COVID-19 Alert   We Are Open! But Still Offering Virtual Consultations from Virtually Anywhere.   CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

  • Questions Every Parent Has About Invisalign for Teens

    Thanks to Invisalign, your teen won’t have to worry about the discomfort and insecurity associated with traditional metal braces. Even so, you probably have some questions, such as how teen Invisalign works, what your teen can and can’t eat with them, and how long they should wear them each day. We answer these and other common questions.

    smiling black mixed race mom hug teenage girl bonding posing for portrait

    How Do Invisalign Braces Work?

    Invisalign aligners will move your child’s teeth into position in the same way that traditional braces do. They place enough pressure on the teeth to shift them gradually into alignment. However, unlike traditional braces, your teen will have to wear a new aligner every two weeks. Each subsequent aligner will continue to move teeth to where they should be until treatment is complete.

    Do They Cost More Than Metal Braces?

    Now that they’ve been around for many years, the cost of Invisalign is about the same as traditional metal braces. As well, because most insurance plans cover Invisalign braces, your cost can be lower than expected.

    What Can and Can’t My Teen Eat with Invisalign?

    Many parents are surprised at the very few diet restrictions for Invisalign braces. Your teen will have to remove their aligners whenever they wish to drink or eat something, especially hot items. This is because heat can cause the plastic material to warp, which will render them ineffective.

    Instead of junk food, the best diet for a healthy mouth and body is one that’s well-balanced and contains the proteins, vitamins, and minerals every body needs.

    How Long Does Invisalign Need to Be Worn Daily?

    In order for Invisalign to work as intended, they must be worn between 20 and 22 hours a day. This means that your teen will need to track how long their aligners have been out of their mouth and remember to replace them once they’re finished eating. Otherwise, their treatment will end up taking far longer than it should.

    Is There a Difference Between Invisalign for Adults and Teens?

    Dental invisible braces in the hands of a young smiling girl

    There are a couple of differences between adult and teen Invisalign braces. The teen version has a small dot on the back of each aligner. The longer the braces are in the mouth, the faster the dot will change color from its original blue to clear and finally white. This can make it easier for you and your orthodontist to tell how frequently your teen is wearing their aligners.

    The other difference is the number of replacement aligners you get. Because teens aren’t always as responsible as adults, you will get more replacement aligners for your teen than an adult would receive. That way, they can replace any lost or broken aligners quickly for the least interruption in treatment.

    Does your teen need Invisalign retainers? Call Labbe Family Orthodontics. We’ll be happy to schedule an appointment at any of our four locations in Maryland to see if they are a candidate. At Labbe, you’re always treated like family. Life is better with a smile; call 443-603-3448 today.

  • Problems Caused by Crooked Teeth

    Having crooked teeth can negatively affect your confidence and overall happiness, but it can also have a negative effect on your health. Here are some common and avoidable health effects of crooked teeth.


    When teeth overlap, they create tight spaces that can’t be reached with a toothbrush, and bacteria can thrive in these areas. High bacteria populations can cause bad breath and, over time, they can create more serious problems if you don’t see an orthodontist.

    Accelerated Tooth Wear

    Crooked teeth can mean that there is excess friction against their surfaces, which causes teeth to wear prematurely. If this continues, teeth can lose their protective enamel and, ultimately, be more vulnerable to cavities.

    Difficult Maintenance Can Lead to Serious Disease

    Gum disease occurs when the gums become inflamed and infected. This condition is a common result of crowded teeth, which are more difficult to clean. Although gum disease is reversible, it can cause more persistent health issues such as diabetes and heart disease.

    Do you have crooked teeth? You may also be experiencing different problems from those listed above. Check this detailed infographic from Labbe Family Orthodontics for other symptoms of crooked teeth to be aware of.

    Problems Caused by Crooked Teeth Infographic

    Click below to embed this infographic into your website:

  • Important Tips for Drinking and Eating with Invisalign

    If you’ve recently been fitted with Invisalign, your orthodontist may have told you a bit about eating and drinking as you progress through treatment. However, there are some tips that are very important to always follow.

    Eating with Invisalign Attachments

    Platter Food Delicious Food on Restaurant Dining

    The great news is that you can eat almost anything you wish with Invisalign because these braces aren’t like traditional braces. Traditional braces have metal brackets attached to each tooth, with wires installed between each of them. Food can become caught or stuck underneath brackets, and there is the risk of the brackets and wires coming loose when you eat certain foods while wearing them.

    With Invisalign, all you need to do is remove the braces when you want to eat. However, you still should avoid crunchy or sticky foods while you’re wearing them. Also, because Invisalign needs to be worn up to 22 hours per day, the faster you can eat a meal or snack, the sooner they can be put back on.

    The general rule is to ensure that you’re not wearing them for less than 20 hours daily. Of course, being able to eat whatever you want still means you’ll have to clean your teeth and your braces properly. More on that later.

    Drinking with Invisalign

    Drinking liquids while wearing Invisalign braces is different from eating with them. That’s because the temperature of some liquids can cause damage to the plastic these braces are made of. If you’re drinking room temperature or cool water, for example, then it’s perfectly fine to wear your Invisalign braces.

    However, if you’re drinking hot beverages like coffee, it’s very important to remove your braces beforehand, as the heat will cause your braces to warp. This is the last thing you want. Once warping happens, your braces will no longer fit the way you need them to, which can make your mouth feel very uncomfortable and delay your treatment progress.

    Caring for Your Mouth and Braces

    pink white toothbrush

    Even though you’re wearing removable braces, ensuring your mouth and teeth are as clean as possible is just as important as it would be if you were wearing traditional braces. Because Invisalign braces sit over your teeth for several hours, you’ll want to brush more often. Travel toothbrushes are great for keeping teeth clean during the day.

    You’ll want to clean your teeth and braces thoroughly every morning and each night before bed. A toothbrush with soft bristles and a bit of soap are all you need. Every time you need to remove your braces, give them a good rinse with warm water to eliminate any build-up of acidic plaque and saliva.

    Now that you know all about drinking and eating with Invisalign attachments, you’ll want to ensure your teeth are getting the best care possible. Labbe Family Orthodontics offers the latest orthodontic treatments, including Invisalign, at all of our locations. We always treat you like family. Just call 443-603-3448, and you’ll discover that life is better with a smile.

  • Should Flossing Be Painful?

    Flossing, a highly recommended oral hygiene habit, should not be painful. In fact, experiencing pain when flossing or brushing can be an indication of an underlying health problem. Flossing with braces can trigger pain from already sensitive teeth and gums. Tips from your local orthodontic practice can help, which will be explained later. First, here are some reasons it may hurt to floss.

    Causes of Gum Pain

    Beautiful young woman suffering from toothache

    It is possible you brushed your teeth too hard, irritating your gums. However, underlying conditions that can lead to pain include:

    • Gingivitis: Having sore gums is the most common sign of this early form of gum disease. When plaque builds up on teeth, it can cause gum tissue to become swollen and tender. Gingivitis can lead to more serious gum disease if not treated.
    • Periodontitis: An advanced form of gum disease, periodontitis is a serious infection that can damage soft tissue, destroy bone, and cause tooth loss. Affected gums can be painful, tender, swollen, red, and bleed easily.
    • Poor Diet: A diet rich in vitamin C, calcium, and other nutrients can reduce your risk of developing gum disease, thereby helping prevent sore gums. To protect your gums, avoid or limit intake of bread, candy, citrus, carbonated drinks, and alcohol.

    Using tobacco has also been associated with gum disease. Inflammation in the body can be brought on by stress, which can affect your gums. Another contributor to gum pain and disease is a lack of oral hygiene. It’s also possible you’re using a toothbrush with hard bristles, which can be corrected by selecting a softer brush and adjusting your brushing technique. Make sure you brush twice a day and reach all teeth surfaces and along the gum line.

    How Should You Be Flossing?

    Close up of toothbrush and dental floss

    While it’s important to floss daily, doing so improperly can damage your teeth and gums. The proper steps to flossing are as follows:

    • Cut 18 to 24 inches of dental floss and wind most of it around your middle fingers.
    • Hold the string with your thumbs and index fingers, so it is taut.
    • Gently place the floss between two teeth.
    • Glide it gently up and down along the sides of each tooth.
    • Curve the floss at the base to reach between the tooth and gums.
    • Repeat, and avoid gliding the floss into your gums, which can cause bruising.

    If you have braces, waxed floss won’t get stuck or tear. Use the same amount of floss and stand in front of a mirror. Begin flossing between your teeth and the main wire. Twisting loose ends around your index fingers makes it easier to maneuver. When fitting the floss between teeth, be as gentle as possible. For better coverage, make an upside-down U when flossing your top teeth, and then unthread the floss from behind the wire.

    Call Your Dentist or Orthodontics Clinic if Flossing Hurts

    If you’re receiving teeth straightening treatment, flossing can be more difficult, but it should never hurt. Pain and swelling can be a sign of an emergency. Call Labbe Family Orthodontics at 443-603-3448 if you have gum pain after flossing or would like to schedule an appointment at one of our Maryland clinics.

  • 5 Benefits of Straighter Teeth

    Everyone knows that you see an orthodontist to get your teeth straightened. Not as many people, though, know the benefits of having straight teeth or whether there are benefits at all. The truth is that straight teeth provide several advantages and are an integral part of dental health.

    For instance, the straighter your teeth are, the less tooth decay you’ll have. This is because straight teeth provide fewer hiding places for bacteria to grow.

    Straighter teeth are also at less risk to be damaged than crooked teeth. This means fewer trips to the dentist for fillings or replacements and for brighter teeth and less risk of gum disease.

    Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of having straighter teeth is the increase in self-confidence you’ll have as a result of looking your best. Many people enjoy smiling more once their teeth are straightened, and lots of people feel less stress and anxiety around other people after an orthodontist has straightened their teeth.

    Straighter teeth offer several benefits to orthodontic patients, from having healthier gums to improved digestion. To find out more about the benefits of having straighter teeth, read the infographic below.

    5 Benefits of Straighter Teeth Infographic

    Click below to embed this infographic into your website:

  • Enjoying Frozen Summer Treats Without the Sensitivity

    According to the Academy of General Dentistry, at least 40 million adults in the U.S. are affected by sensitive teeth.1 Often temporary, the pain can come on suddenly and feel extremely sharp. Tooth sensitivity is often triggered by sudden coldness, such as from a frozen snack in the summer. If you or your child sees an orthodontist and has braces, sensitivity isn’t uncommon. Fortunately, there are ways to treat and prevent it.

    Women eat ice cream and have a toothache because cold

    What Causes Sensitive Teeth?

    Everyone is at risk for tooth sensitivity, with causes such as:

    • Eroded or cracked enamel: This can expose softer dentin, so any cold reaches the underlying nerves more easily.

    • Gum recession: In people with receding gums, the dentin can become exposed.

    • Gingivitis: Teeth roots can become exposed when gum tissue is sore and inflamed over a long period of time.

    • Cracked teeth: When cracks fill with plaque and bacteria, the pulp can become inflamed and infected.

    • Dental procedures: Cavity fillings, teeth-whitening treatments, and orthodontic procedures can trigger tooth sensitivity.

    How to Prevent It

    You can avoid teeth sensitivity in some cases. For example, if your child has received treatment at a family orthodontics clinic, maintaining good oral hygiene can prevent or reduce sensitivity. In addition to keeping teeth clean, using a softer-bristle toothbrush can prevent irritation. Avoiding acidic foods and beverages, using a mouthguard at night (if you grind your teeth), and visiting your dentist regularly are good preventative measures too.

    How to Treat It

    Toothpaste for sensitive teeth can help. There are many over-the-counter brands, and your dentist can recommend one, but you may have to try several to find one that works. The best desensitizing toothpaste is fluoridated, not a tartar-control product.

    Smiling girl and boy walking eating ice cream

    Silver diamine fluoride was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2014. It is a topical treatment that some studies have found to effectively reduce pain. Silver diamine can harden the tooth surface and protect exposed dentin. The compound is applied twice a year by a dental practitioner.

    In addition to desensitizing toothpaste, there are many home remedies for sensitive teeth, such as:

    • Saltwater rinse: Salt helps reduce inflammation and is an antiseptic. Gargle and rinse with lukewarm salt water twice a day to reduce sensitivity triggered by frozen summer treats.

    • Honey/warm water: Honey can help reduce pain as well as inflammation. Just mix a spoonful of it with warm water and rinse.

    • Turmeric: Massaging ground turmeric on teeth can alleviate inflammation and pain.

    • Capsaicin: The spicy agent in chili peppers can reduce pain and inflammation due to burning mouth syndrome.

    • Vanilla extract: This can provide pain relief and is often used for teething babies; pour the extract onto a cotton ball and apply it to your gums for several minutes.

    Visit Your Orthodontist

    Labbe Family Orthodontics provides a range of services, including braces for children and adults, Invisalign, and surgical treatments. We can also help address the causes of your tooth sensitivity. Schedule your appointment online or call 443-603-3448 today to meet with Dr. Stephen Labbe for a complimentary consultation.



  • 6 Tips for Dealing with Brace Pain

    Pain caused by braces usually goes away quickly—but when you or your child are dealing with brace pain, those few days can be a challenge. When braces are first fitted and after adjustments, the mouth needs a few days to adjust to the changes. With these tips, you will be smiling again before you know it.

    Teenager with braces is having a toothache

    Taking the Sting out of Wearing Braces

    Discomfort from new braces may last a few days to a few weeks because of rubbing metal parts, changes in blood flow, and gentle pressure on the teeth.1 Your pediatric orthodontics office should be happy to help with supplies and advice during this transition to a more beautiful smile.

    Some of the best ways to stop the sting are:

    1. Apply Dental Wax to Rough Spots

    You can get dental wax from your orthodontist or at a pharmacy. It is firm but pliable, and it is used to cover the metal brackets or any place the lips get sore. Pretty soon, you won’t even notice these spots anymore. You can use dental wax at any time but applying it at bedtime after tooth brushing is very helpful.

    2. Use a Numbing Medicine on Pain Points

    Applying something like Orabase, Orajel, or any local anesthetic designed for mouth pain will give temporary relief from sores or gum pain for several hours. Apply with your finger or a cotton swab on lips, teeth, and gums, following the package directions. Toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth may also help.

    3. Try a Gum Massage for Healing

    Massaging the gums helps circulation and may relieve pain. Gently rub your gums with your fingertips in a circular movement. You can massage them with an ice cube also, to reduce swelling and soreness.

    4. Get a Mouth Guard

    You might want a mouth guard anyway if you participate in active sports while wearing braces. You can also use your mouth guard to put a barrier between the brackets and wires of your braces and the inside of your mouth. This helps sores heal and prevents further irritation.

    teenage girl with dental braces and holding ice cream

    5. Eat and Drink Cold Soft Things

    You should eat things that are cool and easy to chew while you have brace pain. Frozen strawberries, grapes, yogurt, ice cream, juice pops, and even frozen teething rings will not only numb the discomfort with cold, but they’ll keep you fed and distract you.

    6. Take Medication as Needed

    Natural remedies often take care of the pain caused by braces, but there’s nothing wrong with taking an over the counter painkiller like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Your doctor or orthodontist can make a specific recommendation for you and tell you how much to take or if any other medications might help.

    What if These Tips Don’t Do the Trick?

    If these simple steps don’t help, or the pain gets worse instead of better, you should talk to your orthodontist’s office for some advice. A bracket, band, or wire might have come loose or something else might need adjustment.

    We always want to know what’s happening between our patients’ appointments, so if your child or you have unexpected problems, give us a call right away. While some discomfort is expected during the process of straightening teeth, we are happy to help in any way we can. Give us a call today at (443) 603-3448 to find out more or schedule an appointment.



  • Caring for Your Braces

    Getting braces can be exciting, but it also brings some new challenges. How do you care for your braces?

    The first thing to know is that some foods can damage your braces—along with your teeth. These include crunchy foods like potato chips and apples, sugary foods like soda and ice cream, and sticky foods like caramel and taffy. You should also know how to brush properly with braces. You may even want to get a thin interdental brush to reach some hard-to-reach areas in your mouth.

    After brushing, you also need to know how to floss and rinse after you brush to ensure no food particles are left over. Flossing might be a little more difficult, so you may want to invest in an air or water flosser as an easy-to-use alternative

    Caring for your braces can seem difficult, but the reality is you just need to put some extra effort into cleaning your teeth and know what foods to avoid. To find out more about how to care for your braces, read the infographic below.

    Caring for Your Braces Infographic

    Click below to embed this infographic into your website:

  • 5 Causes of Bad Breath in Children

    Halitosis or bad breath is a very common occurrence among children, but it can have several different causes, some of them requiring a visit to a children’s orthodontist. We reveal 5 ways that a child can develop bad breath and what can be done about it.

    shocked little boy closing his mouth by hands

    1. Food and Improper Teeth Cleaning

    There are many foods out there that don’t smell great and which can easily cause your child to have bad breath. When those food particles are left on their teeth, the result can be even worse.

    Ensuring your child’s teeth are properly flossed, brushed, and rinsed twice daily will offer several benefits. You could also stop serving foods like garlic and onions but, if you do, be warned: No pizza, hummus, or spaghetti sauce will ever be the same!

    2. Dry Mouth

    Children who breathe through their mouth when asleep or awake may have less saliva. As well, bad-smelling gases can also be released through the mouth to cause halitosis. Both can work together to create bad breath, but more water can eliminate it.

    3. Illness

    If your child has bad breath but has also been complaining of facial pain, has been coughing, or has had a runny nose for what seems like a long time, this could indicate sinusitis. Sinusitis causes the sinuses to become inflamed and blocked.

    A good way to flush that bacteria out and improve bad breath is to ensure your children drink plenty of water. Blowing their noses will also help remove the blockage and the infection.

    A child who’s been vomiting, experiencing abdominal pain and nausea, and complaining of heartburn in addition to having bad breath may have acid reflux. Regardless of the symptoms, a visit to the doctor is best to confirm any diagnosis and get the right medication for your child.

    4. Tooth Decay

    Another very popular cause of bad breath in children is tooth decay. Once that decay has begun, it can be too painful to brush and floss, which causes the food buildup we mentioned earlier. The more they don’t brush, the more food and bacteria will accumulate on their teeth and gums. Seeing a specialist in orthodontics for children will allow cavities to be repaired and teeth to be thoroughly cleaned.

    Cute african girl during dental treatment at modern clinic

    5. Misalignment of the Teeth

    Any time teeth are crooked, crowded, or otherwise not in a healthy position, they can cause bad breath. How? The improper placement of teeth can cause them to wear in odd places, making them vulnerable to cavities.

    In addition, teeth that are crowding against one another can be impossible to floss, leading to bacteria becoming trapped and causing cavities between the teeth that you may not be able to see. You guessed it. A visit to an orthodontist is the solution.

    Does your little one have bad breath due to cavities, mouth breathing, or crooked teeth? Labbe Family Orthodontics can help. Our experienced, friendly orthodontists and staff always treat you like family. Just call us today to schedule your child’s consultation: 443-603-3448.

  • 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.


    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.


    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.