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Braces-Friendly Foods

November 22nd, 2017

Having braces can be frustrating when you have to be cautious about eating certain foods or having to avoid them altogether. Making sure your braces don’t bend or break is vital when you’re trying to straighten your teeth quickly and properly. Drs. Burk and Flinn and our team have come up with a list of foods to avoid, and which foods you can enjoy while you have braces.

No matter how careful you are, excessive chewing of hard-to-eat foods will eventually cause problems for you and your braces. Knowing what you can and cannot eat at a meal may be helpful when you first get your braces on.

Some foods are too hard for braces, because they can break wires or create damage that will have to be fixed by Drs. Burk and Flinn. Avoiding the following snacks will prevent this from occurring:

  • Hard candies
  • Gum
  • Nuts
  • Popcorn
  • Some hard raw vegetables or fruits (carrots, apples)
  • Ice
  • Chips

There are plenty of safe options for breakfast. They include eggs, yogurt, pancakes, oatmeal, soft toast, bananas, and even bacon.

For lunch, avoid hard or abrasive foods, undercooked vegetables, or apples. Safer options include a delicious stew, soft-breaded deli sandwich, or a mixed salad. Always be careful when biting into foods, and try to cut solid meal items into small chewable portions whenever possible.

A healthy braces-friendly dinner can come in many forms. Soft, steamed vegetables paired with a lean protein make a great option. The addition of rice or quinoa can complete the meal. Just remember to brush and floss after, because these small grains are likely to get stuck between braces and teeth.

During your treatment, Drs. Burk and Flinn will tighten your braces at each checkup. Braces tightening can sometimes leave your teeth feeling sore afterward. During this time, we recommend picking soft food options until the pain goes away, such as:

  • Pudding
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Soup
  • Ice cream
  • Cottage cheese
  • Peas
  • Pasta
  • Yogurt
  • Muffins

It’s also essential to pay close attention to your oral health routine. When food is stuck between braces, you’re more likely to experience plaque and decay buildup. If you want to keep your teeth from appearing discolored when your braces come off, keep up with brushing and flossing after every meal!

If you notice your braces are damaged after you’ve eaten a meal, contact our Rockville and Olney, MD office to schedule an appointment right away. Our team is here to help with any issues that come up while you are in braces, and to answer any questions you may have about which foods you can and cannot eat.

Elastics and Braces

November 15th, 2017

If you’ve visited Burk & Flinn Orthodontics, then there’s a good chance you’re looking to perfect your smile by straightening your teeth with braces. At some point during your treatment, you may need to use elastics, otherwise known as rubber bands, for a certain period. These are used to apply additional pressure that will move your teeth in the right direction.

Placement of the elastics is specific to each patient’s teeth. These small rubber bands stretch over the tiny loops on both the top and bottom brackets. At first, Drs. Burk and Flinn may recommend you wear the elastics both day and night for an extended time.

You may be told to switch only to nighttime wear once the teeth are set in the correct position. By consistently wearing the elastics, you can shorten the overall time your braces will have to be on.

The elastics are made from medical-grade latex. If you have an allergy to latex, make sure to let Drs. Burk and Flinn know, so you can be given an alternate material. We will show you how to take elastics on and off when they’re given to you at your appointment.

You should remove them when you eat so they don’t become overstretched or break. It’s important not to overstretch the bands, and always to replace them if they break. Eventually it will become a familiar habit to carry the bands around with you for times when this might happen.

The Do’s and the Don’ts

  • DO … always wash your hands before removing or replacing the rubber bands.
  • DO … call us if you run out of elastics.
  • DO … get in the habit of carrying around extra rubber bands as replacements.
  • DON’T … double up on elastics because this can exert too much pressure on your teeth and could actually harm the roots.
  • DON’T … overstretch the rubber bands or they will lose strength and become ineffective.

If you were recently given elastics as well as your braces, feel free to ask any questions during your appointment, or call our Rockville and Olney, MD office any time. Using elastics correctly is one more step in your journey to a perfect smile!

Curing the Nail-Biting Habit

November 8th, 2017

Do you ever find yourself gnawing at your nails? Nail-biting is a very common and difficult to break habit which usually has its beginnings in childhood. It can leave your fingers and nail beds red and swollen. But if you think that your nails are the only ones getting roughed up by nail-biting you'd be mistaken—so are your teeth!

According to a study by the Academy of General Dentistry, those who bite their nails, clench their teeth, or chew on pencils are at much higher risk to develop bruxism (unintentional grinding of the teeth). Bruxism can lead to tooth sensitivity, tooth loss, receding gums, headaches, and general facial pain.

Those are some nasty sounding side effects from chewing on your nails. Most nail-biting is a sign of stress or anxiety and its something you should deal with. So what steps can you take if you have a nail-biting habit?

There are several things you can do to ease up on nail-biting:

  • Trim your nails shorter and/or get regular manicures – Trimming your nails shorter is an effective remedy. In so doing, they'll be less tempting and more difficult to bite on. If you also get regular manicures, you’ll be less likely to ruin the investment you’ve made in your hands and fingernails!
  • Find a different kind of stress reduction – Try meditation, deep breathing, practicing qigong or yoga, or doing something that will keep your hands occupied like squeezing a stress ball or playing with a yo-yo.
  • Wear a bitter-tasting nail polish – When your nails taste awful, you won't bite them! Clear or colored, it doesn't matter. This is also a helpful technique for helping children get over the habit.
  • Figure out what triggers your nail-biting – Sometimes it's triggered by stress or anxiety and other times it can be a physical stressor, like having hang nails. Knowing what situations cause you to bite your nails will help you to avoid them and break the habit.
  • Wear gloves or bandages on your fingers – If you've tried the steps above and they aren't working, this technique can prove effective since your fingernails won't be accessible to bite.

If you're still having trouble with nail-biting after trying these self-help steps, it's best to consult your doctor, dermatologist, or Drs. Burk and Flinn. For some, it may also be the sign of a deeper psychological or emotional problem.

Whatever the cause, nail-biting is a habit you need to break for your physical and emotional well-being. If you have any questions about the effects it can have on your oral health, please don't hesitate to ask Drs. Burk and Flinn during your next visit to our Rockville and Olney, MD office.

What is a palatal expander?

November 1st, 2017

If Drs. Burk and Flinn and our team at Burk & Flinn Orthodontics have recommended a palatal expander, you might be wondering what it is and how it will help you. A palatal expander is a small appliance fitted in your mouth to create a wider space in the upper jaw. It is often used when there is a problem with overcrowding of the teeth or when the upper and lower molars don’t fit together correctly. While it is most commonly used in children, some teens and adults may also need a palatal expander.

Reasons to get a palatal expander

There are several reasons you might need to get a palatal expander:

  • Insufficient room for permanent teeth currently erupting
  • Insufficient space for permanent teeth still developing which might need extraction in the future
  • A back crossbite with a narrow upper arch
  • A front crossbite with a narrow upper arch

How long will you need the palatal expander?

On average, patients have the palatal expander for four to seven months, although this is based on the individual and the amount of correction needed. Several months are needed to allow the bone to form and move to the desired width. It is not removable and must remain in the mouth for the entire time.

Does it prevent the necessity for braces?

The palatal expander doesn’t necessarily remove the need for braces in the future, but it can in some cases. Some people only need braces because of a crossbite or overcrowding of the teeth, which a palatal expander can help correct during childhood, when teeth are just beginning to erupt. However, others may eventually need braces if, once all their permanent teeth come in, they have grown in crookedly or with additional spaces between.

If you think your child could benefit from a palatal expander, or want to learn about your own orthodontic treatment options, please feel free to contact our Rockville and Olney, MD office!

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