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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

    Click below to embed this infographic into your website:

  • 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.


    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

    Click below to embed this infographic into your website:

  • 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.

  • 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.