can break or chip them. This device can also prevent injury to the rest of your mouth, which can occur as a result of an impact. These include cut cheeks, teeth, lips, and gums.

    The energy of an impact can be enough to break the jaw, but the shock-absorbing power of a mouthguard can help prevent this. If you wear braces, a mouthguard can protect them as well as your teeth and mouth from damage and breakage.

    Not Just for Sports

    A mouthguard can be ideal if you have sleep apnea or bruxism (grinding the teeth). The device pulls your lower jaw forward, which keeps your airway open. If you grind your teeth, once again the guard comes to the rescue by absorbing the force of teeth grinding while providing a barrier between your teeth that prevents them from injuring one another.

    A Proper Fit Is Essential

    Dentist wearing white gloves helping girl to put mouth guard

    You can find ready-to-wear mouthguards in many stores, which can offer some protection to the teeth and mouth. However, one size won’t work for every person. An ill-fitting mouthguard can make it difficult to breathe and talk, not to mention offer virtually no protection for your teeth. Unfortunately, these types of guards usually offer no option to adjust them.

    Another option is to check out the “boil and bite” guards that are typically found at your local sporting goods store. Overall, these products can fit better than their above counterparts. This is because you can boil them to soften the material, place them in your mouth, and adjust the fit with your fingers and tongue.

    The best-fitting mouthguards are those which are custom-made for you. When made exactly for your mouth, custom mouthguards will not only offer the highest degree of protection for your teeth, mouth, and jaw, but they also won’t interfere with breathing or talking. As well, a custom-made mouthguard is adjustable.

    Getting a Custom Mouthguard

    The best person to see about getting a custom-made mouthguard is an orthodontist. Orthodontists specialize in correcting the position of your teeth, which ultimately improves your oral health.

    They create your mouthguard from an impression of your teeth by having you bite into soft material. A mold is then made from this impression. It may be that you only need a guard for your top teeth, but many people wear guards on their top and bottom teeth.

    Looking for a mouthguard? Search for “orthodontist near me” and choose Labbe Family Orthodontics. With Labbe, you’re always treated like family. Call us today and discover why life is better with a smile: 443-603-3448.

  • How Often Should You Brush with Braces?

    We all know that brushing our teeth is essential to good oral health, but having braces means that teeth brushing is that much more important. As a local orthodontist, we get a lot of questions about how to keep teeth clean with braces, including how often to do it. Here’s how to ensure your smile looks great and your teeth stay healthy while you’re wearing braces.

    It’s All About Preventing Plaque Buildup

    blue white bristle plastic brush with gel

    Plaque is a sticky film that can wreak havoc on your teeth if it isn’t removed. When plaque comes into contact with any kind of sugar, it forms acid. Plaque prevention is always important, but even more so for child and adult braces. That’s because there are more places for food to hide, and for plaque and bacteria to develop.

    Left unchecked, the enamel can become damaged, leading to more serious conditions for your orthodontist to treat. All of that acid can also corrode your braces themselves, weakening them and making them less effective.

    How Many Times a Day Should You Brush?

    We recommend brushing your teeth after every meal, as well as before you go to bed. We also strongly suggest flossing every day to remove food particles. Plaque can build up anywhere between four and twelve hours after you’ve eaten, so it’s important to ensure it doesn’t have the chance to build up on your teeth, gums, or braces.

    Although this may seem like a lot, remember that plaque can attack your brackets and wires as well as the glue that holds your brackets to your teeth. If it doesn’t get removed, you’ll have to come back to your orthodontist. Sticking to a regular brushing routine will keep your braces working the way they should so that you only have to come in for minor adjustments.

    Use the Right Tools and Techniques

    smile teen girl with braces

    How to brush teeth with braces begins with a gentle touch. A soft-bristled toothbrush is best for braces, as it can effectively clean your teeth and your braces without damaging them. Flossing with regular floss can be really difficult, so we recommend using waxed floss, which passes between teeth far more easily. A floss threader can help you get around your wires more easily.

    Before brushing, make sure you’ve removed any bands or elastics that can get in the way of proper brushing. Brushing with braces is all about taking your time. You want to make sure that you reach all of the areas around your teeth and braces. It can be a good idea to brush teeth one-by-one so you don’t miss any spots.

    To floss properly, be careful when going underneath the main wire of your braces. Then, gently move the floss gently up and down along the sides of teeth before moving on to the next.

    Labbe Family Orthodontics offers braces for kids and adults at all of our locations, and we always treat you like family. Just call us at 443-603-3448, and you’ll discover why life is better with a smile.

  • A Guide to Premature Baby Tooth Loss

    We all know that children will eventually lose their baby teeth. What happens, though, if they lose their baby teeth prematurely?

    While most children begin losing their baby teeth around the age of six, some factors can cause them to lose their teeth before then. It might be something as typical as physical trauma, like a nasty fall on the playground, but it might also be the symptom of a serious disease.

    Whatever the reason, you’ll want to act fast. You can take steps to save the tooth, but you’ll need to contact a dentist ASAP to have them repair the tooth. However, you should also contact an orthodontist. Even if baby teeth are temporary, the role they play in preparing your child’s mouth for adult teeth cannot be overstated.

    A child losing their baby teeth prematurely can cause many parents to be concerned, and rightfully so. However, your family orthodontists and dentists may be able to repair your child’s missing teeth and head off any of the health problems that can arise from premature baby teeth loss. Read the following infographic for more information.

    A Guide to Premature Baby Tooth Loss Infographic

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  • 10 Braces-Friendly Holiday Treats

    With your child now wearing braces, they need to do things differently than they used to. One difference is what they can eat and, with the holidays coming up, they may be worried that they can’t enjoy any treats. Have no fear! We’ve got 10 really fun treats that are super easy to enjoy and which will maintain their orthodontic care.

    chocolate milkshakes in glass on wooden table

    1. Soft Sugar Cookies

    Whether you buy them or make them together, soft sugar cookies can be a great holiday treat. They won’t damage braces, and they have just enough sweet and soft goodness to make the acceptable yummy treat list!

    2. Hot Cocoa

    This is a great treat for any time the temperature drops, and it’s so easy to make. Just put two tablespoons of cocoa powder in a pot with two cups of milk, mix, and bring to a boil. Add honey to sweeten and, instead of a candy cane, add a dash of peppermint extract.

    3. Soft Candy

    You already know that people with braces have to steer clear of hard and sticky candies—but that doesn’t mean they can’t have other types of candy! Solid chocolate will melt in their mouth, as will soft butter candies.

    4. Pudding

    Pudding is a delicious way to enjoy the holidays. There’s a flavor for everyone, and they come in convenient small packages so that your child can enjoy them in moderation. You can also make your own at home.

    5. Cheesecake

    Cheesecake is a rich and sweet way to enjoy the holidays. Plain cheesecake without sticky or nutty toppings is best, but you can also remove these toppings before eating.

    6. Baked Apple

    Did your family orthodontist advise against eating apples when wearing braces? All you have to do is slice them and put them on a buttered baking sheet. Sprinkle with nutmeg, cinnamon, and sugar, then bake for just over an hour.

    7. Ice Cream

    Ice cream is a great treat for the holidays or any time. Here again, you can make your own or buy it. Banana ice cream is really easy; just freeze bananas, then put them in a blender until smooth. Pop into the freezer for a few hours, and voila! Surprisingly sweet and healthy ice cream.

    8. Frozen Fruit Smoothie

    Many fruits just get sweeter when they’re frozen, and a smoothie can help your child enjoy even hard fruits while getting a kick of natural sugar. Pineapples, seedless grapes, and mangoes all get deliciously sweet when they’ve been frozen. So, blend away!

    9. Fudge

    bowl of potato chips

    Just like cheesecake, fudge is a rich and sweet treat. There are plenty of nut-free varieties you can enjoy with your family while gathered around the Christmas tree.

    10. Chips

    Popcorn is a great holiday treat, but those kernels can be hard on braces. Potato chips are a great alternative; they give a salty crunch that’s not too hard.

    Looking for the closest orthodontist? Look no further; with several locations in Maryland, we’re always close to you. Claim your complimentary consultation today: 443-603-3448.

  • The Dangers of DIY Braces

    There are many misconceptions surrounding adult orthodontic treatment. Many people think orthodontic care is painful or will be too expensive. While it’s true that some treatment options can be an investment, most orthodontists are concerned with giving patients healthy, beautiful smiles. So, many offer payment plans or other options to work with your budget.

    Unfortunately, these misconceptions still exist, and they’re leading people to take part in a popular trend: DIY braces.

    Homemade DIY items seem to be all the rage these days, especially online. Yet, when it comes to the health and safety of your teeth, there are some serious risks to consider if you’re just trying to avoid going to the orthodontist or paying a big bill.

    Let’s take a look at some of the dangers of DIY braces and why you should always see a family orthodontist for any type of braces treatment.

    man's jaw model with braces

    What Are DIY Braces?

    As you might have expected, DIY braces are aligners that are typically delivered right to your door. Most “kits” include rubber bands that you put on your teeth to pull them together and straighten them. Some people have even suggested they closed their “gap-tooth grin” in just over a month with DIY braces.

    However, because they are really nothing more than bands that go around your teeth, there could be some serious risks to consider.

    Risking Your Oral Health

    So, what are some of the potential problems associated with DIY braces?

    First, there’s more to orthodontic treatment than just getting straight teeth. While we do want you to have a beautiful smile, your oral health is important, too. When an orthodontist looks at your teeth during an initial consultation for braces, they’ll be able to see if you have any underlying issues that need to be addressed.

    For example, x-rays are extremely important before getting braces because they give the orthodontist an idea of what’s going on with your teeth, even when you can’t see certain things on the surface. X-rays can reveal if there might be more shifting, if a tooth is impacted, etc. All of these play a part in a treatment plan for straightening your teeth. When you order a DIY solution online, you don’t get that extra care, and you don’t know what you might be dealing with beneath the surface.

    Potential Hazards of At-Home Braces

    Because you aren’t getting the expert treatment and advice from an orthodontist, some of the potential hazards you could face with DIY braces include:

    ● Damage to your teeth and gums
    ● Infection
    ● Pain
    ● Tooth loss

    If any of these issues do occur, you’ll need to go to an orthodontist to fix them. Because they are quite serious, you’ll probably end up spending more money than you would have on braces to begin with.

    group of young happy african american women

    Should I Try DIY Braces?

    We can’t recommend using DIY braces when there are so many options for straightening your teeth today. There is something to fit your needs, your wants, and your budget. If you do decide to go the DIY route, we recommend at least coming in for a consultation first, to learn more about your teeth and what type of orthodontic treatment they need.

    At Labbe Family Orthodontics, we treat all of our patients like family, and we want what’s best for you and your smile! If you have questions about braces or other orthodontic treatment, feel free to contact us today.

  • What Are Lingual Braces?

    You may have heard of braces and Invisalign, but what about lingual braces? These braces are a third option that is similar to regular braces. Instead of the braces being attached to the front of the teeth, though, they are attached to the back of the teeth instead, hiding them from sight.

    Lingual braces can fix the same complex problems as regular braces. Since they are hidden from sight, they are a good option for people who play sports where they might get hit in the mouth, as well as adults and children who are worried that regular braces won’t look good on them.

    While Invisalign braces are admittedly even more undetectable than lingual braces, they aren’t as useful for complex teeth problems. Plus, you don’t need to remember to wear lingual braces or forget to put them in your mouth in the first place.

    If you need to wear braces but don’t want them to be visible, look into getting lingual braces. To find out more about whether lingual braces are right for you, read the infographic below.

    What Are Lingual Braces Infographic

  • A Family Guide to Halloween Candy with Braces

    As Halloween draws near, delicious candies and homemade treats are part of the fun for everyone—but which ones will leave you smiling and which will be goblins at your next visit to the family orthodontist? There are some safe choices out of the bags and buckets of bounty, and some that orthodontic specialists say you should be sure to avoid with braces.

    Let’s look into the spooky subject of Halloween candy and braces. Don’t worry! Tasty treats are waiting.

     

    Halloween Candy You Can Eat with Braces

    cheerful children play with pumpkins and candy

    Share this list with family and friends so that they can stock up on the best Halloween candy this year!

    Chocolate. This may be the best news at Halloween: Pure chocolate melts quickly and completely. It is removed by a good brushing, so keep the kisses and bite-sized chocolates for yourself.

    Peanut Butter Cups. Oh-so-delicious and safe during orthodontic treatment, peanut butter cups have a smooth texture and dissolve easily too. Hang on to a few of these, because they are a family favorite even for parents!

    Soft Caramel and Chocolate. Caramel is not always a good choice, which we will discuss later, but certain soft options are okay. Kisses with caramel or Milky Ways are usually fine. Just remember to brush your teeth well after eating them.

    Candy to Avoid with Braces at Halloween

    There are some candies in your haul that just aren’t good choices this year. The best preventative treatment program might be sharing them with family and friends or having someone take them to work.

    Hard Candies. Things like suckers and sour hard candies dissolve slowly, exposing your teeth to sugar over a long time. Also, if you bite them even a little, they can dislodge bands or damage wires.

    Frozen Candy. Keeping Halloween candy in the freezer is popular with some families, but this year eat your candy at room temperature. Hard frozen caramel may be one of the worst things to chomp on this season.

    Chewing Gum. Gum is never a good choice with braces for teeth, but the bubble gum which is everywhere on this holiday is incredibly sticky and will glue itself to any orthodontic appliances. If you get gum stuck on your braces, call your orthodontist for advice right away.

    children in halloween costumes trick or treating

    Small Coated Candies. Simply because they are small and hard at first bite, tiny treats like M&Ms, Nerds, and Skittles can get trapped under wires or even pop off a bracket when biting down. It is even more troublesome if you eat a handful at a time rather than letting each one dissolve.

    Taffy and Sticky Sweets. Harder caramels, Laffy Taffy, and gummy worms and bears are bad news. They stick to wires and bands, getting into small crevices, and the sugar in them stays in contact with your teeth. Brushing may not get these off easily. Gummy things are ghouls!

    Popcorn Balls. Even popcorn in a bowl can cause particles to get wedged in your braces, and a hard kernel can break a wire or move a band. Combined with a hard candy coating, a popcorn ball can be a scary sight to someone with braces.

    Smiles and Caring Help at Halloween and All Year Long

    Helping you and those you care about smile wide and enjoy more is our goal at Labbe Family Orthodontics. Sharing stories and visiting at holidays is one of the ways we are the family orthodontist that treats you like family.

    Stop by and show us your costumes and call us if there are any unexpected problems. Even if you ate something on the no-no list, we are happy to help. Rather than looking for an “orthodontist near me” this fall, contact us for a caring experience that will be a treat all year long!

  • 5 Tips When Choosing Dental Insurance for Orthodontic Treatment

    When choosing a dental insurance plan for yourself or your family, these tips will help you plan for current and future orthodontic treatment and help defray the out-of-pocket costs. Your family orthodontist may also offer discount plans and financing to help make sure your family is full of bright smiles.

    Let’s look at the best ways to make sure your dental insurance plan is providing the most value for your money:

    5 Tips for Choosing the Right Dental Insurance for Your Family

    dental plan benefits dentist medical healthcare concept

    There are many types of dental insurance with varying deductibles, premiums, and levels of coverage. By choosing insurance that covers orthodontia, you can manage costs in a more predictable way while providing the right treatment at the right time for growing children.

    As you compare plans:

    1. Determine the Types of Services You May Need

    The more family members you have, the more likely someone will need braces for their teeth or special services like implants. Sports enthusiasts may need mouth guards, seniors may need dentures or bridges, and everyone in your family needs preventative care to keep their mouths healthy.

    2. Identify Which Plans Are Available in Your Area

    Your employer will have options to offer in your specific area which may include:

    • Free choice insurance, which pays a specific amount no matter which provider you use. These plans allow you to choose your own doctor.
    • HMOs and PMOs usually have specific dentists and orthodontists from which you may need to choose from.
    • Dental or orthodontic discount plans might also be available directly from your favorite dentist or orthodontist.

    3. Find Out Which Plans Offer the Coverage Your Family Needs

    Dig deeper into the plans available to you, with an eye for coverage of the services you know your family might need. The types of dental coverage available usually include:

    • Preventative care. Also called routine care, this typically covers checkups, cleanings, x-rays, fillings, and sealants. Root canals and routine gum care are sometimes covered.
    • Emergency care. This option provides some dental coverage for cracked or broken teeth, tooth extraction, accident injuries, and oral surgery.
    • Complex care. This is the category where you will find orthodontic treatment It also covers dentures for seniors and bridges, usually at about 50% of the cost. If your family is likely to need these services, getting half off for a slightly higher premium might mean great cost savings down the road.

    4. Find the Plan That Includes the Providers You Want

    We all have preferences when it comes to which dentist, doctor, or orthodontist we visit. If you and your family have a relationship for a fun orthodontic team like ours at Labbe Family Orthodontics, you want to make sure that your chosen dental insurance plan will work with our office in payment of claims.

    To access your preferred orthodontic specialists, check with your HR representative to see which plan would cover their services. Ask your orthodontist which insurance companies they work with already for a smooth transition.

    5. Compare the Real Costs of Each Plan

    patients consulting the dentist at dental clinic

    Insurance policies can be confusing, so it is helpful to figure out what your annual family cost would be with each option. Consider these factors as you tally up the numbers:

    • Monthly premium
    • Deductible
    • Maximum annual limit (by individual or family or both)
    • Waiting periods before coverage begins

    Providing Affordable Smiles with Friendly Faces

    At Labbe Family Orthodontics, we work with the widest range of insurance options available in the Maryland region, and we offer flexible financing and payments. When you make the choice to add orthodontic coverage to your dental insurance plan, don’t just search for an “orthodontist near me.” Make sure we are on the list of approved providers to keep your kids smiling without worrying about your budget!