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Post-Braces Care: Wear your retainer!

June 19th, 2024

Many patients underestimate the importance of wearing their retainers after their braces come off, but it is one of the most critical post care practices to keep your teeth in alignment. Why spend all that time, energy, and money to straighten your teeth when you don't plan to keep them straightened after treatment?

What is a retainer?

As the name implies, a retainer keeps teeth from moving back to the positions in which they started before treatment was administered; they "retain" your smile and bite. There are many different types of retainers—some are removable and some are permanent. Some retainers are made of plastic and metal (known as Hawley retainers) and others are all plastic or all metal. Some retainers can even be bonded to the back of your teeth!

How long do I need to wear it?

If you've been given a removable retainer by Drs. Schofield and Dad, you may be wondering how long you need to wear it. It takes time for the tissues and bones around your teeth to reorganize and set into place after braces treatment.

The amount of time you’ll need to wear your retainer depends on your unique situation, but typically, retainers should be worn at least as long as the time you spent in braces. You might need to wear them full-time for a while, and then transition to wearing them only at night. Drs. Schofield and Dad will have a treatment plan especially for you, and if you stick to it, you'll always have a straight smile.

Nothing is forever (at least without retainers!)

Research has shown that there is no “permanent” position for your teeth to remain in. In fact, some studies say upward of 70% of patients will see a change to their bite and tooth alignment as they get older. This applies to people who have had orthodontic treatment and those who have not. Of course, some people's teeth never seem to shift—you can consider them the lucky ones, as most people's teeth do.

And this is precisely where retainers come in. The only way to ensure your teeth stay in alignment long-term is by wearing your retainers. If you have any questions about retainers or your treatment plan, please ask any member of our Grapevine staff.

How Does Your Dentist Fill a Cavity?

June 13th, 2024

The grownups in your life want you to have healthy teeth. That’s why they remind you to brush and floss, make you tooth-friendly meals, and take you to see the dentist regularly, at an office designed just for you. You’ve been visiting Grapevine Kids for a while now, so you know all about checkups and cleanings.

At every dental exam, Drs. Schofield and Dad will look at your teeth very carefully, checking not just the outside of your teeth, but around and behind your teeth as well. (That’s what those little mirrors are for.) You might have X-ray pictures taken to show the inside of your teeth. In all these ways, we make sure your teeth are healthy, inside and out.

You expect all these things at a dental checkup because you’re used to them. When you hear that you have a cavity, you might be worried. After all, if you’ve never had a cavity before, you don’t know what to expect. And sometimes not knowing is a little scary. So let’s talk about what a cavity is, and how your dentist can help make your tooth healthy again if you need a filling.

  • What’s a Cavity?

Teeth are covered with a very hard white coating called enamel. Enamel is the strongest part of our bodies, even stronger than our bones. But when we eat too many sugary foods, or don’t brush the way we should or as much as we should, or even just because of the way some people’s bodies work, our enamel can be hurt by cavities.

A cavity is a hole in your tooth enamel. These holes are made by the bacteria in plaque, which turn sugars into acids. This is why it’s important to brush carefully to get rid of plaque, and to watch how much sugar we eat. It’s not just people who like sugar—bacteria do, too!

The acids bacteria create attack our enamel and make it weaker. If the enamel gets too weak, a hole will start to form. This is what we call a cavity.

  • How Do You Know You Have a Cavity?

Maybe you came to our Grapevine office because you have a toothache, or it hurts when you eat something hot or cold. Those are often clues that you have a cavity.

But small, early cavities don’t always bother us. That’s why regular checkups are so important, and why Drs. Schofield and Dad will look carefully at each tooth to make sure that it’s healthy.

  • Getting Ready

Drs. Schofield and Dad might give you some medicine to make sure you don’t feel uncomfortable while your tooth is being repaired. The area around your tooth will get numb, which means you won’t feel anything while we work.

  • Removing Decay

There are different ways to remove decay from your tooth. Some can be noisy, and some are quiet.  If noise bothers you, let your dentist know—there are ways to cover up annoying sounds.

After the decay has been removed, it’s time to clean your tooth. This makes sure that no germs or bacteria are still around when your tooth is filled.

But after all the decay is gone, you’ll still have a little hole in your tooth. That’s why the next step is . . .

  • Filling Your Tooth

Since a hole in your tooth enamel makes it weaker, this hole needs to be filled up to make your tooth strong again—that’s why it’s called a “filling.”

There are different kinds of fillings, and your dentist will tell you which one is best for your tooth. A molar, one of the big teeth in the back of your mouth, needs a strong filling for all the work it does chewing food. Your dentist might use a metal filling to help your molar do its job. If you have a cavity in one of your front teeth, you might get a tooth-colored filling. This filling is made to match the color of your enamel, so no one can see the filling when you smile.

  • After Your Filling

All done! In just a little while, the area around your tooth won’t be numb anymore, and we will let you know when you can eat and drink regular foods again.

If you do your best to keep your teeth healthy, you can look forward to cavity-free checkups in the future. But when you need a filling, or if you have a tooth which needs another kind of treatment, we are here to help you make sure your happy smile is a healthy smile!

Barbecues and Braces

June 5th, 2024

One of the sure signs that summer has arrived is the unmistakable aroma of barbecue drifting over backyards across the country.

If you’re new to braces, you might be wondering just how many of your favorite outdoor treats can still go on your plate. Good news! You have a lot of braces-friendly options available—with a little extra planning on your part. Two things to remember: tools and textures.

  • BBQ Tools

We’re not talking about spatulas and tongs and skewers—the barbecue tools we’re talking about here are your knife and fork. Sure, many classic BBQ dishes are finger foods, but those are the very dishes which can cause problems for your braces.

Eating savory ribs or chicken legs, juicy burgers or hot dogs, or delicious corn on the cob the traditional way means biting into these foods with your front teeth. That biting puts a lot of pressure on your braces and can lead to bent wires and loose or broken brackets.

But there’s a way to get around this without giving up on your tasty favorites! There’s no rule against using your knife and fork at a BBQ, and there’s no need to bite into foods when you can cut them up into small, manageable pieces.

If you remove meat from bones before eating, if you deconstruct your grilled burger or brat by cutting it up into smaller pieces, if you slice the kernels off your corn on the cob, you can chew with your back teeth and avoid any damage to your brackets and wires. Cut grilled foods into manageable bites just like you do with your regular meals, and you won’t be leaving the party early!  

  • BBQ Textures

Now let’s talk texture. Crunchy, hard, and sticky foods should never be on the menu when you’re wearing braces. These foods can damage your wires and brackets or get stuck between your braces and your teeth.

This is a time for clever substitutions. Exchange the corn chips for soft potato or pasta salad. Trade crusty and seeded buns for softer, seedless versions. Skip the grilled sticky s’mores and enjoy creamy, soft ice cream instead—but without nuts or other crunchy, sticky additions, please!

Drs. Schofield and Dad and our team are happy to offer suggestions for what to eat and how to eat it safely while you’re in braces at our Grapevine orthodontic office. There are unavoidable events that can put a damper on outdoor activities. Pouring rain and insect pests—not much we can do about those. But taking simple precautions with your braces means no bent wires and broken brackets to ruin your BBQ fun. Now, dig in!

Foods that are Safe for Braces

May 29th, 2024

Orthodontic braces are used to straighten the teeth, which not only creates a more pleasing appearance, but also helps prevent tooth decay and other oral health problems. Braces are only effective when they are properly cared for, however. Certain foods, for example, are better suited for individuals who have braces, as opposed to hard and sticky foods that can cause damage. So, what types of foods should you or your kids eat to protect dental appliances?

The best foods to eat with braces are those that are not high in sugar and do not require excessive chewing. For breakfast, try eggs, yogurt, bacon, wheat toast, or oatmeal. Lunch may steer toward a banana rather than an apple, a salad without nuts, and a glass of water. If you are looking for some after-school snacks for your kids, consider baked tortilla chips with salsa and guacamole, or try string cheese with fruit.

A healthy dinner can include most types of vegetables, so long as they are cooked to an appropriate softness. Pair that with a lean protein, such as fish or chicken, and follow up with dessert. Just be sure to brush afterward!

Post-Tightening Foods

As braces begin to adjust the alignment of the teeth, our team at Grapevine Kids will periodically tighten them to continue the alignment process. After tightening occurs, the teeth may be sore and sensitive to certain foods. During this time, it is best to eat soft foods. Examples include:

  • Pudding
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Soup
  • Ice cream
  • Cottage cheese
  • Peas
  • Pancakes
  • Pasta

Foods to Avoid

Anyone who wears braces – whether fixed or removable – should avoid excessive snacking and should aim to eat a healthy and balanced diet. It is also important to avoid foods that could cause damage to the braces, such as:

  • Hard candies
  • Gum
  • Nuts
  • Popcorn
  • Certain raw vegetables (for example, carrots)

Considerations

Regardless of what types of foods you eat with braces, it is important to keep the crevices between the teeth and around the braces very clean. That means brushing and flossing after meals to prevent the build-up of plaque and decay. Not only can failing to do so damage the teeth, but it can also cause discoloration.

Have more questions about orthodontic treatment? The Grapevine Kids staff is always ready to answer all of your questions and help you get the most out of the treatment plan prescribed for you by Drs. Schofield and Dad!

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