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Malocclusion and Your Oral Health

January 27, 2016

According to the American Association of Orthodontists, occlusion is the relationship between your upper and lower teeth as they come into contact with each other. When you chew, bite, and close your jaw, the contact between your teeth affects your jaw muscles, gums, head, neck, and oral health. Since your jaw alignment affects so many aspects of your overall health, your orthodontist ensures that by the end of your treatment your jaw is aligned and your teeth fit together without causing any unnecessary force in your mouth. Here are the various classes of occlusion that your orthodontist will asses throughout your treatment:

Class I Occlusion: This class is considered the “ideal” occlusal fit and is identified by the lower anterior incisors sitting just behind the upper anterior incisors when biting down.

Class II Malocclusion: This class is typically considered an overbite and is identified by the lower lower anterior incisors being positioned significantly behind the upper anterior incisors.

Class III Malocclusion: This class is usually called a crossbite and is identified by the lower anterior incisors being positioned edge to edge with the upper anterior incisors.

Although your teeth may appear normal, an offset bite can lead to a series of oral health issues, such as:

  • Teeth injury
  • Tooth wear
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Chronic headaches
  • Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ)
  • Muscle pain
  • Tooth movement
  • Tooth loss

At Ortega Orthodontics, we will make sure that your jaw is aligned during your treatment so that you can have proper bite function and a lifetime of healthy teeth. There are several options for treating a misaligned jaw and as your Jacksonville orthodontist, we can determine what treatment option is best for you! Contact us today to schedule your appointment for achieving the smile you’ve always dreamed of.

What Swollen Gums May Be Telling You

January 13, 2016

While on the road to your perfect smile, it’s not always all fun and games. Making sure you’re keeping up with your oral hygiene and protecting your teeth is important for ensuring the result you’re looking for when the braces come off. If you’ve just gotten your braces on or tightened, you may find that your gums are more swollen than usual – rest assured that this is normal. But, if your gums remain swollen for a long period of time, it may be a sign of other problems.

When your teeth are moving, bone is dissolved and new bone is formed as your teeth are repositioned. This causes the expected discomfort and swelling that comes with the territory of orthodontic treatment. But, if you haven’t had your braces adjusted recently and find that your gums are swollen and sore, it may be a sign of gingivitis. Gingivitis is a result of plaque buildup on your teeth and can lead to more serious gum disease if left unattended.

Keeping up with your oral hygiene is a critical part of orthodontic treatment and is the best way to ensure the perfect smile you’re looking for. Although braces can make it difficult to reach certain spots, brushing and flossing after eating will help keep your teeth clean and gums healthy. If you’re struggling with swollen gums or could use some extra advice on maintaining your oral hygiene, talk to your orthodontist at your next appointment.

Protect Your Hardware with a Mouth Guard

January 6, 2016

Whether your sport is soccer or football, basketball or skateboarding, the American Dental Association recommends the use of a mouth guard for 29 different sports and activities. A good-fitting mouth guard is extremely important for anyone with braces, dental work, or just wanting to protect their smile. A mouth guard will protect your teeth, brackets, appliances, and cheeks from soft tissue damage.

If you’re on the market for a good mouth guard, you should make sure that it stays in place during activity, doesn’t limit your breathing, is comfortable, easy to clean, and durable. Although most mouth guards only protect the top teeth, many dentists and orthodontists suggest that athletes, especially those with braces, wear a lower mouthguard as well. A mouth guard may not be the most attractive addition to your uniform, but it will protect your teeth from chipping, root damage, and tooth loss.

Whether you choose a stock mouth guard, mouth-formed guard, or custom-fitted guard, any option will be instrumental in protecting your teeth. As your Jacksonville orthodontist, we love to cheer on our patients, but we also love when they keep their smile safe! If protecting your orthodontic hardware and teeth during your sport is a concern, talk to us about different options at your next appointment.

Rubber Bands and Your Smile

December 23, 2015

Many people don’t realize the importance of the small rubber bands that work to straighten your smile throughout treatment. Though they are small, both ligatures and inter-arch elastics are key players in aligning your jaw and straightening teeth. Ligatures are the small elastics that are placed around each bracket and hold your arch wire in place. You can choose to make these ligatures almost any color and they work to push or pull teeth in a certain direction.

Rubber bands (inter-arch elastics) are somewhat larger and work to align your jaw by applying pressure to reduce an under or overbite. While your ligatures work to move teeth along your gum line, rubber bands pull your jaw forward or backward to align your jaw for a more comfortable bite. Brackets with hooks are used on the side of your mouth so you can hook your rubber bands to correct any malocclusion that exceeds the acceptable measurement.

Wearing your rubber bands as advised by your orthodontist is extremely important for keeping your treatment on schedule. Though they may cause discomfort initially, wearing them as often as advised will only make them more comfortable. If you have any questions about your orthodontic appliances or treatment, simply ask at your next appointment or give us a call to learn more.

Surviving Holiday Eating with Braces

December 16, 2015

With the holiday season upon us, so are the dinner parties, sweets, and celebratory snack foods. Whether your favorite part of the holiday meals is the pot roast or stuffing, there’s something for everyone to look forward to. If you have braces this winter, you may find an extra challenge from tempting treats that could damage your braces. Though you may not be bobbing for apples or munching on caramel corn this year, there’s still plenty of holiday treats to enjoy! Here’s a list of do’s and don’ts to help your braces survive the holiday season:

Good to go:

  • Ham, turkey, pot roast
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Stuffing
  • Gravy
  • Jello
  • Cheesecake
  • Green bean casserole
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Pumpkin pie (no crust!)
  • Hot chocolate

Not this year:

  • Candy canes
  • Hard cookies
  • Pecan pie
  • Toffee
  • Peanut brittle
  • Nuts
  • Popcorn
  • Hard pretzels
  • Meat on the bone
  • Caramel apples
  • Corn on the cob

Even with braces, there are plenty of sweets for you to enjoy this winter! To prevent tooth decay, remember to brush extra and keep up on your flossing – especially after sugary and sticky meals. From your Jacksonville orthodontist, we hope you have a happy (and delicious) holiday season!

What to Expect at Your First Visit

December 9, 2015

If it’s time for you to begin orthodontic treatment, you may be nervous about the process and road ahead. As your Jacksonville orthodontist, we want you to rest easy knowing that orthodontics is one of the best investments you can make for the overall dental and wellbeing of you or your children. To get started at the time of your initial visit, please provide the following information:

  • A completed health history form
  • Your insurance information
  • Any recent x-rays from your general dentist

If you don’t have a panoramic radiograph from your general dentist, our office will take one to be thoroughly reviewed to determine your best course of treatment. If orthodontic treatment is recommended, one of our staff members will discuss our flexible payment options, fees, and appointment schedules with you to get started. After your initial exam, a complete diagnostic record will be compiled to include photographs of your face and teeth, necessary x-rays, impressions or an iTero scan, and bite registrations. You can complete your diagnostics during your initial exam if you choose.

After your diagnostic records have been compiled and analyzed, you’ll meet for your consultation with the orthodontist. Here you will be able to discuss treatment options designed specifically for your case and ask any questions you may have about your orthodontic treatment plan.

Beginning your orthodontic treatment and your road to a healthier and more confident smile doesn’t need to be complicated. At Ortega Orthodontics, we’re here to help you along every step of the way. Give us a call to schedule your first appointment today!

Orthognathic Surgery as an Option for Jaw Realignment

December 2, 2015

A large aspect of orthodontic treatment is aligning and positioning your jaw for better functionality and aesthetics. In some cases traditional braces are unable to effectively treat misaligned jaws, in which case orthognathic surgery may be the best option. Surgery can improve the aesthetics of your jawline and also increase your overall jaw function to  decrease pain.

The treatment process begins by establishing the benefits of surgical correction through computerized imaging. Surgery, and the following treatment, will be determined prior to the day of your surgery. Once your jaw is realigned, small screws and titanium plates are used to stabilize and strengthen your jaw. Orthognathic surgery has come a long way and thanks to the technological advancements most patients are able to return to their normal activities fairly quickly.

A healthy smile includes straight teeth and an aligned jaw.  At Ortega Orthodontics, we’re here to ensure that your teeth and jaw are just where they should be. By repositioning your jaw, you’ll find that your bite fits more comfortably, which will increase the functionality of your teeth and improve the overall look of your smile. As your Jacksonville orthodontist, we will be able to determine the best course of treatment to help you achieve your perfect smile. Schedule your appointment today!

3 Tools to Keep Your Braces Clean

November 25, 2015

Maintaining proper oral hygiene throughout the course of your orthodontic treatment is extremely important for the health of your teeth. The last thing you want is to is damage your teeth because of poor oral hygiene. At Ortega Orthodontics, we want you to be proud of your healthy and clean smile. Here are some tools that can help you maintain your oral hygiene  throughout your treatment:

Interdental toothbrush: When trying to clean in between your teeth this is a great tool for getting pieces of food out of your braces.

Antibacterial mouthwash: Rinsing with mouthwash can reduce inflammation in your gums and cheeks and may help with possible irritation from your braces.

Waterpik: Many patients find that using a Waterpik helps keep their appliances clean.

Braces can make it difficult to clean your teeth during treatment, which is why there are tools to help. Remember, these tools are here as a supplement to regular brushing and flossing, not as a replacement! You may find that your braces make it harder to get plaque off your teeth, but brushing and flossing after each meal is important for preventing tooth decay, plaque buildup, and gum disease. If you have questions about how to keep your teeth in tip top shape, give us a call.

Your Ortho Emergency Guidebook

November 18, 2015

Every now and then you may find a wire uncomfortably poking your cheek or perhaps you broke a bracket over dinner. Accidents happen and as your Jacksonville orthodontist, we’re here to let you know that we’ve got you covered! If you find yourself in the middle of an orthodontic emergency, contact us as right away so we can make the time to treat you properly. If an accident happens outside business hours, give us a call on our answering service and we can get back to you as soon as possible. Here’s what to do in case of an orthodontic accident:

  • Soreness and discomfort: After getting your braces adjusted, you’ll most likely experience some soreness. Wax, over-the-counter pain relievers, and a warm washcloth may help to ease your pain.
  • Loose or broken bracket: If your bracket becomes loose or broken, give us a call as soon as possible. If it remains attached to your wire, simply keep it in place and use wax to combat any discomfort until your next appointment. If you completely lose your bracket, just slide it off and bring it along to your next visit.
  • Loose, poking, or broken wire: You’ll probably experience a poking wire at some point throughout your treatment. While you may be able to redirect the wire, if you’re unable to bend it, contact us. Use wax to keep the wire from poking and moving further out of place. Should your main archwire break, give us a call to schedule an emergency appointment.

There’s no need to stress about an orthodontic emergency, we’re here to get your  treatment back on track and minimize your discomfort as much as possible. If you break or loosen any of your appliances, call our office so we can determine the best way to help you.

12 Reasons to Smile

November 11, 2015

As your Jacksonville orthodontist, we love to see you show off your smile. Whether you’re still in treatment for your dream smile or just got your braces off, there’s plenty of reasons to be happy about straight teeth and a healthy mouth. You’ve probably heard that laughter is the best medicine, but did you know that smiling can actually boost your mood and health? Here’s 12 reasons why you should be showing off those pearly whites all the time:

  1. Scientists have found that even if you’re in a bad mood, forcing yourself to smile can help lift your spirits.
  2. Studies have shown that it’s nearly impossible to frown while looking at someone who is smiling, it really is contagious!
  3. Your body has to work harder to frown than it does to smile.
  4. Babies are born with the ability to smile, if they can, anyone can!
  5. People can see smiles from 300 feet away, it’s the easiest facial expression to recognize.
  6. Research studies have shown that people find women more attractive when they’re smiling than when they’re wearing makeup.
  7. Smiling makes you more relaxed, thus improving your immune system and overall health.
  8. Smiling releases endorphins that help you reduce stress and feel better.
  9. Around the world smiling is a universal sign of happiness.
  10. Smiling can use anywhere from 5 to 53 muscles.
  11. Need a promotion? Smiling makes people appear more sociable, attractive, confident, and more likely to get promoted.
  12. Researchers say there are 19 different types of smiles, so there’s plenty to choose from!

Orthodontic treatment isn’t just for kids! Healthy teeth can be moved at any age, so it’s never too late to improve your smile. If your teeth are holding you back from a confident smile, give us a call to find a treatment plan that works for you. At Ortega Orthodontics, we love to see our patients showing off their pearly whites.

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