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Foods that are Safe for Braces

February 1st, 2023

Orthodontic braces are used to straighten the teeth, which not only creates a more pleasing appearance, but also helps prevent tooth decay and other oral health problems. Braces are only effective when they are properly cared for, however. Certain foods, for example, are better suited for individuals who have braces, as opposed to hard and sticky foods that can cause damage. So, what types of foods should you or your kids eat to protect dental appliances?

The best foods to eat with braces are those that are not high in sugar and do not require excessive chewing. For breakfast, try eggs, yogurt, bacon, wheat toast, or oatmeal. Lunch may steer toward a banana rather than an apple, a salad without nuts, and a glass of water. If you are looking for some after-school snacks for your kids, consider baked tortilla chips with salsa and guacamole, or try string cheese with fruit.

A healthy dinner can include most types of vegetables, so long as they are cooked to an appropriate softness. Pair that with a lean protein, such as fish or chicken, and follow up with dessert. Just be sure to brush afterward!

Post-Tightening Foods

As braces begin to adjust the alignment of the teeth, our team at Kenwood Dental Group will periodically tighten them to continue the alignment process. After tightening occurs, the teeth may be sore and sensitive to certain foods. During this time, it is best to eat soft foods. Examples include:

  • Pudding
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Soup
  • Ice cream
  • Cottage cheese
  • Peas
  • Pancakes
  • Pasta

Foods to Avoid

Anyone who wears braces – whether fixed or removable – should avoid excessive snacking and should aim to eat a healthy and balanced diet. It is also important to avoid foods that could cause damage to the braces, such as:

  • Hard candies
  • Gum
  • Nuts
  • Popcorn
  • Certain raw vegetables (for example, carrots)

Considerations

Regardless of what types of foods you eat with braces, it is important to keep the crevices between the teeth and around the braces very clean. That means brushing and flossing after meals to prevent the build-up of plaque and decay. Not only can failing to do so damage the teeth, but it can also cause discoloration.

Have more questions about orthodontic treatment? The Kenwood Dental Group staff is always ready to answer all of your questions and help you get the most out of the treatment plan prescribed for you by Drs. Adrienne Barnes, David N. Maclin & Naana Mensah!

Overbite Overview

February 1st, 2023

An overbite is one of the most common malocclusions. If Drs. Adrienne Barnes, David N. Maclin & Naana Mensah and our team have diagnosed you with an overbite, you probably have lots of questions. Let’s try to answer some of them!

Just what is an “overbite”?

A malocclusion is another way of saying that you have a problem with your bite, which is the way your jaws and teeth fit together when you bite down. In a healthy bite, the front top teeth project slightly beyond, and slightly overlap, the bottom teeth. A normal overlap is generally considered one or two millimeters.

An overbite is a Class II malocclusion, and means that the upper front teeth cover more of the lower teeth than they should. But that’s a very general definition, and we will diagnose and treat your own, very specific, bite and teeth alignment.

Because overbites aren’t all alike. They might be barely noticeable. Upper teeth might overlap lowers by an extra millimeter or two. In more severe overbites, the upper teeth might cover the lower teeth completely. The amount of overlap and the cause of the overbite will determine your treatment.

What causes an overbite?

Overbites can be dental, caused by tooth alignment, or skeletal, caused by bone development, or a combination of both. They are usually hereditary, so, most often, an overbite is something you’re born with.

The size and position of your jaws, the shape and position of your teeth, all affect your bite alignment. But early oral habits, such as prolonged and vigorous thumb-sucking or pacifier use can contribute to overbite development. Missing teeth and bruxism, or tooth grinding, can also affect the alignment of your bite.

How do we treat an overbite?

There are many types of treatment available. Drs. Adrienne Barnes, David N. Maclin & Naana Mensah will recommend a treatment plan based on the type and severity of your overbite. Because some treatments are effective while bones are still growing, your age plays a part as well.

  • Braces and Aligners

If dental issues are the main reason for your overbite, braces or clear aligners can be very effective. Rubber bands are commonly used to help bring teeth and jaw into alignment.

  • Functional Appliances

If the overbite is caused by a problem with upper and lower jaw development, devices called functional appliances can be used to help guide the growth of the jawbones while a child’s bones are still forming.

For young patients, there are several appliances that can help correct an overbite. Some, like the Herbst appliance, work inside the mouth, while others, like headgear, are worn externally. Your orthodontist will recommend the most effective appliance for your needs.

  • Surgical treatment

In some cases, where the problem is skeletal rather than dental, surgical treatment might be necessary to reshape the jawbone itself. This is especially true for adults, whose bones have finished forming.

If we recommend surgery, oral and maxillofacial surgeons are experts in surgical procedures designed to create a healthy and symmetrical jaw alignment. Drs. Adrienne Barnes, David N. Maclin & Naana Mensah will work with your surgeon to design a treatment plan, which will usually include braces or other appliances following surgery.

Why treat your overbite?

Sometimes, a very slight overbite won’t require treatment. A serious, moderate, or even mild overbite, though, can lead to many dental and medical problems, including:

  • Crooked, crowded teeth
  • Worn teeth and enamel
  • Problems speaking or chewing
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Headaches, facial, and temporomandibular (jaw) joint pain

When you work with our Chicago, IL team to correct your overbite, you’ll not only prevent these unpleasant consequences, but you’ll achieve major benefits as well—a healthy, comfortable bite, and an attractive, confident smile. If you’d like more than an overbite overview, Drs. Adrienne Barnes, David N. Maclin & Naana Mensah can provide the specific information and treatment plan you need to make that healthy bite and that confident smile a reality!  

Understanding Your Overjet

January 25th, 2023

Bite problems are so common that most of us know someone who’s worn braces. So perhaps you’re already familiar with the terms “overbite” and “underbite”—but if you’ve been diagnosed with an “overjet,” that just might be an orthodontic diagnosis that is new to you. If so, here are a few questions and answers to help promote overjet understanding.

Just what is an “overjet”?

An overjet is a type of malocclusion, which means that there’s a problem with your bite, the way your jaws and teeth fit together when you bite down. In a healthy bite, the front top teeth project slightly beyond, and slightly overlap, the bottom teeth. The key word here is “slightly.”

An overjet is a Class II malocclusion, which means that the upper front teeth project further beyond the lower teeth than they should. Overjets and overbites are both Class II malocclusions, and the words are often used interchangeably, but there’s a notable difference between the two conditions.

An overbite occurs when the top teeth overlap the bottom teeth too far vertically, and you can’t see as much of the lower teeth as you should when you bite down.

An overjet is considered more horizontal in nature, where the top teeth project at an outward angle toward the lips instead of pointing straight down toward the bottom teeth. This condition is sometimes called protruding or buck teeth.

What causes an overjet?

The reason for your overjet might be dental (caused by tooth alignment), or skeletal (caused by bone development), or a combination of both.

Overjets can run in families. They can also be caused by the size and position of your jaws and the shape and position of your teeth, all of which affect your bite alignment. But early oral habits, such as prolonged and vigorous thumb-sucking or pacifier use, can also contribute to overjet development.

How do we treat an overjet?

There are many types of treatment available. Drs. Adrienne Barnes, David N. Maclin & Naana Mensah will recommend a treatment plan based on the cause and severity of your overjet. Because some treatments are effective while bones are still growing, age plays a part as well.

  • Braces and Aligners

If you have a mild overjet, and minor dental issues are the main cause of the malocclusion, braces or clear aligners can effective.

  • Functional Appliances

If the overjet is caused by a problem with upper and lower jaw development, devices called functional appliances can be used to help guide the growth of the jawbones while a child’s bones are still forming.

For young patients, there are several appliances which can help correct an overjet. Some, such as the Twin Block and the Forsus Spring appliances, work inside the mouth, while others, like headgear, are worn externally. Your orthodontist will recommend the most effective appliance for your needs.

  • Surgical treatment

In some cases, where the malocclusion is skeletal in nature as well as dental, surgical treatment might be necessary to reshape the jawbone itself.

If we recommend surgery, oral and maxillofacial surgeons are experts in surgical procedures designed to create a healthy and symmetrical jaw alignment. Drs. Adrienne Barnes, David N. Maclin & Naana Mensah will work with your surgeon to design a treatment plan, which will usually include braces or other appliances following surgery.

Why treat your overjet?

A serious, moderate, or even mild overjet can lead to many dental and medical problems, including:

  • Concerns about facial and dental appearance
  • Front teeth which are more at risk for injury
  • Difficulty closing the lips
  • Problems speaking or chewing
  • Headaches, facial, and temporomandibular (jaw) joint pain

When you work with our Chicago, IL team to correct your overjet, you’re not just correcting a problem. You’re also creating something—a healthy, comfortable bite, and an attractive, confident smile. We can talk about general answers to your overjet questions, but when it comes to understanding your very individual smile, Drs. Adrienne Barnes, David N. Maclin & Naana Mensah will have all the answers you need to make that healthy bite and that confident smile a reality! 

Dental X-rays: The Inside Story

January 25th, 2023

We’re all friends here, so if you sometimes feel a bit nervous before your orthodontic appointments, no judging! Ask us about any worries you might have. We are happy to explain procedures, equipment, and your orthodontic options so you know exactly what is going on during treatment. And if X-rays are a concern, we can put your mind at ease here as well.

What Exactly Are X-rays?

Sometimes patients feel reluctant about the process of imaging because X-rays are a kind of radiation. But the fact is, radiation is all around us. We are exposed to radiation naturally from our soil and water, sun and air, as well as from modern inventions such as cell phones, Wi-Fi, and air travel.

Why is radiation so common? Because matter throughout the universe constantly gives off energy, and the energy that is emitted is called radiation. This radiation takes two forms—as particles (which we don’t need to consider!) and as traveling rays. This second type is known as electromagnetic radiation, created by photons traveling in regular waves at the speed of light.

We are exposed to electromagnetic radiation every day, because, whether we can see them or not, these different wavelengths and frequencies create various forms of light. Radio waves, microwaves, infrared, visible, and ultraviolet light, X-rays, and gamma rays are all part of the electromagnetic light spectrum.

Different types of radiation on this spectrum have different wavelengths and different frequencies, and produce different amounts of energy. Longer wavelengths mean lower frequencies and less energy. Because X-rays have shorter wavelengths and higher frequencies than, for example, radio waves and visible light, they have more energy.

How Do Dental X-rays Work?

An X-ray machine produces a very narrow beam of X-ray photons. This beam passes through the body and captures images of our teeth and jaws on special film or digital sensors inside the mouth (intraoral X-rays), or on film or sensors located outside the mouth (extraoral X-rays). These X-ray images are also known as radiographs.

Why are X-rays able to take pictures inside our bodies? Remember that higher energy we talked about earlier? This energy enables X-rays to pass through the softer, less dense parts of our bodies, which are seen as gray background in a radiograph. But some substances in our bodies absorb X-rays, such as the calcium found in our bones and teeth. This is why they show up as sharp white images in radiographs. 

There are many different types of dental X-rays used in orthodontics, including:

  • Occlusal X-rays, which show the entire arch of teeth in the upper or lower jaw.
  • Panoramic X-rays, which use a special machine to rotate around the head to create a complete two-dimensional picture of teeth and jaws.
  • Cephalometric X-rays, which show the patient’s entire profile, and the position and development of the teeth and jaws.
  • Cone Beam Computed Tomography, an external device which uses digital images to create a three-dimensional picture of the teeth and jaws.

Why Do We Need X-rays?

You might have noticed that these X-rays, unlike, for example, typical bitewing X-rays, don’t take images of individual teeth. That is because orthodontists deal with the teeth in relationship to each other and to the structures around them.

Beautifully aligned teeth and a healthy bite are the visible result of your orthodontic work, but there’s a lot going on above and below the surface that needs to be discovered and taken into account before your treatment even begins. X-rays help us evaluate:

  • The size, shape, and position of your teeth, including impacted teeth and wisdom teeth
  • The size, position, and health of your roots throughout treatment
  • The size and shape of your jaw bones, and how they affect your teeth alignment and bite
  • Your progress during different phases of treatment

How Do Orthodontists Make Sure Your X-rays Are As Safe As They Can Be?

First of all, the amount of radiation you are exposed to with a dental X-ray is very small. In fact, a typical panoramic X-ray provides roughly the same amount of radiation we are exposed to through our natural surroundings in just one day. Even so, Drs. Adrienne Barnes, David N. Maclin & Naana Mensah and our team are committed to making sure patients are exposed to as little radiation as possible.

Radiologists, the physicians who specialize in imaging procedures and diagnoses, recommend that all dentists and doctors follow the safety principal known as ALARA: “As Low As Reasonably Achievable.” This means using the lowest X-ray exposure necessary to achieve precise diagnostic results for all dental and medical patients.

The guidelines recommended for X-rays and other imaging have been designed to make sure all patients have the safest experience possible whenever they visit the dentist or the doctor. We ensure that imaging is safe and effective in a number of ways:

  • We take X-rays only when they are necessary.
  • We provide protective gear, such as apron shields and thyroid collars, whenever needed.
  • We make use of modern X-ray equipment, for both traditional X-rays and digital X-rays, which exposes patients to a lower amount of radiation than ever before.
  • When treating children, we set exposure times based on each child’s size and age.

And now that we’ve talked about some things you might like to know,

Please Let Us Know If . . .

  • You are changing orthodontists and have had previous orthodontic X-rays taken. Ask to have your older X-rays sent to our office so we have a complete record of your orthodontic history. (With digital X-ray technology, this transfer can be accomplished with e-mail!)
  • You’re pregnant, or think you might be pregnant. Even though radiation exposure is very low with dental radiographs, unless there is a dental emergency, dentists and doctors recommend against X-rays for pregnant patients.

X-rays play an important part in helping us make sure your orthodontic treatment provides you with a lifetime of beautiful and healthy smiles. If you have any concerns, contact our Chicago, IL office. When it comes to making sure you’re comfortable with all of our procedures, including any X-rays that might be necessary, we’re happy to give you all the inside information!

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