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  • Clean and Clear: Maintaining Oral Hygiene with Invisalign

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

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

    beautiful smiling woman using a toothbrush

    How to Care for Your Invisalign Aligners

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

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

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

    Daily Habits for Maintaining Good Hygiene with Invisalign

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

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

    couple brushing teeth in the bathroom together

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

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

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

    Finding Family-Friendly Orthodontic Treatment First

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

  • Q&A: Do Sports and Braces Mix?

    grils wearing braces during sports

    Question: Can you wear braces during sports? It’s a common question, asked by parents and kids all over the country who wonder if they can hit the field or run onto the court with their new braces.

    Answer: The short answer is yes. You can absolutely wear braces while playing sports, as long as you take the necessary precautions. What does that mean? How do you do it? Here are a few more common questions, along with some helpful answers.

    Q: What are the necessary precautions?

    A: At the very least, you’ll need a mouth guard, which prevents your teeth from scraping against or even biting your lip while also protecting your braces from damage.

    Q: Can you play soccer with braces?

    A: Yes, as well as football, baseball, basketball, lacrosse, water polo, tennis, rugby, boxing, and even Frisbee, as long as you have basic protection for your mouth.

    Q: Can you wear a normal mouth guard with braces?

    A: No. If you wear braces, you’ll need a special orthodontic mouth guard for braces. Your typical sports mouth guard is made of hard plastic. An orthodontic mouth guard or braces mouth guard, on the other hand, is composed of silicone and tends to be much larger so that it can fit over brackets and wires.

    Q: Can you play sports right after getting braces ?

    A: Yes, as long as you wear a mouth guard.

    Q: Are mouth guards required?

    A: Check with your school or league. Some require mouth guards. Others don’t. In either case, you’ll want to wear one every time you practice or play a game. That’s the only way to protect your lips, gums, teeth, and braces.

    girls playing soccer with braces

    Q: What happens if you don’t wear a mouth guard?

    A: You may cut your lips, cheeks, and gums. You also risk broken brackets, loose wires, chipped teeth, or even fractured tooth roots.

    Q: How do you clean a mouth guard?

    A: In the same way you would clean clear braces or a retainer, by using a toothbrush and soap and/or by soaking it in an anti-microbial solution. It’s important that you clean your mouth guard every day or after every use in order to sanitize it.

    Q: What is a “boil-and-bite mouth guard”?

    A: It’s simple: You boil the mouth guard in water, and then bite into it to mold it to your teeth. These type mouthguards are not recommended to use while wearing braces. The “molding” process can bend or break the wires/brackets – Plus, you may get the indention of the form of your teeth with braces; but you won’t get the mouthguard to conform to all the detail of the braces and teeth.

    Q: Can you use a boil-and-bite mouth guard with braces?

    A: Orthodontists don’t recommend wearing this style of mouthguard. They may be cheaper, but, the risk far outweighs any benefit.

    Q: Is there a better alternative to boil-and-bite mouth guards?

    A: Yes. You can get a custom mouth guard from an orthodontist, which is made of better materials and fitted to your teeth using more precise, more state-of-the-art technology.

    Q: What should I do if I get injured while playing sports?

    A: If the injury is serious, you might want to see a doctor or even visit an urgent care facility to make sure you don’t need stitches or antibacterial treatment. No matter the severity of the injury, you’ll want to visit our orthodontics offices in Annapolis, Crofton/Gambrills, Bowie, and Greenbelt. We can survey the damage, help treat the wounds, and fix any broken appliances.

  • The Hidden Dangers of Failing to Floss

    Why is flossing so important, exactly? Even if you brush your teeth four times a day, there are some areas that brush bristles simply cannot reach. The areas between the teeth, for example, generally go untouched by standard brushing. These hidden areas require flossing to remove plaque and help clear any food debris that may be stuck there (which could otherwise encourage bacterial growth). Without flossing, areas of your teeth essentially go uncleaned, which could be a risk factor for tooth and gum disease.

    Dangers of Failing to Floss The Potentially Serious Repercussions of Not Flossing

    If you don’t regularly floss between each of your teeth, small bits of food can become food sources for harmful bacteria that can rot your teeth and cause gum disease. The following are just a few of the possible issues you may be at risk of developing should you regularly fail to floss:

    • Bleeding gums due to gingivitis or periodontitis
    • Chronic bad breath (as food particles rot)
    • Yellow, orange, or brown teeth
    • Tooth cavities
    • Rotting and loss of teeth
    • Build-up of tartar (hardened plaque)

    In severe cases, a patient who fails to keep his or her teeth properly cleaned and flossed can lose his or her entire smile, leading to a need for specialized orthodontic care and, ultimately, dentures or implants. Of course, inflamed gums and teeth that are rotten or have developed cavities often cause a great deal of pain.

    Dangers of not flossing

    How to Floss Properly (and Get in the Habit)

    The best way to protect your mouth from serious tooth decay, gum disease and pain is to get into a habit of taking care of your teeth right now. No matter how old you are, you never grow out of the need for good oral hygiene!

    To floss your teeth properly, get yourself a piece of floss about a foot and a half in length. Wrap the ends around your two middle fingers, then hold a short length of the floss with your thumbs and forefingers as you would normally.

    When your grip on the floss is comfortable, gently guide it into the spaces between your teeth without letting it snap harshly against your gums. Make sure to wrap the floss slightly up and around the top of the tooth so that you clean the space beneath the gums. As you move the floss along the sides of your teeth, rub it gently along the surfaces to loosen debris and buildup. When you’re finished, always throw your used floss away—never re-use it!

    If you’re a parent, consider turning bedtime and/or morning flossing into a sort of “family event” where you all floss together and practice good technique. Not only will this set a good example for the little ones, it will also help you stay on track with your own oral health.

    At Labbe Family Orthodontics, We Care About Your Teeth

    Whether you’re a flossing champion or need a little more encouragement, the orthodontic specialists at Labbe Family Orthodontics will be happy to help you take care of your smile. Contact us today to make an appointment with an orthodontist at one of our four Maryland locations.

  • Local Orthodontist Uses Cutting-Edge Gadgets to Create Winning Smiles

    Few orthodontists are equipped with their own 3D printers. Even fewer manage to make fixing teeth a fun experience. At Labbe Family Orthodontics, you get the best of both worlds: great attitude and the latest technology.

    Local Orthodontist Uses Cutting-Edge Gadgets

    “I have wanted to be an orthodontist since I was in 8th grade,” says Dr. Labbe. His youthful passion shows through every time a patient steps into his office.

    Once a teacher and staff member at Prince George’s Hospital, Labbe now devotes his time to his local Maryland orthodontic practice, which serves both children and adults with the same level of buoyant enthusiasm.

    Recognized as one of North America’s top 125 orthodontic practices by The Schulman Group, Labbe Family Orthodontics has grown impressively since its founding over four decades ago. It now boasts four locations around Maryland—in Annapolis, Crofton, Bowie, and Greenbelt.

    If you really want to be impressed, though, step into any of one of Labbe’s four offices. There you’ll see all the latest gizmos, such as ITero scanners that send intra-oral scans directly to an in-house lab where a 3D printer is waiting to create high-quality models.

    Create Winning Smiles

    It’s that kind of dedication to state-of-the-art orthodontic care that makes Labbe one of the best orthodontists in the country and, also, one of the top one percent of Invisalign providers in the nation.

    One thing is clear: Labbe and his staff may take great joy in their work, but they also take their smiles very seriously.

  • Six Things to Avoid When Brushing Your Teeth

    Things to Avoid When Brushing Your Teeth Whether you have braces, Invisalign or are currently braces-free, there’s a good chance you may not be brushing your teeth correctly. But don’t feel bad! Did you know that nearly 30% of Americans aren’t doing enough brushing and most people make mistakes when it comes to their daily oral care routine?

    Brushing your teeth helps remove plaque and bacteria that can cause tooth decay. The right type of brushing can also help with stains that are caused by certain foods and beverages. If you want to enjoy a great smile and healthy teeth, it’s important to understand how to properly take care of your pearly whites.

    Dr. Labbe and his team of expert orthodontists have six helpful tips on how to brush to avoid brushing improperly.

    • You Never Replace Your Toothbrush – Over time, the bristles will lose their effectiveness to remove plaque and stains from your teeth. Dr. Labbe’s team recommends that you replace your toothbrush at least every six months. (BUT! If you notice that the bristles aren’t in tiptop shape replace it sooner, don’t delay!)
    • You Brush Too Hard – Applying an excessive amount of pressure when you brush can cause more harm than good. (Uh oh!) You can scratch the enamel on the teeth and damage the gum tissue. If you notice your gums are sore or bleeding after brushing, you are probably using too much force. Make sure to be gentle and let our team know if the discomfort doesn’t decrease after you implement this tip!
    • You Do Not Brush Long Enough – Most people don’t spend enough time when it comes to brushing their teeth. It’s not a race! You should brush each quadrant (upper left, lower left, upper right, lower right) and the tops of the teeth for about thirty seconds each. And don’t forget about your tongue and gums. (Here’s a fun challenge: Recite the alphabet in your head, while brushing, and once you get to Z (no cheating) you’re in the clear!)
    • You Brush in the Same Pattern – If you always start brushing your teeth in the same spot, chances are those teeth are getting the most love! All teeth are created equal so make sure you vary your pattern of brushing to ensure all of your teeth are getting the attention they need.
    • You Are Not Brushing Enough – Do you only brush when you wake up? Brushing only once a day in the morning can be damaging to your oral health. Remember to brush twice a day to get rid of food particles, plaque, or bacteria before you go to bed and when you’re getting ready for your day.
    • You Are Using the Wrong Motions – Even though it may be what you’re used to, brushing back and forth is not as effective as you might think! This motion will only allow you to cover the surface of your teeth, but what about in-between? It’s better to brush in small circular movements no bigger than the size of each tooth. TIP: If you find it too difficult to make circular patterns with a regular toothbrush, try an electric one with a round rotating dental head.

    For most people, brushing twice a day is just right! However, if you have braces or use Invisalign, your orthodontist may recommend you brush more often. And every time you do – make sure to refer to the tips and tricks above.

    If you are concerned about how your teeth look, remember Labbe Family Orthodontics is here to help. We offer several different orthodontic solutions to help you achieve a beautiful smile! Call our office at (443) 603-3448 today to schedule a complimentary consultation appointment.

  • Why Are My Teeth Changing Color?

    Teeth Changing Colors It’s a fact of life: Teeth change color. If you’re like countless people all over the world, you may have noticed your pearly whites taking on a yellow tint over the years or, perhaps, you’ve looked in the mirror and seen the tell-tale brown dots or white streaks—but why does it happen and is there anything orthodontic care can do about it?

    Extrinsic Stains

    The most common cause of discoloration is staining of the enamel, and the most common cause of staining is food and drink. The good news is that you can avoid these extrinsic, or surface, stains by watching what you put in your mouth. The bad news is that it’s hard to give up your favorite snacks and refreshments.

    The most notorious culprits are:

    • Tea: Tea is one of the worst offenders, possibly even worse than coffee. In addition to containing a lot of pigment-producing substances called chromogens, it’s also full of tannins, which help those chromogens attach to your tooth enamel.
    • Coffee: You probably know coffee stains teeth, but did you know that adding cream and milk won’t do a thing to stop it? While it may turn your coffee white, it certainly won’t do the same for your teeth.
    • Wine: Add a wealth of tannins to the naturally dark pigment of red wine, and it’s no wonder your teeth come away looking worse for the wear.
    • Cola: Like all the other items on this list, cola is high in chromogens, which add a nice dark pigment to both the drink and your teeth.
    • Fruits: Yes, even grapes and blueberries and pomegranates can stain your teeth. Acidic fruits also have a tendency to wear away tooth enamel, which doesn’t help the staining problem.
    • Tobacco : Using tobacco in any form (smoked or chewed) is a sure way to lose the luster of your smile.

    If you can’t avoid foods and beverages that stain your teeth, you’ll have to go the extra mile and practice superior oral hygiene. That means brushing often (at least twice a day or, better yet, after eating and drinking), using mouthwash, and flossing once a day.

    Whether or not you indulge in three cups of tea or grape juice per day, it’s a good idea to take care of your mouth. That’s because poor oral hygiene creates plaque and bacteria buildup, which is also a leading cause of tooth discoloration.

    Intrinsic Stains

    Some discoloration goes beneath the surface, affecting the enamel itself or even the underlying dentin.

    • Medications: Certain antibiotics (namely tetracycline and doxycycline) can stain children’s teeth if they’re still developing. A number of commonly used medications, including some prescription-strength mouthwashes that contain chlorhexidine, can cause discoloration in adults who use them. Even overexposure to fluoride can permanently affect the color of teeth.
    • Radiation and Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy drugs and radiation directed at the head can affect the teeth.
    • Disease: High fevers in childhood can cause discoloration, as can jaundice or overall poor health.
    • Age: As we age, the enamel on our teeth wears out and becomes thinner. That allows the natural yellow of your dentin to show through more clearly.
    • Genetics: Unfortunately, some people are simply born with thinner enamel and, therefore, have more yellow-looking teeth.

    Does Orthodontic Care Cause Tooth Discoloration?

    There’s a widely-held but misguided belief that traditional braces cause tooth discoloration. The materials used Boy Brushing His Teeth in orthodontics (even traditional metal or ceramic braces) do not stain teeth. The only problem occurs when people fail to clean properly in those hard-to-reach places. As long as you listen to your local orthodontist and remain diligent about maintaining proper hygiene, you’ll have nothing to worry about.

    At Labbe Family Orthodontics, we work with each individual to improve their overall oral care while they’re undergoing treatment. That means educating patients about good hygiene practices and nipping problems in the bud before they have time to cause permanent problems like tooth discoloration. As a top orthodontist in Maryland, we’ll do everything we can to ensure that your smile is picture perfect. Take advantage of our online resources to learn more tips and tricks for taking care of your teeth.

  • Teeth Grinding & How It May Be Ruining Your Smile

    Teeth grinding, also known as “bruxism,” is a common problem that occurs when an individual clenches or grinds his or her teeth. In most cases, grinding and clenching occurs during sleep and is involuntary. This condition can cause uncomfortable symptoms, and it can damage the teeth over time. Fortunately, a top orthodontist can help you control teeth grinding and prevent damage to your smile.

    What Causes Teeth Grinding?

    In most cases, teeth grinding is related to anxiety and stress. However, consuming certain substances, such as alcohol, caffeine, and some prescription medications, can also contribute to teeth grinding. In addition, some people may grind their teeth because of problems with their bite.

    How It Affects Your Smile

    Over time, grinding your teeth can loosen them, weaken their enamel, and even cause some of them to fracture. Weaker enamel makes teeth more vulnerable to decay and infection, and they can become more sensitive as well. Tooth fracture, on the other hand, may cause immediate symptoms that require prompt treatment from your closest orthodontist. Damage to your teeth often worsens as you continue grinding them.

    In addition to damaging the structure and integrity of your teeth, grinding can also lead to uncomfortable symptoms including jaw pain, stiffness, earaches, and headaches that may impact your daily activities.

    Teeth Grinding Treatment

    Fortunately, effective treatment is available for people who grind their teeth. To stop the grinding from causing damage to the teeth, pain, and other symptoms, your orthodontist can create a customized plastic mouth guard to place over your teeth at night while you sleep. This mouth guard will hold your teeth apart and protect them from damage.

    If your teeth grinding is related to your bite or the crookedness of your teeth, your orthodontist can help solve this Teeth Grinding problem by straightening your teeth and correcting your bite. In some cases, more than one method of treatment may be necessary to correct a problem and prevent future damage.

    It’s also possible to cut back on teeth grinding by making some lifestyle changes. Some of the steps you can take to limit damage from teeth grinding include the following:

    • Reduce your stress levels with meditation and other relaxation techniques.
    • Hold a warm washcloth on your jaws at night to help them relax before you go to sleep.
    • Practice relaxing your jaws anytime you feel yourself clenching.
    • Cut back on foods and drinks that contain caffeine or alcohol.
    • Don’t chew gum– this can make teeth grinding at night more likely.

    If you have been grinding your teeth for a significant amount of time, you may need other treatments designed to repair the damage to your teeth. Treatments that may help include root canals, crowns, overlays, and other reconstructive treatments. Because the treatment you need may be extensive and complicated, it’s important to find the best orthodontist in the area.

    To learn more about treatment for teeth grinding or to find an orthodontist, please call us at Labbe Family Orthodontics today.