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Retaining That New Smile

February 1st, 2023

For months and months, you’ve been dedicated to following your orthodontic treatment plan. Wearing your bands or putting in the hours with your aligners. Eating orthodontic-friendly foods. Seeing your orthodontist on a regular basis.

But that’s all in the past. Today, your braces are coming off! You’ve finished with your last set of clear aligners! Now it’s time to enjoy your accomplishment and celebrate this moment.

And after you’ve celebrated the moment, what’s next? Why, it’s time to look to the future! Because one thing we can predict for the years ahead is that you’ll want to keep your smile looking as wonderful as it does today. Let’s look at some of the simple steps you can take to retain that new smile.

Keep Up With Your Brushing and Flossing

Wearing braces or aligners meant learning a whole new way to take care of your teeth and gums. You used special tools to clean around your brackets and wires. You learned how to keep your aligners clean and stain-free. You brushed and flossed after every meal and snack break.

So returning to regular hygiene habits should be a cinch—two minutes of thorough brushing at least twice a day, with careful flossing at least once each day. And you’ll probably notice something else which makes your life easier—properly aligned teeth are easier to brush and floss effectively.

But just because it’s easier, doesn’t mean it’s not as important. Keeping your teeth clean and cavity-free and your gums healthy will keep your smile looking its best, so be sure to brush and floss just as consistently as you did when you were in treatment.

See Your Dentist Regularly

Even though you won’t be making regular visits to our Tampa office anymore, that doesn’t mean your dental calendar is clear! Cavities aren’t a good look for your new smile. Neither are tartar stains or red and swollen gums.

Checkups once or twice a year mean that you have a healthy smile as well as a beautifully aligned one. And a professional cleaning from your dentist’s office will make sure it’s a gum-healthy, bright, and stain-free smile as well.

Wear Your Retainer

Your teeth may have moved to their perfect positions, but they haven’t moved there permanently yet.

During orthodontic treatment, gentle pressure from your appliance causes steady, careful tooth movement. As teeth move in the jaw, old bone cells around the roots break down where they’re no longer needed, and new bone cells build up around the roots in their new position. It’s a gradual process which makes sure your teeth are held firmly in the jawbone.

Bu this isn’t the end of the process. When you stop wearing braces or aligners, teeth and ligaments may begin shifting back to their original location. The new bone tissue that holds your teeth in their ideal spots isn’t strong enough yet to stop this shifting, especially with the normal forces of biting, chewing, clenching, and all the other activities that put pressure on teeth.

Your retainer holds your teeth in just the right position while jawbone tissue has time to reshape, rebuild, and stabilize. This can take months or more to accomplish, especially when you’ve had a more serious misalignment or bite correction.

Which also means . . .

Wear Your Retainer as Long as Necessary

Dr. David Leever will recommend the best retainer for you. Three popular options include:

  • Hawley Retainers—the traditional removable retainer. This appliance uses wires embedded in a molded acrylic plate to keep your teeth properly aligned and to hold your retainer in place.
  • Clear Plastic Retainers—a removable custom retainer made of vacuum-formed plastic. This piece looks and fits over the teeth like a clear aligner.
  • Fixed Retainers—a small single wire bonded to the back of specific teeth to hold them in place and prevent any movement.

For the first few months, you might need to wear your removeable retainer both night and day, and then switch to nighttime wear. Dr. David Leever might recommend long-term nightly retainer use, or perhaps taper to a few nights a week. A fixed retainer can last for many years. We can’t tell you how long you’ll need to wear your retainer because that answer depends on your specific orthodontic needs.

If you do stop wearing your retainer and find that your teeth are shifting, see Dr. David Leever as soon as possible. Fixing a slight shift can be fairly uncomplicated, but waiting until your teeth and bite are more seriously out of alignment could require another session in braces or aligners.

The hard work you’ve put in to create your smile is past, and today you’re enjoying all the benefits of aligned teeth and a comfortable bite. Taking simple steps to maintain these benefits will help guarantee a future filled with healthy, confident smiles.

Predicting Your Smile’s Future?

January 25th, 2023

Dr. David Leever and our team have the experience and training to evaluate the present state of your teeth and bite, and to design a treatment plan to give you the healthy, attractive smile you picture for your future. And when you choose Invisalign® for your treatment, you’ll be able to get an advance view of exactly what that future will look like!

How is this possible? Because when you choose Invisalign, you’re getting the benefit of some of the most advanced technology in orthodontics.

The process begins with a computerized scan of your teeth and mouth. Special scanner software creates a 3D image to capture your smile as it is now. But that’s not all. Using our customized treatment plan, Invisalign software can provide not only a model of your smile today, but an evolving model of what your smile can be. Seeing your present smile transform step-by-step into your future smile is a great motivator to follow that treatment plan!

For each step of your treatment, Dr. David Leever will provide a new set of aligners created to move your teeth and bite toward this goal. Why don’t you need a mold made of your teeth every time you get a new aligner? Because, with Invisalign, we design your aligners to fit your future tooth alignment.

Aligners are not fabricated to snugly fit around your teeth as they are, but as they will be after several days of wear. Each set is molded with small improvements to your alignment, and provides gentle, consistent pressure to move your teeth to that next step.

This “future fit” is why you may experience a bit of discomfort with a new set of aligners. Over the days that you wear them, the fit will become more and more comfortable. This won’t be because your aligners have changed. It will happen because your teeth have gradually moved where your aligners direct them.

Once your teeth and bite have reached this new step in your treatment, it will be time for the next set of aligners in the series, and so on. Dr. David Leever will let you know just how long you need to wear each set, and you can even track your progress with every appointment.

So, are we predicting the future? Not really. When you use Invisalign, we are planning and creating your future smile. Dr. David Leever will use the Invisalign system to customize your treatment for your very specific needs, step by step, and aligner by aligner, until you attain the smile you previewed before you even started treatment.

But one thing we can predict: If you follow our recommendations, keep your appointments at our Tampa office, and wear your aligners as directed, there’s going to be a beautiful, healthy smile in your future.

Stars Who Had Braces

January 18th, 2023

Not everyone is born with a million-dollar smile, not even some celebrities. The following stars have all had their moments as a “brace face,” either as a child, teenager, or adult. You might be surprised to learn about stars who had braces (including Gwen Stefani, who got braces just because she could!).

Take a look at some famous faces who sported braces!

Emma Watson: Emma admits to going through a rather awkward stage that included “terrible skin,” fluctuating weight, and braces. But look at the swan that emerged!

Tom Cruise: Who would have thought that one of the world’s most famous smiles could use an overhaul? Well, Mr. Cruise pulled it off … and most people didn’t even know. He wore “invisible” braces that had ceramic brackets for a few months just after his 40th birthday. And the results were pretty WOW!

Dakota Fanning: This lovely young actress had some troublesome teeth when she was younger. However, braces and dental work gave her that stunning star-quality smile we see now. Props to her, though, for staying real. She sported her headgear during an appearance on The Tonight Show and didn’t bat an eye.

Gwyneth Paltrow: The stunning Ms. Paltrow, who, in 2013 was named the Most Beautiful Woman by People Magazine, wore braces in high school. And she probably carried it off with the poise and grace for which she is so famous today.

Niall Horan: This member of One Direction, the boy band that’s currently tearing it up (and breaking some hearts along the way) wore his braces for several months. He got them removed in April 2013.

Other notable celebs who have had braces include Faye Dunaway, who got hers at the age of 61! Ryan Seacrest, Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, and Drew Barrymore also belonged to the metal mouth club at one time or another.

What is comes down to is this: It isn’t whether you wear braces that are fully hidden, ceramic brackets, or have the traditional metal train tracks running across your teeth. Nope, it’s all about how you work it!

Start Your Day Off with a (Healthy) Smile!

January 11th, 2023

If there’s one meal that can claim the title of “Sweetest Meal of the Day,” it’s almost certainly breakfast. Sugary cereals, syrup-covered waffles, oatmeal with honey, cinnamon toast (which is literally sugar poured on toast)—it’s hard to imagine another menu even coming close. But you’re trying to keep your diet as healthy as possible. What to do?

First, no need to deprive yourself of the occasional pastry or stack of pancakes. The real problem with breakfast isn’t so much sugar as it is added sugar.

  • Just a Spoonful of Sugar? What’s So Bad About That?

Nothing! Many healthy foods have natural sugars. Milk contains lactose sugar, and it also contains calcium and is enriched with vitamin D—both of which are essential for strong bones and teeth. Fruits get their sweetness from a sugar called fructose, and deliciously provide vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber to our diets.

Even processed sugar is surprisingly low in calories. In fact, a teaspoon of white sugar has only about 15 calories. But this teaspoon is also rich in nutrients for cavity-causing bacteria. The oral bacteria in plaque use sugars and carbohydrates from food particles as a fuel source to produce acids. These acids erode enamel and lead to cavities.

Choosing breakfast foods without additional sugars, then, is an easy way to reduce the number of empty calories in your diet while safeguarding the health of your teeth. We have a few suggestions.

  • Be Selective with Cereals

If the word “sugar” or “honey” or appears on the box, that’s a hint that your favorite cereal is heavy on the sugar. But there’s a more scientific way to tell just how much sugar is in that spoonful.

While the colorful packaging and playful mascots are eye-catching, check the black-and-white panel with nutritional facts found on every box. If one serving equals 27 grams, and the sugar in that serving equals 15 grams, you know you have a problem. And cereals marketed to children are especially “rich” in added sugar.

But luckily, you don’t need to give up your morning bowl. Many cold cereals are available that offer whole grains, protein, and fiber without a lot of added sugar. Spend some time in the cereal aisle comparing, or, to make life easier, there are many online sites which recommend the best (and worst) cereals in terms of sugar content.

  • Use Your Judgment with Juices

Fruits are packed with important nutrients. Not only do they provide essential vitamins and minerals, they’re a great source of water and fiber. If you drink 100% fruit juice, you are getting the benefit of most of the vitamins and minerals found in fruit. (You’re also getting less of the fruit’s natural fiber, and more of the fruit’s natural sugar, so consider fresh fruit as an option occasionally.)

But when fruit juice comes with “cocktail,” or “punch,” or “ade” attached to the end of it, there’s often something else attached—added sugar. For natural fruit flavor and the least amount of sugar, stay with 100% unsweetened fruit juice.

  • Search Out “Surprise” Sugars

Remember the childhood excitement of searching through your cereal box for the prize inside? Fun! What’s not so much fun? The surprises you might find when you search through the labels on your favorite breakfast items—because added sugars make their stealthy way into many of our morning favorites.

When you compare plain, Greek, and low-fat yogurts, for example, the low-fat options are often higher in added sugar. A container of low-fat yogurt can provide 19 grams of sugar—that’s a tablespoon and a half!

And while you’re at it, be sure to compare the sugar content in granola bars. Some are full of nuts and grains, and some are full of added sugar.

Going out for a breakfast smoothie? Those can contain 70 grams of sugar and more. Making your own at home might be a little more time-consuming, but if you use fresh fruit as your sweetener, you can make sure that what you’re not consuming is added sugar. If you’re on the go, check out all-fruit options at your favorite smoothie shop.

Dr. David Leever and our team aren’t asking you to eliminate sugar from your breakfast diet altogether. (Everyone loves a doughnut now and again.) But substituting some alternatives for your regular menu choices can reduce the amount of added sugars by tablespoons every meal. That’s another great reason to greet the morning with a smile!