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Seeking Treatment for My Teen: What to Know

August 2nd, 2022

boy with braces

Teen years are full of exciting changes, both physical and emotional. Braces are one of the most common teenage rites of passage. And with many treatments available, your teen can be excited about their smile during and after treatment!

Getting the timing right

By adulthood, the mouth, jaw, and face are fully grown, making orthodontic treatment possible but often more invasive than if it was started at a younger age. Children and teenagers have bones and tissue that are still developing, so we can work with their natural growth to align teeth, correct bites, and expand palates.

Most permanent teeth are in place around age 12 or 13. As adult teeth settle into their natural permanent positions, this age is a great time to correct alignment, spacing, crowding, and bite issues. However, if your child is younger and hasn’t started orthodontic treatment yet, don’t wait! The American Association of Orthodontists recommends seeing an orthodontist at age 7 for an initial exam.

Supporting smile confidence

A straight, healthy smile is the ultimate confidence boost! For many teenagers, the end goal of braces encourages them to take care of their appliances and find joy in the treatment process. Your teen or preteen will likely know several peers going through treatment, too—maybe some of them are even in our Petty & Bielik family!

Teens and preteens often have heightened anxieties about their looks, and it's easy for them to be self-conscious about any new change in appearance, like braces. Be sympathetic to their concerns and support their smile journey. Try keeping banned foods out of the house or only enjoying them when your child isn’t around. It helps them resist temptation and doesn’t make them feel left out. Support could also come as reminders to care for their appliances (but don’t overwhelm them, trust that they’ll do it!).

What options are available for them? 

Before creating a custom plan, our experts will evaluate your child’s teeth, growth, facial development, palate, and bite. At Petty & Bielik Orthodontics, we offer several advanced treatments, including:

  • Ceramic braces: Ceramic braces work just like traditional metal braces, but they use discreet, stain-resistant brackets for a more subtle look. 
  • Damon Braces: Self-ligating braces may require less treatment time and fewer adjustments than traditional metal braces. They are smaller than traditional braces, do not require elastics, and use memory wire.
  • Invisalign® & Spark Aligners: Clear aligner trays have become a popular alternative to traditional braces because they are so discreet and easy to care for. With clear aligners, patients receive removable trays that gradually shift smiles into place.

After the consultation, your orthodontist will let you know which treatments suit your child’s dental needs and aesthetic preferences. To start your child’s path towards their best smile, call our team today at (708) 636-2900. We can’t wait to meet them!

Summer Orthodontic Guide

July 25th, 2022

Summer is here, which might mean switching some indoor activities for more time in the sun. With the higher UV index and fun hangouts, remaining committed to your orthodontic routine can be challenging. Even so, it's more important than ever to maintain regular dental appointments and oral care to prevent backtracking your smile's progress. Here are some tips for having a fantastic summer with braces, aligners, or retainers.

Getaways and trips

Pack what you need for a healthy smile when you go on a summer getaway, whether on vacation or off to a summer camp. Poor oral hygiene could lead to cavities, discoloration, or more time wearing your braces or aligners. Be extra mindful of packing these tools if you're going off the grid! Not bringing your aligners or retainer with you, for example, could mean starting over from scratch when you return home.

  • Floss and floss threaders
  • Toothbrush
  • Sports mouthguard
  • Orthodontic wax to prevent discomfort
  • Aligners or retainers in their case

What summer treats can you enjoy?

Summer comes with a lot of tasty seasonal foods! If you have braces, there's no need to worry. You can still enjoy plenty of soft treats, like popsicles, ice cream, smoothies, or watermelon (be careful with seeds!). Always avoid sticky, hard foods, such as corn on the cob, caramel corn, or hard pretzels. If you wear Invisalign®, you have a few more food options since you can take out your aligners. However, regardless of your appliances, keep brushing and flossing for a healthy, plaque-free smile!

Orthodontic care for outdoor activities

Protect yourself if you like to spend your days soaking up the sun! Apply sunscreen to your face and wear an SPF lip balm. While playing sports, you should always wear a mouthguard to protect your teeth, lips, cheeks, tongue, and appliances. Though usually preventable with a mouthguard, mouth injuries can seriously cost you—from missing teeth and high medical bills to broken appliances and lots of discomfort.

This summer, take time to relax and enjoy lots of time outside. But, do stay on top of your smile and oral health! By following these tips, you'll enjoy a healthy and happy summer. Ready to start your smile journey? Call our Petty & Bielik Orthodontics team at 708.636.2900.

Get Your Healthiest Smile With Damon Braces

July 19th, 2022

At Petty & Bielik Orthodontics, we offer a variety of treatments to meet our patients’ smile needs—from clear aligners and traditional braces to interceptive care and Damon Braces. You have probably heard the phrase “metal mouth” thrown around in movies, commercials, or daily life, but Damon Braces are far from that outdated moniker. With Damon, high-quality orthodontic care is more discreet, streamlined, and comfortable. So, what sets this technology apart from other treatments? Find out more below!

How do Damon Braces work?

While traditional braces attach the archwire to each bracket with elastic bands, Damon connects the archwire to brackets with tiny clips. Using an open-shut door mechanism and self-ligating technology, the archwire moves within the brackets freely as it adjusts to your shifting teeth. Damon’s shape-memory wire makes treatment more comfortable and efficient than ever before.

Comparing traditional braces with Damon

Damon Braces don’t just provide a subtler look than their traditional counterparts. They also make treatment:

  • More comfortable—patients experience less pressure exerted on each tooth. And the smaller brackets cause less irritation on lips and cheeks.
  • Quicker—Damon Braces can shorten treatment and deliver your healthiest smile faster.
  • More convenient—Damon Braces’ streamlined design means fewer appointments overall so you can make the most of your schedule.
  • More discreet—these appliances are less bulky, have no elastic ties, and have smaller brackets. Plus, Damon also comes in clear, stain-resistant ceramic!

The “bracelift” effect

In addition to enjoying a straight smile, adult patients also often experience what is called the “bracelift” effect. By improving alignment, correcting bites, and widening your dental arch, Damon Braces can improve facial balance. Some patients have noticed fuller-looking lips, lifted cheeks, and a counteraction of facial muscle loss from aging. The result is often a more youthful appearance overall.

Book your appointment!

Ready for your best smile yet? Petty & Bielik Orthodontics can’t wait to help you achieve the smile of your dreams! Call us today at (708) 636-2900 to begin your smile journey.

Adjusting to Hobbies With Braces

June 28th, 2022

Braces are the gateway to a healthier, straighter smile. But they can take some getting used to, especially if your mouth is an important part of your hobbies, such as playing an instrument, participating in sports, or getting creative in the kitchen. Check out these safe and helpful ways to enjoy your favorite activities with braces!

Musicians’ tips

Since braces can change how the teeth, lips, and cheeks sit, braces most affect people who play wind instruments. If braces irritate the lips and cheeks, place orthodontic wax over the brackets. Early on in your treatment, braces may cause discomfort while playing. Practice for shorter periods at first and work your way up to your typical practice length.

After getting braces, brass players should practice adjusting their embouchure (the position of the lips and mouth) until the position feels natural with their new appliances. It may be difficult at first to create the same sound or wind power as before, but don’t be discouraged! The more you practice, the quicker you adapt. For woodwind players, new braces shouldn’t impact your playing, but increased saliva production may occur. Make sure to clean out your instrument thoroughly and let your reeds dry between playing.

Athletic safety

Sports teach cooperation, hard work, and the value of physical fitness. However, sports with high amounts of contact and fast-flying balls or pucks can be dangerous for smiles. All athletes should wear the proper protection for their sport, such as helmets and face masks, as well as mouthguards to protect their teeth. For athletes with braces, traditional mouthguards can negate orthodontic treatment. Ask your orthodontist about a custom-fit mouthguard that you can wear over braces to protect teeth and keep your treatment on track!

Cooking and baking foods

Certain foods are off-limits with braces, but that doesn’t mean that patients who love cooking or baking have to give up their hobby! Just make sure to avoid sticky, chewy, crunchy foods or ones that contain hard chunks. Muffins, banana bread, apple crumble, sponge cake, and soft oatmeal cookies are all yummy, safe-to-eat choices for bakers. Remember that sugar can stick to teeth and lead to cavities, so brush well after having a sweet treat!

The easiest way to enjoy cooking with braces is to look online for braces-friendly recipes, plan your meals ahead of time, and head to the grocery store prepared with a list. Veggies are healthy, colorful additions to a meal, but eating crunchy, raw vegetables with braces can be painful. Sauté or steam your vegetables to soften them. For protein, remember that tough, chewy, well-done meat can be challenging to eat with braces. Choose boneless meats and enjoy them shredded, pre-cut into small pieces, or prepared in a Crock-Pot for a softer texture. Tofu is also a great soft meat substitute.

If you have any more questions about braces and your favorite activity, call our team at (708) 636-2900 or schedule an appointment with us today to start your path to a straighter smile!

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