Our Blog

Keeping Your Braces & Smile Fresh

May 10th, 2023

Have you ever been plagued with bad breath? Besides being embarrassing, bad breath can indicate excessive plaque and bacteria. Unfortunately, those with braces may have a harder time cleaning away food particles after a meal or snack. That’s because your wires and brackets create nooks and crannies where food can hide (and smell!). Fortunately, there are more options than ever to help you enjoy fresh breath and a beautiful, clean smile.

Flossing options with braces

To prevent buildup and remove plaque, brushing and flossing are essential. However, there are many different types of floss that you can use to keep that smile healthy. Here are some of our favorites!

  • Plastic threader needles: Suitable for those with braces, this tool helps you floss around your braces, brackets, and wires. Though it may be more time-consuming at first, practice makes perfect. You’ll enjoy a deeper clean and healthy smile once you get the hang of it!
  • Floss picks: These picks are easy to wield and popular with patients of all ages. Simply find one that fits with your braces to remove plaque from between your teeth.
  • Interdental brushes: These tiny brushes come in several sizes. They can fit between teeth, brackets, and wires for a deeper, targeted clean. However, depending on how crowded your smile is, they may not fit everywhere in your mouth—making them a great touch-up tool for in between regular brushing and flossing.
  • Water flossers: These are a game changer for many patients! By blasting a jet of water, these flossers can clean hard-to-reach areas with the push of a button. The only downside is that you can’t bring a water flosser with you everywhere!

Snacks for clean teeth

Besides oral hygiene, what you eat can impact your breath. Foods that stimulate saliva production and combat dry mouth can help you get cleaner breath. Eating soft veggies, cut-up fruit, and fibrous foods and drinking plenty of water all help promote saliva, which can neutralize acids and bacteria in the mouth.

Be mindful of foods that may get stuck in braces or teeth, like bread or crackers—especially if you won’t be able to brush or floss after eating them. These may be more difficult to clean away fully and could lead to extra plaque.

Need a quick boost of fresh breath?

Rather than opting for gum or hard and chewy mints, pack mini mouthwashes or LISTERINE® POCKETPAKS® breath strips for a quick boost to your breath. Both are sugar-free options that enhance your confidence and freshen your breath. Just don’t let them replace excellent oral hygiene habits!

Contact us today to learn more about oral hygiene with braces or to schedule your appointment!

Spring Guide for Braces, Aligners, or Retainers!

May 4th, 2023

Are you headed to the pool, beach, or on a hiking trip this spring? If so, you may want to consider a few things if you’re also undergoing orthodontic treatment. After all, you wouldn’t want your trip to disrupt or prolong your treatment in any way. Here are our top tips for going on vacation or enjoying the spring with braces, Invisalign®, or retainers.

Always have your case

If you’re wearing removable or part-time appliances, such as aligners or retainers, you probably know the annoyance of misplacing or forgetting your case. If you’re going to a pool, heading out on a day trip, or gearing up for a vacation, you’ll want a safe, clean place to store your appliances. We recommend bringing at least one—if not two—cases. This way, you’ll always have somewhere to store your appliances, and you can avoid the awkwardness of finding a napkin or plastic bag. (This also minimizes the risk of accidentally throwing out aligners wrapped in a napkin!)

Foolproof vacation kit

Speaking of bringing your case, why stop there? We recommend packing a foolproof kit for day trips or longer—especially if you’re going somewhere without immediate access to dental care. Bring a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss or floss threaders, a mini bottle of mouthwash, TYLENOL®, and orthodontic wax in your kit. This way, you’ll be prepared for almost any obstacle your appliances may throw your way! Bring an orthodontic mouthguard if you’re leaving for an athletic trip, like a spring tournament or game.

Maintain regular appointments

We know the spring season is often hectic, but we ask that you continue to schedule your regular orthodontic appointments. If you were meant to come in the week of a vacation or trip, please don’t skip the appointment. Instead, try to reschedule it for right before or after you return. This way, you can keep making progress toward your smile goals!

Keep appliances safe and clean

As the weather warms up, beware of the heat! Do not leave your appliances out in the hot sun or in the car, as this could damage the plastic of your aligners or retainers. Gearing up for a spring or summer beach vacation? Don’t get sand or sunscreen on your retainers or aligners. When you’re not wearing your appliances, stow them safely in their case, inside your bag.

During a hot day, reaching for a cold drink is refreshing. But remember to remove aligners before drinking anything other than water. And always brush and floss after sugary or acidic drinks! Keeping your appliances clean will ensure you stay cavity-free—no matter where your season takes you.

We hope you have a wonderful spring and summer season! For more tips, or if you want to schedule your next appointment, call Petty & Bielik Orthodontics at 708-636-2900 today.

How You Can Promote Healthy Smiles at Home

April 7th, 2023

At our practice, we love helping patients of all ages achieve their best smiles. But orthodontic care is only one component of a smile you love. At home, parents can help children set up healthy habits for life. Here are our top tips to support your child before and during treatment!

Begin healthy habits early

When it comes to oral health, there’s no such thing as starting too early. Experts recommend that children visit the dentist for the first time once their first tooth comes in or when they turn 1 year old. For children, biannual visits and excellent at-home care can help ensure cavity-free teeth and a positive attitude about oral hygiene. Your pediatric dentist may also be able to spot potential orthodontic problems early, like losing baby teeth prematurely.

Though braces are often associated with teenagers, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends bringing in your child to an orthodontist by the time they turn 7 years old—or earlier if recommended. At that age, our team can identify potential problems before they worsen or develop. Unlike with adults, children are still growing. We can work with a child’s natural growth to influence the jaw, palate, and facial development. Early intervention can help make treatment more efficient and less invasive than if parents waited until all adult teeth have erupted.

Instill healthy habits at home

As soon as children develop teeth, brushing and flossing come into play. Though baby teeth do fall out, they’re not disposable or unimportant. Poor oral hygiene with baby teeth can lead to premature tooth loss. Baby teeth are crucial for speaking, chewing, and eating, and they also hold space in the jaw for permanent teeth as they erupt.

When children get braces or aligners, good oral hygiene habits become even more crucial. Appliances can lead to bacteria getting stuck in nooks and crannies of the mouth. Properly brushing and flossing help decrease the chances of plaque buildup and decay. Encourage your child to practice their oral hygiene habits at home and while they’re out and about. Pack them oral hygiene kits to bring to school or a sleepover. Send text reminders or leave sticky notes on the bathroom mirror if it’s time to brush after a snack or meal.

Choose the right foods

Supporting your child with healthy, braces-friendly foods can make treatment much easier and safer. While your child wears appliances, steer them clear of sticky, hard, and chewy foods. These can damage teeth, pop off brackets, and bend wires. In addition to braces-friendly foods, tooth-friendly foods are also excellent choices! Opt for tooth-strengthening, calcium-rich dairy products or vitamin-rich vegetables that nourish their body, and help them limit sugary or acidic snacks and drinks to avoid cavities.

Book an appointment

Ready to help your child get their best smile yet? Contact our Petty & Bielik Orthodontics team. We can’t wait to deliver our expert care!

How Retainers Help You Love Your Smile

March 14th, 2023

If you just had your braces removed, chances are retainers will be your next step. These custom appliances are used to hold teeth in alignment after treatment with braces or aligners. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about retainers:

Why do I need to wear my retainers?

Retainers keep your smile, teeth, and bite healthily aligned. Without something to hold them in place, teeth will naturally shift over time. This could lead to more problems or a need for a second round of orthodontic treatment. Wearing your retainer prevents your teeth from moving and helps you keep the smile you spent all that time working for!

How long do I wear my retainers?

At Petty & Bielik Orthodontics, we believe in long-term retention for a lifetime of beautiful smiles.  Every retention plan is unique, and our team will let you know what is best for your smile! While some may opt for removable retainers that you wear nightly, others may choose a permanent retainer for easier patient compliance. Because every smile is different, no two treatment or retention plans are alike!  

Do I need to clean my retainers?

You should be cleaning your retainers! When you wear retainers, they can accumulate plaque and bacteria just like your teeth and braces. To combat buildup, clean removable retainers each time you take them out. For permanent retainers, practice extra diligent oral hygiene when you brush and floss like when you wore braces.

Can I eat with my retainers?

To avoid damaging your retainers, be sure to remove them before you eat or drink anything other than water. Not only can food get trapped in your retainers, but you may accidentally damage the appliance, too.

Will I talk with a lisp forever?

You may go through a brief adjustment period where talking with your retainers is a bit challenging. However, you likely went through something similar when you first got braces or aligners. If you experience a temporary lisp from the retainers, don’t worry! You will grow accustomed to wearing them and any speaking challenges should resolve within a few days.

Can retainers cause gum problems or cavities?

As long as you commit to excellent oral hygiene and follow our instructions, you shouldn’t worry about retainers causing any problems. However, wearing dirty retainers frequently could contribute to issues like cavities or decay. 

If you have any more questions or would like to schedule an appointment, call Petty & Bielik Orthodontics at 708-636-2900 today!

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