• 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

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  • 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.

  • Tips and Tricks to Manage Orthodontic Pain

    Most people will do anything to get out of going to their orthodontist. However, only rarely does a healthy, beautiful smile happen all on its own. More often than not, you need to help to give you that million-dollar look— which means you do have to visit the experts.

    Sadly, some discomfort can occur after an orthodontic appliance fitting and, to many people, especially children, this pain—or even the anticipation of that pain—will prove to be an insurmountable obstacle to having great teeth. It can cause them to skip appointments, to not wear their appliances at the right time, or to neglect their oral hygiene entirely, making orthodontic intervention less effective than it could be.

    That’s why pain management is so important to us at Labbe Family Orthodontics. We want you and your children to have the very best teeth you could have. We want our patients to be informed, so they know exactly what to expect before, during, and after procedures. We want you to look forward to visiting us.

    For some simple and effective ways to manage pain after an appliance fitting, read our infographic guide below. To put your smile in the hands of people who really care, call Labbe Family Orthodontics on (443) 603-3448 today.

    Tips and Tricks to Manage Orthodontic Pain Infographic

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  • Seeing Inside: How Custom Invisalign Aligners Are Made

    Invisalign braces are a series of customized plastic aligners that fit snugly on your teeth and slowly move them into alignment. For many patients, this clear and removable alternative to metal braces offers a more comfortable solution for orthodontic treatment.

    Invisalign and other brands of invisible braces improve patient confidence, have no wires to tighten or cause irritation, and can be removed for eating, drinking, or special moments. Brushing and flossing are easy, and the results can be amazing!

    woman wearing orthodontic silicone trainer

    How are these clear aligners made, and what is the process for getting Invisalign braces?

    How Are Custom Invisalign Aligners Manufactured?

    Align Technology manufactures Invisalign products. Introduced in the U.S. in 1999, these clear orthodontic aligners are manufactured using an advanced 3D printing process. The company’s manufacturing facility ships as many as 80,000 custom aligners per day.1

    How Is Your Individual Set of Invisalign Braces Created?

    Your own set of custom made clear orthodontic aligners is created as part of the treatment plan your orthodontist creates to help you achieve your best smile. You should always obtain your aligners from an orthodontic office by this process:

    1. A consultation and evaluation by an orthodontist to determine if Invisalign is a good option for your teeth straightening. Dentist offices and mail order services do not have the expertise to guide your orthodontic treatment.
    2. Gathering all the necessary scans and detailed information to plan the full treatment, including x-rays, photographs, and bite impressions. This information is shared with the Invisalign technicians.
    3. A 3-D rendering of your teeth is created, along with a computer model of how each tooth will shift to its desired position. Your orthodontist office will work with the technicians until the planned course of treatment is fully detailed.
    4. The full set of invisible aligners are manufactured by an advanced 3D printing process, and the set is shipped to your orthodontist’s office, usually in 3-4 weeks.
    5. When your aligners arrive at our office, you will be notified and come in to receive them, along with specific wearing instructions. The office will check that the first aligner fits properly and show you how to remove and care for them.
    6. Wear the aligners as your orthodontist directs, usually about two weeks for each one. Regular checkups will help ensure that your teeth are moving as expected and that there are no additional adjustments or refinements needed.
    7. You will need to wear a thicker retainer type of tray after treatment, especially at night to maintain that new straighter smile.

    young woman with braces dental checkup

    Be Clear About These Details of the Process

    These tips and pointers will help you have the right expectations about clear aligners:

    • They are a fast option for some patients. An adult with invisible braces should expect about 12 months of treatment time, with visible results in about 2-3 months.
    • Consistently wearing the aligner is crucial to good results. Teeth straightening requires almost constant, gentle pressure to move teeth effectively.
    • Brushing and flossing your teeth is easier than with metal braces but must be done each time the aligner is removed. The aligner itself also should be cleaned before it is put back in place on those nice, clean teeth.

    Get a Clear Picture of Your Future Smile

    When it comes to finding the right team for your orthodontic services, at Labbe Family Orthodontics we can show you that life is better with a smile! For more than 40 years, we have been bringing the best and brightest advancements to families in Maryland, and we can’t wait to meet you and yours. Schedule an appointment today to take advantage of all the latest treatments in a fun and family-friendly environment.


    1. https://www.invisalign.com/how-invisalign-works/how-custom-aligners-are-made

  • A Look into How Orthodontic Bonding Works

    Getting braces for your teeth is a popular way to correct many kinds of orthodontic problems. Metal brackets attached to each tooth are connected by wires with tension that straighten your teeth—but how does your orthodontist make sure those brackets stay on? It’s the interesting process of orthodontic bonding. Let’s take a closer look.

    Types of Bonding

    There are two main types of orthodontic bonding: direct and indirect. Direct bonding involves correctly attaching and positioning metal brackets right onto your teeth the first time. Indirect bonding is when the orthodontist first uses a plaster model of your teeth to position the brackets, and then transfers them to your actual teeth.

    closeup smile with clear braces

    Preparing the Teeth

    Braces can’t work unless your brackets stay where they are. To make sure that happens, the surface of your teeth have to be completely dry. This ensures that the bond between your tooth’s surface and the metal bracket will be strong enough to keep brackets where they are in the long-term. Cotton rolls, saliva ejectors, cheek retractors, and lip expanders are all tools that your orthodontist uses to keep teeth dry for the next stage.

    Next, the orthodontist will etch your teeth using an acidic etching agent. Etching will make your tooth’s enamel rough so that the bonding agent will have a better hold, but don’t worry—the roughening of the enamel is microscopic. Now that your teeth are prepared, it’s time to attach the brackets.

    Bonding Systems

    There are two types of bonding systems available to attach brackets to your teeth: no mix and two-paste mix.

    No Mix

    The no mix system consists of a liquid primer and paste. The primer is placed on the etched surface of the tooth and on the base of the bracket. The paste is then applied to the bracket base, and the bracket placed onto the tooth.

    Two-Paste Mix

    In the two-paste mix system, two bonding resin liquids are mixed and applied to etched tooth enamel, and two pastes are mixed and applied to the base of the metal bracket before placing it onto the tooth.


    Once the brackets are placed on your teeth with the one or two mix bonding systems, that bond has to be hardened or cured with a curing lamp. Your orthodontist will use either a halogen or an LED curing lamp, placing it as close as possible to your metal brackets. The higher the intensity of the light, the less time it will take to harden the bonding agent. After that, wires are placed between each bracket, and you’re good to go.

    litle girl with braces sitting in dentist chair

    Ready for Braces? We Can Help

    If a loved one or you are ready to get braces, Labbe Family Orthodontics offers affordable orthodontic treatment for all ages. No matter which of our locations in Maryland you choose, you’ll always be treated like family. Life is better with a smile; call us at (410) 267-7300 to schedule your consultation with one of our orthodontic specialists today.

  • 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!


    1. https://www.magonlinelibrary.com/doi/10.12968/ortu.2018.11.2.61

  • 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!

  • 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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