Oral Piercing: What you should know

April 18th, 2024

If you have been thinking about getting a piercing, or if you already have one or more, there are some health risks our team at Berky Hinckley Orthodontics wants you to know about. It's important to know the risks involved with oral piercing, including infection, chipped teeth, gum damage, nerve damage, loss of taste, or tooth loss that could occur as a result.

Your mouth contains millions of bacteria, and infection is a common complication of oral piercing. Many people who have piercings tend to regularly touch them, paving the way for bacteria to enter piercing sites. Also, food particles that collect around piercing sites can lead to infection.

Besides hindering your ability to talk and eat, oral piercing also leads people to develop a habit of biting or playing with their piercings, which can lead to cracked or fractured teeth. While the fracture can be confined to the enamel of the tooth and require a simple filling, you also run the risk of the fracture going deep into the tooth, which may require a root canal, tooth extraction, and additional dental treatment.

If you still decide to get an oral piercing, you should realize that it will take some time to heal (anywhere between four to six weeks) and it may be very uncomfortable. Also please keep in mind that it will be an added responsibility to your life, as it will require regular upkeep. We want you to make sure that you’re committed to the task of taking care of it for the full healing period and beyond.

We encourage you to clean the piercing with antiseptic mouthwash after eating, and brush the jewelry each time you brush your teeth. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to give us a call!

Sugar and Your Orthodontic Treatment

April 10th, 2024

One word no one likes to hear is “cavity!”

For those patients of ours wearing braces, hearing that word is especially problematic, considering that delaying any dental work may result in delaying treatment time.

We often blame candy as the culprit behind tooth decay, but other foods and drinks that kids consume can be just as harmful to their teeth, and can lead to cavities and tooth decay. Keeping your teeth or your child’s teeth from decay during treatment starts with a proper diet, and today, our team at Berky Hinckley Orthodontics will explain the negative effects that candy and other treats, including peanut butter, raisins, fruit juice, and chewy fruit snacks, have on your child’s teeth as he or she undergoes orthodontic treatment. Keep in mind that half of your child’s sugar intake may be coming from beverages that he or she drinks. A major offender is soda, but be mindful of fruit juices as well.

While sugar is known to sit in your child’s teeth and in between and under brackets and wires after consumption, it is important to know sugar is not the only cavity-causing culprit. Carbohydrates, starches, acids, and any food that is chewy or sticks break down into sugars, and can promote tooth decay.

So, what are the alternatives?

Candy such as dark chocolate, sugar-free gum, or anything that contains xylitol, a sugar substitute, is not as harmful for your teeth as hard, chewy, or sticky sweets. Sugar-free gum or gum that contains xylitol are known to reduce levels of bacteria on teeth.

And if you’re still looking for something to snack on, we recommend cutting up easy-to-eat fruits and vegetables. You would also be surprised how much eating a banana or sipping on a glass of water helps you curb snack cravings.

If you’re one of those folks who just can’t stay away from sweets, we encourage you to brush your teeth immediately afterward and swish water in your mouth.

Whatever you eat, Dr. Zoltan Berky and Dr. Ryan Hinckley and our team want you to remember to brush often, floss regularly, and visit your general dentist as your treatment progresses. If you have any questions about sugary foods or drinks, please give us a call or ask us during your next adjustment visit!

Snowball Effect

April 3rd, 2024

Winter and its snowball fights are behind us, true, but there might be another kind of snowball heading your way. When you neglect the small steps involved in your everyday orthodontic routines, little problems can start to snowball into bigger ones, affecting your dental health and delaying your orthodontic progress.

Here are three areas where letting the small steps in your routine slide can have consequences:

Dental Hygiene

It can be harder to get your teeth their cleanest while you’re wearing braces. After all, there are wires to get behind and brackets to brush around, and you still need to get that floss in between your teeth. But neglecting your dental hygiene can have big consequences:

  • Demineralization

The bacteria in plaque create acids that strip the minerals from tooth enamel. This process is called demineralization. Wherever plaque is allowed to build up, you’ll start to see white spots in the enamel. This discoloration is a sign that minerals are missing, and is often found around brackets, where it’s harder to brush. White spots can be treated cosmetically, but better to avoid them as much as possible, because eventually they can become . . .

  • Cavities

As demineralization continues, the enamel becomes weaker and weaker, until a hole forms in the tooth—a cavity. Besides damaging your tooth, a cavity can put you behind your orthodontic schedule if you need parts of your braces removed for treatment.

  • Gum Disease

When plaque builds up around the gums, gum tissue becomes inflamed and irritated—this is gingivitis, or early-stage gum disease. Symptoms often include puffy gums, redness, bleeding, and bad breath. Mild gum disease becomes more serious over time, so treat gingivitis early—or, even better, prevent gum disease with careful brushing and flossing.

Looking After Your Appliances

  • Follow Care Instructions

Orthodontic appliances need love, too! Any instructions you get for their care are for a good reason. Brackets can become loose when you bite down on chewy foods. Wires can break when you eat hard candy. Aligners can warp if you leave them on a hot dashboard. If you follow instructions carefully, you won’t need to postpone your progress while you wait for repairs.

  • Use Your Protective Case

If you wear aligners, or a removable appliance, or a retainer, don’t forget to protect these items when you’re not wearing them. This means placing them in their cases, not wrapped in a napkin on your lunch tray, or in the bottom of your gym bag, or anywhere your dog can reach them!

  • Be Proactive If Accidents Happen

Unfortunately, accidents do happen, and loose brackets, broken wires, lost ligatures, and cracked or warped aligners can interrupt orthodontic progress and cause you pain and discomfort. Give our High Point or Greensboro, NC orthodontic office a call to see if minor damage to an appliance can be handled at home, or whether you should be seen before your next regular appointment for repairs.

Following Your Orthodontic Plan

There’s more to following your orthodontic schedule than arriving on time for appointments. Depending on your treatment, you might be responsible for keeping track of the time you spend wearing:

  • Elastics

Elastic bands can be used to help align your upper and lower jaws. If you don’t wear your bands as directed, you won’t make progress as quickly as you could. And remember to replace your elastics as often as recommended, because after hours of s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g they lose their effectiveness.

  • Aligners

Most aligners are worn for around 22 hours each day. If you don’t follow your orthodontist’s instructions and wear your aligners for the recommend hours each day, your teeth won’t be in the proper alignment when your next set of trays is ready to begin work.

  • Retainers

If you have a retainer and don’t wear it, your teeth will start to shift position. Skip wearing your retainer long enough, and you might need a return to your braces or aligners to repair any new misalignment.

Don’t ignore what seem like little dental and orthodontic responsibilities. Keep up with daily cleaning and brushing, take care of your appliances, and follow your orthodontic plan, and you’ll finish your treatment with a beautiful and healthy smile—right on schedule.

Fluoride and Your Orthodontic Treatment

March 27th, 2024

Our team at Berky Hinckley Orthodontics knows that there are many ways you can protect your pearly whites throughout your orthodontic treatment. If you follow the rules and brush your teeth twice a day, floss often, and protect your appliances from damage, you should have a successful treatment.

But did you know there’s another way to keep your teeth sparkling and healthy during your time wearing braces?

Fluoride, the mineral that helps you prevent cavities and tooth decay, can also help keep your teeth strong. Fluoride comes in two varieties: topical and systemic. Depending on your oral health or the recommendation of Dr. Zoltan Berky and Dr. Ryan Hinckley, you may be required to have a fluoride treatment every three, six, or 12 months. We may also prescribe a fluoride product such as a mouthwash, gel, or antibacterial rinse for at-home treatment to keep your teeth happy in between visits.

If you have any other questions about fluoride or your treatment, please don’t hesitate to give us a call!

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