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What Are Adjustments?

February 1st, 2023

If you’ve just gotten braces at our Newark office, you’ve probably also learned a whole new vocabulary. Malocclusion, brackets, archwires, ligatures, elastics—you’ve got the definitions down. But now you’re scheduled for an “adjustment.” What exactly does that mean?

Why Do I Need an Adjustment?

After all, you’ve just gotten braces! But the fact is, moving your teeth to their ideal location is a process that involves many steps. The brackets and wires you have today are only a starting point. Wires, and rubber bands if you need them, put gentle pressure on the teeth, gradually moving them into a better position. Every time we see you, we check the progress you’ve made and adjust your braces to move the teeth into even better alignment. It’s a careful process to make sure your teeth and jaws fit together perfectly for straight teeth and a healthy bite.

What Will Happen at an Adjustment?

Because your braces are made specifically for you, there is no one answer for everyone or even every appointment. Usually, your ligatures (the colorful bands around your brackets) will be removed, and often the orthodontic wire that is attached to your brackets will be removed as well. We’ll check to make sure you are brushing and flossing properly around your wires and brackets, and check on the condition of your braces.

Your wire might be adjusted, or bent, or tightened, or replaced all together. In the beginning, the wire will probably be more flexible. Later in your treatment, you might get a thicker, firmer wire to move your teeth more effectively, or we might bend a wire to move specific teeth.

If you need rubber bands to make sure your bite is in alignment, we’ll show you how to attach and take care of those. We’ll also look for other adjustments that might need to be made to your brackets. If you have any concerns about brackets, wires, or any other part of your braces, let Drs. Lynn Collins, Patricia Smith, and Daria Ryan know! And once we’re done adjusting your braces, this is your chance to change the color of your ligatures for a new look.

Will It Hurt?

You might suffer some discomfort in the hours after an adjustment, so treat yourself gently! Stick to soft foods for a few days, and treat yourself to something cold and soothing like ice cream, yogurt, or a smoothie. Brush gently if your teeth are sensitive. Usually, over-the-counter pain relievers will take care of any soreness. You can even take a pain reliever 30 minutes to an hour before the adjustment if you are expecting some discomfort. We have more great ideas on how to reduce any tenderness you might feel—let us know if we can suggest some.

Within a day or two, you should be back to normal. If you ever suffer serious discomfort, or if the soreness lasts more than a few days, give us a call.

Remember, each adjustment brings you closer to your goal—straight teeth and a healthy bite. And that’s the definition of a beautiful smile!

Looking Out for Your Furry Friend

February 1st, 2023

The grownups in your life help you with your dental care. After all, good dental health makes your life happier. Your teeth and gums feel great. You can eat crunchy foods. Your checkups and cleanings keep your smile healthy and bright.

And you want the same happy life for one of your best friends—your pet! Because February is Pet Dental Health Month, let’s talk about some ways you and your family can keep your dogs and cats healthy and happy, too.

  • Feed Your Pet Healthy Food

The adults in your life make sure you eat a healthy diet. This includes serving foods filled with vitamins and minerals which are good for your teeth and gums. Pets also need to eat healthy meals, and there are special foods and treats made for their dental health. Some foods help keep teeth strong, and some tasty treats help clean the teeth.

Your veterinarian can help you find out the healthiest meals and treats for your dog or cat—and tell you which foods aren’t good for them!

  • “Chews” the Right Toys

Dogs—and some cats—love chew toys, so we need to make sure those toys are safe for them and for their teeth.

Chewing on bones, sticks, and hard plastic toys can break even the biggest and strongest dog’s tooth. If a toy is harder than your pet’s tooth, it can damage your pet’s tooth. Toys should be tough enough not to break into little pieces when they’re chewed, and big enough not to be swallowed. Your vet is a good person to ask about the best and safest toys for your furry friend. And speaking of your vet . . .

  • Take Your Pet to the Vet for the Best Dental Care

We talk about your pet’s veterinarian a lot, because veterinarians are both dentists and doctors for our four-legged friends. And just like you visit your dentist and doctor regularly to make sure you stay healthy, your pet sees the veterinarian for checkups, vaccinations, and dental exams. 

Checking your pet’s teeth regularly is important because, while dogs and cats don’t get cavities the same way we do, they often suffer from gum disease caused by built-up plaque—the same kind of plaque which causes cavities and gum disease in people.

If your pet is showing any of signs of a dental problem—a broken tooth, really bad breath, brown or yellow stains on the teeth, not wanting to eat, pawing at the mouth, or lots of new drooling—it might be time to visit the vet for a dental checkup.

February is Pet Dental Health Month, but your dog or cat is your friend all year long. You and your family can help your pets to have healthier teeth and gums by feeding them the right foods, seeing they have safe toys, and visiting the vet regularly. Your love and care will help your furry friend live a longer, healthier life. That’s happy news for both of you!

When Your Smile Isn’t Aging as Gracefully as You Are

January 25th, 2023

You might have been one of the lucky few born with perfectly straight teeth and a healthy bite. You might have spent months in orthodontic treatment as a teenager to achieve perfectly straight teeth and a healthy bite. But now that you’re growing older, you might be unhappily surprised to discover that your smile isn’t aging as gracefully as you are.  What’s changed?

That’s a trick question, because our bodies never stop changing, growing, and adapting. And these constant adjustments include the changes taking place in your teeth and mouth. You might begin to notice subtle differences in your smile when you’re in your thirties or forties. After young adulthood, several factors come into play which can cause shifting teeth and a misaligned bite:

  • Teeth naturally shift.

Shifting can be a result of the normal changes time brings. The periodontal ligaments which attach our teeth firmly to the jawbone lose some of their strength; the jawbones which hold our teeth in place lose some of their density and begin to narrow. Our teeth also have a natural tendency to move toward the front of the mouth, a phenomenon called “mesial drift.”

Add all of these elements together, and your once straight teeth start to crowd together and even overlap—especially the front bottom teeth.

  • Stressful habits stress your teeth.

If you habitually grind or clench your teeth, you’re putting pressure on them. Just like the gentle pressure of braces and aligners can shift teeth into alignment, the more uncontrolled force of grinding can push teeth out of alignment.  

  • Losing a tooth affects surrounding teeth.

Nature abhors a vacuum, and so does your smile. If you lose a tooth, your other teeth will automatically start to drift into the space left open by the missing tooth.

  • A neglected retainer is gathering dust in a drawer somewhere.

You might have spent time as a teenager in orthodontic treatment, with a beautiful smile to show for all your hard work. And, back in the day, your orthodontist no doubt let you know that you needed to keep wearing your retainer at night once your treatment was completed.

If that’s one healthy habit you abandoned as you got older, don’t be surprised if your teeth start to migrate back to their old, less-than-perfect positions.

Between normal biological changes and the wear and tear of daily life, you might find one day that your smile isn’t that same beaming smile you’re used to seeing in the mirror. And it’s not just an aesthetic concern.

Crooked teeth are harder to clean, and built-up plaque means more decay and gum disease. Shifting teeth can cause malocclusions, or bite problems, which can bring you jaw pain, headaches, and chipped or cracked teeth.

If your smile has changed over time, it’s time to give Drs. Lynn Collins, Patricia Smith, and Daria Ryan a call. There are many discreet options which can return your smile to you, including:

  • Clear aligners—comfortable, removable, and often unnoticeable.
  • Traditional braces—brackets are smaller than ever, and you can choose ceramic brackets which are color-matched to blend in with your enamel.
  • Lingual braces—these braces are attached to the inside of the teeth, for complete invisibility.

And what if you’ve never been as confident in your smile as you wanted to be? There’s good news here as well—it’s never too late to see an orthodontist. Make an appointment at our Newark office to discover how you can make sure your smile looks just as young as you feel!

When to Begin Dental Care for Your Baby

January 25th, 2023

Children’s oral health differs from the needs of adults in many ways. It’s vital for you to understand what your child needs to keep his or her teeth healthy. Drs. Lynn Collins, Patricia Smith, and Daria Ryan and our team are here to answer your questions to set you and your little one up for success.

In-home dental care should start as soon as your baby show signs of developing that first tooth. At around age one or two, bring your son or daughter to our Newark office. Drs. Lynn Collins, Patricia Smith, and Daria Ryan will examine your child’s tooth development and gum health.

The initial appointment will focus on getting your youngster familiar with our office and comfortable with our staff. We will go over several general matters during that first visit:

  • Inspect for signs of decay or other tooth or gum problems
  • Check for gum disease or cavities
  • Examine your child’s bite and possible misalignment
  • Clean the teeth, and apply fluoride if your child is old enough
  • Talk with parents about proper oral health
  • Give you tips for brushing and flossing your little one’s teeth
  • Answer any questions you may have about caring for your son or daughter’s teeth

Once your child is old enough for the first dental visit, you should schedule regular cleanings every six months. Call our Newark location if you have any conflicts or questions.

American Dental Association Tongue-tied Academy Graduate American Board of Pediatric Dentistry