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I Got My Braces Off…Now What?

September 22nd, 2022

So, you’ve gotten your braces off! Finally, after all this time, you’re celebrating the end of your orthodontic treatment and your brand-new smile. Hopefully, you’re feeling as confident as ever, but this isn’t the end of your orthodontic journey. In fact, to maintain that lovely new smile, there are some things you’ll need to do.

Visit your dentist

If it’s been a while since you last saw your dentist, it might be a good idea to give them a visit! Even if you’re a regular at your dental practice, it can be difficult to keep your teeth in tip-top shape when you have braces. Now that you’re no longer dealing with hidden nooks and crannies from braces, it’s time to let a dentist clean your teeth. This way, they can ward off any plaque or stains that might have built up during your treatment and ensure that you maintain the smile you’ve earned!

Be gentle with your mouth

After removing your braces, your teeth and gums might feel slightly sensitive or tender. It’s important to be patient with your mouth. It takes some time to adjust to life without braces—just like it did when you got braces. It may be helpful to continue eating braces-friendly foods and drinks that will be gentle on your teeth. However, as your sensitivity dissipates, you can incorporate those foods you’ve missed.

Wear your retainer as instructed

Because you’re no longer wearing braces or appliances to keep your teeth in place, the only way to maintain your new smile is by wearing your retainer. Your teeth are most susceptible to shifts in the first few months after you’ve gotten your braces off, so you should wear your retainer exactly as directed by our experts. Although every treatment plan is different, you will probably have both bonded retainers and an upper night retainer. The nighttime retainer is especially important because the bonded retainers are not attached to all the teeth. Be sure to take good care of your retainer as well. Keeping them (and the case!) clean prevents bacteria buildup in your mouth.

New smile, new dental hygiene regimen

Now that your braces are off, brushing, flossing, and generally taking care of your teeth will be much easier. Brush your teeth at least twice daily and replace your toothbrush every few months (or when the bristles appear frayed or you’ve been sick). Daily flossing is also a must!

Keep in touch

Even after you’ve finished treatment, keep in touch! You’re still part of our smile family. Retainers won’t last forever—plus, you may lose, break, or damage your appliance. Come in to see us if you need a replacement or if you stopped wearing your retainer and are noticing your teeth shifting. We always love to see you! For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call us at 708-636-2900.

Caring for Retainers & Aligners: At School or Work

September 14th, 2022

Orthodontic treatment can sometimes present challenges as you head into the classroom or office. However, it doesn’t have to get in the way of events, activities, friendships, or work! Here are some tips for etiquette and best practices while wearing removable aligners or retainers in a public setting.

Always carry a case and hygiene tools

If you need to remove your appliances discreetly before a big corporate banquet or lunch with your friends, ensure you always have a plastic case with you. Try to find a restroom where you can covertly stow your aligners or retainers—rather than removing them in front of others. Bringing a case ensures you don’t have to put your retainers or aligners directly into your bag or pocket—gross! A case also prevents you from wrapping them in a napkin and accidentally tossing them into the garbage.

Plan ahead

After eating or drinking anything other than water, you’ll need to clean your smile before replacing appliances and heading back to work or the classroom. Carry a toothbrush, mini bottle of toothpaste, and floss to clean your teeth and aligners or retainer. While it may be tempting to skip this step, lingering food particles in your mouth can be a recipe for cavities with your appliances.

If you know that you will be in a situation where you will be eating or drinking, plan ahead. Identify a restroom where you can remove your appliances a few minutes before the event starts and a place where you can practice proper oral hygiene afterward. If you know you can’t perform a complete oral hygiene routine for whatever reason (no public restroom, eating on a bus/public transit, packed itinerary, etc.) bring along a travel disposable toothbrush and a water bottle. Swishing and brushing can help remove plaque and food particles in a pinch. Just be sure to thoroughly clean your appliances and smile when you get home!

Use your judgment

Although we’d like to plan for every potential event, sometimes life brings surprises! If you are faced with a situation that you are unprepared for, use your best judgment. Removing appliances in front of friends or coworkers or forgetting your aligner case is not the end of the world. However, we urge you to build up your healthiest habits and plan whenever possible. Doing so will help you get the best possible result from your treatment and hard work!

For more orthodontic advice or to schedule an appointment, call Petty & Bielik Orthodontics at (708) 636-2900 today!

5 Tips to Pick the Right Orthodontist for You

September 8th, 2022

Finding the right orthodontist may be daunting, especially if you are looking for a provider for the very first time. However, the most important thing to remember as you research is to pick an office that makes you feel welcome and comfortable, as you will spend a fair amount of time with them throughout your treatment. Here are five of our top tips for picking the best orthodontist for you:

1. Research their reputation and credentials

If there’s one thing you can rely on, it’s the opinions of other patients! Most orthodontists have testimonials on their website or social media, though you may also find helpful reviews on websites such as Google. It’s also important to find out an orthodontist’s background and credentials. After all, if you’re trusting someone with your smile, you want them to be experts, like our Petty & Bielik Orthodontics team! Look for an orthodontist with a wide range of expertise and modern practices in care, technologies, and treatments.

2. Go somewhere family-friendly

If you have children who need treatment, pick a provider who works with all age groups. You will want to ensure your orthodontist has expertise in pediatric orthodontics. Children and adults have different orthodontic needs. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends bringing your child to an orthodontist by age 7, so it’s never too early to start researching!

3. Learn about a practice’s treatments

While there may be some similarities between orthodontic practices, their experience, care, and specific treatments may vary. Though not every patient is a good candidate for certain treatments, so be sure to research treatment options. For instance, if you are interested in discreet adult orthodontics, check if a practice offers clear (ceramic) braces or clear aligners.

4. Look at their payment options

Some people find paying for orthodontic care intimidating, but the best way to crush any fear is to discuss payment options with a potential provider. After all, you deserve to know up front how much you’ll be paying and when. Check if the practice accepts your insurance provider if you have dental coverage. If not, discuss financing plans or potential discounts to make treatment more affordable. Doing this research is a great way to plan for your expenses and feel confident about your care.

5. Find local experts

You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘shop locally,’ but there are equal benefits to pursuing healthcare locally, too! Because orthodontic treatment requires regular office visits, choosing a provider who is easily accessible to you is most convenient. In addition to being nearby, you should also ensure that your orthodontist has a range of appointment times so you never miss visits.

The entire team at Petty & Bielik Orthodontics is committed to making you feel comfortable, addressing your unique needs, and helping you achieve your unique goals. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call us at 708-636-2900! 

Is Your Child Ready for Braces?

August 31st, 2022

Orthodontic needs differ from person to person, and this goes for children, too! The American Association of Orthodontists recommends bringing your child in for their first consultation by age 7—or earlier if you or a dentist notice issues. However, here are some additional clues that your child may be ready for braces or, at least, a trip to the orthodontist.

Losing baby teeth early

How many baby teeth has your child lost (if any)? Even if your child is much younger than 7 years old, it may be time to prepare for orthodontics if they lose baby teeth too early. When this happens, it can impact how the permanent teeth erupt and lead to orthodontic issues.

Patients who begin orthodontics at a young age may receive a two-phase treatment. With two-phase care, patients wear appliances before and after losing all of their baby teeth. For some, there are advantages to starting treatment early, including correcting complex bite and jaw problems before they progress and preventing other issues from developing.

Having a bite that impacts daily life

If you notice your child having trouble chewing or speaking, it’s likely time to visit the orthodontist. Issues like underbites or overbites can impede daily life and sometimes worsen if left untreated. Not sure if your child suffers from a bad bite? Our experts can identify existing, developing, or future problems with the jaw, facial growth, and teeth. Correcting these early on can prevent discomfort, inconvenience, and poor function in the future. By working with your child’s natural growth, we can deliver a healthy, happy bite and smile.

Noticing orthodontic issues

Another great way to know if a child is ready for braces is whether they seem to know they’re ready for braces. Hearing your child commenting on their crooked teeth or problematic bite may signify that they are ready to transform their smile aesthetics. Going into orthodontic treatment with an understanding and prepared child is ideal, so always be ready to open the conversation and discuss how braces can improve confidence, health, and function!

Book your child’s appointment today

Think it’s time for your child’s first appointment? We can’t wait to have you in our office! If you are ready to schedule an appointment or have any questions, please call Petty & Bielik Orthodontics at (708)-636-2900!

(708) 636-2900 4233 W 95th St, Oak Lawn, IL 60453