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Plaque Attack? Let’s Fight Back!

August 5th, 2020

Plaque is a sticky subject! It sticks to the enamel of our teeth above and below the gum line, and it collects around braces. Plaque is one of the major causes of tooth decay and gum disease, and our teeth are under daily attack by this filmy menace.

What are the facts about plaque, and how can we fight back? Read on for some effective strategies!

What Is Plaque?

Plaque is a sticky film that builds up on our teeth, largely made up of millions of different types of oral bacteria. Plaque is a colorless biofilm at first, but as it collects, it takes on a white or yellow tint. If you haven’t brushed for a few days, that fuzziness you feel on your teeth is plaque build-up. Unless it’s removed, plaque hardens within a matter of days to become tartar.

  • Tip: You can remove plaque with careful brushing and flossing, but it takes a dental professional to remove tartar. Be proactive!

Why Does Plaque Cause Cavities?

Bacteria in plaque use our food as their food, especially sugars and carbs. They can then transform these nutrients into acids, which attack our tooth enamel, weakening it and leaving it vulnerable to further erosion and eventual decay.

  • Tip: Cavities aren’t the only damage caused by accumulated plaque. Plaque also collects along and below the gum line. If tartar forms here, it irritates delicate gum tissue, leading to gingivitis and more serious gum disease. Make sure you don’t forget your gums when you brush and floss.

When Does Plaque Build Up?

The short answer? Plaque is always forming, because oral bacteria are a natural part of our biology. (In fact, there are even oral bacterial which are beneficial.) Plaque starts building up within minutes after eating, and during the night as we sleep.

That’s why we recommend brushing for two minutes at least twice a day, and flossing at least once a day. When you wear braces or aligners, brushing more often is a good idea. Food collecting around braces or inside aligners is a feast for plaque! Ask Dr. Iwei Huang for suggestions for your best brushing schedule.

  • Tip: Just because plaque is unavoidable, that doesn’t mean we need to give the bacteria in plaque any additional encouragement. Every time you have a meal or a snack that’s heavy in carbs and sugars, you are providing more fuel for acid production. Cutting down on foods like sugary desserts and sodas is not only nutrition-healthy, it’s tooth-healthy!

Where Does Plaque Collect?

Plaque builds up all over tooth surfaces, at the gum line, and even below the gum line. It’s especially easy to miss in hard-to-reach places like the irregular surfaces of molars, between the teeth, behind our front teeth, and near the gum line. Plaque also collects around your braces, and requires special care to make sure your teeth don’t suffer cavities or the white spots caused by demineralization.

  • Tip: One of the ways plaque avoids detection is its invisibility. Fortunately, if you’re having trouble brushing away all your plaque, there are plaque-disclosing toothpastes and chewable tablets available in the dental aisle which reveal the plaque hiding between, behind, or around your teeth by tinting it with a can’t-miss color. Just brush the color away, and you’ve brushed the plaque away as well.

How Do We Clean Away Plaque?

Use the Right Tools

Floss at least once a day. There are different materials, sizes, and coatings for floss, so you can find one that’s comfortable for you. Floss reaches those spots in between teeth and around the gum line that brushes miss.

Choose a soft toothbrush (soft bristles are better for your enamel) and change it every three to four months, or as soon as the bristles show wear. Make sure the head is the right size—too big, and it’s not only uncomfortable, but you won’t be able to reach all the surfaces you need to.

  • Tips: There are special dental flosses created just for your braces. You can also use interproximal brushes water flosser to clean around wires and brackets. If you have trouble removing plaque around your teeth and braces with a manual toothbrush, consider an electric model. Several studies have shown a reduction in plaque with the use of an electric brush.

Use the Right Toothpaste

There are many toothpastes specifically formulated to fight plaque and tartar. And fluoride toothpastes not only fight cavities, they can strengthen your enamel.

  • Tip: Studies have shown that toothpastes with baking soda, in particular, are effective in reducing plaque. Ask Dr. Iwei Huang for a recommendation the next time you’re at our Chicago office.

Use the Right Technique

What not to do?  A forceful, horizontal sawing motion is awkward, hard on your enamel, and misses plaque and debris between the teeth. Technique is important—not for style points, but for cleaner teeth!

Hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle, especially at the gum line, to gently remove plaque from teeth and gums. Use short strokes or a circular motion to clean as much of the surface and between the teeth as possible. Brush the inside of your front teeth with careful vertical strokes—remember, that’s one place where plaque is easy to overlook. The same holds true for the tops of your molars, so thoroughly clean those uneven surfaces.

If you wear braces, be sure to clean thoroughly around brackets and wires, where plaque can accumulate quickly.

  • Tip: If you wear clear aligners, don’t forget to give them a gentle brushing as well! Plaque can stick to aligners, causing discoloration and odors, so follow our cleaning instructions carefully.

Who Can Help You Fight Plaque?

Even when you do your best at home, plaque can still be a sticky problem. That’s why we advise regular professional cleanings, which not only remove any plaque that’s hiding away, but also eliminate any built-up tartar around your braces. And, of course, there you can learn all about how to keep your teeth their cleanest.

True, you’re fighting plaque every day, but you have all the tools you need to make sure your teeth and gums stay healthy. You’re winning the battle with plaque every time you eat a nutritious meal, and every time you brush and floss. With that kind of strategy, plaque doesn’t stand a chance. And your bright smile and healthy teeth and gums? That’s a victory worth celebrating!

How do I take care of my lingual braces?

July 29th, 2020

Patients at Gold Coast Orthodontics often wonder if lingual braces require the same amount of care as regular braces. The only real difference between lingual braces and traditional braces is the location of the brackets: lingual brackets are mounted on the back of your teeth. This mounting technique means that your braces completely hidden! However, you need to take special care of your lingual braces to prevent damage to the brackets and wires.

General care

Wearing lingual braces requires more caution when you eat hard or crunchy foods, which should be avoided whenever necessary. Applying excess pressure when you chew can cause brackets to break loose. This is more likely to happen if your upper front teeth overhang your lower teeth. You should also avoid foods that become caught in the brackets.

Brushing and flossing

Flossing can be done with a combination of regular dental floss and an inter-dental or wire brush. Floss threaders can also be used to get floss under the wires of your braces; ask our team for one at your next appointment with Dr. Iwei Huang. You should always brush and floss after every meal, because there is a greater chance of food particles becoming stuck in your braces. You can also use a mouthwash to reduce bacteria and fight plaque. As always, keep your regular dental hygiene appointments at our convenient Chicago office to make sure that no problems develop while you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment.

Many individuals have a natural habit of rubbing their tongue along the inside of their teeth, especially when a change has occurred in their mouth. This can cause soreness or small abrasions on your tongue. While they should subside within a few weeks, the use of dental wax can be helpful.

Please ask Dr. Iwei Huang and our team any questions you may have about your new braces and how to care for them and your teeth. The better care you take of your teeth and braces now, the better your outcome will be when your orthodontic work is complete!

What are lingual braces?

July 22nd, 2020

Patients who want corrective braces but don’t like the look of traditional braces with the metal showing on the front have an alternative in lingual braces. As opposed to metal braces visible across the front of the teeth, lingual braces are placed on the rear of the teeth. Most of the metal in lingual braces is not visible to other people, unless you have widely-spaced teeth. For those who make good candidates for lingual braces, Dr. Iwei Huang and our team at Gold Coast Orthodontics will tell you it is a great alternative with a significant cosmetic benefit.

Benefits of Lingual Braces

The primary benefit of lingual braces is that the metal is on the back of the teeth, which is very rarely seen by anyone. Patients can comfortably talk and smile, without the added worry of someone noticing the metal braces on their teeth. Another advantage of lingual braces is that they are just as effective as traditional braces and are worn for the same amount of time. They are also helpful for people who play contact sports or play wind instruments because lingual braces don’t get in the way. Finally, lingual braces are a great option for patients who have are sensitive to plastic and can’t wear other types of clear or invisible braces.

Who can get lingual braces?

While many patients qualify for lingual braces, not everyone who needs corrective orthodontic treatment will be a good candidate. The best candidates are teenagers and adults with normal-sized teeth. Children who get braces often have smaller teeth, so lingual braces may not be suitable. A patient’s bite also makes a difference, because a deep vertical overbite makes lingual braces difficult to place.

Talk to Dr. Iwei Huang the possibility of lingual braces if you’re thinking about correcting your smile but don’t like the idea of metal braces worn on the front. Lingual braces have the same basic benefits of straightening teeth, correcting misalignments, and fixing overbites and underbites that regular braces offer, but are a great aesthetic alternative.

For more information about lingual braces, or to schedule an initial consultation with Dr. Iwei Huang, please give us a call at our convenient Chicago office!

What’s so great about self-ligating braces?

July 15th, 2020

Self-ligating braces have actually been around since the 1930’s, but recent improvements in technology have made them more popular than ever before. What makes them different? Let’s compare with traditional braces.

Technology

Traditional braces make use of bands around the brackets to hold the adjusting wire in place. “Self-ligating” means “self-binding” or “self-tying.” These braces also use brackets, but with a very different design. Self-ligating brackets have mechanisms such as “doors” or clips, which hold the wire to the bracket without the need for rubber bands or metal ligatures.

Effectiveness

All braces types will straighten your teeth. Some orthodontic conditions, such as moderate crowding of the teeth, appear to respond more quickly to self-ligating braces. Talk to Dr. Iwei Huang about the difference in treatment time that you might expect with different types of braces.

Comfort

Some users find self-ligating braces more comfortable because they reduce friction and pressure on the teeth.

Oral Hygiene

Self-ligating brackets are easier to clean than brackets with bands. Bands hold on to food particles and can be difficult to clean completely, leaving bacteria and plaque on the teeth even after brushing.

Appearance

What most people notice first about braces are the colored bands or metal ligatures holding the wires in place. Without these ligatures, brackets are smaller and less noticeable. There are even clear brackets available for an almost invisible look. It you don’t want your braces to make a colorful statement, these might be the choice for you!

If you are interested in self-ligating braces as an option in your orthodontic care, give us a call at our Chicago office! We will be happy to explain the technology in greater detail, and to provide you with the best and most complete information you’ll need to make your choice of braces the right choice for you.

  • “I am greatly selective about where I refer my patients. When I need an orthodontist, I send them to Dr. Huang. He is skillful, brilliant and up to date with technology.”~ Neal N.

  • “Dr. Huang and his entire staff are fabulous beyond measure. I had to endure braces twice in my earlier life and it was not until Dr. Huang treated me that I got a perfect result. I recommend Gold Coast without hesitation Professional, friendly. always punctual, utilizing the latest technology! Just terrific care!”~ Linda N.

  • “I had a terrible experience In Indianapolis with my Invisalign procedures. Moved back to Chicago and for the second time got Invisalign( braces) for my teeth. The experience and improvement on my teeth were 100XXX better. I recommend Gold Coast! Dr. Huang and his team are delighful! My teeth look great!”~ Eve K.

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