• 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!

  • Cleaning and Maintaining Your Teeth with Braces

    Wearing braces can be challenging, especially when trying to keep your teeth clean. Fortunately, once you know a few simple tips, you can keep your teeth looking healthy and neat until your braces come off.

    Brushing and flossing can be more difficult, but the main thing to remember is you need to clean the food out of your braces. That means you’ll need to take your time and be thorough. You’ll also want to remember to take the elastics and other removable parts off your teeth beforehand.

    In addition, you should also make sure to cut back on some foods while you’re wearing braces. Your teeth are more susceptible to cavities while wearing braces, so you shouldn’t eat a lot of sweets and other sugary foods. You’ll also want to avoid starchy foods and chewy foods since they can stick to your braces and cause cavities.

    The hardest part about cleaning and maintaining your teeth while wearing braces is developing these new habits, but, once you’ve practiced it for a few days, it will be second nature. To find out more about keeping your teeth clean while wearing braces, please read the following infographic.

    Cleaning and Maintaining Your Teeth with Braces Infographic

  • How to Care for Swollen Gums After Orthodontic Treatment

    Our gums are soft tissues which cradle and surround our teeth, providing nutrients and protection. When the gums become swollen after orthodontic treatment, this is usually a protective response of the immune system to irritation and pressure.

    Because gums also become swollen as a result of gingivitis or infection, it is important to understand how to treat your swollen gums and report any signs of trouble to your orthodontist. Protecting your oral health is always our first priority!

     

    young asian woman looking at her teeth in the mirror

    What Causes Swollen Gums?

    There are many reasons that your gums might become swollen, even if you do not have braces for your teeth. By changing habits, most of these common causes can be avoided:

    • Choosing the wrong toothbrush. Manual or electric, choose a brush with soft, rounded, nylon bristles. Avoid those labeled medium or hard, as these damage enamel and irritate the gums.
    • Brushing too hard. While brushing often is a great habit, your technique is important too. Use gentle motions in a circular pattern, which massages and cleans. Avoid aggressive back and forth or up and down patterns.
    • Flossing too fast. Especially if you have youth or adult invisible braces, flossing keeps food particles from being trapped between teeth and is essential to preventing gum disease and tooth decay. Be gentle in your flossing technique, working into tight spaces by following the curve of each tooth.
    • New orthodontic appliances. Braces and aligners used to straighten teeth put pressure on the gums as well. These soft tissues must adjust to allow the teeth to move and could be rubbed by a retainer, band, or aligner tray. They will adjust to these pressures but need time to do so.

     

    Spotting the Signs of Gum Disease (Gingivitis)

    It is worth mentioning that another cause of swollen gums is periodontal disease. Because you are visiting with your orthodontist on a regular basis for braces adjustment or Invisalign treatment, it is unlikely that you have serious gum disease. However, more than ¾ of Americans over 35 will deal with gum disease at some point.1

    Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease and is caused by a minor bacterial infection. Gingivitis is often caused by trapped food particles, and it may cause swollen gums around the problem spot. Brushing, flossing, and rinsing will usually remove the irritant, allowing the gums to heal.

    joyful girl gesturing her beaming white healthy teeth

     

    Caring for Swollen Gums After Orthodontic Services

    There are many things you can do at home to reduce discomfort and soothe your irritated gums. Follow these tips for a fast return to normal:

    • Brushing frequently but gently with a soft toothbrush to remove bacteria and any trapped particles.
    • Flossing at least once a day or after every meal and clean under the gumline, removing particles, plaque, and bacteria that your toothbrush cannot reach.
    • Rinsing with a recommended mouthwash after flossing removes what your flossing and brushing have loosened. Medicated rinses actively kill bacteria and speed healing.
    • Cold liquids reduce swelling and an ice pack can work with over the counter pain-relievers to eliminate discomfort during an adjustment to new orthodontic devices.
    • Rinsing the mouth with a mild, warm saltwater solution can help speed healing of rubbing irritations and discourage bacterial growth.
    • Disinfecting toothbrushes and removable appliances with rinses or UV light can help keep your gums healthy and give you peace of mind about the cleanliness of your dental hygiene tools.

     

    Happy Healthy Smiles Start with Great Gums

    At Labbe Family Orthodontics, we want your whole mouth to be healthy, and pain-free gums are part of your happy smile. Contact our team of orthodontic specialists in Annapolis, Crofton/Gambrills, Bowie, or Greenbelt today to enhance your healthy gumline, improve your smile, and have fun while you visit with us.

    Source:

    1. https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/gum-problem-basics-sore-swollen-and-bleeding-gums#2-4

  • Clean and Clear: Maintaining Oral Hygiene with Invisalign

    The popularity of adult clear braces continues to grow, and these amazing aligners allow easy removal for eating. Taking care of your teeth and practicing good oral hygiene during Invisalign treatment will give you beautiful results and a healthy smile.

    Let’s cover the orthodontist recommended cleaning procedures, daily habits to practice, and what you should carry with you to maintain good hygiene with Invisalign.

    beautiful smiling woman using a toothbrush

    How to Care for Your Invisalign Aligners

    As your clear braces work to straighten teeth, they must be very tight-fitting and will develop a film on both the inside and outside surfaces. They should be cleaned several times a day to prevent yellowing and odor.

    Here’s how to do the best job getting your aligners clean:

    • Brush the trays whenever you brush your teeth.
    • Wash them with clear antibacterial hand soap and rinse thoroughly as needed.
    • Always clean, or at least rinse, your aligners before storing them in the case.
    • Soak your aligners once daily in denture cleaner or Invisalign cleaning crystals.
    • Only replace your aligner onto freshly brushed and flossed teeth.

    Daily Habits for Maintaining Good Hygiene with Invisalign

    Your clear braces will fit right into your active lifestyle if you keep just a few things in mind:

    Stop wearing lip gloss or lipstick, which can adhere to the aligners and interfere with their grip on the teeth. Colored lip products can stain the aligners or be trapped against a tooth and cause discoloration. Clear lip balm can be used for dry or chapped lips.
    Brush and floss after eating meals and snacks or drinking anything other than water. This step is an essential part of using adult invisible braces, and you should plan on brushing much more often than you might have before. Food particles trapped between teeth and inside the aligner won’t be washed out by normal saliva and tongue movements.
    Avoid hot drinks that cause stains, such as coffee and black tea. The combination of heat and strong colors can stain your aligners over time, just as they stain teeth. By holding the liquid against your teeth, the tendency to stain is increased. If you do enjoy a coffee, remove your aligner, then clean your teeth before replacing it.
    Ask your Invisalign orthodontist about your unique hobbies, activities, and lifestyle. With the goal in mind of wearing your aligners at least 22 hours per day, making sure that you know how to care for your braces and the teeth inside them under any scenario will keep you involved in sports or travel without worries.

    couple brushing teeth in the bathroom together

    What Things Should You Carry to Take Care of Invisalign Aligners?

    You will find it much easier to keep up with your hygiene habits if you have the right tools handy when the time comes. Some of the best items to carry with you at school, work, or when traveling are:

    • Floss picks or small dental floss to remove food stuck between teeth
    • Orthodontic wax to cover any uncomfortable edges
    • Invisalign chewies, which help seat the tray properly and can relieve discomfort
    • Aligner retrieval tools, which can help remove and replace the aligner if you have difficulty doing it by hand or when a tray is new
    • Cleansing products, sprays, or towelette wipes, which will allow you to spray or wipe down the aligners when rinsing is not practical
    • A discreet zipper case or kit to keep these essential items handy at all times

    Finding Family-Friendly Orthodontic Treatment First

    Choosing clear braces for your teeth starts with finding an orthodontist and team that you trust. At Labbe Family Orthodontics, we bring you the latest braces and treatment options in a fun and pleasant place to be. Contact us to schedule a visit at one of our four locations and get clear answers to all your questions!

  • How Gaps Between Teeth Are Corrected

    Gaps between your teeth—also called diastemas—can happen for a wide variety of reasons. Sometimes they’re baby teeth trying to fill adult-sized gaps, sometimes the teeth can be pushed apart from an overbite or tongue movement, and sometimes the jaw is simply a little too big for all the teeth.

    Whatever the reason is, it’s important to know that having a diastema is incredibly common and, in almost all cases, no cause for alarm. The only problem that a gap might cause is in leaving the gum exposed to sharp foods like potato chips, or the annoyance of getting food stuck in there.

    With a gap-toothed look popularized by a number of models over the last few years, many people are realizing that you don’t need to have a perfectly full mouth to be beautiful—but, if you’re still not confident with your smile or you are concerned about the potential for gum damage, there are a few different ways we can fix that gap.

    Like to know how it works? Keep reading this infographic to find out more—and, remember, if you have any questions, you can visit us for a complimentary consultation session! Just call (443) 603-3448, and our friendly staff will help you book an appointment.

    How Gaps Between Teeth Are Corrected Infographic

    Click below to embed this infographic into your website:

  • When Should You Start Considering Orthodontic Treatment?

    Each patient and smile is different, and children’s teeth go through many phases as they grow. Consulting with a pediatric orthodontist early on can help you plan for the future and take the right steps at exactly the right time to help your child grow into a healthy, beautiful smile.

    There are many great options when it comes to braces for kids. Let’s talk about how early to schedule the first orthodontist visit, what the initial visit will be like, and the options available for your children’s treatment.

    At What Age Should Your Child Visit the Orthodontist?

    The recommendation of the American Association of Orthodontists is that children should have their first appointment at age seven. Certainly, if your dentist recommends a visit sooner or if you have specific concerns, you can visit a children’s orthodontist even earlier.

    litile boy show myofunctional trainer

    Why Is An Early Visit Important?

    Straightening teeth is a science of gentle pressure and guidance. By visiting early and building a relationship with an orthodontist, your child gains these advantages:

    • Identifying jaw growth issues and treating emerging teeth for the best possible results.
    • Preventing more serious problems and more complex treatment in adulthood with early intervention.
    • Having time to correct oral habits like night thumb sucking before they impact permanent teeth and jaw growth, reducing the need for realignment later.
    • Reducing the risk of injury if the front teeth protrude, as well as reducing teasing and enhancing confidence.
    • Improving developing speech and reducing lisps by helping the lips meet correctly.

    What to Expect at a Family Orthodontics Visit

    Your first visit to an orthodontist’s office will help you decide if this is the right place for your family. The closest orthodontist might be the most convenient, but the relationship that your family builds with the right team of specialists can last through generations!

    The purpose of a first appointment should be to meet your team of specialists and discuss your expectations and goals. The initial consultation procedure generally takes about one to two hours.

    • Supportive and friendly staff members will gather your family history and basic information.
    • Your orthodontist will perform a visual and gentle examination of the teeth and gums.
    • X-rays and photographs will be taken to identify hidden problems and document the starting point of treatment
    • Your orthodontist will explain any issues that might need treatment or may find that everything is great as it is.
    • You will get clear recommendations about what treatments might be beneficial and how soon they should start.
    • You will receive an estimate of treatment costs and get help understanding your insurance coverage.
    • If you wish, you might also discuss the payment plans and financing options available.

    little funny girl with retainer and toothbrush

    Moving Forward with a Family-Focused Team

    At Labbe Family Orthodontics, we will help you choose a treatment plan that is timely, gentle, and affordable because we know life is better with a smile! We offer traditional metal braces, Invisalign aligners, almost invisible ceramic braces, and more.

    With a fun, family-focused environment, the best children’s orthodontist for your Maryland family is right here! At our conveniently located offices in Annapolis, Gambrills, Bowie, and Greenbelt, the smiles start with your first visit and last a lifetime. We would love to meet you and your children at any age, so contact us now for that important first appointment.

  • When the Aligners Arrive: Day 1 of Invisalign® Treatment

    The day you start your Invisalign® treatment is an exciting one. It marks the start of a step-by-step process toward an even greater smile, using one of the best invisible braces on the market. As with any change, it will take a little time to adjust, but you will soon be a pro at wearing, cleaning, and removing your new aligners.

    woman wearing orthodontic silicone trainer

    You may experience some minor pain and gum irritation on day one of wearing your clear aligners, but your mouth will soon become accustomed to them. The process of teeth straightening involves putting gentle but constant pressure on the teeth to be moved, so some soreness is possible when a new tray is used.

    What can you do to make your first few days with Invisalign® more comfortable?

    Use Dental Wax for Irritating Edges

    Dental wax may come from your orthodontist, and it can even be ordered online. This soft and safe substance is designed to cover wires and brackets for traditional braces, but it works well on any edge that feels sharp. Replace the wax daily, or as needed when you clean your aligner.

    Practice Chewing

    Eat soft foods or liquids if your teeth are sore from the guiding pressure of the aligner.

    Biting and chewing exercises improve circulation, massage the gums, and serve as a natural pain reliever. Using Styrofoam “chewies” from the aligner starter kit, you can do these exercises several times a day to ensure that your aligners are fully seated.

    Inserting and Removing Your Aligners

    You will be shown how to insert and remove the aligners, but, especially with a brand new and tight-fitting tray, it can be a little tricky until you get used to it.

    These tips may help as you learn how to handle your new Invisalign® treatment:

    Inserting an Invisalign® Aligner

    • Gently push the aligners over your front teeth.
    • Use your fingertips to push the back of the tray up on both sides.
    • Snap the aligner in place on both back molars at once.
    • Avoid “biting” the aligner into position.

    Removing an Invisalign® Aligner

    • Start with a fingertip on the inside of your back molars.
    • Gently pull the aligner away from your back teeth.
    • Slowly work forward with your fingers to free the tray from each tooth until it comes away easily.

    How Should I Care for My Aligner?

    You should follow these simple rules to care for your Invisalign®:

    • Remove the aligners to eat or to drink anything but water.
    • Brush your teeth and the aligner before putting it back in.
    • Wear your aligners 20-22 hours per day.

    woman putting invisalign aligner tray into her mouth

    What Other Things Will I Notice?

    You might notice that your speech is affected at first, making it difficult to say certain words or causing a slight lisp. This is normal and will disappear quickly with practice.

    A Clear Focus on Your Smile

    Finding the best orthodontist available helps make the process of improving your smile fun and easy. At Labbe Family Orthodontics, we treat you like one of our family. We bring happy faces to all ages with orthodontics focused on an enjoyable patient experience. Schedule an appointment today at one of our convenient locations in Annapolis, Bowie, Greenbelt or Crofton, MD.