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  • Navigating Orthodontic Wax: Dos and Don’ts

    During early orthodontic care when the new braces for your teeth are first applied, you may have some minor discomfort caused by the new appliances rubbing on the soft tissues of your mouth. Until you get used to your braces, there is no need to worry and frown. Life is better with a smile, and you can use orthodontic wax for immediate pain relief!

    Dental wax is available from orthodontic specialists and at pharmacies, and it is designed to cover sharp or rough edges that might be causing irritation. This substance is soft, non-toxic, and easy to use whenever you need it. If your braces are damaged or become suddenly more painful, reach out to our office for advice, but, for minor irritation and temporary relief, dental wax is a perfect solution.

    girl with braces in her teeth smiling

    What Is Orthodontic Wax?

    Dental or orthodontic wax is specially designed to relieve pain caused by orthodontic treatment. It creates a barrier which prevents further irritation and allows time for the mouth to heal. It is easy to apply and remove, and is inexpensive to purchase. All in all, it is one of the best treatment options for children and adults who are adjusting to their braces.

    What Is Dental Wax for Braces Made From?

    All formulations of orthodontic wax include natural, non-toxic waxes. Some may contain a percentage of carnauba or beeswax, or might have an added flavoring. Most contain paraffin and are tasteless. They are designed to be firm at room temperature and pliable at body temperature. Wax is completely safe if swallowed in small quantities.

    How to Apply Orthodontic Wax for Braces

    To protect your healthy teeth and gums, follow these steps to apply dental wax to your braces:

    • Begin by washing your hands and brushing your teeth where you will apply the wax.
    • Break off a piece of wax the size of a small pea and roll it between your fingers until it is pliable.
    • When the wax is a soft ball, flatten it slightly and press it over the point of irritation.
    • Remove it using your fingers or by brushing it off with a toothbrush.

    Dos and Don’ts When Using Orthodontic Wax

    For good oral health, it is important to continue with your recommended brushing and flossing routine while you are using dental wax on your braces. These dos and don’ts will help:

    Do: Replace the wax as needed.
    Don’t: Reuse the wax or keep a single piece in place for more than two days.

    Do: Eat soft foods and drink liquids with the wax in place.
    Don’t: Keep wax in place if food becomes stuck to it.

    Do: Keep the wax in place overnight.
    Don’t: Worry if you swallow it while sleeping or eating.

    Do: Contact your orthodontist if the pain persists or comes on suddenly.
    Don’t: Try to fix, bend, or repair wires or brackets by yourself.

    boy with braces in his teeth smiling

    Smoothing the Way to a Superb Smile

    Making your transition to a better smile smooth and pain-free is important to us at Labbe Family Orthodontics. While some discomfort is normal with early orthodontic care, these specialized dental waxes offer immediate relief until your mouth becomes accustomed to your new braces.

    At our family orthodontics practice, we truly treat you like one of our family. We do everything possible to make the process pleasant, enjoyable, and exciting. Smoothing the path to your perfect smile starts with a caring, compassionate team that is committed to your healthy and happy future. Give us a call today and let us make you feel comfortable!

  • From Overbite to Underbite – A Closer Look at Malocclusion

    Do you have a malocclusion? If it sounds scary, don’t be alarmed. All a malocclusion means is that your teeth are not properly aligned.

    How can you tell if you have a malocclusion? There are several signs, including biting your tongue and inner cheeks, breathing through your mouth instead of your nose, or developing speech issues like a lisp.

    There’s no one single cause of a malocclusion. If you suspect you have one, the best thing to do is visit an orthodontist. He or she will take dental x-rays and determine whether or not you have a Class 1, Class 2, or Class 3 malocclusion.

    If you do have a malocclusion, the orthodontist will determine the best treatment for you based on your age, medical history, and overall health, among other things. Braces are the most well-known treatment, but you could get your teeth capped or reshaped. Your orthodontist might even suggest surgery to reshape your jaw.

    A malocclusion can potentially cause several problems in your mouth, but it’s not hard for an orthodontist to diagnose and start treating one. For more information about malocclusions, read the following infographic

    A Closer Look at Malocclusion Infographic

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  • When You Need Your Space: What You Should Know About Orthodontic Spacers

    Orthodontic spacers (or separators) are often used for braces by creating space for fitting dental bands. Elastic spacers are the most widely used, although sometimes metal spacers are required for advanced orthodontic care. They are common in the early phases of treatment and are sometimes needed later to make small adjustments in tooth alignment.

    Creating enough space for a perfect fit allows your braces to work effectively and quickly to create your ideal smile. If you have orthodontic spacers or are about to have them inserted, there are a few things you should know about the process.

    cheerful young girl with braces pointing fingers at her mouth

    How Do Orthodontic Spacers Work?

    Spacers are placed between the teeth in a simple office visit, as the first step in fitting braces for adults and children. The small elastic rings are threaded onto a piece of dental floss and slipped into place, and then the string is removed. The spacers create pressure that moves the teeth apart.

    Spacers or “orthodontic separators” are also a useful treatment option for certain dental conditions, including management of ectopic teeth (which erupt abnormally), and for moving molars into an upright position.1 These temporary appliances have many uses in the skilled hands of your orthodontist!

    How Long Will I Wear My Spacers?

    Most often, you will wear your spacers for about 7-10 days, immediately before the appointment when your braces will be fitted. In some cases, you may need to wear the spacers for the entire length of your orthodontic treatment, and, sometimes, they may even replace metal bands.

    When it is time to remove the spacers, your orthodontist slips them out and immediately cements a metal band in place to anchor the wires of your traditional or ceramic braces. If spacers are part of your ongoing treatment, they may be replaced or adjusted to keep your teeth moving in the right direction.

    How Should You Care for Orthodontic Spacers?

    For the first 2 or 3 days after your spacers are placed, you will probably have some discomfort. If your teeth are sore, eat a soft diet and take over-the-counter pain medication, especially at bedtime. Eating or drinking cold things may help numb your teeth and gums.

    To care for your spacers while they do their work, you should:

    • Continue brushing and flossing, but do not floss between teeth with spacers.
    • Do not pick at the spacers with your fingernails or toothpicks.
    • Avoid eating sticky foods that might pull the spacers out.

    Reduce plaque and support your oral health by avoiding foods high in sugar and starch.

    young woman with braces on her teeth

    What if My Spacers Fall Out?

    As the spacer completes its purpose, it may become loose and fall out on its own. If it happens less than two days before your next appointment, there is no need to worry unless you have been given other instructions. Even if you swallow the spacer, there is no reason to be concerned.

    If spacers are part of your teeth straightening program, your orthodontist can even show you how to easily replace a spacer at home. The most important factors are to follow the instructions for your own individual treatment program and to work with a team that understands your needs and treats you like family.

    Creating Space While Growing Together

    Here at Labbe Family Orthodontics, we offer more than professional and effective orthodontic services. We know that life is better with a smile and want to help you and yours smile more confidently and more often as part of our extended family.

    We believe working together toward your perfect smile should be a fun and exciting experience. We look forward to meeting you and your loved ones, so contact us today in Annapolis, Crofton, Bowie, or Greenbelt, and we will help you make space for more smiles tomorrow!



  • Orthodontic Bands: What They Are and How They Work

    An orthodontic band is made of stainless steel and wraps entirely around a tooth. Bands may be used only on back teeth or can part of a full set of metal braces. They provide a very durable and solid connection point for major corrections and headgear.

    Bands are often used as part of orthodontic services for those who need to close significant gaps or re-align the bite. Other candidates for orthodontic bands include:

    • Adults whose teeth move less easily
    • Contact or team sports participants
    • Children whose teeth are not fully grown
    • People with large fillings

    dental brace depicting oral care

    What Are the Advantages of Dental Bands for Braces?

    Orthodontic bands are stronger than bonded brackets and have a lesser chance of becoming loose. They allow orthodontic treatment to progress faster and straighten teeth more effectively for some people. While clear ceramic brackets are less visible, they can be used in combination to keep an almost invisible appearance on the front teeth while leveraging strong support in the back.

    The Band Fitting Process

    The orthodontic care process for installing fitted bands consists of two appointments. A dental impression of your teeth might be made to determine sizing. At the first appointment, spacers are inserted to create a gap, which allows the bands to be fitted and secured at the second appointment.

    The process goes like this:

    • Your orthodontist will insert elastic separators between the teeth, which will receive bands and determine general sizing.
    • A week or so between the appointments allows the teeth to move apart slightly. Avoid flossing and eating sticky foods during this time.
    • The separators are removed at the next appointment. The bands are tested for size and adjusted as needed. When the fit is perfect, your teeth are polished and the bands are secured with dental adhesive.
    • The bands stay in place for the duration of your orthodontic treatment, connected with wire and/or brackets, creating the gradual movement that straightens your teeth.

    How to Care for Your Orthodontic Bands

    Orthodontic bands on teeth are very secure, but they are not permanent. They can become loose if too much pressure is placed on the tooth. Because bands completely surround the tooth, brushing and flossing are especially important to prevent decay.

    These tips will help keep your bands secure:

    cute smiling girl wearing braces

    • Avoid biting down on ice, popcorn kernels, or hard candy.
    • Stop chewing pens and pencils.
    • Stay away from sticky caramels, chewing gum, and toffee.
    • Use a night guard if you grind your teeth at night.
    • Avoid whitening toothpaste, which may leave dark spots on bands and brackets.
    • Call your orthodontist immediately if a band becomes loose or slips off.

    Banding Together for Better Smiles

    When you need orthodontist information you can trust, visit with us at Labbe Family Orthodontics. Our caring team has expert experience and a compassionate touch. We treat you like one of the family, and we can’t wait to help you choose the best braces for you and your loved ones—because life is better with a smile!

    Give us a call today in Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton, or Greenbelt, and let’s start banding together!

  • How Effective Are Braces at Fixing an Overbite?

  • Want to Improve Your Wellbeing? Smile More!

    You already know you smile if you feel happy, but did you know that smiling can actually make you feel happy, too? Psychologists have tested this theory and found that subjects who smiled more, even inadvertently, felt happier than subjects who frowned. Every time you smile, the brain interprets it as getting an award.

    Smiling also releases three types of “feel-good” chemicals— endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin. Each of these acts on the “happy” parts of the brain, allowing you to feel more relaxed and less anxious. It’s also pretty good for your heart and blood pressure.

    Smiles are always better when they are delivered with straight teeth. Of course, straight teeth offer many more advantages than just a pleasant smile.

    If you don’t have a smile you like, visit Labbe Family Orthodontics. They offer many ways to straighten your teeth, including ceramic braces, Invisalign, and even surgical orthodontics. To find out more information about the benefits of smiling and getting your dream smile, read the following infographic.

    Smiling Can Improve Your Wellbeing Infographic

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  • Dental Insurance and Orthodontics: How to Choose the Best Plan for Your Family

    There are many reasons to seek orthodontic care, including the numerous health benefits of a properly aligned bite, enhanced non-verbal communication, and increased confidence. Planning ahead by finding the best dental insurance policy to help cover the costs will allow you to choose the best orthodontist and the best braces available for your family.

    child eating watermelon

    When Will My Child Need Braces?

    When deciding how soon to have your child seen by a pediatric orthodontist, consider the recommendation of the American Association of Orthodontists, who advise the first orthodontic evaluation by age seven. Whether the goal is to straighten your teeth or correct the bite, the earlier the better, especially if family history suggests that there may be issues.

    Some insurance policies will not cover orthodontic care that has already started. Knowing that orthodontic care is in your family’s future will give you time to save for this investment and upgrade your dental insurance.

    Your child should be evaluated as early as possible if they:

    • have teeth that are coming in tipped, overlapping, or rotated.
    • have a noticeable overbite or underbite.
    • use a pacifier or suck their thumb after age 5.

    Comparing Dental Insurance and Orthodontic Coverage Options

    Navigating the sometimes-confusing world of insurance coverage for braces can be a challenge. Knowing what to ask and where to find the answers is half the battle.

    If you have dental insurance through work, you may start with your HR benefits advisor. If you are directly purchasing dental insurance, your agent will be able to answer these questions:

    Does this plan cover orthodontic care and what are the limitations?

    Some plans may not cover orthodontic treatment unless it is medically necessary. Many plans provide coverage, but a yearly or even a lifetime limit is common. If coverage that pays a significant percentage without an upper limit is available to you, that is likely the best option.

    Can I use a Flex Plan or Health Savings Account to pay for orthodontic care?

    Many plans allow you to use pre-tax dollars to save for upcoming expenses, which can be a great way to prepare for your out-of-pocket orthodontic expenses.

    Does my dental plan cover braces for adults?

    Some policies limit orthodontic benefits to patients 18 or younger. There are supplemental policies which do cover adults, so make sure you have adult coverage if you need it.

    Is coverage provided as a percentage or a fixed co-pay?

    If you have a managed care plan, you may need to find an orthodontist within the approved network. You may have a co-pay responsibility with or without an annual or lifetime limit.

    Are invisible braces covered by my dental policy?

    Top orthodontists recommend clear, invisible, or ceramic braces to their patients when appropriate. Some policies limit which types of braces are covered, so make sure to ask if your policy covers options like Invisalign.

    two teenage boys taking selfie

    Helping Healthy Smiles Fit Your Budget

    No matter the challenges, a caring orthodontic office will do everything possible to help you afford the best care for your family, from working with your insurance company to providing affordable financing options. We want nothing to stand in the way, because life is better with a smile!

    Consider and compare your options when choosing your dental plan, and when choosing a nearby orthodontist in the Annapolis area. Just as all plans are not created equal, not every team will treat you like family the way we do at Labbe Family Orthodontics. Before you pick an “orthodontist near me” you find online, stop by our office and meet the best orthodontist for you, your family, and all their bright future smiles.

  • Smile! Why Straight Teeth Are Happy Teeth

    Many people associate orthodontic treatment with only a means to fix crooked teeth. True, orthodontic care can correct crowding, gaps, overbites, underbites, and crossbites through a variety of means. Traditional braces and newer alternatives may be used.

    Straighter teeth, however, can mean your teeth are easier to clean, allowing you to better tend to dental hygiene on a daily basis. They also make it easier to:

    Chew: A misaligned bite can make chewing inefficient and difficult; it might even be hard to eat altogether.
    Speak: Crooked teeth and misalignments can result in various speech problems that are hard to control without orthodontic treatment.
    Be confident: Straighter teeth mean a more desirable appearance, and your self-confidence many improve in social situations.

    Straight teeth can be good for your oral health, eating and speaking ability, confidence, and even your career. After all, success in the job market typically depends on self-confidence and a great smile.

    Orthodontists have many ways to move teeth into the correct places. Newer treatments can get the job done faster and achieve results with less pain and discomfort. Learn more about the benefits of correcting crooked teeth with Labbe Family Orthodontics below.

    Why Straight Teeth Are Happy Teeth Infographic

    Click below to embed this infographic into your website:

  • Can Braces Fix “Buck Teeth”?

    Protruding front teeth, also known as “buck teeth,” are a common problem which can cause young people to hide their smile. It is important to find an orthodontist who can provide early treatment to prevent schoolyard bullying and the other negative impacts of this condition.

    Choosing the best braces and the right time to begin treatment will boost confidence, prevent injuries, and improve overall health. Let’s find out what causes this condition and how braces can correct it.

    tween girl looks up from a swimming pool

    What Causes Buck Teeth?

    Protruding front teeth can be caused by bone structure or dental issues, and they may be made worse by certain activities. Some of the primary buck teeth causes include:

    Genetics. This is a hereditary condition that probably runs in the family. This means it cannot be prevented, but it can be made worse by other factors.
    Jaw Growth Rate. During rapid growth spurts, the upper jaw advances over the lower teeth. The misaligned molars may provide further pressure on the front teeth, moving them forward.
    Large Teeth. Sometimes the front teeth are larger than normal, causing the appearance of protrusion, when, in fact, the bite is fairly well-aligned.
    Thumb-Sucking and Pacifier Use. After the permanent teeth appear, these childhood habits can change tooth positions and jaw alignment.
    Jaw Clenching and Tooth Grinding. The grinding pressure of these unconscious habits may crack teeth, change how the teeth come together, or provide pressure that pushes the front teeth forward.
    Tongue Thrusting. This is another habitual behavior where the tongue pushes against the front teeth when swallowing, gradually moving them forward from constant repetition.

    What Problems Do Buck Teeth Cause?

    The best orthodontist advice is usually to correct protruding front teeth early to avoid issues such as:

    • A greater risk of breaking the front teeth during sports or play.
    • Breathing difficulties and headaches.
    • Problems chewing and subsequent issues with digestion.
    • Bullying and the stress associated with it.
    • Changes to speech and pronunciation, which may also result in teasing.
    • Excessive tooth wear and decay.

    little girl with dental braces and glasses

    At What Age Should You Get Braces for Buck Teeth?

    The ideal time to begin protruding front teeth correction may be when children are 7-11 years old, as part of a two-phase treatment plan. A single phase plan might start at 12-16 years of age.1

    While starting treatment early has been shown to reduce the chances of damage to the front teeth,1 teens and even adults can get braces to correct buck teeth and other serious bite problems. It is never too late to decide life is better with a smile!

    Should You Fix Your Own Buck Teeth?

    While browsing online to see examples of protruding teeth before and after braces, you may come across some at-home remedies and do-it-yourself ideas to fix buck teeth. Please don’t try these! Orthodontics is the science of moving teeth and bone. There is no safe replacement for expert care from an orthodontist who treats you like family.

    Is It Just a Phase?

    When children have a mix of baby and permanent teeth, it may be hard to tell if they will grow in to those two front teeth. If you have concerns, find an orthodontist to evaluate your child’s maturing smile and put those worries to rest.

    At Labbe Family Orthodontics, we look forward to your first consultation and can help you decide if this is the right time for braces. We may be your nearest orthodontist with offices in Annapolis, Crofton/Gambrills, Bowie, and Greenbelt. Visit with us to find out why we are the best!



  • Fun Ways to Count Down to the Date You’re Done with Orthodontic Treatments!

    young girl ready for celebration

    There’s nothing more exciting than knowing you’re about to get your braces off. Whether it’s been months, or even years, chances are you’re close to the finish line and that perfect smile is shining through.

    Here are some fun ways you can count down to the date when you’re braces-free:

    Use an App

    These days, there’s an app for everything. Downloading a countdown app to keep track of the days until your braces come off is a fun and interesting way to keep tabs on your progress. Certain apps may also allow you to set the countdown as your mobile background or create a countdown banner that you can add to your social media profile.

    Create a Selfie Journal

    Taking selfies is a great way to see steady changes and track improvements in your smile. By keeping a journal of pictures, you can easily look back and see just how much your smile has changed.

    Because you may not see progress as quickly as you want, taking photos will also help you stay motivated, especially as you see your teeth start to align and straighten.

    And if any of your friends have teen braces, let them join in on the fun as well!

    Treat Yourself

    Wearing braces for months (or even years) is a huge achievement! When you reach those special milestones, make sure to treat yourself to something nice. Whether it’s a pedicure, a new outfit, or maybe even a braces-friendly sweet treat, you’ve earned it.

    By celebrating milestones, your orthodontic journey will go by much quicker, and give you a date to look forward to!
    A Caring Kids Orthodontist Office

    A Caring Kids Orthodontist Office

    At Labbe Family Orthodontics, we treat our patients like family – especially when it comes to  orthodontics for children. For many younger kids and teenagers, the idea of having braces can be a little nerve-racking. At our orthodontics offices, we put a little fun into wearing teen braces by encouraging our patients to use a countdown, celebrate milestones, and treat themselves to make the process is a little more enjoyable.

    If you’re looking for a pediatric orthodontist in your area, look no further than Labbe Family Orthodontics. We specialize in braces for children, ceramic braces, and other teeth straightening services to give you the smile of your dreams.

    Call our office today at (410) 267-7300 to schedule an appointment.