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Elements of Braces

July 30th, 2012


When coming to our office to have braces put on, you may find yourself feeling a bit intimidated and nervous about the experience. We hope to help you feel more at ease by explaining exactly what the different parts of braces are, and what they do.
Parts of Braces
• Elastic Tie — This is a very small rubber band, and it holds the archwire in place.
• Archwire — This is the main part of the braces. It is a wire guide that tracks the teeth. The wire may be moved from time to time during treatment to continue straightening a patient's teeth.
• Loop in Archwire — This is not in all braces. If it is used, it is to close a gap left from a tooth extraction.
• Bracket — This piece of equipment holds the archwire in place. Formerly, many patients used colored rubber bands to keep the brackets in place, but now since most brackets are cemented on, this is no longer necessary.
• Headgear Tube — This is a hollow area near the back bands, which allows the headgear to fit into the braces. This is only used on patients who require headgear.
• Coil Spring — If needed, this would fit between a bracket and the main archwire. Its purpose is to open up the space between the teeth. This is not necessarily used on all patients.
• Tie Wire — This is another piece of equipment that is used to keep the archwire in place. It is a thin wire that wraps around the bracket.
• Band — This is a metal band that fits completely around a tooth. It is used to help adhere brackets to the tooth.
• Hook — This is the piece of equipment that is used to attach the elastics, also known as rubber bands, around the bracket.
• Elastic — These elastics are used to connect one point of the appliance to another. The purpose is to apply pressure, and encourage the teeth to move into the proper positioning.

By defining each appliance we hope you or your child will be less apprehensive about getting braces put on. At the end of your treatment, you will have a bright, straight smile to show off to all of your friends.

What's a palatal expander and why would I need one?

July 17th, 2012

A palatal expander "expands" (or widens) your upper jaw by putting gentle pressure on your upper molars and is used to make the bottom and upper teeth fit together better. It also makes more room for teeth and helps to promote a broader, more aesthetic smile.

Palatal expansion is usually not painful, but you may feel some minor discomfort. It’ll take a little time for you to get used to your appliance, so you may experience difficulty speaking and swallowing for the first day or two.

Adjusting your appliance as directed will ensure you keep on schedule with the rest of your orthodontic treatment plan. It takes about a few weeks to achieve the desired amount of expansion, after which you’ll keep wearing your expander for about six months, giving time for the new bone to form and stabilize. Our team at will give you detailed instructions about how to adjust your appliance and can answer any questions you may have about your palatal expander.

You're Never Too Old to Treat Yourself to a New Smile!

July 12th, 2012

Did you know one in every five orthodontic patients is an adult? We’re living longer and technology is improving, making orthodontic treatment an appealing and safe option for patients of all ages. As the trend toward treatment later in life grows, we’re seeing braces on parents as well as children – and even adult celebrities such as Tom Cruise, Gwen Stefani and Nicholas Cage have shown off their braces.

Can Braces Work for Adults?

People of all ages can benefit from orthodontic treatment with our office. The physical process for moving teeth is the same, young or old, which means it’s never too late to address issues such as an overbite or under bite, crooked or crowded teeth, or jaw disorders.

How Do I Get Started?

If you’re considering orthodontic treatment, we’ll make a consultation appointment with you. During this meeting we will perform a general assessment of your oral health, discuss options for treatment, and answer any questions you may have. We will also discuss matters of cost and insurance. The next step is an orthodontic records appointment in which we take x-rays, photos, and an impression of your teeth. This information drives your unique treatment plan.

What Are the Benefits?

Straightening your teeth can improve your smile, your self-esteem, and your dental health. Technologically advanced new treatments make it easier to identify the option that best fits your lifestyle. Modern techniques and materials have made braces and aligners more effective, comfortable and unobtrusive than ever.

If you think you might benefit from orthodontic treatment, give us a call, so we may set up a consultation to determine what type of treatment best meets your needs.

Top ten tips for keeping your BRACES sparklin’ clean

July 6th, 2012

Dr. Stieman will tell you that keeping your teeth clean is more important than ever when you have braces. Food bits have more spots than usual to hide in your mouth, so you must be diligent in order to avoid bad breath, swollen gums, discolored teeth and cavities. If you remove plaque regularly during treatment, you'll experience better results and shorter treatment time. Keep plaque at bay with these top ten tips:

1. One tooth at a time. When you brush, take time with each individual tooth – at least 10 seconds each – and pay careful attention to the spots where your teeth touch your braces.

2. It’s all about the angles. Brush the tops of your teeth and braces with your brush angled down toward where they meet. Brush the bottoms of your teeth and braces with your brush angled up.

3. The tooth, the whole tooth, nothing but the tooth. While the front surface of your teeth may seem like the most logical to clean, it’s equally important to clean the inner surface of your teeth (tongue side) as well as the chewing surface. And be sure to clean along your gum line – a key spot for plaque buildup.

4. Step 1: eat, step 2: clean. While you’re in treatment, it’s important to brush after every meal. Bits of food can easily get caught between braces and teeth, and these food bits interact with bacteria in your mouth to cause decay. The longer food is in contact with your teeth, the greater opportunity for plaque to form. If you are eating somewhere that you can’t brush, thoroughly rinse your mouth with water.

5. Like a Boy Scout, always be prepared. The easiest way to be sure you can brush after every meal is to get in the habit of taking a toothbrush, toothpaste and floss with you wherever you go. Designate a special container just for your teeth-cleaning tools and keep it in your purse, backpack, or laptop case.

6. Remove the moving parts. If you have elastic bands or headgear, remove these parts before you brush or floss.

7. Fluoride is your friend. Fluoride helps prevent cavities. Be sure to brush with fluoride toothpaste, and rinse with fluoride mouthwash.

8. Pointy brushes reach tiny places. Interproximal brushes (sometimes called proxa brushes or interdental brushes) are cone-shaped and come in very handy for reaching spots around your braces that standard brushes can’t.

9. Find the floss for you. Regular floss works for some patients, but others find it easier to work with a floss threader, which helps you get the floss into tight places. Other patients like an all-in-one product called Superfloss, which comes with a stiff end for easy threading, a spongy section for cleaning wide spaces, and regular floss for narrow spaces.

10. Make time for the pros. It’s your job to take care of the everyday cleaning. But make sure to visit your dentist regularly while in treatment, to get the deep, thorough cleaning that only a professional can provide. If you need help finding the right Dentist for you, feel free to contact our office - we’d love to help!

Hope this helps!

Dr. Stieman and Team