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What is a palatal expander?

October 20th, 2021

If Dr. Michael Willes and our team at Willes 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 Carlsbad, CA office!

How are In-Ovation® self-ligating braces different?

October 13th, 2021

In-Ovation self-ligating braces are becoming a favorite for those who are faced with having to get braces. There are many differences that are making them increasingly popular among dental patients.

What sets In-Ovation apart from the rest?

There are many reasons why patients are choosing In-Ovation when deciding which braces will work best for them. One of the main reasons is that there is a significantly shorter amount of time that you have to wear them. There are also fewer appointments at our Carlsbad, CA office, since there are no rubber bands to be replaced.

Since there are no rubber bands, In-Ovation makes brushing and flossing much easier. The brackets are low-profile, making them more comfortable and more aesthetic as well.

Different Styles of In-Ovation

In-Ovation R braces are small, metallic like clips that replace the common metal braces and the elastic bands. This type of braces makes it harder for plaque to build up, so it is easier to keep your teeth clean. Your teeth move quickly and painlessly with the free-sliding treatment technique.

In-Ovation C braces offer all same the benefits of the In-Ovation R, with one small difference: this type of bracket is clear. Rhodium (a silvery-white metallic element) covers the clips making the In-Ovation C braces appear less visible. In-Ovation C braces offer a more inconspicuous way to straighten your teeth, and give you that beautiful smile you always wanted

Rest assured that if you choose In-Ovation self-ligating braces, you will not regret it. You will be able to enjoy looking good and feeling great about your smile during and after your treatment.

October is National Orthodontic Health Month

October 6th, 2021

What does the month of October mean to you? For people in the northern hemisphere, October is when the weather starts to get a little chilly: heavy jackets might come out of storage and the summer clothing gets packed away. You might start making plans for the upcoming holidays or looking at the beautiful and changing autumn scenery. October means something a little different to our team at Willes Orthodontics because this is National Orthodontic Health Month. During October, orthodontic clinics all over the country work together to promote their services and inform the community about the important work we do.

National Orthodontic Health Month is an awareness campaign created cooperatively by orthodontists and other dental health professionals. During this month, we make a special effort to promote dental health and orthodontic health in particular. This is a great time to get your questions answered by dental professionals in your community and to learn more about exactly what an orthodontist can do for you and your family. Events held in connection with National Orthodontic Health Month are also an opportunity for us orthodontists to come out and meet community members. If you have never been to an orthodontist before, you might not know what to expect. Meeting one of us in person before your checkup is a great way to find out what kind of person you’ll be seeing during your appointment.

Meeting Dr. Michael Willes in a relaxed “meet and greet” atmosphere can be especially helpful for any young orthodontic patients in your family. Kids of all ages–and their parents!–can feel anxiety about going to the dentist. Getting to know the person you have an appointment with can make the experience a lot less stressful for everyone. We don't want anyone to avoid seeing a dental professional for regular checkups just because they don't know who we are. Just meeting and talking with the orthodontist you'll be seeing may be enough to make you feel more comfortable about your upcoming appointment.

Dental health is something that affects everyone; healthy teeth and gums contribute to a healthy smile and a lifetime of comfort and well-being. Orthodontists are just one of the various dental practitioners you could visit at some point in your life, so taking a little time to learn who we are and what we do is certain to be a helpful experience. We look forward to seeing you and your family this October at our Carlsbad, CA location!

Does my child need two-phase treatment?

September 29th, 2021

Two-phase orthodontic treatment involves two separate and distinct periods that your child receives orthodontic treatment. It allows your son or daughter to begin early treatment of bite and jaw problems, in order to reduce the dental issues he or she experiences later on.

Two-phase orthodontic treatment with Dr. Michael Willes can improve how well the second phase of the treatment works and helps to make room for permanent teeth. Overall, two-phase treatment helps to position the teeth and the jaw for an attractive profile. Our team at Willes Orthodontics recommends that you bring your child to our Carlsbad, CA office at the age of seven or eight, so that Dr. Michael Willes can determine if early (Phase-One) treatment is necessary.

Phase-One

Phase-One orthodontic treatment is known as early treatment. It begins shortly after your child’s first orthodontic examination, usually around age eight or nine. The main goal of Phase-One orthodontic treatment is to help make room for permanent teeth, which reduces crooked teeth as a result of overcrowding. It treats the jaw and bite growth, and issues like crossbite or underbite. This can reduce the need for your child to undergo extractions.

Phase-Two

Phase-Two orthodontic treatment is when braces are placed on the upper and/or lower teeth. The purpose is not just to correct spaces or misaligned teeth, but also to correct overbite or underbite concerns. Phase-Two usually begins around age 11 or 12, and the braces are worn for an average of two to three years, depending on your child’s unique needs. Some children have fewer issues and wear braces for little more than a year, while others need them for up to four years.

Signs your child needs two-phase orthodontic treatment

If your child exhibits the following signs, he or she may be a good candidate for two-phase orthodontic treatment:

  • Losing baby teeth early, before five years of age
  • Problems with biting or chewing
  • Sucking the thumb after age five
  • Evidence of a crossbite, where the teeth don’t come together when opening or closing of the mouth
  • Teeth are crowded at age seven or eight
  • Protruding teeth on the top or bottom

Not all children need to have early treatment, but if your child shows any of these signs, you should bring him or her to us for an evaluation at Willes Orthodontics.

When You Need Immediate Care, We are Here for You

September 22nd, 2021

At Willes Orthodontics, we know orthodontic emergencies are neither convenient nor timely. If you are a patient of record, Dr. Michael Willes and our team are more than willing to see you after hours or over the weekend. As a general rule, you should call our Carlsbad, CA office when you experience severe pain or when you have a painful appliance problem that you can’t take care of yourself. We’ll be able to schedule an appointment to resolve the problem. If you have an orthodontic emergency after regular office hours, please give us a call and follow the emergency prompts to contact one of our doctors.

What's the best dental floss?

September 15th, 2021

Dental floss is similar to a lot of products that depend mainly on the consumer’s preference. Fact is, floss comes in a wide variety of flavors, coatings, and other variations, but all types of floss essentially do the same thing. After all, that is what is most important: that the dental floss you buy is functional—cleaning the areas in between your teeth. If you want to know what the best dental floss is, the answer is the kind that enables you to successfully and regularly clean those areas. So to help you find the right type of floss for you, here are some options.

Flavored Dental Floss

Many people that floss prefer a flavored dental floss because it freshens their breath even more than unscented floss. The latter can also take on the smells associated with bacteria in your mouth. And we all know how bad that can be. So, if flavored dental floss is what you prefer, and it allows you to floss your teeth regularly, then it is automatically best for your mouth.

Flossers

There are also products on the market called flossers, which usually consist of a plastic instrument with strung floss and a pick on the opposite end. This option can be both effective at cleaning the areas in between your teeth and scraping off plaque. These flossers also come flavored in mint and various other varieties.

Gentle Dental Floss

Some people find that typical dental floss is too harsh on their gums. For that reason some companies make floss with soft coatings that are less abrasive on the gums. For the most part these types of floss are just as effective as regular floss, and for those people that require a more sensitive approach to flossing, especially when just starting out, this is the best option.

Of the aforementioned options, it is difficult to name an absolute best type of floss. However, Dr. Michael Willes and our team say that the type of floss that works best for you, giving you the greatest chance of succeeding at regular flossing, is the best. For more information on floss, contact our Carlsbad, CA office.

In-Ovation® Benefits

September 8th, 2021

In-Ovation braces are much smaller than traditional braces, are less noticeable on your teeth, and use the method of self-ligation. This type of braces doesn’t require the use of the elastic bands to keep the wires in the correct place, which makes your orthodontic experience more convenient and comfortable.

There are two types of In-Ovation braces: In-Ovation R and In-Ovation C, both of which supply the same benefits of less pain than traditional braces, shorter treatment time, and a beautiful smile!

In-Ovation R Braces

This impressive orthodontic treatment is specifically aimed to provide you with a better hygienic and aesthetically favorable treatment procedure while moving your misaligned and crooked teeth into a better more attractive position.

In addition, the distinctive method of In-Ovation R braces provides less discomfort because there is nearly no pressure applied to your teeth. Another benefit of In-Ovation R braces is you do not require as many visits with Dr. Michael Willes during your treatment process.

Other benefits include:

  • Quicker treatment time: About four months shorter than the traditional braces
  • More comfortable
  • Fewer visits to our Carlsbad, CA office
  • Enhanced facial aesthetics
  • Shorter orthodontic appointments with no uncomfortable adjustments
  • No elastic bands or metal allows for easy care of your dental health and a reduction in the risk of developing cavities

With traditional metal braces, elastic bands are used to keep the wires in place. In-Ovation R braces use a free-sliding technology that gently moves your teeth while implementing minimal to no pressure. The procedure can also make the entire progress quicker and completed without all the discomfort and inconvenience.

In-Ovation C

In-Ovation C braces offer all same the benefits of In-Ovation R, with one small difference: this type of braces is clear in color. Rhodium (a silvery-white metallic element) covers the clips making the In-Ovation C braces appear less visible. In-Ovation C braces offer a more inconspicuous way to straighten your teeth, and give you that beautiful smile you always wanted.

Labor Day: Our favorite holiday to rest!

September 1st, 2021

Labor Day, celebrated on the first Monday each September here in the United States, is a holiday devoted to the American working community. The purpose of the holiday is honoring the country's workers and their contributions to the strength of our country as a whole.

How Labor Day Started

There is actually some debate as to the origins of Labor Day. It is uncertain whether Peter McGuire, a cofounder for the American Federation of Labor, or Matthew Maguire, who was the secretary of Central Labor Union of New York, had the great idea. However, the Central Labor Union's plans were what launched the first Labor Day in America.

The First Labor Day

The very first Labor Day was celebrated on September 5th, 1882. The Central Labor Union then held annual celebrations on September 5th for what they called a working man's holiday. By the year 1885, the Labor Day celebration had spread to many different industrial areas, and after that it began spreading to all industries in the United States.

Labor Day Today

Labor Day today is a huge United States holiday during which we honor the country's workers with a day of rest and relaxation or a day of picnics and parades. This holiday is truly one to honor the many people who work hard to contribute to the economic well-being of our great country!

Our team at Willes Orthodontics hopes all of our patients celebrate Labor Day, and every holiday, safely and happily. Whether you stay in the Carlsbad, CA area, or travel out of town, have fun, and don't forget to brush!

Too old for braces? You Might be Surprised

August 25th, 2021

Although adolescence is a common time to get braces, there’s no reason for adults of any age to have to deal with crooked teeth, overbite, underbite, or other dental issues. In fact, the American Association of Orthodontists notes that demand for orthodontic treatment in adults continues to grow, with adults representing 20% of new patients.

You’re never too old for braces or other orthodontic appliances, but it’s important to consider the following:

  1. Braces don’t have to be as noticeable as the metal brackets of the past. Many adults opt for ceramic or plastic braces, which are bone-colored or clear, respectively. Another option is a lingual appliance, which attaches to the back side of your teeth. These so-called “invisible” braces are much less noticeable than traditional options.
  2. By adulthood, bone growth has stopped. This means that certain structural changes can only be achieved by surgery. Although this typically affects people with significant crowding, bite, or jaw problems, Dr. Michael Willes can provide an individualized treatment plan that addresses your unique issues.
  3. Treatment may take a bit longer. The length of orthodontic treatment tends to be slightly longer for adults than adolescents. Exact estimates vary by individual, but the average length of time for adult braces wearers is two years, according to the Harvard Medical School.
  4. Outcomes are just as good for adults! Many adults worry that it’s too late to treat their orthodontic problems. However, treatment satisfaction tends to be very high, which is a testament to how effective braces can be in middle-aged and older adults.

Feeling Confident at Your Orthodontic Consultation

August 18th, 2021

How You Can Start Preparing Now

When you first start thinking about going to the orthodontist, it is normal to feel apprehensive. What will your orthodontic experience bring? Whether you have been advised by a dentist or chosen to seek out orthodontic care from Dr. Michael Willes on your own, there are a few things you can do to prepare for your initial consultation at Willes Orthodontics.

One of the best ways to prepare for an orthodontic consultation is to understand your options. With so many choices available today, orthodontic care is a lot more versatile than in the past. You can start preparing now by seeking out and understanding those options. With a few specific things in mind, you can be totally confident and prepared for your consultation.

Questions to Ask During the Consultation

As you consider orthodontic care, it is likely that a few questions may naturally arise. Don’t be afraid to ask any questions you might have. Our orthodontic team is here to help. Here are just a few examples of questions you may want to ask at your consultation.

  • Is there an estimated length of time that I will likely require braces?
  • How much should I expect to pay for my treatment? What are the payment options?
  • Does getting braces hurt? Is there anything I can do to prevent or minimize pain?
  • Is it likely that I will be wearing extra appliances in addition to braces to correct my overbite or other problems?
  • Are there specific foods I will need to avoid when I get braces?
  • Will braces prevent me from playing my favorite sport or musical instrument?
  • How can I keep my teeth clean with braces?
  • How often will I be expected to come in for checkups and other appointments?

Once your consultation is over, you don’t have to feel like your options are exhausted. If questions arise after the consultation, don’t be afraid to ask. Our orthodontic team will be here to help throughout the entire process.

Confidence throughout the Process

With answers to your questions, and an orthodontic team on your side, you can be confident about any necessary orthodontic treatments. From the initial consultation to the day your braces come off, your orthodontic treatment at Willes Orthodontics can be a smooth and simple process. The moment you see that beautiful smile, you’ll know it was all worth it.

We love bringing nothing but the most amazing smiles to our patients!

In-Ovation® Vs. Traditional Braces

August 11th, 2021

At our office, we say it's never too late to improve the beauty of your smile. We suggest to patients of all ages that braces can lead the way to a healthier, happier smile. Orthodontic technology has made many advancements over the past decade. Today, we compare In-Ovation braces to traditional braces to help you decide which is best for your smile needs.

Choosing In-Ovation or Traditional Braces

There are many significant differences between these two styles of braces that often make one more attractive than the other to patients. Overall, the In-Ovation treatment process is far shorter from start to finish than the traditional braces approach.

The In-Ovation treatment process has been gaining vast popularity among patients because it offers superior comfort over traditional braces. Unlike the traditional approach that can be painful and cause continued friction and irritation, In-Ovation braces operate on what is called a self-ligating system. This free-sliding system straightens teeth with gentle, low pressure.

Traditional braces exert their teeth-aligning effects with pressure. They are cemented to teeth, connected by rubber bands, and require much more of a time commitment than newer technology. For some, traditional braces are a more affordable approach and time is not a concern. It's also important to understand that a balanced diet is more important than ever when choosing any type of braces, but especially with traditional braces because of their size. Sugary foods can cause plaque to buildup on the tooth and should be kept minimal.

In-Ovation braces have been reported to shift teeth in a way that causes less irritation. Patients opt for this style because of its overall lower need for maintenance. You will spend far less time visiting our Carlsbad, CA if you choose In-Ovation braces over traditional braces.

With fewer components and no elastic bands, there is less of a chance of food debris being left behind with In-Ovation braces. They are easier to clean and when a balanced diet is followed, and much less of a plaque buildup. In-Ovation even offers clear brackets for improved aesthetics.

Still have questions about which braces system is right for you or your child? We encourage you to ask Dr. Michael Willes at your next appointment. We look forward to seeing you soon!

Hey, Metal Mouth, Hey, Train Tracks! Six Funny Comebacks for People Who Wear Braces

August 4th, 2021

Brace-ism: believe it or not, it’s a concept. The Urban Dictionary defines brace-ism as “acting mean to people who have braces on their teeth.” Phrases like metal mouth, brace face, and train tracks are common jokes uttered by gap-toothed fools who like to make fun of people with braces.

While ignoring these comments and taking the high road is the best thing to do, there’s nothing wrong with having a few clever retorts and quick-witted comebacks up your sleeve.

  1. The next time someone calls you train tracks, break into an obnoxious train imitation, with lots of toot-toot and chuga-chuga-chuga. Finish off your crazy locomotive impersonation with some sort of deafening train horn. That’ll keep the bullies at bay.
  2. “It’s better to be a brace face than a space case.”
  3. Counter with a ridiculously childish joke that makes the schoolyard tormentor feel even smaller than he already is. “Oh. Yeah. Why did the deer need braces? Because he had buck teeth. Hahaha.” Top it off with an exaggerated eye roll.
  4. “Yeah, my brother tells that joke. He’s six. You guys should hang out.” That’ll stop the haters dead in their tracks. Or would that be train tracks?
  5. Here’s one from the sarcasm grab bag. “Well, I’m just glad there’s a way to fix what’s wrong with my face.”
  6. “I can’t wait to discuss this formative moment at our ten-year class reunion, when my teeth are razor-straight and you’re wearing adult braces.”

 

How Your Pearly Whites Can Help You in Life

July 28th, 2021

At Willes Orthodontics, Dr. Michael Willes and our staff have found that patients who like their smiles have better self-esteem. People who don’t like their smiles are often skittish about talking to other people. According to the National Women’s Health Resource Center, when women are asked about what they’d most like to change about themselves, many point to their smile. Despite wanting to change their smiles, quite a few of the people who are unhappy about that part of themselves won’t consider getting braces.

Most Americans Don’t Have Straight Teeth

The American Association of Orthodontics estimates that 4.5 million Americans wear braces or other orthodontic equipment to straighten their teeth and to get a healthier mouth. One in five of those braces wearers are women. The organization’s statistics also show that about 75 percent of the population doesn’t have straight teeth, and those people would benefit from getting braces.

While the main benefit of braces is straight teeth, and to improve the look of your smile, there are other benefits that make braces even more useful, including:

  • Straighter teeth help people chew better.
  • Straighter teeth give people a proper bite.
  • People speak better when they have straighter teeth.
  • When people have straight teeth, they have better overall gum and mouth health. A healthier mouth means flossing and brushing are easier, and that means your entire mouth stays healthy.
  • A healthy mouth is also linked to a healthy body.

When you feel proud of those pearly whites, you feel better about your smile, and that contributes to a better self-image and improved self-esteem. Ultimately, that can lead to greater career success and a more fulfilling social life.

Invisalign Teen® Benefits

July 21st, 2021

You can probably see how teeth straightening can make your smile more attractive, but you might be wary of how Invisalign Teen treatment works. If you’re like most teens at our Carlsbad, CA office, you love hanging out with your friends, and you don’t want to be different, watch what you eat, or worry about how you look. Invisalign Teen has several benefits over traditional metal braces that can make your treatment easier.

People won’t know you’re wearing them.

Invisalign Teen consists of clear trays that are virtual impossible for others to see. Chances are, the only people who know that you are getting your teeth straightened will be your family and any of your friends whom you choose to tell. You won’t need to answer to “Tinsel Teeth” and “Metal Mouth” as some of your classmates with metal braces do.

You can eat what your friends eat.

You take your Invisalign Teen aligners out of your mouth for meals and snacks, so you can eat just like you normally would. You don’t need to worry about food getting stuck in your braces or leading to a bracket popping off. Unlike with braces, you can enjoy the following foods with your friends during Invisalign Teen straightening treatment:

  • Popcorn at the movies
  • Trail mix with dried fruit when you’re hanging out together
  • Ribs and chicken wings at a party
  • Eating a peanut butter sandwich, apple, and carrot sticks for lunch

You can take care of your teeth more easily.

It would be a shame if you took the trouble to straighten your teeth and then found out that you had developed tooth decay while wearing braces. This is less of a problem with Invisalign Teen aligners because they are removable. You can brush and floss your teeth as normal just by taking the trays out of your mouth.

Getting straighter teeth can be a serious confidence-booster in the long run, and with Invisalign Teen, the treatment isn’t that bad. You can wear these clear aligners without letting people know that you’re straightening your teeth, and they won’t interfere with your diet or dental hygiene.

Stars Who Had Braces

July 14th, 2021

Not everyone is born with a million-dollar smile, not even some celebrities. The following stars have all had their moments as a “brace face,” either as a child, teenager, or adult. You might be surprised to learn about stars who had braces (including Gwen Stefani, who got braces just because she could!).

Take a look at some famous faces who sported braces!

Emma Watson: Emma admits to going through a rather awkward stage that included “terrible skin,” fluctuating weight, and braces. But look at the swan that emerged!

Tom Cruise: Who would have thought that one of the world’s most famous smiles could use an overhaul? Well, Mr. Cruise pulled it off … and most people didn’t even know. He wore “invisible” braces that had ceramic brackets for a few months just after his 40th birthday. And the results were pretty WOW!

Dakota Fanning: This lovely young actress had some troublesome teeth when she was younger. However, braces and dental work gave her that stunning star-quality smile we see now. Props to her, though, for staying real. She sported her headgear during an appearance on The Tonight Show and didn’t bat an eye.

Gwyneth Paltrow: The stunning Ms. Paltrow, who, in 2013 was named the Most Beautiful Woman by People Magazine, wore braces in high school. And she probably carried it off with the poise and grace for which she is so famous today.

Niall Horan: This member of One Direction, the boy band that’s currently tearing it up (and breaking some hearts along the way) wore his braces for several months. He got them removed in April 2013.

Other notable celebs who have had braces include Faye Dunaway, who got hers at the age of 61! Ryan Seacrest, Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, and Drew Barrymore also belonged to the metal mouth club at one time or another.

What is comes down to is this: It isn’t whether you wear braces that are fully hidden, ceramic brackets, or have the traditional metal train tracks running across your teeth. Nope, it’s all about how you work it!

Fun Facts for the Fourth

July 1st, 2021

The Fourth of July is a great time to get together with friends and family members for BBQ, games, fireworks, and other celebrations in honor of our country’s independence. While your fellow revelers eat hot dogs and wave flags, you can impress them by sharing these fascinating facts and historical tidbits about some of our country’s traditions and symbols from the team at Willes Orthodontics.

The Statue of Liberty

With a torch in one hand and a tablet in the other, the Statue of Liberty is one of the most iconic and recognizable symbols of our country. However, as recognizable as certain parts of the statue are, not many people know that broken shackles, which represent oppression and tyranny, are lying at Lady Liberty’s feet. According to the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, the copper-plated lady weighs in at a whopping 450,000 tons and has been holding her torch up for more than 125 years, which must make for some impressive arm muscles.

Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest

Since 1916, people have been flocking to Coney Island on the Fourth of July to witness what some people call the “superbowl of competitive eating.” Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating contest challenges competitors to devour as many hot dogs as they can in just ten minutes, with the current record holder swallowing a whopping 68 hot dogs! If you’d like to witness this bizarre and frenzied eating competition but you won’t be anywhere near Coney Island on the fourth, don’t worry. ESPN has been broadcasting this popular event for several years, so you can watch from the comfort of your couch while you eat a reasonably portioned meal.

The History Behind Fireworks

Viewing the nighttime fireworks display is exciting way to finish off the fourth. Many people know that these brilliant displays probably originated with the Chinese. However, many historians also believe that fireworks were stumbled upon when the Chinese roasted bamboo sticks over fires and watched them explode. After many years of roasting the sticks, a group of alchemists created an early form of gunpowder, which they stuffed into the bamboo sticks to create an even more powerful explosion, paving the way for the today’s modern fireworks.

Whether you’re planning on visiting the Statue of Liberty, watching fireworks in Carlsbad, CA, or even participating in a hot dog eating contest, Dr. Michael Willes and our team hope you have a safe and fun-filled holiday. Happy Fourth of July!

How can I protect my child's teeth during sports?

June 23rd, 2021

Sports are great for children for a variety of reasons. Children can develop their motor skills, learn how to solve conflicts and work together, and develop their work ethics. As a parent, you may recognize the benefits of sports, but also naturally worry about your child’s health and safety. Your job goes beyond providing a water bottle and making sure your child follows the rules of the game.

Although you may not think of your child’s teeth first when you think about sports, accidents can happen that affect your children’s teeth. A stray hockey stick, an errant basketball, or a misguided dive after a volleyball are examples of ways a child could lose a tooth. In fact, studies show that young athletes lose more than three million teeth each year.

Becoming a Better Athlete to Protect Teeth

Becoming a better athlete involves refining skills, learning the rules of the game, and being a good sport. These components are not just about winning. They are also about safety. Young athletes who are better ball-handlers and who are careful to avoid fouls and penalties are less likely to have harmful contact with the ball, teammates, or opponents. Children who are better roller-bladers are less likely to take a face plant into the blacktop, and more likely to save their teeth. Being a good sport and avoiding unnecessary contact is one way to protect teeth.

Proper Protective Equipment for Teeth

If your child is in a sport that poses a high threat to teeth, it is essential for your child to wear a mouthguard. Mouthguards fit your child’s mouth and consist of soft plastic. Dr. Michael Willes can custom fit a mouthguard if generic ones are uncomfortable. While children may resist wearing a mouthguard initially, your persistence in insisting that they wear it should be enough to convince them. A helmet or face mask provides additional protection.

While prevention is best, rapid treatment can improve the situation if your child does happen to lose a tooth during sports. Rapid implantation can work in about ten percent of cases. To learn about ways to save a lost tooth, contact our Carlsbad, CA office.

How to Floss with Braces

June 16th, 2021

The Willes Orthodontics team knows that oral hygiene is important, whether you have braces on your teeth or not. But if you are a person who wears braces, caring for your teeth and gums can become somewhat challenging. Without daily oral hygiene practices, you may become prone to cavities and tooth decay during your time in braces.

Naturally, you know that brushing your teeth each morning and night, as well as after you eat, will help keep your mouth healthy and clean during the months you wear braces. But flossing is also an important part of your hygiene routine. Flossing with braces can be tricky, but it’s not impossible. Dr. Michael Willes, your general dentist, or your dental hygienist can help you become more comfortable and adept at flossing your teeth during the months you wear braces.

Flossing Tips for Those with Braces

  • Use Tools Provided by Our Office. A floss threader is a small, plastic needle that will help you floss between the wires and your teeth. Thread a 12-to-18-inch piece of floss onto the needle, and use the needle to get the floss easily behind the wires.
  • Flossing Under the Wires. Once the floss is behind the wires, use your hands to manipulate the floss. Move it up and down along the wires to remove food particles.
  • Flossing Between Your Teeth. Floss between your teeth as you normally would without braces. Move the floss up and down between your teeth, using a clean section of floss for each tooth.
  • After You Finish Flossing. Your orthodontist may have suggested that you use a water pik or proxy brush after you finish brushing. Either of these tools will help remove any loosened food particles to ensure that your teeth and braces are clean.

Continue Good Oral Hygiene Habits

Good oral hygiene habits you use while wearing braces will help you achieve the beautiful smile you and the Willes Orthodontics team have been working toward. Once your braces are off, it may be tempting to slack off on the brushing and flossing. Don’t let yourself fall into any habits that will have a negative impact on your oral health or the attractive smile you waited for throughout the months you wore braces. See your general dentist for regular cleanings, and continue to brush and floss your teeth each day.

Five Fun Ways to Count Down Your Braces Time

June 9th, 2021

Braces can straighten your teeth to give you a more attractive smile for life. The process can take 18 months to two years or more, and this amount of time can seem unending when you first get your braces. Counting down your brace time can help the time pass more quickly and build the excitement for when you finally get your braces removed.

Make a Wall Calendar

Crossing out each day on a calendar is a standard way of counting down time. You can make this more personal by designing your own calendar to help you count down. Use an online customization service to upload photos or designs for each month. Each month’s picture can also display the number of months remaining until you expect your braces to come off.

Schedule Rewards

When you receive regular rewards for continuing to wear your braces, they can seem less burdensome. Plan to buy yourself a reward every month that you wear your braces for the duration of the treatment. The time will pass much faster when you feel you are earning rewards for your patience.

Lengthen a Paper Chain

Use strips of paper to make the links of your chain, and add a new link each week to lengthen the chain. Before sealing each new strip of paper into a circle, write on it a reason why you are getting your teeth straightened, or an event in the future when you will appreciate your straight teeth as you smile.

Use a Wall Hanging

Purchase a large pad of blank white paper. Write a “0” on the bottom sheet and a “1” on the next, and continue until you reach the number of days remaining in your treatment. Rip off the top sheet each day to see how many days are left and remind yourself of the progress you are making.

Find a Buddy

If any of your friends get braces around the same time as you, share the experience. Make a pact to celebrate each trip to Willes Orthodontics when one of you receives news about your progress.

What if I miss an appointment over the summer?

June 2nd, 2021

If you are planning on taking a vacation this summer, we ask that you let us know ahead of time so that we may schedule your summer appointments more efficiently. We also encourage patients and their parents to be proactive in determining when they make their summer appointments.

If you will be gone for an extended period (more than six weeks), we recommend you visit Willes Orthodontics prior to leaving and schedule another visit shortly after your return. Lastly, please remember not to indulge in hard, sticky, and chewy treats while enjoying your vacation. We look forward to seeing you soon and hearing about your adventures!

Memorial Day

May 26th, 2021

Memorial Day is not only a federal holiday in the United States, but it is a day of observance and remembrance of those who died in service. Originally known as Decoration Day, this solemn day has been marked on calendars since the end of the American Civil War as a day to commemorate both the Confederate and Union soldiers who fought and died in the war.

Marking the graves of fallen soldiers with flowers, wreaths, or other tokens has been practiced throughout history, but it wasn't until the mark of the end of the Civil War that a special day was decided upon as the one to spend in remembrance. By 1890, every state in the country was observing Decoration Day. It wasn't until 1967 when the name formally changed from Decoration Day to Memorial Day, in order to encompass all fallen American soldiers in all wars and conflicts. In June of 1968, Congress moved the official date of Memorial Day to the last Monday in May in order to create a three day weekend.

Today, while there is certainly an air of remembrance on Memorial Day, it has become more a day of spending time with family, friends, and other loved ones. This day is also heralded as the start of summer, with many schools finishing for the year around this time. Our team at Willes Orthodontics remembers it as a day to take solace and remembered those lost.

Traditional observances of Memorial Day are still held, and they often involve raising the American Flag then lowering it to a half-staff position until noon, and then raising it once again to its full height afterwards. The flag is lowered to remember those who've lost their lives while in service to their country, and then it is raised to signify our willingness to not let their sacrifice be in vain.

From community parades in the Carlsbad, CA area, backyard cook-outs, and fireworks to formal ceremonies, Memorial Day is commemorated in many different ways. No matter how you choose to spend this day, take a moment to remember those who've lost their lives in an effort to preserve our freedom.

Helpful Hints for Dealing with Braces Pain

May 19th, 2021

Your first few days with braces will feel rather odd, awkward, and even painful. The day you get your braces you will probably just feel weird, like you have something in your mouth – because you do. You are most likely to feel pain and soreness during the second and third days. After that, you should be fine. If you experience any pain with your braces, there are a few things you can do to get some relief.

Home Remedies

Rinsing your mouth with warm salt water will soothe it and promote healing. Rinse several times a day or when your mouth, particularly mouth sores, are hurting. You can also take some Tylenol every four hours. Dr. Michael Willes and our team advise against products that contain ibuprofen because it slows down the movement of your teeth.

You can also eat cold foods like ice cream or yogurt. The cold of the food will help dull the pain. Ice packs applied to your mouth help as well. You can also swish ice water around your mouth, but DO NOT eat ice!

Cool Products

Products for canker sores can be applied to the mouth sores you develop from your braces. There are also various rinses you can use that act as a shield or barrier in your mouth, and protect your mouth sores from further irritation.

Dr. Michael Willes and our team may have given you some dental wax to put on the abrasive areas of your braces to protect your mouth. Putting dental wax on the brackets creates a barrier that keeps your mouth from getting scraped and sore.

Bite wafers are another great pain relief too. When you bite down on the wafer, it increases circulation in your gums, which can ease the pain a bit. Just a little pressure will work; you don’t want to bite too hard. And they usually come in cool colors, too!

The pain won’t last forever. One day you will wake up and you won’t have any pain. In fact, you probably won’t even notice the braces in your mouth at all!

When is the best age to begin orthodontic treatment?

May 12th, 2021

Most parents know that routine dental care should begin during their child’s toddler years. And many assume they must wait until their child has all of his or her permanent teeth to visit Dr. Michael Willes for an initial orthodontic consultation.

The ideal age for an orthodontic evaluation is age seven. At that age, your child will have a mixture of adult and baby teeth for Dr. Michael Willes and our team at Willes Orthodontics to make a determination about whether any problems are present. Typically the first molars have come in by the time your child turns seven, giving us an opportunity to check for malocclusion, also known as “bad bite.” Also, by the time your child reaches the age of seven, the incisors have begun to come in, and problems such as crowding, deep bites, and open bites can be detected.

When Dr. Michael Willes and our team perform an evaluation on your child at an early age, you get one of two positive outcomes. Although treatment usually will not begin until one to five years after the initial evaluation, it’s still helpful in determining whether your child has any problems with the jaw and teeth early when they are still easy to treat. Earlier treatment can also cost less to correct a potential problem than delayed treatment.

Early evaluation, of course, may signal a need for early treatment. For some children, early treatment can prevent physical and emotional trauma. Aside from spurring years of harmful teasing, misaligned teeth are also prone to injury and are detrimental to good oral hygiene.

If your child is approaching age seven, or has already surpassed his or her seventh birthday, it is time to schedule an appointment for an initial examination at Willes Orthodontics.

May is National Teen Self-Esteem Month!

May 5th, 2021

The month of May has the unique distinction of being National Teen Self-Esteem Month. What does that mean?

National Teen Self-Esteem Month was created to raise public awareness about how low self-esteem can negatively affect teens. Especially during May, parents and guardians of teens are asked to be positive role models. If teens can receive positive re-enforcement and their negative images of themselves are improved, then their self-esteem has a better chance of developing in a positive direction.

Dr. Michael Willes and our team at Willes Orthodontics know there are a lot of young adults living in America are struggling with depressed self-images. These can affect all aspects of their everyday lives. Some evidence shows learning abilities and increased risk of eating disorders can originate in a teen’s low self-esteem. It can also lead to abuse of drugs and thoughts of suicide. Dating violence among high school teens is now more common than previously thought.

What can be done to help?

So what can adults do specifically to help their teens? The National Teen Self-Esteem Facebook page offers a variety of suggestions and positive messages for teens and parents alike. Of all the pages your teen “likes” on social media, perhaps he or she should include this page. Some of the tips offered include:

  1. When you stumble, get right back up.
  2. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else.
  3. Do things that make you feel good about yourself.
  4. Open yourself up to compliments.

Another great way to build self-esteem is to have a beautiful, health smile, and that’s where our team at Willes Orthodontics come in! Whether your teen is due for a simple cleaning, could benefit from cosmetic treatments, or needs orthodontic care, we can help bestow a confident smile he or she will be proud to show off.

Overall, a more positive approach to life will help us all. It is a very important trait to instill in our teens. As parents, a big part of our responsibility is to show our children there is always another day and bumps in the road are just that. We need to help guide their self-esteem and reinforce their positive traits. We can help them recognize the value of who they are.

We should make our children’s self esteem a priority — not just in May, but throughout the year. Let National Teen Self-Esteem Month serve as the impetus for new levels of self-esteem.

For more information on this topic, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Michael Willes, please give us a call at our convenient Carlsbad, CA office!

What is malocclusion?

April 28th, 2021

The term malocclusion refers to misalignment of teeth. You may have been born with malocclusion, so your teeth simply grew in crooked, or the misalignment and crowding of your teeth occurred over a period of time. Either way, not only can malocclusion pose cosmetic issues, but it can have a negative effect on your speaking and eating abilities as well.

Types of Malocclusion

Malocclusion encompasses multiple types and classifications of misalignment issues, including twisting or rotation of the teeth and molars that do not meet when you bite down. In some cases, the top front teeth are pushed outward in an upper protrusion.

In other cases, a misplaced midline results when the front top teeth don’t meet with the front bottom teeth. Transposition occurs when teeth protrude through the gums in a position where another tooth is supposed to be.

Practically any type of crowding or spacing issues, rotation or twisting of the teeth, or bite problem – including overbite, underbite, open bite, or crossbite – is included under the umbrella of malocclusion.

Malocclusion Classifications

There are three classifications of bite or misalignment problem.

  • Class 1 malocclusion: While the bite may be normal, the upper teeth overlap the lower teeth slightly. This is the most common type.
  • Class 2 malocclusion: Known as overbite or retrognathism, class 2 involves a severe overlap of the upper teeth and jaw over the bottom teeth and jaw.
  • Class 3 malocclusion: Known as underbite or prognathism, class 3 occurs when the lower teeth and jaw overlap the upper teeth and jaw. Thus, the lower jaw juts forward.

Causes of Malocclusion

The most common cause of malocclusion is genetics. However, there may be other causes, including the development of abnormally-shaped teeth, lost teeth, or impacted teeth; thumb sucking or overuse of a pacifier as a small child; having fillings or crowns that do not fit correctly; a serious injury that causes misalignment of the jaw; or developing a tumor of the mouth or jaw.

Treating Malocclusion

Orthodontic care at Willes Orthodontics with Dr. Michael Willes is the main treatment available for malocclusion, which includes getting braces, Invisalign, or other corrective treatments. Treatment is ideal not just to have your smile improved, but because it makes the teeth easier to clean and maintain, lowers the risk of gum disease and tooth decay, and can even take pressure off the jaw and teeth.

Think about orthodontic treatment if you (or your child) display any signs of malocclusion. Early treatment of malocclusion during childhood can lessen expensive treatment later on.

Do I really need to wear my rubber bands with my braces?

April 21st, 2021

Most of our patients at Willes Orthodontics will need to wear rubber bands at some point during their orthodontic treatment. The main reason our patients are instructed to wear rubber bands is to correct their bite. If your teeth do not fit together properly, Dr. Michael Willes will recommend that rubber bands be used. Dr. Michael Willes may also recommend using rubber bands to close or open spaces.

Rubber bands are a critical part of your treatment, and wearing them as Dr. Michael Willes and our team recommend will help move your teeth into the desired position. Dr. Michael Willes may ask you to wear your rubber bands full time, meaning that they should only be taken out when you brush and floss your teeth three times a day. Other times, you may be asked to only wear them part-time, like only during the day or only during sleep.

If you still have any questions about orthodontic rubber bands, we invite you to give us a call or ask us during your next adjustment appointment. Remember, wearing rubber bands as prescribed by Dr. Michael Willes is an important step during your treatment, and can reduce the time you have your braces. If you lose your rubber bands or run out, stop by our Carlsbad, CA office and pick up more!

The Effects of Biting Your Nails

April 7th, 2021

Also known as onchophagia, the habit of nail biting is one of the so-called “nervous habits” that can be triggered by stress, excitement, or boredom. Approximately half of all kids between the ages of ten and 18 have been nail biters at one time or another. Experts say that about 30 percent of children and 15 percent of adults are nail biters, however most people stop chewing their nails by the time they turn 30.

Here are four dental and general reasons to stop biting your nails:

1. It’s unsanitary: Your nails harbor bacteria and germs, and are almost twice as dirty as fingers. What’s more, swallowing dirty nails can lead to stomach problems.

2. It wears down your teeth: Gnawing your nails can put added stress on your pearly whites, which can lead to crooked teeth.

3. It can delay your orthodontic treatment: For those of our patients wearing braces, nail biting puts additional pressure on teeth and weakens roots.

4. It can cost you, literally: It has been estimated that up to $4,000 in extra dental bills can build up over a lifetime.

Dr. Michael Willes and our team recommend the following to kick your nail biting habit:

  • Keep your nails trimmed short; you’ll have less of a nail to bite.
  • Coat your nails with a bitter-tasting nail polish.
  • Ask us about obtaining a mouthguard, which can help prevent nail biting.
  • Put a rubber band around your wrist and snap it whenever you get the urge to gnaw on your nails.
  • Think about when and why you chew your nails. Whether you are nervous or just bored, understanding the triggers can help you find a solution and stop the habit.
  • If you can’t stop, behavioral therapy may be an effective option to stop nail biting. Ask Dr. Michael Willes and our team for a recommendation.

Things You Should Never Use Your Braces For

March 31st, 2021

When you get your braces, Dr. Michael Willes and our staff will also give you a list of foods you should not eat and things you should not do. Pay particular attention to these items to keep your teeth and braces safe.

Charms belong on bracelets. While you can decorate your braces with colored bands, hanging a charm off them is a bad idea. If you bite down on the charm, you could damage your braces or your teeth. You could also swallow your jewelry.

Never use your teeth as a bottle opener. This is just as important when you are wearing braces. While braces straighten your teeth, your teeth are moving in the process. That makes them weaker, and the metal in the braces does not make them invincible. Invest in a bottle opener; you can buy one for a few dollars, which is much less expensive than having to replace your braces.

Contrary to what you might think, your braces are not designed to work as a radio. There are tales of people who have picked up radio signals from dental fillings or braces. While this is remotely possible, attaching an antenna to your mouth is just not a good idea. You will get better quality music from a radio.

On the other hand, you can still kiss someone while wearing braces. In fact, even if both of you wear braces, the chances of your getting locked together are almost negligible. However, to avoid cutting your partner’s lips, kiss with caution.

If you have any questions about taking care of your braces, please ask Dr. Michael Willes and our staff. We want you to get the best results from your treatment without needless delays.

What Your Braces Rubber Band Color Says About You

March 24th, 2021

However you may feel about having to wear braces, choosing the color of your rubber bands is sure to bring a smile to your face. Whether you want to express your creativity, coordinate your braces with your outfits, or show some serious school spirit, decorating your mouth with colorful bands takes some of the stress and self-consciousness out of wearing braces. So what do your rubber band colors say about you? Look no further than our rubber band horoscope.

Red. You’re intense and forward thinking, and that you won’t back down no matter how big the challenge. Red is also the color of the heart, so red rubber bands indicate that you’re a caring, loving person.

Blue. Blue means you’re chill – as cool as a cucumber. You’re one cool customer, as the saying goes. You’re relaxed and calm, even when your mom says you can’t chew any gum or eat popcorn because of your braces.

Green. Look at a traffic light and green means go, right? So you’re the type of person who’s always on the move. Go, go, go! It also means you’re generous and kind. Green is the color of nature and spring, so it says you love Mother Earth. Perhaps you even recycle. Green is the color of good luck.

Orange. You’re daring and wild, flamboyant and fun. Orange may indicate you’re an artist or a drama student. It says you have a big personality and that you don’t care what other people think about you. However, orange is also the color of balance and energy. And being flamboyant and fun takes a lot of energy!

Purple. You’re the creative type, for sure. You beat to a different drummer and think outside the box. It says you're mysterious. Purple is the color of royalty, and when you wear your purple rubber bands you are royally cool.

Color Combinations

What if you can’t choose just one color? Well, you can decorate your teeth with alternating colors. You can choose the colors of your favorite sports team or holiday colors like red and green. If you’re still stumped as to what colors to choose, ask Dr. Michael Willes or a member of our team. We can let you in on all the trends our other patents are sporting at our Carlsbad, CA office!

St. Patrick's Day: Celtic pride, green shamrocks, and lucky charms!

March 17th, 2021

“St. Patrick's Day is an enchanted time -- a day to begin transforming winter's dreams into summer's magic.” Adrienne Cook

Lucky green shamrocks, leprechauns, and pots of gold – it must be St. Patrick’s Day! If you’re not Irish, how do you go about celebrating St. Patrick’s Day? It’s easy: You just put on one of those tall leprechauns hats, dress in green from head to toe, and wear one of those carefree pins that say “Kiss Me, I’m Irish”. On St. Patrick’s Day, everyone is Irish, and that is the universal beauty of the holiday. Celtic pride does not discriminate.

Wondering what our team at Willes Orthodontics is doing to celebrate March 17th? Well, we’ve thought about doing everything from handing out lucky gold coins (you know, the fake ones that are made of chocolate) to shamrock stickers. Maybe we’ll even give away green toothbrushes and floss! You’ll never know unless you come in to see Dr. Michael Willes !

All kidding aside, St. Patrick’s Day is an important cultural and religious holiday. There are lavish parades and church services across Ireland on March 17th. Over time, however, the holiday has developed into a day to observe Irish culture in general. In places like England and the United States, where there is a large Irish Diaspora, the holiday has greater significance than other countries. From the streets of Boston to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, it is a day of celebration, and many Americans of Irish descent will cook up a traditional meal of corned beef and cabbage.

So, to all of you with Irish ancestry, and to all of you who have decided to be Irish for the day, our office wishes you a Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Good luck looking for a pot of leprechaun gold, which is said to exist at the end of the rainbow. However, keep away from those sugary Lucky Charms; sweet cereals might taste good, but your kids’ teeth might not be feeling too lucky if they eat it for breakfast every day. Have a great St. Paddy’s Day!

A Helpful Site on Orthodontics

March 10th, 2021

As you are undergoing orthodontic treatment, our team at Willes Orthodontics would like to point you to a helpful website. Our friends at the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) have lots of important information about everything relating to braces, including myths and facts of orthodontics, tips for a better orthodontic experience, and cool webisodes about orthodontics.

Check out AAO today and feel free to contact us at our Carlsbad, CA office if you have any questions.

Dr. Michael Willes and our team at Willes Orthodontics hope this information helps you!

Best Ways to Prevent Bad Breath

March 3rd, 2021

Nobody likes bad breath, and although it can sometimes be difficult to tell if you have it, it is always better to practice good oral health than risk having a smelly mouth. There are many ways to reduce or eliminate bad breath, some are definitely more effective and longer lasting than others. Check out ways to do so below.

Floss Regularly

As difficult as it can be to remember to floss regularly, when it comes to bad breath, flossing is one of the easiest and most cost effective ways to freshen your mouth. See, flossing reduces the plaque and bacteria found in areas of your mouth that a toothbrush simply can't reach, and in turn, it rids your mouth of the smell associated with that bacteria. While flossing may not eliminate bad breath on its own, if you do it along with other health oral hygiene habits like brushing, then you may just develop a fresher smelling mouth.

Use Mouthwash

Using some sort of mouthwash can really freshen up your breath, especially if you find it still smells after brushing and flossing. There is a wide variety of mouthwash products on the market, however, you can also create your own by simply using baking soda mixed with water.

Always Brush after You Sleep

Whether after taking a nap, or having a full night of sleep, you will want to brush your teeth in order to reduce bad breath. The truth is, bacteria accumulates in your mouth while you are sleeping (even during a short nap) and that is ultimately the source of bad breath. So next time you wake from a good slumber, give your mouth some brushing and you will find it makes a big difference in the freshness of your breath.

There are many ways to freshen your breath beyond just using gum or mints, the above mentioned are just a few for you to try. Test them out and you will likely find your bad breath problem is solved, or at least considerably reduced. Of course, you can always ask Dr. Michael Willes at your next visit to our Carlsbad, CA office.

The In-Ovation® Treatment Process

February 24th, 2021

The advancement of orthodontic procedures has a come a long way. Today, there is always a way to meet each individual's personal smile needs in a relaxing, stress-free, and pain-free way. In-Ovation technology is no different. With its free-sliding system, many patients report positive experiences. Let's take a look at how the In-Ovation treatment process takes place.

What You'll Experience When You Choose In-Ovation

In-Ovation helps your teeth shift gently over time without added pressure. The process has been designed for you to spend less time in our Carlsbad, CA office at long appointments having braces checkups, while still achieving a beautiful smile.

Our patients share that there are many advantages to selecting In-Ovation braces. Your visit with us will be shorter, and the overall time from when you begin the treatment process to finishing with a new smile is much shorter than traditional braces. Patients also tell us that far less irritation occurs when selecting these braces.

In-Ovation braces are referred to as self-ligating braces. We find that the free-slide technology that makes them unique also results with improved facial proportion and appearance. Another noteworthy characteristic is the small size of these braces. This means that patients can perform efficient teeth cleaning, leading to less plaque buildup.

Many of our patients are surprised to hear that braces are not simply for children. We assure our patients that there is no better time than now to achieve your best dental health. Because the In-Ovation system requires far less time and maintenance from start to finish, they are very ideal for busy adults. At your visit, Dr. Michael Willes will discuss which In-Ovation style best reflects your needs depending on how much overall movement will be necessary to achieve long-term results.

Trying to decide if the In-Ovation dental procedure is right for you? Our highly trained team invites you to call us for an appointment. We look forward to seeing you at a visit soon.

Water Flossers and Braces

February 17th, 2021

You devote a lot of energy to your orthodontic treatment. Appointments, rubber bands, adjustments, cleaning (so much cleaning)—and why? Because you know that your attractive, healthy smile will be well worth the effort.

But if you find that keeping your teeth and braces clean requires more time and energy than it should, and you’re still not getting the results you’d like, a water flosser might be just the tool you need to help make your cleaning routine easier and more effective.

Plaque and tartar can be a real problem when you wear braces. Cleaning around braces and wires can be a challenge, and it can be difficult to get floss between your teeth and close to your gums, even with special threaders or floss designed to slip behind your wires.

But ignoring bacteria and plaque build-up can lead to cavities, weakened or discolored enamel, and gum problems. Fortunately, a water flosser can help wash away food particles, bacteria, and plaque even in tight, hard-to-reach spaces, while providing gentle cleaning along sensitive gums.

Water flossers use a pulsing stream of water to remove food particles and plaque between and around teeth. You can adjust the water pressure to apply just the right amount of cleaning power, and then direct the flow to your gum line, between your teeth, around your brackets, or anywhere else you need. Some models even offer tapered heads with brushes designed specifically for cleaning braces.

You might consider investing in a water flosser if you have:

  • Mobility issues. If you have joint or mobility issues, a water flosser will let you clean those hard-to-reach areas more easily.
  • Lingual braces. Because lingual braces are on the inside of the teeth, they can be more difficult to clean effectively with regular brushing and flossing.
  • Problems removing plaque. If you find that you are brushing and flossing regularly, but still have plaque build-up around your braces, give water flossing a try.

A beautiful smile is well worth all the time and effort you are devoting to it. If you think a water flosser might save you a bit of that time and effort, and provide better cleaning power, talk to Dr. Michael Willes  about your options during your next visit to our Carlsbad, CA office. We’ll let you know if traditional flossing, a water flosser, or a combination of the two will give you your cleanest, healthiest smile.

The Origins of Valentine's Day

February 10th, 2021

When we think of Valentine’s Day, we think of cards, flowers, and chocolates. We think of girlfriends celebrating being single together and couples celebrating their relationship. We think of all things pink and red taking over every pharmacy and grocery store imaginable. But what Dr. Michael Willes and our team would like to think of is when and how this joyous, love-filled day began.

Several martyrs’ stories are associated with the origins of Valentine’s Day. One of the most widely known suggests that Valentine was a Roman priest who went against the law at a time when marriage had been banned for young men. He continued to perform marriage ceremonies for young lovers in secret and when he was discovered, he was sentenced to death.

Another tale claims that Valentine was killed for helping Christians escape from Roman prisons. Yet another says that Valentine himself sent the first valentine when he fell in love with a girl and sent her a letter and signed it, “From your Valentine.”

Other claims suggest that it all began when Geoffrey Chaucer, an Englishman often referred to as the father of English literature, wrote a poem that was the first to connect St. Valentine to romance. From there, it evolved into a day when lovers would express their feelings for each other. Cue the flowers, sweets, and cards!

Regardless of where the holiday came from, these stories all have one thing in common: They celebrate the love we are capable of as human beings. And though that’s largely in a romantic spirit these days, it doesn’t have to be. You could celebrate love for a sister, a friend, a parent, even a pet.

We hope all our patients know how much we love them! Wishing you all a very happy Valentine’s Day from the team at Willes Orthodontics!

Heading Off to College? Maybe It’s Time to Graduate to an Electric Toothbrush!

February 3rd, 2021

Your trusty manual toothbrush has been with you from pre-school through high school—well, obviously not the same manual toothbrush, because that would be seriously unhygienic—but it’s the kind of toothbrush you’re used to and comfortable with.

Now, though, you’re off to college, and your lifestyle will be changing. Late night study sessions complete with study session snacks. Getting caught up in a project and making dinner from dorm vending machines. Grabbing fast food on the way to the practice field, or work-study job, or evening class. You get the point—meals can be hectic, unscheduled, and less than tooth friendly.

And if you’re wearing braces or aligners, you know you need to keep on top of brushing more than ever. It’s challenging to brush away cavity-causing plaque when it sticks around brackets and wires. And with aligners, teeth don’t benefit as much from the constant cleansing action of saliva, so it’s really important to brush away plaque and food particles before you replace the aligners after eating.

Maybe it’s time to consider an electric toothbrush. After all, anything that can make your life easier and more efficient during busy college days deserves a spot in your dorm room.

  • Electric Brushes Are Effective

The most important reason to switch to an electric toothbrush is its effectiveness. Several studies have shown that regular use of an electric toothbrush leads to a marked reduction in plaque, that bacteria-filled film which sticks to the teeth and leads to cavities and gingivitis. And it’s really no surprise that an electric brush can out-perform a manual brush.

Electric toothbrushes offer several design options, from oscillating/rotating brushes to oscillating/rotating/pulsating models to brushes using sonic vibration technology. What these technologies all have in common is the ability to remove plaque far more efficiently than we can on our own, because electric brushes provide the equivalent of thousands and even tens of thousands of brushstrokes per minute, compared to the hundreds we can achieve by hand.

There might be a bit of a learning curve to discover how to use your brush around wires and brackets. Ask us for the best method of using an electric brush with your braces, and check out brush heads specifically designed for orthodontic work.

If you use buttons with aligners, electric toothbrushes should be safe to gently clean around the buttons to remove built-up plaque. It’s usually best to stick with a manual brush for cleaning your aligners themselves—we’re happy to give you your best cleaning options, no matter which brush you choose.

You know by now what your brushing habits are like. If you tend to be a bit cavalier with your brushing and flossing, make sure you set yourself up for success. Because you have better things to do during semester breaks and summer vacations than visiting Dr. Michael Willes!

  • Electric Brushes Can Make Life Easier

Several of today’s electric brushes come with options designed to do more than simply remove plaque. They can let you know if you’ve brushed for the recommended two minutes and remind you when it’s time to replace the brush head. They can even alert you if you’re brushing too hard, which is especially important when you’re wearing braces.

Want more from your electric brush? Some models offer apps that can map out just where you’ve brushed, in case there are a few spots that often get overlooked. Or provide different brushing modes for daily cleaning, deep cleaning, whitening, and more. Or come with a travel case that can recharge while you’re busy exploring the world—or going home for a visit.

In the end, it’s up to you. Do some independent study and research the toothbrushes that will give you the best results for your individual brushing habits. You might not need or want a brush with all the technological bells and whistles.

If you’re comfortable with your manual brush and you get good grades when you visit our Carlsbad, CA office, stick with it. But if you think you might benefit from the ease and efficiency of an electric toothbrush, if an electric toothbrush makes your teeth and gums healthier and your smile brighter, that’s extra credit worth pursuing.

Great Gifts for Grandparents

January 27th, 2021

Our grandmothers and grandfathers, our moms and dads—we’ve known them our whole lives. So, why are they so hard to shop for?

If your older family members have all the sweaters, socks, and scents they need, consider a gift that can make life a bit easier and perhaps a lot healthier—an electric toothbrush!

  • Easy Efficiency

The most important reason to choose an electric toothbrush is its effectiveness. Several studies have shown that regular use of an electric toothbrush leads to a marked reduction in plaque, that bacteria-filled film which sticks to the teeth and leads to cavities and gingivitis. And it’s really no surprise that an electric brush can out-perform a manual brush.

Using a manual brush is not just a matter of applying toothpaste and scrubbing. Proper technique means short brush strokes at a 45-degree angle for the outer and inner surfaces of the tooth, thoroughly cleaning the uneven chewing surfaces of the molars, and brushing the inside of the front teeth with gentle vertical strokes. Meticulous cleaning of all these surfaces can be difficult, especially for people with dexterity issues.

Electric toothbrushes offer several options, from oscillating/rotating brushes to oscillating/rotating/pulsating models to brushes using sonic vibration technology. What they all have in common is the ability to remove plaque far more effectively than we can on our own, because they provide the equivalent of thousands and even tens of thousands of brushstrokes per minute, as opposed to the hundreds we can achieve by hand.

  • Comfortable Control

An electric toothbrush can be not only more efficient, but also more comfortable for older brushers. For those with arthritis, limited mobility, injuries, or other health conditions, the larger handles can be easier to control and much more grip-friendly. And, with the work being done by the brush head, users avoid repetitive hand and wrist motion.

Also, the pressure applied to teeth and gums with an electric brush is designed to clean thoroughly while protecting the mouth. Heavy-handed manual brushing can irritate delicate gum tissue and even damage enamel over time. With an electric brush, users only need to guide it along teeth and gums as it supplies all the power needed. There are even pressure sensors available to warn users that their brushing is too vigorous.

  • Apps, Anyone?

If your grandfather likes to keep things old school, a basic model with a convenient two-minute timer and several cleaning modes will offer all the bells and whistles he needs. But if your nana has more Instagram followers than you do, consider a more tech-savvy option.

Several of today’s electric brushes come with features designed to make brushing even more effective. They can let her know if she’s brushing long enough, alert her if she’s brushing too hard, and remind her that it’s time to replace the brush head. Some models link to handy apps that will map out just where she’s brushed, in case there are a few spots that get overlooked. Or choose a model which comes with a travel case that can recharge while she’s busy seeing the world.

Okay, all that being said, we’ll admit it—a toothbrush might not be the most glamorous gift your grandparent unwraps on that special day. But helping a favorite family member brush more effectively and comfortably while improving dental health? That’s a gift that keeps on giving!

Let’s Be Perfectly Clear!

January 20th, 2021

One of the most common reasons for choosing clear aligners is that they are just that—clear! You can achieve a healthy, beautiful smile without the more obvious wires and brackets of traditional braces. But if your aligners are noticeably stained well before it’s time to replace them, you can be facing days or weeks of self-conscious smiles.

Luckily, this problem is preventable. Let’s look at some of the common causes of aligner discoloration and how to avoid them.

  • Beverages that Stain Teeth Stain Aligners

You take your aligners out to eat, of course, but do you always remember to remove them when you drink a beverage? Red wines, coffee, tea, dark juices, and sodas don’t just cause enamel staining—they can discolor your aligners as well. Even worse, drinking an acidic or sugary drink with your aligners on gives that acidic, sugary beverage an opportunity to bathe your teeth in acids and sugar over a period of time. Keep your aligners (and your enamel) protected by removing them when you drink anything other than water, and brush your teeth before you replace them. If you absolutely can’t remove aligners, a straw will reduce the risk of staining.

  • Soaking in Mouthwash

Mouthwash is a way to keep your teeth and mouth fresh-smelling and free from bacteria. You also want your aligners to stay fresh and bacteria-free. So, what could be the problem in giving your aligners a good soak? Well, sometimes a colorful mouthwash can stain your aligners to match! If you’re not a fan of tinted aligners, talk to us about the safest ways to use mouthwash with your appliance.

  • Using Harsh Cleaners

There are products specifically made for aligners which will keep them their cleanest and clearest. Harsh cleaners and even toothpastes can be abrasive, leaving visible scratches or cloudiness. We’re happy to recommend the best and safest cleaning products for your aligners.

  • Inadequate Cleaning

Plaque, that bacteria film that can stick to your enamel and around your gum line, can also stick to your aligners. If you notice a white film on your appliance, it could be plaque. Thorough and regularly scheduled cleanings are essential. Talk to us about the best schedule and methods for keeping your aligners not only clear, but sanitary.

What if, despite taking precautions, your aligners do get stained? If your aligners are new, we might be able to offer you some suggestions to get you through the next week or so. If you are almost ready for your next set of aligners, you might have no problem waiting. But the simplest solution to stained aligners is prevention.

Talk to Dr. Michael Willes at our Carlsbad, CA office about how to keep your aligners looking their best—and least visible. Whether it’s diet suggestions or the most effective soaking and cleaning techniques, we have the answers to ensure your brightest, most confident smile. After all, isn’t that one of the reasons you chose clear aligners?

Wearing Braces? Make Cavities a Remote Possibility

January 13th, 2021

Press Pause

If you are getting braces in the near future, it’s very important to see your regular dentist first. That way, any cavities or other dental problems can be treated before your first orthodontic appointment at our Carlsbad, CA office.

Play it Safe

Once you have your braces, you’ll hearing a lot about how you need to be especially careful with your dental hygiene. Why? Because wires and brackets are obstacles to getting your teeth and gum area their cleanest. Plaque and food particles tend to stick to braces, and all too often can be missed while brushing. Plaque builds up around your gum line and brackets, and, in a very short time, can lead to sensitivity, demineralization, and cavities.

What can you do to prevent tooth decay?

  • Increase Your Brushing Time

Instead of brushing twice a day, start brushing for two minutes after every meal. Put together a travel bag with a small toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and interproximal brushes to clean your teeth when you’re on the go. If you absolutely can’t brush, rinse carefully with water, and then brush as soon as you can.

  • Flossing—More Important than Ever

Use the flossing tools designed just for braces to make sure you’ve removed food particles and plaque from around your braces and gums. A water flosser can be helpful if manual flossing isn’t effective.

  • Keep Up with Your Regular Dental Care

Schedule regular checkups and professional cleanings at your dentist’s office. They will be able to remove plaque you might miss at home.  

  • Follow Our Advice

We’ll give you instructions on how to brush and floss, what products to use, and diet suggestions (such as keeping sugary and sticky foods off the menu and away from your braces). If we notice plaque building up around your gums and brackets, we’ll let you know that you need to step up your hygiene habits. We can also suggest rinses and toothpastes that help fight plaque.

But if, despite all your efforts, you do get a cavity? There are options!

  • Ignoring Your Cavity?

Not an option. You shouldn’t wait until you are out of braces to get a cavity treated. This just gives decay a chance to spread further.

  • Working With Your Braces

Repairing a cavity means removing the decay in the tooth, cleaning the area, and then filling the tooth. If your cavity isn’t located near your bands, brackets, or wires, your dentist might be able to work around your braces, and you can get your cavity treated during a regular dental appointment.

  • Removing Parts of Your Braces for Treatment

Sometimes a cavity is located in a spot that your dentist can’t reach because of your braces. In that case, we’re able to coordinate with your dentist and remove a wire or bracket temporarily so you can have your tooth filled. Make an appointment to replace your bracket and re-attach your wire, and you’ll be back on schedule as soon as possible.

Fast Forward

Keep your eyes on your goal--you’re in braces because you want a beautiful smile. Keeping on top of your dental health is an essential part of creating that smile. Talk to Dr. Michael Willes about tips for getting your teeth their cleanest. If you do develop a cavity, we’ll help you figure out the best way to treat it without causing too much delay in your orthodontic treatment. Taking care of your teeth now is the best way to create a future of beautiful smiles!

Let It Snow!

January 6th, 2021

The weather out there might be frightful for most of us, but not for you! You’ve been waiting all year for a fresh coat of powder and all the outdoor sporting activities winter brings. But before you grab those ski poles, strap into that snowboard, lace up those skates, or dust off that sled, be sure to remember one more essential piece of gear—your mouthguard!

Mouthguards aren’t just for contact sports. While all that lovely new snow looks like powder, it doesn’t feel like it when you land hard. If there’s a chance of a fall or an impact in any sport, there’s a chance you can suffer dental injuries.

Falls or collisions can result in chipped, broken, or dislodged teeth. Your mouthguard will help protect your smile from these accidents, and also works to protect you from biting your tongue and mouth in case of impact. It can even reduce the chance of jaw injuries.

Luckily, finding a mouthguard that works for you is even easier than finding the perfect board or the best wax for your skis. You have several options to choose from:

  • Ready-made appliances. These are available in drugstores and sporting goods stores, but come in pre-formed sizes, so they might not provide the best fit.
  • The “boil-and-bite” model. This mouthguard form is placed in hot water. You then bite down while it is pliable to shape it to your mouth and teeth.
  • Custom mouthguards. These guards can be fabricated just for you. They are molded to fit your individual mouth and teeth, so provide a better fit and better protection. They are also usually more durable and more comfortable. If you wear braces, a custom mouthguard can be your best option for preventing an injury to your mouth and your braces. Talk to Dr. Michael Willes if you are interested in a guard fitted specifically for you.

When you visit our Carlsbad, CA office, let’s discuss all the best ways to keep your teeth and mouth protected before you set out for winter sports. And then when you’re ready to go? Let it snow!

Speech! Speech!

December 23rd, 2020

If you are a student of Speech or Drama, you know how important it is to be clear and articulate. You’ve worked on pronunciation and projection, and the audience in the back row can understand every word.

And now you’ve gotten braces, and, suddenly, you don’t sound quite like yourself. Why? And, more important, what can you do?

  • Don’t Panic!

Many patients see no change at all in their speech after getting braces. With some orthodontic conditions or appliances, you might have problems pronouncing certain sounds, but these changes in articulation are usually quite temporary. 

  • Why Are You Sounding Off?

Every consonant is formed in a precise way as tongue, lips, and teeth work together. If you have brackets and wires in the way, or just got a new retainer, or have a set of aligners, you might find that your articulation is a little off, especially for sibilant sounds such as S’s and Z’s. Luckily, we humans are a flexible bunch, and it usually takes a very short time for our tongues and mouths to adapt to orthodontic appliances and return to normal pronunciation.

If your speech is affected at first because your lips and cheeks are sore or sensitive after getting braces, take time to take care of yourself! Use wax as often as needed to cover irritating brackets and wires, eat foods that are low in salt, spice, and acids, and follow your orthodontist’s instructions for taking care of your mouth. You should start feeling better within a few days, and should be fine after a week or two. If pain or discomfort persists, call your orthodontist.

  • Practice Makes Perfect

If you want to speed along the process of getting back to your normal pronunciation habits, practice! Read aloud, sing along to your favorite songs, recite lists of words with the specific sounds you want to work on. Oddly enough, to get back to your normal speech more quickly, slow down. Thinking before you speak is never a bad idea, and, in this case, thinking while you speak can help you position your tongue and mouth to verbalize tricky sounds more easily.

You don’t have to be a national debate champion or the world’s most blood-curdling Lady Macbeth to be concerned about clear speech. Talk to Dr. Michael Willes during your next appointment at our Carlsbad, CA office if you find you are having problems with pronunciation. Whether your appliance needs an adjustment, or you need a few suggestions for speech exercises, or it’s simply a matter of time, soon you’ll be back on the road to perfect pronunciation—and on the way to your perfect smile.

How Often Should You Brush?

December 16th, 2020

If you’ve been following your dentist’s advice, you know that you should be devoting two minutes twice a day to gentle, thorough brushing, and floss carefully at least once a day. It’s automatic. It’s habit. You’re in the zone. Now that you have braces or aligners, though, it’s time to step up your game!

Removing Food Particles

No one wants to worry about food particles stuck in braces right after lunch—or, worse, noticed hours after lunch! Because food tends to stick around brackets and wires, Dr. Michael Willes and our Carlsbad, CA team recommend brushing after a meal. Not only will you be confident in your smile, you’ll be improving your dental health.

But why?

Better Plaque Removal

Plaque is a sticky film containing acid-producing bacteria. These acids lead to weakened enamel and, eventually, cavities. Careful brushing with a fluoride toothpaste helps eliminate plaque. But as you may have discovered, it can be more difficult to clean around brackets and wires. Brushing after eating will help keep plaque from forming on your enamel, and using the right tools (floss made for braces and interproximal brushes) will help clean plaque more effectively.

But what about aligners?

If you wear clear aligners, you take them out when you eat. This avoids the problem of food particles trapped in brackets and difficulty brushing around wires. But this doesn’t mean you are home free. Brushing after every meal is also a good idea when you wear aligners.

Our teeth have an organic way to help remove food particles, acids, and bacteria between brushings—saliva! Your aligners, while covering your teeth, decrease their exposure to saliva. It’s really important, then, to make sure you brush after eating. Otherwise, food particles and acids can remain on your teeth after you replace your aligners, increasing the risk of enamel erosion and decay.

Brushing helps keep your aligners clear as well. If you notice aligner discoloration, this could be the result of food residue such as tomato sauce or coffee that remained on the teeth after a meal. Anything that stains your enamel can stain your aligners. And don’t forget about plaque. Plaque can stick not only to your enamel but to your aligners as well. If you notice that your aligners are cloudy, or have an unpleasant odor, talk to us about the best way to keep them their cleanest.

Make a Plan

So, what can you do to make brushing more convenient during a busy day? Be prepared! Keep a small kit with you containing a travel brush, a small tube of toothpaste, floss, and an interproximal brush for quick cleanings when you’re out and about, and you’ll never have to worry about your smile.

Of course, there are occasions when it’s just not possible to brush. At times like this, whether you have traditional braces or aligners, it’s a good idea to rinse well with water after meals or snacks, and brush as soon as you can.

Start your new dental routine now, and soon it will be automatic. An everyday habit. Your new comfort zone. After all, taking a few extra minutes from your day to brush after every meal will be well worth it when you end your orthodontic treatment with a smile that is as healthy as it is beautiful!

When It Come to Chewing Gum, Be Choosy!

December 9th, 2020

Why do you chew gum? Perhaps because it’s a habit that comes with some healthy benefits. Chewing a stick or two reduces the urge to snack between meals. It’s a substitute for behaviors like nail biting that you’d like to change. It might even give you fresher breath after those tuna sandwiches in the cafeteria.

And, as it happens, chewing sugarless gum actually offers a few dental benefits as well! The act of chewing increases saliva production. Saliva washes away food particles, neutralizes acids in the mouth that can damage enamel, and even bathes the teeth in essential minerals that help strengthen weakened enamel. We’re talking about sugar-free gum here, of course, because regular gum will just bathe your teeth in sugar—no one’s idea of a dental benefit!

So why not open that pack and enjoy? Because, despite the many positive reasons you can think of for chewing gum, sometimes gum can have a negative impact on your braces.

  • A Sticky Situation

Keeping your braces clean can be a bit of a challenge. That’s why you have special toothbrushes, flosses, and interproximal brushes to get rid of food particles that stick around after you eat. And, while any food can get caught in your braces, sugared gum, because it is so sticky, can stick to appliances much more easily and much more thoroughly than even sugar-free gum. You might be able to remove gum residue with regular brushing and flossing, but, worst case scenario, you might be looking at gum firmly stuck in the brackets or between the brackets and wires.

  • Gumming Up the Works

Chewing gum can also affect your treatment time if the action of chewing causes your arch wire to bend. When your wire isn’t providing the proper shape or the right amount of tension, your teeth won’t get to where they need to be as quickly and efficiently. No piece of gum is worth discovering at your next appointment that you haven’t made any progress for weeks due to a damaged wire. And since chewing gum can also lead to loose brackets and bands, you might wonder if this sticky habit is ever worth the trouble it can cause.

  • Something to Chew Over

Before you decide, talk to Dr. Michael Willes! Chewing sugarless gum increases saliva production, which can help wash away food particles from your mouth and your braces. As an added benefit, the action of chewing for a few minutes after an appointment has been shown to reduce the discomfort of an adjustment. Because today’s braces are stronger and more durable, and sugarless gum much less likely to stick to them, we can let you know if chewing gum might be acceptable or even desirable depending on your specific treatment plan and your appliance.

Talk to us at your next appointment at our Carlsbad, CA office about gum chewing, and we’ll give you the very best recommendations for keeping your teeth healthy, your braces clean, your appliance intact, and your treatment plan on track. Even if gum needs to be off the menu for a while, what you’ll get in return—the best and fastest path to your beautiful smile—will be well worth it!

Your First Winter in Braces? Tips for a Warm and Wonderful Holiday

December 2nd, 2020

If this is your first winter with braces, you might be wondering how to make the best of the holiday season. Dr. Michael Willes and our team have some suggestions for happy and healthy holiday smiles.

Treat Yourself

Winter means tasty holiday treats, and just because you wear braces doesn’t mean you need to step away from the holiday table! You can enjoy your favorites if you remember to check your list for the usual problem foods. Hard, crunchy, chewy, and sticky items? Naughty list.

  • Crunchy vegetables on the appetizer plate
  • Nuts
  • Hard rolls
  • Candy canes and other hard sugar treats
  • Caramels, Toffee and other sticky candies
  • Pecan pie
  • Fruit cake

Luckily, there are plenty of nice alternatives.

  • Turkey and ham—remember, small pieces are best
  • Dressing and stuffing
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Soft breads and rolls
  • Pumpkin pie—but skip a tough crust!
  • Cheesecake
  • Soft cookies and cakes
  • Soft chocolates

We’re happy to provide recommendations for braces-friendly holiday foods. And we don’t expect you to turn down every sweet treat this season.  Just be sure that if you enjoy something sugary, brush carefully after indulging.

Express Yourself

While you’re decking the halls, or pinning up the New Year’s balloons and streamers, or even choosing a great holiday outfit, don't forget that your ligatures can be decorative as well as functional.

  • Celebrating Christmas? Red and green bands around your brackets are jolly and traditional.
  • How about Hanukkah? Try blue and white!
  • Love the season? Icy silvers and pale blues are a frosty statement—and can have the benefit of making your teeth look whiter, as well. Snowy white? The arctic idea is great, but white bands can sometimes make teeth look more yellow, or become stained themselves.
  • Glam New Year? Gold adds sparkle to your smile, but can bring out any yellow tones in your teeth. Silver might be the perfect choice, because it is generally neutral with enamel shades.

Check out our ligature colors for the best possible choices for your teeth and coloring. Take advantage of these options to create a fresh, confident look for the season. Give others the gift of your smile!

Look After Yourself

Winter comes with some special reminders about your dental health.

  • Winter sports are a great way to celebrate the snow and ice, but be sure to protect your teeth and braces. If you enjoy skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, hockey, or any other winter activities, talk to us about why a mouth guard is so important.
  • While you enjoy your winter break, don’t forget to keep up with your dental routine. And because ‘tis the season for holiday treats, be especially careful to clean your teeth and braces after sweet desserts and snacks. Don’t forget to floss!
  • What do cold breezes and hot chocolate have in common? They can both trigger tooth sensitivity! While some sensitivity is normal after an adjustment, if you find you are experiencing tooth sensitivity more often or more strongly than you usually do, give us a call. It might be something as simple as brushing habits, or you might need to see your dentist.

If you have any questions about your braces, in this season or any other, just ask when you visit our Carlsbad, CA office. Your beautiful, healthy, and confident smile can make this the most wonderful time of the year!

Power Chains

November 25th, 2020

By now, you’re very familiar with the basic building blocks of your braces. Brackets, wires, and ligatures are no mystery to you. But suddenly, you’re hearing a brand new term—“power chains.” What exactly are these power chains, and why does your orthodontist think you need them? Let’s see how power chains are *linked* to your orthodontic treatment.

  • First, why power chains?

They’re not really chains in the necklace or bike chain sense—in fact, they’re only very rarely made with metal. These chains are most often a string of O ring loops just like your elastic ligatures, attached in a row to resemble a chain.

Chain lengths are tailored to your specific needs. Dr. Michael Willes will attach each individual loop in the chain around a single bracket, linking selected teeth together. Chains might stretch across a few teeth, several teeth, or your entire upper or lower arch.

  • Second, why power chains?

Because these chains are usually made of the same elastics that your ligatures, or bands, are made from, they want to hold their original shape. They will try to return to that original shape even as they are stretched between your brackets. As they contract, they help move your teeth together. 

Over time, just like an over-stretched rubber band, they lose their elasticity, and won’t work as effectively. That’s why you’ll probably get a new power chain whenever you come in to our Carlsbad, CA office for an adjustment.

  • Third, why power chains?

This is the most important question. How can a power chain improve your smile?

Usually, power chains become part of your treatment after the first phase of alignment. They can be used to help align your teeth or correct your bite, but are most often used to close gaps between the teeth.

You might have a gap after a tooth has been extracted. Or, as your teeth move into their new positions, you might suddenly see noticeable spaces between them. Power chains move the teeth closer together to eliminate these gaps, and do it more quickly than brackets and wires alone can do.

  • How long will you need them?

This is something Dr. Michael Willes will discuss with you. Whether it’s a matter of weeks or months, your treatment plan is designed to move your teeth into their best positions, and to do it carefully for a lasting, healthy alignment.

  • Power chain options

Depending on the size and spacing of your teeth and your treatment plan, these chains usually take one of three forms: closed/continuous, short, and long. The only difference is the distance between the rings.

We will choose the type of chain that’s best for your treatment. Your contribution is to personalize your power chain. Power chains come in a rainbow of colors, allowing you to mix and match. You can even coordinate with your ligatures if you have ties as well as chains. If your goal is to have your braces blend in, various shades of white, silver, or clear colors are available. Want to mix things up? Choose a different color with every adjustment.

  • Anything else?

You might experience some discomfort for the first few days with a new power chain, just as you might with any adjustment. Dr. Michael Willes will have suggestions for making those first days as comfortable as possible.

Also, like brackets and ligatures, power chains can trap food particles, so be sure to follow our instructions for keeping your teeth and your braces their cleanest.

Now that you’re all caught up on what power chains are and what they can do for you, let’s mention one more benefit. This is a process where you can actually see the gaps between your teeth closing over the weeks you wear your power chains. Keep a selfie record of your progress as you create your beautiful, healthy smile. That’s an em*power*ing experience!

Just Add Water

November 18th, 2020

One of the many benefits of your clear aligners is that you can remove them to eat. You should brush after every meal, just like you would with traditional braces, but cleaning your teeth is much easier without having to work around and between brackets and wires.

But when you wear your aligners 22 hours a day, you might be tempted to leave them in when you’re just having a sip of something when you’re thirsty. Unless you’re drinking water, please don’t.

What’s the problem with a can of cola or a cup of coffee?

  • Staining

The virtue of your clear aligners is that they are, well, clear! Probably one of the reasons you decided on this method of treatment was because you liked the idea of an inconspicuous appliance.  Unfortunately, dark beverages such as colas, coffee, tea, and red wine can stain your aligner, making it more visible.

  • Warping

Very hot beverages might actually affect the shape of your aligners. Since they are formed using heat, it makes sense that heat can also de-form them. If hot teas and coffee drinks cause a change in the shape of your aligners, they will not move your teeth the way they were meant to.

  • Affecting Tooth Health

Even though our enamel is very strong, sugary and acidic drinks can damage it. Acidic foods can erode enamel, and the sugars in our diet provide food for cavity-causing bacteria, which then produce acids that erode enamel.

Normally, saliva provides some protection from acids and sugars by diluting them and washing them away from the teeth. When you drink a cola or an orange juice with your aligners on, some of the liquid will get in them, and can stay in them until the aligners are removed. You will actually give these problem beverages the opportunity to bathe your teeth in sugar and acid over a longer period of time, without exposure to saliva to help offset potential harm. And after all your work to create a beautiful smile, you certainly don’t want new cavities!

How to protect your aligners and keep them their cleanest—and most invisible?

  • Take your aligners out before drinking beverages that can stain them, or, if you can’t, try using a straw. Clean your aligners according to Dr. Michael Willes and our team’s instructions to keep them as clear as possible.
  • Don’t drink very hot beverages with your aligners in place. Try icing your coffee and tea if you can’t remove your aligners. And if you think your aligners have changed shape, please give us a call.
  • Drink water! Water hydrates you, doesn’t damage enamel, and keeps your aligners clean. Tap water is your best option, as even bottled waters can be acidic.

If your aligners should become stained, remember that you change them frequently, so the staining can be a temporary problem. If you do have a drink of something hot and your aligners feel “off,” give our Carlsbad, CA office a call. We’ll let you know if you need to replace them.

But prevention is always best! Avoid staining from the start by removing your aligners before you drink dark beverages. Don’t expose your aligners to heat. Think about replacing unhealthy drinks with water. And certainly brush right away, or rinse with water if that’s not possible, if you drink a sugary or acidic beverage. These simple precautions will help keep your aligners, and, most important, your teeth, looking their best.

Braces Repairs—Should You Try This at Home?

November 11th, 2020

No matter how careful you are, accidents can happen. Perhaps it’s a slice of apple that was a little bit larger than it should have been. Or you were chewing on your pencil while you were trying to work out an algebra problem. Or you tried a piece of candy that your friend really, truly thought didn’t have a caramel center.

No matter the cause, when something‘s wrong with your braces, you know it. And you want to fix it as soon as possible. What can you do to make yourself more comfortable? And which repairs are best left to orthodontic professionals?

First things first. If you have been injured, and suffered a trauma to your mouth or jaw that has damaged your braces, we want to make sure that you get any medical attention you might need before we worry about your appliance. Call Dr. Michael Willes, and your doctor, immediately if you have suffered a medical or dental injury.

Even if your braces are the only injured party, you might need a special appointment if the damage is something that shouldn’t wait and can delay your orthodontic progress. Broken wires, brackets that have fallen off, and loose orthodontic bands, for example, need to be replaced in our office.

But what about minor problems? First, call us to see if it’s something that really is minor, and whether you can do some home repairs to keep you going until your next regular visit.

  • Wayward Wires

One of the most common—and most annoying—problems is a broken or out-of-place wire. If a wire end is poking you, dental wax can be applied to the loose end to protect your cheeks and gums. If that doesn’t work, we can let you know how to apply gentle pressure to move the wire away from delicate tissue. Don’t try to cut a broken wire or remove it without talking to us—small pieces can be swallowed accidentally. We’ll give you suggestions for how to handle a broken or loose wire and protect your mouth until you can see us.

  • Breakaway Brackets

If your bracket becomes loose, this is another good reason to give us a call. Brackets are specifically placed to let your archwire guide your teeth where they need to be. Without a firmly bonded bracket, the wire isn’t doing you much good! If a loose bracket is irritating your cheeks or gums, you can try a bit of dental wax to stick it in place and cover hard edges until we can re-bond it. If the bracket comes off all together, bring it with you to your next appointment.

  • Balky Bands

Spacers are little rubber bands we put between your teeth if we need to create some room between your molars before you get your braces. They have a tendency to fall out after several days. We’ll let you know if their work is done, and you’re ready to start your orthodontic treatment. If you lose one of your ligatures, those colorful bands around your brackets, give us a call and we’ll let you know if replacement can wait.

We’re happy to help you with any braces problems, large or small. It’s best to check with us for even small fixes to make sure you avoid injury. Larger repairs can be handled in our Carlsbad, CA office—and we can give you tips on how to prevent future ones. Accidents happen, but they don’t need to delay your progress toward a beautiful, healthy smile.

Dental X-rays: The Inside Story

October 28th, 2020

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, Dr. Michael Willes 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 Carlsbad, CA 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!

Five Ways You Won’t—And One Way You Will—Get Your Braces Off Faster

October 21st, 2020

It’s only natural when you’re waiting for something good—you count down the weeks until your birthday, or until the summer holidays, or until your braces come off. But while your birthday and your vacation won’t come any faster no matter what you do, you can help determine just how fast that happy day arrives when you’re done with your orthodontic treatment.

When you first got your appliance, Dr. Michael Willes gave you an estimate of how long your treatment would take. Of course, that estimate is based on everything going according to plan. What are some detours that can delay your progress?

  • Missing Appointments

With every adjustment at our Carlsbad, CA office, you are moving closer to the ideal positioning for your teeth. If you miss or postpone appointments, it can take just that much longer to complete your orthodontic work.

  • Eating the Wrong Foods

You have a list of foods that are on the do-not-eat list. Hard, chewy, sticky bites are famous braces-breakers, but don’t forget that size also matters! Biting into a juicy apple or a buttery ear of corn can damage your brackets and wires just as much as chewy candy can. Be sure everything you eat is size-appropriate and braces-friendly. Obviously, damaged braces can’t straighten teeth as effectively as intact appliances!

  • Sticking with Bad Habits

Pressure from nail biting, chewing pencils, or crunching on ice can cause chips and cracks in your teeth, so just think what they can do to your appliance. Ask us for tips for quitting if you’ve picked up any of these habits. We know habits can be hard to break, but they are harder on your teeth and braces. If you bend or break a wire or loosen a bracket, you might be delaying your orthodontic progress. Which leads us to . . .

  • Ignoring Appliance Accidents

Accidents happen. Brackets or metal bands can become loose; wires can bend or break; spacers can fall out. If you notice a problem, call our office right away. Sometimes a minor problem can wait, but if your appliance is damaged, your teeth aren’t moving into position on schedule.

  • Blowing Off Bands

If you have bands to help correct your bite, be sure that you wear them as directed. If you skip hours or days of band-wear, you are adding to the time it will take to correct the bite problems they are meant to fix. And don’t double band to speed things up—that might put too much pressure on your teeth. Just follow our recommendations, and you will be done with those bands—and those braces—as soon as possible.

But, wait! We promised you one sure way to keep your orthodontic progress on track:

  • Follow Your Treatment Plan

If you keep your appointments, take care of your braces, call us promptly if they are damaged, and wear your appliance as directed, you will be doing your part to keep your treatment on track. And that happy day when your braces come off? It will arrive right on schedule!

Tooth Extraction and Braces

October 14th, 2020

Perhaps you’ve heard from parents or older relatives what braces used to be like years ago—obvious, uncomfortable, hard to clean, and with inevitable tooth extractions to start off the whole lengthy process.

Today, brackets are much smaller and wires are more pliable. You can even choose ceramic brackets or clear aligners for an almost invisible effect. New tools make cleaning your braces easier than ever. And new braces technology means that treatment is often shorter. But what about extractions? Are they still inevitable?

For orthodontists like Dr. Michael Willes, the objective is saving teeth. And modern practices and technology have made this goal more attainable than ever before. There are several ways that modern treatment procedures can help avoid extractions.

  • Early Intervention

We recommend that children visit our Carlsbad, CA office for an orthodontic evaluation by age seven. Because a child’s jaw is still forming at this age, early intervention can lead to orthodontic treatment that expands the jaw in order to make room for permanent teeth, or starts correcting bite problems before they become more serious.

  • High-Tech Planning

Today’s technology allows us to map out the progression of your treatment before we begin. Scanners, X-rays, and computer programs help us to design a treatment plan which will accurately predict how best to move your teeth and correct your bite, taking into account the size and development of your teeth and jaw.

  • Surgical Options

By the time you reach your late teen years, the jaw bones have stopped growing and it’s no longer possible to expand them without surgery. Oral surgery can treat serious jaw problems that impact your teeth and bite, usually as part of a combined treatment plan designed by your orthodontist and your oral surgeon.

Because we always work to keep teeth intact—using these methods and others—you can be sure that, if we recommend extraction, it is absolutely necessary. What could make an extraction necessary?

  • Severe overcrowding. Sometimes, there’s just not enough room in the jaw for all of your teeth.
  • A tooth or teeth that prevent us from correcting a problem with your bite.
  • Wisdom teeth. Usually, orthodontic work takes place before a patient’s wisdom teeth start to erupt. If yours do make an appearance before or during treatment, we can adapt our treatment plan accordingly.
  • An extra tooth. It’s rare, but an extra, or supernumerary, tooth sometimes develops, and your jaw is not designed to accommodate extras!

It’s important that you talk to Dr. Michael Willes about every step of your treatment, including extractions. We want you to understand the treatment plan which will give you your best outcome. If we recommend extraction, it is because this decision is the best way to achieve a healthy bite and alignment, creating your beautiful smile—and protecting it—for a lifetime.

WILLES ORTHO MONSTER-MASK DECORATING CONTEST!!

October 1st, 2020

Because so much of what we do is focused on kids and teens who almost always love Halloween, and because it's looking like many of the usual autumn activities might not happen this year, we have tried to come up with our own creative ways to still make it a fun, FANGtabulous time for our patients—and the whole community.

So, on Thursday, October 1st, we are launching our WILLES ORTHO MONSTER MASK CONTEST!

We'll be giving away more than $400 in cash and prizes for the best-decorated face masks in the following categories:

MOST SPOOKTACULAR (silly or scary… but not too gruesome)

BOOOOOys and GHOULS (aged 12 and under)

BRACED for HALLOWEEN (Willes Ortho and/or dental themed... have you noticed that Halloween creatures have some gnarly teeth and would definitely benefit from braces. Lol. And/or many masked monsters would look great wearing a Willes Ortho Tee or standing in front of our sign ; )

Plus, a MOST VOTES CONTEST for our favorites in each category.

PLUS, weekly random drawings (aka: no artistic skill needed : )

The Willes Ortho MONSTER MASK Contest is open to patients, families, friends, and all residents of North San Diego County--young and young at heart.

Then have fun making your MONSTER MASK... to win some MONSTER CASH!!

p.s. You may use your own blank face mask, or pick up a plain black or white disposable one at our office.

Keep reading for complete rules and details.

HOW TO ENTER our 2020 Willes Ortho Monster Mask CONTEST!

 QUICK LIST:

1- Follow us on Instagram or Facebook.

2- Make a Halloween-themed face mask.

3- Post a pic of you wearing it and tag @willesortho AND #WillesOrthoMONSTERMASK.

4- Read contest rules, and email photo of signed contest release.

5- Enjoy other contestants’ creations while you wait to see if you are a $100 WINNER!

MORE DETAILS:

1- FOLLOW us on Willes Ortho Instagram or Facebook.

2- Create a hand-crafted Halloween-themed face mask* that fits one of our THREE FANGtabulus categories:

MOST SPOOKTACULAR (silly or scary… but not too gruesome)

BOOOOOys and GHOULS (aged 12 and under)

BRACED for HALLOWEEN (Willes Ortho and/or dental themed... have you noticed that Halloween creatures have some gnarly teeth and would benefit from braces. Lol. And they would look great wearing a Willes Ortho Tee or standing in front of our sign… hint, hint ; ).

3- “Submit” your entry by posting on your Facebook or Instagram a photo of you wearing your mask with #WillesOrthoMONSTERMASK AND @willesortho between Oct 1- Oct 24, 2020. OR you may post a mask you made with someone else wearing it, but we must have a signed release from you AND the person modeling the mask.

4- To be considered for the MOST VOTES contest, the photo must be posted by Oct 24, 2020. However, photos posted through Oct 30, 2020, may be considered for one of the three category prizes.

5- Read all contest information and rules, and email a photo of your signed Willes Ortho Monster Mask Contest Release form*** to SMILES@WILLESORTHO.COM. (Release required for prize consideration and MOST VOTES contest.)

6- You will then be entered to win one of three $100 category prizes!

7-For a chance to win an ADDITIONAL $100 in the MOST VOTES contest, we will choose a bunch of our favorite submissions to repost on our Instagram and Facebook page.**  We will notify you via Instagram, Facebook or email if you have been chosen. Then you can encourage your friends to VOTE for your entry during Halloween week, Monday-Friday Oct 26-30, 2020.  (Specific How-to-Vote details will accompany the VOTING post.)

ADDITIONAL WILLES ORTHO MONSTER MASK CONTEST RULES

1-This contest has been created by Willes Orthodontics and is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by Instagram or Facebook.

2- The 2020 Willes Ortho Monster Mask Contest is open to patients, their families, friends, and all North San Diego County residents who follow us on Facebook or Instagram. Willes Orthodontics reserves the right to refuse any entry.

3- Willes Orthodontics requires a signed release*** for prize consideration.

4- Willes Orthodontics may be reposting entries, along with contestant and/or model first names, for purposes of voting, information, promotion, and other legal purposes on our various media channels, email, etc, throughout the duration of the contest, without notifying contestants.

5- Winning entries will be chosen by team members of Willes Orthodontics.

6- Mask must be handmade solely by the entrant.

7- Contestants may enter up to 5 masks, but Willes Ortho may limit the number included in the voting portion, and contestants may win only one $100 category prize.

8- Willes Ortho reserves the right to request additional photos of masks being considered for prizes.

9- $100 winners will be posted to Willes Ortho Facebook and Instagram on Halloween, Oct 31, 2020. They will also be directly notified the following week….and will be able to pick up their $100 prize at Willes Orthodontics during business hours thereafter. At prize pick-up, additional photos of winners may be taken for publication.

10- Weekly random drawing gift card winners will be announced on Facebook and Instagram, and sent notifications via Instagram, Facebook, or email, and will be able to pick up their gift cards at Willes Orthodontics throughout November. Additional photos for publication may be taken at prize pick-up. Random prize gift cards will be considered forfeited if not picked up by November 30, 2020.

11- Posting a #WillesOrthoMONSTERMASK/@WillesOrtho entry constitutes a contest “submission” and acceptance of the above terms and conditions.

*You may use your own blank face mask, or pick up a plain white or black one at our office.

** “A bunch” will be determined by total number of submissions and at the sole discretion of Willes Orthodontics.

You can find our photo consent form as well as the rules and contest details in a PDF here. Print it out to get started!

 

Does My Pre-Existing Dental Work Mean I Can’t Wear Traditional Braces?

September 30th, 2020

When you get braces as a child, you usually present the orthodontist with a blank canvas—newly erupted, perfect permanent teeth, just waiting to be aligned. But if you are a bit older, your canvas might already be a bit busy, with fillings, crowns, perhaps even a missing tooth. Can Dr. Michael Willes still work with that more complicated picture? Yes!

  • Fillings

Many of us have acquired a filling or two. Normally, an old filling shouldn’t interfere with new braces. Large fillings, however, might call for spacers. These small rubber bands are inserted between two teeth as needed to create enough room for bands and brackets, and are generally put in place a week or two before you get your braces. They frequently fall out on their own as the space between the teeth gets a bit wider.

  • Crowns

If you have had a root canal or any other dental treatment that left you with a crowned tooth, no need to be concerned. A special dental adhesive can be used to adhere brackets to crowns.

  • Implants

If you have or would like to get an implant, this is a time to coordinate with your orthodontist and dentist or oral surgeon. Sometimes an implant can anchor your appliance, and sometimes it’s best to keep the spot open until your orthodontic work is completed. Once in place, an implant will not have the mobility of a tooth, so it’s always best to make sure your doctors can create a schedule that will work for both the installation of the implant and the positioning of your braces.

  • Healthy Teeth and Gums

Before you begin orthodontic work, talk to your dentist. If you need a filling or crown, are considering a dental implant, have symptoms of gum disease, or are looking at any other dental concerns, you should work with your dentist first. Healthy teeth and gums are the very best foundation for orthodontic treatment at any age.

If you are wondering whether Dr. Michael Willes can help you achieve the smile you’ve always wanted, talk to us when you visit our Carlsbad, CA office! Your past dental work will be just one of the many variables we take into consideration when we’re planning your future of picture-perfect smiles.

Plaque Attack? Let’s Fight Back!

September 23rd, 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. Michael Willes 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. Michael Willes for a recommendation the next time you’re at our Carlsbad, CA 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!

There’s an App for That!

September 16th, 2020

Modern orthodontic technology has led to major changes in the world of braces. Brackets are smaller and come in both metal and ceramic materials. Wires are more efficient and more comfortable. Elastic bands come in a variety of vivid colors, or you can choose brackets which work without bands. You can even decide on clear aligners, with no brackets or wires at all.

And since modern software technology has given us a program for just about everything, it’s no surprise that you can install apps to help make your modern orthodontic treatment more convenient and more enjoyable. What can an orthodontic app do for you?

  • Keep Track of Your Appointments

There are many apps out there that are designed to help you keep your treatment on track with appointment reminders. This sounds pretty basic, but when you have school, work, sports, and activities filling your days, it doesn’t hurt to get a timely reminder that our Carlsbad, CA office will be expecting you in the near future. And, since missed appointments delay your progress, you are making sure you achieve your beautiful, healthy smile in the shortest amount of time.

  • Mapping Out Your Routine

You know how important it is to keep track of the hours you wear your aligners. Apps can help remove the guesswork with a timer to make sure you’ve got the hours you need to progress to the next phase of treatment. Apps can also remind you when you’re ready for a new aligner, and let you track your progress in one convenient place with selfies after each aligner transition. After all, it’s really exciting to see just how far you’ve come.

If you wear traditional braces, there are apps with very helpful reminders for you, too. For example, forgetting to wear your elastics can really delay your progress. An app can let you know when it’s time to wear your rubber bands and keep track of your hours. It can also remind you to replace your bands regularly, because elastics become less elastic through the day. And take advantage of the countdown feature some apps offer to see just when you can expect to be done with your treatment when you keep on top of your routine.

  • Brushing and Flossing? Apply Yourself!

A big part of making your smile look its best after your orthodontic treatment is making sure you take care of your smile during your treatment. This means keeping up with daily brushing and flossing, and using proper technique. Two minutes brushing, twice each day, and flossing at least once a day are the basic recommendations for preventing cavities and gum disease. (During orthodontic treatment, you might need to increase your brushing and flossing—ask us how often is best for your needs.)

And to help you make sure you get a solid two minutes of brushing twice a day? Try an app that plays two minutes of your favorite music with a perfectly timed brushing playlist. Apps can also send you brushing and flossing reminders, let you know when it’s time to change your toothbrush (every three months, please!), and give you tips on better brushing and flossing techniques.

  • Have Fun with Your Appearance

Not sure just how you’ll look in braces? Get a preview with an app that uses one of your selfies to model different types and styles of braces, brackets, bands, and aligners. Metal brackets? Ceramic? Elastic bands in your favorite colors? No bands at all? Hardly visible aligners? Find the look that works for you!

  • When Problems Happen

Some apps will even guide you through common orthodontic problems, such as applying wax to an irritating bracket or relieving discomfort. Always remember, though, an app is not an orthodontist. If you have a serious problem or concern, call us immediately.

  • Orthodontist Approved

If you’ve checked out the orthodontic apps available for your operating system, you know that there are a lot of options out there. If you’re looking for an app providing information about your treatment, tips for dealing with your braces, or a convenient way to track your progress or even be part of a community, you want the best information, tips, and conveniences possible—and hopefully all in one place.

To help you find the best orthodontic app for you, talk to Dr. Michael Willes! We might know just the app for your specific needs. Whether you choose aligners or brackets and wires, consider all the wireless options that can make your life easier, your dental care more complete, and—just maybe—your orthodontic experience a little more fun.

Can You Chew Gum and Wear Braces?

September 9th, 2020

Well, of course you can chew gum and wear braces. But, should you chew gum and wear braces? That can be a sticky question.

For many years, the answer was a firm “No.” Not only did our favorite chewables literally gum up the (dental) works, but they were filled with loads of the sugar that cavity-causing bacteria love to feed on. The result? A much better chance of damage to your orthodontic work, and a higher risk of cavities near your brackets and wires.

But times, and gum recipes, change. Today’s sugar-free gum provides us with some new ideas to chew over.

  • Sugarless gum is much less sticky than regular gum, so it is much less likely to stick to your appliance. If there is any chance that gum will damage your wires or brackets, we’ll let you know that it’s best to wait until your braces are off to indulge.
  • Some orthodontic patients find that their jaws and ligaments are less sore if they chew gum for a few minutes after an adjustment.
  • Most important, studies suggest that chewing sugarless gum might actually help prevent cavities from forming. How is that possible?

Because chewing gum increases our production of saliva! Okay, we don’t normally find saliva an exciting, exclamation-point-worthy topic, but let’s look at the dental benefits:

  • Saliva washes away food particles and bacteria. And because braces can trap food when we eat, it’s great to have some help washing away any meal-time souvenirs.
  • Saliva helps neutralize acids in the mouth. The acids found in foods and produced by oral bacteria lead to cavities, so diluting and neutralizing their effects provide important protection for our enamel.
  • Saliva helps bathe the teeth in minerals that can actually rebuild weakened enamel. Acids in the mouth attack minerals in the enamel such as the calcium and phosphate that strengthen our teeth. Fortunately, saliva provides calcium, phosphate, and fluoride that can actually help rebuild weakened enamel.

So, should you chew gum and wear braces? The real question is, should you chew gum while you’re in braces? Dr. Michael Willes and our team are more than happy to provide the right answer for you! Talk to us at your next visit to our Carlsbad, CA office about the potential benefits and drawbacks of dentist-approved sugarless gum. Depending on the kind of gum you choose and the kind of orthodontic work you are having done, the answer just might surprise you.

Tips for Caring for Your Braces at School

September 2nd, 2020

School can present a few issues when it comes to caring for your braces and mouth, since you won't have the luxury of the time and tools you have at your disposal while you're at home. But if you head to school prepared, you shouldn't have any trouble keeping your braces and mouth in great shape. Below is a list of helpful tips to care for your braces throughout the entire school year.

  • Bring a kit that includes all of your oral health care items. This is a seriously smart thing to do and probably the most important of all the tips. Pack things like a toothbrush, floss, wax, retainer case (if needed), a mirror, a small cup for rinsing, a small bottle of water (if you don't already have some water with you), and some OTC pain medicine or a natural pain remedy. Keep the kit in your locker or backpack. Having all these items on hand will save you a lot of trouble and discomfort, and also ensure you don't have anything unsightly stuck in your braces or teeth!
  • Take advantage of breaks and lunchtime. After eating lunch is a great time to pop into the restroom and give your braces and teeth a once over to make sure you don't have any food debris caught in them and to tend to any sore spots. If you've just had your braces adjusted, you may have soreness on your gums or cheeks. This is where the wax you packed will come in handy.
  • Eat the right food for your braces. Avoid all the foods that wreak havoc on your braces like gum, candy, popcorn, hard chips, apples which aren't cut into wedges, nuts, beef jerky, ice, etc. You know the foods we're talking about; you've heard it enough already. Steering clear of these foods will help you prevent any possible mishaps with your braces, like breaking a bracket or wire, which is the last thing you want happening at school.

If you follow these tips and also keep up on your oral health routine at home, you'll be maximizing the effectiveness of your braces and making them as comfortable as possible. Do you have questions about caring for your braces during the school day? Ask Dr. Michael Willes or anyone in our Carlsbad, CA office and we'll gladly help you out!

Planning Your Vegetarian Diet with Your Oral Health in Mind

August 26th, 2020

If you’ve been following a vegetarian or vegan diet, you know that there’s much more to living a healthy life than simply avoiding meat products. Making sure your diet includes enough protein, as well as any nutrients that are primarily available in animal products, takes planning, and there’s no one-menu-fits-all solution.

Why? Because there’s no one menu that will suit all vegetarians. Specific vegetarian diets can allow for many different options:

  • Vegan—a plant-based diet which excludes meat, fish, dairy, and egg products
  • Ovo-vegetarian—includes eggs as a dietary option, but no dairy
  • Lacto-vegetarian— includes dairy as a dietary option, but no eggs
  • Lacto-ovo-vegetarian—a meat-free diet which allows both dairy products and eggs

If you are a pescatarian, who eats fish on occasion, or a flexitarian, who sometimes includes meat in a meal, your menu options are even broader.

So let’s look at the big picture—a healthy vegetarian diet is really more concerned with the foods you do eat for nutrition rather than the foods you don’t. You can create a meal plan rich in all your essential nutrients with a little research, no matter which type of vegetarian diet is your go-to choice.

And while you’re constructing your ideal menu guidelines, don’t forget about your dental nutrition!

In terms of keeping your teeth and gums their healthiest, what important vitamins and minerals are often missing from vegetarian and vegan diets? Let’s look at three of them.

  • Calcium

Calcium is essential for maintaining strong bones and tooth enamel. Without enough calcium, a weakened jawbone leads to loose, and even lost, teeth. The acids in our food and the acids created by oral bacteria also weaken the minerals in enamel, including calcium. These weak spots can eventually become cavities. A diet rich in calcium not only supports the bones holding our teeth, but can even help repair, or remineralize, enamel which has been weakened by acidic erosion.

For vegetarians who include dairy in their diets, dairy products are a great way to include calcium. Milk, cheese, and yogurt are traditional and rich sources of this mineral.

For vegans, it’s a bit more challenging, but still doable! Non-dairy foods providing calcium include dark green vegetables (kale, broccoli, spinach), certain types of tofu, and fortified cereals, juices, and non-dairy milks.

  • Vitamin D

Now you’re ready to put that calcium to work by making sure you have enough vitamin D in your diet. Vitamin D not only helps keep our bones healthy, it also enables our bodies to absorb calcium. Bonus—it’s been linked to better gum health in several studies.

So how to get more vitamin D? If you eat dairy, most dairy products have been fortified with vitamin D. If eggs are a part of your diet, egg yolks are a great source. Pescatarians can enjoy the benefits of vitamin D from fatty fish such as tuna and salmon.

Because we get most of our vitamin D from sun exposure or foods derived from animals, plant-based foods are not a practical way to obtain the vitamin D you need. But, just as non-vegetarians can get plentiful vitamin D from fortified dairy products, vegans also have options. Try adding cereals, juices, and non-dairy milks fortified with this essential nutrient to your diet, or take a vegan vitamin D supplement.

  • Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is essential for healthy red blood cells, nerve cell development, brain function, and DNA production. (This is why it’s especially important for pregnant and nursing women.) Vitamin B12 can also impact your oral health. A B12 deficiency can cause a swollen, sore, or inflamed tongue, loss of taste, and gum, tongue, and mouth ulcers.

Unfortunately, vitamin B12 is reliably found only in animal foods and nutritional yeasts. If you would prefer an egg-free and dairy-free diet, look to B12 supplements or B12-fortified cereals, plant-based milks, energy bars, and other vegan options. This is a good subject to discuss with your physician, because even supplements and fortified foods might not provide enough B12.

In fact, Dr. Michael Willes can be vital resources when you’re planning your healthiest vegetarian diet. The next time you visit our Carlsbad, CA office, ask for recommendations for supplements if you’re concerned that diet alone can’t provide for all of your nutrition essentials. Finally, care should be taken to ensure that, even with supplements, you get the proper amount of the vitamins and minerals you need.

As a vegetarian, you are used to the concept of care. Whether it was concern for nutrition, the planet, the animal world, or another reason that drew you to a vegetarian diet, be sure to care for your body as well as your dietary choices. Careful planning can ensure a diet which supports not only your general health, but your oral health, for a lifetime of nourishing—and well-nourished—smiles.

Start Your Day Off with a (Healthy) Smile!

August 19th, 2020

If there’s one meal that can claim the title of “Sweetest Meal of the Day,” it’s almost certainly breakfast. Sugary cereals, syrup-covered waffles, oatmeal with honey, cinnamon toast (which is literally sugar poured on toast)—it’s hard to imagine another menu even coming close. But you’re trying to keep your diet as healthy as possible. What to do?

First, no need to deprive yourself of the occasional pastry or stack of pancakes. The real problem with breakfast isn’t so much sugar as it is added sugar.

  • Just a Spoonful of Sugar? What’s So Bad About That?

Nothing! Many healthy foods have natural sugars. Milk contains lactose sugar, and it also contains calcium and is enriched with vitamin D—both of which are essential for strong bones and teeth. Fruits get their sweetness from a sugar called fructose, and deliciously provide vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber to our diets.

Even processed sugar is surprisingly low in calories. In fact, a teaspoon of white sugar has only about 15 calories. But this teaspoon is also rich in nutrients for cavity-causing bacteria. The oral bacteria in plaque use sugars and carbohydrates from food particles as a fuel source to produce acids. These acids erode enamel and lead to cavities.

Choosing breakfast foods without additional sugars, then, is an easy way to reduce the number of empty calories in your diet while safeguarding the health of your teeth. We have a few suggestions.

  • Be Selective with Cereals

If the word “sugar” or “honey” or appears on the box, that’s a hint that your favorite cereal is heavy on the sugar. But there’s a more scientific way to tell just how much sugar is in that spoonful.

While the colorful packaging and playful mascots are eye-catching, check the black-and-white panel with nutritional facts found on every box. If one serving equals 27 grams, and the sugar in that serving equals 15 grams, you know you have a problem. And cereals marketed to children are especially “rich” in added sugar.

But luckily, you don’t need to give up your morning bowl. Many cold cereals are available that offer whole grains, protein, and fiber without a lot of added sugar. Spend some time in the cereal aisle comparing, or, to make life easier, there are many online sites which recommend the best (and worst) cereals in terms of sugar content.

  • Use Your Judgment with Juices

Fruits are packed with important nutrients. Not only do they provide essential vitamins and minerals, they’re a great source of water and fiber. If you drink 100% fruit juice, you are getting the benefit of most of the vitamins and minerals found in fruit. (You’re also getting less of the fruit’s natural fiber, and more of the fruit’s natural sugar, so consider fresh fruit as an option occasionally.)

But when fruit juice comes with “cocktail,” or “punch,” or “ade” attached to the end of it, there’s often something else attached—added sugar. For natural fruit flavor and the least amount of sugar, stay with 100% unsweetened fruit juice.

  • Search Out “Surprise” Sugars

Remember the childhood excitement of searching through your cereal box for the prize inside? Fun! What’s not so much fun? The surprises you might find when you search through the labels on your favorite breakfast items—because added sugars make their stealthy way into many of our morning favorites.

When you compare plain, Greek, and low-fat yogurts, for example, the low-fat options are often higher in added sugar. A container of low-fat yogurt can provide 19 grams of sugar—that’s a tablespoon and a half!

And while you’re at it, be sure to compare the sugar content in granola bars. Some are full of nuts and grains, and some are full of added sugar.

Going out for a breakfast smoothie? Those can contain 70 grams of sugar and more. Making your own at home might be a little more time-consuming, but if you use fresh fruit as your sweetener, you can make sure that what you’re not consuming is added sugar. If you’re on the go, check out all-fruit options at your favorite smoothie shop.

Dr. Michael Willes and our team aren’t asking you to eliminate sugar from your breakfast diet altogether. (Everyone loves a doughnut now and again.) But substituting some alternatives for your regular menu choices can reduce the amount of added sugars by tablespoons every meal. That’s another great reason to greet the morning with a smile!

Spot Check

August 5th, 2020

After all your hard work, and months of orthodontic treatment, the big day is finally here—your braces are coming off! What you want to see: beautiful, straight teeth perfectly aligned to create a comfortable, healthy bite. What you don’t want to see: a collection of whitish spots dotting the enamel around your gum line or outlining the spot where your brackets used to be.

What are these spots? Can they be removed? And, most important, how do you avoid them?

Decalcification

Those white spots are caused by decalcification, or the removal of the minerals, especially calcium and phosphorus, that strengthen our enamel. How does this removal take place? When bacteria and plaque remain on the teeth, they produce acids that eat away at these minerals. The result is a weakened, discolored white spot in the enamel. Unfortunately, because many orthodontic patients don’t brush thoroughly around their braces, decalcification is an all-too-common problem.

Treating Decalcification

You might need cosmetic dentistry to eliminate or reduce white spots on the enamel. In some cases, they will fade over time, or teeth whitening can help. In more stubborn cases, tooth bonding or veneers can cover the affected enamel.

Preventing Decalcification

But, obviously, prevention is always better than treatment. Here are some of the ways to keep your enamel healthy and looking its best:

  • Brush thoroughly after every meal.

Getting rid of the bacteria and plaque on your enamel and around your gum line will greatly reduce your chances of decalcification—and cavities. Brush after every meal, and talk to us about the best products and techniques for cleaning your teeth and appliances. And be sure to spend the extra time you’ll need for brushing around your braces.

  • Floss

Even though it can be more difficult to floss with brackets and wires, it’s essential for removing plaque. We have suggestions for special flosses designed for braces wearers, and how best to use them. A water flosser can be helpful for reducing plaque if other flossing methods aren’t working.

  • Use fluoride toothpaste

Fluoride actually helps remineralize our teeth, replacing the important minerals that have been lost to acid attacks. We might also suggest remineralizing toothpastes or a fluoride rinse.

  • Watch your diet

Acidic foods increase the acidity levels in your mouth, sugars give bacteria the fuel they need to produce acids, and sticky foods allow bacteria to remain on teeth and braces longer. We’ll give you suggestions on the best foods to keep your teeth healthy (and your braces intact) while you’re undergoing treatment.

  • Have your teeth cleaned regularly

Your dental professional will be able to remove plaque and tartar that home brushing has missed.

  • Work with us!

If we let you know that you need to spend more time on your cleaning routine, or that you need to be more thorough when you brush and floss, take our suggestions to heart. We are happy to show you the most effective way to clean around your braces. Dr. Michael Willes can recommend the best dental products for your specific needs. We can suggest rinses and toothpastes that will help. We’ll let you know how much time you should spend brushing and how often.

If you have any questions at all about keeping your teeth and braces their cleanest, we are here to help. Always feel free to talk to our Carlsbad, CA team about concerns you might have about decalcification, discoloration, or any other potential problems. We are want to make sure that when your braces come off, you have every reason to smile!

Tips for Keeping Your Breath Fresh While You’re in Braces

July 29th, 2020

You’ve got a lot going on in your busy life, and whether it’s school, practice, or simply socializing, you want to put a confident face forward. And part of that confidence comes from knowing your breath is its freshest!

Too often, though, this time of your life makes that goal seem difficult. Let’s look at ways to keep you smiling your brightest and feeling your freshest in any social setting.

  • Watch Your Diet

Sure, garlic, onions, and other pungent food choices are obvious culprits when it comes to bad breath, but did you know that sugars and simple carbs are the food of choice for the bacteria that cause decay, gingivitis, and bad breath? Eating a nutritious, braces-friendly diet will help keep your mouth, your braces, and your breath healthy.

And it’s not just what you eat. Dehydration also causes bad breath. But those caffeinated drinks and sodas that keep you going through the day are the source of acids and sugars that contribute to tooth decay, gum disease, and less-than-fresh breath. Water, milk, and healthy smoothies are a great way to stay hydrated, add vitamins and minerals to your diet, and go easy on your braces.          

  • Keep Up with Oral Hygiene

It’s hard to keep your teeth and gums their cleanest when it seems like you’re always on the go, but good oral habits are just as important now as they were when you were younger.

Brushing after every meal and snack and flossing daily will help get rid of the bacteria and plaque, which lead to cavities. Our tongues also harbor the bacteria that cause bad breath, so finish off your routine with a gentle brush of the tongue, or try a tongue scraper.

Flossing helps keep gums healthy, which, in turns, keeps your breath healthy as well. Dentists generally suggest flossing once a day, but wearing braces could require flossing more often to make sure you’re getting rid of all those food particles that can become trapped in brackets and wires. Studies have suggested that hormonal changes in teenagers can mean your gums are more at risk for periodontal problems, which can also lead to bad breath, so don’t neglect your gum health!

And be sure to make room in your schedule for regular checkups and cleanings. Your dentist and hygienist will let you know if you’re on track for healthy teeth and gums and fresh breath.

  • Wearing Braces?

Part of careful brushing and flossing means getting to all those places in your braces which trap food particles. Besides being a source of unpleasant odors, food particles lead to plaque buildup and tooth decay, another cause of bad breath.

Dr. Michael Willes can suggest the best methods for keeping your braces their cleanest—even in hard to reach spots—with suggestions for brushing and flossing techniques. We can also suggest the best and easiest-to-use products for your particular braces, and recommend or prescribe antibacterial mouthwashes.

  • Wearing Aligners?

Aligners are removed before you eat, so it’s easy to forget that they also need attention. Follow instructions given at our Carlsbad, CA office for daily cleaning to prevent saliva and plaque from sticking to your aligners and causing odors. And always remember to brush before you replace aligners after eating a meal or even snacking—otherwise, you’re just trapping the food particles that cause cavities or odors next to your teeth.

You’ve got a lot going on in your busy life, and the last thing you need to worry about is fresh breath. Keep up with your solid dental routines, make sure your braces or aligners are clean and plaque-free, and show the world your healthiest, freshest, most confident smile.

Looking—and Feeling—Your Best in Braces

July 15th, 2020

It’s normal to be a little self-conscious when you first get your braces. Even though you really want to straighten any crooked teeth, or correct a bad bite, you might still be a bit hesitant about sharing your new orthodontic work with the world. What are some ways to get over those under-confident feelings?

  • Keep It Clean

Make sure you brush after every meal to reduce the chance of food particles and plaque sticking to your enamel and brackets. Brushing and flossing is particularly important now, not only to prevent cavities, but because nobody wants to see food stuck in your braces—especially you! If you absolutely can’t brush, rinse with water right after eating.

And carry a small bag filled with all the essentials for gleaming braces: a travel toothbrush, floss, a small tube of toothpaste, an interproximal brush, and a handy mirror to make sure you’re good to go. When you know your teeth and braces are their cleanest, you can’t help but feel more confident.

  • Express Yourself

Braces are no longer the one-style-fits-all appliances of the past. Traditional metal braces at our Carlsbad, CA office are more compact, and now come in different colors and shapes. Metal brackets are typical, but ceramic brackets are an option for an almost unnoticeable look. And don’t forget to accessorize!

You can choose from a rainbow of band colors to make a fashion statement that’s uniquely you. Show your spirit with school colors, celebrate the holidays with festive tones, or choose shades that do wonders for your coloring. Whether you go for bold contrast, mono-chromatic subtlety, or “just because I’m in the mood” quirky combinations, let your braces showcase your style. And remember—you can change that style with every adjustment!

  • Smile with Confidence

Nothing looks better on you than a confident smile. If you’re a little unsure, practice! Some mirror or selfie time will get you used to seeing yourself in braces. Break them in with friends and family before you go public. Remember that any difficulties with talking or eating should only last a little while.

Above all, you’re still your unique and valued self. You can wear braces and be a good friend, a student, an athlete, a lovestruck Juliet on the theater balcony, a star at your after-school job. Don’t let wearing braces hold you back from the activities you love.  Act like your old self, and you’ll soon feel like your old self!

It’s normal to feel a little self-conscious when you first get your braces. But when you care for yourself and your braces, good things happen! If you’re having difficulty adjusting, talk to Dr. Michael Willes. We want to help make sure your journey to a beautiful, healthy smile is as rewarding and as positive as it can be.

Five Clues That It’s Time to Replace Your Toothbrush

July 8th, 2020

Your dashboard lights up when your car needs an oil change. Your family smoke detector beeps when you need to switch out the batteries. But when it’s time to replace your toothbrush, you’re on your own. Luckily, there are several not-too-subtle clues that you should be shopping for a new model.

  • Fraying

Is your toothbrush looking a bit scruffy? Do those once orderly bristles look like they have the toothbrush equivalent of bed head? Have some bristles vanished altogether? Time to retire that toothbrush. Once the bristles are frayed, you just can’t reach plaque as effectively, especially where it likes to hide between the teeth.

Are you prematurely fraying? You could be brushing too hard. Overbrushing can injure delicate gum tissue, cause wear and tear to tooth enamel, and even damage your braces. If you find your brush fraying after only a few weeks of use, you might be using too much force. Remember, plaque is a sticky film, but it’s a soft sticky film. Ask us for advice on just how hard you need—or don’t need—to brush.

  • Odor

This one really goes without saying—no one wants an aromatic toothbrush! How to make sure your toothbrush is fresh and clean?

Always rinse carefully after you brush. This will get rid of any toothpaste, bits of food, or other particles left on your brush.

Let your toothbrush air dry. It might seem more hygienic to keep your brush covered in a bathroom setting, but a closed, moist container is a perfect breeding ground for germs. Don’t let them make a home in your bristles!

  • Illness

A cold or a bacterial infection (like strep throat) is no fun. But now that you’re feeling better, it might be time to throw out your toothbrush. The chances of re-infection are very low, unless your immune system is compromised, but this is a perfect opportunity to replace your brush with a fresh, germ-free model.

And if you share your toothbrush, or if you store it right next to a family member’s (which you really shouldn’t do, for this very reason), germs get shared, too. Quarantine your brush while you’re ill, and replace it once you’re out and about.

  • Discomfort

Bigger isn’t necessarily better. A brush with a head that’s too big won’t allow you to get into those small spaces in your mouth where plaque likes to collect. And when you are trying to clean around brackets and wires, a regular brush might be a problem. Ask Dr. Michael Willes for suggestions for the best tools for clean and comfortable brushing.

Also, harder doesn’t mean more effective. A brush with hard bristles can cause damage to your gums and enamel. We almost always recommend soft-bristled brushes for this every reason.

There are so many styles of brush out there, you’re bound to find the perfect fit with a little trial and error. Or ask us for suggestions the next time you’re at our Carlsbad, CA office for an adjustment!

  • You’ve Passed the “Best By” Date

Because of its durable construction, your toothbrush can last a long, long time. But no matter how comfortable and effective your toothbrush is right now, it was never meant to go through life with you. Bristles break down over a period of a few months, and just don’t clean as effectively. Your brush should be changed every three months, and this includes changing the head on your electric toothbrush. And because you wear braces, you’re brushing more often, so that three month lifespan might be stretching it.

Unfortunately, you don’t have a flashing light or annoying beep to remind you when it’s time to change brushes, so you’ll have to devise your own reminders. Reminder apps, calendar notes, the first day of a new season—use whatever works best for you. 

Don’t ignore the clues your toothbrush is leaving you. Replacing your brush whenever it’s necessary helps guarantee that the time you spend cleaning your teeth and gums will lead to confident, healthy smiles. Case closed!

I Only Have One Crooked Tooth. Should I See an Orthodontist?

June 24th, 2020

Your smile is just about perfect. There’s just that one tooth that’s out of place. So, do you really need to see an orthodontist?

Absolutely! Why? There are several good reasons.

First, let’s check to make sure there is no physical problem causing that turned tooth. A crooked tooth might result from an early oral trauma while the tooth is developing, or a baby tooth lost too early, or the loss of a nearby adult tooth. But a sudden change in a tooth’s orientation might also be caused by a cyst or a tumor. If you notice any changes in your tooth’s position, it’s a good idea to talk to Dr. Michael Willes.

Second, we want to make sure your bite is aligned properly. If your tooth is crooked due to crowding by your other teeth, or if it has rotated a bit because there is too much space between your teeth, your bite might be affected as well. Malocclusions, or bad bites, can lead to a number of unpleasant consequences, including headaches, jaw pain, and increased pressure and stress on the teeth.

Third, a crooked tooth can lead to more difficulty brushing and flossing between and around the teeth, which increases the chance of tooth decay.

Fourth, we provide the professional medical care you need. Some people with a turned tooth attempt self-help with rubber bands, dental floss, or other home remedies. Not only is this unlikely to work, it can actually lead to infection, root problems, and even tooth loss.

Maybe there are no health concerns causing, or caused by, your crooked tooth. Your bite is strong, and you like your unique smile just the way it is. In that case, smile on!

But if you are interested in aligning that one crooked tooth with the rest, give our Carlsbad, CA office a call, and we’ll get to the root (literally!) of the problem. Depending on the reason your tooth is twisted, we’ll suggest the braces or clear aligners that will provide your most effective orthodontic treatment, and give you safe and lasting options for achieving the smile you’ve always wanted. Perfect!

Five “Don’ts” When You Wear Aligners

June 17th, 2020

Choosing clear aligners was a great decision on your part! Straight teeth and a healthy bite? Subtle, almost invisible aligners? 3D technology custom-designed just for you? All the positives we’ve come to expect from your choice of orthodontic treatment.

So, don’t sabotage your good work! Here are five negative habits that will prevent you from getting the most out of your aligners:

  1. Don’t forget to keep them clean

One of the reasons you chose clear aligners is because they are nearly invisible. But careless cleaning habits can leave them discolored, scratched, or cloudy. Soaking in colored mouthwash can stain aligners. Using abrasive cleaning products or brushing with a heavy hand can cause scratches. And failing to keep aligners clean can lead to a buildup of cloudy plaque. Talk to us! We know all the best products and practices to keep your aligners their most sanitary—and most invisible.

  1. Don’t eat with your aligners in place

Aligners are simply not meant to be used while you eat. Chewing puts too much stress and pressure on them, and can lead to aligner damage and even breakage. Because you will be wearing your aligners for most of the day, planning ahead for your meals is key. One bonus: it’s a great way to eliminate unconscious snacking.

  1. Don’t let foods or drinks stain your aligners

It’s great that you take your aligners out to eat, but do you remember to brush before you replace them? Foods like spaghetti sauce and blueberries that stick to your enamel can stain your aligners. And it’s always best to remove your aligners before drinking a beverage. If a drink can stain your teeth, it can stain your aligners. Red wines, dark juices, colas, and, of course, coffee and tea can cause discoloration. Another thing to consider? Food particles in the trays can not only stain your aligners (and your enamel), but keep your teeth in contact with the acids and sugars that lead to cavities.

  1. Don’t run hot

Aligners are formed using heat, so it makes sense that heat can de-form them as well. Drinking hot beverages with your aligners in place can change their shape—and even subtle changes will affect your progress. Since warped aligners might have to be replaced, save the piping hot beverages for those times you’re not wearing aligners. It’s best not to clean them with very hot water as well.

  1. Don’t forget to wear them

Aligners need to be worn approximately 20-22 hours each day. If you’re not putting in the required time, you’re delaying your progress. If you’re having trouble with scheduling meals or activities, talk to Dr. Michael Willes when you visit our Carlsbad, CA office. We have suggestions.

But let’s not just dwell on the negatives. We like to focus on the positive, too, so here’s the one item on your “Do List” that will absolutely make your aligner experience the best it can be:

Do follow our recommendations!

Clean your aligners with the proper tools and products—and clean your teeth and aligners after every meal and snack. Remember that water is the only guaranteed problem-free beverage. Don’t expose aligners to heat or eat with them in place, because they can be warped or damaged. And be sure to wear them as long as you need to each day—this will keep your treatment on track and on schedule.

Enjoying a future filled with beautiful, healthy smiles? That’s not just a positive—it’s a happily-ever-after!

Gums and Braces

June 10th, 2020

“Yes,” you’re thinking, “I shouldn’t be chewing sugary, sticky gum while I’m wearing my braces.” Or perhaps, “I should check with my orthodontist to see if this sugar-free gum is safe for my braces.” And these are both great thoughts—but today, we’re thinking about gums of a different sort!

While you’ve been taking care of your teeth with regular brushing and flossing, you’ve also been taking care of your gums. And now that you’re wearing braces, your gums need a bit of special attention to keep them their healthiest.

We tend to think of gum disease as an adult problem. In fact, periodontitis, or serious gum disease, is one of the most common chronic infections in the adult population. But young gums need care, too! Gingivitis, a milder form of gum disease, is unfortunately a common problem for both children and adults.

Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums caused by the build-up of plaque and tartar. When plaque builds up, it irritates delicate gum tissue. And while gingivitis is not as serious as periodontitis, the symptoms caused by this disease are nothing to smile about:

  • Redness
  • Tenderness and soreness
  • Swelling
  • Bleeding
  • Bad Breath

If you’re already feeling a little tender or swollen after an adjustment, the added discomfort caused by gingivitis is the last thing you want. But even worse, neglected gingivitis can lead to more serious infections of gum and even bone tissue. Luckily, gingivitis is both preventable and treatable with proper dental care.

So, how to protect your gums? We have some suggestions.

  • Brushing Better with Braces

It can be hard to brush around your brackets and wires, but keeping these areas free of food particles and plaque makes for healthy gums—and fewer cavities! There are specially designed manual toothbrushes made for braces wearers, and tiny interproximal brushes that can reach tight spaces. Or, perhaps an electric toothbrush will do a better job for you. Just be sure to brush after each meal for the most complete removal of bacteria and plaque.

  • Learn New Flossing Techniques

You might wonder how on earth you’ll get in between your teeth with your wires and brackets in the way. We have the answers! We know the best techniques for flossing your specific braces, and we’ll recommend specially designed flossing tools to make the job easier. Water flossers can also be a great help for cleaning in tight spots. Be sure to make flossing part of your daily routine—you’ll be able to remove plaque from places brushing just can’t reach.

  • Rinsing? Recommended.

Talk to Dr. Michael Willes about the best dental rinses for reducing plaque and tartar, or how gargling can help prevent irritation. And drink water! Water helps wash away plaque and bacteria, and is a great way to rinse teeth and braces if you absolutely can’t brush after eating.

  • Keep up with Professional Cleanings

Be sure to keep up with your regular dental exams and cleanings. Your dentist or hygienist will be able to remove any plaque or tartar build up that home brushing can’t handle.

We want your time in braces to be as healthy—and comfortable—as possible. If you have any gum discomfort, swelling, or sensitivity, give our Carlsbad, CA office a call. With prompt action, gingivitis can be treated, and with careful attention to your cleaning routine, gingivitis can be prevented altogether. Something to think about!

What Did You Do on Your Summer Vacation?

June 3rd, 2020

The best part of summer vacation is time. Time to hang with friends, time to travel, time to get a summer job, time to catch your breath after a busy school year. And if Dr. Michael Willes and our team have recommended braces, summer is also a great time to start orthodontic treatment!

  • Time for Office Visits

It can be easier to get an appointment in the summer because many patients and their families are on vacation. And, because your earliest visits are generally the longest, you won’t have to disrupt your school schedule as much or work around after-school activities.

  • Time to Get Used to Your Appliance

There can be some discomfort in the first few days after you get your braces, so you might find it’s more convenient and comfortable to be at home. You’ll have time to get used to choosing and eating braces-friendly foods, to practice speaking clearly with new braces or aligners, to appreciate your new look. And your friends will have time to get used to your braces, too!

  • Time to Establish New Dental Routines

Over the years, you’ve gotten used to brushing at least twice a day for two minutes and flossing at least one a day. Now it’s time to add some new moves. Brackets and wires can trap food particles and lead to a greater risk of cavities, so you’ll need some new tools to keep your braces their cleanest.

There are toothbrushes that have heads designed especially for cleaning around brackets. Floss threaders get floss in between wire and brackets, or use a floss specifically designed for braces. Little cone-shaped brushes called interproximal brushes fit around your braces and under your wires to remove hard-to-reach food particles and plaque.

Getting your cleaning routine down during the summer will help you take care of any clinging food particles quickly during your lunch hour or before after-school activities. And, you’ll know exactly what dental supplies you’ll need in your locker.

  • Time to Make Adjustments to Your Extra-Curricular Activities

Braces or aligners will provide you with a future filled with beautiful smiles, but they might require some present-day adjustments in your normal activities.

If you play a sport, especially where contact is possible, a custom mouthguard is the best way to protect your teeth, your jaw, and your braces in case of collision or a fall. Let us know what sports you play as soon as you get your braces.

If you play a reed or wind instrument, you might have to adjust the way you use your lips and teeth to produce your sound. Learning to use dental wax to cover brackets and protect your lips and mouth is well worth it. If you take lessons, talk to your instructor about the best way to adapt to your braces if you think your tone has been affected.

If you are in speech or drama, it could take a while to be comfortable with your articulation. Talk to us if you find you are having problems with your regular pronunciation for some great suggestions on getting back to normal as quickly as possible.

Summer certainly offers some advantages in giving you the time you need to get comfortable with your braces or aligners. But, there’s really no bad time to begin your orthodontic treatment. Spring, summer, fall, or winter, we’re here to help make sure your treatment experience at our Carlsbad, CA office is a positive one. After all, working toward a lifetime of beautiful smiles is always in season.

Tube Talk

May 20th, 2020

The topic is tubes. No, we’re not talking about TV shows, or sports socks, or British subway systems. We’re talking toothpaste! With so many options out there, which toothpaste should you be looking for to keep your teeth their cleanest and healthiest during orthodontic treatment?

  • Fantastic Fluoride

The last thing you want while you’re wearing braces is a cavity. Cavities develop when plaque sticks to a tooth. The oral bacteria found in plaque produce acids that weaken your enamel. Over time, these acid attacks lead to the breakdown of the enamel and a cavity forms. But you have a way to stop this process. Fluoride provides protection against cavities. Fluoride toothpastes contain minerals that actually strengthen your enamel, and can even repair early damage before a cavity has a chance to form. Whichever toothpaste you choose, fluoride is the most important ingredient.

  • Terrific Tartar-Control

What is tartar, anyway? Tartar, or calculus, is hardened plaque. It’s so hard, it can’t be removed by brushing alone—that’s why your dental hygienist uses special tools to remove it when you have a cleaning. Tartar buildup can lead to receding gums and gum disease, so prevent this buildup before it starts by using a toothpaste especially formulated to remove plaque.

  • Desensitizing Decisions

There are many causes for tooth sensitivity. If painful sensitivity is caused by hot or cold drinks, it could mean a dental issue such as decay or a damaged tooth, and your dentist can help diagnose and treat the problem. Sensitivity be a sign that you’re not cleaning around your braces well enough, leading to sore and inflamed gums. Sometimes sensitivity can actually be caused by over-enthusiastic brushing. Remember, massage, don’t scrub! For some extra-sensitive teeth, a desensitizing toothpaste or even a prescription toothpaste can help. If you find that your teeth are more sensitive only after an adjustment, give us a call. This is usually temporary.

  • What about Whitening?

Whitening toothpastes do a good job of taking care of some surface stains, so why not use them? Because they take care of some surface stains. When your braces are in place, your brackets cover a small portion of your enamel—a portion that won’t be whitened as you brush. Generally, because whitening toothpastes don’t make a huge difference in tooth color, this might not be a problem. Talk to Dr. Michael Willes before you decide to whiten, and we’ll have suggestions just for you.

In fact, if you have any questions about the best toothpastes for orthodontic patients, contact our Carlsbad, CA office! Getting your braces is a great step forward on your way to a beautiful smile. Let us help you choose the right toothpaste to make sure that beautiful smile is a healthy and lasting one.

Just What Is Plaque?

May 13th, 2020

From the time you were small, you’ve been warned about the dangers of plaque. Why? Because:

  • It’s an unpleasant film that sticks to your teeth
  • It causes cavities
  • It causes gum disease
  • It can cause extra problems when you wear braces

And really, do we need to know much more than this to motivate us to brush? But if you’re in a curious mood, you might be wondering just how this soft, fuzzy film accomplishes all that damage. Let’s take a closer look at the sticky problem of plaque.

How does plaque form?

We live with hundreds of species of oral bacteria, most of which are harmless, and some of which are actually beneficial. But when our oral ecosystem gets out of balance, problems can occur. For example, without regular and thorough brushing and flossing, we start to build up plaque.

Plaque starts forming within hours of your last brushing. And even though plaque fits the very definition of “seems to appear overnight,” this biofilm is actually a complex microbial community with several different stages of development.

  • It starts with saliva.

Saliva is vital to our oral health, because it keeps us hydrated, washes away food particles, neutralizes acids in the mouth, and provides minerals which keep our enamel strong. Saliva also contains proteins, which help form a healthy, protective film on the tooth surface. This film is called a pellicle.

  • Bacteria attach to the pellicle.

There are species of oral bacteria that are able to attach themselves to the pellicle film within hours of its formation. As they become more firmly attached, they begin to grow and divide to form colonies, and are known as the early colonizers of the plaque biofilm.

  • A complex biofilm forms.

If you’ve skipped brushing for a few days (please don’t!), you’ll notice a fuzzy, sometimes discolored film on your enamel—that’s a thriving plaque community, and it only takes a matter of days to go from invisible to unpleasant.

If you’re not removing plaque regularly, it can harden further and become tartar. And once you have tartar buildup, you’ll need the care of a dental professional to remove it.

  • What happens if we ignore plaque and tartar?

We get cavities and gum disease.

How does plaque cause cavities?

  • The bacteria in plaque, like all organisms, need nutrients.

Our normal oral environment and the food in our everyday diets provide the nutrients plaque needs. And, as we mentioned above, certain types of oral bacteria convert these nutrients into acids. Foods such as carbohydrates, starches, and sugars are most easily converted into acids, which is why we recommend that you enjoy them in moderation.

  • The biofilm promotes acid production.

Within the plaque film, anaerobic bacteria (bacteria which don’t use oxygen) convert sugars and starches into acids. As the plaque film becomes denser, it blocks acid-neutralizing saliva and oxygen from reaching these bacteria close to the tooth’s surface, creating an ideal environment for the bacteria to produce their acid waste products.

  • Acids attack enamel.

The sticky nature of plaque keeps these acids in contact with tooth enamel, where, over time, acids dissolve minerals in enamel, weakening the mineral structure of the tooth.

How does plaque cause gum disease?

  • Bacteria cause inflammation and gingivitis.

The bacteria in plaque irritate the delicate tissue of the gums, which causes an inflammation response which can leave your gums swollen, red, bleeding, or tender. This early form of gum disease is gingivitis. Fortunately, good dental care and careful brushing and flossing can usually prevent and even eliminate gingivitis.

  • Plaque and tartar can lead to periodontitis.

When plaque and tartar build up around and below the gumline, the gums pull away from the teeth, leaving pockets where bacteria collect, leading to infection as well as inflammation. Infections and constant inflammation not only harm gum tissue, they can destroy the bone supporting the teeth. This serious gum condition is periodontitis, and should be treated immediately to avoid further infection and even tooth loss.

How does plaque affect orthodontic patients?

  • Plaque collects around your braces.

Braces provide plenty of spots for plaque to hide from your brush. If you aren’t extremely diligent with your brushing and flossing, plaque collects near brackets, wires, and bands—all those spots that a brush and floss find difficult to reach.

  • Plaque promotes demineralization

The demineralization process we mentioned above can cause white spots on teeth (decalcification), where minerals have dissolved. Sometimes these spots can be treated, and sometimes they are permanent. They can become quite sensitive, and may lead to cavities.

Careful brushing and flossing around your braces will help eliminate the plaque that can cause demineralization near brackets. Ask Dr. Michael Willes about the tools and the brushing and flossing techniques which will give you the best results.

How do we fight plaque?

From the time you were small, you’ve learned how to fight plaque:

  • Brush at least twice a day for two minutes, and be sure to brush all of your tooth surfaces and around the gumline.
  • Floss to remove plaque from between the teeth and near the gumline.
  • See your dentist as recommended for a thorough professional cleaning.

Be proactive. If you have any questions, talk to us at our Carlsbad, CA office about the best way to keep plaque at bay. We can show you the most effective ways to brush and floss, recommend anti-plaque toothpastes and rinses, even suggest plaque-revealing tablets if you’re missing some trouble spots.

We’ve only brushed up on some plaque basics, because there is a lot more to discover about this complex biofilm. Happily, even with all there is to learn about plaque’s growth and development, it’s reassuring to know that getting rid of it is quite simple—with just a soft-bristled brush, some dental floss, and a few minutes of your time each day, you’re on the way to a healthy, happy, plaque-free smile.

Digital X-rays

May 6th, 2020

Modern orthodontic technology has changed the way you wear braces. Brackets are smaller and come in a variety of shapes and colors. Wires are more efficient. Clear aligners can eliminate the need for brackets and wires altogether. And your high-tech advantages don’t stop there—today’s digital X-rays make creating your treatment plan even more convenient and efficient.

Why Are X-rays Necessary?

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 Dr. Michael Willes 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
  • The most effective type of retainer for protecting your beautiful smile after treatment.

How Do X-rays Work?

Traditional X-rays, or radiographs, make use of film just like traditional cameras. When you have an intraoral X-ray, for example, the film is sealed in a moisture- and light-proof packet, and placed inside the mouth to capture images of specific teeth and the bone around them.

The X-ray machine is aligned precisely with the film and an exposure is taken. The image at this point is latent, and won’t show on the film, because, just like photo film, traditional radiographs need to be chemically processed before they produce a visible image.

Digital technology, on the other hand, uses an electronic sensor instead of film. For an intraoral digital X-ray, a small sensor is positioned in the mouth just like a film. When the X-ray is taken, a digital image capture device produces an image which is formed by a matrix of pixels instead of a photo-like film exposure. This format allows the image to be sent directly to a computer for immediate display without requiring processing.

Even though these methods seem very similar, digital X-rays offer some significant advantages over traditional films. Let’s look at how they compare, more or less.

  • More Diagnostic Advantages

A traditional X-ray is a fixed image. It cannot be modified or enhanced. Here the digital X-ray offers a clear advantage in evaluating your teeth and the bone structure surrounding them.

Just as you can enlarge certain types of images on your computer without blurring or losing detail, a digital X-ray uses computer software to magnify images while keeping their details sharp. They can also be enhanced through brightness and contrast applications to make details stand out even more.

There is even digital subtraction radiography software available that can be used to compare recent images to older ones, removing (“subtracting”) all the similarities in the two images to display only the changes in the two—even small changes—that have taken place over time.

  • Less Exposure to Radiation

Modern technology means traditional X-rays expose patients to less radiation than ever before, but digital X-rays have significant advantages here as well. Radiation exposure can be reduced by an additional 10%, 20%, or more with a digital radiograph.

And while all types of dental X-rays expose you to very little radiation, it’s always best to reduce exposure whenever possible.

  • More Convenient for Sharing and Transmitting

If you need to share your X-rays with another dentist or physician, digital technology allows you to simply have them e-mailed to another office or multiple offices. You no longer need to worry about preserving physical copies, either.

  • Less Waste

Unlike traditional X-rays, digital X-rays don’t need to be processed, so you save time in the office. And while the processing time is not significant (usually several minutes), if you need to repeat some X-rays for a clearer picture, or require different images for several teeth, this time can add up.

Digital X-rays are also more eco-friendly.  The fact that they don’t need to be developed means that the chemicals used to process traditional films are no longer necessary—which also means that there is no need to dispose of chemical waste products afterward.

Our goal is to provide you with the safest, most efficient, and most effective treatment possible. Digital X-rays are an important tool for orthodontists, helping us to provide you with the best treatment plan possible. If you have any questions about digital X-ray technology, contact our Carlsbad, CA office. We’re happy to explain the science—and the benefits—behind this high-tech diagnostic tool.

The Best Brush of the Day

April 22nd, 2020

Imagine that you’re only going to brush your teeth once tomorrow. Don’t worry, we know you would never skimp on your dental hygiene like that, but let’s just pretend for a moment. When would be the best time to brush? When you wake up? During the day? Or perhaps before you go to bed?

Actually, whenever you choose to brush, you’ll receive important overall dental benefits as well as specific benefits tied to the time of day. Let’s explore your daily schedule to see why.

Brushing in the Morning

Brushing when you first jump out of bed produces several positive results.

  • Cleaning plaque from your teeth

Plaque is a sticky film made up of oral bacteria, food particles, and saliva. As you sleep, these oral bacteria multiply and produce acids which attack the minerals in your enamel, leaving weak spots which, over time, can become cavities. Brushing removes these bacteria and acids from your enamel before they cause serious harm.

Moreover, plaque hardens if it’s left undisturbed, turning into tartar in a relatively short time. And once plaque becomes tartar, it must be removed by a dental professional. Brushing first thing in the morning removes this plaque buildup and helps prevent tartar from forming.

  • Fresh breath

That bacterial growth we mentioned? It’s also responsible for morning breath. If nothing else, brushing when you wake up means greeting a fresh day with fresh breath, and that’s reason enough to pick up your brush in the morning.

Brushing During the Day

Brushing after meals and snacks also has a lot to recommend it.

  • “Leftovers” lead to cavities

Foods, especially foods rich in sugar and carbohydrates, are converted by oral bacteria into acids which weaken enamel and lead to cavities. When food particles remain in the mouth after a meal, bacteria have more time and more fuel to manufacture these acids.

  • Acidic foods also affect your teeth

If you have eaten something acidic, such as citrus fruits, sodas, or pickled anything, the acids from these foods can temporarily weaken the mineral strength of your enamel. But brushing immediately after eating or drinking acidic foods can damage weakened enamel. Better to rinse well with water and brush after half an hour or so.

  • When you wear braces

One of the first things you discover when you get your braces is that you might need to brush more often. In fact, it’s best to brush after every meal and even every snack while you’re in braces.

Why? First, because no one wants to smile with food particles sticking to brackets and wires. Even more important, though, the filmy plaque which sticks to your enamel can be harder to remove with those brackets and wires in the way. Since plaque causes weakened enamel and cavities, brushing thoroughly is more important than ever when you wear braces.

  • When you wear aligners

Wearing clear aligners means you don’t need to worry about food trapped in brackets or cleaning around wires. After all, you take them out when you eat. But this doesn’t mean you are home free. Brushing after every meal is also a good idea when you wear aligners.

Our teeth have an organic way to help wash away food particles, acids, and bacteria between brushings—saliva! Your aligners, while covering your teeth, decrease their exposure to saliva. It’s really important, then, to make sure you brush after eating. Otherwise, food particles and acids which remain on your teeth after eating are trapped in your aligners, increasing the risk of enamel erosion and decay.

Whether you wear braces or aligners, you’re especially at risk for food particles sticking around your teeth and in your orthodontic appliances. Talk to Dr. Michael Willes about when to brush your teeth after eating and how to keep your braces or aligners clean throughout the day.

Brushing at Night

Growing up, you probably received regular reminders to brush before bedtime—for several really good reasons:

  • Saliva production slows while you sleep

During the day, saliva helps to wash away food particles and neutralize acidity in our mouths. It also contains proteins and minerals which help keep tooth enamel strong. But as we sleep, saliva production slows dramatically, and our bodies can’t remove bacteria and acids as effectively.

  • Food particles fuel bacterial growth

If you haven’t brushed since morning, you’ve accumulated a whole day’s worth of food particles from meals and snacks. Remember, oral bacteria use the sugars and carbs we eat as fuel to produce the acids which attack our tooth enamel throughout the night.

  • Brushing helps prevent both of these problems

Brushing your teeth before bed not only cleans away the accumulated food particles of the day, but also eliminates the plaque and bacteria which would have a much easier time sticking to your teeth without that daytime saliva flow to wash them away.

So, When’s the Best Time to Brush?

In the morning, during the day, at night—there are solid advantages to brushing any time of day. The question isn’t so much when to brush as how often you should brush.

While many dental professionals consider brushing before bedtime as the most important brush of the day, brushing at least two full minutes, at least twice during a 24 hour period, is a necessity for basic dental hygiene, along with flossing at least once a day.

When you’ve been eating sugary snacks, when you’re showing signs of gingivitis or getting more than your share of cavities, when you want to reduce the chance of plaque and tartar buildup, or when you simply want to make sure you’re doing everything you can to maintain your overall dental health, brushing after meals is also highly recommended.

And when you wear braces or aligners, frequent brushing (and flossing) is the very best way to make sure your teeth stay clean and cavity-free.

Talk to Dr. Michael Willes about your brushing habits at your next appointment at our Carlsbad, CA office. No need to use your imagination to plan your best brushing schedule. We have all the answers you need to help you brush your way to your best—and healthiest—smile!

Spacing Out

April 15th, 2020

One of the most common reasons for getting braces is because there’s just not enough room for all your teeth to fit next to each other evenly. The result is overlapping and crooked teeth. What’s the first step in creating the space you need? Well, that depends on just how much room you need to align your teeth and bite properly.

When there is going to be a serious need for space, there are orthodontic solutions that can help, including palatal expanders, surgical options, and extractions. But if you only need a tiny bit of room so that regular braces will fit properly, we have a tiny solution—orthodontic spacers!

Why do you need to make space before you get braces? Because Dr. Michael Willes might need to make some room around crowded molars so your braces can be installed properly.

For example, you might need orthodontic bands to anchor your braces. An orthodontic band is a slim, custom-fitted ring of metal which fits snugly around a molar. It is durable, provides a place to attach bands and springs to help correct malocclusions (bite problems), and can securely surround a tooth that might be weak because of a large filling. Spacers can separate crowded teeth just enough to allow a band to be fitted around a molar.

Even if you don’t need bands, sometimes separators are necessary to provide enough space between the teeth for your braces to work effectively. The back teeth tend to move even closer together with braces, and, without adequate space, bite problems, risk of decay, and other difficulties can arise.

And while you might think that some serious equipment is in order to make room between those sturdy molars, the typical spacer, or separator, is actually extremely simple--usually a tiny, round elastic band, often made of rubber. Spacers can be placed between tight teeth in a matter of minutes. Each ring is stretched and positioned between your teeth with a special tool. As it returns to its original shape, the spacer’s width provides just enough pressure on the teeth it touches to make a bit of space between them. And a bit of space is usually all you’ll need.

What do spacers feel like? For some people, they can be uncomfortable. You might feel soreness, some pressure, or as though a piece of food is stuck between your teeth. Ask us for suggestions on making you more comfortable, whether it’s dining on ice cream and cold drinks, eating soft foods, or taking over-the-counter pain relief. Separators are only designed to be in place for a very short period (usually under two weeks), but if they are causing you pain, give us a call.

What do you need to do to help the process along? Actually, it’s more what you need not to do. Don’t use dental picks or floss on your separators, avoid chewing gum, and take chewy and sticky foods off the menu. And don’t be tempted to touch or play with your spacers!

Spacers can create space between the teeth so quickly and efficiently that they often fall out on their own after a few days. If your separators fall out, give our Carlsbad, CA office a call. It could mean that you are ready for your braces, and on the way to a lifetime of healthy, beautiful smiles. And it’s a journey that begins with a tiny, springy step.

I Have Gum Disease. Can I Still Get Braces?

April 8th, 2020

Gum disease is one of our most common dental diseases, affecting both children and adults. If you are considering getting braces or aligners, make sure your gums are their healthiest before beginning orthodontic treatment.

  • Gingivitis

For both younger and older patients, gingivitis (mild gum disease) can be the result of poor brushing and flossing habits. When plaque builds up around the teeth and gums, it irritates delicate gum tissue. The gums become inflamed, and symptoms such as redness, swelling, tenderness, bleeding, and bad breath can result. Usually, your dentist can treat early stages of gingivitis with tips on more efficient brushing and flossing, a professional cleaning, and suggestions for mouth rinses if needed.

Because brushing and flossing with braces can be more difficult, you need to devote special attention to your cleaning routine to prevent gingivitis from developing after you start treatment. Talk to us any time about how to brush and floss most effectively when you wear braces. Dr. Michael Willes can also recommend tools designed especially for braces wearers to get your teeth and gums as clean and plaque-free as possible. If you are a candidate for clear aligners, this option can make it easier to keep your teeth their cleanest. We’ll work with you to keep your gums healthy as your orthodontic work takes place.

  • Periodontitis

For older patients, gingivitis, left untreated, can eventually lead to periodontitis (severe gum disease). This chronic infection can lead to the formation of pockets between your gums and teeth that become home to bacteria and infection. Over time, periodontitis can lead to the destruction of gum, ligament, and bone tissue. Left untreated, it can lead to loose teeth and even bone and tooth loss.

Making sure you schedule regular dental exams will allow your dentist or periodontist to detect and treat any signs of periodontitis as early as possible. If you have any of the symptoms of gum disease, it’s important to treat the cause of these symptoms as soon as possible to protect your gums, bone, and teeth. Deep cleaning procedures such as scaling and root planing, topical and oral antibiotics, and oral surgeries such as flap surgery or bone and tissue grafting can help reverse the effects of periodontitis.

Because orthodontic treatment involves moving the teeth and re-forming the ligament and bone tissue, which hold them in place, you need healthy periodontal ligaments and bones to begin treatment. If you have suffered shifting teeth or bone loss due to periodontitis, talk to us. We will let you know at your visit to our Carlsbad, CA office if you are a good candidate for orthodontic work, and which type of appliance is best for your periodontal health.

We are happy to talk to you about the best way to achieve an attractive smile and a healthy bite if gum disease has been a problem in the past. Most important, we want to make sure that your teeth and gums are their healthiest even before you begin orthodontic treatment. Preventing and treating gum disease will provide the foundation you need for a lifetime of beautiful smiles.

This April, Let’s Celebrate National Facial Protection Month!

April 1st, 2020

Poor April. While other months celebrate romance, or giving thanks, or costumes and candy, April has—April Fool’s Day and a tax deadline. We might be forgiven for thinking these two dates seem more like warnings than celebrations.

So here’s a new topic for the April calendar: National Facial Protection Month! Take the opportunity this month to review your safety practices while you’re enjoying your favorite activities.

  • Mouthguards

If you have a mouthguard for sports or athletic activities, wear it! In any activity or sport where humans come into contact with solid objects (including other humans) tooth injury is possible. A mouthguard will help protect you from dental injuries caused by falls, physical contact, or other accidents that might happen in your active life. And it’s not just your teeth—mouthguards protect your lips, tongue, and jaw as well.

You can buy mouthguards in stock sizes or shape-to-fit models, or you can have a guard made especially for you at our Carlsbad, CA office. Custom mouthguards fit perfectly and are designed to make breathing and speaking easy and comfortable. If you wear braces, a custom mouthguard can be designed to protect your smile and your appliance. Just talk to Dr. Michael Willes for suggestions!

After all the time and work you’ve put into your orthodontic care, don’t let a sports injury set you back. What else should you consider for your facial protection?

  • Helmets

If there’s a helmet available for your sport, use it! Helmets are especially important for protecting athletes from brain injury and concussion, and they help protect the face and jaw as well.

  • Face Guards

If you’ve experienced a puck speeding toward you, or a defensive tackle hurtling your way, or a fast ball coming in at 90 miles an hour, you know the importance of wearing a face guard. These guards can help protect your eyes, face, teeth, and jaws. Many sports now recommend using face guards—it’s worth checking to see if your sport is one of them.

  • Eye Protection

And let’s not forget eye protection. Whether it’s safety glasses or a visor, protecting your eyes and the bones around them is extremely important. You can even get sports goggles or protective sports glasses with prescription lenses to keep you safe and seeing clearly.

So here are a few suggestions for your calendar this month:

  • If you haven’t gotten a mouthguard yet, now’s the time. Tooth and mouth injuries occur in sports beyond hockey and football. If you play basketball, ski, skateboard, ride a bike—in fact, almost any sport where you can fall or make contact with a person or object—a mouthguard is a must.
  • If you need to replace an ill-fitting or damaged helmet and face guard, do it before your next game. And do replace a bike helmet if you’ve been in a crash—most likely it won’t be as protective, even if damage isn’t visible.
  • Talk to your eye doctor about protective eyewear if off-the-rack products don’t work for you.
  • If you are a parent or caregiver, make sure your child athlete has the proper facial protection—and uses it.
  • If you are a coach, make sure your athletes have the right protective gear—and wear it.
  • It’s also a great time to commit to using your protective gear every single time you’re active.

But, wait—these reminders are helpful and important, but weren’t we promised something to celebrate this April? Good catch! The great news is, using facial protection for sports and athletic activities gives you rewards you can celebrate all year: fewer injuries, fewer visits to the emergency room, and a beautiful, healthy, intact smile. Suit up!

When Does an Underbite Need Surgery?

April 1st, 2020

When does an underbite need surgery? The short answer is: when Dr. Michael Willes and our team recommend surgery as the best way to give you a healthy, functional bite. But let’s take a longer look, and see just why your doctors might come to that conclusion.

  • First, what exactly is an underbite?

In a perfect bite, the upper and lower jaws align, well, perfectly. Upper teeth overlap lower teeth very slightly, upper and lower teeth meet comfortably, and jawbones and joints function smoothly. When the alignment is off, it causes a malocclusion, or “bad bite.”

When we talk about an underbite, or Class 3 malocclusion, it means that the lower jaw protrudes further than the upper jaw. This protrusion causes the bottom teeth and jaw to overlap the upper teeth and jaw.

  • What causes an underbite?

Sometimes an underbite is caused by childhood behaviors while the teeth and jaw are developing, including tongue thrusting or prolonged thumb-sucking and pacifier use. (Working to stop these behaviors before they affect tooth and jaw formation is one of the many good reasons children should have regular visits with their dentists and pediatricians.)

Most underbites are genetic, however, and tend to run in families. It’s estimated that from five to ten percent of the population has some form of underbite. The lower jawbone (mandible) might be overdeveloped, the upper jawbone (maxilla) might be underdeveloped, both bones could be affected, or, sometimes, tooth size and placement might cause an underbite. These irregularities in jaw shape and size and/or tooth crowding are not something that can be prevented, and require professional treatment.

  • Why? What’s the problem with an underbite?

Even a minor underbite can cause difficulties with biting and chewing. A more severe underbite can lead to speech problems, decay and loss of enamel where the teeth overlap, mouth breathing and sleep apnea, persistent jaw and temporomandibular joint pain, and self-confidence issues.

  • Can’t my dentist treat my underbite?

Most probably not. A very mild underbite can be camouflaged cosmetically with veneers, but this does not address the cause of the underbite, and will not work for moderate or severe underbites.

  • Can my orthodontist treat my underbite?

Dr. Michael Willes will create an underbite treatment plan after a detailed study of each patient’s individual dental and skeletal structure. Treatment options will vary depending on the cause of the underbite, its severity, and even the patient’s age.

Early intervention is especially important for children who show signs of an underbite. That’s why we recommend that children visit our Carlsbad, CA office by the age of seven.

If an underbite is caused by tooth misalignment or crowding, braces can reposition the lower teeth. Sometimes extractions are necessary to make room for proper alignment.

If the cause is due to jaw structure, children’s bones are still forming, so treatment can actually help correct bone development. Palatal expanders, headgear, and other appliances are various methods of encouraging and guiding bone development.

But braces and appliances aren’t effective for every patient with an underbite, and especially in patients (usually those in their late teens and older) when the jawbones are already fully formed. In this case, we might suggest coordinating treatment with an oral and maxillofacial surgeon.

  • What does an oral and maxillofacial surgeon do?

An oral surgeon has the training, experience, and skill to help correct an underbite by surgically reshaping and repositioning the jawbone. This corrective jaw surgery is called orthognathic surgery.

  • What will happen during orthognathic surgery?

Your treatment will be tailored to your specific needs. Two of the common surgical procedures for treating an underbite involve repositioning the upper jaw to lengthen it and/or reshaping the lower jaw to shorten it.

Bone is sometimes removed or added, small bone plates or screws are sometimes used to stabilize the bone after surgery—your surgeon will let you know exactly which procedures will give you a healthy, functional bite. The surgery itself is most often performed under general anesthesia and requires a brief stay in the hospital.

  • How will my orthodontist and oral surgeon coordinate my treatment?

Correcting a Class 3 malocclusion can take time. Your oral surgeon will work together with Dr. Michael Willes to analyze the interrelationship of teeth, bones, and joints to determine dental and skeletal problems, and will develop the best treatment plan possible to create a healthy alignment.

  • So, when does an underbite need surgery?

Sometimes, a minor underbite can be corrected with braces and appliances alone. A serious underbite, however, will often require the specialized skills of both Dr. Michael Willes and an oral surgeon.

And, while it’s not the primary purpose of surgery, corrective jaw surgery and orthodontics can also make you happier with your appearance and boost your self-confidence. Achieving a lifetime of beautiful, comfortable, and healthy smiles—that’s the answer to your question.

Top ten tips for keeping your BRACES sparkling clean!

March 30th, 2020


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!

We hope this helps, and remember to give our team a call if you ever have any questions!

Elements of Braces

March 23rd, 2020


When coming to our office to have braces put on, you may find yourself feeling a bit intimated 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.

Ask Dr. Willes: How long does orthodontic treatment take?

March 10th, 2020


Your smile is totally unique, so the time you’ll need to spend undergoing orthodontic treatment will also be unique. Generally, orthodontic treatment will take about two years, and this is for good reason. During this time, your teeth will slowly move into their desired positions, leaving you with a great smile with as little discomfort as possible. Rushing treatment can result in a less than perfect smile with a greater chance of tooth movement after your treatment is complete. At Willes Orthodontics, we don’t want to waste your time with treatment that won’t retain your smile for the rest of your life.

Of course, treatment time will vary depending on your specific situation. Very minor tooth movement may only take a few months to correct, while serious malocclusion (poor bite) may need more than two years to correct. Only Dr. Willes will be able to accurately estimate the time your treatment will take. But trust us—it’ll all be worth it in the end!

Has your child or teen visited our convenient Carlsbad office for an orthodontic consultation? If not, please give us a call and let us help him or her begin the journey to a gorgeous smile!

Dreaming of a dazzling smile? Dr. Willes & team can help!

March 2nd, 2020


The fact is, most of us aren’t born with a red carpet smile. And that’s where Dr. Michael Willes and our team can help. Of course, orthodontic treatment help make your teeth stay strong, healthy and become perfectly-aligned. But did you know you can get the beautiful straight teeth you’ve always wanted — without braces?

Our team at Willes Orthodontics are proud to offer an adult-friendly option for straightening teeth called Invisalign, which uses a series of invisible, removable and comfortable aligners that no one can tell you’re wearing. So, you can smile more during treatment as well as after. Not only are the aligners invisible, they are removable, so you can eat and drink what you want while in treatment. Plus, brushing and flossing are no problem. They are also comfortable, with no metal to cause mouth abrasions during treatment. And no metal and wires usually means you spend less time at our office getting adjustments. Invisalign also allows you to view your own virtual treatment plan when you start so you can see how your straight teeth will look when your treatment is complete.

If you’ve been thinking about getting that perfect smile, we would love to have you in for a visit. Please give us a call to set one up! A complimentary consultation with Dr. Willes can determine if Invisalign is right for you. See you soon!

The benefits of a beautiful smile, from Dr. Willes

February 25th, 2020


At Willes Orthodontics, we know having an attractive smile puts a spring in your step—or two—as well as increases your self-confidence, no matter if you’re 14 or in your late forties.

Smiling not only makes people happy and puts them in a good mood, doing it often can even help you live longer, according to previous studies!

If you’ve been hiding your smile because you have crooked teeth or gaps between your teeth, it’s time to consider orthodontic treatment at Willes Orthodontics. You’ll be pleasantly surprised to learn how quickly and efficiently today’s most advanced correction techniques can straighten your smile!

Don’t hide your smile any longer—give us a call today to schedule yours or your child’s orthodontic consultation. See you soon!

Regular checkups & your oral health

February 20th, 2020


Are you brushing and flossing daily during your orthodontic treatment? If yes, that’s great! But, don’t forget that it’s also important for you to visit your general dentist every 3-to-6 months in addition to brushing your teeth and flossing (and visiting Willes Orthodontics, of course). Regular dental checkups are important for maintaining good oral health, especially during orthodontic treatment.

Your general dentist can check for problems that might not be seen or felt, detect cavities and early signs of decay, treat oral health problems early and show you how to properly brush and floss your teeth.

During an oral exam your dentist can check the health of your mouth, teeth, gums, cheeks and tongue. Checkups will also include a thorough teeth cleaning and polishing. If you have not been to the dentist in the last six months, let us know during your next visit and we will provide a few great references in the greater Carlsbad area!

Ask Dr. Willes: "I'm 34 - am I too old for orthodontic treatment?"

February 13th, 2020


At Willes Orthodontics, no one is “too old” for orthodontic treatment. In fact, we recently read a fascinating statistic: the number of adults getting braces has jumped 24 percent from just 14 years ago! Yes, braces help make your pearly whites strong, healthy and perfectly-aligned, but perhaps another reason for the spike in adult braces is this: people want to look and feel great.

In an age—and society—where looks matter as much as anything, and at a time when evenly-aligned teeth might be the difference between getting a job or a promotion, adults are choosing—wisely, we might add—to invest in orthodontics. Orthodontic treatment with Dr. Willes can be successful at any age, and adults especially appreciate the benefits of a beautiful smile.

If you’ve been thinking about getting that perfect smile, Dr. Willes would love to have you visit for a complimentary consultation. Please give us a call to set one up!

Softly brushing your way to clean teeth, from Willes Orthodontics

February 5th, 2020


Just as there are so many different types of toothbrushes to choose from, each brush also has a different type of bristle! There are generally three different types of bristles; hard, medium, and soft. Our team at Willes Orthodontics always recommend that our patients, especially children and seniors, use a soft bristled toothbrush.

Using a hard and medium bristled brush can actually harm your teeth and gums by stripping the enamel from the teeth and irritating the gums so that they become red and sore, and can even cause gum recession. If you do use a hard or medium bristled brush as a personal preference, we recommend using an electric toothbrush.

Soft bristles are much gentler on your teeth and gums, and while patients of all ages are recommended to use soft bristled brushes, they are particularly great for children, seniors, patients recovering from a dental procedure, and patients wearing braces.

Soft bristles, and even extra-soft bristles are every bit as effective when it comes to cleaning your teeth; in fact, if you currently use a hard or medium bristled brush, try a soft bristled brush next time you buy a toothbrush and we bet you won’t even notice a difference!

Happy brushing!

"Dentists, Orthodontists ... What's the Difference?"

January 30th, 2020


“Dentists, Orthodontists, they’re all the same right?” We hear our patients asking this question as they wonder about the difference between an orthodontist and a dentist. Before becoming an orthodontist Dr. Michael Willes started out in dental school and earned a dental degree, just like your dentist. After dental school however, Dr. Willes decided he wanted to learn more about orthodontics, which is one of nine specialties within the dental field. So he stayed in school for a few more years and became an expert in orthodontics, which focuses on tooth and jaw alignment and bite problems like overbites and under bites.

Other dental specialties you may have heard of include endodontic (focusing on the soft tissue inside your teeth), periodontic (focusing on the gums and other tissues surrounding your teeth) and prosthodontic (focusing on restoring and replacing damaged teeth).

Isn’t it nice to know there’s a dental expert here at Willes Orthodontics to help you through any type of treatment your teeth, jaw and gums might need?

Ask Dr. Willes: Which foods should I avoid while wearing braces?

January 27th, 2020


Great question! Our team at Willes Orthodontics will tell you there are a lot of foods we want you to stay away from while you’re wearing braces. Some foods can occasionally damage braces, but certain foods can bend the wires or even break the brackets on your braces. If you’re wearing braces, you should avoid starch, sugar and gummy foods, as these foods can be difficult to remove during brushing. Foods that are high in sugar and starch tend to cause plaque, cavities and even tooth decay.

Avoid tough meats, hard breads and raw vegetables such as carrots and celery. Before long, you’ll be able to bite a cucumber again. But you’ll need to protect your orthodontic appliances when you eat for as long as you’re wearing braces.

Foods you should avoid include:

• Chewy foods: bagels, hard rolls, licorice
• Crunchy foods: popcorn, ice, chips
• Sticky foods: caramels, gum
• Hard foods: nuts, candy
• Foods you have to bite into: corn on the cob, apples, carrots
• Chewing on hard things (for example, pens, pencils or fingernails) can damage the braces. Damaged braces will cause treatment to take longer.

If you have any questions on which foods you should be avoiding and why, we invite you to give us a call or ask Dr. Willes or one of our team members during your next visit! Or, you can always ask us on Facebook!

The importance of visiting your dentist during treatment, from Willes Orthodontics

January 20th, 2020


Are you brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing? If yes, that’s terrific! But, don’t forget that it’s also important for you to visit the dentist every six months in addition to brushing your teeth a couple times a day (and coming in to see Dr. Willes, of course). Regular dental checkups are important for maintaining good oral health.

Your dentist can also:

• Check for problems that might not be seen or felt
• Detect cavities and early signs of decay
• Treat oral health problems early

During an oral exam your general dentist will check the health of your mouth, teeth, gums, cheeks and tongue. Checkups will also include a thorough teeth cleaning and polishing. If you have not been to the dentist in the last six months, it’s time for you to schedule an appointment! Or, ask us at Willes Orthodontics and we'll refer a couple of great names in Carlsbad or surrounding areas!

Everything I need to know about teeth, I learned from a preschooler!

January 13th, 2020

Almost 10 years ago, Dr. Michael Willes’s office was full of eager Carlsbad Kruger House preschoolers who were learning about how very un-scary it is to go to the dentist. They got to hear a story about “Little Critter” visiting his dentist; they talked about proper brushing and flossing techniques with a set of giant teeth; they squirmed at the thought of thousands of “invisible cavity bugs” in their mouths; they had a chance to touch a spinning hand piece and see that it tickles and doesn’t hurt …. and best of all, they got to give their enthusiastic input about how to take care of healthy teeth.

Several things Dr. Willes taught those cute little kids can provide us insights, too … like why flossing is important and how it works: “Think of your teeth and gums like wearing a turtleneck sweater; just like the space between the sweater and your neck, there’s a space between your teeth and gums that needs to be cleaned.” Or, on how braces work: “It’s like the brackets are handles that the wire can use to move your teeth.” Or on healthy eating habits: “It’s OK to have some gum or soda, as long as you clean your teeth afterward.” And on toothbrush choice: “Soft bristles are best because sometimes if the bristles are too hard, it can hurt your gums.”

The best idea, though, came when one of the darling kids suggested that a great way to go to the dentist would be on a zipline. That would certainly add a whole new level of excitement to dental care! Don't you think?

One thing is for sure, we at Willes Orthodontics appreciate the excitement that having those sweet kids in our office provided!!

 

A little bit about us...

January 8th, 2020


As we often tell you, we truly believe that we at Willes Orthodontics are privileged to know and work with some of the finest people around! We are so grateful to have you as our patients and friends. We are honored that you have chosen us and trusted us to help you improve your smile. And we love all the interactions we have with YOU that make US smile!! Thank YOU for making Willes Orthodontics awesome!!

Since we are who we are because of you, we are looking forward to now being able to connect with you in additional, exciting ways outside the office! Through Facebook and our blog and even our YouTube Channel, we can now touch base with you more often than every six or eight weeks. We can update you on interesting events at the office and offer you helpful orthodontic information. We can acknowledge your achievements, and show you some of what we’re accomplishing, in and out of the office.

As part of this, we encourage you to share with us: if you’ve got something interesting or exciting in your life, post it on our page--we would love to hear!! If something fun or noteworthy happened at the office or if you have a funny story relating to your braces, we’d love to know, too. We want our page to be YOUR page!

So, welcome to a new aspect of Willes Orthodontics. We are looking forward to this chance to share and interact with you, and we hope you enjoy it, too! Also, feel free to invite your friends to join us, as well!

Ask Dr. Willes: Who benefits from braces?

January 1st, 2020


Braces aren’t just for pre-adolescents and teenagers anymore! Dr. Michael Willes will tell you that anyone, at any age, can benefit from orthodontic treatment, whether it’s correcting a problem not treated in your younger years, or catching a problem early.

To ensure the best overall treatment, the American Association of Orthodontists, or AAO, recommends that children receive an orthodontic consultation as early as age seven. If a problem is evident, taking action early can spare a lot of treatment and expense down the road.

If you never received orthodontic treatment when you were young, don’t worry! You’re never too old for a beautiful smile at Willes Orthodontics . Set up an appointment for a complimentary consultation and find out how orthodontics will transform your smile, as well as your life!

Why Do I Need Rubber Bands?

August 14th, 2019

Getting braces is a huge step in creating the beautiful smile you want. It’s easy to see how important your wires and brackets are. Week by week, you and your family and friends can see the progress you’re making as your teeth become straighter. That makes all the careful brushing, periodic adjustments at our Carlsbad, CA office, and annoying loose ligatures worthwhile.

And while straight, even teeth are the visible reward you get for your months in braces, there’s a benefit that’s every bit as important that might go unnoticed by your friends and family—a healthy, properly aligned bite.

Many people have some kind of malocclusion, or bad bite. There are several different bite problems we treat. Some of the most common are:

  • Overjet (the upper front teeth protrude too far forward over the bottom teeth)
  • Underbite (the bottom teeth overlap the top teeth)
  • Crossbite (one or more teeth haven’t come in in the proper position, often with an upper tooth fitting inside a lower tooth)
  • Open bite (the upper and lower front teeth don’t touch).

When the jaws and teeth don’t fit together properly, you might be looking at damaged teeth, headaches, and painful problems with the temporomandibular joint, or jaw joint, in your future. That’s why correcting your bite early is so important. Using rubber bands with your braces is one of the most popular and effective ways to help create a better bite.

Bands are used with your braces to gradually move your teeth into their best position. Specially designed brackets with tiny hooks are bonded to very specific teeth. Why so specific? Because the placement of the brackets depends on which type of malocclusion we are correcting. Rubber bands are then attached to the bracket hooks, usually from an upper tooth to a lower one. When they are in just the right position, those little bands provide just enough force to move your teeth more quickly and effectively than braces alone can.

If you need bands to help correct any kind of malocclusion, you will play a very important part in your orthodontic treatment. It will be your job to attach your bands every day. Don’t worry—while it can seem confusing at first, we’ll make sure you know exactly how and where to place them.

How long should they stay in? You’ll probably need to wear your bands 24 hours a day. It’s while you’re moving your mouth and jaw muscles that your bands are working their hardest. Talk to us about removing them for brushing and flossing, and whether you should wear them while you eat.

Can you use the same bands over several days? Not a good idea. Bands are selected for size and strength to move your teeth very precisely from visit to visit. When bands stay on too long, they become too stretched out to supply the proper pressure needed to move your teeth efficiently. Dr. Michael Willes will let you know how long is too long for your specific bands.

Are two bands better than one? Absolutely not. Again, the bands you’re given at each visit are designed for your specific needs. Too much pressure can actually be harmful. Just keep to your recommended schedule of replacing bands, and your orthodontic treatment will stay right on track.

Attaching rubber bands? Keeping them on all during the day? Replacing them as needed? All of these responsibilities might seem a bit overwhelming at first, but we are here to give you all the information and support you need to succeed. Because straight, even teeth and a bite that is healthy and functional? That’s truly how you create your beautiful smile!

 

Taking Charge of Your Dental Health

August 7th, 2019

Now that you’re a teenager, you have a lot more responsibility and independence. Choosing high school classes and electives. Getting a driver’s license. Landing your first job. And those new responsibilities extend to your dental health as well!

  • Braces

If you’ve just gotten braces, you might feel a bit overwhelmed. Learning how to brush and floss effectively, attaching rubber bands several times a day, keeping track of your hours if you’re wearing clear aligners—it can seem like a lot. But you can do it! With time and practice, caring for your braces will become just another part of your daily routine. Dr. Michael Willes and our team are here to make sure you have all the information and tools you need to succeed. The most important thing to remember is that the better you follow our instructions, the quicker and more effective your orthodontic treatment will be.

  • Retainers

If you’ve successfully completed your orthodontic treatment, dealing with your retainer should be a piece of cake! We will give you clear instructions on how long each day you should wear your retainer. Sticking to this schedule is really important--if you don’t wear the appliance as directed, you can undo some of the progress you’ve worked so hard to make. And when you’re not wearing your retainer, be sure it has a safe life outside your mouth. Keep it in a protective case, and keep it someplace where the puppy/the washing machine/the cafeteria trash bin won’t find it.

  • Mouthguards

If you have a mouthguard for sports or athletic activities, wear it! Whether you have an over-the-counter device or a custom fabricated guard, it won’t do you any good hiding in your locker. A mouthguard cuts down on tooth and facial injuries caused by falls, physical contact, or other accidents that might happen in your active life. And if you wear braces, ask about a mouthguard designed to fit around them. These custom devices protect your braces and your mouth.

Finally, remember that sticking with your dental routine—two minutes of brushing morning and night and thorough flossing each day—will keep your gums and teeth healthy throughout your teen years. And, if you have any questions about your dental health in general, or a specific dental concern, give our Carlsbad, CA office a call! We’re here to work with you for a lifetime of beautiful smiles.

Awesome Archwires

July 17th, 2019

When we think braces, we can’t help but think of the brackets on each tooth and the colorful ligature bands that surround them. But actually, the whole point of those brackets and bands is to hold the archwire in place as it gradually moves your teeth to create a better bite and a straighter smile. Let’s learn more about this talented part of your braces!

  • Wire We Wearing These, Anyway?

Archwires use gentle, continuous pressure to move your teeth into alignment. That sounds simple, but there is actually a lot going on. Teeth often need more than realigning. Some teeth need to be turned a bit, some tilted. Your teeth need to be better aligned with those next to them, of course, but also need to fit properly with the teeth above or below them. You might have a malocclusion, or bad bite.

How can one wire handle all that? Well, it can’t. That’s why there are different types of wire. We often use thinner, flexible wires at the beginning of treatment, to put gentle pressure on the teeth as they start their movement. Other wires are firmer, and can be helpful in later phases, when each tooth is carefully moved to its specific, ideal spot. Archwires can be round or rectangular, thicker or thinner, springy or stiff, remember their shape or be bendable—all depending on what they need to do.

Whew! This sounds confusing, but Dr. Michael Willes and our team are archwire experts! At every adjustment appointment, we check on the progress of your alignment and choose the exact wire you need to take you to the next stage of your orthodontic journey.

  • Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Wire

Now that you have braces, it’s more challenging to make sure that your teeth are clean after eating. We’ll give you advice on how to get rid of the pesky food particles that sometimes get stuck in your braces. First, that’s absolutely not the look you’re going for. But, more than that, bacteria can use these “leftovers” as fuel to create the acids that damage your enamel and cause cavities.

There’s a whole new world of dental products out there waiting to help get your braces clean. Special toothbrush heads work in the spaces between your teeth and the archwire. There are floss threaders that can get dental floss into tight places, and flosses with one stiff end you can guide under the wire so you can direct the floss to where it’s needed. There are even tiny cone-shaped brushes called “interproximal brushes” that can fit under your wires to clean around your brackets and teeth.

Take a care kit to school or work with you so you can keep the tooth surface under your wires and around your brackets free of plaque. After all the hard work you’ve put in with your braces, the last thing you want is cavities once you’ve achieved your beautiful smile!

  • Down to the Wire

We said archwires were awesome, but we didn’t say they were perfect! We couldn’t leave without suggestions for handling any wire-related problems that might come up.

One of the most common problems is the irritation caused by the end of a wire that has somehow come loose. You might be able to use a cotton swab to gently push the wire flat against the tooth. If that doesn’t work, orthodontic wax can be used to cover the end of the problem wire and smoothed into place. We’ll provide you with instructions on how to handle these and other minor wire problems at home. 

Other problems should be run past us first. If you feel your wire is coming loose, or if a loose end is causing a lot of pain and irritation, call our Carlsbad, CA office. We’ll give you instructions on how to help, and make an appointment if necessary for a professional fix.

In fact, call us anytime you have questions about your braces. We’re here to help you understand each phase of the orthodontic process as you move step by step on the path to a healthy bite and a beautiful smile. And what’s more awesome than that?

Adjusting Your Diet after a Braces Adjustment

July 10th, 2019

We all welcome the idea of braces adjustments at our Carlsbad, CA office—an adjustment, after all, means you have taken another step on the way to your ideal smile! But sometimes the reality of an adjustment can be a little less welcome—you might have a few days of discomfort as you get used to new or different pressure on your teeth. Luckily, there are some menu options that will help you get through these days in a comfortable and tasty way.

Keep Your Cool

If you are feeling a bit sore after your braces have been tightened, a cool treat might be just the thing. Ice cream is the classic choice, but if you are looking for some healthier options, consider yogurt. It generally has less sugar, while still providing soothing, creamy sweetness. A fruit or vegetable smoothie is always a good (and nutritious) choice. Pudding and gelatin cups? Chilly, delicious, and easy to eat.

Comfort Food

Some of our favorite comfort foods mean literal comfort for newly adjusted braces. Creamy soups, soft pastas and noodles, mashed potatoes, and macaroni and cheese are warm, silky options that don’t require a lot of chewing. Just don’t go too hot or too spicy—that might irritate sensitive gum and mouth tissue.

Breakfast All Day Long

Most of our favorite braces-friendly breakfast foods are delicious any time of day. Eggs scrambled, fried, or in an omelet are easy on your braces and packed with protein. Are you an oatmeal fan? Try some oatmeal with mashed fruit for a more flavorful bowl. And you can’t beat the taste and texture of pillowy pancakes.

The discomfort that follows an adjustment is temporary, but treat your teeth—and yourself—gently over the next day or two. Take over-the-counter medication if needed for pain, brush carefully, and eat a comforting, comfortable diet. Soon you will be back to your normal, braces-friendly menu, and one step further on your way to a beautiful smile!

Orthodontic Myths

July 3rd, 2019

Some myths never wear out their welcome. If the Tooth Fairy helps your child transition from baby teeth to adult teeth, more power to her! On the other hand, some myths we can do without. Here are five common misconceptions about orthodontics, and the reality behind the myth.

  • It’s Only Cosmetic

If you think orthodontists can make a crooked smile straight, you’re right! Creating a beautifully aligned smile is one of our specialties. And if your primary interest is in a straight, even smile for you or your child, that’s a good thing. You can’t underestimate the confidence a beautiful smile brings. But please don’t think that’s all we do. In orthodontics, aesthetics and function work together. An essential part of an orthodontist’s work is diagnosing and treating malocclusions, or bad bites. The correct alignment of teeth and jaw is what makes a beautiful smile a healthy one as well.

  • I Don’t Need an Orthodontist for Orthodontic Treatment

All dentists receive comprehensive training and experience in order to earn their dental degrees. But did you know orthodontists like Dr. Michael Willes receive two to three years of additional formal training, concentrating specifically in the field of orthodontics? An orthodontist is a specialist, and diagnoses and treats problems with tooth alignment while taking into account dental, jaw and facial development. That is why an orthodontic specialist is best qualified to create a unique, custom-tailored treatment plan for each patient in order to achieve a beautiful, balanced, and healthy smile.

  • My Child is Too Young for Orthodontic Treatment

We actually recommend that every child see an orthodontist for an evaluation by the age of seven. It’s important to be aware of any potential orthodontic problems that might affect your child’s later years, but we can also treat problems even before braces are on the horizon. If your child’s mouth is very small, we may recommend gently enlarging the upper dental arch with the use of a palatal expander to accommodate adult teeth as they erupt. If a baby tooth is lost too soon, we can provide a space maintainer so your child’s permanent tooth can erupt in the right place. We can even treat bite problems before all the adult teeth arrive. A visit when your child is young might help prevent the need for more complicated treatment in the future.

  • I’m Too Old for Orthodontic Treatment

You’re really not. As long as your teeth and gums are healthy, orthodontic treatment is a great way to keep them healthy. Crowded teeth and malocclusions can lead to problems like worn or cracked enamel, headaches, jaw problems, increased tooth decay, and periodontal disease, to name but a few. And today’s orthodontics offer a much wider variety of treatment options than the metal gear you remember from your high school days. Which leads us to our last myth of the day:

  • Those Metal Braces Aren’t for Me

In that case, it’s a good thing we have many other options to offer. Ceramic brackets and clear elastic ligatures make traditional braces much less visible. Lingual braces use brackets and wires placed behind the teeth, which are almost impossible to detect. And clear aligners allow you to subtly reposition your teeth with each new aligner tray—and are removable if need be. In fact, even those metal braces you might remember from your own high school days have gotten smaller and sleeker. Talk to us about the many discreet options available for older and younger patients.

If you are interested in what orthodontics might do for you, give our Carlsbad, CA office a call! We are here to help you discover what’s possible and then to design the best possible treatment plan in order to achieve it.  Let’s make your beautiful, healthy smile a reality!

New Ligatures? Some Things to Consider When You Choose Your Hues

June 26th, 2019

Colorful elastic ligatures (the official name for those tiny bands around your brackets) are often replaced when you come in to have your braces adjusted. Which is great! Now you have the opportunity to go with your team colors, or your school colors, or tones that work with your skin and eyes, or shades that represent your favorite holiday season. Today’s bands come in a wide variety of colors, so you never need to worry about becoming bored with your choices.

But are there certain hues that can be a bit more challenging to work with. Let’s look at some of those trickier tones.

  • Lunch Look-Alikes

If you don’t want kind friends constantly informing you that you have something stuck in your teeth, you might want to leave certain colors off your list. Dark greens and browns can sometimes give the appearance of food trapped in your braces. Have a look at the shades available, and see what is least likely to send you running for a mirror and a toothbrush.

  • Smile Dimmers

A blazing white band might seem like a good match to your blazing white teeth, but for many people, really light colors can make teeth look more yellow. And often bands in shades of yellow can bring out any yellow in your enamel. If you’re looking for a brighter smile, try some darker, richer tones for a gleaming contrast.

  • You’re So Over the Rainbow

If you are someone who loves a monochromatic look, perhaps any colors will be, well, just too colorful. In that case, there are ligatures for you! Silver or grey braces will blend with your metal brackets, and clear or tooth-colored bands will be less obvious with metal or ceramic brackets. Light colored bands can be more prone to staining, so keep that in mind if you’re going for invisibility or a close bracket match.

Now with all that being said, you be you! If you like a color, give it a go. It might be the perfect accessory for your smile and your personality. And, if it doesn’t work . . . no big deal! You can explore another part of the color palette on your very next adjustment to our Carlsbad, CA office.

What Are Adjustments?

June 19th, 2019

If you’ve just gotten braces at our Carlsbad, CA office, you’ve probably also learned a whole new vocabulary. Malocclusion, brackets, archwires, ligatures, elastics—you’ve got the definitions down. But now you’re scheduled for an “adjustment.” What exactly does that mean?

Why Do I Need an Adjustment?

After all, you’ve just gotten braces! But the fact is, moving your teeth to their ideal location is a process that involves many steps. The brackets and wires you have today are only a starting point. Wires, and rubber bands if you need them, put gentle pressure on the teeth, gradually moving them into a better position. Every time we see you, we check the progress you’ve made and adjust your braces to move the teeth into even better alignment. It’s a careful process to make sure your teeth and jaws fit together perfectly for straight teeth and a healthy bite.

What Will Happen at an Adjustment?

Because your braces are made specifically for you, there is no one answer for everyone or even every appointment. Usually, your ligatures (the colorful bands around your brackets) will be removed, and often the orthodontic wire that is attached to your brackets will be removed as well. We’ll check to make sure you are brushing and flossing properly around your wires and brackets, and check on the condition of your braces.

Your wire might be adjusted, or bent, or tightened, or replaced all together. In the beginning, the wire will probably be more flexible. Later in your treatment, you might get a thicker, firmer wire to move your teeth more effectively, or we might bend a wire to move specific teeth.

If you need rubber bands to make sure your bite is in alignment, we’ll show you how to attach and take care of those. We’ll also look for other adjustments that might need to be made to your brackets. If you have any concerns about brackets, wires, or any other part of your braces, let Dr. Michael Willes know! And once we’re done adjusting your braces, this is your chance to change the color of your ligatures for a new look.

Will It Hurt?

You might suffer some discomfort in the hours after an adjustment, so treat yourself gently! Stick to soft foods for a few days, and treat yourself to something cold and soothing like ice cream, yogurt, or a smoothie. Brush gently if your teeth are sensitive. Usually, over-the-counter pain relievers will take care of any soreness. You can even take a pain reliever 30 minutes to an hour before the adjustment if you are expecting some discomfort. We have more great ideas on how to reduce any tenderness you might feel—let us know if we can suggest some.

Within a day or two, you should be back to normal. If you ever suffer serious discomfort, or if the soreness lasts more than a few days, give us a call.

Remember, each adjustment brings you closer to your goal—straight teeth and a healthy bite. And that’s the definition of a beautiful smile!

How Long Will I Wear My Braces?

June 12th, 2019

How long? Well, a beautiful smile is both science and art—proper teeth and jaw alignment united with aesthetically pleasing results. Orthodontists achieve both these outcomes with a careful analysis of any dental and facial problems, a treatment plan designed specifically for each patient’s needs, and adjustments through each phase of treatment to carefully bring about that beautiful smile.

And that’s a long way of saying, there’s no one, standard answer as to how long a patient will wear braces because there is no one, standard patient. Often, treatment takes from 18 to 24 months, but it can be months shorter or months longer depending on a variety of different circumstances.

  • Different Needs

Your orthodontic needs and goals will generally determine your treatment time. Some patients need only a bit of alignment, which can lead to a fairly short orthodontic experience. Some have malocclusions such as crossbites and open bites that require more complex and lengthy treatment.

And, while we used to think of orthodontics as a teenage rite of passage, that’s certainly no longer the case. Some children will need two-phase orthodontic treatment, where early procedures before the adult teeth even come in ease the way for any necessary second stage treatment when the permanent teeth arrive years later. And some adults will want orthodontic work later in life, where denser bone tissue might lead to (somewhat) longer treatment.

  • Different Appliances

Today’s orthodontics offers you many choices in appliances. Lingual braces are an almost invisible option, with brackets and wires on the inside of the teeth. Aligners use clear, custom molded trays to move the teeth into a better position with each new tray. Even traditional braces are smaller and sleeker today, with metal or less visible ceramic brackets. Depending on the orthodontic goals you want to achieve, there might be a small difference in the amount of time each appliance will take to get you to those goals. Talk to us about all your options and what they mean for treatment time.

  • Different Levels of Participation in the Process

This is one area you can make a real difference! If you follow our instructions for using your appliances most effectively, you’ll make progress as quickly as possible. If you have aligner trays, be sure to wear them for as long as directed each day. If you have rubber bands attached to brackets on your upper and lower teeth, wear them for as many hours as required, because these little bands are actually the tools that are moving your teeth into alignment. If you don’t wear your braces or aligners as directed, not much is going to happen, and certainly not on schedule.

Give our Carlsbad, CA office a call, and we can discuss your goals for creating your very best smile. Once we’ve decided on a treatment plan, Dr. Michael Willes can give you a fairly good estimate as to how long your particular treatment will take. And, when you get to share that beautiful, healthy smile, the time you’ve spent achieving it will be well worth it!

 

The Truth about TMJ

June 5th, 2019

TMJ is the quick way of referring to your Temporomandibular Joint. Pardon the pun, but that’s quite a mouthful! What is this joint, what does it do, and, if your Dr. Michael Willes and our team have told you that you have a TMJ disorder, what can we do to help?

The Temporomandibular Joint

Your two temporomandibular joints are amazing works of anatomical design. These are the joints where the temporal bone in the skull meets the mandible bone of the jaw, and allow our mouths to open and close, move back and forth, and slide from side to side. Muscle, bone, and cartilage work together to provide easy movement and to cushion the joint. But sometimes, the joint doesn’t work as smoothly as it should, and this can lead to Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, or TMD.

When Should You Suspect You Have TMD?

You might have TMD if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • Painful chewing
  • Pain around your TMJ, or in your face or neck
  • Earaches
  • Changes in your bite
  • Jaws that are limited in movement or lock open or shut
  • Clicking, popping or grating noises when you open and shut your jaw

There are many conditions linked to TMD. If you grind your teeth at night, have arthritis in the jaw, have suffered an injury or infection in the area, or have problems with your bite, for example, you might be more likely to have TMJ problems. If you suspect you have TMD, or suffer from any of the symptoms listed above for an extended period, give us a call.

Treating TMD

During your visit to our Carlsbad, CA office, we will check your medical history, and examine your head and neck. We can take an X-ray or scan if needed for further examination of the joint. Because there is no real scientific agreement yet about the best way to treat TMJ disorders, a conservative treatment plan is often best. If you do show signs of TMD, we might first suggest relaxation techniques, over-the-counter pain relievers, or the use of ice packs or moist heat compresses. A change to a softer diet can help, and you should stop chewing gum and making any exaggerated jaw movements.

If these self-care practices aren’t effective, we might suggest a nightguard. This appliance is a comfortable and flexible mouthguard custom fitted for you, and will bring relief from teeth grinding when worn at night. If this treatment is not effective, talk to us about other options.

Luckily, most cases of TMD are temporary and don’t become worse over time. But any persistent discomfort is a good reason to visit us. Whether you have TMD, or any other problem causing you pain in the head or jaw, we want to help.

Tips to Keep Braces Clean

May 29th, 2019

Orthodontic technology changes and improves all the time. Today’s braces are lighter, smaller, and more efficient than those of past years. Wires are thinner and more flexible. Even brackets come in different styles and colors. These developments are all great news for braces wearers. Unfortunately, there is one advancement we haven’t been able to offer: self-cleaning braces.

Brackets and wires can both trap food particles and make brushing them away more difficult. This can lead to increased plaque, cavities, and staining around the area of your braces. But with the proper supplies and habits, keeping your braces clean will become routine in no time.

Braces-healthy Supplies

  • Toothbrush

Your old toothbrush might work well enough with some brushing adjustments. We can show you how to angle your brush so it works most effectively, and how to make sure the bristles clean around your braces. Or, if you like, there are actually manual toothbrushes designed just for braces. These have V-shaped bristles to make cleaning around the brackets easier. Some people find an electric toothbrush works best. Whichever type of brush you use, be sure you use it often!

  • Floss

Again, if regular floss works for you, stay with your normal products. If you are finding it difficult to get into the narrow spaces around your braces, there are floss threaders to get the floss into tight spaces, and flosses specially designed to work with braces.

  • Interproximal brush

A big name for a tiny brush! These little cone-shaped brushes can clean around your brackets and under your wires—a great way to reach parts of your teeth your regular brush can’t.

Braces-healthy Habits

  • Brush after every meal and sugary drink

Because food particles tend to stick to your braces, and the bacteria in plaque feed on these particles, your enamel is under attack without thorough cleaning after meals. Take a toothbrush and supplies with you to school or work so that you can always brush after eating. If there is absolutely no way to brush, be sure to rinse immediately with water.

  • Brush carefully

Pay attention to each tooth, the area around your braces, and your gum line. And don’t forget the tops and inside of your teeth! A common suggestion for braces wearers is to devote at least ten seconds to each tooth. We might also recommend a special mouthwash to reduce bacteria and help keep your mouth and breath fresh.

  • Brush on the go

Put together a cleaning kit for when you are out of the house. A brush, some floss, and toothpaste in a handy container will let you brush whenever you need to, wherever you may be. Leave it in your backpack or bag, and you’re ready for anything!

  • Watch your diet

Foods that stick to teeth will stick to braces, so avoid caramels, licorice, chewy candies, and any other sticky treats. Why make your life more difficult?

While braces can make brushing and flossing more complicated, you can still keep your teeth clean, bright, and cavity-free. And remember, regular dental exams and professional cleanings are more important than ever during this time. At your next visit to our Carlsbad, CA office, talk to Dr. Michael Willes about the best products and practices for the cleanest possible teeth and braces. We have plenty of ideas to help make sure you’ll have the healthy, beautiful smile you’ve worked so hard for when those braces come off!

Ceramic Braces

January 30th, 2019

Congratulations! You have made the decision to get orthodontic treatment at our Carlsbad, CA office. Now it’s time to choose among your various appliance options. Traditional metal brackets and wires, lingual braces, a series of aligners—they all have positives to recommend them. And for some people, ceramic braces are the clear favorite.

Ceramic braces work like regular metal braces. Brackets are bonded to the front of each tooth, and rubber bands surrounding the brackets hold the arch wire that gradually moves the teeth into alignment.

Ceramic braces, however, use brackets made of clear or tooth-colored ceramic or porcelain which blend beautifully with the color of your tooth. The elastic ligatures, or rubber bands, can be chosen to match the brackets or your enamel. There are self-ligating ceramic brackets which don’t use bands at all. Technology is even working on ways to make the arch wire less visible! The end result is braces that are almost undetectable.

If you want a less obvious appliance for professional or personal reasons, talk to us about ceramic braces. As always, there are other factors to consider before you decide, which we will be happy to discuss with you.

  • Ceramic brackets are very strong, but they are still more brittle than the metal model. If you play a contact sport, these might not be for you. (But whatever braces you choose, please wear a mouthguard when playing sports.)
  • Ceramic braces might not be ideal depending on the amount of alignment and bite correction that is needed. They might also take a bit more time to bring your teeth into alignment. We will be able to tell you if ceramic braces will work for you and if they might require a longer period to move your teeth to their perfect position.
  • Brackets can sometimes be somewhat larger (though this isn’t always the case), and, because they can be abrasive, are often recommended for upper teeth only. This way, the lower teeth will not impact, or be impacted by, contact with the upper teeth.
  • Oral hygiene can trickier with ceramic braces. Although today’s brackets aren’t as prone to staining, you still need to be careful to brush away the plaque that can accumulate around the brackets. And the bands are susceptible to staining by the usual suspects—coffee, tea, colas, blueberries, or any strongly colored food or beverage.
  • Costs will differ depending on the treatment method you choose. Talk to us about cost comparisons with other orthodontic treatments.

Ceramic braces, because they are so much less visible, are a popular orthodontic option, especially for older teenagers and adults. If you are interested, talk to Dr. Michael Willes about this effective way to straighten your teeth—discreetly. Ceramic might be the clear solution for creating your lasting, beautiful smile.

Orthodontics: From Tooth Fairy to Retainer

January 23rd, 2019

You might be surprised to learn that Dr. Michael Willes and our team recommend an orthodontic appointment even before your child has had that last visit from the Tooth Fairy. In fact, orthodontic assessments at our Carlsbad, CA office can be beneficial at many stages of your child’s life. Let’s look at some of the reasons why.

The Right Spaces

There’s a reason why we recommend that every child see an orthodontist by the age of seven. If there’s room enough in your child’s mouth to accommodate all the permanent teeth that will be arriving soon, you’re good to go. But if it looks like there won’t be enough space for those adult teeth, there are solutions we can offer to make the transition from baby teeth to adult teeth a smoother one.

  • If your child’s mouth is small, the permanent teeth might have too little room to fit in when they arrive. We may recommend gently enlarging the upper dental arch with the use of a palatal expander. This device will provide room for the adult teeth, and could potentially shorten second phase treatment time.
  • Too much space can also be a problem. If a child loses a baby tooth too soon, too much space between the remaining teeth can cause them to shift out of position, leaving the wrong spot open for the adult tooth to come in. We might recommend a space maintainer so that there is no shifting of the teeth, and there is room for the adult tooth to erupt in its proper spot.
  • If there is a bite problem, early treatment can prevent more serious problems down the road.

If no treatment is necessary immediately, we can monitor the development of your child’s teeth and bite during periodic visits.

(Stay in) The Right Places

Once your child has achieved that perfect smile, it’s time to maintain it. Teeth actually move and shift throughout our lives, whether we have had orthodontic treatment or not. But with orthodontic treatment, the bone tissue and ligaments around the teeth remodel over time to hold the teeth in their new and improved positions. That’s why it’s often important to wear a retainer constantly for several months after the braces come off, as bone and ligament become a firm, strong anchor for the newly aligned teeth and bite.

But there’s no one expiration date on retainers! Worn nightly as needed, they help teeth stay securely in their new positions for a lifetime of beautiful smiles.

Healthy Smiles Mean Happy Faces

If you think your child is ready for any phase of orthodontic work, give us a call. We will be happy to make sure there is ample room for permanent teeth to erupt in their proper spots even during the baby teeth years. If braces are indicated at a later date, we will analyze any potential alignment and bite problems and present all of your treatment options. Finally, after the orthodontic work is completed, we want to make sure your child knows the best way to maintain that beautiful smile with conscientious retainer wear.

If you have any concerns about your child’s teeth or bite, even before the permanent teeth arrive, give our Carlsbad, CA office a call. Early treatment can often prevent future problems and might even lead to faster orthodontic results. At each stage of your child’s growth, we are here to provide your best options for healthy, happy smiles.

Braces-Friendly School Lunches

January 16th, 2019

If your pre-teen or teenager is home for the summer, it’s easy to provide braces-friendly lunch options. The school lunchroom, though, presents another challenge altogether. What menu selections are most compatible with braces? And what can you put in that lunch box or brown bag to provide a tempting, healthy lunch during school hours? Let’s look at some options!

From the Cafeteria

Encourage your student to stick with soft foods that don’t require biting into. Some good choices include:

  • Soup, either creamy or with soft vegetables
  • Salads without crunchy vegetables or croutons
  • Soft, shredded chicken or beef
  • Egg or tuna salad
  • Tofu
  • Pasta
  • Meatloaf
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Soft casseroles
  • Steamed vegetables
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Soft breads or tortillas

Bringing a Lunch?

There are many great options for packing a lunch bag! Just remember to keep foods at the proper temperature, with insulated containers for hot foods and two cold sources, such as two frozen gel packs, for cold foods.

  • Sandwiches with soft filling (no chunky peanut butter!) on soft bread. Thinly sliced, easy to chew cold cuts will work, but cold cuts like salami are too chewy. Cut the crusts off if necessary. Cutting sandwich wedges into smaller portions will also make them easier to eat.
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Hummus and soft pita wedges
  • String cheese and soft crackers
  • Applesauce
  • Yogurt
  • Soft fruits such as berries or bananas
  • Jell-O or other gelatin dessert cups
  • Pudding cups

When to Say “No, Thank You”

If you have to bite into it, if it’s chewy, or if it’s crunchy, it’s best to choose something else! Here are some common culprits when it comes to broken brackets and wires:

  • Caramel
  • Hard candy
  • Popcorn
  • Whole carrots
  • Whole apples
  • Hard rolls
  • Pizza
  • Corn on the cob

And remember to send your child to school with a brush and floss to clean teeth and braces after lunch. Dental hygiene is very important now, because brackets and wires can both trap food particles and make brushing them away more difficult. This can lead to increased plaque, cavities, and staining around the area of the braces. If it’s impossible to brush, be sure to remind your student to rinse thoroughly with water after eating.

Lunch hour should be a time to relax, get together with friends, and recharge for the rest of the school day. Talk to us about the most (and least) braces-friendly foods and recipes. By learning what foods to avoid and adjusting some old favorites, your school-age child can continue to enjoy healthy, tasty lunches. Most important, visiting Dr. Michael Willes at our Carlsbad, CA office for an emergency repair will not be on anyone’s list of afterschool activities!

Wax Facts

January 9th, 2019

In the long run, wearing braces is so worth it. Whether you’re working toward straight teeth, an improved bite, or both, you’ll end up with a beautiful smile! But sometimes, in the short run, they can be really annoying. Braces can irritate your lips, tongue, and cheeks while you are getting used to them or after an adjustment. Or a problem wire can poke the inside of your mouth and you can’t see us immediately for a repair. At times like these, Dr. Michael Willes will recommend orthodontic wax to make your life more comfortable.

  • What is Orthodontic Wax?

Orthodontic wax is made from non-toxic products like beeswax, carnauba wax, and paraffin wax. Some products might contain extras like vitamin E, aloe, or flavorings. The soft wax covers the bracket or wire that is bothering you with a smooth surface that won’t irritate sensitive mouth tissue and will give sore areas a chance to heal.

  • What if I Swallow a Piece?

All dental wax is made of non-toxic ingredients. If you accidentally swallow a bit, no need to worry.

  • Is It Hard to Apply?

It’s not hard, but it takes a bit of practice. First, locate the wire or bracket that is causing the problem. You might know where it is right away, or be able to discover it by discovering which sharp bracket or wire is across from the sore spot in your mouth.

Always wash your hands first. Brush and floss, so you will have a clean surface to apply the wax. The drier the surface, the better the wax will stick, so let the area air dry or use something clean such as sterile gauze to dry around the bracket.  

The wax is actually quite easy to work with. Break off a small piece of wax (no bigger than the size of a popcorn kernel or a pea), roll it in your fingers to soften it, and press the wax firmly but carefully over the problem bracket or wire until it sticks. Rub until the wax is smooth. Don’t worry, we will be happy to show you just how it’s done.

  • Can I Eat with Wax in Place?

If you find that you can eat without much irritation, it’s better to eat without wax over your braces. Remove the wax before eating and brush carefully to remove any food particles from your braces before applying new wax. If you do snack while using wax, be sure to change it after you eat. Wax, after all, sticks easily to your braces—and food particles stick to wax! Not a good look, and not good for your teeth.

  • Brushing and Flossing

Take off any wax before you brush and floss. Your toothbrush will thank you!

You probably have lots of other questions. Can you sleep with wax on your braces? Will it help you be more comfortable at trumpet practice? That’s why we’re here! If you have any questions at all about orthodontic wax and how to use it, call our Carlsbad, CA office. We want to make sure that the months you spend wearing braces are as comfortable as possible on your way to a lifetime of beautiful smiles. It’s so worth it!

Tooth Protection and Winter Sports

January 2nd, 2019

Just because it’s cold out there doesn’t mean you’ll give up keeping fit and active! Winter is the season for some of our favorite team sporting activities, and when you’re donning your protective gear, don’t forget to protect your teeth as well.

  • Basketball

This sport actually tallies one of the highest counts of dental injuries. Running, jumping, and diving for the ball on an unforgiving court can lead to tooth and jaw injuries.  And for every ten men on the floor, it seems like there at least 50 flailing elbows in the paint.

  • Hockey

Notorious for the toll it takes on teeth, hockey is a game of sticks, ice, and whizzing pucks. And when your sport’s penalties include the terms hooking, slashing, and tripping, the more protection, the better.

  • Skiing

When you are flying down the slopes, combining powdery snow and speed, mouth protection is a good idea. This also applies to snowboarding and other snow sports.

  • Wrestling

Grappling and pinning in close quarters can lead to unintended injuries after accidental contact with the mat or your opponent.

Different uniforms, different equipment, and different playing fields, but all these sports have one thing in common—the easiest way to protect your teeth while playing them is with a mouth guard.

Mouthguards generally come in three forms:

  • Over the counter, ready-made appliances. These are available in drugstores and sporting goods stores, but might not be a comfortable fit as they are pre-formed sizes.
  • The “boil-and-bite” option is a mouthguard form placed in hot water. You then bite down to shape it to your mouth and teeth.
  • Custom mouthguards can be fabricated just for you through our Carlsbad, CA office. These appliances are designed to fit your individual mouth and teeth, so provide a better fit and better protection. They are also usually more durable and more comfortable. If you wear braces, you definitely need a custom mouthguard to prevent an injury to your mouth or braces caused by an ill-fitting appliance.

Whether you play on a team or pursue individual athletic activities, keeping safe as you keep fit is your first priority. We would be happy to discuss your mouthguard options for any sport, any time of year.

Things You Probably Didn’t Know About New Year's Eve

December 26th, 2018

It’s no secret that New Year’s Eve is one of the most widely celebrated holidays in the world. Dr. Michael Willes and our team love it too. It’s a fresh start, another year of surviving the crazy world we live in, a time to refocus on the things we want for ourselves, a celebration with those we love … the list goes on.

Dozens of countries welcome the New Year with over-the-top parties and celebrations. Because it’s a public holiday, many offices, businesses, and schools close for the day. As you think about your plans for this holiday, here are some fun facts about New Year’s that might surprise you!

Can you guess what the most common New Year’s resolutions are? You may already have one or two of these on your own personal list. The top five New Year’s resolutions are: to quit smoking, get a new job, lose weight, increase personal savings, and return to school. Just remember that coming up with a concrete plan to reach your goals is the surest way to achieve your resolutions!

About one million people brave the cold to watch the New Year’s Eve ball drop in New York City’s Times Square in person. Yes, that’s one million! This event is one of the most iconic celebrations in the world. People travel from all over just to experience it, but you can watch from the warmth and comfort of your living room.

If you’re not a fan of cabbage, collard greens, black-eyed peas, or ham hocks, you might want to revise your tastes. All these foods are all regarded as lucky fare on New Year’s Day. Unless you’re allergic, of course!

For many people in Mexico and Latin America, eating 12 grapes at midnight is a tradition that brings good luck in the 12 coming months. Most people even make a wish per grape!

Whether you’re celebrating in Carlsbad, CA or traveling elsewhere to observe the holiday, New Year’s Eve is a time to enjoy the company of your friends and family. Don’t forget to send warm wishes to your loved ones, and snag a midnight kiss with that special someone if you can!

Snacks that are Healthy for Your Body and Your Braces

December 19th, 2018

You know the school day’s over when you hear these seven little words: “I’m home! Is there anything to eat?”

And before your child got braces, you had the answer: simple, tasty snacks that provided not only an energy boost, but nutritional elements to help build strong teeth and strong bodies. But now whole carrot sticks and unsliced apples are out. Nuts and crunchy peanut butter? Not in your pantry. Hard cheeses and crunchy whole grain crackers? Also off the shopping list.

Because any foods that are crunchy, chewy, or hard to bite into can damage brackets and wires, it’s time to freshen up your go-to snack list. Luckily, Dr. Michael Willes can recommend many healthy and braces-friendly choices when children need something to tide them over until dinner.

  • Fruits and Vegetables for Vitamins and Minerals

Soft fruits like berries, melon, and bananas provide essential vitamins and minerals while going easy on your child’s braces. Make it a blended smoothie for a cool treat—you can even add a healthy handful of spinach or kale without interfering with that fruity taste. If your child still loves apples and carrots best, keep them on hand—but remember that thin slices are the only way to go.

  • Dairy Delivers Calcium

Cottage cheese, string cheese, and other soft cheeses provide essential calcium and vitamin D. Yogurt in all its many flavors is another great option.

  • Meats Provides Protein

Lean meats such as thinly sliced ham, chicken, or turkey provide flavor and protein, and don’t require the chewing that bologna, roast beef, and salami do. And nothing packs a protein punch like eggs—hard boiled, deviled, or diced up in egg salad.

  • Grains, Legumes, and Vegetables for Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates—the “good” carbs—are important sources of energy for our bodies. Snacks such as hummus with soft whole grain pita wedges or blended black bean dip and soft crackers are a delicious, energizing option.

You are constantly looking for ways to make your children’s lives better. Mix and match any of these foods for a snack that’s not only good for their braces, but good for their teeth and bodies! Let us know your child’s favorite snack the next time you visit our Carlsbad, CA office!

Breakfast with Braces

December 12th, 2018

Breakfast is called the most important meal of the day for many reasons. Children need to refuel after a long night’s sleep, and studies suggest that school kids who eat a good breakfast have more energy, better attendance and behavior, and even higher test scores than kids who don’t.  

But sometimes, especially with new braces or braces that have just been adjusted, the last thing on your child’s mind is breakfast. Fortunately, Dr. Michael Willes can recommend many early morning options that will be both gentle on braces and healthy for growing bodies!

  • Yogurt

Soft, creamy, and filled with calcium and vitamin D, yogurt is an easy and nutritious choice. Try different fruit flavors or Greek yogurt for variety.

  • Eggs

Packed with protein, scrambled eggs are delicious on their own, or with the addition of cheese or soft veggies. If you’d like to add a bit of flair to the table, a cheese omelet is another great choice. Any egg option is a good one—just remember to skip the crunchy toast on the side.

  • Smoothies

Not only a great way to start your day, but a great way to get vitamins and minerals in one delicious meal. And with a flavor base of banana, mango, berries, or apple, no one will notice if some spinach or kale make their way into the blender!

  • Oatmeal

Unfortunately for the cereal lover, crunchy cereals and even granola are potentially damaging to wires and brackets. But oatmeal is a healthy alternative that can be made even tastier with the addition of soft fruits such as mangos, berries, and bananas.

  • Breads and Pastries

Crunchy and chewy breads and pastries can lead to broken brackets and wires. Soft breads, pancakes, non-crunchy French toast, and soft pastries are much kinder to braces. Because so many of these options are rich in sugar (especially with syrup!), it’s best to go lighter on foods like this and be sure to brush carefully afterward.

  • Fruit

Bananas, peaches, nectarines, berries—if it’s soft, it’s good to go! Cut larger fruits into bite-sized pieces. Dried fruits like raisins, dates, and cranberries can be chewy, sticky, and sugary, so best to take them off the shopping list for the time being.

It’s described as the most important meal of the day for many good reasons. With some of these easy-to-prepare breakfasts, you can add delicious, healthy, and braces-friendly to that description! If you stumble on a delicious recipe, don’t forget to share it the next time you visit our Carlsbad, CA office!

Toothbrush Arts and Crafts

November 28th, 2018

When you replace your old toothbrush every three or four months with a new model, you accomplish three things:

  • You keep your teeth cleaner (frayed brushes don’t clean as well)
  • You protect your gums (you won’t be scrubbing harder to get your teeth clean)
  • You add another toothbrush to your growing collection of used brushes

If creative recycling is one of your talents, you might have already discovered how handy repurposed brushes are for cleaning delicate or hard-to-reach spaces around the house. But those old brushes don’t have to spend their entire existence cleaning! Here are some ideas from Dr. Michael Willes to give a new, artistic life to your old, uninspired toothbrush.

  • Splatter Painting

As your bathroom mirror can confirm, toothbrushes are great for splattering. Why not put those bristles to creative use by adding color bursts to canvas, wooden picture frames or boxes, fabric, cards, gift wrap and more? Just dip the tips of the bristles into the paint, point them toward your surface, and brush your finger over the head. For more formal effects, splatter paint over your favorite stencils on paper or fabric. Or work your magic by splattering around a stencil for a dramatic silhouette.

  • Children’s Painting

Your child might find it great fun to use an old toothbrush to create new works of art. The easy-to-grip handle and wide bristles are perfect for painting those first masterpieces. Splatter painting is also a wonderful art activity for children—but be prepared for some clean-up!

Texturizing Clay Pieces

Whether you work in potter’s clay, polymer clay, or Play-Doh, an old toothbrush can provide any number of interesting textures to your piece. Press the bristles into the clay for a sophisticated stippled background, or brush long gentle strokes for a striated effect.

  • Carpentry

Wood glue creates strong bonds when you are joining edges, mitering corners, or fitting mortise and tenon joints. It also creates a sticky mess when you use your fingers, a wood or plastic spreader, or one of your good paint brushes. For any gluing jobs or joinery, try a toothbrush for greater control and easy application.

  • Jewelry Making

If you work with jewelry pieces, you know that sometimes there are nooks and crannies that are almost impossible to clean or polish. Try a gentle brush with an old toothbrush and the recommended polish for your piece—but do keep brushes away from the delicate surface of pearls. And for the boldly creative, why not use your toothbrush itself as jewelry? There are online instructions out there for transforming that old brush into a colorful bangle bracelet.

In turns out that there’s a second career waiting for your toothbrush after all! Make sure to clean your toothbrushes thoroughly before using them in another role. After that, let your creativity run wild—including your creative recycling! It’s just another way you are crafting a more beautiful environment for all of us.

Braces and Band? Play On!

November 21st, 2018

You’re in the band and you’re getting braces. Now what? If you are a member of the string or percussion sections, you can go back to rehearsal. You’re good to go. When your talents have seated you in the reed or brass sections, though, a little adjustment might be necessary to keep your instrument and your braces working in harmony.

If you play a wind instrument, you know the term embouchure—the way you position and use your lips, tongue, facial muscles, and teeth to produce the sound you want. Depending on the instrument you play, you might be completely unaffected when you get your braces, or you might need to develop a more comfortable embouchure to accommodate them.

Wires and Woodwinds?

If you play a wind instrument such as the flute or piccolo, you might find that your normal lip positioning or blowing angle is affected by your braces, but usually the adjustment time is fairly short. Reed instruments such as the saxophone, clarinet, oboe, and bassoon are considered some of the easiest to adjust to when you have braces, but even though the single and double reed mouthpieces don’t require as much pressure as brass instruments, there can still be an adjustment period. One thing you should look out for is more condensation in your mouthpiece or instrument—be sure to keep your instrument clean to keep your sound pure.

Brackets and Brass?

Brass instruments require mouthpiece pressure. This leaves your lips pressed between the mouthpiece and your braces. For this reason, many brass players have a more challenging adjustment when wearing braces. Smaller mouthpieces (trumpet, French horn) usually require more pressure than larger ones (tuba, trombone). It’s important to learn how to use technique to avoid cuts, irritation, and other injuries caused by the pressure of your braces against your lips. Learning to play with less pressure on the lips and more air control and breath support will help you to recover your tone and range of notes while protecting your lips and mouth.

How Can We Help?

Let Dr. Michael Willes know if you play, or plan to play, a wind instrument. We might be able to offer some suggestions. For regular metal and ceramic braces, some musicians find extra wax is helpful in preventing lip and cheek injuries. There are brace guards available that can be applied over the braces to protect your lips and mouth if wax doesn’t do the trick.

There are also alternatives to regular bracket-and-wire braces, depending on your orthodontic needs, cost factors, and length of treatment. Invisalign® devices fit smoothly over your teeth and can even be removed when it is time to practice or play, as long as you get the necessary hours of wear in per day. In some cases, lingual braces, where the brackets and wires are placed behind the teeth, might be the best choice for you.

Finally, don’t forget to talk to your music instructor. Don’t be dismayed if you find the quality of your playing has been affected. Your teacher might have valuable suggestions for adjusting your embouchure, playing with less pressure on the lips, and developing better air and breath support. You might need to shorten your practice time at first, and there might be another period of adjustment after your braces come off.

Above all, take care of yourself! If something is poking your lip or cheek, call our Carlsbad, CA office immediately before it causes injury. It might be difficult at first, but finding an embouchure that works for your comfort and technique is worth it. And remember, these temporary fine-tunings will lead to a wonderful coda: skilled musicianship and a beautiful, healthy smile. Bravo!

 

Electric Toothbrushes vs. Regular Toothbrushes

October 16th, 2018

Convertible or sedan? Downtown or suburbs? Electric or manual toothbrush? As life decisions go, it’s certainly not choosing your next car, or deciding where you want to live. But, even when you are selecting a toothbrush, it helps to make a list of the pros and cons of the contenders before you make that final selection.

  • Efficiency

The most important factor in choosing a toothbrush is finding out which model works best to eliminate bacteria and plaque. And studies have shown that, used properly, both electric and manual toothbrushes do a great job of removing plaque. Some electric models can reach the backs of teeth and the gumline more easily, some manual head designs work better for your individual mouth and teeth, so your particular needs should dictate which style of toothbrush you use. Talk to us about the best methods to brush with your preferred toothbrush, and we’ll let you know if one type of toothbrush or the other might work better for you.

  • Health Considerations

Brushing too energetically can actually harm teeth and gums, causing sensitivity and damage to the enamel and gum tissue. An electric toothbrush should provide a continuous brushing motion without needing any pressure from the brusher. This might be the model for you if you have a too-vigorous approach to brushing, or sensitive teeth and gums.

An electric toothbrush can also be more efficient for older and younger brushers, those with limited mobility, and those with health conditions or injuries that make brushing with a regular toothbrush more difficult.

  • Cost

An electric toothbrush is not a one-time investment. You should change the removable head as often as you change your manual toothbrush (every three to four months, please). But this cost is offset if an electric toothbrush is more efficient in removing your plaque, easier to use, or even if you just prefer it to manual brushing. If you find that you brush better and more often with an electric toothbrush, the added expense is well worth it.

Whichever brush you decide on, the most important part of the brush is the person holding it! A regular appointment with your toothbrush for two minutes of thorough brushing in the morning and two in the evening, daily flossing, and regular visits to our office for checkups and cleanings will keep your teeth healthy and strong no matter which toothbrush you choose.

Questions about your toothbrush choices? Don’t hesitate to ask Dr. Michael Willes at our Carlsbad, CA office.

What’s so great about self-ligating braces?

October 9th, 2018

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. Michael Willes 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 Carlsbad, CA 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.

Fall Holiday Guide for Braces

October 2nd, 2018

If this is your child’s first holiday season with braces, here are some tips on how to help children get the most enjoyment from these celebrations without compromising their braces or leaving them feeling left out of the festivities.

Halloween

When you think dental health, “Halloween” is not usually the first thing that comes to mind. Halloween can be tricky, but with some planning and intervention, you can make sure your child doesn’t miss out on the treats that make the holiday a favorite.

Braces present other challenges besides dealing with the scary amount of sugar in every trick-or-treat bag. Certain treats can be a challenge to clean from braces, and can even cause broken brackets and wires. How to avoid these frightful results?

  • Go through your child’s treat bag when you get home after neighborhood trick-or-treating. Anything which can damage braces, such as regular gum, candy with nuts or caramel, or hard or chewy candies should be discarded. Perhaps you and your child can choose a selection of soft candy such as plain chocolate and peanut butter cups to trade for those tricky treats. Your child’s favorite soft fruits, cupcakes, and cookies could also be safe substitutes.
  • Party time? Candy apples, bowls of candy corn, and popcorn balls are favorite treats at Halloween parties, but very bad for braces. Help your child recognize what should be avoided before attending, and suggest safe options like soft cupcakes.
  • Finally, even safe treats will leave more sugar than normal in your child’s mouth and therefore more potential for plaque build-up. Brush and floss more often, if needed, and rinse regularly with water.

Talk candy guidelines over in advance with your child. If you’d like, Dr. Michael Willes can recommend safe alternatives. With your help, Halloween won’t be a fearsome experience for you or your trick-or-treater.

Thanksgiving

Now, this is a holiday to be thankful for! Almost all of your traditional favorites are perfect for family members with braces.

  • Appetizers: Offer soft food options such as silky cheeses and deviled eggs instead of crunchy vegetables, chips, and nuts.
  • Dinner: Turkey is a required dish on many tables, and no need to miss out! Just make sure pieces are bite-size and off the bone. Creamy mashed potatoes and gravy and jellied cranberry sauce are also braces-friendly traditions. Any cooked vegetable should be fine, but do cut the corn from the cob first. Dressing is a great side dish if your child avoids any crunchy tops and edges, as are soft, nut-free rolls and muffins.
  • Dessert: Pumpkin pie, cheesecake, and apple pie with ice cream are all safe (and delicious) choices. Leave the pecan pie, caramel sauce, and anything nutty or chewy off your child’s menu. And remember to brush and floss carefully after the feast!

If you are concerned that following the usual food guidelines might be a little more difficult during this time of year, talk to us. Dr. Michael Willes and our team are happy to suggest ways to make your child’s first holidays with braces memorable for all the right reasons. The last thing you’ll want is an emergency visit to our Carlsbad, CA office!

Safety of Dental X-Ray Radiation

September 25th, 2018

We all want to live our healthiest lives. We know that part of keeping ourselves healthy is regular visits to our Carlsbad, CA office for checkups and necessary dental work. And that dental work might require an X-ray. Should the amount of radiation in an X-ray concern us?

First, it is helpful to know that the radiation you are exposed to from a dental X-ray is very small. A set of most bitewing X-rays, for example, produces an amount of exposure about equal to the amount of background radiation we get from our normal surroundings in a typical day. We also take care to minimize your exposure even further by using specially designed equipment and protective shielding, and taking only necessary X-rays. If your child is very young, if you are pregnant, or if you have other health concerns, talk to us about the advisability of X-rays and whether they are essential to treatment.

Second, much of our careful general examination will be done visually. Dr. Michael Willes can check for cavities and other problems and assess tooth and gum health. But sometimes, there are conditions which can’t be detected without an X-ray.

  • Decay that isn’t visible in an oral exam—if a small cavity develops between teeth, or is hidden underneath a filling, an X-ray will catch it before more damage can take place.
  • Infection—An X-ray will reveal infections such as abscesses that can damage both bone and tooth, and gum disease that has harmed bone and connective tissue.
  • Orthodontic and periodontal issues—We might need an X-ray to determine the spacing and development of your child’s incoming teeth and maturing jaw structure, to properly create braces for adults or children, or to place an implant within the jawbone.
  • If you are a new patient, it is helpful to have complete X-rays taken as a baseline of your current dental health and previous dental work. This baseline allows us to track tooth and jaw development, if necessary, and to evaluate any future changes that might be a concern. (If you have had X-rays taken in another office, we can help you have them transferred so we have a background of your dental history.)

Even though the radiation from a dental X-ray is minimal, be assured that we will never request any unnecessary procedure. When we recommend an X-ray, we do so to make sure there is no decay or infection threatening the health of your gums and teeth, and that we have the essential knowledge we need to treat any dental, periodontal, or orthodontic condition. Because we all want to live our healthiest lives—and part of that healthy life is both active and proactive dental care.

Does my child need two-phase treatment?

September 18th, 2018

You might be surprised to see one of your second grader’s friends with a dental appliance. Isn’t orthodontic work just for teenagers? And, if not, should your seven-year-old be sporting braces right now? The answer to both of those questions is “Not necessarily.” Two-phase treatment is a process designed to correct issues that arise during different times in your child’s life.

First Phase Treatment

We recommend that every child have an orthodontic evaluation around the age of seven to determine if there is a problem that would benefit from early treatment. First phase orthodontics is not the same as orthodontics for older patients. The focus here is on the developing bone and muscle structures which form your child’s bite and provide space for the permanent teeth when they arrive.

There are some clear-cut orthodontic goals that are much easier to attain when children’s bones are still growing.

  • Reducing Crowding

If your child’s mouth is small, the permanent teeth will have little room to fit in when they arrive. We may recommend gently enlarging the upper dental arch with the use of a palatal expander. This device will provide room for the adult teeth, and could potentially shorten second phase treatment time. Sometimes the extractions necessary to create more room for permanent teeth in later years can be avoided, as well as the possibility of an impacted tooth—one which doesn’t erupt because it is blocked by other teeth.

  • Dealing with Jaw and Bite Concerns

Bones and muscles do not always develop properly, leading to problems with jaw and facial structure. Your younger child still has growing bones, so this is a great time to gently re-form the jaw into a healthy shape. Problems caused by crossbites, underbites, open bites, and other malocclusions can be reduced with early treatment.  

  • Protecting Teeth

If your child has protruding front teeth, these teeth are more likely to be damaged in falls, at play, or while participating in sports. We can gently reposition them.

Second Phase Treatment

Second phase treatment is designed for your older child. After a resting period, when the permanent teeth finish erupting, we should see your child to evaluate any further orthodontic needs. This is the time to finish the process of straightening the teeth and making sure that each tooth fits together properly for a comfortable and healthy bite. This phase usually makes use of braces or aligners, and can take approximately 12-24 months.

Two-phase treatment is not necessary for every child. But there are some unique reasons that early orthodontics might be recommended for your child, even if it’s clear that more orthodontic work will be needed later. Make an appointment with Dr. Michael Willes at our Carlsbad, CA office, and let’s evaluate your child’s orthodontic needs, whether now or in the future, for a lifetime of beautiful smiles.

Early Orthodontics

September 11th, 2018

Perhaps you are already planning for the years when your teenager will need orthodontic work. But hearing that your seven-year-old would benefit from orthodontic treatment? That might come as a complete surprise! It’s a recommendation with real benefits, though—early intervention can save children from tooth and bite problems now, and even simplify their future orthodontic care.

Treating young children for orthodontic problems is called “interceptive orthodontics.” When the permanent teeth start arriving, there might be problems with spacing, bite or protruding teeth. Often, treatment while the bones are still growing is the best way to prevent more serious problems later.

We recommend that your child have an orthodontic consultation with Dr. Michael Willes around the age of seven. This exam is especially important for children who may have been thumb suckers or used a pacifier after the age of three, or if you notice obvious teeth, speech or bite issues.

  • Crowding and Spacing Issues

Teeth are arranged in two crescent shapes called arches. When the arch of your child’s mouth is small, the permanent teeth can become very crowded as they erupt. Formerly, teeth were removed to make more room. Now, early use of a palatal expander can enlarge the upper dental arch in order to help the permanent teeth come in without crowding. The need for future tooth extraction is reduced, and there is a better chance for correct spacing and alignment with early treatment.

On the other hand, when a child loses a tooth too soon, too much space left between baby teeth can also be a problem. The remaining teeth can shift, leaving the wrong place open for the adult tooth to come in. We might recommend a space maintainer so that there is no shifting of the teeth and there is room for the proper adult tooth to erupt in its proper spot.

  • Malocclusions (Bite Problems)

Some malocclusions, like a crossbite, can be caused by problems with jaw and facial structure. Again, we might recommend a palatal expander to help the upper arch of the teeth to fit properly with the lower jaw. Problems with overbite, open bite and other bite issues can also be addressed at this age if necessary. Early care can discourage TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders, reduce speech problems, and improve facial symmetry. 

  • Protruding Front Teeth

Teeth that protrude are much more likely to be damaged when playing or after a fall. Methods such as braces or appliances can reposition them and protect them from breaking or fracturing.

Many children will not need early intervention, and many can wait until they are older for orthodontic work. But if your young child has orthodontic problems that should be addressed, early intervention can do more than set the stage for successful orthodontics in the teen years. Talk to our Carlsbad, CA team about what we can do for your child. Interceptive orthodontics can protect teeth, guide jaw and speech development, modify harmful oral habits and help to adjust bite problems before they become serious—when it comes to your child’s dental health, the best solutions are early ones!

Going Green: how a “green” office can be beneficial to patients

September 6th, 2018

Our green office offers many benefits to patients. And just because we’ve gone green doesn't mean that we won't be able to provide the same services as a traditional office. In fact, our goal is to provide the same (or better) services as a regular office, but services that act in harmony with the body and world around us. Less waste, fewer chemicals and heavy metals, and reduced energy consumption; these are traits that define a truly green office.

Some of the benefits you'll experience as a patient at our green Carlsbad, CA office include:

  • Better air quality – There's a focus on using renewable and natural building materials, paint that is free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), biodegradable cleaning supplies, and formaldehyde free materials for cabinetry. This leads to cleaner air in the office for patients and their families.
  • Less radiation – Digital X-rays replace old film based X-rays and expose patients to 90 percent less radiation. Digital X-rays are also convenient for patients since their images can be viewed right on the computer screen instead of on a physical printout.
  • No need for paper – Many offices have gone "paperless." You'll get any pertinent paperwork via email, reducing paper waste and saving you time. Patient records are also stored digitally, doing away with the wall of patient folders and making for easier and quicker record retrieval.
  • Fewer chemicals – Green offices take advantage of chemical-free sterilization by steam and clean their tools using energy-efficient washers and dryers. Biodegradable cleaning solutions instead of toxic chemical cleaners are used around the office, too.
  • Reduced heavy metal exposure – Biocompatible, non-allergenic, non-metal materials like porcelain and ceramic are preferred in a green office over the heavy metals (nickel, titanium) used in traditional offices. This is particularly important in the case of appliances that are used over long periods of time, like dental implants or veneers.

Dr. Michael Willes and our team hope you realize the positive effect a green office can have on your health, as well as that of the environment. Our office is dedicated to bringing you the cleanest, safest, and greenest technologies the industry has to offer, and we're happy to share how our processes differ from other offices!

Going Back to School with Braces

September 4th, 2018

Going back to school is already an exciting (and sometimes nerve-racking) time so we don't want your braces adding to that. Our Carlsbad, CA team has compiled some helpful tips to make the process as easy and fun as possible.

1. Make sure you pack or purchase braces-friendly lunches

Try to avoid overly crunchy foods (think carrots, celery, hard crackers) especially if your teeth are sore from having your braces tightened. But you shouldn't stop eating healthful foods that fall in this category. For instance apples can be sliced into wedges or carrots can be cut into coins.

You should also avoid sticky foods like candy or gum that can and will stick in your braces like glue! Softer foods are easier on your teeth and braces, so aim to make a good portion of your lunch on the softer side.

2. Have a braces kit in your backpack or locker

Having some useful items on hand at school when you need them is one of the most helpful things you can do. Pack some wax for sores or tenderness, floss and/or flossing tools made for braces, a toothbrush and toothpaste, a small cup for rinsing, a small mirror to check for trapped food, and some lip balm if your lips tend to chap. With these tools on hand, you'll avoid most if not all braces-related nuisances!

3. Know that you're not alone

If you're feeling self-conscious about your braces, don't. Be proud of them! There are many other people your age who have braces, and if they don't have them now, they probably will in the future. Relax and know that you're on the path to a straighter and healthier smile.

If you have any questions about making your transition into "braceshood," just ask Dr. Michael Willes or any member of our Carlsbad, CA team! We're here to help make your braces experience (and your smile) the best it can be.

What is a palatal expander?

August 28th, 2018

Orthodontists like Dr. Michael Willes recommend a first orthodontic visit and evaluation for your child around the age of seven. We will evaluate your child’s jaw and facial development and make sure that there is enough room in the mouth for the permanent teeth when they arrive. One of the recommendations we might make for early treatment is the use of a palatal expander. If you are unfamiliar with this device, let’s take a closer look at why it’s necessary and what exactly it does.

Why do we recommend the palatal expander?

There are two dental arches, composed of the upper and the lower teeth, in your child’s mouth. This arch-shaped design is meant to accommodate all the permanent teeth. Further, when the upper and lower teeth meet, they should result in a healthy occlusion, or bite.

Sometimes, the upper dental arch is simply too small to accommodate all of your child’s permanent teeth, leading to crowding, extractions, and impacted teeth. Also, a too-narrow arch can result in a crossbite, where some of the upper teeth bite inside the lower ones. An improper bite can lead to problems such as TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder, improper wear and stress on teeth, certain speech difficulties, and other potential complications. The palatal expander was designed to prevent these problems from occurring.

What is a palatal expander and how does it work?

The expander itself is a device that increases the size of the upper dental arch. Before your child’s bones are finished growing, the space between the two bones of the upper palate is filled with cartilage. This tissue is flexible when children are young, but gradually fuses solidly into place by the time they are finished growing (usually in the early to mid-teens). If the arch can be widened to accommodate the emerging permanent teeth, or to reduce malocclusions, this improvement can also affect the need for, and length of, future dental work.

There are several types of expanders available at our Carlsbad, CA office. These are custom-made appliances, commonly attached between the upper teeth on each side of the jaw. The two halves of the device are connected with a screw-type mechanism that can be adjusted to widen the upper palate and dental arch with gentle pressure. This is a gradual process, with small adjustments usually made once or twice a day to slowly move the bones further apart. As weeks go by, you will notice a successful change in the spacing of the teeth. Your child might even develop a gap in the front teeth, which is normal and will generally close on its own.

If you would like more detailed information, talk to Dr. Michael Willes about the palate expander. We can tell you what to expect from this treatment if we think it is best for your child’s unique needs, and how to make it as easy as possible for your child. Our goal is to provide your child with the healthiest teeth and bite possible, always making use of treatments that are both gentle and effective.

Not-So-Sweet Sweets

August 21st, 2018

Birthdays. Valentine’s Day. Halloween. A trip to the movies. There are just some occasions where a sweet treat is on the menu. Now that you are getting braces, does that mean you have to give up desserts completely? Not at all! The trick to finding the right treat is to know which foods are safe for your braces and which should wait until your treatment is complete.

There are some foods which should always be avoided. They fall into three main categories:

  • Hard and Crunchy

Hard candies, peanut brittle, popcorn balls, nutty candy bars—anything that is hard to bite into is hard on your braces, and can damage brackets or even break them.

  • Chewy

Caramels, taffy, chewy squares and rolls, licorice and other super-chewy candies can break brackets and bend wires. Not to mention, they are really difficult to clean from the surface of teeth and braces.

  • Sticky

Soft foods are generally fine, but soft and sticky candies are another thing entirely. Gumdrops, jelly beans, most gum and other sticky treats stick to your braces, making it hard to clean all that sugar from around your brackets. And even soft sticky candies can bend wires or damage your brackets.

As you have probably noticed, almost all candy falls into one of these categories. Of course, while sugary treats shouldn’t be a major part of anyone’s diet, and careful brushing and flossing are always on the menu if you do indulge, wearing braces does not mean giving up on treats entirely. A better alternative when you are craving something sweet is to choose something that avoids crunchy, chewy and sticky hazards, such as soft puddings, cupcakes or cookies. There are even some candy brands that are safe for your braces.

Talk to Dr. Michael Willes the next time you visit our Carlsbad, CA office about the dos and don’ts of desserts—we have tasty suggestions that will make those special occasions both sweet for you and safe for your orthodontic work!

Will my child benefit from early orthodontic treatment?

August 14th, 2018

According to the American Association of Orthodontists, orthodontic treatment for children should start at around age seven. Dr. Michael Willes can evaluate your child’s orthodontic needs early on to see if orthodontic treatment is recommended for your son or daughter.

Below, we answer common questions parents may have about the benefits of early childhood orthodontics.

What does early orthodontic treatment mean?

Early orthodontic treatment usually begins when a child is eight or nine years old. Typically known as Phase One, the goal here is to correct bite problems such as an underbite, as well as guide the jaw’s growth pattern. This phase also helps make room in the mouth for teeth to grow properly, with the aim of preventing teeth crowding and extractions later on.

Does your child need early orthodontic treatment?

The characteristics and behavior below can help determine whether your little one needs early treatment.

  • Early loss of baby teeth (before age five)
  • Late loss of baby teeth (after age five or six)
  • The child’s teeth do not meet properly or at all
  • The child is a mouth breather
  • Front teeth are crowded (you won’t see this until the child is about seven or eight)
  • Protruding teeth, typically in the front
  • Biting or chewing difficulties
  • A speech impediment
  • The jaw shifts when the child opens or closes the mouth
  • The child is older than five years and still sucks a thumb

What are the benefits of seeking orthodontic treatment early?

Jaw bones do not harden until children reach their late teens. Because children’s bones are still pliable, corrective procedures such as braces are easier and often faster than they would be for adults.

Early treatment at our Carlsbad, CA office can enable your child to avoid lengthy procedures, extraction, and surgery in adulthood. Talk with Dr. Michael Willes today to see if your child should receive early orthodontic treatment.

How Do I Care For My Pet’s Teeth?

August 7th, 2018

Our pets are a valued part of the family, but dogs and cats are not regularly known for their minty-fresh breath. Did you know that bad breath can be a sign of a more serious dental problem for your furry companion?

If you live with a pet or two, you’ll want to brush up on your animal dental knowledge and make sure everyone’s teeth stay healthy.

Proper dental care is essential to a pet’s overall well-being. About 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats suffer from periodontal disease after the age of three.

Not only is this unhealthy for their mouth, it can lead to more serious health problems, including organ damage and heart failure. Toxins from periodontal disease seep into your pet’s bloodstream and have the potential to cause fatal organ damage.

Your veterinarian will check your pet’s teeth at an annual or six-month examination, but here are a few signs of periodontal disease you should watch for at home:

  • Yellow/brown tartar
  • Foul breath
  • Red, inflamed, or bleeding gums
  • Excessive drooling
  • Pawing at the mouth or rubbing one’s jaw against objects
  • Difficulty chewing

Aside from regular checkups at the vet, the best thing you can do for your pet is brush its teeth daily. Bacteria can recolonize onto the surface of teeth within 24 to 36 hours, so it’s essential to remove plaque before it turns into tartar. Ask your vet for a recommended toothbrush and pet toothpaste.

Dental hygiene chews can also help to reduce the effects of gingivitis, but some chews can actually make your pet’s oral health worse. Treats such as cow hooves, pig’s ears, and animal bones can damage teeth and cause other problems if ingested. Your vet can help you choose items that are healthiest for your pet.

Your dog’s favorite toys may also pose a threat to their oral health. Abrasive toys such as the popular green tennis balls can create wear and tear on the surface of pets’ teeth.

As with your own teeth, your dog or cat’s oral health plays a large role in its overall health. Remember to schedule regular checkups and ask your veterinarian for more tips on how to care for your pet’s teeth most effectively.

Benefits of Orthodontic Treatment at a Young Age

July 31st, 2018

Contrary to popular belief, orthodontic treatment is not just for older children and teens who have alignment and spacing issues. At our Carlsbad, CA office, orthodontic treatment offers many benefits for children at a young age.

Dr. Michael Willes can identify your child’s alignment issues early, and provide treatment as the teeth begin to develop. It’s crucial to start dental care early, not only for proper dental health and cosmetic benefits, but to improve your child’s overall health.

The Benefits of Straighter Teeth

Aside from cosmetic benefits, starting orthodontic treatment at a young age offers many other advantages. A pediatric dentist can help guide the teeth into their proper position to prevent teeth extractions or bite problems, and even reduce the extent of orthodontic treatment later on.

Your youngster will enjoy the confidence of having straight teeth that, as an added bonus, will be easier to clean. Parents will be happy to hear the earlier your child gets treatment, the less your orthodontic expenses could be; plus, it is often covered by dental insurance.

Stages of Orthodontic Treatment

Multiple stages are included in early orthodontic treatment, but there are three main stages.

Stage 1: Treatment starts around age two or three until the child is around six. This stage includes preventive measures to avoid habits that lead to crooked teeth, and monitoring how the teeth grow in.

Stage 2: The first permanent teeth appear around age six to 12 years old and the dentist looks at possible early treatment for misalignment or bite issues.

Stage 3: Any further problems with permanent teeth are corrected during adolescence.

Dr. Michael Willes and our staff are able to see early on whether your child will need to have braces in adolescence. Early treatment means fewer procedures, cleaner teeth, and less expense for parents. It’s a win-win for everyone!

Brushing: Before or after breakfast?

July 24th, 2018

In a perfect world, we would all jump out of bed ready to greet the day with a big smile and a toothbrush close at hand to clean our teeth immediately. But if you can’t even find your toothbrush before you’ve had your first cup of coffee, does it really make a difference if you brush and floss after breakfast? Perhaps! Let’s talk biology.

Normal saliva production during the day benefits our teeth and mouths in surprising ways. Saliva washes away food particles to keep our teeth cleaner. It contains cells which combat bacteria and infection. It even provides proteins and minerals to help protect our teeth from decay. But saliva production slows dramatically as we sleep, and the amount of bacteria in our mouths increases. While one of the nasty—and obvious—side effects of bacterial growth is morning breath, there is an invisible effect, which is more harmful. Bacteria in plaque convert sugar and carbohydrates into acids which attack our gums and enamel and can lead to both gingivitis and cavities.

  • If You Brush Before Breakfast

Brushing and flossing first thing in the morning removes the plaque that has built up during the night and takes care of many of the bacteria who are ready to enjoy the sugar and carbs in that breakfast with you. If you brush before eating breakfast, rinse your mouth with water after your meal, floss if needed, and you are good to go.

  • If You Choose to Brush After Breakfast

But if you decide that doughnut simply can’t wait, you should ideally postpone brushing for 20-30 minutes after your meal. Of course, these are minutes in which bacteria can make use of those new sugars and carbohydrates. So why shouldn’t you brush immediately after eating? Many foods and beverages, especially acidic ones such as grapefruit and orange juice, can weaken the surface of your teeth. If you rinse with water after eating and wait at least 20-30 minutes before brushing, your enamel will be “remineralized” (another benefit of saliva) and ready for cleaning.

No matter if you take a “seize the day” approach and brush first thing in the morning, or a “seize the doughnut” approach and brush soon after eating, the important word here is “brushing.” Dr. Michael Willes and our Carlsbad, CA team are happy to make suggestions as to the best morning routine for you. One thing is certain: if you give your teeth and gums two minutes of careful brushing and flossing in the morning, you can’t help but start your day off right!

How Braces Can Work at Any Age

July 17th, 2018

The team at Willes Orthodontics loves to help adults achieve straighter teeth and a beautiful smile. If you are considering getting braces, here are some things you’ll need to know.

Can braces work for adults?

The good news is that braces work for just about anyone. There are several different types of braces, howver, and not all of them may work for you. The different kinds of orthodontic treatments include:

  • Ceramic braces
  • Metal braces
  • Self-ligating brackets
  • Lingual brackets (braces behind the teeth)
  • Invisible braces
  • Rubber bands for bite correction
  • Headgear and other appliances

Schedule a consultation with Dr. Michael Willes, and we can help you determine the best option for your needs.

How do I get started?

We understand that braces can be a daunting prospect for many individuals. They may appear expensive and time-consuming; however, the process can be relatively pain-free! Here are the first steps you need to take on the road to straight teeth.

You will probably have a lot of questions and concerns before starting. Here are a few questions you should ask:

  • What kind of braces do you recommend for my teeth?
  • How long will the treatment take?
  • How often will I need to come in for adjustments?
  • What is the total cost of the treatment? Do you accept insurance? Will you require the full amount up front, or do you have payment plans?

During your first meeting with Dr. Michael Willes, we’ll take some X-rays and molds of your teeth to help you determine your best treatment plan. To ensure your treatment is as effective as possible, we may include preliminary dental work before your braces are placed.

After you’ve chosen a treatment plan and undergone any necessary prerequisite dental work, you’ll be on your way to a better smile! Call our Carlsbad, CA location so you can get started today!

Famous Teeth throughout History

July 10th, 2018

We probably all remember sitting through history lessons during our schooling years. Revolutionary war heroes, English royals, and pop-culture icons filled the pages of our textbooks. Although you may recall a detail or two about their historical significance, how much do you know about their teeth?

Picture England in the mid 1500s. People wore frilly clothes as they hustled along the street, and talked about the latest import from the Indies: sugar. Wealthy Brits did not hesitate to indulge their sweet tooth, and it was no different for the monarch, Queen Elizabeth I.

The queen was especially fond of sweets, but not so fond of the dentist. Her teeth rotted; they turned black and gave off a foul odor. Eventually, Elizabeth lost so many teeth that people found it difficult to understand her when she spoke.

Flash forward to the Revolutionary-era colonies in the 1770s and we encounter the famous dentures of George Washington. They were not made of wood, but rather a combination of ivory and human teeth, some of which were his own pulled teeth and some he purchased from slaves.

Washington did not practice proper dental hygiene throughout his life. He began to suffer dental problems as early as age 24, when he had his first tooth pulled. By the time he was inaugurated in as the first president in 1789, he had only one tooth remaining in his mouth, which was pulled in 1796.

Washington’s dentures were made too wide and never quite fit his mouth properly. He complained that they were painful to wear and caused his jaw to protrude visibly outward.

If you’ve heard of Doc Holliday, you know him as the gun-toting, mustached criminal that ran the Wild West in the late 1800s. You might be surprised to learn that John Henry “Doc” Holliday actually had a career as a dentist.

He graduated from dental school in 1872 and began to practice in Griffin, Georgia. Holliday was later diagnosed with tuberculosis and his violent coughing fits during exams drove patients away. Jobless, he packed his bags for Texas and spent the rest of his days running from town to town as a criminal.

The Beatles brought pop music and British culture to their fans, as well as … teeth? In the mid-1960s, John Lennon had a molar removed that he presented as a gift to his housekeeper, Dorothy. Dorothy’s daughter was a huge fan of the Beatles and he thought she might like to a keepsake. Her family held onto the tooth until 2011, when they auctioned it off to a Canadian dentist for $31,000.

These historical figures had very different experiences with their teeth, but it’s safe to say a bit of extra brushing and flossing could’ve saved them a lot of trouble. Whether you’re queen, president, or an average citizen, it’s up to you to practice good dental hygiene!

Ask a member of our team at our Carlsbad, CA office if you have any questions about how to keep your teeth in top shape!

Invisalign Teen®: What Parents Should Know

July 3rd, 2018

Parents want the best for their teens and often ask us about the perks of Invisalign Teen clear aligners compared to traditional braces. Invisalign treatment is a style of braces that skips the usual metal and wires, and uses a clear, thermoplastic material to create removable aligners instead.

Aligners are custom-made for each patient and replaced every two weeks to attain gradually straighter teeth.

Is Invisalign treatment as effective?

As long as your child wears the aligners as directed, the answer is yes: they are just as effective as traditional braces. A small blue spot on the back of each aligner will fade after two weeks of proper wear. This enables Dr. Michael Willes to tell whether the child is wearing the aligners.

Can Invisalign aligners be removed?

The recommended amount of time to wear Invisalign aligners is at least 20 hours a day. They can be removed for up to four hours per day to eat, brush teeth, play sports, or play musical instruments. This makes brushing and flossing easier and helps maintain good oral hygiene!

How long does treatment take and what is the cost?

Each patient is different. Dr. Michael Willes can determine how many months your child may expect to wear the series of aligners after a consultation.

Typically, your teen will wear Invisalign clear aligners about as long as traditional braces The cost is also similar to that of other traditional braces; however, there is no set fee. The cost will depend on your child’s unique orthodontic needs.

Overall Success

Invisalign Teen treatment has had remarkable success, and patients love having straighter teeth without the embarrassment of metal braces. As your son or daughter becomes more confident, the patient will actually be more likely to keep up with the treatment and complete it sooner.

Speak with Dr. Michael Willes today to learn more about the benefits of Invisalign Teen treatment. Give our Carlsbad, CA office a call!

 

Make Your Braces Bands Work for You!

June 26th, 2018

Well, of course, they already are working for you—as an essential part of the alignment process. Rubber bands, also known as elastic ligatures, are used to secure the wires inside your brackets. But bands can be more than functional. Since the ligatures around each bracket are replaced when you visit our office, why not use that opportunity to choose a new color scheme as well?

  • Make a Statement

Bands offer a chance to coordinate your braces to an interest, team, or event. Are you a swimmer? Maybe cool blues and turquoises appeal to you. Batman forever? Black and yellow. (That will work for beekeepers, too.) Have a favorite sports team? Choosing team colors will support your team with every smile. Love your school? Show your spirit by wearing bands in your school colors. Favorite time of year? Celebrate by selecting festive bands in holiday colors.

  • Suit Your Mood

Fiery reds and oranges, tranquil blues and greens, millennial purples and pinks, or exuberant neon—you know that there are just some colors that suit your personality. Showcase that personality with your choice of band color. And if your mood changes, choose shades that express a completely different side of you.

  • Coordinate Your Colors

Match your bands to your eye color, your makeup, or the clothing colors you choose most often. If there’s a color profile that works for you, make your bands a part of it. If you don’t want everything matching, complement your coloring or clothing with a different but coordinating shade for a cohesive effect.

  • Keep a Low Profile

Most adults will stick with a monochromatic set of bands, and this might be a look that appeals to you as well. Grey and silver bands will blend nicely with silver braces. If you have clear or white brackets, you might want to test out which bands will be least noticeable. Clear bands can become discolored, and white bands can make teeth look darker. If there’s a band which mimics your own tooth color, this will be the choice for you.

  • Make Color Theory Work for You

Certain colors and tints bring out the best in your tooth color and work with your skin tones. White and yellow bands might make teeth appear duller, and any shade combination that resembles food particles (greens, browns, and black) is probably not a look you’re going for. Have fun with a color wheel and decide which colors you find most flattering.

Make your bands more than a tool—make them an accessory. There are so many colorful options available that you are bound to happen on a color scheme that just suits you. And if you change your mind? Change it up during your next visit to our Carlsbad, CA office!

Whitening Teeth with Braces

June 19th, 2018

Now that you are working hard to improve your dental health and appearance with your braces, it might seem like a logical time to whiten your teeth as well. But should you go ahead with home kits or a professional whitening? The answer might be yes, but not quite yet!

Toothpaste

The easiest way to whiten teeth is regular use of a whitening toothpaste. But these do not make a major difference in tooth color and may also contain abrasives which can damage ceramic brackets and make them more likely to stain. And, whether you have metal or ceramic braces, the brackets used are bonded to your teeth. Any part of your tooth covered by a bracket will not be affected by the whitening paste. Ask our office if you are thinking of using one of these products. We will be happy to recommend the best toothpastes to use while your braces are in place.

Whitening Strips and Trays

Whiteners can be applied at home with strips or tray kits. Strips are coated with a whitening gel and then pressed around your teeth. Tray kits provide a mouthguard-like appliance, which is filled with whitening gel. But neither strips nor tray solutions will whiten any area covered by brackets. When your braces come off, there might be noticeable differences in color on each tooth. Strips are difficult to apply with braces, and trays need to be custom-designed to fit your braces and make sure they don’t disturb your orthodontic work. One size most definitely does not fit all! Finally, these whitening agents can cause tooth and gum sensitivity, especially around the time of adjustments. Many manufacturers do not recommend using their products while you have braces. Please talk to us if you are thinking of using them.

Professional Whitening

A dental professional can whiten your teeth in office for the best possible results. The most effective treatments for your unique teeth are combined with protective care of your gums and mouth. Whether this treatment is appropriate while you have braces is something we are happy to discuss.

The best way to keep your teeth bright is to keep up your regular dental routine! Brushing and flossing are more important than ever now, because plaque builds up around brackets. Avoid foods that stain teeth and rinse or brush after every meal and snack. Dr. Michael Willes will show you the best way to take care of your teeth while your braces are on—and that includes the best way to keep them white and bright. Talk to us about the perfect time to whiten your beautiful smile during your next visit to our Carlsbad, CA office. And if you have to wait a few extra days for the smile you’ve been working toward, truly, the wait will be worth it!

What band color is right for your astrological sign?

June 12th, 2018

For centuries, many have believed in messages written in the stars and constellations. Some people look to their astrological sign to understand their personalities and preferences better, and even to foresee their destiny.

Whether you’re a firm believer in astrology or just read your horoscope for fun now and then, your perfect band color according to the zodiac awaits below.

Aries – Red

You’re passionate, enthusiastic, and full of energy the world needs. You have an ability to light an inspirational flame in yourself and others.

Taurus – Green

You value growth and are filled with earth energy. Close relationships with family and friends are the foundation of your life.

Gemini – Orange

Orange is the color of diversity and inspiration. You have a knack for readily socializing with other people and value a close-knit community.

Cancer – Violet

Cancers have the ability to look deep within themselves for guidance and inspiration. Your thoughts dwell in the realm of dreams and emotion, and fill you with a deep understanding of those around you.

Leo – Yellow

Your humor, intelligence, and courage light up your surroundings like the sun. Use your charisma and positivity to help you achieve great things.

Virgo – Blue

Blue reflects your calm and peaceful personality. People come to you when they need guidance and your caring instinct for others runs strong.

Libra – Green

Your personality is both enchanting and delightful. Your ability to find a solution and heal is uplifting to those around you.

Scorpio – Red

You are full of passion and knowledge. You know your true value, and feeling accepted is important to keep your flame ignited.

Sagittarius – Violet

Violet reflects your electric enthusiasm for life. With your wisdom and passion for truth, you are always striving to reach your next goal.

Capricorn – Blue

Your perception is unmatched, and you’re able to see through the confusion to identify what truly matters. Your confidence and clarity will help you accomplish what you need to do.

Aquarius – Violet

Aquarians are sensitive, creative, and love to share their understanding with the world. You find joy in art, music, and writing to show others your special view of things.

Pisces – Indigo

You have powerful perception and your instincts are often correct. Your ability to understand emotions helps those around you to stay connected and present in the moment.

Next time you visit our Carlsbad, CA office, ask Dr. Michael Willes for the band color that goes with your sign!

Tips to Help You Beat the Heat This Summer

June 5th, 2018

The dog days of summer are upon us, and with the temperatures soaring, our team at Willes Orthodontics wants you to be extra careful about sun safety when you’re out and about. Check out this incredibly helpful article on the Ten Summer Safety Tips for Kids, courtesy of Discovery.

Dr. Michael Willes and our team also encourage you to always have a bottle of water handy when heading out into the sun.

We hope you’re having a great summer! Let us know what you're up to below or on our Facebook page!

Oral Health Tips: Travel Edition

May 29th, 2018

When you leave on a trip, you probably double-check that evrything’s ready: your clothes are packed, your ticket is handy, and your passport waits patiently on top of your bag or in a special pocket.

The same level of preparedness should apply with regard to caring for your oral health when you’re about to leave home for a while. Whether you’re jumping in the car for a weekend camping trip or flying halfway across the globe for a longer stint, the tips below will help you keep your teeth healthy whil you’re away.

Prepare Ahead of Time

The key to maintaining good oral hygiene during travel is preparation. Schedule a regular dental appointment so your teeth are freshly cleaned and ready before you leave. This can identify potential issues that might cause problems while you’re away.

If you have any items on a dental “to-do” list, such as wisdom tooth removal, replacement of a filling, or orthodontic adjustment, it’s a good idea to get those procedures completed before your trip.

En Route

If you’re stuck on a long flight or trekking far into the woods, you might find yourself where there’s no sink or even a toothbrush at hand. We speak for everyone when we say that nothing is worse than a mouth that feels, shall we say, less than fresh.

A lemon wedge or Granny Smith apple slice can help freshen up your breath when you’re in need of a quick fix. Rinsing your mouth thoroughly with water can help to wash away bacteria that causes cavities and reduce that gritty sensation. If you’ve got toothpaste, put a dot on your finger or a damp washcloth to serve as a makeshift toothbrush.

Nowadays, travel-sized dental products are available at most grocery stores and pharmacies. You can find travel toothbrushes, mini mouthwashes, and pocket-sized floss to slip into your travel bag.

Colgate makes disposable mini-toothbrushes called Wisps that can help you freshen up when you may not have access to a regular toothbrush. Packing a few extra dental supplies may also be a good idea in case one gets damaged or lost.

At Your Destination

Traveling abroad can expose you to unfamiliar conditions. Some countries have compromised water sources that will make you extremely ill if ingested, even from the tiny amount of water with which you wet your toothbrush.

Minimize that risk and keep bottles of water on hand instead for rinsing your mouth and toothbrush. If your toothbrush comes in contact with contaminated water, swapping it out for a new one is the safest option.

Storing your toothbrush properly is necessary to prevent bacteria from growing on it. Place your brush in a Ziploc bag when you’re on the go and allow it to breathe once you get to a temporary destination.

Traveling near or far should be an enjoyable experience. Dental issues shouldn’t be a source of worry on your vacation. As long as you’re prepared and take precautions, your teeth can stay healthy even when they’re out of the country!

Of course, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact our Carlsbad, CA office.

Invisalign Teen® Treatment: Creating confident smiles for teens

May 22nd, 2018

These days, fewer and fewer braces show up in school yearbook photos. Invisalign clear aligners have become a popular choice for our adolescent patients because it enables them to display metal-free smiles while straightening their teeth!  

Dr. Michael Willes can help you determine whether Invisalign treatment is right for you, but below are a few reasons why so many teens are choosing it today.

More Free Time

Invisalign Teen aligners require fewer appointments, which is pretty important to teens who value their free time. Invisalign treatment gives you straight teeth without having to miss activities or skip hanging out with your friends. It’s a win-win!

Eat, Brush, and Floss Easily

Traditional braces can make eating, brushing, and flossing both difficult and tedious. Invisalign aligners are easily removable for all these important activities, and give you freedom to live your life as usual.

Metal-Free Braces

Possibly the best perk of Invisalign aligners is that you can’t see them! The Invisalign system uses a clear plastic device that fits directly over the teeth. This means no metal parts to mar the appearance of your smile, so your Invisalign aligners will straighten while allowing your pearly whites to shine through. People don’t even have to know you’re straightening your teeth with Invisalign aligners.

To learn more about Invisalign Teen treatment, feel free to reach out to our Carlsbad, CA office!

 

Adults and Braces

May 15th, 2018

Nowadays, many adults are taking advantage of getting straighter teeth with braces. Dr. Michael Willes and our team love to help patients create the dazzling, confident smile they’ve always wanted.

Our adult patients usually fall into two categories: some had braces in the past but didn’t wear their retainers, while others are brand-new to wearing braces. Either way, both groups want the same thing: straighter teeth and a beautiful smile!

You will have several options for getting braces, depending on your financial situation and how quickly you would like your treatment to finish. Traditional metal braces are a less-expensive option and can help people who have severely crooked teeth. But many adults may not prefer this option because they dislike the appearance of metal brackets.

If you’re concerned about how you’ll look, we offer clear ceramic braces that aren’t as visible. These are more expensive than metal braces, and patients need to be careful with colored drinks that can stain them, such as coffee or red wine.

Another popular option is a clear aligner treatment called Invisalign®. This type is practically invisible; it uses a series of aligners that are customized to fit your teeth. The process of straightening your teeth can last anywhere from three to 18 months. For people who have extreme bite problems or crowded teeth, a different method may work better.

Don’t hesitate to call our Carlsbad, CA office today to set up a consultation. Dr. Michael Willes will help you choose the best option so you can be on your way to a straighter, more confident smile!

What are the benefits of early orthodontic treatment?

May 8th, 2018

Orthodontic treatment should begin earlier than most parents are apt to assume. According to the American Association of Orthodontists, orthodontic treatment should start at around seven years of age.

Dr. Michael Willes can evaluate your child’s existing and incoming teeth early on to determine whether treatment might be necessary or not.

What is early orthodontic treatment?

Early orthodontic treatment usually begins when a child is eight or nine years old. In stage one, bite problems such as underbites and the jaw’s growth pattern are corrected. It can also help to make room in the mouth for the permanent teeth to take their proper places as they come in, which reduces the chance that the patient will require extractions later, due to overcrowding.

Does your child need early orthodontic treatment?

If you notice any of the following characteristics in your son or daughter, you may want to have a chat with Dr. Michael Willes.

  • Early loss of baby teeth (before age five)
  • Late loss of baby teeth (after age five or six)
  • Your child’s teeth do not meet properly or at all
  • Your child is a mouth breather
  • Front teeth are crowded (you probably wouldn’t see this until your child is about seven or eight)
  • Protruding teeth, typically in the front
  • Biting or chewing difficulties
  • A speech impediment
  • Your child’s jaw shifts when he or she opens or closes the mouth
  • Your child is older than five years and still sucks a thumb

 

What are the benefits of seeking orthodontic treatment early?

There are many benefits to early orthodontic treatment. One of the biggest is that, because a child’s jaw and bones are soft and pliable, corrective procedures such as braces can work much faster than they do for adults.

Treatment at our Carlsbad, CA office can enable your child to avoid lengthy procedures, extraction, or surgery in adulthood. Early orthodontic care will give your son or daughter a healthy, stable smile.

Invisalign Teen® Treatment Benefits

May 1st, 2018

Many teens want straighter teeth but dread a mouth full of metal. Because of that, Invisalign Teen treatment has become a popular choice among teens. It produces great results without the hassle of traditional braces.

If you’re like most teens at our Carlsbad, CA office, you love hanging out with your friends, and you don’t want to look different or have to watch what you eat. If you’re unsure about the benefits of Invisalign Teen clear aligners, we’re here to explain some of the perks.

You can eat what your friends eat

Invisalign Teen aligners can be removed easily for meals and snacks, so you can eat just like you normally would. You don’t need to worry about food getting stuck in your braces or a bracket popping off. Unlike with braces, you can enjoy the following foods with your friends during Invisalign Teen straightening treatment:

  • Popcorn at the movies
  • Trail mix with dried fruit ribs and chicken wings
  • A peanut butter sandwich, apples, and carrot sticks

You can take care of your teeth more easily

Since Invisalign Teen aligners are removable, you won’t have to worry about finding tooth decay once your braces are removed. You can brush and floss your teeth as you normally would, just by taking the trays out of your mouth.

People won’t know you’re wearing them

We’ve saved the best for last: Invisalign Teen aligners are nearly invisible. Chances are, the only people who will know you’re getting your teeth straightened are the people you tell yourself!

Getting straighter teeth can be a massive confidence-booster in the long run. With Invisalign Teen clear aligners, the treatment isn’t that bad! Learn more at our Carlsbad, CA office.

Orthodontic Care on the Go!

April 24th, 2018

Whether you’re heading out for a day with friends or running from classroom to volleyball practice, you don’t always have the luxury of taking care of your braces or aligners in the comfort of your home. But don’t stress! Here are some suggestions for handy items you can take with you to handle most of the dental situations that might come up.

Basic Care Kit

  • Travel Toothbrush—the perfect size for quick cleanings after a meal on the go. You might want to bring a travel size tube of toothpaste as well.
  • Dental Floss, Threader, and Dental Picks—you don’t want something stuck in your teeth or braces through three hours of play rehearsal.
  • Water Bottle—if you don’t have time to brush, a good rinse will help keep teeth and appliances clean.
  • Small Mirror—to make sure your smile is picture perfect after eating.
  • Our office phone number—just in case. If something happens to your braces or aligners, or if you suffer a dental emergency, call our Carlsbad, CA office immediately.

For Braces

  • Orthodontic Wax—if one of your brackets is irritating your mouth, you’ll be ready.
  • Braces-Friendly Snacks—soft, healthy foods that will help keep your energy up while keeping your braces intact.

For Aligners or a Retainer

  • Your case! If you need to take your aligners or retainer out, use your case to protect them and keep them from getting lost. You have better things to do after lunch than sifting through a garbage can full of used napkins. Much better things.

All of these items can fit easily in a case or bag in your glove compartment, locker, or backpack. Want more tips? Talk to Dr. Michael Willes and our team on your next visit, and let’s work together to make caring for your orthodontic appliances a quick and convenient addition to your busy schedule!

Ask Us About Invisalign Teen® Treatment!

April 17th, 2018

We know that being a teen is hard, and we know that adding braces to the mix can often elicit a less-than-enthusiastic response. Luckily, teens can now have straighter teeth without the hassle, discomfort, and embarrassment of metal braces!

Dr. Michael Willes proudly offer Invisalign Teen clear aligners to our adolescent patients.

One of the main benefits of Invisalign Teen aligners is that they are virtually invisible. They are also removable, which means teen patients are free to eat anything they choose. The aligners are also easily replaceable, should they ever get lost! The best part? They make it easy to keep up with a healthy brushing and flossing routine. 

The aligners are made from a lightweight, plastic material that fits precisely on the teeth. Invisalign Teen treatment has become a popular treatment here at Carlsbad, CA because it helps our younger patients achieve a straight, beautiful smile without undergoing the dreaded metal-mouth.

For more information on Invisalign Teen clear aligners, please feel free to give us a call at our Dr. Michael Willes office today!

Toothbrush Care

April 10th, 2018

You found the perfect toothbrush! The bristles are soft, to avoid irritating your delicate gum tissue. The angle of the bristles is perfect for removing plaque. The handle is durable and comfortable when you spend at least two minutes brushing in the morning and two at night. Why, you love this toothbrush and you’ll never let it go… for the next three or four months.

The life of a toothbrush is naturally a short one. Dr. Michael Willes and our team recommend replacement every three to four months because the bristles become frayed and worn with daily use. They cannot clean as effectively when the bristles begin to break down, and, depending on your brushing style, may wear out even more rapidly. (Children will probably need to replace toothbrushes at least every three months.) But even in the short time you have your toothbrush, there are ways to keep it ready for healthy brushing.

  • Don’t share. While sharing is normally a virtue, sharing toothbrushes can lead to an increased risk of infections, especially for those with compromised immune systems or existing infectious diseases. Similarly, keep different brushes separate when drying to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Rinse thoroughly after brushing. Make sure to remove any toothpaste or debris left after you brush.
  • Store the brush upright. Air-drying is the preferred way to dry your brush, as covering the brush or keeping it in a closed container can promote the growth of bacteria more easily.

There are several products on the market that promise to sanitize your brush. The verdict is still out on its success, but if you or someone in your home has a compromised immune system, call our Carlsbad, CA office to see if it might be worth your while to check them out.

Even though your toothbrush won’t be with you long, make its stay as effective and hygienic as possible. And if you find a brush you love—stock up!

Caring for Your Dog’s Teeth

April 3rd, 2018

It may come as a surprise to learn that dogs, like humans, have both baby and adult teeth. Most dogs, unlike humans, have all of their adult teeth by the time they are seven months old, so it’s time to start looking after their dental health when they are still puppies.

While dogs generally don’t develop cavities, periodontal disease is the one of the most common diseases affecting dogs. Periodontal disease starts when the bacteria in your pet’s mouth form plaque. The plaque can harden into tartar, and, if plaque and tartar spread under the gum line, can be responsible for a number of serious problems. Veterinarians warn that tooth loss, tissue damage, bone loss and infection can be the result of periodontal disease. Professional dental treatment is important if your dog is suffering from periodontal disease, and your vet can describe the options available to you. But the time to act is before disease develops. Let’s bone up on some preventative care!

Brushing

There are brushes and toothpastes designed especially for your dog. Train your puppy from an early age to open his mouth to allow you to examine his teeth and gums. (This will also come in handy if you ever need to give him medicine.) Most dogs will accept brushing, and toothpastes come in dog-friendly flavors. Human toothpaste should never be used because it contains cleaners and abrasives that should not be swallowed by your pet. There are also dental wipes available that can be used once and thrown away. Your vet can advise you how to ease your pet into a brushing routine.

Gels and Rinses

Whether you rub an antiseptic gel on your dog’s teeth or squirt an antiseptic rinse into his mouth, these formulas can reduce the build-up of plaque. Not all dogs take to the taste of these solutions, but in general they are safe and effective. Ask your vet for recommendations if you would like to try this method.

Diet

Several dietary products offer anti-plaque ingredients or a kibble shape designed to reduce the formation of plaque. Talk to your vet for the best possible diet and nutrition suggestions for your unique pet.

Chew Toys

Chewing can help reduce plaque build-up if done consistently, and chew toys should be chosen for tooth and digestive safety. Some animal-based products and hard plastic toys are so rigid that they can cause damage to teeth or gums, so be sure to look for safe toys.  Dogs shouldn’t be left alone with toys due to choking or swallowing hazards—if the chew toy becomes small enough to cause choking, or your dog is swallowing large chunks that might not be digestible, time to replace it.

Your veterinarian is the best resource for maintaining your dog’s health and developing a dental routine both you and your pet can live with. When your four-legged friend goes for his next check-up, ask your vet what you can do to keep him and his smile fetching for a long, long time.

Taking Care of Your Toothbrush

March 27th, 2018

Did you know your toothbrush could be covered with almost ten million germs? We know … it’s gross! That’s why you should know how to store your toothbrush properly, and when it’s time to replace it.

If you need to brush up on your toothbrush care knowledge, we’ve got you covered so brushing will always leave you feeling squeaky clean.

Keeping a Clean Toothbrush

Your mouth is home to hundreds of types of microorganisms, so it’s normal for some of them to hang onto your toothbrush after you’ve used it. Rinsing your brush thoroughly with water after each use can get rid of leftover toothpaste and food particles that cling to the bristles. Some dentists suggest soaking your toothbrush in mouthwash every now and then can help reduce the amount of bacteria further.

Store your toothbrush in a cool, open environment away from the toilet or trash bin to avoid airborne germs. Closed containers should be avoided because they provide a warm, wet habitat that bacteria love to grow in.

If you have multiple people sharing one sink, an upright holder with different sections will keep everyone’s brushes separated and avoid cross contamination. In addition, we would hope this is a no-brainer, but please don’t share toothbrushes!

Microwaves and dishwashers are not suitable tools for cleaning a toothbrush, because brushes aren’t built to last through this kind of treatment. If you want a really clean toothbrush, your best option is simply to buy a new one.

Replacing Your Toothbrush

The American Dental Association recommends you replace your toothbrush every three to four months, or sooner depending on individual circumstances. Dr. Michael Willes and our team agree. If you have braces, tend to brush too strongly, or the bristles become frayed, it’s time for a new brush.

Children will also need replacement brushes more frequently than adults. If you or your child has been sick, you should replace the toothbrush immediately to avoid re-exposing yourself to illness.

Worn-out brushes are not only unsanitary, they don’t do a good job cleaning teeth. Bristles that are worn out and dull won’t scrape away plaque and bacteria as well as a fresh toothbrush can.

 

Though the idea of ten million germs can be worrisome, if you take a few small precautions, you may ensure your toothbrush stays in good shape. And the cleaner the toothbrush, the cleaner the smile!

How Long Do I Need To Wear Retainers?

March 20th, 2018

Once you get your braces off, you want to make sure your smile remains straight! This is where retainers come in.

Once your braces come off, you’ll be fitted for a retainer provided by Dr. Michael Willes to keep those teeth in place. A retainer is a custom-fit device that sits in the mouth and reinforces the new position of your teeth. Wearing it may be annoying at first, but it’s an essential part of the process of keeping your teeth in place over the long term.

For the first few months after your braces are gone, Dr. Michael Willes will tell you to wear your custom retainers all the time, except when you’re eating, drinking, or brushing. You have the option of having a clear plastic retainer made if you’re concerned about your appearance.

Eventually, we will recommend that you only have to wear the retainer during each night for a full year. After that, you may take a couple nights off from wearing them each week. In order to preserve the position of your teeth for as long as possible, we don’t recommend that you ever fully stop wearing your retainers.

If you’re concerned about forgetting to wear your retainer, and worried that your teeth may shift, a lingual retainer could be a good option for you. This gets placed on the back of your teeth and is not readily visible.

These retainers are permanent, but they could cause issues for you down the road if you don’t maintain good oral hygiene. Plaque and tartar can build up around these lingual bars, which is why we don’t usually recommend this as a primary choice.

Wearing your retainer is extremely vital after your braces come off. Without your retainer to keep them in place, the teeth you’ve taken so long to fix may begin to shift again. Getting braces is quite an investment, which is why you should keep wearing your retainer long after the braces have come off.

If you have questions or concerns regarding your retainers, contact our Carlsbad, CA office and we can address any problems you may have.

Your First Orthodontist Visit

March 13th, 2018

If you’ve never been to an orthodontist before, you might be wary of what to expect during your first visit. Your dentist may have recommended an orthodontic appliance if it could improve the state of your oral health. More often, you may suspect that you or your child should have orthodontic work done if the time is right financially.

Understanding the various options your orthodontist can perform will be helpful to know before your appointment.

Your initial appointment usually lasts at least an hour. It’s common that diagnostic work will need to be done. This might include getting X-rays so Dr. Michael Willes can better understand the overall structure of your mouth. A quick mold of the mouth may also be taken if braces are a possibility.

Your first appointment is intended to find out how we can efficiently give you a great smile! Here’s a list of common questions you might ask during your first visit:

  • Is now the right time for treatment, or should it wait?
  • What is the estimated length of time for the treatment?
  • How much should I expect to pay? What are the payment options?
  • What can I do to prevent or minimize pain?
  • Is it likely that I will wear extra appliances in addition to braces to correct my overbite, underbite, or other problems?
  • Are there specific foods I will need to avoid?
  • Will braces prevent me from playing my favorite sport or musical instrument?
  • How can I keep my teeth clean with braces?
  • How often will I be expected to come in for checkups and other appointments?

Don’t be afraid to ask these and other questions before you or your child commits to getting braces. Dr. Michael Willes and our team are happy to answer any of them before or after your visit.

Once you’ve had your initial consultation, our team will be here throughout the entire process if any problems arise. We look forward to seeing you at your first appointment in our Carlsbad, CA office!

Braces-Friendly Foods

March 6th, 2018

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. Dr. Michael Willes 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 Dr. Michael Willes. 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, Dr. Michael Willes 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 Carlsbad, CA 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.

The Many Benefits of Braces

February 27th, 2018

It’s true that orthodontic braces can give you a beautiful smile. But did you know there are other benefits of having braces than just getting perfectly straight teeth? Dr. Michael Willes and our team want you to understand the other positives that can come out of having braces and relate to your oral health.

When teeth are crooked or crowded, it’s hard to brush and floss effectively. When there isn’t enough space in your mouth, bacteria and plaque can build up between these teeth. This can lead to serious issues like tooth decay and gum disease. When braces correct the spacing between teeth, and get rid of the tight spaces, patients are able to brush and floss more effectively and not miss essential areas of the mouth.

Surprisingly, braces can also address speech problems. They can shift problem teeth that may be causing embarrassing speech impediments. When an overbite or underbite gets adjusted, patients can pronounce certain words more clearly.

Spaces between teeth may also cause whistling, which braces can fix by closing off the gaps. Word slurring can also be improved with the help of braces by realignment of the jaw or teeth, which opens room for your tongue to move with greater ease.

Braces can also be helpful in supporting the bones and tissues in your mouth. Braces move periodontal ligaments by stretching the connective tissues and nerves. The bones naturally rebuild once they’re settled in their new spot.

Without support from poorly aligned teeth, gum tissue can erode. Braces help prevent erosion of the gums, and will alleviate pressure from the jawbone by fixing a bad bite over time.

If teeth are misplaced, they may not break down food effectively before it enters your stomach. Teeth aid with digestion when you can thoroughly chew your food. If your teeth are badly placed, braces can straighten them for optimal alignment. Once you can chew properly with the help of braces, your food will be more easily and fully digested.

If you have questions regarding braces and how they can help you, contact our Carlsbad, CA office and set up a consultation appointment. Braces can help with many oral health problems, and may save you a lot of money and time in the future.

If you’re not sure whether braces would be worth your time or money, consider the benefits above, and how they add to the value of this treatment. You’ll be getting more than just a beautiful smile!

 

Orthodontic Treatments

February 20th, 2018

It’s not unusual for a patient to be unaware of the range of services that orthodontists can provide for their patients. Knowing which services Dr. Michael Willes and our team perform can help you better understand your options and why we might select a particular method of treatment.

Both orthodontists and dentists care about good oral health, but they approach treatment in differing ways. You know that dentists clean teeth and treat gum disease, tooth decay, toothaches, and other oral health problems.

But what does your orthodontist do besides help straighten teeth with the help of braces? Orthodontists are commonly known to help fix or realign crooked teeth. Many of the patients at Willes Orthodontics come in for appointments that relate to their braces.

Dr. Michael Willes and our team recommend that children be seen around the age of seven to evaluate their potential orthodontic needs. Common problems may include overcrowding of teeth, large gaps or spaces, and overbites or underbites, among other things.

In order to address these common problems, we offer several methods of treatment besides standard braces and retainers:

  • Space maintainers can be used to fill the spaces left by missing baby teeth so other teeth don’t shift and occupy the adult tooth’s location.
  • Jaw repositioning appliances, sometimes known as splints, are used to reposition the upper and lower jaw bones correctly.
  • Lip and cheek bumpers can also be used to avoid having to pull teeth. These bumpers are placed in the mouth so the patient’s lips or cheeks don’t put pressure on specific teeth.
  • A more common appliance that orthodontists use is expanders. If your mouth is crowded, expanders will be placed on the curve of the upper and/or lower jaw(s) in order to make room for teeth to be properly aligned.
  • As a last resort, an orthodontist may turn to headgear. This is normally provided to slow down the growth of the jaw. It must be worn a number of hours each day.

When you visit our Carlsbad, CA office, we will go over these options with you and pick the best course of treatment, depending on the current state of your oral health.

No matter which oral appliances you end up with, Dr. Michael Willes and our team will go over all the available options with you to give you a beautiful smile. If you have questions regarding your treatment method, don’t hesitate to call our office and we can provide you with some insight.

Understanding the different options your orthodontist can provide should make matters less confusing if you should need to select a method of treatment.

The Start of Valentine’s Day

February 13th, 2018

Valentine’s Day, also known as Saint Valentine’s Day, has been said to originate with a Catholic priest named Valentine several thousand year ago. Valentine defied the emperor at the time by secretly marrying men and their brides after the emperor had made it illegal to marry. Emperor Claudius II did this because he wanted as many single young men to fight in his war as he could get.

Valentine disobeyed the emperor’s edict by continuing to marry couples until he was sentenced to death. Before his execution, he sent a letter to a secret love and signed it “From your Valentine.” Dr. Michael Willes and our team have come up with some suggestions on how you can celebrate this Valentine’s Day, whether you have a valentine of your own or not.

Valentine's Day Ideas

  • Enjoy a tasty treat. There are plenty of options when it comes to cooking and/or baking on Valentine’s Day. Make your significant other his or her favorite meal or sweet treat, or make your own favorite dish to enjoy on this day. Oh, and be sure to make enough for leftovers!
  • Make a personalized card. Instead of buying a card from the grocery store, take the time to make your own for a loved one. People love handwritten notes, especially when it’s from someone special. If you’re single this Valentine’s Day, make a card for fellow single friend to brighten the day and remind the person that he or she is also loved.
  • Watch a movie. We all know there are plenty of romance movies out there. Put on your favorite romantic comedy, or pick up your significant other’s favorite movie to watch together. Even better, if you’re single, pick up your own favorite movies to watch to pass the time this Valentine’s Day.
  • Do nothing! We all know Valentine’s Day can sometimes get a lot of hype. If you’re worried about not making a reservation in time, don’t feel like planning an extravagant night out, or simply not in the holiday mood this year, spend your day sitting back and relaxing.

Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate love and spend quality hours with the people you care about the most. Whether you’re in a relationship or single, take some time today to appreciate those you love in your life.

We wish you a happy Valentine’s Day celebration and look forward to seeing you at our Carlsbad, CA office during your next appointment.

Emergency Care for Orthodontics

February 6th, 2018

It’s vital to understand the difference between an orthodontic emergency and minor orthodontic issues. Minor issues can be handled the next day, or at your next scheduled appointment. When a real orthodontic emergency occurs, however, you will need to see a doctor immediately.

Emergencies can include injuries to your teeth, jaw, mouth, or face. Whether you have braces or oral appliances in your mouth at the time or not, it’s crucial to fix the problem before it gets worse. If you have an injury that affects an orthodontic appliance, that may need to be replaced or adjusted, depending on the extent of the injury.

You can watch for and address some common minor issues on your own, or wait to have them fixed at your next appointment with Dr. Michael Willes:

  • Poking wire
  • Loose bracket
  • Loose elastic band
  • Loose wire
  • Loose appliance
  • Headgear does not fit
  • Lost or broken elastic band
  • General soreness

These minor issues may arise if you eat hard or sticky foods that damage your braces or other orthodontic appliances. Make sure to be extra careful, and avoid brushing your teeth too aggressively to avoid causing damage.

These problems should not be treated as emergencies unless they begin to cause prolonged pain and discomfort. If you notice this happening, contact our Carlsbad, CA office and we can provide a solution.

Some at-home remedies you can try can include covering loose brackets or wires with wax. Wax can prevent canker sores from forming by covering sharp metal pieces that poke into your gums. If you have wires that have poked out into your gums, you can use tweezers to push the wires gently away from the direction of the sore area. Always make sure you use alcohol to sterilize anything you intend to put into your mouth.

When you get braces initially, you may notice some soreness of the jaw or small abrasions from your mouth getting accustomed to foreign materials. You should not worry too much about this temporary pain.

A warm salt-water solution can be used to alleviate any swelling or discomfort you’re experiencing. Many drug stores have ointment for canker sores that will numb the area if they continue to bother you. If you notice that your pain or swelling doesn’t get better, schedule an appointment with a medical professional as soon as you can.

When in doubt, contact our Carlsbad, CA office if you are unsure or still have questions about an orthodontic problem you’re facing. If the situation becomes an emergency, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with our team, so we can help provide you with a solution.

Orthodontic emergencies should be taken care of promptly whenever they arise.

Play Sports? Use Mouthguards.

January 30th, 2018

Dr. Michael Willes and our team recommend always wearing a protective mouthguard to participate in most physical sports. We especially encourage this if you have braces that can potentially cut your mouth or cause damage to your teeth. You have various choices to consider when you’re looking for a protective mouthguard.

One option is a full facial guard, which is often used for contact sports, such as football or hockey. This type offers full protection of the face from external impact. You should also consider an additional mouthguard to protect yourself from cuts inside your mouth, and avoid possible damage to your braces.

Boil-and-bites are another version of mouthguard that can be used for more physical sports. This type is used just the way its name implies: You warm the mouthguard in water to soften the material, then bite down gently once it’s at the correct temperature to form it into the shape of your mouth. These are fine to use temporarily, but they don’t always provide the best protection if they don’t fit properly.

Another option is to have Dr. Michael Willes make a custom mouthguard for you. The mouthguard will be designed with built-in layers to protect both your teeth and braces when it’s worn. Having Dr. Michael Willes create a custom-fitted mouthguard will ensure optimal protection and a comfortable fit whenever you participate in physical activities.

Protecting your teeth and braces is essential when you compete in sports. Accidents happen, and having a preventive mouthguard can potentially save you from oral pain and damaged braces. Our Carlsbad, CA office is happy to assist you in creating a custom-made mouthguard for any sports activities you want to pursue.

If you’ve experienced a mouth injury that has caused damage to your braces, please contact us immediately so we can fix the problem right away. Remember, prevention is key when it comes to your oral health!

Prevent Tooth Decay With Braces

January 23rd, 2018

When you start wearing braces, it can become a challenge to clean certain areas of your mouth. If these areas are neglected for long periods of time, though, decay and stains can form on your teeth.

Your mouth will require extra attention while you have your braces on. This can include using a special toothbrush to reach those spots, flossing every day, getting fluoride treatments, avoiding certain foods, and making sure to visit your dentist. Let’s take a closer look at what you can do to prevent decay during treatment.

When you get your braces on, Dr. Michael Willes will give you an interdental toothbrush that can be used to get to those hard-to-reach spots in your mouth. The brush has bristles that can easily remove food residue stuck between the wires in your mouth. We may also suggest using a WaterPik, which pulses a pressurized stream of water to remove excess food particles.

Brushing and flossing every day should always be a part of your oral health regimen, but this becomes especially crucial when you have braces. If food gets stuck between braces and sits on your teeth, decay and staining will start to occur. Dr. Michael Willes and our team recommend flossing at least once a day, and brushing and using mouthwash after every meal as long as you have braces.

If you don’t have the time, make sure at least to swish your mouth really well with water after you eat. It’s especially important to follow these steps after consuming sugary foods or beverages. It’s best to avoid sweets altogether when you have braces.

Making sure to visit your dentist at least twice a year for a routine cleaning can also help to prevent any decay from damaging your teeth while your teeth are encased in braces. Your dentist will remove any plaque or tartar that’s built up since your last cleaning.

Prevention is key when it comes to keeping your mouth healthy during orthodontic care with braces. Follow these tips and you’ll keep your teeth beautiful and healthy for the day your new smile is finally revealed!

Elastics and Braces

January 16th, 2018

If you’ve visited Willes 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, Dr. Michael Willes 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 Dr. Michael Willes 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 Carlsbad, CA office any time. Using elastics correctly is one more step in your journey to a perfect smile!

Common Braces Problems

January 9th, 2018

It’s useful to know some of the common problems that can arise when you get braces. Even if you take great care of your braces and teeth, you might not be able to avoid certain issues or side effects that accompany braces. But don’t worry: These are all common problems that can be taken care of by following some simple advice.

If you just had your braces put on, you may notice some general soreness in your mouth. Your teeth are starting to adjust to having to shift, so they may ache, and your jaw might feel tender at first. This will subside once your mouth becomes used to the new appliance in residence.

You may experience soreness on your tongue or mouth, which may be a sign of a canker sore. Canker sores are common when braces rub against your mouth. You can use ointments to relieve pain and numb the area that’s been irritated. Canker sores are commonly caused by broken wires or loose bands on your braces.

Common Issues

  • Loose brackets: Apply a small amount of orthodontic wax to the bracket. You might also apply a little between the braces and the soft tissue of your mouth.
  • Loose bands: These must be secured in place by Dr. Michael Willes. Try to save the band for repair.
  • Protruding or broken wires: Use the eraser end of a pencil to push the wire carefully to a less painful spot. If you are unable to move it, apply orthodontic wax to the tip. If a mouth sore develops, clean your mouth with warm salt water or antiseptic rinse.
  • Loose spacers: These will need to be repositioned by Dr. Michael Willes and possibly replaced.

Avoiding Issues

You should avoid certain foods that could cause major damage to your braces. No matter what you eat, make the effort to cut your food into small pieces that can be chewed easily. This will prevent chunks of it from getting lodged between brackets.

Avoiding hard and chewy foods is also wise. Some foods can break your hardware: for example, popcorn, nuts, apples, gum, taffy, and hard candies. Avoiding any foods that easily got stuck in your teeth when you didn’t have braces is a good rule to follow.

The appliances in your mouth are bound to attract food particles and make it easier for plaque to build up. By making sure you brush and floss carefully every day, you can prevent stains and cavities from developing over time. Dr. Michael Willes and our team recommend brushing and making sure that food isn’t lodged between your braces after every meal.

Having braces can be very exciting, but it can also be challenging at first. Watching for these common issues during your first few weeks can prevent problems down the road. If you experience a lot of pain from your braces, contact our Carlsbad, CA office and we can try to resolve any issues.

Braces can sometimes be a pain, but they’re well worth it once your new smile gets revealed!

Smile, the New Year is Almost Here!

December 26th, 2017

We’ve been celebrating the new year for a really, really long time. It goes way back, but it started formally in 1582, when Pope George XIII made January 1st the official holiday for ushering in the new year. The idea was to yell, cheer, and blow horns to scare away all the evil spirits of the previous year with the hope that the new one would be filled with happiness and opportunity.

While scaring away evil spirits isn’t what’s on our mind these days, we still ring in the New Year by cheering and hollering with friends and family. It’s a time to set new goals, refocus on old ones, and look forward to all the surprises the coming year will bring.

Whether you’re saying hello to the New Year snuggled up at home on your couch in the Carlsbad, CA area or by gathering your friends for a social celebration, here are some tips to help ensure you welcome this new chapter with a smile.

Tips for a great New Year’s Eve celebration from Willes Orthodontics

  • Stay safe. This one’s vital, because nothing puts a damper on your party like an emergency trip to the hospital. Stay responsible and try to plan ahead, whether that means taking a taxi, staying with a friend, or recruiting a designated driver. Do what you have to do to keep yourself and everyone around you safe.
  • Spend time with the people you love most. The way we see it, the whole point of the holiday season is to cherish your family and friends. Regardless of what you’re doing, make sure there’s something for everyone. It’s essential to do something the whole group will enjoy!
  • Smile! Whether you get all dressed to go out or have a quiet gathering with family and friends, make sure you accessorize with a smile. There’s always something to smile about!

We can all agree that change can be scary sometimes, but ringing in the New Year is an observance we all welcome with open arms. We hope you’ll enjoy this transitional holiday in a fun, healthy, and safe way. You have endless possibilities ahead of you!

From Dr. Michael Willes, have a fantastic New Year!

Why choose an orthodontic specialist over a general dentist?

July 18th, 2017

Patients have so many choices for straightening their teeth nowadays — clear aligners, ceramic braces, lingual braces, self-ligating braces — but who is best suited to guide them through orthodontic treatment? Well, an orthodontist like Dr. Michael Willes in Carlsbad, CA of course!

This may seem obvious, but there’s misinformation circulating with regard to the roles dentists and orthodontists play in treating patients’ oral health.

Dentists are trained to clean teeth, fill cavities, perform certain dental surgeries, and examine overall oral health. Many dentists now offer braces to their patients, but according to the American Association of Orthodontists, it’s better to consult an orthodontist if you need to straighten teeth or fix a bite.

Why an orthodontist? Because they are...

  • Specialists in straightening teeth and aligning jaws, even advanced cases
  • Required to study an additional two to three years after dental school
  • Trained to choose the correct treatment option because they have worked with all the available options
  • Trained to recognize the potential pitfalls with certain treatments and cases, which means there’s less chance of problems after treatment has started or been completed
  • Familiar with emerging treatments and technologies so they can make the best choice for a patient’s case

Some dentists claim to have taken enough continuing education or additional training to offer braces to their patients. But this can't compare to the advanced training an orthodontist receives during his or her education.

Ideally, dentists and orthodontists work hand in hand to make sure oral health and the alignment of teeth and jaws are the best they can be. Think of a dentist as the one who is there for a lifetime, to make sure teeth and gums are healthy.

In contrast, an orthodontist is the highly skilled teammate who helps the dentist by straightening teeth and aligning the jaws over the course of a few years. Instead of one replacing the other, they work together for the health and benefit of their patients.

Eat Well, Feel Good, Smile Better

July 11th, 2017

Did you know that the most common oral health diseases are tooth decay and gum disease? Not so coincidentally, they are also the easiest to prevent. As much as we would like for the brushing and flossing to do all the work for us, in reality, we really are what we eat — and a healthy diet is just as important for dental health as it is for the rest of the body.

Eating well boosts your immune system, and makes you less susceptible to gum disease and tooth decay. When you maintain a balanced diet, you provide your body with all the nutrients it needs to succeed. So what does a healthy, balanced diet entail? It’s really quite simple. Here are some tips:

  1. Focus on lean meats, veggies, whole grains, and healthy fats.
  2. Limit your intake of sugary drinks like energy drinks and soda.
  3. Keep your sweet tooth in check.
  4. Beware of acidic meals and snacks that are high in salt and sodium.
  5. Drink lots of water.

Unfortunately, there’s no “one size fits all,” magic diet that will automatically improve your oral health, but following the five guidelines above as best you can is a great way to start. Food and drinks that are high in sugar or acidity weaken your enamel, stain your teeth, and make you more likely to develop a cavity or gum disease.

At Willes Orthodontics, we like to encourage our patients to drink a lot of water during the day. Doing so not only keeps you hydrated, but also helps rinse out the sugar and acid from various things you’ve consumed during the day.

If you think your diet might be affecting your smile, come pay Dr. Michael Willes a visit or give our Carlsbad, CA office a call! We’re always happy to answer your questions.

Pick the right electric toothbrush!

July 4th, 2017

The electronic toothbrush has undergone several technological advances since the 1960s. Everything from design and bristle motions to rotation, oscillation, and sonic vibration has led to dramatic changes in this necessary tool over time.

Rotation oscillation happens when the head of the toothbrush rotates from one direction to the other. The benefit of powered toothbrushes is that they can produce 50,000 strokes per minute, compared to 300 strokes with a manual toothbrush.

When you’re thinking about brush head size, smaller brush heads are best for hard-to-reach areas and small mouths. Brush heads should be replaced every three to six months as needed. A good way to save money is to designate a brush head for each family member which can be taken on and off a shared base motor.

Having a base motor or rechargeable toothbrush can deliver enough power on a full charge for a week of brushing, which makes it convenient for travel or when life gets busy. Some toothbrushes include audible signals that let you know when to switch the area of your mouth you’re brushing or when a full two minutes has gone by.

Do you have sensitive teeth? Studies have indicated that people tend to apply more pressure on their teeth when they use a manual toothbrush. This makes an electric toothbrush a preferable option if you’re having issues with sensitive teeth or gums.

There are even electric models with pressure sensors that will stop the brush from spinning when you press too hard against your teeth!

Everyone can benefit from having an electric toothbrush. A large handle size can be taken into consideration if a member of the household is young, or has a physical disability or arthritis. They’re even recommended for children in order to maintain good oral hygiene from a young age.

Biofilm is a term used for plaque or debris that builds up in your mouth. If not properly addressed, this can cause serious bacterial infections to your gums and teeth. If you want to remove biofilm in the most efficient way, an automatic toothbrush is the way to go.

When you're ready to make your decision, make sure to consult with Dr. Michael Willes at our Carlsbad, CA office to decide which electric toothbrush is right for you!

Considerations When Picking the Right Mouthwash

June 27th, 2017

A solid oral health routine begins with daily brushing, flossing, and rinsing. Without a consistent oral health regimen, you may begin to experience tooth decay and bacterial infections. Few patients ask Dr. Michael Willes about different mouthwash options, so we’ve put together a list of the conditions that mouthwashes can treat. This should help you decide which oral rinse would be best for you.

Gum Health

Antiseptic mouthwashes reduce large amounts of bacteria on and near the gum line and generally help to decrease your chances of developing gingivitis. The key ingredients of antiseptic mouthwashes are antibacterial and antimicrobial items. Antiseptic mouthwash is a preferable option if you are concerned about the general gum health of your mouth.

Fluoride

Fluoride is a great tool for preventive tooth decay treatment. It prevents tooth decay and is great for oral health in general because it kills germs that can live in your mouth. Fluoride also builds stronger teeth. If you’re a bottled water drinker, Dr. Michael Willes may recommend that you purchase a simple fluoride rinse to use after brushing.

Bad Breath

Fluoride mouthwash can be used to fight any bad breath issues you may be facing. It’s designed to combat any bacteria that might be building up in your mouth. Most mouthwashes will help eliminate bad breath, but some are specifically designed to address this difficult problem. If you feel as though this might be turning into a chronic problem, please contact Dr. Michael Willes to discuss other options that would be effective for treating your symptoms.

American Dental Association (ADA Approval)

The ADA reviews all mouth rinses for safety measures and to prove effectiveness. Any mouthwash approved by the ADA has met strict guidelines according to whether the manufacturer’s claims are supported with scientific evidence. If you’re looking for a quality mouthwash, look for one that has the ADA seal of approval to ensure you have a great rinse for your mouth.

Considerations

When you’re trying to decide which mouthwash to pick, contact our Carlsbad, CA or ask Dr. Michael Willes during your next appointment. If you experience a burning sensation in the soft tissues of your mouth, be sure to discontinue use immediately. Avoid letting children under age six use a mouth rinse, and be sure to keep all mouthwashes out of the reach of children, because they contain alcohol and other substances that could be harmful.

Find Out how Your Diet can Cause Cavities

June 20th, 2017

Sometimes food that’s good for your body isn’t necessarily the best for your teeth. Dr. Michael Willes and our team want you to know which healthy foods can harm your teeth and gums, and what steps you can take to continue enjoying these foods, even when you’re dieting.

When you begin to substitute empty calories with whole foods, make sure you also remember to focus on your dental health. The majority of people tend to switch out sugary foods in favor of fruits and vegetables when they diet.

It’s worth knowing that most fruits are highly acidic and composed of natural sugars. Some of the highly acidic fruits to watch out for include apples, grapes, strawberries, pineapples, blueberries, oranges, and grapefruit. Moderation is key here, as with all other things. Fruits can be a great source of energy to help you through your day, but try not to overdo them.

Often, people also incorporate more leafy greens into their diets, which mean plenty of salads. Salad dressing is another item you’ll want to watch out for. Many dressings are filled with vinegars and sweeteners that include harmful acids, which change the pH of your mouth. When your mouth shifts from alkaline to acidic, your smile also turns to a higher risk for erosion and decay.

Rather than get rid of these foods altogether, simply change what you do after you eat them. Rinse your mouth out with water, brush your teeth, or eat alkalizing foods after consuming these acidic foods. Healthy alkalizing foods include dairy products such as eggs and yogurt, or any type of vegetable.

If you have questions regarding your current diet and its effect on your oral health, please contact our Carlsbad, CA office and speak with a member of our staff. If you’ve begun to make changes in your diet toward a healthier lifestyle, we hope these tips can help your make positive changes to your oral health. Our team at Willes Orthodontics wants a healthy lifestyle to be a top priority in your life.

If You Love Us, Let Us Know!

June 13th, 2017

Your feedback is very important to us at Willes Orthodontics. We always want to make sure that our practice is meeting its full potential, so whether you’ve visited Dr. Michael Willes once or been a loyal patient throughout the years, we encourage you to share your thoughts about your experience with us!

You can do this easily by giving us a review on our Facebook page or writing down your comments below. If you feel more comfortable, you’re always welcome to give our Carlsbad, CA office a call, too! We feel fortunate to have you all as patients and look forward to reading all your feedback!

Going on vacation? Remember these simple tips!

June 6th, 2017

If you are wearing braces and are planning a vacation, our team at Willes Orthodontics would suggest that you be prepared. We put together a list of items that will be handy to have with you at all times while you are out of town. They include:

  • Toothpick, flosspick, or other interdental cleaners
  • Travel toothbrush
  • A water bottle or a mini bottle of mouth rinse
  • Orthodontic wax to help with discomfort from protruding wires
  • A small mirror for examining any possible issues in your mouth

Putting these items together in a “braces/oral hygiene kit” may be wise. You may even buy pre-made braces kits. Please ask us for more information.

If you happen to be on vacation and experience problems reaching our office, we suggest going online and searching for orthodontic practices in your area. Most orthodontists will lend a helping hand to another orthodontic patient and get him or her out of pain or discomfort.

We also suggest avoiding the following foods to prevent broken brackets and/or wire distortion while you are on vacation:

  • Chewy, sticky, or gummy food
  • Apples, pears, and other whole fruits (cut fruit into wedges before consuming)
  • Bagels and hard rolls
  • Corn on the cob
  • Hard candies
  • Hard cookies or pretzels
  • All varieties of nuts, including peanuts, almonds, and cashews

Finally, if you are wearing clear aligners and happen to lose your tray, don’t worry! Simply put in either the previous tray or the next tray and contact us as soon as you get home!

Follow these tips and you can have a worry-free vacation! Please give us a call if you have any questions!

Treatment Options for TMD

May 30th, 2017

Temporomandibular dysfunction (TMD) refers to a diverse range of disorders that relate to muscular function in the jaw and face — the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). That could mean difficulty opening your mouth, pain in the jaw or face, or any sort of problem with the jaw joint.

TMD can be difficult to diagnose because of the varied causes. Whatever the case, an accurate diagnosis from Dr. Michael Willes helps make treatment as successful as possible.

Most often, jaw problems will resolve themselves within several weeks or months. Surgeries like arthrocentesis, arthroscopy, and open-joint surgery should be a last resort. More conservative and reversible treatments should come first and are in fact the most critical step in the treatment of TMD.

Less invasive treatments like acupuncture and splints can be helpful, but that will depend on your particular case. It’s worth your while to speak with Dr. Michael Willes at our Carlsbad, CA office to learn about solutions that could work for you.

A combination of treatments will most often produce the greatest relief for TMJ patients. It’s a good idea to avoid activities that overuse the jaws, such as chewing gum or clenching your jaws.

You can be proactive in finding relief for TMD by trying the following remedies at home:

  • Eat soft food: When you eat soft and/or blended food, your jaw gets an opportunity to rest. Avoid chewy and crunchy food, and food that requires you to open your mouth wide, like apples or corn on the cob.
  • Apply moist heat: A hot water bottle wrapped in a moist towel can help reduce symptoms.
  • Apply ice: Applying an ice pack wrapped in a cloth or towel for no longer than 15 minutes may also reduce pain and promote healing.
  • Do jaw exercises: A physical therapist can help identify the exercises that will work for you. Jaw exercises have been shown to be an effective treatment method that can be performed at home.
  • Relaxation: Actively try to relax the muscles of the face and lips, and let your teeth come apart. Many find meditation, yoga, and slow, deep breathing to be helpful for reducing stress and tension.
  • Avoid wide yawns: Keep your fist under your jaw when you feel a yawn coming on, to keep your jaw from opening too widely.

When should I floss during the day?

May 23rd, 2017

A vital step in your oral health routine is flossing. We hope our patients at Willes Orthodontics maintain good oral hygiene, including daily flossing between each visit to our Carlsbad, CA office. A toothbrush is not always enough to get to the hard-to-reach areas of your mouth. When food remains between your teeth, bacteria starts to grow and will break down your enamel. This is where flossing comes in!

Should you floss before or after brushing?

Whatever your personal preference, you may floss before or after you brush your teeth. When you floss first, you can brush away any leftover dislodged food debris from your teeth. On the other hand, when you brush first, you will loosen the plaque between your teeth, which makes flossing more effective.

The essential aspect is that you floss thoroughly by using a fresh strand of floss and make sure to get between every tooth. Even if your teeth look and feel clean, don’t skip flossing or plaque will begin to build up on your teeth.

When is the best time to floss?

Although you should brush your teeth at least twice a day, Dr. Michael Willes and our team recommend flossing your teeth thoroughly once a day. Many people prefer to floss before bed, so that plaque doesn’t sit between their teeth all night.

What kind of floss should I use?

You may choose between interdental cleaning picks or flexible floss strands to perform your daily flossing routine. If you have permanent oral appliances or restorations, be sure to follow the flossing instructions provided to you.

Do you need help flossing?

If you’re having trouble flossing or have questions about which floss is best for your teeth, contact our Carlsbad, CA office and we can provide you with support. Be sure to keep up with your daily flossing routine, and we will see you at your next appointment!

Avoid Brushing After Every Single Meal!

May 16th, 2017

Here is some surprising yet worthwhile advice you might be hearing for the first time: Brushing after a meal can be incredibly bad for your teeth if you do it after eating certain foods.

Enamel is an extremely hard mineral on the exterior of each of your teeth. It’s actually the hardest substance in the human body: It’s even stronger than your bones! Its only weakness is that acids in the food we eat can easily destroy enamel.

Healthy teeth thrive in an environment that has the proper pH balance. That ensures your mouth doesn’t start the process of demineralization. That’s what happens when alkaline turns into acid, which attacks and softens the enamel on the surface of your teeth. Pores and fissures form, and that’s when the harmful bacteria go to work.

Our mouth’s pH level fluctuates depending on what we eat throughout the day. Examples of the most common highly acidic foods include citrus fruits, soda, and sugary foods. Highly acidic foods tip the balance of pH in your mouth from a healthy alkaline to a dangerous acid.

Can brushing your teeth immediately after a meal lead to even more damage? The answer is yes!

Eating highly acidic foods causes your teeth to be more susceptible. If you brush your teeth when they have been weakened by acids, even more destruction can happen to your enamel. Your toothbrush’s bristles will actually wear away some of your enamel. So it’s healthier to wait at least an hour after eating or snacking to brush.

Good preventive measures to take instead of brushing after you eat include:

  • Rinsing or drinking water
  • Chewing sugarless gum
  • Consuming dairy or non-acidic foods to conclude your meal

These practices help produce saliva, which in turn restores a healthy pH level in your mouth and coats the teeth with minerals they need.

Once you’ve allowed time for your mouth to be restored to a healthy pH level, you may brush your teeth as you normally would. Keep in mind that acidic foods can weaken the enamel on your teeth and take the right measures to prevent spiking pH levels.

Most important, don’t forget to wait to brush at least one hour after you eat!

Still have questions? Call our Carlsbad, CA office and schedule an appointment with Dr. Michael Willes.

Protecting Your Smile with Mouthguards

May 9th, 2017

If you participate in sports or other physical activities, it’s wise to consider getting a mouthguard. Also known as mouth protectors, mouthguards are a device worn over the teeth to lessen the impact of a blow to the face.

This reduces the chance that you might lose teeth or sustain other serious oral injuries. We recommend that all patients involved in a contact sport such as wrestling, football, or hockey wear a mouthguard because of the high risk of such injuries.

However, anyone involved in a physically demanding sport or activity should wear a mouthguard as well.

Can you imagine what it would be like to lose a few of your front teeth? The way you talk, eat, and smile would all change. Potential injuries when you don’t wear a mouthguard include chipped and broken teeth, fractured jaws, root damage, damage to crowns and bridgework, concussions, and/or injury to the lips, cheeks, or gums.

Types of Mouthguards

There are three different types of mouthguards — typically made of a soft plastic material or laminate. You can decide which works best for you in terms of budget, fit, and comfort.

  • Stock mouthguards are prefabricated to a standard size. They offer adequate protection, but you need to make sure you find one that fits properly and comfortably. Stock mouthguards are readily available at department stores, sporting goods stores, and online.
  • Boil-and-bite mouthguards are placed in boiling water to soften them, then into the mouth so they can conform to the shape of the teeth. Boil-and-bite mouthguards are more expensive, but offer a more customized fit than stock ones. You can find these in department stores, pharmacies, sporting goods stores, and online.
  • Custom-made mouthguards are created just for you by Dr. Michael Willes. These offer the best fit and comfort of all the options, but they are also the most expensive. Ask a member of our Carlsbad, CA team for more information.

The American Dental Association says a good mouthguard should be easy to clean, fit properly, be comfortable, and resist tearing or damage. It shouldn’t restrict speech or breathing.

Still not sure if you need a mouthguard or which kind is right for you? Ask Dr. Michael Willes or one of our staff members for more information.

Orthodontic Treatment through the Internet

May 2nd, 2017

You can learn just about anything on the Internet these days. You can also order just about anything on the Internet these days.

But would you order your braces on the Internet? There’s a new trend involving websites that claim to offer a solution for straightening teeth, without your ever seeing a dentist or orthodontist in person.

These companies usually have patients take an impression of their teeth using putty and a tray. Then you mail the impressions back to the company where a dentist reportedly examines them and suggests a course of treatment using 3D modeling software.

A series of clear aligners are made, to be worn by the patient in order to attain the desired result. Although this form of orthodontic treatment may cost less than seeing an orthodontist in person, there are several reasons why you should avoid it:

  • Potential health hazards are missed: If your oral health is not up to par (e.g., you have cavities, gingivitis, chipped teeth, etc.), an orthodontist would not suggest orthodontic treatment. Only after these issues are addressed would treatment be considered as an option. Whether this is the case with a person can’t be known when all the doctor sees is a set of impressions.
  • Lack of information about the patient: Before you receive any orthodontic treatment, an orthodontist will have X-rays taken to make sure you are a good candidate. If the bones or teeth do not look like they would align properly with treatment, another course of care may be suggested, even necessary. None of this background is available to over-the-net orthodontic providers.
  • No regular checkups: The purpose of regular checkups with Dr. Michael Willes is to ensure that everything is moving properly, on schedule, and most important, safely. This lack of hands-on care with Internet orthodontics could be a hazard for you as a patient and has the potential to do more harm than good.

It’s not worth the risk of getting orthodontic treatment over the net just to save some money. Our Carlsbad, CA office is committed to working with you, whatever your financial situation may be.

Let’s work together to give you the smile you deserve!

Blog Suggestions? Let’s Hear Them!

April 25th, 2017

Your opinions matter to Dr. Michael Willes and our team! Our blog is meant to be an educational channel, but we always want to know what things you’re interested in learning more about. After all, our blog is here for you to enjoy!

We’d like to encourage you to send us any ideas about what you want to see more of. No idea is too small! Whether it involves a specific treatment or advice on what kind of toothpaste you should use, we’d love to hear from you about it.

To share your thoughts with us, simply leave your comments below or on our Facebook page! You can also fill out a comment card the next time you visit our Carlsbad, CA office!

Importance of Oral Hygiene with Braces

April 18th, 2017

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Proper oral hygiene techniques are always worthwhile, but they are especially crucial when you’re wearing orthodontic appliances such as braces. When you don’t maintain an effective oral hygiene routine, you can be more susceptible to gum disease as well as tooth decay, cavities, decalcification, discoloration, and/or staining of the teeth.

Braces themselves don’t cause these issues, but since they create spaces that are difficult to clean, they provide extra sources of food (dental plaque and food debris) for the bacteria that do. Bacteria create a biofilm on the surface of a tooth that can spread if not addressed. That bacteria food can only be removed by a mechanical action: brushing and flossing your teeth!

Here’s a list of smart hygiene steps to follow for the duration of your braces treatment:

Proper tooth brushing technique: Make sure to brush your teeth thoroughly (for a total of about two minutes), but not too hard. Point the head of the toothbrush at the gum line and brush just hard enough so that you feel slight pressure against the gums. Use a soft, small-headed toothbrush or an electric toothbrush if you’d like. Try your best always to clean on and around every tooth, bracket, and wire in your mouth!

Flossing: Braces can make flossing a chore, but it’s an essential adjunct to proper tooth brushing. Make sure to floss between all your teeth and brackets. Dr. Michael Willes can provide you with braces floss threaders and interproximal toothbrushes (small brushes used to clean areas under wires and between brackets) to make the task easier. You might also consider purchasing an oral irrigator that uses a stream of water to blast food particles and debris from between teeth and gums.

Rinse with water: This may sound slight, but it’s a good idea, especially if you aren’t able to brush. Rinsing your mouth with water throughout the day helps to dislodge the decay-causing food particles that become lodged in braces.

Hygiene away from home: It’s a good idea to have a kit with a toothbrush, floss, floss threaders, mirror, and small water cup on hand at school or work. That way, you’ll be sure to have all the tools you need to keep your mouth clean.

Regular professional cleanings: As always, it’s best to visit your dentist regularly to verify everything in your mouth is in order and your oral hygiene routine is effective. Twice a year is sufficient, unless the dentist recommends more frequent visits.

It's vital to keep your teeth and gums clean during your braces treatment, and that requires your care and attention. If feel like you need help with any of the techniques above, a member of our Carlsbad, CA team can demonstrate them for you!

Bottled Water: Friend or Foe?

April 11th, 2017

Some people choose bottled water over tap because they think it’s cleaner. Some do it out of convenience: It’s easy to grab a bottle of water to take with you for the day as you run out the door or hop in your car.

Whatever the reason, bottled water has been coming in ahead of tap water for the last couple of years. What many people may not know is that choosing bottled water over tap can actually be detrimental to your dental health.

Most brands of bottled water fail to include a vital ingredient: fluoride. Fluoride plays an important role in helping maintain good oral health because it helps strengthen our teeth. Stronger teeth mean a lower chance of tooth decay, and who doesn’t want that?

When we choose bottled water over tap water, we deprive our pearly whites of something they might very well need.

The good news is that the American Dental Association has endorsed both community water fluoridation and products that contain fluoride as a safe way to prevent tooth decay. If bottled water happens to be the preference for you or your family, you don’t necessarily have to force everyone to start drinking tap water.

Just check the label and make sure the brand you purchase contains fluoride.

It’s essential to remember that switching up the water you drink isn’t going to put you on the fast track to perfect teeth, though. Flossing and brushing three times a day is vital!

If you have any questions about fluoride or your dental health, don’t hesitate to ask Dr. Michael Willes at our Carlsbad, CA office!

Dental X-Rays: Are They Safe?

April 4th, 2017

X-rays have been a function of dental healthcare for a long time. That in and of itself should be good news, because it means we've had plenty of time to improve them. While there is always some risk in exposure to radiation, dental X-ray exposure has decreased significantly due to all the advances in technology. So there’s risk, but X-rays are quite safe.

Think of X-rays as you would about a car. Automobiles these days have all kinds of technology to make them as safe as possible. There's still a chance that you’ll suffer an accident. Would you stop using a car because of that risk? When it comes to dental X-rays, Dr. Michael Willes and our team believe the positives clearly outweigh the negatives.

X-rays can be done digitally or with film. For film, X-rays require different exposures at different speeds to produce the image. Digital X-rays have software that automatically adjusts the exposure and produces the X-ray in a digital file. Since they substantially reduce your exposure to radiation, digital X-rays are the current standard in dental offices.

In addition to digital X-rays, lead aprons are an essential piece of X-ray safety. They help protect internal organs from X-rays by acting as a shield. They usually come with a thyroid collar as well, since that is one of the most vulnerable areas to X-rays in the body. Lead aprons can absorb up to 95% of any scatter rays that result from an X-ray. Not bad, right?

Although dental X-rays involve some radiation exposure (not all of it can be eliminated), so does everyday life. Getting too much sun, for example, can be dangerous. The truth is, we accumulate radiation in our bodies over a lifetime, so it’s worthwhile to be aware and avoid as much unnecessary exposure as possible. When it comes to your dental health, though, getting an X-ray — especially when your doctor says you need it — offers more benefits than risks.

Ask us about the type of dental X-rays we use during your next visit to our Carlsbad, CA office!

How to Choose the Best Mouthwash

March 28th, 2017

As we all know, or should by now, the key to maintaining great oral health is keeping up with a daily plan of flossing, brushing, and using mouthwash. These three practices in combination will help you avoid tooth decay and keep bacterial infections at bay.

At Willes Orthodontics, we’ve noticed that it’s usually not the toothbrush or floss that people have trouble picking, but the mouthwash.

Depending on the ingredients, different mouthwashes will have different effects on your oral health. Here are some ideas to take under consideration when you’re trying to decide which type of mouthwash will best fit your needs.

  • If gum health is your concern, antiseptic mouthwashes are designed to reduce bacteria near the gum line.
  • If you drink a lot of bottled water, you may want to consider a fluoride rinse to make sure your teeth develop the level of strength they need.
  • Generally, any mouthwash will combat bad breath, but some are especially designed to do so.
  • Opt for products that are ADA approved, to ensure you aren’t exposing your teeth to harmful chemicals.
  • If you experience an uncomfortable, burning sensation when you use a wash, stop it and try another!

Still have questions about mouthwash? Feel free to ask Dr. Michael Willes during your next visit to our Carlsbad, CA office! We’re always happy to answer your questions. Happy rinsing!

Positive Aging with Orthodontics

March 21st, 2017

Crooked or crowded teeth aren’t always just a cosmetic issue; they also are more difficult to clean, which can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Likewise, if your teeth don’t align properly when you bite (known as malocclusion), this can cause chewing, swallowing, and speaking problems.

You can put these risks to rest and look amazing, however, with well-thought-out orthodontic treatment from Dr. Michael Willes. More and more adults are opting for orthodontic treatment and changing their lives in the process.

Childhood is of course the ideal time to get treatment, since the mouth and jaws are still growing, but many adults still can get beautiful and lasting results which can be achieved discreetly and effectively with modern orthodontic appliances and technologies.

Traditional braces used to be the only thing going, and many adults understandably don’t like the way they look. There are so many other options for braces these days that it’s possible for almost any patient to be treated effectively and efficiently — usually in one to two years.

Here are some of the technologies being implemented in our modern Carlsbad, CA orthodontic office:

  • Clear aligners: Practically invisible clear plastic aligners are great for less severe cases.
  • Lingual braces: These are placed on the back of your teeth instead of the front, and can handle anything that traditional braces can.
  • Ceramic braces: Translucent ceramic brackets make for effective and more discreet treatment.
  • Self-ligating braces: These require less manipulation by the orthodontist, which means fewer appointments and quicker results.

It should also be noted that the goal of orthodontic treatment (especially in adults) isn’t always limited to straightening teeth and/or correcting a bite. Teeth provide support for the lips and cheeks and help define your face.

The relationship between the jaws, teeth, face, soft tissues, and underlying skeleton of the face are important, and an orthodontist takes this into account when designing a smile.

In short, getting orthodontic treatment won’t just give you a good-looking and healthy smile; it can help define and enhance the entire appearance of your face. Knowing just how crucial your teeth are in determining how you look and live will help you age positively and confidently.

Which mouthwash should you use?

March 14th, 2017

Although using mouthwash is certainly not the equal of brushing and flossing, it does have benefits for your dental hygiene. If you use mouthwash regularly, you should find out which type is best suited for your needs. Here are some things to think about the next time you’re at the store.

The first item to weigh is why you want to use mouthwash. If the reason involves a high risk for cavities, you should focus on a mouthwash that contains fluoride. Make sure to double-check the label, because some mouthwashes do not necessarily include fluoride.

If you’re looking for a mouthwash to fight gingivitis, select an oral rinse with antibacterial properties. Make sure to read labels and avoid picking one that contains alcohol. Antibacterial mouthwash would also be best for a patient who has periodontal disease.

Another option is prescription mouthwash. These should be discussed with Dr. Michael Willes and/or your pharmacist in order to avoid negative side effects. Pay close attention to the directions regarding how much to use and for how long. Keep in mind that some brands may lose their effectiveness if you use them on an ongoing basis.

For children, you can find a mouthwash that changes the color of plaque on their teeth. This is a fun way to help them understand how well they are brushing, and what areas they need to focus on. It can even be a tool for adults who have trouble reaching certain areas of their mouth.

While mouthwash is generally considered as a safe means to improve your oral health, you need to keep certain things in mind. Avoid using any mouthwash that has alcohol in it. If you are using a strong one, it can reduce your sense of taste over time. Be wary of a mouthwash that claims it can loosen plaque; this is not accurate and can mislead consumers.

We hope these simple suggestions will help you the next time you’re at the store. Make sure you pick the right mouthwash to keep that healthy smile! Feel free to contact Dr. Michael Willes at our Carlsbad, CA with any questions you may have.

Foods can Wreak Havoc on Your Enamel

March 7th, 2017

It’s possible to develop tooth decay even when you take great care of your teeth. Brushing and flossing may not be enough to keep your teeth healthy, depending on your diet. Cavities, discoloration, and decay are still possible when certain foods feature in your daily intake. Keep an eye out for foods that will damage your enamel and cause the very issues you’ve been trying to avoid.

What causes enamel damage?

Tooth enamel is the hard outer layer of your teeth that is made of various minerals. Tooth decay results when the acids in your food react with the minerals in your enamel. Strongly pigmented foods may also cause unsightly discoloration on the surface of your teeth. Avoid wreaking havoc on your beautiful smile by identifying the foods that can harm your enamel.

Acid

Acidic food is your teeth’s worst nightmare! This is the greatest cause of enamel damage, even if you brush and floss regularly. To avoid damaging your teeth, make sure you can determine whether a food is acidic or not.

The pH levels are a way to determine acidity on a one-to-seven scale. This defines the relative acidity or alkalinity of a food or substance. Foods with high pH levels are not as likely to harm your enamel.

It’s wise to avoid or minimize foods that are high in acids. Highly acidic food can include fruits such as lemons, grapefruit, strawberries, grapes, and apples. Moderately acid foods may surprise you; they include tomatoes, maple syrup, pickles, and honey.

Not surprisingly, eggs and dairy products such as milk and cheese contain the least amount of acid. Red wine and coffee can also discolor your enamel if they’re drunk in excessive amounts.

What can I do to prevent enamel damage?

There are plenty of ways to avoid discoloration and decay of your enamel. The best thing to do is limit the amount of high-acid foods, including sugary juices and soda, in your diet.

Another way is to brush and floss regularly, an hour after each meal. If you can’t make time to brush, an easy solution is to swish your mouth with water or mouthwash to rinse away any leftover acidic particles.

Damaged tooth enamel may be common, but is avoidable when you know which foods to stay away from and the steps to take after you do eat highly acidic foods. Take our advice and you’ll be sure to slow down any future discoloration and decay that happens in your mouth.

For more advice on protecting your enamel, give our Carlsbad, CA a call to learn more!

What should we blog about?

February 28th, 2017

As a patient at Willes Orthodontics, your opinion matters! Dr. Michael Willes and our team love hearing what our patients think about our practice and the services we provide, and now we want to know, what do you think we should blog about?

Perhaps there’s a treatment you’ve always wanted to know about, or you’d like to learn about a specific way to improve your health and smile. Whatever your idea, we’d love to hear about it! You can let us know by posting here or on our Facebook page!

Crushing the Ice-Chewing Habit

February 21st, 2017

It's a habit many people have and not only can it be annoying to the people around you, it can be detrimental to your dental health. Chewing ice is so common that it even has its own name, pagophagia. We're not talking about a slushy or shaved ice (although those artificially sugary treats should be avoided too!) but more like the hunks of ice rattling around in the bottom of your glass.

Ice chewing can be a sign of emotional problems like stress or obsessive-compulsive disorder, but it can also be a marker for iron deficiency anemia and other physical problems. Then again, some people just like to have something to chew on. For whatever reason you find yourself chewing on it, it's a habit you need to break.

Chewing on ice can cause:

  • Chipped and cracked teeth
  • Damaged enamel
  • Sore jaw muscles
  • Damage to dental work such as crowns, fillings, or other appliances

If chewing on ice is becoming a problem in your life, don’t hesitate to speak with Dr. Michael Willes about it. But if you find yourself still wanting to chew on something, here are a few alternatives to ice:

  • Baby carrots
  • Celery sticks
  • Sugar-free (xylitol) gum

We know you need to chill sometimes, but chomping down your entire glass of ice is not the way to do it. If you have any other questions on the topic, feel free to talk with a member of our Carlsbad, CA team. It may be beneficial in solving the issue and helping to remediate any damage to your teeth.

The Hazards of Smokeless Tobacco

February 14th, 2017

Many smokers believe that chewing tobacco is a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes. This simply isn't the case! In fact, smokeless tobacco can cause serious health concerns.

Smokeless tobacco comes in many forms and goes by many names: dip, snuff, snus, or simply chewing tobacco. Use of these products usually involves sucking or chewing on shredded or loose tobacco leaves, sometimes flavored, for a prolonged period. There are even products that emulate a dissolvable candy-like consistency which are made of compressed tobacco powder.

What are risks and smokeless tobacco?

Whichever form a tobacco product takes, the dangers of using or consuming them is very real. According to a 2007 study by the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer, there are upwards of 28 cancer-causing chemicals in smokeless tobacco that are known to cause cancer. And these products are habit-forming just like any other tobacco product that contains nicotine. Using them will increase your risk for many serious diseases including but not limited to: cancer (especially oral and esophageal), gum and heart disease, cavities, and pre-cancerous mouth lesions.

At the end of the day, long-term use of smokeless tobacco can cause serious health issues. These products really take a toll on both your oral and overall health. They put a strain on your immune system and make it less capable of warding off infection and disease.

Dr. Michael Willes and our team strongly advise you to stop using smokeless tobacco—or any kind of tobacco product—and not to pick up the habit if you aren't. There is no safe level of tobacco use, smokeless or otherwise.

Need to quit smoking or using smokeless tobacco products?

You can and should always talk to your doctor, healthcare practitioner, or Dr. Michael Willes for help quitting. But there are many other resources available today for those who'd like to quit. The National Cancer Institute offers information, support (local and online), and tools to help smokers and smokeless tobacco users quit. They offer live online chat with cessation counselors Monday through Friday and even have a smartphone application available to help people who are serious about quitting.

You can take a look at their website at smokefree.gov or call them toll-free at 1–877–44U–QUIT (1-877-448-7848). There is also help available from your state's quit line at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).

Make the best choice for your health and well-being; avoid the bad habit of tobacco products. If you have any questions about how tobacco related products affect your oral health and hygiene, please don't hesitate to ask one of our Carlsbad, CA staff members.

How to Properly Store Your Toothbrush

February 7th, 2017

Have you ever thought about how you're cleaning and storing your toothbrush when you're not using it? Did you know that the way you store your toothbrush could have an affect on your oral health? In this post, we'll look at some steps you can take to maximize toothbrush cleanliness and minimize bacteria.

Below are some tips from Dr. Michael Willes for toothbrush use and storage:

  • Don't share your toothbrush – This may seem obvious, but sharing a toothbrush exposes both users to bacteria and microorganisms from the other user, which can increase chances of infection. You should also avoid storing your toothbrush in the same container as other people’s toothbrushes.
  • Thoroughly rinse your toothbrush after each use – Rinsing your toothbrush well under running water will help remove food particles, toothpaste, and other debris from the bristles of your brush.
  • Store your toothbrush in an open-air container not a sealed one – Putting a wet toothbrush in a sealed container creates a favorable environment for microorganisms and bacteria.
  • Soak your toothbrush in an antibacterial mouthwash after use – There is some evidence to suggest that soaking your toothbrush in an antibacterial solution may reduce the amount of bacteria present on the toothbrush.
  • Change your toothbrush every three months – The bristles of your toothbrush become less effective and frayed after repeated use so it's a good idea to replace it on a regular basis. It's also wise to replace it after you've been sick.

There are many simple things you can do to make your oral-care regimen as clean as possible. Use common sense when storing your toothbrush—don't put it in a dirty place like the edge of your sink or in the shower (please, not by the toilet!), and keep it upright in a cool dry place—and you're usually good to go. If your toothbrush is looking a little worse for wear, drop by our Carlsbad, CA office and we'll be glad to provide you with a new one!

Dangers of DIY Orthodontics on the Internet

January 24th, 2017

All over the Internet you'll find videos and articles showing how you can close the gap between teeth or space them out. There is a plethora of DIY orthodontic techniques out there — you can even mail order your own impressions to get clear aligners, without even seeing a dentist or orthodontist. Following the instructions laid out in these videos and articles (by people who have zero training in orthodontics) is about the worst decision you can make for your overall oral health.

Performing DIY or at-home orthodontia can lead to or cause:

  • Loss of teeth
  • Infection
  • Cavities or infections that are missed or undiagnosed
  • Gum damage

Dr. Christina Carter, president of the Northeastern Society of Orthodontists, says that DIY orthodontics can have terrible consequences. She spoke to TODAY about closing gaps between teeth using rubber bands or elastics:

"The teeth are connected to the gums and the blood supply and there is a risk of infection, of tearing the gums which might not heal properly, and a risk of damaging the attachment between the tooth and gums so the tooth no longer gets the support it needs." She also noted, "A simple rubber band can actually slide up the tooth and cut all the attachments to it and you can actually lose a tooth."

One of the worst parts about DIY orthodontics is that you never consult with a trained orthodontist, so you're really operating on a dangerous lack of information. It's best not to risk damage to your teeth or infection. Let Dr. Michael Willes know what you want to accomplish with your teeth and we will help you find the safest and most cost-effective way to achieve it.

Dr. Michael Willes want you to be informed and practical about your oral health. Should you have any questions about orthodontic treatment options, please do not hesitate to give us a call at our convenient Carlsbad, CA office.

Snacks for Healthy Teeth while Watching the Big Game

January 17th, 2017

It's almost game day and you're wondering what to put on the menu for your guests. Most snacks are typically highly processed and unhealthy. Why not mix it up this year and opt for some snacks that promote good oral health? Here are some of Dr. Michael Willes favorites!

  • Apples, carrots, celery, and cucumbers: These foods and other crispy, fibrous, fruits and vegetables are an excellent choice for the big game. Not only are they rich in vitamins and minerals which your body and mouth need, they are also known as detergent foods because of the cleaning effect they have on the teeth and gums. Try apples wedges spread with peanut butter and sprinkled with cinnamon.
  • Beans: Beans are filling because they are packed with fiber and that keeps you from opting for sugary or fatty snacks. Along with fruits and vegetables, beans should be one of the stars of your game-day snack lineup. How about some hearty chickpea hummus with cucumber chips?
  • Nuts like almonds, walnuts, pistachios, and cashews: Nuts abound in the minerals that help keep your teeth and gums strong like calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Put out a bowl of raw or roasted nuts for your guests as a crunchy, satisfying alternative to chips or crackers. Recent research even shows that the polyunsaturated fatty acids in nuts may help prevent gum disease. But remember not to eat the whole bowl! Nuts are very high in calories and a little goes a long way. Enjoy and handful or two along with your other healthy snacks.
  • Dark chocolate: This one may be hard to believe at first, but research shows chocolate can be great for your teeth and help prevent decay! Now don't run off and start stocking your pantry with a bunch of that super sweet stuff, because these benefits come mainly from the tannins, polyphenols, and flavonoids present in the cacao bean. Dark chocolate is the least processed variety of chocolate and the closest to the cacao bean, so make sure you purchase a variety that is listed as 70% cocoa or more for these benefits. Like with nuts, chocolate is easy to overdo — aim to eat two or three squares.

Color Combinations of Elastics for the Holidays

December 27th, 2016

There's something special about customizing the elastics on your braces to fit your unique personality. Once you embrace your braces (no pun intended) you'll realize how many color options and combinations there are to choose from. Although you'll have a fantastic smile afterward, you won't have this level of customizability once your braces come off, that's for sure!

Adding flair to your braces isn't what all patients are looking to do (like those opting for clear aligners or ceramic braces), but it's part of the fun of traditional metal braces! Many of our patients ask Dr. Michael Willes to have their elastics match the colors of their favorite sports teams or their school, but how about changing your elastics to match holiday colors?

Here are some options to consider:

  • Valentine’s Day – Red and pink
  • Easter – Pink, blue, and violet
  • Halloween – Orange and black
  • Christmas – Red, green, and white
  • Saint Patrick’s Day – Green and white

There are a few colors that some people choose to avoid. But if you’re trying to make your teeth stand out in a crowd, the following suggestions need not apply!

  • Brown or Green – can be mistaken for food being stuck in your teeth
  • Black – might look like a rotten tooth if someone isn't looking hard enough
  • White – Some patients think it will make their teeth look whiter, but in fact it can make your teeth appear yellower than they actually are. White elastics can also stain easily.
  • Yellow – accentuates the yellowness of your enamel

Since changing the color of your elastics has no effect on the actual orthodontic treatment process, the idea is to have fun and add a personal touch. So, next time you get your elastics changed at our Carlsbad, CA office, why not wear your braces boldly and opt for something festive?

Top Five Best Foods for Oral Health

December 20th, 2016

Some foods are just terrible for your teeth — think cookies and candy bars — but there are certain foods that are beneficial to your oral health. Below, Dr. Michael Willes and our team have covered five of the top foods to keep your teeth and gums healthy!

1. Crispy, low-acid fruits and vegetables: Fruits like apples and vegetables such as carrots and celery act like “natural toothbrushes,” helping to clear plaque from your teeth and freshen your breath.

2. Kiwis: These little green superstars are packed with vitamin C which is essential for gum health. The collagen in your gums is strengthened when you consume foods that are high in vitamin C, like kiwis, thus helping to prevent periodontal problems.

3. Raw onions: Onions have long been studied for their antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties. Proliferation of bacteria is what leads to tooth decay and cavities. By including raw onions in your diet, you'll be doing your part to wipe out those little microbes before they can multiply!

4. Shiitake Mushrooms: A specific compound in shiitake mushrooms, lentinan, has been shown to have antibacterial properties that target the microbes that cause cavities while leaving other beneficial bacteria alone. It may also help prevent gingivitis, or inflammation of the gums.

5. Green Tea: Often lauded for its high antioxidant content and many health benefits, it turns out green tea also benefits your oral health! A Japanese study found men who drank green tea on a regular basis had a lower occurrence of periodontal disease compared to men who drank green tea infrequently. It's believed this is due to the catechins in green tea, a type of flavonoid that may help protect you from free radical damage, but more research needs to be done. Either way, drink up for your overall health, as well as your teeth!

If you have any questions about your oral health, or are looking for even more oral health tips, contact our Carlsbad, CA office!

Diet Soda vs. Regular Soda: Which is better for teeth?

December 13th, 2016

When most patients ask Dr. Michael Willes this question, they're thinking strictly about sugar content — cut out the bacteria-feeding sugar that's present in regular soda by opting for a diet soda and it will be better for your teeth. That seems logical, right? Well, there's a bit more to it than that. Let's take a closer look at how any kind of soda can affect your dental health.

Diet Soda – Why it can also lead to tooth decay

The main culprit in these drinks that leads to decay is the acid content. Diet sodas and other sugar-free drinks are usually highly acidic, which weakens the enamel on your teeth and makes them more susceptible to cavities and dental erosion. The level of phosphoric acid, citric acid, and/or tartaric acid is usually high in sugar-free drinks so it's best to avoid them.

Some patients also enjoy drinking orange juice or other citrus juices. These drinks are high in citric acid and have the same effect on the enamel of your teeth.

So what about regular soda?

We know the acidity of diet sodas and sugar-free drinks contributes to tooth decay, so what about regular soda? Like we alluded to earlier, regular soda is high in sugar — a 12 ounce can contains roughly ten teaspoons of sugar — and sugar feeds the decay-causing bacteria in the mouth. This also includes sports drinks and energy drinks, which are highly acidic and loaded with sugar too. So these drinks are a double-whammy of sugar and acidity your teeth and body simply don't need.

The problems caused by both diet and regular soda is exacerbated when you sip on them throughout the day. If you drink it all in one sitting, you won't be washing sugar and/or acids over your teeth all day long and your saliva will have a chance to neutralize the pH in your mouth.

The best beverages to drink and how to drink them

Drinking beverages that are lower in acid is a good step to take to keep your enamel strong. According to a study conducted by Matthew M. Rodgers and J. Anthony von Fraunhofer at the University of Michigan, your best bets are plain water, black tea or coffee, and if you opt for a soda, root beer. These drinks dissolved the least amount of enamel when measured 14 days after consumption of the beverage.

If you still choose to drink soda, diet soda, sugar-free drinks, or juices here are some other tips to lessen tooth decay:

  • Drink your soda or acidic beverages through a straw to minimize contact with teeth
  • Rinse with water immediately after consumption of the beverage
  • Avoid brushing your teeth between 30 minutes to an hour after drinking the beverage as this has been shown to spread the acids before your saliva can bring your mouth back to a neutral pH
  • Avoid drinks that have acids listed on the ingredients label

Still have questions about soda, sugar, and acid? Give our Carlsbad, CA office a call and we’d be happy to help!

How do I know if I have dry mouth?

December 6th, 2016

Dry mouth, also medically known as xerostomia, is the condition of not having enough saliva, or spit, to keep your mouth wet. There are many ways to keep dry mouth at bay, including:

  • Brushing your teeth after every meal with a fluoride toothpaste
  • Flossing every day after a meal
  • Avoiding tobacco, as well as drinks containing alcohol or caffeine
  • Avoiding dry foods, as well as foods containing high salt, acid, spice, or sugar levels
  • Drinking water frequently or sucking on ice chips
  • Using a humidifier at night

Please call our convenient Carlsbad, CA dental office to learn more about dry mouth, or ask us during your next visit!

Holiday Season Happenings!

December 1st, 2016

We at Willes Orthodontics hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving... and we wish you a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!! We feel so blessed to have you as our patients, friends, and colleagues—and love this time of the year where we can all celebrate together.

We invite you to help make our holidays brighter by dropping in during December to decorate an ornament for our annual Festive Fir Ornament-Creating Contest. We’ll have lots of great prizes for all kinds of categories, including a grand prize of an Ugly Christmas Sweater (or $50, your choice). We’ll even be having a random-drawing winner! We will also have our scrumptious and ever-so-sweet Candy Guessing Jar Contest that you won’t want to miss.

Most importantly, we invite you all to join us to help a local family have an extra special Christmas this year. Please consider donating a gift for a three or six-year-old boy, a nine-year-old girl (no s), or a male or female adult. If you’re interested, contact Carrie at 760-434-5031 for details about names, sizes, special needs/requests, etc., and bring your donation to our office by December 6th.

As for holidays gone by, big congrats to Kainoa for winning the mouth-watering Pumpkin Pie in our Giving Thanks Activity. Reading all the things you were thankful for on our Thanksgiving tree was truly heartwarming. We have so much to be thankful for!

Also, be sure to check out our Instagram and Facebook pages (@WillesOrtho) to see fun photos of the darling kids who participated in our Halloween Candy Buy-Back on November 3rd.

Lastly, we’re excited to say that we will have a newly designed website coming after the first of the year. Keep an eye out for it! We’re looking forward to all the changes, and we hope you will take a minute to check it out.

Thank you for being the most awesome patients and friends anywhere!! We feel honored to associate with you!!

What do you love about our practice?

November 22nd, 2016

At Willes Orthodontics, we have been creating beautiful smiles for years. Whether you or your family have visited Dr. Michael Willes and our team for a single visit or have been loyal patients throughout the years, we would love to hear your thoughts about your experience! In fact, we encourage you to leave a few words for us below or on our Facebook page!

We look forward to reading your feedback!

When Clear Aligners aren’t the Answer

November 15th, 2016

Clear aligners like Invisalign® have become increasingly popular over the past several years and rightly so. They’re removable, easier to clean than braces, and hardly anyone knows you're wearing them. They are great in treating many cases, but they aren't for everyone.

Below, Dr. Michael Willes and our team cover some of the instances where clear aligners just aren't the answer:

  • If drastic tooth movement is required – Fixed appliances deliver much more significant tooth movement. So if your case is a drastic one, clear aligners may not be the best choice.
  • If you need to move molars – Molars have much stronger roots than your other teeth and would require significantly longer to move with clear aligners. A fixed appliance is the best choice in this instance, especially if you have a substantial overbite or underbite that needs to be dealt with.
  • If you're the type who often forgets or loses things –If you would forget to wear your aligners for the prescribed amount of time (usually at least 22 hours per day), clear aligners are probably not the best choice for you. Forgetting to wear them can delay treatment and even make it so you need to regress to the previous set of aligners to be able to move forward with treatment. And let's face it, if you're not careful, removable aligners are easy to lose. Losing aligners delays treatment and is expensive since you need to buy replacements to stay on course. Replacing a lost set of aligners usually takes between seven and ten days—a definite setback in treatment.
  • If you're looking for the fastest treatment possible – Clear aligners usually can't move teeth as quickly as fixed appliances. So if you're looking for the fastest way to achieve your desired result, clear aligners may not be the best bet.

Feel free to talk with Dr. Michael Willes about your options regarding braces and clear aligners. We know there are pros and cons to both, so let’s find the option that works best in your life and for your specific needs in terms of treatment. Schedule an appointment at our Carlsbad, CA office today!

Curing the Nail-Biting Habit

November 8th, 2016

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 Dr. Michael Willes. 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 Dr. Michael Willes during your next visit to our Carlsbad, CA office.

Anxiety, Phobia, and Fear of the Dentist

November 1st, 2016

Not many people look forward to going to the dentist, especially if you already know that you need dental work done. A small amount of anxiety is one thing, but dental phobia, or odontophobia, is something else entirely. It is an irrational fear of going to the dentist. If you have it, you might be unable to force yourself to go to the dentist, even if you are suffering from bad tooth pain. The effects of dental phobia can be serious, but there are ways to overcome your fear of the dentist to help you achieve and maintain good oral health.

Causes of Dental Phobia

You can develop dental phobia for a variety of reasons, including the following.

  • Fear of pain, which you might acquire based on others’ horror stories of their trips to the dentist.
  • Fear of needles, such as those used to provide anesthesia.
  • A previous bad experience, when something went wrong and pain was intolerable.
  • Lack of control from not knowing what is happening or how uncomfortable a procedure might be.

Consequences of Dental Phobia

Avoiding the dentist can have long-term consequences. When caught early, tooth decay is easily stopped with a minor filling. If you let the decay go, you can end up losing your tooth and have chronic pain. A dentist can also check for early signs of gum disease, which, if left untreated, could lead to losing one or more teeth.

Even if you do not have a particular problem, going to a dentist for regular cleanings is a good idea because the hygienist can point out where you need to brush better and remove the plaque from your teeth.

Getting Over Fear of the Dentist

Most patients with dental phobia can get over their condition. These are some approaches that Dr. Michael Willes and our team recommend:

  • Explain each step of the process
  • Let you know that you can stop the procedure at any time
  • Encourage you to come with a family member or friend
  • Help you with deep breathing techniques

Xylitol: A significant factor for improving your oral health

October 25th, 2016

Xylitol is a naturally occurring sweetener found in tree bark, plants, fruits, and vegetables. The human body also produces it in small amounts. It looks and tastes like sugar, so as part of a health regimen, most people require no willpower to use it.

Xylitol is safe (approved by the World Health Organization) because only a small amount is needed for health benefits. With a glycemic index of seven, it is safe for diabetics. It has less than three calories per gram and 40% fewer calories than other carbohydrates. If eaten in extremely large amounts too quickly, it has a laxative effect in humans.

Tooth decay happens when bacteria in your mouth consume the sugars you eat. When you eat food that contains ordinary sugar, it gives energy to the bacteria on your teeth, allowing them to multiply and start making acids that destroy the enamel on the teeth.

Since xylitol is a natural sweetener derived from the fibrous parts of plants, it does not break down like sugar, so it helps maintain a neutral pH level in the mouth. Xylitol also prevents bacteria from sticking to the teeth because they are unable to digest it. That is how it protects the teeth from cavities.

With xylitol, the acid attack is diminished. With less bacteria and acid, your teeth stay healthier. The frequency of xylitol ingestion is important: aim for five grams a day, or one gram every three hours.

Studies of xylitol use as either a sugar substitute or a small dietary addition have demonstrated a dramatic reduction in new cavities. It has also stopped and even reversed some existing cavities. This effect is long lasting and possibly permanent. Low cavity rates persist even years after the trials have been completed.

Xylitol needs to be one of the first ingredients in a product to be effective. It is convenient and easy to use. You can find it in health food stores and specialty grocery stores. Xylitol can be delivered to your teeth in chewing gum, tablets, or even candy and mints.

It also comes in toothpaste, mouth rinse, baby oral wipes, gel and pacifiers, nasal wash, dry mouth spray, a granulated form for cooking, granulated packets to add to drinks, and commercially prepared foods. It can replace sugar on a one-to-one ratio.

Sweet rewards in xylitol are good for the body and the teeth! If you have specific questions please feel free to contact Willes Orthodontics. We look forward to seeing you soon!

How are In-Ovation® self-ligating braces different?

October 18th, 2016

In-Ovation self-ligating braces are becoming a favorite for those who are faced with having to get braces. There are many differences that are making them increasingly popular among dental patients.

What sets In-Ovation apart from the rest?

There are many reasons why patients are choosing In-Ovation when deciding which braces will work best for them. One of the main reasons is that there is a significantly shorter amount of time that you have to wear them. There are also fewer appointments at our Carlsbad, CA office, since there are no rubber bands to be replaced.

Since there are no rubber bands, In-Ovation makes brushing and flossing much easier. The brackets are low-profile, making them more comfortable and more aesthetic as well.

Different Styles of In-Ovation

In-Ovation R braces are small, metallic like clips that replace the common metal braces and the elastic bands. This type of braces makes it harder for plaque to build up, so it is easier to keep your teeth clean. Your teeth move quickly and painlessly with the free-sliding treatment technique.

In-Ovation C braces offer all same the benefits of the In-Ovation R, with one small difference: this type of bracket is clear. Rhodium (a silvery-white metallic element) covers the clips making the In-Ovation C braces appear less visible. In-Ovation C braces offer a more inconspicuous way to straighten your teeth, and give you that beautiful smile you always wanted

Rest assured that if you choose In-Ovation self-ligating braces, you will not regret it. You will be able to enjoy looking good and feeling great about your smile during and after your treatment.

Kristin Cavallari and Palatal Expanders

October 11th, 2016

It’s no easy feat to have one of the best smiles in Hollywood. The reality TV starlet Kristin Cavallari attributes her gorgeous smile to routine oral hygiene, the removal of two impacted wisdom teeth, and having undergone orthodontic treatment. Kristin’s treatment began in sixth grade when she was fitted with a device Dr. Michael Willes and our team call a palatal expander, which is used to guide upper jaw growth in our younger patients.

What is a palatal expander?

A palatal expander “expands” (or widens) your upper jaw by applying gentle pressure on your upper molars, and is used to make the bottom and upper teeth fit together better. In addition, palatal expanders work to create more room for teeth, as well as promote a broader, more appealing smile.

Do palatal expanders hurt?

Palatal expanders are usually not painful, however you may experience difficulty speaking and swallowing for the first few days. Adjusting your palatal expander as instructed by Dr. Michael Willes will ensure there are no delays in regards to your treatment plan.

Typically, it takes a few weeks to achieve the desired amount of expansion, after which you will keep wearing your expander for about six months, giving time for the new bone to form and stabilize. Dr. Michael Willes and our team at Willes Orthodontics will give you detailed instructions about how to adjust your appliance and can answer any questions you may have about your palatal expander.

If you have any questions about your palatal expander or your treatment plan with Dr. Michael Willes, please give us a call at our Carlsbad, CA office!

What's on your fall reading list?

October 4th, 2016

How better to spend the fall months than inside by the fireplace with a warm cup of cider and a book in hand? Dr. Michael Willes and our team at Willes Orthodontics encourage you to warm up your mind this fall season with a few great books. Sure it may be easy to put off reading when balancing a hectic schedule, but reading is vital to brain development. Besides, reading is always a blast!

This week, we thought we’d ask what you or your child are reading this fall. Do you have any suggestions for must-read books this year? Out of ideas for great fall reads? Ask us for suggestions, and we would be happy to provide a few. You may also ask a local librarian here in Carlsbad, CA for some ideas.

Happy reading! Be sure to share with us your fall picks or your all-time favorites below or on our Facebook page!

Worst Candy for Braces

September 27th, 2016

Most kids love candy; actually, most people in general love candy. So when it comes time for you to get braces there can often be a natural conflict between candy consumption and maintaining the integrity of your braces. For that reason, Dr. Michael Willes and our team know that it’s good to know which types of candy are not good for your braces. To better illustrate, here are some candies that you will want to avoid.

Caramel

Caramel is a sweet and often exceedingly sticky and chewy type of candy that just does not mix well with braces. Caramel can cause a mess in regular teeth, but teeth with braces are a whole other story. The sticky candy can very easily get lodged and stuck between the teeth, gums, and braces, making for a difficult task of cleaning your mouth. And if your teeth don't get cleaned properly, cavities can easily form. If you get cavities while you have braces, that could mean additional appointments at our Carlsbad, CA office and an extended treatment time.

Salt Water Taffy

Another sticky and chewy candy to avoid with braces is salt water taffy. For many of the same reasons as caramel, it is best to avoid taffy until you get your braces removed. It may be a long wait, but when it comes to the health of your teeth, and the purpose of your braces, it really is best to avoid taffy.

Popcorn

Popcorn of any kind is best to avoid when you have braces. The kernels can easily do damage to the braces as you chomp on them, and they can get stuck between your teeth and the braces causing discomfort and further complications. In this sense it does not matter which flavor of candy popcorn you eat, all popcorn is bad news until you get your braces off.

Generally speaking, any candy that is chewy, crunchy, or sticky is not a good idea to eat with braces in your mouth. These types of candy will make life wearing braces much more difficult than if you were to just wait until your braces come off. With a little patience you will be back to eating all your favorite candy again, and with straightened teeth at that.

Help! My gums hurt when I floss!

September 20th, 2016

By no stretch is it rare for your gums to hurt during and after flossing. Even some bleeding is to be expected. This is especially true if you have not flossed in a long time. However, if your gums do indeed hurt when you floss, and unbearably so, there are some things you can do.

Be Gentle

Perhaps the most obvious way to combat gum soreness and bleeding is to be gentle. One of the most common occurrences of these gum problems is over-aggressive flossing. In other words, if you are too rough on your gums while flossing, either because you are out of practice or because you are in a hurry, soreness and hurting is to be expected. Instead, try taking your time and be gentle. Also, if you are just starting out, be patient and consistent, your gums will become more conditioned over time.

Use an Alternative Method

If being consistent and gentle does not work, there are other alternative methods of flossing that you can try. You can also try a water floss machine, or what is sometimes called a water pick. The device essentially shoots water into the crevasses between your teeth, and in other areas of your mouth, in order to dislodge food and plaque. These oral instruments also come with different attachments that allow you to reach many of the hard to see and reach areas of your mouth. And lastly, you can always buy floss that is not as abrasive to your gums. There is floss that comes with soft and gentle coatings that will do less harm to your gums while they are adjusting to the good oral hygiene habit you are creating.

Flossing is one of the easiest parts of oral hygiene to overlook. When you first start out, it is common that you may want to stop because of the pain it can initially cause. However, if you try one, or all, of the above mentioned methods, you will give yourself the best chance of being success with your flossing, and it won't hurt as much.

For more flossing tips, schedule an appointment at our Carlsbad, CA office and askDr. Michael Willes or a member of our team!

Why it’s Important to Leave Us Reviews

September 13th, 2016

At our office, Dr. Michael Willes and our team do all that we can to make sure that your experience with us is the best it can possibly be. However, there’s an important role you play in this as well: leaving us reviews and feedback.

Whether there is something you’d like us to improve upon, or you’d just like to express your thanks for a job well done, your feedback is essential to our practice’s success.

We look forward to hearing from you, and are excited to hear what you thought of your most recent visit at our Carlsbad, CA office.

What was your favorite part of summer?

September 6th, 2016

It's the end of summer, and fall is just around the corner. Soon the temperatures will cool down, the leaves will start to change, and Dr. Michael Willes and our team at Willes Orthodontics are sure that you’ll soon be thinking about Halloween costumes and Thanksgiving plans in no time. But wait! First, we want to know about your favorite parts of the summer! Did you go on a wonderful family trip? Did you pick up a new hobby? Did you try to spend as much time outside and in the sun as possible?

Share your favorite memories, stories, or photos with us by leaving a comment below or on our Facebook page.

What's the best dental floss?

August 30th, 2016

Dental floss is similar to a lot of products that depend mainly on the consumer’s preference. Fact is, floss comes in a wide variety of flavors, coatings, and other variations, but all types of floss essentially do the same thing. After all, that is what is most important: that the dental floss you buy is functional—cleaning the areas in between your teeth. If you want to know what the best dental floss is, the answer is the kind that enables you to successfully and regularly clean those areas. So to help you find the right type of floss for you, here are some options.

Flavored Dental Floss

Many people that floss prefer a flavored dental floss because it freshens their breath even more than unscented floss. The latter can also take on the smells associated with bacteria in your mouth. And we all know how bad that can be. So, if flavored dental floss is what you prefer, and it allows you to floss your teeth regularly, then it is automatically best for your mouth.

Flossers

There are also products on the market called flossers, which usually consist of a plastic instrument with strung floss and a pick on the opposite end. This option can be both effective at cleaning the areas in between your teeth and scraping off plaque. These flossers also come flavored in mint and various other varieties.

Gentle Dental Floss

Some people find that typical dental floss is too harsh on their gums. For that reason some companies make floss with soft coatings that are less abrasive on the gums. For the most part these types of floss are just as effective as regular floss, and for those people that require a more sensitive approach to flossing, especially when just starting out, this is the best option.

Of the aforementioned options, it is difficult to name an absolute best type of floss. However, Dr. Michael Willes and our team say that the type of floss that works best for you, giving you the greatest chance of succeeding at regular flossing, is the best. For more information on floss, contact our Carlsbad, CA office.

Invisalign Teen® Benefits

August 23rd, 2016

You can probably see how teeth straightening can make your smile more attractive, but you might be wary of how Invisalign Teen treatment works. If you’re like most teens at our Carlsbad, CA office, you love hanging out with your friends, and you don’t want to be different, watch what you eat, or worry about how you look. Invisalign Teen has several benefits over traditional metal braces that can make your treatment easier.

People won’t know you’re wearing them.

Invisalign Teen consists of clear trays that are virtual impossible for others to see. Chances are, the only people who know that you are getting your teeth straightened will be your family and any of your friends whom you choose to tell. You won’t need to answer to “Tinsel Teeth” and “Metal Mouth” as some of your classmates with metal braces do.

You can eat what your friends eat.

You take your Invisalign Teen aligners out of your mouth for meals and snacks, so you can eat just like you normally would. You don’t need to worry about food getting stuck in your braces or leading to a bracket popping off. Unlike with braces, you can enjoy the following foods with your friends during Invisalign Teen straightening treatment:

  • Popcorn at the movies
  • Trail mix with dried fruit when you’re hanging out together
  • Ribs and chicken wings at a party
  • Eating a peanut butter sandwich, apple, and carrot sticks for lunch

You can take care of your teeth more easily.

It would be a shame if you took the trouble to straighten your teeth and then found out that you had developed tooth decay while wearing braces. This is less of a problem with Invisalign Teen aligners because they are removable. You can brush and floss your teeth as normal just by taking the trays out of your mouth.

Getting straighter teeth can be a serious confidence-booster in the long run, and with Invisalign Teen, the treatment isn’t that bad. You can wear these clear aligners without letting people know that you’re straightening your teeth, and they won’t interfere with your diet or dental hygiene.

Toothpaste Guide

August 16th, 2016

Between the huge number of toothpaste brands on the market today, the different flavors, and claims from most to do different things, it isn’t surprising that people feel so confused when it comes to something that should be as simple as buying a tube of toothpaste. This guide will help you identify the common ingredients in toothpaste, and help you understand the important factors to consider before buying toothpaste again.

Toothpaste comes in gel, paste, and powdered forms. When it comes to the type of toothpaste, the choice is more a matter of preference.

Basic Ingredients

  • Abrasive Agents – Abrasive agents are the scratchy substances added to toothpastes to help in the removal of food particles, bacteria, and minor stains. Calcium carbonate is one of many abrasive materials, and arguably the most common.
  • Flavor – When toothpastes are flavored, they almost always have artificial sweeteners to enhance the flavor of the toothpaste and increase the likelihood that you’ll use it. Flavors run the gamut from traditional mint to cinnamon that may appeal to adults, and bubble gum or lemon lime – flavors to target children.
  • Humectants – Humectants are moisturizing agents that keep paste and gel toothpastes from drying out. Glycerol is commonly used as a humectant.
  • Thickeners – Thickeners are used to give toothpaste its distinctive consistency, and to make it maintain a uniform consistency and come out of the tube easily.
  • Detergents – Sodium lauryl sulfate is the most common detergent used in products that foam up, like toothpaste does in your mouth.

What to Look For in Toothpaste

Fluoride is naturally occurring mineral. It is the most important ingredient to look for in a toothpaste. Although there are people who argue against using fluoride toothpaste, dental professionals like Dr. Michael Willes emphasize that the fact that the incidence of tooth decay has decreased so significantly in the past 50 years is because of fluoridated toothpaste.

The suggestion that fluoridated water gives you enough fluoride to protect your teeth is wrong. Fluoride toothpaste is the best cavity protection there is. In addition to strengthening tooth enamel and protecting teeth from acid erosion (from acidic foods and drinks,) it remineralizes the surfaces of teeth that are suffering from early acid damage and may prevent developing tooth decay from worsening.

Tartar Control

Tartar is the result of hardened plaque buildup on the teeth. Good oral hygiene and in between twice yearly cleanings from a dental hygienist are the best defense against plaque buildup. Plaque turns to tartar when people neglect their oral hygiene. Over time, tartar can build up on teeth and under the gums, increasing the risk of gum disease.

Your best bet is to use a toothpaste that has a combination of anti-plaque agents. Products containing more than one plaque reducer may be more effective than products that only one. Common ingredients to look for are zinc citrate or pyrophosphates. Triclosan is an antibiotic that is believed to kill bacteria in the mouth, and it can be found in some anti-plaque toothpaste.

Look for toothpaste that bears the seal of the American Dental Association. That seal is an endorsement of the ADA – and it means that many dentists agree that that particular toothpaste does what toothpaste is designed to do. We can also recommend toothpaste to meet your specific oral health concerns at your next visit to our Carlsbad, CA office.

Getting to the Bottom of Chewing Gum Myths

August 9th, 2016

It's a moment many of our patients have experienced. One second you're chewing on a piece of gum, then suddenly you forget to keep chewing and swallow the entire rubbery gob whole! It's at this point you remember your mother warning you as a child that if you swallow gum it will stake a claim and take up residency in your belly for seven years. Dr. Michael Willes and our team at Willes Orthodontics hate to take all the fun out of the mystery, but the truth is that chewing gum, when swallowed, will enter your stomach and move through your digestive system just like any other piece of food. So, if you ever accidentally swallow a piece of gum, there is no need to worry!

That being said, it's important to know that gum does not have any dietary benefits, so while it’s not exactly harmful to swallow, you still want to avoid swallowing it. If you are an avid gum-chewer, we encourage you to chew sugarless gum, especially if you are wearing braces, because gum with sugar can lead to cavities. Sugarless gum still has the same amount of flavor, but has fewer cavity-causing ingredients. In fact, many brands contain an additive called xylitol, a natural sweetener known to fight cavity-causing bacteria. Xylitol is also known to increase salivary flow as it rinses away plaque and acid.

The fact is, when the bacterium in your mouth breaks down sugar, what’s left behind is acid. This acid eats away at the enamel coating of your teeth, causing holes that we call cavities. Cavities can lead to other long-term mouth problems if they are not treated in time, so it is best to try and avoid overexposing your teeth to too many harmful substances!

If you have any questions about chewing gum, please contact our office. Happy (sugar-free) gum chewing!

Energy and Sports Drinks Eat Away at Teeth, Study Says

August 2nd, 2016

Sports and energy drinks cause irreversible damage to the teeth of teens and young adults. A recent study published in General Dentistry states that energy and sports drinks contain so much acid that they begin destroying teeth after only five days of consistent use. According to the Academy of General Dentistry, an estimated 30 percent to 50 percent of U.S. teenagers consume energy drinks and as many as 62 percent consume at least one sports drink per day. The high acidity levels in the drinks erode tooth enamel and the result is irreversible damage.

Dr. Michael Willes and our team at Willes Orthodontics encourage our patients to limit their intake of sports drinks. The enamel erosion ultimately makes teeth more susceptible to bacteria and that can lead to hypersensitivity, staining, and tooth decay. If you do consume an energy or sports drink, make sure to wait at least 45 minutes until you brush, as consumption of acidic drinks causes tooth enamel to soften, making teeth more vulnerable to wear from the abrasives found in toothpaste.

Tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease, five times more common than asthma. It’s also preventable with proper care. Dr. Michael Willes and our team can help identify early signs of erosion and offer solutions on how to prevent further damage and more serious problems from occurring.

Invisalign Teen®: What Parents Should Know

July 26th, 2016

Invisalign Teen is one the newer styles of braces, and perfect for those who do not like the standard metal braces. They are available in a clear material that is practically invisible called aligners that are replaced every two weeks. The aligners are custom made for each patient and gradually straighten teeth without all of the metal and rubber bands that come with traditional braces.

Is Invisalign as effective?

If your child will wear them as directed to, then the answer is yes, they are as effective as traditional metal braces. However, to make sure the child is actually wearing them correctly you will notice a small blue spot on the back of each aligner. This is called an indicator and if worn correctly will fade over a period of two weeks. Dr. Michael Willes will be able to tell if the patient is not wearing them correctly.

Can Invisalign be removed?

Parents should be aware that the Invisalign aligners can be removed for up to four hours per day to eat, brush teeth, play sports, or play musical instruments. With the option of removing them it actually makes brushing and flossing easier and helps oral hygiene. The recommended time to wear them is at least 20 hours per day.

How long does treatment take and what is the cost?

Your teen will wear Invisalign as long as traditional braces. However, each patient is different so you should speak with Dr. Michael Willes to determine how many months your child can expect to wear them.

The cost is also very similar to other traditional braces; however there is no set fee. The cost will depend on your child’s unique orthodontic need.

Overall Success

Invisalign Teen has had remarkable success because patients are happy to have the option of having clear aligners for treatment. With the child more confident they are actually more prone to keep up with their treatment and many do complete their treatment sooner. You should speak with Dr. Michael Willes as soon as possible to learn about the benefits of Invisalign Teen.

Oral Piercing: What you should know

July 19th, 2016

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 Willes 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!

To use or not to use mouthwash; that is the question

July 12th, 2016

A famous mouthwash company chose the marketing slogan, “Better than flossing.” As a consumer, would you believe a high-end commercial that essentially tells you to stop flossing? Just use this brand of mouthwash and the risk of gingivitis, cavities, etc., is gone. What a wonderful idea! Now for the reality: This is simply not true.

The company that made these claims received some negative feedback for making this false claim. Does this mean that all mouthwashes are ineffective? Absolutely not. It takes a little bit of research to know which mouthwashes are most effective and best suited for you. Here are some key points to remember when choosing a mouthwash.

First, think about why you want to use a mouthwash. If you are at high risk for cavities, you would benefit from a fluoride mouthwash. Check the labels to see which ones contain fluoride.

If you have active gingivitis, a mouthwash with some antibacterial properties would be preferable. Read the labels carefully. You do not want a mouthwash containing alcohol. If you have active periodontal disease, an antibacterial mouthwash is appropriate, though you may want to discuss which kind would be best for your individual needs.

Prescription mouthwashes are also an option. You should pay close attention to the directions, such as how much and how long to use them. There is one brand in particular whose effectiveness can steadily diminish if you use it continually. There can also be side effects you should discuss with our office and/or your pharmacist.

Some great mouthwashes for kids change the color of plaque on their teeth to help them see how they are doing with their brushing. This is a great learning tool for the child and the parent! Why not pick up a bottle for yourself next time you’re at the store and evaluate your own performance?

Beware of claims that a mouthwash can loosen plaque. This is not accurate. Beware of any mouthwash that has alcohol. This is worth mentioning twice. Take care of your taste buds. If you are using a strong mouthwash, it can reduce your sense of taste.

These tips should help you choose the right mouthwash for your needs. Please contact Dr. Michael Willes at our Carlsbad, CA office with any specific questions!

Tell us about your summer!

July 5th, 2016

The dog days of summer are upon us, and what better time for Dr. Michael Willes and our team to ask our patients about their summer!

Whether you visited our nation’s capital, went on a camping trip, or just stayed in Carlsbad, CA and relaxed, we want to know how you’re all spending your summer! Please feel free to share your summer plans and experiences with us below or on our Facebook page as summer rolls on!

In-Ovation® Benefits

June 28th, 2016

In-Ovation braces are much smaller than traditional braces, are less noticeable on your teeth, and use the method of self-ligation. This type of braces doesn’t require the use of the elastic bands to keep the wires in the correct place, which makes your orthodontic experience more convenient and comfortable.

There are two types of In-Ovation braces: In-Ovation R and In-Ovation C, both of which supply the same benefits of less pain than traditional braces, shorter treatment time, and a beautiful smile!

In-Ovation R Braces

This impressive orthodontic treatment is specifically aimed to provide you with a better hygienic and aesthetically favorable treatment procedure while moving your misaligned and crooked teeth into a better more attractive position.

In addition, the distinctive method of In-Ovation R braces provides less discomfort because there is nearly no pressure applied to your teeth. Another benefit of In-Ovation R braces is you do not require as many visits with Dr. Michael Willes during your treatment process.

Other benefits include:

  • Quicker treatment time: About four months shorter than the traditional braces
  • More comfortable
  • Fewer visits to our Carlsbad, CA office
  • Enhanced facial aesthetics
  • Shorter orthodontic appointments with no uncomfortable adjustments
  • No elastic bands or metal allows for easy care of your dental health and a reduction in the risk of developing cavities

With traditional metal braces, elastic bands are used to keep the wires in place. In-Ovation R braces use a free-sliding technology that gently moves your teeth while implementing minimal to no pressure. The procedure can also make the entire progress quicker and completed without all the discomfort and inconvenience.

In-Ovation C

In-Ovation C braces offer all same the benefits of In-Ovation R, with one small difference: this type of braces is clear in color. Rhodium (a silvery-white metallic element) covers the clips making the In-Ovation C braces appear less visible. In-Ovation C braces offer a more inconspicuous way to straighten your teeth, and give you that beautiful smile you always wanted.

Eating and In-Ovation®

June 21st, 2016

You want a beautiful smile that you feel proud of, but you’re not eager to give up your favorite foods for a few years during treatment with braces. If that describes you, In-Ovation self-ligating braces may be worth considering. Since treatment times with In-Ovation are significantly shorter than with traditional braces, you can get back to eating all your favorite foods much faster.

One of the challenging parts about getting braces is not being able to fit in. Traditional metal braces stand out in a crowd, but In-Ovation braces are smaller and have a lower profile, making them much more discreet. While you'll have to give up some foods, especially anything hard or crunchy, it won't be forever.

A Generally Healthy Diet

When life gets hectic, it’s easy to forget about your diet. That’s a mistake you don’t want to make while you’re getting your teeth straightened. Even though you’re working on obtaining a beautiful smile with In-Ovation, you need to eat a healthy diet so that your oral and overall health stay good. For example, consume plenty of calcium, such as from low-fat dairy products, to support strong bones and healthy teeth.

Timing Your Eating

Just like it is when you don’t have braces, it’s important to think about the times that you eat and drink when you have In-Ovation braces. When carbohydrates sit on your teeth for too long, bacteria in your mouth ferment them and produce acid that can wear away at your teeth and eventually cause tooth decay.

The following tips can help you avoid this problem:

  • Don’t eat hard candy or lollipops, since the sugar will be on your teeth for long periods of time.
  • Rinse your mouth out with water after you eat anything.
  • Brush your teeth after each meal.
  • Don’t drink sugary sodas, since the sugar will get all over your teeth.

Getting straighter teeth with In-Ovation is exciting, but you do have to take extra caution when eating, and make sure you take good care of your general oral health while you're at it. At least with In-Ovation's efficient self-ligating technology, you'll be back to eating popcorn and chewing gum in no time!

Five Reasons for Your Bad Breath

June 14th, 2016

Bad breath, or halitosis, is probably not a matter of life or death. But it can make you feel self-conscious and have a negative impact on your life. The majority of people suffering from bad breath are dealing with oral bacterial. However, there are other causes of this embarrassing problem. Learning more can help you fight this solvable problem.

Five Causes of Embarrassingly Bad Breath

  1. Dry Mouth. A decrease in saliva flow can be caused by several things. Most often, medication or mouth breathing are the culprits. As saliva helps wash away food particles from your mouth, it prevents bad breath. Dry mouth can be dealt with by stimulating salivation.
  2. Gum Disease and Poor Oral Hygiene. Not brushing and flossing well enough or with enough frequency can lead to gum disease, which leads to bad breath. Halitosis can be a sign that plaque is present on your teeth.
  3. Food-Related Bad Breath. Food particles that aren't brushed or flossed away attract bacteria that leads to bad breath. It's especially important to brush after eating strong-smelling foods, such as garlic or onions.
  4. Smoking and Tobacco. Tobacco is bad for your health, and that includes your oral health. Smoking or chewing tobacco can contribute toward the development of gum disease, as well as oral cancer.
  5. Mouth Infections and Other Medical Problems. A mouth infection, sinus infection or even the common cold can cause you to temporarily have bad breath. Even conditions such as diabetes and reflux can cause halitosis. It's always wise to see Dr. Michael Willes to help determine the cause.

We are Your Ally

Even if you maintain good oral hygiene, it's important to see Dr. Michael Willes at our Carlsbad, CA office to deal with or avoid problems with bad breath. We can help you uncover the cause of halitosis, while also providing solutions that allow you to enjoy fresh breath without relying on mints and breath fresheners. As is the case with all things related to oral health, we are your number-one ally when it comes to eliminating the problem of bad breath.

Don't forget your retainer this summer!

June 7th, 2016

As we start our summer, our team at Willes Orthodontics wants to remind our patients who have completed treatment that it is very important to wear your retainer as prescribed even while away for vacations and summer camps.

If you are away from home and only wearing your retainer at night, here is a helpful tip: after removing and brushing your retainer in the morning, place it back in the case and then put it with your PJ’s or on your pillow. That way you have a reminder to put your retainer back in at night.

Remember, retainers should be worn every night, not just some nights.

We wish you safe travels and adventures this summer!

What Your Braces Rubber Band Color Says About You

May 31st, 2016

However you may feel about having to wear braces, choosing the color of your rubber bands is sure to bring a smile to your face. Whether you want to express your creativity, coordinate your braces with your outfits, or show some serious school spirit, decorating your mouth with colorful bands takes some of the stress and self-consciousness out of wearing braces. So what do your rubber band colors say about you? Look no further than our rubber band horoscope.

Red. You’re intense and forward thinking, and that you won’t back down no matter how big the challenge. Red is also the color of the heart, so red rubber bands indicate that you’re a caring, loving person.

Blue. Blue means you’re chill – as cool as a cucumber. You’re one cool customer, as the saying goes. You’re relaxed and calm, even when your mom says you can’t chew any gum or eat popcorn because of your braces.

Green. Look at a traffic light and green means go, right? So you’re the type of person who’s always on the move. Go, go, go! It also means you’re generous and kind. Green is the color of nature and spring, so it says you love Mother Earth. Perhaps you even recycle. Green is the color of good luck.

Orange. You’re daring and wild, flamboyant and fun. Orange may indicate you’re an artist or a drama student. It says you have a big personality and that you don’t care what other people think about you. However, orange is also the color of balance and energy. And being flamboyant and fun takes a lot of energy!

Purple. You’re the creative type, for sure. You beat to a different drummer and think outside the box. It says you're mysterious. Purple is the color of royalty, and when you wear your purple rubber bands you are royally cool.

Color Combinations

What if you can’t choose just one color? Well, you can decorate your teeth with alternating colors. You can choose the colors of your favorite sports team or holiday colors like red and green. If you’re still stumped as to what colors to choose, ask Dr. Michael Willes or a member of our team. We can let you in on all the trends our other patents are sporting at our Carlsbad, CA office!

Feeling Confident at Your Orthodontic Consultation

May 24th, 2016

How You Can Start Preparing Now

When you first start thinking about going to the orthodontist, it is normal to feel apprehensive. What will your orthodontic experience bring? Whether you have been advised by a dentist or chosen to seek out orthodontic care from Dr. Michael Willes on your own, there are a few things you can do to prepare for your initial consultation at Willes Orthodontics.

One of the best ways to prepare for an orthodontic consultation is to understand your options. With so many choices available today, orthodontic care is a lot more versatile than in the past. You can start preparing now by seeking out and understanding those options. With a few specific things in mind, you can be totally confident and prepared for your consultation.

Questions to Ask During the Consultation

As you consider orthodontic care, it is likely that a few questions may naturally arise. Don’t be afraid to ask any questions you might have. Our orthodontic team is here to help. Here are just a few examples of questions you may want to ask at your consultation.

  • Is there an estimated length of time that I will likely require braces?
  • How much should I expect to pay for my treatment? What are the payment options?
  • Does getting braces hurt? Is there anything I can do to prevent or minimize pain?
  • Is it likely that I will be wearing extra appliances in addition to braces to correct my overbite or other problems?
  • Are there specific foods I will need to avoid when I get braces?
  • Will braces prevent me from playing my favorite sport or musical instrument?
  • How can I keep my teeth clean with braces?
  • How often will I be expected to come in for checkups and other appointments?

Once your consultation is over, you don’t have to feel like your options are exhausted. If questions arise after the consultation, don’t be afraid to ask. Our orthodontic team will be here to help throughout the entire process.

Confidence throughout the Process

With answers to your questions, and an orthodontic team on your side, you can be confident about any necessary orthodontic treatments. From the initial consultation to the day your braces come off, your orthodontic treatment at Willes Orthodontics can be a smooth and simple process. The moment you see that beautiful smile, you’ll know it was all worth it.

We love bringing nothing but the most amazing smiles to our patients!

Which type of mouthwash is best?

May 17th, 2016

Taking care of your oral health involves a daily regimen of brushing, flossing, and rinsing to prevent tooth decay and bacterial infections. Though you may have asked us which toothbrush to use, few patients at Willes Orthodontics ask about mouthwash.

However, different mouthwashes you might choose will have varying effects on your oral health. So which type is best for you?

Gum Health

Antiseptic mouthwashes are designed to reduce the majority of bacteria on and near the gum line. Using an antiseptic mouthwash can help decrease your chances of developing gingivitis. If possible, look for a mouthwash with antibacterial or antimicrobial ingredients.

Fluoride

Fluoride is beneficial for oral health and can help prevent tooth decay. If you drink a lot of bottled water without fluoride, we may recommend that you purchase a rinse with fluoride in it.

Bad Breath

Although mouthwash is designed to prevent bacterial build-up within the mouth, many people use it to combat bad breath. Most mouthwashes will help eliminate the bacteria that cause bad breath, and some are specifically designed to do so.

However, if bad breath is a chronic problem that requires daily treatment with a mouth rinse, contact Willes Orthodontics to discuss your symptoms.

American Dental Association Approval

The ADA reviews mouth rinses for safety and effectiveness. A mouthwash with the ADA Seal of Approval will meet strict criteria, and will have scientific evidence or clinical studies that support the claims of the manufacturer. If possible, select a mouthwash that bears the ADA Seal of Approval to ensure you are using a quality rinse.

Considerations

If you are unsure as to which mouthwash is right for you, contact our Carlsbad, CA office or ask Dr. Michael Willes during your next visit. Also, be sure to keep mouthwash out of the reach of children, as it contains alcohol and other substances that could be harmful to them. Avoid letting children under age six use a mouth rinse, and discontinue use if you experience a burning sensation in the soft tissues of your mouth.

In-Ovation® Vs. Traditional Braces

May 10th, 2016

At our office, we say it's never too late to improve the beauty of your smile. We suggest to patients of all ages that braces can lead the way to a healthier, happier smile. Orthodontic technology has made many advancements over the past decade. Today, we compare In-Ovation braces to traditional braces to help you decide which is best for your smile needs.

Choosing In-Ovation or Traditional Braces

There are many significant differences between these two styles of braces that often make one more attractive than the other to patients. Overall, the In-Ovation treatment process is far shorter from start to finish than the traditional braces approach.

The In-Ovation treatment process has been gaining vast popularity among patients because it offers superior comfort over traditional braces. Unlike the traditional approach that can be painful and cause continued friction and irritation, In-Ovation braces operate on what is called a self-ligating system. This free-sliding system straightens teeth with gentle, low pressure.

Traditional braces exert their teeth-aligning effects with pressure. They are cemented to teeth, connected by rubber bands, and require much more of a time commitment than newer technology. For some, traditional braces are a more affordable approach and time is not a concern. It's also important to understand that a balanced diet is more important than ever when choosing any type of braces, but especially with traditional braces because of their size. Sugary foods can cause plaque to buildup on the tooth and should be kept minimal.

In-Ovation braces have been reported to shift teeth in a way that causes less irritation. Patients opt for this style because of its overall lower need for maintenance. You will spend far less time visiting our Carlsbad, CA if you choose In-Ovation braces over traditional braces.

With fewer components and no elastic bands, there is less of a chance of food debris being left behind with In-Ovation braces. They are easier to clean and when a balanced diet is followed, and much less of a plaque buildup. In-Ovation even offers clear brackets for improved aesthetics.

Still have questions about which braces system is right for you or your child? We encourage you to ask Dr. Michael Willes at your next appointment. We look forward to seeing you soon!

May is National Teen Self-Esteem Month!

May 3rd, 2016

The month of May has the unique distinction of being National Teen Self-Esteem Month. What does that mean?

National Teen Self-Esteem Month was created to raise public awareness about how low self-esteem can negatively affect teens. Especially during May, parents and guardians of teens are asked to be positive role models. If teens can receive positive re-enforcement and their negative images of themselves are improved, then their self-esteem has a better chance of developing in a positive direction.

Dr. Michael Willes and our team at Willes Orthodontics know there are a lot of young adults living in America are struggling with depressed self-images. These can affect all aspects of their everyday lives. Some evidence shows learning abilities and increased risk of eating disorders can originate in a teen’s low self-esteem. It can also lead to abuse of drugs and thoughts of suicide. Dating violence among high school teens is now more common than previously thought.

What can be done to help?

So what can adults do specifically to help their teens? The National Teen Self-Esteem Facebook page offers a variety of suggestions and positive messages for teens and parents alike. Of all the pages your teen “likes” on social media, perhaps he or she should include this page. Some of the tips offered include:

  1. When you stumble, get right back up.
  2. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else.
  3. Do things that make you feel good about yourself.
  4. Open yourself up to compliments.

Another great way to build self-esteem is to have a beautiful, health smile, and that’s where our team at Willes Orthodontics come in! Whether your teen is due for a simple cleaning, could benefit from cosmetic treatments, or needs orthodontic care, we can help bestow a confident smile he or she will be proud to show off.

Overall, a more positive approach to life will help us all. It is a very important trait to instill in our teens. As parents, a big part of our responsibility is to show our children there is always another day and bumps in the road are just that. We need to help guide their self-esteem and reinforce their positive traits. We can help them recognize the value of who they are.

We should make our children’s self esteem a priority — not just in May, but throughout the year. Let National Teen Self-Esteem Month serve as the impetus for new levels of self-esteem.

For more information on this topic, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Michael Willes, please give us a call at our convenient Carlsbad, CA office!

How can I protect my child's teeth during sports?

April 26th, 2016

Sports are great for children for a variety of reasons. Children can develop their motor skills, learn how to solve conflicts and work together, and develop their work ethics. As a parent, you may recognize the benefits of sports, but also naturally worry about your child’s health and safety. Your job goes beyond providing a water bottle and making sure your child follows the rules of the game.

Although you may not think of your child’s teeth first when you think about sports, accidents can happen that affect your children’s teeth. A stray hockey stick, an errant basketball, or a misguided dive after a volleyball are examples of ways a child could lose a tooth. In fact, studies show that young athletes lose more than three million teeth each year.

Becoming a Better Athlete to Protect Teeth

Becoming a better athlete involves refining skills, learning the rules of the game, and being a good sport. These components are not just about winning. They are also about safety. Young athletes who are better ball-handlers and who are careful to avoid fouls and penalties are less likely to have harmful contact with the ball, teammates, or opponents. Children who are better roller-bladers are less likely to take a face plant into the blacktop, and more likely to save their teeth. Being a good sport and avoiding unnecessary contact is one way to protect teeth.

Proper Protective Equipment for Teeth

If your child is in a sport that poses a high threat to teeth, it is essential for your child to wear a mouthguard. Mouthguards fit your child’s mouth and consist of soft plastic. Dr. Michael Willes can custom fit a mouthguard if generic ones are uncomfortable. While children may resist wearing a mouthguard initially, your persistence in insisting that they wear it should be enough to convince them. A helmet or face mask provides additional protection.

While prevention is best, rapid treatment can improve the situation if your child does happen to lose a tooth during sports. Rapid implantation can work in about ten percent of cases. To learn about ways to save a lost tooth, contact our Carlsbad, CA office.

Don't brush after EVERY meal!

April 19th, 2016

This may come as a surprise, but brushing your teeth right after a meal can be one of the worst things you can do for your healthy teeth. A toothbrush can be considered an assault weapon against your smile if used immediately after eating certain foods.

Enamel is like the tooth’s shield. It is a hard mineral exterior on each of your teeth. In reality, enamel is the hardest part of the human body—even stronger than bone! I like to regard it as a “super-structure.” But every superhero has a weakness, and enamel’s kryptonite is acid.

A healthy tooth lives in a mouth that has a proper pH balance. When that balance tips from alkaline to acidic, a harmful process called demineralization begins. Demineralization occurs when acids attack and soften the tooth surface. Pores and fissures form and harmful bacteria move in.

With each bite of food or drink, our mouth pH fluctuates. Highly acidic foods tip the balance of your mouth from a healthy alkaline to a dangerous acid. Here are some examples of those sources of acid: citrus fruits, soda, and sugary foods. There are certainly many others, but these are the most common.

So how does brushing your teeth immediately after a meal make this process even worse?

After eating highly acidic foods, your teeth are susceptible to damage. When you brush your teeth in this weakened state you are actually damaging your enamel. The abrasive bristles of the brush wear away the protective surface of the teeth. You should avoid brushing for at least an hour, or take other, simple preventive measures immediately following a meal.

First, rinse with or drink clear water. Then chew some sugarless gum. Both of these practices will produce saliva, restore a healthy pH level in your mouth, and coat your teeth with nourishing minerals. Out of all the sugarless gums available, the best of the best are those that list xylitol as the first ingredient. Another option is to consume cheese, milk, or another non-acidic food or drink to conclude your meal.

After you have given your mouth time to return to a healthy pH, feel free to brush your teeth. Just keep in mind that any time you eat acidic foods, you weaken your teeth. Make sure not to worsen the problem by brushing immediately after dining and damaging your teeth even more. Questions? Call us at Willes Orthodontics.

What is expected of me during my orthodontic treatment?

April 12th, 2016

We hear this question a lot at Willes Orthodontics, and we don’t mind when patients who are eager to complete their orthodontic treatment ask us. After all, we know there is no better feeling than getting your braces off!

During your initial consultation with Dr. Michael Willes, we will map out a specific treatment for you and will try our hardest to give you a timeline of when we expect you to wrap up treatment.

Having said that, we know every patient is different. People have different biological responses to orthodontic treatment and some people’s teeth may move faster than others.

Luckily, there are things you can do to ensure your treatment wraps up in a timely manner. By following these suggestions, you can avoid any setbacks during your treatment.

  • Make sure to keep your adjustment appointments. Postponing or cancelling will delay treatment!
  • Be sure to show up on time to your appointments. This will give Dr. Michael Willes and our team time to do everything we planned during your adjustment visit.
  • When prescribed, make sure you are diligent about wearing rubber bands or other appliances.
  • Avoid damage to your braces and teeth by wearing a mouth guard during sports activities.
  • Make sure to brush and floss regularly! Gum disease or other dental work can delay orthodontic treatment.

If you remember to follow these guidelines, you’ll be on your way to having the dazzling, healthy smile you’ve always wanted. As for us, our team at Willes Orthodontics will do our part to move your orthodontic treatment along efficiently. If you have any questions about your treatment time, please give us a call at our Carlsbad, CA office or ask us during your next visit!

Common Issues with Braces: How to avoid bad breath

April 5th, 2016

A bright, beautiful smile is often achieved with braces. The time you spend wearing braces is an investment in the good health and appearance of your smile. However, Dr. Michael Willes and our staff know that having braces on your teeth can pose challenges. Many of these challenges are commonly faced by all who wear braces, such as flossing, getting food stuck in your braces, and bad breath.

Today, let’s address bad breath and what to do about it. There’s no reason you have to shy away from conversation for fear that you’ve got bad breath.

Fresh Breath Tips for Braces Wearers

  • Eat a Healthy Diet. Unhealthy foods that are laden with sugar can contribute to bad breath. Stick with healthy produce, protein, grains, and dairy found on the list of foods your orthodontist says are safe to eat with braces.
  • Drink Non-Sugary Beverages. Likewise, steer clear of sugary sodas and juices for the same reason. They contribute to bad breath.
  • Stay Hydrated. A mouth that’s continually dry can lead to bad breath by inhibiting your production of saliva. Regular production of saliva removes bacteria and excess food from your mouth, both of which cause bad breath.
  • Brush Often. Brush your teeth and tongue first thing in the morning, after each meal and snack, and before you go to bed, to remove food particles and bacteria that cause bad breath.
  • Don’t Forget to Floss. Flossing with braces might seem tricky, but it is a necessity. Ask Dr. Michael Willes to show you the best way to floss effectively with braces.
  • Mouthwash Use. Use the mouthwash recommended by Dr. Michael Willes. For the best results, swish the mouthwash around in your mouth for 30 seconds.
  • Get Regular Cleanings. Regular dental exams and cleanings are more important when you have braces. Cavities can delay your treatment progress, so be sure to visit your dentist every six months.

Practice Good Hygiene Daily

Good oral hygiene practices are important every day, whether you wear braces or not. But they become even more important during the months you wear braces. In addition to your regular orthodontic checkups, see your general dentist for cleanings and exams.

Together, you and our Carlsbad, CA team will keep your mouth healthy and fresh during and after your orthodontic treatment.

Foods that Can Harm Enamel

March 29th, 2016

Many people who are careful about brushing and flossing their teeth wonder how they still end up with cavities or tooth decay. Several factors affect wear and tear on tooth enamel. Diet is a major factor, with certain foods increasing the likelihood that your enamel will become discolored or decayed. Pay close attention to the foods you eat to keep your pearly whites looking healthy and clean.

What causes enamel damage?

Tooth enamel refers to the hard, semi-translucent, whitish part of the tooth that shows above your gums. The enamel is primarily composed of minerals that are strong but susceptible to highly acidic foods. When acid reacts with the minerals in enamel, it results in tooth decay. Strongly pigmented foods can also damage enamel by discoloring the surface of the tooth.

Foods that harm enamel

Acidic foods are the greatest source of enamel damage. To determine whether a food is acidic, look up its pH. Scientists use pH, on a one-to-seven scale, to define the relative acidity or alkalinity of a substance. Foods with low pH levels, between a one and three, are high in acidity and may damage your enamel. Foods with high pH levels, such as a six or seven, are far less likely to cause enamel harm.

So which foods should you avoid? Many fruits are high in acidity, including lemons, grapefruit, strawberries, grapes, and apples. The high sugar and acid content in soda makes it another huge contributor to enamel decay. Moderately acidic foods include pineapple, oranges, tomatoes, cottage cheese, maple syrup, yogurt, raisins, pickles, and honey. The foods that are least likely to cause enamel damage include milk, most cheeses, eggs, and water.

Beverages such as red wine and coffee also damage the enamel by discoloring it. Although stains do not necessarily undermine the integrity of your teeth, they can be unsightly.

What can I do to prevent enamel damage?

Fortunately, there are several measures you can take to prevent your enamel from discoloring or decaying. The easiest way to avoid decay is to steer clear of high-acidity foods. This may not always be possible, but eliminating sugary fruit juices and soda from your diet is a good start. Brushing your teeth after each meal and flossing frequently also preserves your enamel. Another good idea is to rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash after eating to wash away high-acidity particles.

Although enamel damage is common, it does not have to be an inevitable occurrence. Knowing the foods that harm your teeth gives you the tools to prevent discoloration and decay. With some easy preventive measures, your teeth will stay strong and white for years to come! Give us a call at Willes Orthodontics to learn more!

Can I use mouthwash instead of flossing?

March 22nd, 2016

While mouthwash goes a long way in improving your oral care, it is not a substitute for flossing. Mouthwashes and flossing provide different benefits that you should understand.

Mouthwash Benefits

Mouthwash comes in two categories. Some are considered cosmetic. This type of rinse provides temporary relief from bad breath and has a pleasant taste. These do not actually kill any bacteria.

Therapeutic mouthwashes provide the healthier benefits. These may contain different ingredients including fluoride or antimicrobial agents. This type is used to remove plaque buildup and reduce the potential for calculus formation. Therapeutic rinses can also help prevent cavities, bad breath, and gingivitis. In addition, Dr. Michael Willes can prescribe special rinses to assist patients after periodontal surgery or other procedures.

Flossing Benefits

Flossing is what removes the plaque formation before it can harden and become calculus. While a rinse reduces buildup, only flossing will fully remove plaque, especially between teeth. The bristles on a toothbrush do not get between teeth completely. If plaque is not removed, it hardens into tartar or calculus. When this builds below the gum line, gum disease can start.

Types of Floss

Floss is available in a thin string form or a tape. It can be waxed or unwaxed. If you find flossing difficult, you might want to try a different type of floss. You can buy bulk floss in containers or purchase the disposable type with a plastic handle attached. This style can be easier for many individuals to use. Interdental picks are available for bridgework or other situations where regular floss cannot be used.

If you have questions regarding the best mouthwash or floss, or need tips for easier flossing, please ask our Carlsbad, CA team for advice. We will be glad to give you solutions to help keep your mouth clean and healthy.

St. Patrick's Day: Celtic pride, green shamrocks, and lucky charms!

March 15th, 2016

“St. Patrick's Day is an enchanted time -- a day to begin transforming winter's dreams into summer's magic.” Adrienne Cook

Lucky green shamrocks, leprechauns, and pots of gold – it must be St. Patrick’s Day! If you’re not Irish, how do you go about celebrating St. Patrick’s Day? It’s easy: You just put on one of those tall leprechauns hats, dress in green from head to toe, and wear one of those carefree pins that say “Kiss Me, I’m Irish”. On St. Patrick’s Day, everyone is Irish, and that is the universal beauty of the holiday. Celtic pride does not discriminate.

Wondering what our team at Willes Orthodontics is doing to celebrate March 17th? Well, we’ve thought about doing everything from handing out lucky gold coins (you know, the fake ones that are made of chocolate) to shamrock stickers. Maybe we’ll even give away green toothbrushes and floss! You’ll never know unless you come in to see Dr. Michael Willes !

All kidding aside, St. Patrick’s Day is an important cultural and religious holiday. There are lavish parades and church services across Ireland on March 17th. Over time, however, the holiday has developed into a day to observe Irish culture in general. In places like England and the United States, where there is a large Irish Diaspora, the holiday has greater significance than other countries. From the streets of Boston to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, it is a day of celebration, and many Americans of Irish descent will cook up a traditional meal of corned beef and cabbage.

So, to all of you with Irish ancestry, and to all of you who have decided to be Irish for the day, our office wishes you a Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Good luck looking for a pot of leprechaun gold, which is said to exist at the end of the rainbow. However, keep away from those sugary Lucky Charms; sweet cereals might taste good, but your kids’ teeth might not be feeling too lucky if they eat it for breakfast every day. Have a great St. Paddy’s Day!

Best Ways to Prevent Bad Breath

March 8th, 2016

Nobody likes bad breath, and although it can sometimes be difficult to tell if you have it, it is always better to practice good oral health than risk having a smelly mouth. There are many ways to reduce or eliminate bad breath, some are definitely more effective and longer lasting than others. Check out ways to do so below.

Floss Regularly

As difficult as it can be to remember to floss regularly, when it comes to bad breath, flossing is one of the easiest and most cost effective ways to freshen your mouth. See, flossing reduces the plaque and bacteria found in areas of your mouth that a toothbrush simply can't reach, and in turn, it rids your mouth of the smell associated with that bacteria. While flossing may not eliminate bad breath on its own, if you do it along with other health oral hygiene habits like brushing, then you may just develop a fresher smelling mouth.

Use Mouthwash

Using some sort of mouthwash can really freshen up your breath, especially if you find it still smells after brushing and flossing. There is a wide variety of mouthwash products on the market, however, you can also create your own by simply using baking soda mixed with water.

Always Brush after You Sleep

Whether after taking a nap, or having a full night of sleep, you will want to brush your teeth in order to reduce bad breath. The truth is, bacteria accumulates in your mouth while you are sleeping (even during a short nap) and that is ultimately the source of bad breath. So next time you wake from a good slumber, give your mouth some brushing and you will find it makes a big difference in the freshness of your breath.

There are many ways to freshen your breath beyond just using gum or mints, the above mentioned are just a few for you to try. Test them out and you will likely find your bad breath problem is solved, or at least considerably reduced. Of course, you can always ask Dr. Michael Willes at your next visit to our Carlsbad, CA office.

Do we have your current contact info?

March 8th, 2016

As you probably know, you can always connect with Dr. Michael Willes and our team by calling our Carlsbad, CA office, or going to our Facebook page. However, if you’ve recently moved or gotten a new phone number, we’ll need to update our records so we can easily connect with you!

If any of your contact information has changed, please let our team at Willes Orthodontics know, just in case we need to reach you. While you’re at it, you can also schedule your next appointment! We look forward to hearing from you!

The In-Ovation® Treatment Process

February 23rd, 2016

The advancement of orthodontic procedures has a come a long way. Today, there is always a way to meet each individual's personal smile needs in a relaxing, stress-free, and pain-free way. In-Ovation technology is no different. With its free-sliding system, many patients report positive experiences. Let's take a look at how the In-Ovation treatment process takes place.

What You'll Experience When You Choose In-Ovation

In-Ovation helps your teeth shift gently over time without added pressure. The process has been designed for you to spend less time in our Carlsbad, CA office at long appointments having braces checkups, while still achieving a beautiful smile.

Our patients share that there are many advantages to selecting In-Ovation braces. Your visit with us will be shorter, and the overall time from when you begin the treatment process to finishing with a new smile is much shorter than traditional braces. Patients also tell us that far less irritation occurs when selecting these braces.

In-Ovation braces are referred to as self-ligating braces. We find that the free-slide technology that makes them unique also results with improved facial proportion and appearance. Another noteworthy characteristic is the small size of these braces. This means that patients can perform efficient teeth cleaning, leading to less plaque buildup.

Many of our patients are surprised to hear that braces are not simply for children. We assure our patients that there is no better time than now to achieve your best dental health. Because the In-Ovation system requires far less time and maintenance from start to finish, they are very ideal for busy adults. At your visit, Dr. Michael Willes will discuss which In-Ovation style best reflects your needs depending on how much overall movement will be necessary to achieve long-term results.

Trying to decide if the In-Ovation dental procedure is right for you? Our highly trained team invites you to call us for an appointment. We look forward to seeing you at a visit soon.

My mouth is dry. What can I do?

February 16th, 2016

Nobody likes a dry mouth. It is an uncomfortable and sometimes oddly unexplainable sensation that most people like to avoid. It is not a condition that automatically sends you into a panic about your health, however, a dry mouth can be a bother and something you certainly want to change if possible. So, if you find yourself in the unpleasant position of having a dry mouth, here is what you can do.

Chew Sugar-free Gum: Chewing sugar-free gum will stimulate saliva in your mouth. The chewing motion of your jaw and teeth should take care of at least some of your dry mouth problem.

Suck on Sugar-free Candy: Similarly to chewing sugar free gum, if you suck on sugar free candy it should create more saliva in your mouth and moisturize it in the process.

Cut out the Caffeine:Caffeine can contribute to a dry mouth so by limiting, or eliminating your intake all together, you may find that your dry mouth is no more.

Stop Using Tobacco Products: Tobacco is another cause of dry mouth. Whether it is smokeless tobacco products or cigarettes, if you stop using them your dry mouth will likely improve. And not to forget, these products are exceedingly bad for your oral health to begin with, so you will be doing your mouth a favor even more so.

Drink Lots of Water: It may seem obvious, but drinking lots of water will likely improve your dry mouth. This is because dry mouth is usually a sign of dehydration, so plenty of fluids will surely help.

Dry mouth can be unpleasant, but it is often easily solved by either drinking more water, or trying one of the previously mentioned techniques. If the problem still persists you can always visit our Carlsbad, CA office to see Dr. Michael Willes. More often than not, doing one of the above will leave your mouth more moisturized than it was previously, and hopefully it will be long-lasting as well.

How NOT to Forget Your Retainer

February 9th, 2016

The alarm sounds in the morning, you wake up and realize "I forgot to wear my retainer!"

If this only happened once, don't panic. Missing one night with a retainer is unlikely to cause significant teeth movement. However, if it has happened often, give our Carlsbad, CA office a call to make sure your teeth haven’t shifted position.

Here are some tips from Dr. Michael Willes to help you remember your retainer:

1. Write down the instructions we give you for wearing the retainer, whether you should wear it all day or at night, or just a few times a week. Writing things out like this helps set the schedule in your memory.

2. Clean the retainer when you take it out each time. If you don’t you may not have time when you’re rushing to get to work or school to clean it properly and may be tempted not to wear it.

3. Put a note on your mirror or in your purse or wallet reminding you to wear your retainer.

4. Set an alarm on your mobile phone to remind you when it’s time to put the retainer in. If you have email with a calendar you can set up daily reminders, too.

5. Always put the retainer in its case when you take it out to eat or sleep. You’ll reduce your risk for losing it or accidentally throwing it away.

6. If you don’t have to wear the retainer every day, you can use some recurring events to help you remember. With this system for example, watching your favorite weekly TV show, laundry day, or family pizza night can all serve as reminders that you should put in your retainer.

7. Don’t be shy about asking for help if you’re forgetful. Assure your spouse, parents, siblings, or roommates that you won’t consider if nagging if they remind you to wear your retainer.

8. Surf online for examples of how teeth can shift when retainers are not properly used. Those stories can serve as timely warning not to let the same thing happen to you!

Remember, you can always call our Carlsbad, CA office if you feel your retainer is uncomfortable or painful. We'll work with you to protect your smile!

Things You Should Never Use Your Braces For

February 2nd, 2016

When you get your braces, Dr. Michael Willes and our staff will also give you a list of foods you should not eat and things you should not do. Pay particular attention to these items to keep your teeth and braces safe.

Charms belong on bracelets. While you can decorate your braces with colored bands, hanging a charm off them is a bad idea. If you bite down on the charm, you could damage your braces or your teeth. You could also swallow your jewelry.

Never use your teeth as a bottle opener. This is just as important when you are wearing braces. While braces straighten your teeth, your teeth are moving in the process. That makes them weaker, and the metal in the braces does not make them invincible. Invest in a bottle opener; you can buy one for a few dollars, which is much less expensive than having to replace your braces.

Contrary to what you might think, your braces are not designed to work as a radio. There are tales of people who have picked up radio signals from dental fillings or braces. While this is remotely possible, attaching an antenna to your mouth is just not a good idea. You will get better quality music from a radio.

On the other hand, you can still kiss someone while wearing braces. In fact, even if both of you wear braces, the chances of your getting locked together are almost negligible. However, to avoid cutting your partner’s lips, kiss with caution.

If you have any questions about taking care of your braces, please ask Dr. Michael Willes and our staff. We want you to get the best results from your treatment without needless delays.

Five Braces-Friendly Dinner Recipes

January 26th, 2016

Did you know that more than four million children throughout the US and Canada have braces? At Willes Orthodontics, Dr. Michael Willes and our staff know that kids can be picky and meticulous eaters. If cooking for children without braces is difficult, preparing meals for children with braces is especially daunting.

“Comfort food takes on a whole new meaning when cooking for children with braces,” says Pamela Waterman, author of The Braces Cookbook: Recipes You and Your Orthodontist Will Love. “Whether you have new brackets, elastics, headgear, or more, there are great foods you can eat; it just takes some thought.”

These five braces-friendly dinner recipes will be sure to keep your kids smiling!

  1. Macaroni and cheese is the ultimate comfort food. Pasta is soft, so it’s easy for children with braces to eat. The warm, gooey cheese melts in the mouth and doesn’t get stuck in the braces like hard or sticky foods. Chances are good that even the pickiest eater has a soft spot for this homespun classic.
  2. The key to braces-friendly cooking is to replace hard, crunchy foods with softer substitutes. In other words, burritos are a better option than tacos, and lasagna is a better choice than pizza. At the same time, if you have the culinary skills to whip up a pizza with a soft crust, you’re going to win the Best Mom (or Dad) of the Year award.
  3. Your child may not like fruits and vegetables. In fact, he or she may even try to convince you that with new braces, fruits and vegetables are off limits. Nice try, kids. While your child is wearing braces, prepare meals with cooked vegetables instead of raw vegetables. A vegetable stir-fry is a healthy and soft dinner choice for kids with braces.
  4. Whether it’s beef or chicken, meat is a good source of protein. However, meat, even when it’s carefully taken off the bone (kids with braces should never eat meat from a bone), can easily get caught in braces. Sloppy Joes are a good alternative. The beef is softened by the addition of the sauce and less likely to get strung in the wires and brackets of the braces. Serve the Sloppy Joes with a side of mashed potatoes.
  5. Ask any child and he or she will tell you that the best part of dinner is dessert. While hard candy, licorice, taffy, caramel, popcorn, and all other chewy candies should be avoided, ice cream and cake are braces-friendly treats that keep kids smiling.

Need more braces-friendly food ideas? Feel free to ask any member of our team.

Stars Who Had Braces

January 19th, 2016

Not everyone is born with a million-dollar smile, not even some celebrities. The following stars have all had their moments as a “brace face,” either as a child, teenager, or adult. You might be surprised to learn about stars who had braces (including Gwen Stefani, who got braces just because she could!).

Take a look at some famous faces who sported braces!

Emma Watson: Emma admits to going through a rather awkward stage that included “terrible skin,” fluctuating weight, and braces. But look at the swan that emerged!

Tom Cruise: Who would have thought that one of the world’s most famous smiles could use an overhaul? Well, Mr. Cruise pulled it off … and most people didn’t even know. He wore “invisible” braces that had ceramic brackets for a few months just after his 40th birthday. And the results were pretty WOW!

Dakota Fanning: This lovely young actress had some troublesome teeth when she was younger. However, braces and dental work gave her that stunning star-quality smile we see now. Props to her, though, for staying real. She sported her headgear during an appearance on The Tonight Show and didn’t bat an eye.

Gwyneth Paltrow: The stunning Ms. Paltrow, who, in 2013 was named the Most Beautiful Woman by People Magazine, wore braces in high school. And she probably carried it off with the poise and grace for which she is so famous today.

Niall Horan: This member of One Direction, the boy band that’s currently tearing it up (and breaking some hearts along the way) wore his braces for several months. He got them removed in April 2013.

Other notable celebs who have had braces include Faye Dunaway, who got hers at the age of 61! Ryan Seacrest, Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, and Drew Barrymore also belonged to the metal mouth club at one time or another.

What is comes down to is this: It isn’t whether you wear braces that are fully hidden, ceramic brackets, or have the traditional metal train tracks running across your teeth. Nope, it’s all about how you work it!

Does smoking affect oral health?

January 12th, 2016

By now, everyone knows that smoking is bad for you. But the truth is its broad-reaching health effects are not all known by everyone. This is especially true of oral health. Smoking can have serious repercussions in this regard. To give you a better idea of how smoking can affect your oral health, Dr. Michael Willes and our team have listed some issues that can arise.

Oral Cancer

Oral cancer can have steep ramifications for anyone that gets it. Surgery can be required to eliminate the cancer before it spreads to more vital parts of your body. Any type of cancer is about the worst health effect you can get, and this especially holds true to the affects that smoking has on your mouth. The type of mouth surgery required with oral cancer can leave your face deconstructed in certain areas, and it is all due to smoking or use of other tobacco products.

Tooth Discoloration and Bad Breath

At the very least, it is fair to say that as a smoker you will often have bad breath, and while you may try to cover it up with gum or mints, tooth discoloration is a whole other story. The chemicals and substances in cigarettes stick to your teeth staining them brown and yellow colors that are increasingly difficult to disguise.

Gum Disease and Loss of Bone

Another effect of smoking is the increased risk of gum disease. Your gums may start to recede, which can eventually lead to the loss of teeth. Smoking can also increase bone loss and density in your jaw which is vital to the health of your mouth. Gum disease and bone loss are two signs that smoking is definitely bad for your mouth.

When it comes to the health of your mouth, the question is not whether smoking affects your health, it's how does it affect your health and to what degree. If for no other reason than because smoking involves your mouth as its entry point, it is safe to say that it can have long-lasting and detrimental consequences on your oral health.

To learn more about smoking and your oral health, contact our Carlsbad, CA office to schedule an appointment with Dr. Michael Willes.

What's in my mouth? A Rundown of Orthodontic Appliances

January 5th, 2016

Dr. Michael Willes and our team correct the alignment of your teeth and jaws so that you can speak clearly, chew food effectively, and look attractive when you smile. We do this by putting sophisticated gadgets in your mouth. While many of these dental devices look similar, we use a wide variety of orthodontic appliances to straighten your teeth and repair jaw problems.

Orthodontic appliances are devices that move your teeth, change the position of your jaw, or hold your teeth in their finished positions after your braces are removed. These devices may be attached to your teeth or removable.

Braces straighten your teeth. Brackets, bands, and wires characterize traditional braces. Braces are attached to the teeth, so they are not easily removable.

Spacers are small plastic rings fitted between your back teeth before your braces are placed by Dr. Michael Willes. These spacers create space between your teeth to optimize the alignment your braces provide.

Retainers hold teeth in their finished position after your braces come off. A Hawley retainer is the most common type of retainer; it features an acrylic plate that rests against the roof of your mouth and a wire crossing in front of your teeth. Essex retainers are quite popular, as they are durable and nearly invisible.

Bite plates correct a deep bite, where the upper front teeth come down too far over the lower front teeth to cause bite problems.

Holding arches prevent the back teeth from moving forward to crowd the front teeth. A lower lingual holding arch prevents your permanent molars from migrating forward. The Nance holding arch maintains space between teeth after you lose baby teeth and before the permanent teeth come in.

A palatal expander widens your upper jaw by separating the bones of your palate. This appliance helps your top and bottom teeth fit together better. The Quad Helix widens your jaws to create more room for crowded teeth.

Contact our Carlsbad, CA office today to learn more about the ways we can improve the appeal and function of your smile.

My Mummy had Braces! Weird Facts about the History of Braces

December 29th, 2015

Sometimes real life is stranger and more interesting that any made-up story. These weird and interesting facts about braces will amuse you … and make you glad you didn’t have to get braces “way back when.”

Mummies with braces: Archaeologists have discovered mummies with crude bands of metal wrapped around their teeth. The metal was wrapped around each individual tooth, and it is believed that ancient dentists used catgut to guide the teeth and close the gaps.

First “official” braces: The first official braces were constructed in 1728 by Pierre Fauchard. They consisted of flat strips of metal. String was used to connect the metal to the teeth.

Early rubber bands: In 1850, Tucker began making rubber bands out of rubber tubing.

Brackets are better: Brackets were invented by Edward Angle in 1915. They were not bonded to the teeth directly, but instead were attached to bands that went around the teeth.

Wiring by NASA: As braces have become more modern, the technology has improved by leaps and bounds. You may know that some braces wire contains nickel titanium. What you may not know is that this metal was developed by NASA and has special shape memory that is activated by pressure or body heat.

Over 60 with braces: Actress Faye Dunaway got braces at the age of 61, which shows you are never too old to look more fabulous!

Oh, and one more thing that didn’t quite make our list, but is interesting all the same. Did you know that almost 25 percent of patients who get braces have to get them again because they wouldn’t wear their retainers? So suck it up, buttercup, and use that retainer!

I brush my teeth regularly. Why do I need to floss?

December 22nd, 2015

Brushing your teeth regularly is one of the most crucial parts of maintaining good oral health, and perhaps the most fundamental, however, there are also other elements involved. Flossing, for instance, is also vital; some experts would say, and Dr. Michael Willes and our team would agree, that it holds just as much importance as brushing your teeth. To give you a better idea of why, here are some reasons that flossing is so vital to your oral health.

Getting in-between the Teeth

While brushing your teeth effectively cleans all of the areas of your teeth that are visible, or otherwise not touching, flossing is vital because it reaches all of the areas between your teeth that you cannot see, and subsequently cannot clean using a toothbrush. These areas are among the most sensitive and vulnerable parts of your mouth because they are most susceptible to plaque and tartar buildup.

Reducing Bad Breath

It is not uncommon for someone who brushes their teeth once or twice a day to still have bad breath. The reason being is that bad breath is often created by smelly bacteria that lives in between your teeth, as well as other areas of your mouth that are not accessible using a toothbrush. And that is why flossing is one of the best ways to reduce or eliminate bad breath. Still skeptical? Try flossing your teeth with unscented floss, then smell it after, that awful scent is the source of your bad breath. Coupled with frequent brushing of your teeth, you will find that flossing can really help that stinky breath.

Brushing your teeth twice a day is hard enough, add flossing on top and it can be difficult to establish a regular habit. However, doing so is totally worth it; just look at the aforementioned reasons why. Use these for motivation the next time you don’t feel like flossing, and let us know if it worked at your next visit to our Carlsbad, CA office.

When is the best time to floss?

December 15th, 2015

At Willes Orthodontics, we prefer our patients to practice good oral hygiene between office visits. Part of that process includes flossing, which Dr. Michael Willes will tell you, is the process of cleaning between the teeth to remove food and debris from the areas that are hard to reach with a toothbrush. When food is allowed to remain between the teeth, it provides a breeding ground for bacteria, which can cause periodontal disease.

Should you floss before or after brushing?

You can floss either before or after brushing, according to your own preference. By flossing first, you can brush away dislodged food debris afterward. On the other hand, brushing first allows you to loosen plaque between the teeth, making it easier to floss more effectively.

Whichever you choose, the most important goal is to floss thoroughly. That means using a fresh strand of dental floss each day, and carefully pulling it back and forth between all of the teeth. Do not skip flossing because your teeth look or feel clean.

When to Floss

Unlike brushing, you need only floss between your teeth once per day. Although you may choose to do it in the morning or afternoon, many prefer to floss at night to prevent food and debris from remaining in the crevices of the teeth overnight. This could prevent the build-up of plaque too, which is a cause of tooth decay.

Help with Flossing

If you have questions about your flossing technique or what type of floss is best for your teeth, contact our office. Our staff will be more than happy to assist you in perfecting your home hygiene regimen. In most cases, you can choose between interdental cleaning picks or flexible floss strands to perform your daily flossing routine. If you have permanent oral appliances or restorations, be sure to follow the flossing instructions provided to you, and contact our Carlsbad, CA office with any questions.

BRACE Yourself for THE FORCE AWAKENS Patient Appreciation Event Next Week!!

December 11th, 2015

It’s starting to seem real… especially now that we have the actual tickets in-hand for our WillesOrtho THE FORCE AWAKENS Patient and Colleague Appreciation Event on Thursday, December 17th. There are still chances through December 15th to win tickets in our raffle, or by using your own creativity to try and convince Dr. Willes that you really, really deserve to win tickets to this awesome event.

As part of the fun that evening, we’re thrilled to announce that Darth Vader and other members of the Star Wars 501st Legion have accepted our invitation to join us. They will be posing for photos with our patients before the show, and then watching the premier with us. (Dr. Willes’ son, Slade, is an Imperial Guard in the 501st, and has helped make this possible...he's the guy in red, next to Dr. Willes).

Even if you don’t win tickets, feel free to come by the Regal Cinemas Oceanside between 5:30-7:00pm on December 17th for photos and fun.

Contact the office if you have any questions. And, until December 17th, May the Force Be With You!

#WillesOrthoStarWarsTix

My teeth don't line up any more. Why?

December 8th, 2015

If your teeth don't line up like they used to any more, you may be suffering from temporomandibular joint disorder, often called TMD. This is a term that can actually be applied to any condition that occurs because the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is inflamed.

The temporomandibular joint is essentially the hinge that holds your lower jaw to your skull, and when it is inflamed or damaged in any way, it can be extremely painful. You have two temporomandibular joint, one on each side of your jaw, and it is typical to experience TMD in both sides at the same time.

Shifting of the Teeth

The reason that your teeth may not line up as they once did is that the ball and socket joints are often out of alignment and, as mentioned above, often very inflamed as a result. In order to correct the problem, Dr. Michael Willes may prescribe dental orthotics such as a lower jaw splint.

Sometimes, the wisdom teeth can play a role in the shifting of the teeth as well. If shifting wisdom teeth is combined with TMD, it may be necessary to have your wisdom teeth removed. Dental splints may follow if your teeth don't shift back to their proper positions on their own.

TMD is certainly a difficult thing to deal with, so if you experience your teeth shifting, scheduling an appointment at our Carlsbad, CA office is the smartest course. We want to help you get your smile back, so give us a call anytime.

#WillesOrthoStarWarsTix Winners... and more!!

December 5th, 2015

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Our WAN-derful patients have definitely chosen to USE THE FLOSS in creating ver-REY a-MACE-ing entries for our Willes Ortho Star Wars Patient Appreciation contests!! We’ve got to HAN it to you: MAUL the entries are all so ENDOR-able, it’s hard to choose just WAN winner… and often ends in a TIE in the FIGHER for tickets!! WATTO great problem to have!!! Thank you to all of you who are participating… or just enjoying the STAR WARS fun with us!! We HOTH a special congratulations to our Star Wars Craft Week Winner, Harrison S., for his paintings of Yoda, General Grievous, and a tall, DARTH, and handsome Vader. And it should be MANDO-tory for you to check out the video created by brothers Sean and Kyle H. on our Facebook page..they did a great JABBA. (See the list of other recent contest and raffle winners below).
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We also have other fun activities going on at the office this month! Come on in and make your best Candy Jar guess for a chance to win the yummy treats—and our jolly ol’ Christmas Storm Trooper.
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While you’re there, decorate an ornament for our Christmas tree. We will be giving away Star Wars tickets for the best Star Wars themed ornaments this week… as well as other great prizes in several different Classic Christmas categories.
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So come help us make our fir festive this holiday season!! And all month long we wish you Happy HOTH-days!!
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And now, here are the #WillesOrthoStarWarsTix winners:
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Zeke S, Juliette L, Ceara C, Simon R, Ricardo R, Tamara J, Loraine J, Michael G, Haley D, Rachel F, Grant S, Blake S, Peter K, Taylor B, Jen P, Evan M, Shane N, Grant D, Cat B, Mmandajoy, Sally D, Loni G, Madeline C, Sindia Z, Bryce C, Kaiya H, Oceanicia, Offroadcowboy, Rachel W, Chloe N, Susie K, Greg M, Mimi B, Rachel K, Kryslynn L, Talia C, Dylan P, Finnegan B, LaFrana, Adrian A, Caiden C, Jonathon D, Abby, Owen B, Cosplay, Melissa H, Chris R, Katie R, Suzanne F, Gloria K, Colton V
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Electric Toothbrush: How do you choose?

December 1st, 2015

Since the introduction of the power toothbrush in the 1960s, this tool has undergone many technological advances, from design and bristle motions to rotation oscillation and sonic vibration.

What is rotation oscillation? That’s when the head of the toothbrush alternately rotates in one direction and then the other. Power toothbrushes can deliver up to 50,000 strokes per minute, which is much more effective than the average 300 strokes per minute with a manual toothbrush.

A smaller brush head is available for hard-to-reach areas, which is a good alternative for small mouths. The brush heads are replaceable and should be changed every three to six months. Each family member should have his or her own brush head while sharing the base motor. What a great deal! Check the handle size. A large handle is better for members of the household with arthritis, children, or family with other physical disabilities.

A rechargeable toothbrush is ideal. It should deliver enough power on a full charge for one week of brushing.

We recommend you brush for a minimum of two minutes. Some electric toothbrushes include a signal you can hear, such as a beep every 30 seconds, to indicate it's time to switch to a different area of the mouth. Others sound an alert after the full two minutes has elapsed.

Will an electric toothbrush harm the teeth or gums? Studies indicate that people tend to apply more damaging pressure to their teeth and gums during manual brushing than when they use an electric toothbrush. If you experience tooth sensitivity, choose a model with pressure sensors that stop the toothbrush any time you press too hard.

Who would benefit from an electric toothbrush? Everyone! Consumers with a physical disability may have specific needs that power toothbrushes can address. Children also tend to maintain better oral health hygiene when they use an automatic toothbrush. Plus, many of them find it fun to brush!

Automatic toothbrushes really do remove debris better than the old-fashioned way. You may have heard the term “biofilm.” Better known as plaque when it occurs in the mouth, biofilm is the debris and bacteria that cause infections to your teeth. It regenerates quickly, so healthy habits are the best defense for a healthier you! With a healthier mouth, you face a lower risk of gum disease and other conditions like heart disease: mouth health has been linked to heart health.

When you're ready to make your decisions, be a wise comparison shopper. Consult with Dr. Michael Willes at Willes Orthodontics to decide what is best for you!

Star Wars Contest Update!

November 25th, 2015

At this Thanksgiving time, we are so grateful for all our wonderful patients and families!!! And we are having so much fun with your Star Wars contest entries and comments!!! Below are the ticket winners for Nov 15-21. CONGRATULATIONS!!!!

And for those wanting to win this week, post a video showing why you should win tickets. Our favorite one (or few ; ) will win... AND the one with the most likes will win!! Be sure and tag ‪#‎WillesOrthoStarWarsTix.

The winners from last week are.... Trevor W, Kyle H, Rose P, Tom W, Camille G, Zeke S, mrmoe, and fabsoccermom!!!


Thanksgiving

November 24th, 2015

At Willes Orthodontics, we love to celebrate the holidays with vigor! Dr. Michael Willes would love to share some unique ways of celebrating Thanksgiving from beyond the Carlsbad, CA area to the national level!

When Americans sit down to dinner on the last Thursday of November, the day that Abraham Lincoln designated as the day on which Thanksgiving would be celebrated, they do so thinking that the first Thanksgiving feast was held at Plymouth in 1621. According to National Geographic, the Spanish explorer Francisco Vásquez Coronado and his men celebrated a feast of Thanksgiving in Texas in 1541, giving Texas the distinction of being the first place where Thanksgiving was celebrated.

Different Types of Celebrations

Native Americans had rituals around which they celebrated in hopes of ensuring a bountiful harvest. The Cherokees had a Green Corn Dance that they did for this very purpose. The Pilgrims (not to be confused with the Puritans,) rejected any type of public religious display. They held a three-day long non-religious Thanksgiving feast. Although they said grace, the focus of their celebration was on feasting, drinking alcohol (they did have beer,) and playing games.

The Pilgrims at the Plymouth Plantation celebrated a different day of Thanksgiving in 1623. Plagued by a crop-destroying drought, the settlers prayed for relief. They even fasted. A few days later, they got the rain they so desperately needed. Soon thereafter, they received another blessing when Captain Miles Standish came with staples they couldn't otherwise get. He also told them that a Dutch supply ship was en route. In gratitude for the abundance of good fortune, the Plymouth settlers celebrated a day of prayer and Thanksgiving on June 30, 1623.

The Story of Squanto

No discussion of Thanksgiving is complete without a discussion of Squanto, or Tisquantum, as he was known among his people, the Patuxet Indians. It is believed that he was born sometime around 1580. As he returned to his village after a long journey, he and several other Native Americans were kidnapped by Jamestown colonist, Thomas Hunt. Hunt put them on a ship heading to Spain where they were to be sold into slavery.

As fate would have it, some local friars rescued him and many of the other kidnapped natives. Squanto was educated by the friars. Eventually, after asking for freedom so he could return to North America, he ended up in London where he spent time working as a ship builder. By 1619, he was finally able to get passage on a ship headed to New England with other Pilgrims.

Upon arriving at Plymouth Rock, he learned that his entire tribe was wiped out by diseases that accompanied earlier settlers from Europe. In gratitude for passage on their ship, he helped them set up a settlement on the very land where his people once lived. They called the settlement Plymouth. Since they knew nothing about how to survive, let alone how to find food, Squanto taught them everything, from how to plant corn and other crops, how to fertilize them, how and where to get fish and eels and much more.

After a devastating winter during which many settlers died, thanks to Squanto's teaching, they had an abundant harvest. After that harvest, they honored him with a feast. It is this feast of 1621 which was celebrated between the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians that is widely considered the first Thanksgiving celebration.

About the Meal of the Plymouth Settlers

Surviving journals of Edward Winslow that are housed at Plymouth Plantation indicate that the first Thanksgiving feast was nothing like what Americans eat today. The meal consisted of venison, various types of wild fowl (including wild turkey,) and Indian corn. There were no cranberries, stuffing, pumpkin pie, potatoes, or any of the other “traditional” foods that appear on modern menus.

Today, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November, the day that Abraham Lincoln designated as the holiday. It is still a day of feasting, and for some, a day of prayer and thanksgiving. For others, it is a celebration of gathering, especially for families. Still others may celebrate in entirely different ways, including watching college football bowl games, or by playing family games.

If you ever wonder why you're so tired after the Thanksgiving meal, it's because turkey contains an amino acid, tryptophan, and it sets off chemicals whose chain reaction combine to make people sleepy.

Star Wars Patient Appreciation Update!

November 18th, 2015

We have been having such a BLASTER with our Willes Ortho STAR WARS PatientAppreciation Events so far. Here are the entries for our "emBRACE" a StarWars character contest. As you can see, we have artists that R2 creative!!!

Even though there were only five entries, we thought they all did a great JABBA, so we gave two tickets to each participant!!!! CONGRATS to them and everyone else who won tickets this week: Susie K, Melissa H, Tami H, Tery S, Karrie C, Kendra W, and Talia M.

We HOTH lots more ways to win!!! In fact, THIS WEEK'S CONTEST is to post here on Facebook or on Instagram, in 100 words or less, "Why I really, really want to win "WillesOrthoStarWarsTix!"  SITH we only have three entries so far, so you stand a good chance to WINDU...so start writing!!

I have halitosis. What can I do?

November 17th, 2015

Halitosis is the fancy, scientific word for “bad breath.” Dr. Michael Willes and our team know there are several reasons why you may have halitosis; let’s look at a few:

  • Gum disease (also known as periodontal disease) – There are five main types of gum disease, and each one can range from mild to severe. For example the most common one is gingivitis; it is caused by bacteria in the plaque that has been allowed to build up, usually as a result of poor oral hygiene. A more serious and uncommon type of gum disease is called necrotizing periodontal disease. It is most common in people who have a suppressed immune system.
  • Smoking
  • Dry Mouth – This can be caused by something as simple as a medication you take.
  • Food – Of course, if you eat something that is potent like garlic, it is going to give you bad breath.
  • Diseases of the Body – Some diseases such as sinus infections and diabetes, among a few other types of infections, can also cause you to have halitosis.

How to Get Rid of Halitosis

The most obvious answer to how to get rid of halitosis is to practice good oral hygiene, although, depending on the cause of halitosis it may not be that simple. If you have an infection that is causing the halitosis then you may need an antibiotic to clear up the infection and then the bad breath will go away. Here are more tips:

  • Brush your teeth after every meal and before bed.
  • Floss your teeth. The more plaque you get out of your teeth, the better chance you have of not getting cavities or bad breath.
  • Address any medical conditions that are not related to your teeth that can be causing the halitosis.
  • Ask Dr. Michael Willes for a prescription mouthwash that kills bacteria.

Halitosis (bad breath) can be an embarrassing condition to live with, but there are plenty of ways to get rid of it permanently. Start by talking to a member of our team at our Carlsbad, CA office.

TMD Problems and How You Can Prevent Them

November 10th, 2015

Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) describe a set of conditions that involve trouble with your jaw and face muscles. They result from a problem in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), which is a hinge that connects the temporal bones, in your skull in front of each ear, to your jaw. The joint enables you to talk, yawn, and chew by letting your mouth move.

TMD can be very painful and interfere with functions such as eating and speaking. This what to watch for and how to try to prevent TMD.

Risk Factors for TMD

You are at higher risk for TMD if you are a women than if you are male. The disorder is most common among adults between the ages of 20 and 40 years. Other risk factors for TMJ disorders include the following.

  • Arthritis in the area, making movement more difficult
  • Excessive tooth grinding, because it increases stress on the joint
  • General stress, which can lead you to clench your teeth and strain facial muscles

Symptoms of TMD

Symptoms of TMD can last for just a short while, or for several years. Seeing Dr. Michael Willes is important if your symptoms make it impossible for you to eat regularly or if you have unbearable pain or discomfort. The following symptoms can occur on both or one side of your face.

  • Aching or very tired facial muscles
  • Jaws that are fixed open or shut without you being able to unlock them
  • Grating or popping sounds when you chew or close or open your mouth
  • Pain in the entire area, including the mouth, jaw, neck, or shoulders, that comes on when you chew or yawn

Preventing TMD

You can try to prevent TMD by focusing on reducing risk factors. If you grind your teeth at night, ask Dr. Michael Willes about wearing a mouthguard. If you are overly stressed, look into ways to better manage your stress and relax your muscles. Another strategy for trying to prevent the development of TMD is to avoid chewing gum, since that puts stress on your jaw.

If you have questions about TMD, don’t hesitate to contact our Carlsbad, CA office.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...

November 7th, 2015

...a legend began. This December, the saga continues. And YOU can be a part of the opening night celebration with Willes Orthodontics!

WIN STAR WARS OPENING NIGHT TICKETS

We at Willes Orthodontics are thrilled to have 200  Star Wars Opening Night tickets to award to our  patients… and we’ve had a blast thinking of creative  ways for you to win them!! For the next six weeks, we  will be holding weekly raffle drawings, with lots of  ways for you to enter, and we also have ways you can  win them outright as you help us spread the word  about Willes Orthodontics. So…BRACE YOURSELF  for our Willes Ortho THE FORCE AWAKENS Patient Appreciation Event!!

...

WAYS TO BE ENTERED INTO OUR WEEKLY DRAWINGS

INSTANT ENTRY OPTIONS: EVERYONE who wants to be entered into the drawing for our weekly ticket giveaways can do one the following…

-Fill out an entry slip at the OFFICE

-Like us on our WillesOrtho FACEBOOK

-Follow us on WillesOrtho INSTAGRAM

...

BONUS ENTRY OPTIONS: Increase your chances to win by earning bonus raffle tickets in the following ways:

-Come to your appointment on time, with clean teeth and braces and nothing broken, having faithfully worn your rubber bands, and rocking a happy smile!!

-Enter the various Star Wars contests we will be hosting all month. (See calendar on back.)

-Share our Star Wars posts, using the tag #WillesOrthoStarWarsTix.

-Comment on Facebook or Instagram with Star Wars puns, jokes, fun facts or sayings, using the tag #WillesOrthoStarWarsTix.

-Respond to random, fun Facebook or Instagram calls-to-action.

-Post a picture of you wearing a Willes Ortho t-shirt with the hashtag #WillesOrthoStarWarsTix.

...

WAYS TO DEFINITELY WIN TICKETS

(For those who REALLY want to be there on opening night!)

-WIN one of the WEEKLY Willes Ortho Star Wars contests we will be hosting. (See calendar on back, and stay tuned for specific details each week!)

-Refer a friend who is new to the practice and who has their orthodontic consultation* with Dr. Willes between November 9th and December 15th.  (*Responsible-party adult must be present.)

...

CONTEST CALENDAR

Each contest WINNER will win two tickets, and each participant will earn a raffle entry.

Nov 9-13

EmBRACE a Star Wars character by adding braces to a Star Wars image or object, and post your artwork on Facebook or Instagram, tagged with #WillesOrthoStarWarsTix. You may also bring your creation to the office.

Nov 16-20

Post on Facebook or Instagram in 100 words or less, “Why I really, really want to win #WillesOrthoStarWarsTix.” You may also drop off a copy at the office.

Nov 23-27

Make a video showing why you should win tickets, and share it to our Facebook page, tagging us with #WillesOrthoStarWarsTix. Our favorite video wins… AND the one with the most LIKES wins.

Nov 30-Dec 4

Create a Star Wars craft: sculpt, paint, cut, rhyme, sew, carve, glue, photograph, illustrate, etc…to show us how much you love Star Wars. Turn in your masterpiece at the office.

Dec 7-11

Decorate a Star Wars themed ornament for our tree—bedazzle it at the office or make it at home.

Dec 14-17

Use your own creativity to show how badly you really, really, really want tickets…and try to WIN Dr. Willes over!

...

DISCLAIMER

Willes Orthodontics reserves the right to clarify, amend, or discontinue this contest at any time.  Any changes will be published on Facebook, Instagram, and posted in the office. Ticket quantities are limited; once the available tickets have been distributed, the contest is over.

...

We don’t want to let another DAGOBAH without letting our patients know how much we really ENDOR you!! Our FIRST ORDER of business is to tell you we think you’re HAN in a million. In fact, we think perhaps YODA the right person to win opening night tickets to Star Wars: The Force Awakens! And if not this week, there’s always A NEW HOPE for next week. Even if you don’t usually like contests, this is not the time to be an eVADER. OBI a good sport and just try! (Um... Wait…You should DO! THERE IS NO TRY!) Best of luck and may the FLOSS BE WITH YOU!!

Candy Buy Back!

October 30th, 2015

EWWWWWW ARE INVITED TO OUR FANG-TASTIC HALLOWEEN CANDY BUY-BACK!!

On November 4th, we have our 17th ANNUAL HALLOWEEN CANDY BUY BACK!! It’s a SPOOKtacular event--a FRIGHTFULLY fun day in WITCH kids earn money and prizes while also getting rid of the SCARY, sticky candy they’ve been GOBLIN up for days. Although it’s still a few days away, it's CREEPing up on us quickly, so it’s never too EERIE to make CHILL-dren BEWARE of the event.

We don’t want to leave you in the DARK, so here is the inSPIDER information…we’ll SPELL it OWL out for you: It’s for boys and GHOULS, and MUMMIES and daddies, and everyone! You’re probably wondering HOWL long it will last—from 3:30pm-5:30pm.

And it doesn’t COSTUME a thing. In fact, we’ll be paying them a MONSTROUS amount--$2 a pound. And that GHOSTS for everyone. But that’s only a POTION of the event…we’ll also pay $2 a pound to participating SKULLS….um….schools! (And donate the TREATS to Brother Benno’s food kitchen.)

Sorry that we can’t MASK our excitement, but, to make no BONES about it, we think you AUTUMN come--and tell everyone about it! So, our hope is that we can CAULDRON you to help spread the word. Not that it’s a GRAVE matter, but the BUY-BACK is a HOOT and a healthy way to end the Halloween season.

Hopefully, we haven’t made you too BATTY with our TERRIFYING puns; we’re just CREATURES of habit and have HAUNTED all over for the right WARTS to tell you about it.  But, to be perfectly PRANK with you, we not sure HOWL or why we chose to CARVE out so much time to BRAINstorm these FRIGHTENING phrases. (ORANGE you gonna be glad when we’re done?!)

Well, we don’t have the WEREWOLF-all to think of any more TERROR-ble puns, so we’ll wrap it up before you SCREAM! (Isn’t the end of this note a BOO-tiful thing?!) Thank you for helping us get in the SPIRIT of Halloween in a way WITCH also provides a service to our community.

Willes Orthodontics Contests!

October 28th, 2015

Halloween is CREEPING up on us fast! That means you only have few more days to participate in one of our FANG-tastic contests....

First, decorate a ‪#‎willesortho‬ t-shirt for Halloween and WIN $50. See these SPOOKTACULAR examples to get your creative juices flowing!

And, as always.... Guess How Many Pieces of Candy are in the Jar! The closest guess wins the jar of candy, a toothbrush, and this super GHOUL Halloween Darth Vader.

Swing by the office anytime to pick up a shirt and place a guess for the candy! WITCH one will you win?

The Intriguing History of Halloween

October 27th, 2015

Halloween is fast approaching, and Dr. Michael Willes wanted to be sure to wish our patients a happy day, no matter how you might celebrate this holiday. The Halloween that is familiar to most people today bears little resemblance to the original Halloween; back in the "old days" it wasn't even called Halloween!

Festival of the Dead

Halloween started out as a Celtic festival of the dead that honored departed loved ones and signified a change in the cycle of the seasons. The Celtic people viewed Halloween, then called "Samhain," as a very special day – almost like our New Years day in fact, as their new calendar year began on November 1st. Samhain was the last day of autumn, so it was the time to harvest the last of the season's crops, store food away for winter, and situate livestock comfortably for the upcoming cold weather. The Celts believed that during this day, the last day of winter, the veil between this world and the spirit world is the thinnest, and that the living could communicate with departed loved ones most effectively on Samhain due to this.

Modern Halloween

Halloween as we know it today started because Christian missionaries were working to convert the Celtic people to Christianity. The Celts believed in religious concepts that were not supported by the Christian church, and these practices, which stemmed from Druidism, were perceived by the Christian church as being "devil worship" and dangerous.

When Pope Gregory the First instructed his missionaries to work at converting the Pagan people, he told them to try to incorporate some of the Pagan practices into Christian practices in a limited way. This meant that November 1st became "All Saints Day," which allowed Pagan people to still celebrate a beloved holiday without violating Christian beliefs.

Today, Halloween has evolved into a day devoted purely to fun, candy, and kids. What a change from its origins! We encourage all of our patients to have fun during the holiday, but be safe with the treats. Consider giving apples or fruit roll-ups to the kids instead of candy that is potentially damaging to the teeth and gums.

Remind kids to limit their candy and brush after eating it! Sweets can cause major tooth decay and aggrivate gum disease, so to avoid extra visits to our Carlsbad, CA office, make your Halloween a safe one!

What happens if I have an orthodontic emergency while I'm on vacation?

October 20th, 2015

At Willes Orthodontics, there are a few things we want to remind you of when you're on vacation, so that a day with friends and family won’t be spent dealing with an orthodontic emergency. Firstly, we are here for you whether you are in town or out of town on vacation. Give us a call and we may be able to address the problem over the phone. Second, if we are unable to help you fix the problem over the phone, we will help you find an orthodontic practice in your vacation area that can help you.

If you experience problems reaching our office, we suggest going online and searching for orthodontic practices in your area. Most orthodontists will lend a helping hand to another orthodontic patient and get them out of pain or discomfort.

If you have braces, whether they are metal, ceramic, or lingual, Dr. Michael Willes and our team suggest steering clear of the following foods to avoid broken brackets and/or wire distortion while you are on vacation:

  • Chewy, sticky, or gummy food
  • Apples, pears and other whole fruits (cut fruit into thin wedges before consuming)
  • Bagels and hard rolls
  • Bubble gum
  • Corn on the cob
  • Hard candies
  • Hard cookies
  • Pretzels
  • All varieties of nuts, including peanuts, almonds, and cashews

Finally, if you have clear aligners and you lose your tray, don’t worry! Simply put in either the previous tray or the next tray and contact us as soon as you get home!

Follow these tips and you can have a worry-free vacation!

Win Star Wars: The Force Awakens Tickets!

October 19th, 2015

For our STAR patients!!!!
BEFORE tickets are available to the general public, Willes Orthodontics has secured more than 200 STARWARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS tickets for our AWESOME patients on opening night, Thursday, December 17th!
Watch our WillesOrtho Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook page for details on how to win, earn, or otherwise reserve yours, beginning in November. (We will have tons of fun ways but because we don't have an unlimited number of tickets, we do have to get creative with distribution criteria. So you may want to start posting to our social media, referring friends, writing reviews, flossing your teeth, making up Star Wars puns, taking selfies wearing Willes t-shirts, honing your Jedi arts and crafts skills, not breaking any appliances, diligently wearing your rubberbands, etc. ;) ).
May the force be with all of our out-of-this world Willes Ortho patients!!!
(Details are NOT yet available by calling the office...so stay informed through social media.)

What makes teeth crooked?

October 13th, 2015

Dr. Michael Willes and our team hear this question a lot. Some of the common reasons for crooked teeth include:

  • Thumb sucking
  • Tongue thrusting or improper use of the tongue during speaking and swallowing
  • Premature loss of baby teeth, which causes teeth to drift and shift
  • Poor breathing airway caused by enlarged adenoids or tonsils

There are also hereditary factors we get from our parents, like:

  • Extra teeth
  • Large teeth
  • Missing teeth
  • Wide spaces between teeth
  • Small jaws

Dr. Michael Willes and our team know that having crooked teeth isn’t just a cosmetic issue; it can lead to serious health problems as well. Crooked teeth can:

  • Interfere with proper chewing
  • Make keeping teeth clean more of a challenge, increasing the risk of tooth decay, cavities, and gingivitis
  • Strain the teeth, jaws, and muscles, increasing the risk of breaking a tooth

There are several treatment options we offer at Willes Orthodontics that can help correct crooked teeth. Please give us a call at our convenient Carlsbad, CA office to learn more or to schedule an initial consultation.

October is National Orthodontic Health Month

October 6th, 2015

What does the month of October mean to you? For people in the northern hemisphere, October is when the weather starts to get a little chilly: heavy jackets might come out of storage and the summer clothing gets packed away. You might start making plans for the upcoming holidays or looking at the beautiful and changing autumn scenery. October means something a little different to our team at Willes Orthodontics because this is National Orthodontic Health Month. During October, orthodontic clinics all over the country work together to promote their services and inform the community about the important work we do.

National Orthodontic Health Month is an awareness campaign created cooperatively by orthodontists and other dental health professionals. During this month, we make a special effort to promote dental health and orthodontic health in particular. This is a great time to get your questions answered by dental professionals in your community and to learn more about exactly what an orthodontist can do for you and your family. Events held in connection with National Orthodontic Health Month are also an opportunity for us orthodontists to come out and meet community members. If you have never been to an orthodontist before, you might not know what to expect. Meeting one of us in person before your checkup is a great way to find out what kind of person you’ll be seeing during your appointment.

Meeting Dr. Michael Willes in a relaxed “meet and greet” atmosphere can be especially helpful for any young orthodontic patients in your family. Kids of all ages–and their parents!–can feel anxiety about going to the dentist. Getting to know the person you have an appointment with can make the experience a lot less stressful for everyone. We don't want anyone to avoid seeing a dental professional for regular checkups just because they don't know who we are. Just meeting and talking with the orthodontist you'll be seeing may be enough to make you feel more comfortable about your upcoming appointment.

Dental health is something that affects everyone; healthy teeth and gums contribute to a healthy smile and a lifetime of comfort and well-being. Orthodontists are just one of the various dental practitioners you could visit at some point in your life, so taking a little time to learn who we are and what we do is certain to be a helpful experience. We look forward to seeing you and your family this October at our Carlsbad, CA location!

Making Your Life Better with Orthodontics

September 29th, 2015

The number one goal of orthodontic treatment is to give you or your child a beautiful, healthy smile that will last a lifetime. One of the first things people notice about others is their smiles so take the first step towards getting the smile you’ve always wanted and make your initial consultation at Willes Orthodontics

A good bite not only makes it easier to eat and speak, but will enhance your dental and overall health as well. Straight teeth aren’t just pretty, they’re healthy as well. Teeth that are properly aligned are easier to clean reducing the risk of gingivitis and periodontal disease. 

Let your smile express yourself! Give us a call at our convenient Carlsbad, CA office to schedule your consultation today!

 

Are braces ruining your photos?

September 22nd, 2015

While it’s normal to feel self-conscious, there is no reason to avoid photos just because you wear braces. Many people wear braces and you do not need to be embarrassed about them. There are also ways you can enjoy your photos without hiding your smile.

Make it Fun

Dr. Michael Willes and our staff offer rubber bands for braces in a wide range of colors. Choose your favorite color and wear it with pride. You can mix and match your colors too. For Valentine’s Day, try alternating red and pink bands. For the Fourth of July, use red, white, and blue!

Bands are also available in neon colors and glow-in-the-dark designs. Your imagination is the only thing holding you back. You might want to avoid using dark green bands, though. It makes it look as though you have broccoli stuck in your teeth. Gross!

Make them Disappear

If your braces still really bother you in photos, technology can quickly solve the problem. A photo-editing program, or even a simple paint program, can easily erase your braces. Zoom in on your teeth, pick your natural tooth color with the dropper, and paint your braces away.

If you have a significant amount of metal in your braces, try to avoid close-ups with flash. The flash can reflect off the metal. The important thing to remember is how good your teeth will look and feel once your orthodontic work is complete. Dr. Michael Willes and our staff can also show you options for braces that are not as visible as the traditional style.

When You Need Immediate Care, We are Here for You

September 15th, 2015

At Willes Orthodontics, we know orthodontic emergencies are neither convenient nor timely. If you are a patient of record, Dr. Michael Willes and our team are more than willing to see you after hours or over the weekend. As a general rule, you should call our Carlsbad, CA office when you experience severe pain or when you have a painful appliance problem that you can’t take care of yourself. We’ll be able to schedule an appointment to resolve the problem. If you have an orthodontic emergency after regular office hours, please give us a call and follow the emergency prompts to contact one of our doctors.

Do I really need to wear my rubber bands with my braces?

September 8th, 2015

Most of our patients at Willes Orthodontics will need to wear rubber bands at some point during their orthodontic treatment. The main reason our patients are instructed to wear rubber bands is to correct their bite. If your teeth do not fit together properly, Dr. Michael Willes will recommend that rubber bands be used. Dr. Michael Willes may also recommend using rubber bands to close or open spaces.

Rubber bands are a critical part of your treatment, and wearing them as Dr. Michael Willes and our team recommend will help move your teeth into the desired position. Dr. Michael Willes may ask you to wear your rubber bands full time, meaning that they should only be taken out when you brush and floss your teeth three times a day. Other times, you may be asked to only wear them part-time, like only during the day or only during sleep.

If you still have any questions about orthodontic rubber bands, we invite you to give us a call or ask us during your next adjustment appointment. Remember, wearing rubber bands as prescribed by Dr. Michael Willes is an important step during your treatment, and can reduce the time you have your braces. If you lose your rubber bands or run out, stop by our Carlsbad, CA office and pick up more!

Labor Day: Our favorite holiday to rest!

September 1st, 2015

Labor Day, celebrated on the first Monday each September here in the United States, is a holiday devoted to the American working community. The purpose of the holiday is honoring the country's workers and their contributions to the strength of our country as a whole.

How Labor Day Started

There is actually some debate as to the origins of Labor Day. It is uncertain whether Peter McGuire, a cofounder for the American Federation of Labor, or Matthew Maguire, who was the secretary of Central Labor Union of New York, had the great idea. However, the Central Labor Union's plans were what launched the first Labor Day in America.

The First Labor Day

The very first Labor Day was celebrated on September 5th, 1882. The Central Labor Union then held annual celebrations on September 5th for what they called a working man's holiday. By the year 1885, the Labor Day celebration had spread to many different industrial areas, and after that it began spreading to all industries in the United States.

Labor Day Today

Labor Day today is a huge United States holiday during which we honor the country's workers with a day of rest and relaxation or a day of picnics and parades. This holiday is truly one to honor the many people who work hard to contribute to the economic well-being of our great country!

Our team at Willes Orthodontics hopes all of our patients celebrate Labor Day, and every holiday, safely and happily. Whether you stay in the Carlsbad, CA area, or travel out of town, have fun, and don't forget to brush!

Looking Back at the Old Days of Braces

August 25th, 2015

Braces can be painful, but if you are a teen who loves being social, the worst part about them can be their look. They show up in your photos, and you will not be able to take braces-free photos for several months, or even years. The time will pass, though, and your teeth will be the better for it. In the meantime, consider the other people who have survived braces.

Plenty of People Get Braces

There are many reasons for getting braces:

  • Correct an overbite or underbite
  • Straighten teeth
  • Fix poorly-spaced teeth

With so many possible ways to get braces, it’s no surprise that they are so common.

Find Out Who Had Braces

The long lists of celebrities who had braces as teenagers or even adults can give you the comfort of knowing you are in good company. Even better, these lists provide visible proof that there is life on the other side of braces. Actors and actresses on the Cosby Show, Scrubs, and Ugly Betty, as well as tennis star Martina Hingis and Miss America 1975, Shirley Cothran, had braces. Ask your parents. If they didn’t have braces, there is a good chance that some of their siblings did.

Benefits of Braces

Wearing braces can make your life a lot better in the future. Your teeth will be more attractive, and your smile will shine through in photos of you. Straight teeth are not just about looks, though. They can prevent a variety of health problems, such as caries, gum disease, speech impairments, and trouble chewing. Be patient, and the benefits of braces will come.

Too old for braces? You Might be Surprised

August 18th, 2015

Although adolescence is a common time to get braces, there’s no reason for adults of any age to have to deal with crooked teeth, overbite, underbite, or other dental issues. In fact, the American Association of Orthodontists notes that demand for orthodontic treatment in adults continues to grow, with adults representing 20% of new patients.

You’re never too old for braces or other orthodontic appliances, but it’s important to consider the following:

  1. Braces don’t have to be as noticeable as the metal brackets of the past. Many adults opt for ceramic or plastic braces, which are bone-colored or clear, respectively. Another option is a lingual appliance, which attaches to the back side of your teeth. These so-called “invisible” braces are much less noticeable than traditional options.
  2. By adulthood, bone growth has stopped. This means that certain structural changes can only be achieved by surgery. Although this typically affects people with significant crowding, bite, or jaw problems, Dr. Michael Willes can provide an individualized treatment plan that addresses your unique issues.
  3. Treatment may take a bit longer. The length of orthodontic treatment tends to be slightly longer for adults than adolescents. Exact estimates vary by individual, but the average length of time for adult braces wearers is two years, according to the Harvard Medical School.
  4. Outcomes are just as good for adults! Many adults worry that it’s too late to treat their orthodontic problems. However, treatment satisfaction tends to be very high, which is a testament to how effective braces can be in middle-aged and older adults.

What is a palatal expander?

August 11th, 2015

If Dr. Michael Willes and our team at Willes 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 Carlsbad, CA office!

Braces-Friendly Snack Ideas

August 4th, 2015

Wearing braces limits some of the snacks you can eat. However, you still have plenty of choices for fun and healthy foods that will not harm your braces. You can even enjoy a few crunchy treats as long as you choose them carefully.

Sweet Treats

Puddings provide a sweet and safe snack while you are wearing braces. You can even select flavored puddings such as caramel to satisfy the urge for items you should not eat. They can be purchased already made or whipped up at home. You can even select low-sugar varieties that still taste good. Ice cream and yogurt are also choices; just avoid products with nuts.

Healthy Snacks

Fruits are excellent for a healthy snack. You just need to avoid biting into hard fruits such as whole apples. You can avoid the problem with fruit cocktails packed in water. Cocktails still have the nutritional benefits and flavor, but contain softer pieces. Avoid fruits packed in heavy syrup, though; these tend to have too much sugar.

Crunchy or Salty Snacks

Not all crunchy foods are bad; you just need to limit the crunch. Walnuts are a softer nut that can normally be eaten safely. Small cheese crackers satisfy the need for crunchy and salty. You can also allow pieces to dissolve slightly in your mouth before chewing, to reduce any risk.

Soft granola bars are also an option. Check the granola ingredients to ensure there are no large nut pieces, and brush your teeth afterwards. Otherwise pieces can become stuck in your dental work.

If you have any questions about safe snacks, do not hesitate to ask Dr. Michael Willes and our staff.

How to Avoid Delays During Your Orthodontic Treatment

July 28th, 2015

Our patients at Willes Orthodontics hate the thought of delaying their treatments and often ask us what they can do in between their adjustment visits to help. Today, Dr. Michael Willes and our team thought we would provide some tips on how you can stay on track in regards to your treatment plan time.

The first thing we want you to do is keep your adjustment appointments. Each visit with Dr. Michael Willes is carefully planned to move your teeth a specific way in a certain time frame. It’s important to note that missing an appointment can add weeks or months to your treatment time.

Next, we want you to let Dr. Michael Willes and our team know right away if your experience any problems with your braces or appliances. A missing wire, rubber band, or broken bracket can delay treatment time, so we ask that you please give us a call right away to report any issues rather than waiting until your next visit.

Make sure you wear your rubber bands as prescribed by Dr. Michael Willes. Most, if not all, of our patients will need to wear elastics or rubber bands at some point during their treatment. Not wearing the bands or elastics, or not wearing them enough, can slow down your treatment time. Rubber bands are critical in aligning your bite and are important for the bite-fixing phase of your treatment.

Finally, we want you to maintain good oral hygiene, just as you did before your treatment began. In addition to flossing regularly, we encourage you to brush your teeth several times a day. Not brushing will allow sugar to wear away the cement on the braces, making them less effective in moving your teeth, as well as elevate your risk of developing cavities or tooth decay, which will inevitably delay treatment time.

If you have any questions about any of these tips, or if you have any general questions about your treatment, please give us a call at our convenient Carlsbad, CA office, or ask Dr. Michael Willes during your next adjustment visit!

The Importance of Orthodontic Treatment at a Young Age

July 21st, 2015

When you think of orthodontic treatment, you may automatically assume that it only relates to older children and teens with alignment and spacing issues. But this isn’t the case: Orthodontic treatment at Willes Orthodontics offers many benefits when applied at a young age.

By considering orthodontic treatment at a younger age, Dr. Michael Willes and our staff are able to identify your child’s alignment issues early on, and are able to intervene in order to provide treatment as the teeth begin to develop. It is important to start dental care early, not only for proper dental health and the cosmetic benefits, but to improve a child’s overall health as well.

The Benefits of Straighter Teeth

Besides the cosmetic benefits, there are multiple advantages to starting orthodontic treatment at a young age:

  • It can reduce the extent of orthodontic treatment needed later.
  • With early treatment, the pediatric dentist helps guide the teeth into their right position to prevent the removal of teeth and improve an overbite, underbite, or crossbite.
  • Straighter teeth are easier to clean and better for preventing tooth decay.
  • As a benefit to you, the parent, your child’s orthodontic expenses will be much lower with early treatment.
  • Lastly, much early treatment is covered by dental insurance.

Stages of Orthodontic Treatment

Multiple stages are included in early orthodontic treatment, with three stages in all:

The first stage is early treatment that starts around age two or three, and continues until the child is around six years old. This stage deals with preventive measures, such as avoiding bad habits that lead to crooked teeth and creating a plan for the future based on how the teeth are growing in.

During stage two, when the child is six to 12 years old, the first permanent teeth erupt and the dentist looks at possible early treatment for misalignment or bite issues.

Finally, stage three occurs during adolescence to correct any further problems with permanent teeth.

Dr. Michael Willes and our staff are able to see how the teeth first erupt and know right away whether or not your child will need to have braces later on. Early treatment means fewer procedures, cleaner teeth, and less expense.

What’s so great about an orthodontist?

July 14th, 2015

A lot of our patients are curious about the difference between an orthodontist and a dentist. In fact, one of the most common questions we hear at Willes Orthodontics is, “Dentists and orthodontists are all the same, right?”

A general dentist is your primary dental care provider. Dentists diagnose, treat, and manage your overall oral healthcare needs, including gum care, root canals, fillings, crowns, veneers, and bridges.

Orthodontists, such as Dr. Michael Willes, are more concerned with diagnosis, prevention, interception, and treatment of malocclusion, or what we call “bad bite,” of the teeth. Orthodontists focus on tooth and jaw alignment and bite problems such as overbites and underbites, and are responsible for straightening teeth via bands, wires, braces, and other fixed or removable corrective treatment options, like braces and clear aligners. Orthodontists treat children as well as adults who wish to improve the function of their bite and appearance of their smile.

Before becoming an orthodontist, doctors such as Dr. Michael Willes start out in dental school and earn a dental degree, just like your general dentist. After dental school, those doctors who decide they are interested in the orthodontic field, stay in school for a few more years and become experts in orthodontia, which is one of nine specialties within the dental field.

Isn’t it nice to know we have orthodontic experts here at Willes Orthodontics to help you through any type of treatment your teeth and jaw might need? To schedule your initial appointment at our Carlsbad, CA office, please give us a call today!

Five Great Reasons to Visit Our Practice this Summer

July 7th, 2015

We’ve heard all the reasons why folks put off scheduling an orthodontic consultation: not quite ready to begin treatment, vacations, busy schedules, financial concerns, etc.

Here are five reasons why you shouldn’t delay another day to make an appointment for yourself or your child with Dr. Michael Willes.

1. Growth – there is a window of opportunity during growth when an orthopedic appliance can change the direction of jaw growth and dramatically improve your child’s case. Once this time has passed, the correction becomes harder and may involve extraction of teeth or even worse, a surgical procedure to properly align the jaws.

2. Scheduling – Summertime is the perfect time to begin orthodontic treatment, because your child doesn’t have to miss school, especially for those longer appointments needed at the start of treatment.

3. Early Diagnosis – Many times, early interceptive treatment at Willes Orthodontics can dramatically improve the alignment of your child’s teeth and jaws. If baby teeth need to be extracted in order to allow the permanent teeth to erupt, timing is everything. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children receive an orthodontic consultation as early as age seven.

4. Financial Concerns – We offer several flexible payment plans which can be extended over your or your child’s treatment time.

5. A Lifetime of Smiles – Why wait when you can enjoy the many benefits of a beautiful and functional smile now. The sooner you get started the sooner you will be showing everyone your world-class smile.

Give us a call at our convenient Carlsbad, CA office to book your initial consulation with Dr. Michael Willes.

Fun Facts for the Fourth

June 30th, 2015

The Fourth of July is a great time to get together with friends and family members for BBQ, games, fireworks, and other celebrations in honor of our country’s independence. While your fellow revelers eat hot dogs and wave flags, you can impress them by sharing these fascinating facts and historical tidbits about some of our country’s traditions and symbols from the team at Willes Orthodontics.

The Statue of Liberty

With a torch in one hand and a tablet in the other, the Statue of Liberty is one of the most iconic and recognizable symbols of our country. However, as recognizable as certain parts of the statue are, not many people know that broken shackles, which represent oppression and tyranny, are lying at Lady Liberty’s feet. According to the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, the copper-plated lady weighs in at a whopping 450,000 tons and has been holding her torch up for more than 125 years, which must make for some impressive arm muscles.

Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest

Since 1916, people have been flocking to Coney Island on the Fourth of July to witness what some people call the “superbowl of competitive eating.” Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating contest challenges competitors to devour as many hot dogs as they can in just ten minutes, with the current record holder swallowing a whopping 68 hot dogs! If you’d like to witness this bizarre and frenzied eating competition but you won’t be anywhere near Coney Island on the fourth, don’t worry. ESPN has been broadcasting this popular event for several years, so you can watch from the comfort of your couch while you eat a reasonably portioned meal.

The History Behind Fireworks

Viewing the nighttime fireworks display is exciting way to finish off the fourth. Many people know that these brilliant displays probably originated with the Chinese. However, many historians also believe that fireworks were stumbled upon when the Chinese roasted bamboo sticks over fires and watched them explode. After many years of roasting the sticks, a group of alchemists created an early form of gunpowder, which they stuffed into the bamboo sticks to create an even more powerful explosion, paving the way for the today’s modern fireworks.

Whether you’re planning on visiting the Statue of Liberty, watching fireworks in Carlsbad, CA, or even participating in a hot dog eating contest, Dr. Michael Willes and our team hope you have a safe and fun-filled holiday. Happy Fourth of July!

No Wooden Teeth, Please! Why Oral Health is So Important

June 23rd, 2015

Your teeth are precious. Once your permanent teeth come in, they need to last you a lifetime. Extensive tooth decay can lead to dental caries and the need for fillings, crowns, bridges, and dentures.

While these fixes can go a long way toward maintaining your quality of life, they cannot compare to your natural teeth. Getting braces is no excuse to let up on your thorough oral health routine: You need to take good care of your teeth before, during, and after braces to benefit completely from the gains you get from newly straightened teeth.

Why You Should Maintain Good Oral Health for Life

Begin a complete oral health regimen as early as possible in life, and maintain this routine throughout your life. Keeping your (or your child’s baby) teeth clean establishes a routine. It preserves healthy baby teeth whose function is to save space for the permanent teeth when they are ready to come in. Care of your permanent teeth helps preserve the enamel and prevent decay.

Take Special Care with Braces

It is important to pay attention to oral health when you have braces. If you do not take special care of your teeth during the months or years that you have braces, you risk irreversible damage to your teeth. Care is more difficult with braces because food can easily get stuck. In addition to brushing twice daily and flossing each day, Dr. Michael Willes and our staff suggest avoiding sticky foods.

Questions, questions…

June 16th, 2015

When beginning orthodontic treatment, most patients ask Dr. Michael Willes and our team a lot of questions about what to expect, while others choose to just "go with the flow" and leave it to us to build for them a beautiful smile. And for our team at Willes Orthodontics, that's understandable.

But for those who do ask questions, two of the ones we frequently hear are "Will my braces hurt?" and "How long will these be on?"

We explain to our patients that despite what they've heard, braces do not hurt when they're initially put on. Yes, you will experience soreness after your braces are placed and when your teeth start to move. Too often, our patients hear horror stories about how much it hurts to get the braces on, so they tend to over-worry. The truth is, after their braces are on, almost all patients say "that's it?" because it's actually easy and painless!

At Willes Orthodontics, we answer most of your other questions during your initial exam. When a patient visits our office for the first time, we give him or her a time estimate of how long it will take to achieve their ideal smile. All other questions are answered at the bonding appointment when the braces are placed. We cover all the topics, everything from eating to brushing with braces, but we also know that after your initial appointment, it's natural for you to have questions about your or your child's treatment. And we are always here for you; we are thorough and always try to answer any questions or concerns you may have. As a patient, that's one thing you never have to worry about. You will always know what's going on throughout your orthodontic experience.

A Helpful Site on Orthodontics

June 9th, 2015

As you are undergoing orthodontic treatment, our team at Willes Orthodontics would like to point you to a helpful website. Our friends at the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) have lots of important information about everything relating to braces, including myths and facts of orthodontics, tips for a better orthodontic experience, and cool webisodes about orthodontics.

Check out AAO today and feel free to contact us at our Carlsbad, CA office if you have any questions.

Dr. Michael Willes and our team at Willes Orthodontics hope this information helps you!

What if I miss an appointment over the summer?

June 2nd, 2015

If you are planning on taking a vacation this summer, we ask that you let us know ahead of time so that we may schedule your summer appointments more efficiently. We also encourage patients and their parents to be proactive in determining when they make their summer appointments.

If you will be gone for an extended period (more than six weeks), we recommend you visit Willes Orthodontics prior to leaving and schedule another visit shortly after your return. Lastly, please remember not to indulge in hard, sticky, and chewy treats while enjoying your vacation. We look forward to seeing you soon and hearing about your adventures!

How to Floss with Braces

May 26th, 2015

The Willes Orthodontics team knows that oral hygiene is important, whether you have braces on your teeth or not. But if you are a person who wears braces, caring for your teeth and gums can become somewhat challenging. Without daily oral hygiene practices, you may become prone to cavities and tooth decay during your time in braces.

Naturally, you know that brushing your teeth each morning and night, as well as after you eat, will help keep your mouth healthy and clean during the months you wear braces. But flossing is also an important part of your hygiene routine. Flossing with braces can be tricky, but it’s not impossible. Dr. Michael Willes, your general dentist, or your dental hygienist can help you become more comfortable and adept at flossing your teeth during the months you wear braces.

Flossing Tips for Those with Braces

  • Use Tools Provided by Our Office. A floss threader is a small, plastic needle that will help you floss between the wires and your teeth. Thread a 12-to-18-inch piece of floss onto the needle, and use the needle to get the floss easily behind the wires.
  • Flossing Under the Wires. Once the floss is behind the wires, use your hands to manipulate the floss. Move it up and down along the wires to remove food particles.
  • Flossing Between Your Teeth. Floss between your teeth as you normally would without braces. Move the floss up and down between your teeth, using a clean section of floss for each tooth.
  • After You Finish Flossing. Your orthodontist may have suggested that you use a water pik or proxy brush after you finish brushing. Either of these tools will help remove any loosened food particles to ensure that your teeth and braces are clean.

Continue Good Oral Hygiene Habits

Good oral hygiene habits you use while wearing braces will help you achieve the beautiful smile you and the Willes Orthodontics team have been working toward. Once your braces are off, it may be tempting to slack off on the brushing and flossing. Don’t let yourself fall into any habits that will have a negative impact on your oral health or the attractive smile you waited for throughout the months you wore braces. See your general dentist for regular cleanings, and continue to brush and floss your teeth each day.

Memorial Day

May 19th, 2015

Memorial Day is not only a federal holiday in the United States, but it is a day of observance and remembrance of those who died in service. Originally known as Decoration Day, this solemn day has been marked on calendars since the end of the American Civil War as a day to commemorate both the Confederate and Union soldiers who fought and died in the war.

Marking the graves of fallen soldiers with flowers, wreaths, or other tokens has been practiced throughout history, but it wasn't until the mark of the end of the Civil War that a special day was decided upon as the one to spend in remembrance. By 1890, every state in the country was observing Decoration Day. It wasn't until 1967 when the name formally changed from Decoration Day to Memorial Day, in order to encompass all fallen American soldiers in all wars and conflicts. In June of 1968, Congress moved the official date of Memorial Day to the last Monday in May in order to create a three day weekend.

Today, while there is certainly an air of remembrance on Memorial Day, it has become more a day of spending time with family, friends, and other loved ones. This day is also heralded as the start of summer, with many schools finishing for the year around this time. Our team at Willes Orthodontics remembers it as a day to take solace and remembered those lost.

Traditional observances of Memorial Day are still held, and they often involve raising the American Flag then lowering it to a half-staff position until noon, and then raising it once again to its full height afterwards. The flag is lowered to remember those who've lost their lives while in service to their country, and then it is raised to signify our willingness to not let their sacrifice be in vain.

From community parades in the Carlsbad, CA area, backyard cook-outs, and fireworks to formal ceremonies, Memorial Day is commemorated in many different ways. No matter how you choose to spend this day, take a moment to remember those who've lost their lives in an effort to preserve our freedom.

National Chocolate Chip Day!

May 15th, 2015

To celebrate National Chocolate Chip Day, all of us at Willes Orthodontics wanted to share a few fun facts with you

(if we can believe everything we find on the internet… : )

• Chocolate chips were invented by Nestle for use in the Toll House Cookie recipe. In 1939, Nestle purchased the rights to the recipe from Ruth Wakefield, the woman who accidently created the now-famous cookies with chocolate bits in them. Her payment? A lifetime supply of chocolate. Her original Toll House Cookie recipe is still printed on the Nestle Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels package.

• The world's biggest chocolate chip cookie weighed 40,000 pounds and had a diameter of 101 feet, and contained 30,000 eggs.

• 13.5% of American adults admit to having eaten 20 or more chocolate chip cookies at a time.

• The cookies Cookie Monster eats on Sesame Street are actually rice cakes with brown dots painted on.

• You will eat approximately 35,000 cookies in your lifetime.

• It has been estimated that 50% of all cookies baked at home are chocolate chip cookies.

• One easy way to up the flavor of your chocolate chip cookies is to let the prepared dough sit in the refrigerator for 24 to 36 hours before baking: while the dough rests, both the flour proteins and starches break down, creating tastier cookies.

• The standard rounded tablespoon of cookie dough can hold a maximum of 50 chocolate chips …… but most people are happy with 6 to 8 per cookie.

• Chocolate chips melt best at temperatures between 104 and 113 °F. The melting process starts at around 90 °F when the cocoa butter in the chips starts to heat. The cooking temperature must never exceed 115 °F for milk or 120 °F for dark, or the chocolate will burn.

• Each year, 7 billion chocolate chip cookies are eaten, with about 50% of those being homemade.

• The most cookies baked in one hour is 4,695 by Hassett's Bakery in Cork, Ireland on July 30, 2013.

• The idea for Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream came from an anonymous note left by a customer at a Ben and Jerry’s in 1984.

• A lethal dose of chocolate for a human being is about 22 lbs., or 40 Hershey bars.

• It takes approximately 400 cacao beans to make one pound of chocolate.

• The smell of chocolate increases theta brain waves, which triggers relaxation.

• Every second, Americans collectively eat 100 pounds of chocolate.

• And our favorite: the BBC reports that researchers discovered that chocolate can help prevent   tooth decay!!

Please DOUGH not forget how much we CAROBout you. When the CHIPS are down, we know that you are one tough COOKIE we can always rely on. You have perfected the RECIPE for success--and you BATTER remember that working with you and your patients really BAKES us happy!!! That DOZEN’t mean there won’t be a few CRUMBy days in life that take their TOLL (Like the song goes, “Nobody knows that TRUFFLES I’ve seen”), but your SWEETness makes them MELT away. Thank you for WARMing the world, one beautiful BITE at a time.

And here is a BATCH of scrumptious chocolate & cookie quotes to make you smile.

• In the cookies of life, friends are the chocolate chips • Chocolate doesn’t make the world go ’round, but it sure does make the trip worthwhile • If you’ve got melted chocolate all over your hands, you’re eating it too slowly • Put “eat chocolate” at the top of your list of things-to-do today. That way, at least you’ll get one thing done • Nuts just take up space where chocolate ought to be • There’s nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with chocolate • Intergalactic Peace Through Chocolate • I only eat chocolate for you, so there will be more of me to love • The 12-step chocoholics program: never be more than 12 steps away from chocolate • If God had meant us to be thin, He would not have created chocolate • Good moms let you lick the beaters after mixing cookie dough. Great moms turn them off, first • My heart says "chocolate," but my jeans say, "For Pete's sake, eat a salad!" • Inside me there’s a thin person struggling to get out, but I can usually sedate him with chocolate • Chocolate makes your clothes shrink • "Stressed" is "desserts" spelled backwards • Raisin cookies that look like chocolate chip cookies are the main reason I have trust issues • I’d give up chocolate, but I’m no quitter • Chocolate comes from cocao, which is a tree. That makes it a plant; which means chocolate is salad • Chocolate is cheaper than therapy, and you don’t need an appointment • I have this theory that chocolate slows down the aging process; it may not be true, but do I dare take the chance? • Milk chocolate is a dairy product • In heaven, chocolate has no calories and is served as the main course • When no one understands you, chocolate is there • Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands—then eat only one piece • My therapist told me the way to achieve true inner peace is to finish what I start. So far today, I have finished 2 bags of M&M’s and a chocolate cake. I feel better already • Chocolate—The breakfast of champions • Chocolate is nature’s way of making up for Mondays • If you can’t eat all your chocolate, it will keep in the freezer. But if you can’t eat all your chocolate, what’s wrong with you? • May 15th is National chocolate chip day AND National Bike to Work Day: someone has a sense of humor • Money talks, but chocolate sings • Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know when you'll find a nut • Life is uncertain; eat dessert first • I am not overweight, I am chocolate-enriched • Seize the moment: remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart • Research shows that fourteen out of ten individuals like chocolate • I don't drown my sorrows; I suffocate them with chocolate chip cookies • Man cannot live on chocolate alone, but woman definitely can • One of life’s mysteries is how a two-pound box of candy can make a person gain five pounds • A balanced diet is a cookie in each hand • A day without chocolate is a day without sunshine • True love is being willing to share your warm chocolate chip cookie •

Happy “National Chocolate Chip Day” from your friends at Willes Orthodontics!

Hey, Metal Mouth, Hey, Train Tracks! Six Funny Comebacks for People Who Wear Braces

May 12th, 2015

Brace-ism: believe it or not, it’s a concept. The Urban Dictionary defines brace-ism as “acting mean to people who have braces on their teeth.” Phrases like metal mouth, brace face, and train tracks are common jokes uttered by gap-toothed fools who like to make fun of people with braces.

While ignoring these comments and taking the high road is the best thing to do, there’s nothing wrong with having a few clever retorts and quick-witted comebacks up your sleeve.

  1. The next time someone calls you train tracks, break into an obnoxious train imitation, with lots of toot-toot and chuga-chuga-chuga. Finish off your crazy locomotive impersonation with some sort of deafening train horn. That’ll keep the bullies at bay.
  2. “It’s better to be a brace face than a space case.”
  3. Counter with a ridiculously childish joke that makes the schoolyard tormentor feel even smaller than he already is. “Oh. Yeah. Why did the deer need braces? Because he had buck teeth. Hahaha.” Top it off with an exaggerated eye roll.
  4. “Yeah, my brother tells that joke. He’s six. You guys should hang out.” That’ll stop the haters dead in their tracks. Or would that be train tracks?
  5. Here’s one from the sarcasm grab bag. “Well, I’m just glad there’s a way to fix what’s wrong with my face.”
  6. “I can’t wait to discuss this formative moment at our ten-year class reunion, when my teeth are razor-straight and you’re wearing adult braces.”

 

Summer is Almost Here: Tips for a bright, white smile!

May 5th, 2015

Summer is almost here, which means a season full of vacations, adventures and great memories is just around the corner for our patients at Willes Orthodontics.

Everyone wants a glowing and radiant white smile when the sun comes around and we have a few reminders to keep your pearly whites healthy and beautiful over the summer! Try to stay away from drinks that will stain your teeth like coffee, soft drinks, or dark colored juices. Not only will drinks like this weaken your enamel but they will also darken that fabulous smile you're working on! Another tip is to try and focus on brushing your teeth; everyone knows that when busy schedules start picking up, getting a good brushing session in tends to take the backseat! A good tip for keeping your mouth safe from staining and other possible pitfalls is to rinse your mouth with water after any meal you can’t fully brush your teeth after. Your teeth, inside and out, will benefit!

And remember, whether you are headed to a barbecue, a camping trip, or just having fun in the backyard this summer, we want to hear all about it! Make sure to let us know what you’re up to below or on our Facebook page! We also encourage you to post any photos from your adventures!

Ugh, Not Braces!

April 28th, 2015

Getting your child excited about braces is a lot like: A) convincing a grumpy toddler that it’s time to take a nap? B) convincing a teenager to stop texting during dinner? C) convincing your husband to eat his peas? The answer, obviously, is all of the above.

And that’s why you may need a few thoughtful ways to get your child on board with braces.

  1. Throw a pre-braces party. It can’t be just any party, however, but a Willy Wonka celebration of candy, chips, gum, and all the sticky and sweet foods your child won’t be able to indulge in during the time he or she is wearing braces. Promise a post-braces celebration, too, and watch as your child’s eyes widen at the thought of an all-you-can-eat junk food buffet.
  2. Encouraging phrases like “braces aren’t eternal, but your straight smile will be” can go a long way.
  3. If your daughter is worried about getting picked on because of braces, then name-drop some A-list celebrities who have worn them. The list includes Cameron Diaz, Kelly Clarkson, Dakota Fanning, and Gwen Stefani.
  4. Emphasize that braces today aren’t the same as they were in the Stone Age. From clear ceramic braces to different-colored braces, more options are available. Braces can be cool accessories to express a personal style.
  5. To get your child to embrace braces, you need to sing the praises of beautiful teeth, even if that means pointing out how crooked your teeth are because you never got braces.

Braces-Friendly Recipe: Lunch

April 21st, 2015

Getting braces comes with a lot of rules. No sticky candies, watch out for popcorn, and steer clear of chips. These rules leave many braces-wearers wondering what they can still eat without hurting their teeth or their expensive orthodontic appliances. Fortunately, constructing a braces-friendly lunch is straightforward once you know which foods to avoid.

Foods to Avoid When Wearing Braces

There are a few food categories to avoid when you have braces. Sticky foods also stick to the metal in your braces, and can potentially break wires or individual braces. For example: bubblegum, candy bars, caramel, licorice, fruit roll-ups, and Starbursts should be avoided. Many of these foods also contain high levels of sugar, which can cause plaque build-up if not brushed away properly.

Also, be wary of hard foods that can harm your orthodontic appliances. Avoid eating hard taco shells, chips, Rice Crispy treats, hard candy, beef jerky, and popcorn. Some healthy foods, such as carrots, apples, corn on the cob, and nuts, are hard on braces. To eat these foods safely, cut them into smaller pieces before eating.

Remember that certain habits may be harmful to your braces. For example, crunching on ice cubes may be a reflexive response when you’re enjoying a cold beverage, but this can significantly harm your braces and extend treatment time. To stay on the safe side, Dr. Michael Willes and our team at Willes Orthodontics recommend you drink beverages without ice or add crushed ice whenever possible.

Lunch Recipe

Even with braces, it’s easy to enjoy a healthy, nutritious lunch. For example, make a panini on whole wheat bread with slices of turkey deli meat, a piece of Swiss cheese, and tomato slices. Spread 1 tbsp. of mustard or mayonnaise on the bread before toasting the sandwich in a panini grill. Serve the panini with ½ c. low-fat cottage cheese and a sliced pear or apple for a balanced meal. Then grab a pudding cup or some JELLO for dessert. Wash it all down with water containing a lemon wedge or all-natural fruit juice. Make sure to brush your teeth or rinse with mouthwash after lunch to wash away sugars and food residue that can get trapped in braces and cause decay.

If you have any questions about what you can and can’t eat with braces during your treatment at Willes Orthodontics, be sure to ask our team during your next appointment at our Carlsbad, CA office!

What is hyperdontia?

April 14th, 2015

When a child is born, he or she will have 20 primary teeth and 32 permanent teeth. But sometimes kids are born with additional teeth, and our team at Willes Orthodontics calls this oral condition "hyperdontia." Primary teeth are the first set of teeth that erupt in your child's mouth, typically by the time they are 36 months old, and are shed by the time your child reaches the age of 12. Permanent teeth then take the place of the primary teeth and are usually fully-erupted by the time your son or daughter reaches 21 years of age. Anyone who develops more than 20 primary teeth or more than 32 permanent teeth has hyperdontia, and the additional teeth are referred to as supernumerary teeth.

While the cause of hyperdontia is not entirely clear, it is believed that there may be a genetic factor. Oral professionals have found that patients with extra teeth often have syndromes like cleidocranial dysplasia, Ehler-Danlos syndrome, Gardner syndrome, or cleft lip and palate. The prevalence of hyperdontia affects between one and four percent of the population in the United States, and the majority of cases are limited to a single tooth.

So, what is the best way to deal with hyperdontia? It really depends on the case. The treatment plan your doctor suggests varies according to the potential problem posed by the supernumerary teeth, as well as their type. Orthodontic treatment may certainly may help, but extraction can also be a good option. We recommend that children receive an oral evaluation or checkup no later than the age of seven. In addition to hygiene evaluation, this helps ensure your child does not experience hyperdontia problems.

If you suspect you or your child may be suffering from hyperdontia, please give us a call to schedule an appointment at our convenient Carlsbad, CA office to be evaluated.

How Braces Can Work at Any Age

April 7th, 2015

Are you an adult who is considering getting braces? Perhaps you’ve had them before, but over the years that dental work has been reversed. Or maybe you’ve never had any orthodontic work done, but are considering braces for the first time. In either case, Willes Orthodontics can help you enjoy straighter teeth, an improved bite, and a more beautiful smile. If you are considering getting braces, here is what you need to know about adult orthodontic work from Dr. Michael Willes.

Can braces work for adults?

Absolutely! Braces work for just about anyone. However, there are several different types of braces, and not all of them may work for you. Different types of orthodontic treatments include:

  • Ceramic braces
  • Metal braces
  • Self-ligating brackets
  • Lingual brackets (braces behind the teeth)
  • Invisible braces
  • Rubber bands for bite correction
  • Headgear and other appliances

By scheduling a consultation, we can determine which treatment or combination of treatments would be best for your specific needs.

How do I get started?

Getting braces can be a little bit daunting. At first glance, the process may appear expensive and time-consuming. However, if you take it step by step, getting braces can be a simple and relatively pain-free experience. Here are the first steps you need to take to get on the road to straight teeth:

First, you need information. If you are nervous about getting braces, or are having trouble getting started, learning more about the process can help ease your mind. Here are a few sample questions to ask:

  • What kind of braces do you recommend for my teeth?
  • How long will the treatment take?
  • How often will I need to come in for adjustments?
  • What is the total cost of the treatment? Do you accept insurance? Will you require the full amount up front, or do you have payment plans?

Asking these types of questions will help you understand what to expect during the entire process, which can aid your decision on the proper course of action.

The next step is to complete any prerequisite treatment. During your first meeting with Dr. Michael Willes, we’ll need to take some X-rays and molds of your teeth, and then help you determine an appropriate treatment plan. Recommendations may include some preliminary dental work before you get your braces, which can be an important step in making sure your orthodontic treatments are effective.

Once you have completed these steps, you are ready to get started! After you’ve chosen a treatment plan and undergone any necessary prerequisite dental work, you’ll be able to get your braces. Just like that, you’re on your way to a better smile! If you’d like to get started right away, call our Carlsbad, CA location today!

Invisalign Teen®: Why Invisalign® is the best choice for teens

March 31st, 2015

Those challenging teenage years are some of the most self-conscious ones of your life, and concern for your appearance definitely plays a large part. Invisalign is becoming a very popular choice for adolescent patients today, but is it the best choice?

The results from teenage Invisalign users indicate that Invisalign is both effective for teeth straightening and for satisfying that urge to avoid the dreaded “metal mouth.” Dr. Michael Willes can help you determine if Invisalign is right for you, but this article will explain why so many people are calling Invisalign the best choice for teens today.

Metal-Free Braces

Invisalign is a clear plastic device that fits directly over the teeth. There are no metal parts to mar the look of your smile, and your Invisalign aligners can straighten while allowing your pearly whites to shine through. Any teen will be the first to tell you that appearance is a top concern, so this is an excellent choice. People don’t even need to know you’re straightening your teeth with Invisalign.

Eat, Brush, and Floss Easily

Another particularly attractive aspect of Invisalign for most teenagers is the freedom it allows. While traditional metal braces can make eating, brushing, and flossing difficult, this is not the case with Invisalign. The aligners are easily removable for these activities, which gives teens the freedom they desire to live life as usual.

More Free Time

Invisalign Teen aligners need to be checked and adjusted at Willes Orthodontics less frequently than traditional braces. This allows for fewer appointments, something that is really important to teens. Having your teeth straightened is no reason to forgo activities or make room in your schedule for constant office visits when you choose Invisalign.

Learn more about Invisalign Teen at our Carlsbad, CA office!

Does my child need two-phase treatment?

March 24th, 2015

Two-phase orthodontic treatment involves two separate and distinct periods that your child receives orthodontic treatment. It allows your son or daughter to begin early treatment of bite and jaw problems, in order to reduce the dental issues he or she experiences later on.

Two-phase orthodontic treatment with Dr. Michael Willes can improve how well the second phase of the treatment works and helps to make room for permanent teeth. Overall, two-phase treatment helps to position the teeth and the jaw for an attractive profile. Our team at Willes Orthodontics recommends that you bring your child to our Carlsbad, CA office at the age of seven or eight, so that Dr. Michael Willes can determine if early (Phase-One) treatment is necessary.

Phase-One

Phase-One orthodontic treatment is known as early treatment. It begins shortly after your child’s first orthodontic examination, usually around age eight or nine. The main goal of Phase-One orthodontic treatment is to help make room for permanent teeth, which reduces crooked teeth as a result of overcrowding. It treats the jaw and bite growth, and issues like crossbite or underbite. This can reduce the need for your child to undergo extractions.

Phase-Two

Phase-Two orthodontic treatment is when braces are placed on the upper and/or lower teeth. The purpose is not just to correct spaces or misaligned teeth, but also to correct overbite or underbite concerns. Phase-Two usually begins around age 11 or 12, and the braces are worn for an average of two to three years, depending on your child’s unique needs. Some children have fewer issues and wear braces for little more than a year, while others need them for up to four years.

Signs your child needs two-phase orthodontic treatment

If your child exhibits the following signs, he or she may be a good candidate for two-phase orthodontic treatment:

  • Losing baby teeth early, before five years of age
  • Problems with biting or chewing
  • Sucking the thumb after age five
  • Evidence of a crossbite, where the teeth don’t come together when opening or closing of the mouth
  • Teeth are crowded at age seven or eight
  • Protruding teeth on the top or bottom

Not all children need to have early treatment, but if your child shows any of these signs, you should bring him or her to us for an evaluation at Willes Orthodontics.

St. Patrick's Day

March 17th, 2015

On March 17, everyone has a little Irish in them. St. Patrick’s Day is a joyous celebration of Irish heritage. The holiday originated as a commemoration of Saint Patrick, who brought Christianity to Ireland. The saint arrived in Ireland in 432 and earned the reputation of a champion of Irish Christianity. March 17th, the day of St. Patrick’s death, has been commemorated by the Irish for over 1,000 years. St. Patrick’s Day is still observed as a religious feast day by several Christian denominations, but it is better known in the public imagination as a rich celebration of Irish culture.

St. Patrick’s Day has been an official public holiday in Ireland since 1903. Each year, the Irish celebrate with a several-day festival that includes theater performances, music, fireworks, and festive parades. The celebration is also a public holiday in Northern Ireland, Montserrat, and Newfoundland and Labrador. In other parts of the world with heavy Irish populations, it is an unofficial celebration of Irish heritage. Parts of Great Britain, Canada, Argentina, South Korea, Switzerland, New Zealand, the United States, and Australia commemorate the holiday each year. Typical celebrations in these countries include drinking green beer, wearing green, eating traditional Irish foods, parades, and shamrock decorations.

Many people, Irish and non-Irish alike, take part in the “wearing of the green” on St. Patrick’s Day. In fact, the color originally associated with Saint Patrick was blue. His use of shamrocks to explain the Holy Trinity to the Irish made the green clover emblematic of the holiday, leading to the traditional green attire worn by thousands on St. Patrick’s Day. Other little-known facts about St. Patrick’s Day include the following:

  • Each year, the United States and Ireland face off in a rugby competition called the “St. Patrick’s Day Test.”
  • Montreal celebrates the holiday with an annual parade, which has been held each year since 1824. The Montreal city flag even features a shamrock in its corner, as a nod to its Irish heritage.
  • The Guinness World Records named St. Patrick’s Day the “Friendliest Day of the Year.”
  • Along with Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day is one of the most widely celebrated saint’s day in the world.

No matter your cultural heritage, St. Patrick’s Day is a great time to let loose and celebrate your inner Irish-ness! Don your greenest attire and exclaim “Erin go Bragh!” (Ireland forever!) to everyone you meet. From Dr. Michael Willes - have a great St. Paddy’s day!

How Your Pearly Whites Can Help You in Life

March 10th, 2015

At Willes Orthodontics, Dr. Michael Willes and our staff have found that patients who like their smiles have better self-esteem. People who don’t like their smiles are often skittish about talking to other people. According to the National Women’s Health Resource Center, when women are asked about what they’d most like to change about themselves, many point to their smile. Despite wanting to change their smiles, quite a few of the people who are unhappy about that part of themselves won’t consider getting braces.

Most Americans Don’t Have Straight Teeth

The American Association of Orthodontics estimates that 4.5 million Americans wear braces or other orthodontic equipment to straighten their teeth and to get a healthier mouth. One in five of those braces wearers are women. The organization’s statistics also show that about 75 percent of the population doesn’t have straight teeth, and those people would benefit from getting braces.

While the main benefit of braces is straight teeth, and to improve the look of your smile, there are other benefits that make braces even more useful, including:

  • Straighter teeth help people chew better.
  • Straighter teeth give people a proper bite.
  • People speak better when they have straighter teeth.
  • When people have straight teeth, they have better overall gum and mouth health. A healthier mouth means flossing and brushing are easier, and that means your entire mouth stays healthy.
  • A healthy mouth is also linked to a healthy body.

When you feel proud of those pearly whites, you feel better about your smile, and that contributes to a better self-image and improved self-esteem. Ultimately, that can lead to greater career success and a more fulfilling social life.

Brushing with Braces: How to Keep a Clean Mouth

March 3rd, 2015

A clean mouth is a happy mouth. And when Dr. Michael Willes and our staff see you have a clean mouth, we are happy too. Of course, all of this should make you happy because you’re the one preventing sneaky little food bits from getting trapped under the wires of your braces.

Still, you need to be thorough with your brushing. When you have braces, you’re playing a game of hide-and-go-seek with everything you eat. Here are five tips to keep your mouth (and us) happy.

  1. How is brushing with braces like geometry? It’s all about the angles. Brush the tops of your teeth and braces with your brush angled down. Brush the bottom of your teeth with the brush angled up. Pointy brushes, aka interproximal brushes, are good for reaching the tiny spots around braces.
  2. Brush after every meal. If those sneaky little food bits hide in your mouth for very long, they’ll turn into plaque. And plaque is a sign of a very unhappy mouth.
  3. Brush one tooth at a time for at least ten seconds, and pay close attention to the spots where your braces touch your teeth.
  4. Fluoride is your new BFF. Make sure your toothpaste and mouthwash contain this cavity-fighting ingredient.
  5. Braces are no excuse not to floss. In fact, saying you can’t floss because you have braces is like saying the dog ate your homework. Dr. Michael Willes and our staff, like your geometry teacher, aren’t going to buy it. Be sure to floss after every meal.

Top Ways to Ensure You and Your Braces Have a Good Relationship

February 24th, 2015

You and your braces will become good friends over the coming months or years, so it’s important to get your relationship off to a good start. Consider the following recommendations to prevent rocky times ahead:

  1. Floss, floss, floss. Yes, it’s a pain to floss around your braces, but it's the best way to prevent gum disease and other oral health problems. Ask Dr. Michael Willes and our staff for floss threaders to make the chore easier. Just a few minutes per day will ensure that you don’t face significant dental health issues when the braces come off.
  2. Avoid sticky or hard foods. It’s tough to forgo toffee, caramel, gum, and other favorite sticky treats, but your braces will thank you. Sticky or hard foods can break a bracket or wire, so it’s best to avoid them altogether.
  3. Chew with your back teeth. If you’re used to taking large bites with your front teeth, it might be time to switch your eating habits. Taking a large bite of food with your front teeth can leave your braces vulnerable to damage. Instead, cut large foods into pieces and use your back teeth to chew. This is especially important with corn on the cob, which should always be cut from the cob.
  4. Wear rubber bands and headgear. Rubber bands, headgear, and other orthodontic appliances may seem annoying, but failing to comply with wearing them can increase the length of your treatment by months. Wear them now to avoid problems in the future.

Eating with Braces: Braces-friendly snack recipe

February 17th, 2015

At Willes Orthodontics, Dr. Michael Willes and our staff know that eating with braces can be tricky. You want to avoid damaging the bands, brackets, and wires, since any damage can delay the progress of your treatment. After adjustments, your mouth may also feel sore, which will make eating more of a chore than a pleasure.

The good news is you do not have to avoid all of your favorite foods; there are ways you can still enjoy them. Try some of these ideas and recipes for great snacks that are friendly to your braces.

Fruits and Vegetables

You still need to eat fruits and vegetable for the healthy nutrients. The trick is to cut harder items into small pieces that you can chew easily with your back teeth. Canned fruits are also a great choice, but select fruits packed in water to avoid the heavy, sugary syrups. It’s a good idea to avoid excess sugar with braces, since sugar build-up around your braces can lead to plaque formation.

Single-serving packages are available to make your snack portable and convenient. Enjoy vegetables with a small amount of a healthy dip. Hummus or yogurt can be used for flavor without adding unnecessary fat or calories.

Banana and Honey Smoothie

Smoothies are a healthy treat, and you can create these drinks with your favorite ingredients. You can use a variety of yogurt types for your smoothie: regular, low or non-fat, and Greek are all great choices.  Here’s one of our favorite smoothie recipes:

  • 6 ounces of your choice of yogurt
  • 1 or 2 teaspoons of honey
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 6 ounces milk

Chop the banana into smaller pieces and put all your ingredients into a blender. Blend on low until everything is mixed and then blend on high for about 20 seconds to make your smoothie fluffy.

The great thing about this recipe is that you can substitute just about any small or cut-up fruit for the banana. Try blackberries, raspberries, or peaches for variety. Try to avoid fruits with small seeds; strawberries can leave bits stuck in your braces. You can even make a smoothie with peanut butter and jelly!

Please ask our team if you have any concerns regarding the foods you can safely eat while wearing braces.

Valentine's Day History

February 10th, 2015

Valentine’s Day is best known as a celebration of love in all its forms. Pink hearts, red roses, and cute greeting cards adorn every surface you see. What many people don’t realize is that the modern Valentine’s Day celebration arose from a religious holiday.

St. Valentine’s Day was originally celebrated as a religious feast day in honor of early Christian martyrs. Three martyrs named Valentine were honored: a priest in Rome, the persecuted bishop of Interamna (a town in central Italy), and a saint martyred in Africa. This saint’s day was celebrated throughout Christendom, although it was removed from the Roman Catholic Calendar of Saints in 1969.

The origin of Valentine’s Day as a holiday for lovers began with Geoffrey Chaucer in his 1382 poem “Parlement of Foules.” Chaucer wrote, “For this was on Saint Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate,” and the modern romantic holiday was born. William Shakespeare and other writers mentioned Valentine’s Day as a day of love.

Valentine’s Day as we know it came about in the early 19th century. In Victorian England, printers began manufacturing small numbers of cards with romantic verses, lace, ribbons, and other frills. Anonymous Valentine’s Day card were a popular way for young lovers to exchange romantic sentiments in an otherwise prudish time. As the 19th century progressed, printers began mass manufacturing Valentine’s Day cards. People in the United States give an estimated 190 million valentines every year, and up to one billion if you count children exchanging cards at school! With the rise of the Internet, Valentine’s Day e-cards have become a popular mode of communication, with millions of e-cards sent each year.

The other items associated with Valentine’s Day include chocolate and flowers. The tradition of giving chocolates has been around for decades, and Richard Cadbury created the first box of Valentine’s Day chocolates nearly 150 years ago. Today, purchases of chocolate total over $1 billion in the United States alone, with 35 million heart-shaped boxes sold each year. Loved ones also exchange flowers, with red roses being associated with Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love. On Valentine’s Day itself, florists sell nearly 200 million stems of roses.

Although many people dismiss Valentine’s Day as a commercialized “Hallmark holiday,” it is beloved to couples and romantics across the United States and other countries. The team at Willes Orthodontics wants to remind all patients that no matter what your celebratory plans, February 14th can be a wonderful day to celebrate the loved ones in your life. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Helpful Hints for Dealing with Braces Pain

February 3rd, 2015

Your first few days with braces will feel rather odd, awkward, and even painful. The day you get your braces you will probably just feel weird, like you have something in your mouth – because you do. You are most likely to feel pain and soreness during the second and third days. After that, you should be fine. If you experience any pain with your braces, there are a few things you can do to get some relief.

Home Remedies

Rinsing your mouth with warm salt water will soothe it and promote healing. Rinse several times a day or when your mouth, particularly mouth sores, are hurting. You can also take some Tylenol every four hours. Dr. Michael Willes and our team advise against products that contain ibuprofen because it slows down the movement of your teeth.

You can also eat cold foods like ice cream or yogurt. The cold of the food will help dull the pain. Ice packs applied to your mouth help as well. You can also swish ice water around your mouth, but DO NOT eat ice!

Cool Products

Products for canker sores can be applied to the mouth sores you develop from your braces. There are also various rinses you can use that act as a shield or barrier in your mouth, and protect your mouth sores from further irritation.

Dr. Michael Willes and our team may have given you some dental wax to put on the abrasive areas of your braces to protect your mouth. Putting dental wax on the brackets creates a barrier that keeps your mouth from getting scraped and sore.

Bite wafers are another great pain relief too. When you bite down on the wafer, it increases circulation in your gums, which can ease the pain a bit. Just a little pressure will work; you don’t want to bite too hard. And they usually come in cool colors, too!

The pain won’t last forever. One day you will wake up and you won’t have any pain. In fact, you probably won’t even notice the braces in your mouth at all!

Thank you to everyone who attended our GREAT SKATE PATIENT APPRECIATION PARTY!

January 29th, 2015

Our FAVORITE thing about being part of Willes Orthodontics are the WONDERFUL people we get to serve and associate with... and we wanted to show our gratitude by hosting our First Annual GREAT SKATE APPRECIATION PARTY!!!!

We had so much fun with our awesome patients, families, colleagues, and friends on January 24th...as we took over the new Carlsbad IceTown for an evening of skating, munching on donuts and hot cocoa, competing in ice limbo and frozen t-shirt contests, learning new skating moves, creating snowflake crafts, and simply enjoying each other's company.

If you weren't able to join us this time, be sure and confirm with Carrie that your email and other contact info is current, so that you get announcements about future events.

And, mostly, just know how very grateful we are for our associations with you. Please let us know if there's ever anything we can do for you.

(Check out the fun time-lapse video of our Ice Limbo Contest!)

Top Things to do BEFORE You Get Braces

January 27th, 2015

So you’re about to get braces. Congratulations! You are taking a very smart step to improve the health of your teeth as well as get that killer smile in shape. But, as with anything that is good for you, there are a few things you will have to avoid while you “do your time.”

Some foods don’t do so great with braces. The foods listed below should be avoided while you are wearing your braces because they can pop the brackets and bend the wires. In other words, these foods can really ruin your day, and send you back to Willes Orthodontics to get your braces repaired.

So before you hit the chair, hit the grocery and candy store – one last time – for:

  • Beef jerky
  • Raw carrots
  • Taffy
  • Pizza crust
  • Bagels and other crusty bread
  • Popcorn
  • Hard candy
  • Nuts and seeds

Dr. Michael Willes and our staff will give you more information about eating with braces. Some foods, such as apples, are okay as long as you cut them in pieces first. Others, like pudding and pasta, are fine just as they are. But then there is “the list”: the foods that are a big no-no and should be avoided. It won’t be forever, so hang in there.

Your braces time will pass before you know it and you can resume more normal eating. But before the braces go on, enjoy these tasty treats. Go ahead and indulge!

What causes crooked teeth?

January 20th, 2015

Teeth erupt crookedly for a number of reasons that range from genetics to mouth deformities and serious oral diseases. When extra teeth or abnormally large teeth create a malocclusion (crookedness or misplacement of teeth), the culprit is usually genetic in nature. Other inherited traits involve jaws that are too small to accommodate a full set of teeth and misaligned jaws that did not form properly in the womb.

Can crooked teeth be prevented?

In most cases, underbites, overbites, and crooked teeth are genetically derived and can’t be avoided. Orthodontic treatment with braces will be necessary to correct the condition once the child is old enough to wear them. However, certain early childhood behaviors may also contribute to the development of crooked teeth that can be avoided. These include:

  • Thumb sucking and tongue thrusting
  • Losing baby teeth to decay before permanent teeth have naturally pushed them out of their sockets
  • Allowing pacifier use to continue after front teeth have erupted

Permanent teeth underneath baby teeth are directly affected by the health of baby teeth. If baby teeth are prematurely lost due to decay or trauma, permanent teeth will shift when they start moving upward. Baby teeth are like anchors for permanent teeth that help guide them as they erupt through the gums.

In addition, excellent care of baby teeth is vital to having healthy permanent teeth free of discoloration or decay. Harmful oral bacteria can spread into the gums and reach permanent teeth still buried in the gums. Once attached to a tooth’s enamel, bacteria will begin eroding the tooth even before it has a chance to take its first bite!

When to Start Orthodontic Treatment for Crooked Teeth

Dr. Michael Willes and our staff suggest that parents bring your child to Willes Orthodontics around age seven to rule out potential issues with permanent teeth eruption. If problems are discovered, it is not unusual to begin orthodontic treatment at that age. In fact, specific conditions such as crowding and gaps between teeth are easier to correct at an early age.

Early treatment also benefits from the growth process of the jaw, which helps move teeth to normal positions.

It’s almost time for Willes Orthodontics’ GREAT SKATE APPRECIATION PARTY!!!!

January 14th, 2015

We are inviting all of our patients to our Great Skate Appreciation Party on January 24th, 2015 at the NEW Carlsbad IceTown. Skate time is from 6:15-7:45 pm, but make sure you arrive around 6 pm to sign in, get your skates and munch on some yummy snacks before you hit the ice! There will be donuts, hot cocoa, games, contests and door prizes! But don't forget to dress warm- it's chilly in there!

Never been ice skating before? No problem! We have arranged to have a US Gold Medalist there to teach a mini ice skating workshop! We figured there’s SNOW better way to thank you for being such ICE patients, friends, family, and colleagues!!

Make sure you get your name on the guest list by commenting #thegreatskate on willesortho fb or instagram... or by calling the office, 760-434-5031.

Carlsbad IceTown

2283 Cosmos Court
 Carlsbad, CA, 92011

Saturday January, 24th

6:15-7:45pm

Looking forward to seeing you all there!

What are the benefits of early orthodontic treatment?

January 13th, 2015

Parents usually have numerous questions about orthodontic treatment for their children. According to the American Association of Orthodontists, orthodontic treatment for children should start at around seven years of age. This allows Dr. Michael Willes to evaluate the child’s existing and incoming teeth to determine whether or not early treatment might be necessary.

What is early orthodontic treatment?

Early orthodontic treatment, known as Phase One, usually begins when the child is eight or nine years old. The goal is to correct bite problems such as an underbite as well as guide the jaw’s growth pattern. It also helps to make room in the mouth for the permanent teeth to be properly placed as they come in. This will greatly reduce the risk of the child needing extractions later in life due to his or her teeth getting crowded.

Does your child need early orthodontic treatment?

There are several ways that you can determine whether your child needs early treatment. If you observe any of these characteristics or behaviors, you should talk to Dr. Michael Willes.

  • Early loss of baby teeth (before age five)
  • Lat loss of baby teeth (after age five or six)
  • The child’s teeth do not meet properly or at all
  • The child is a mouth breather
  • Front teeth are crowded (you won’t see this until the child is about seven or eight)
  • Protruding teeth, typically in the front
  • Biting or chewing difficulties
  • A speech impediment
  • The child’s jaw shifts when he or she opens or closes the mouth
  • The child is older than five years and still sucks a thumb

What are the benefits of seeking orthodontic treatment early?

Early orthodontic treatment is begun while the child’s jaw bones are still soft. They do not harden until the children reach their late teens. Because the bones are still pliable, corrective procedures such as braces work faster than they do for adults.

In short, early treatment at our Carlsbad, CA office often allows your child to avoid lengthy procedures, extraction, and surgery in adulthood. Early treatment is an effective preventive measure that lays the foundation for a healthy, stable mouth in adulthood.

Why is orthodontic treatment important?

January 6th, 2015

The goal of orthodontic treatment at Willes Orthodontics, which may include the use of braces, retainers, and aligners, is to straighten your teeth. Treatment often starts in the pre-teen or teenage years, but adults may also need orthodontic treatment. The treatment can feel like a chore that lasts for several months or a couple of years, but it can fix important problems. These include:

  • Crowded teeth spaced too close together
  • Gaps between your teeth
  • Crooked teeth
  • Overbite or underbite
  • Upper and lower teeth that do not meet

Straight Teeth are More Attractive

You are more likely to be proud of your smile when your teeth are straight and evenly spaced. Pride in your appearance can give you more confidence and encourage you to try new things. This can be particularly important for adolescents. In addition, people often judge others based on first impressions. A smile that shows straight teeth is more attractive.

Better Oral Health is Easier

Brushing and flossing your teeth are two basic components of an oral health routine to protect your teeth from conditions such as tooth decay, gingivitis, and plaque build-up. As Dr. Michael Willes and our staff know, caring for your mouth is easier when your teeth are straight. The American Dental Association says the following conditions are less likely to occur if you have the proper orthodontic treatment.

  • Dental caries
  • Gum disease or gingivitis
  • Tooth loss
  • Impaired speech
  • Worn tooth enamel

Orthodontic Treatment Improves Nutrition

Poorly aligned teeth can reduce your ability to chew properly or make certain foods more difficult to eat. Many of these more challenging foods are healthy, and avoiding them can cause you to limit your diet to softer, often less-nutritious foods, such as ice cream and canned soup. Straighter teeth and a better ability to chew let you eat crunchy foods, such as apples and carrots; stringy foods, such as asparagus and chicken; and chewy foods, such as raisins.

New Year's Eve

December 30th, 2014

Watching the clock tick down the final seconds until midnight, many of us- Willes Orthodontics included- feel nostalgic about the passing year and hopeful about the new one to come. New Year’s Eve is one of the most widely celebrated holidays in the world, with over-the-top celebrations taking place in dozens of countries. The Gregorian calendar, which is widely used in Western nations and around the world, was implemented in 1582. Since that time, December 31st has marked the final day of the year, with midnight heralding the beginning of a brand new year. In the United States, New Year’s Day is a public holiday; government offices, schools, public organizations, and many businesses are closed for the day. Ponder the following fun facts as you think about your plans for the holiday:

  • Approximately one billion people watch the New Year’s Eve ball drop in Times Square, New York City. This televised event is one of the most iconic New Year’s celebrations in the world. For many years, watching the ball drop meant tuning in to Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve, an iconic television special dear to the hearts of many viewers.
  • The idea for the New Year’s Eve ball came about because of a citywide ban on fireworks. Before 1907, when fireworks became illegal in New York City, celebrations included an elaborate fireworks show. The large, glittering, illuminated ball was developed as an alternative. Although the first ball was heavy at 700 pounds, the modern New Year’s Eve ball is made of Waterford crystal and tips the scale at six tons!
  • The top five New Year’s resolutions are: to lose weight, quit smoking, get a new job, return to school, or increase personal savings. However, approximately 88% of New Year’s resolutions fail. But don’t let that discourage you! Resolutions are most likely to succeed when they are clear, achievable goals. Setting out a concrete plan to achieve your resolution also boosts your chances of success.
  • Eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day is said to bring good fortune in the new year. Collard greens, cabbage, and ham hocks are also considered lucky foods to enjoy. Just steer clear of the chicken or turkey dinners; eating poultry is a bad omen for the year to come.

Whether you plan to stay in Carlsbad, CA, or head out into the crowds to watch the ball drop in Times Square, New Year’s Eve is a time to enjoy friends and family. Send your loved ones well wishes for the New Year, and look for that special someone to share a midnight kiss with for good luck!

At what age should my child have an orthodontic evaluation?

December 23rd, 2014

You may have noticed that kids seem to be getting braces and other orthodontic care a lot earlier these days. There was a time, only a decade or two ago, when braces were mainly seen on teenagers, but that is beginning to change. If you’re wondering when to bring your child to our Carlsbad, CA office for an orthodontic evaluation, the answer actually has several parts.

The Telltale Signs

If your child has a very crowded set of adult teeth coming in, or if the permanent front teeth came in very early, these are signs that your child should see Dr. Michael Willes, regardless of age.

The Dental Age

Barring signs of trouble or early adult teeth as mentioned above, the time that your child needs to be seen for initial orthodontic evaluation depends not so much upon your child’s actual age, but on what is known as a “dental age.”

The dental age of the patient might be entirely different from his or her actual chronological age; for example, an eight-year-old could have a dental age of 13. It is part of Dr. Michael Willes and our staff’s job to determine the dental age and then make appropriate recommendations for the resolution of orthodontic issues if they are emerging.

The Official Recommended Age

The American Association of Orthodontists officially recommends that kids should see an orthodontist for the first time between the ages of seven and nine. Even if the child does not have all his or her permanent teeth, the teeth growth pattern can usually be predicted quite effectively by an orthodontist.

This allows for a proactive response to emerging problems, and this is the reason that some younger children are now getting orthodontic devices earlier in life. If a young child has serious orthodontic issues emerging, Dr. Michael Willes can usually address the problems immediately and then follow up with another round of treatment when the child has all the adult teeth.

Are you visiting the dentist during your orthodontic treatment?

December 16th, 2014

If you’re brushing your teeth twice a day during your orthodontic treatment, Dr. Michael Willes and our team think that’s wonderful! But, don’t forget that it’s also important for you to visit your general dentist every six months, or as recommended, in addition to brushing your teeth and flossing. (And visiting Willes Orthodontics for regular adjustments, of course.)

Dental checkups are crucial for maintaining good oral health. Your general dentist can check for problems that might not be seen or felt, detect cavities and early signs of tooth decay, as well as catch and treat oral health problems early. During an oral exam, your dentist can also check the health of your mouth, teeth, gums, cheeks, and tongue. Checkups will also include a thorough teeth cleaning and polishing.

If you have not been to the dentist in the last six months, let us know during your next adjustment visit and we will provide a few great references in the Carlsbad, CA area!

Tips for Handling and Avoiding Orthodontic Emergencies

December 9th, 2014

The best way to avoid orthodontic emergencies is to know how to take care of your braces properly throughout your entire treatment. However, emergencies are … well, emergencies, and sometimes no matter how cautious you are or how well you take care of your braces, the wires loosen, the bands pop, or you experience orthodontic discomfort.

Common orthodontic emergencies include broken braces, poking wires, lost or broken retainers, mouth sores, and mouth injuries sustained playing sports, which often happens when you don’t wear a mouthguard to protect your teeth and appliance.

Food

It’s important to avoid foods that can damage your braces. Most people wear braces for about two years. All chewy, sticky, crunchy, and hard foods should be avoided during that time. While this may seem like a long time to go without popcorn or bubble gum, hard foods can break the brackets of your braces and sticky foods can bend the wires. If you have a loose wire, don’t try to fix it yourself. Call Willes Orthodontics. In the meantime, if a wire is poking into your cheek or lip and causing irritation, put wax or a wet cotton ball over it to dull the sharp edge.

Pain and Discomfort

Some discomfort is a normal part of orthodontic treatment, especially in the hours after the braces are placed on your teeth or after a recent tightening or adjustment. However, if the pain doesn’t subside in three to five days, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment at Willes Orthodontics. Until then, try dissolving a teaspoon of salt in an eight-ounce glass of water and gargling with the solution. Over-the-counter pain medication will relieve discomfort, too.

Playing Sports

Just because you wear braces doesn’t mean you can’t play sports. You just need to take some extra precautions. Sports-related injuries to the mouth and jaw are common. The best way to protect your mouth and your appliance is to wear a mouthguard. There are several different types of mouthguards available, so be sure to ask Dr. Michael Willes what’s best for you.

Brushing and Flossing

In order to keep your braces in good condition and avoid orthodontic emergencies, it’s important to brush and floss thoroughly after every meal. It’s easy for small particles of food to get trapped in your braces, and if the food isn’t removed, it gets wedged between the teeth and gums and causes plaque.

Need more tips on how to avoid orthodontic emergencies? Just ask any member of our Carlsbad, CA team.

When is the best age to begin orthodontic treatment?

December 2nd, 2014

Most parents know that routine dental care should begin during their child’s toddler years. And many assume they must wait until their child has all of his or her permanent teeth to visit Dr. Michael Willes for an initial orthodontic consultation.

The ideal age for an orthodontic evaluation is age seven. At that age, your child will have a mixture of adult and baby teeth for Dr. Michael Willes and our team at Willes Orthodontics to make a determination about whether any problems are present. Typically the first molars have come in by the time your child turns seven, giving us an opportunity to check for malocclusion, also known as “bad bite.” Also, by the time your child reaches the age of seven, the incisors have begun to come in, and problems such as crowding, deep bites, and open bites can be detected.

When Dr. Michael Willes and our team perform an evaluation on your child at an early age, you get one of two positive outcomes. Although treatment usually will not begin until one to five years after the initial evaluation, it’s still helpful in determining whether your child has any problems with the jaw and teeth early when they are still easy to treat. Earlier treatment can also cost less to correct a potential problem than delayed treatment.

Early evaluation, of course, may signal a need for early treatment. For some children, early treatment can prevent physical and emotional trauma. Aside from spurring years of harmful teasing, misaligned teeth are also prone to injury and are detrimental to good oral hygiene.

If your child is approaching age seven, or has already surpassed his or her seventh birthday, it is time to schedule an appointment for an initial examination at Willes Orthodontics.

It is with deep sadness that we let you know of the passing of our friend Roberta Buckley

November 25th, 2014

For over 15 years, Roberta's smiling face welcomed people to Willes Orthodontics, where she took care of everyone as if they were family.

She had a smile and a kind word for all, and sought to serve the patients, families, and team members of our little office with heartwarming devotion.

Her whole life was one of welcoming and caring. We will all miss her.

Her services are scheduled for 11am December 6th at the United Methodist Church of Vista, 490 Melrose Drive, 92081.

In lieu of flowers, her family requests donations in behalf of Roberta L. Buckley to the Arthritis Foundation of San Diego:

Arthritis Foundation-- Greater San Diego Office
8555 Aero Drive, Suite 200
San Diego, CA 92123
Nancy Coate-- Executice Director
(858) 492-1090, ncoate@arthritis.org

Thanksgiving Trivia

November 25th, 2014

At Willes Orthodontics we love learning trivia and interesting facts about Thanksgiving! This year, Dr. Michael Willes wanted to share some trivia that might help you feel a bit smarter at the holiday dinner table and help create some great conversation with friends and family.

The Turkey

There is no historical evidence that turkey was eaten at the first Thanksgiving dinner. It was a three-day party shared by the Wamponoag Indians and the pilgrims in 1621. Historians say they likely ate venison and seafood.

According to National Geographic, the dinner at the Plymouth colony was in October and included about 50 English colonists and 90 American Indian men. The first Thanksgiving dinner could have included corn, geese, and pumpkin.

Today, turkey is the meat of choice. According to the National Turkey Association, about 690 million pounds of turkey are consumed during Thanksgiving, or about 46 million turkeys.

The Side Dishes

The green bean casserole became popular about 50 years ago. Created by the Campbell Soup Company, it remains a popular side dish. According to Campbell’s, it was developed when the company was creating an annual holiday cookbook. The company now sells about $20 million worth of cream of mushroom soup each year, which is a major part of the recipe.

While there were likely plenty of cranberries for the pilgrims and Indians to enjoy, sugar was a luxury. What we know today as cranberry sauce was not around in those early Thanksgiving days. About 750 million pounds of cranberries are produced each year in the US, with about 30 percent consumed on Thanksgiving.

The Parade

Since Thanksgiving did not become a national holiday until Lincoln declared it in 1863, the annual parades were not yearly events until much later. The biggest parade that continues to draw crowds is the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Beginning in 1924 with about 400 employees, they marched from Convent Avenue to 145th Street in New York City. Famous for the huge hot-air balloons today, it was actually live animals borrowed from the Central Park Zoo that were the stars of the show then.

However you choose to spend your Thanksgiving holiday, we wish you a safe, happy and healthy holiday with those you love.

Five Fun Ways to Count Down Your Braces Time

November 18th, 2014

Braces can straighten your teeth to give you a more attractive smile for life. The process can take 18 months to two years or more, and this amount of time can seem unending when you first get your braces. Counting down your brace time can help the time pass more quickly and build the excitement for when you finally get your braces removed.

Make a Wall Calendar

Crossing out each day on a calendar is a standard way of counting down time. You can make this more personal by designing your own calendar to help you count down. Use an online customization service to upload photos or designs for each month. Each month’s picture can also display the number of months remaining until you expect your braces to come off.

Schedule Rewards

When you receive regular rewards for continuing to wear your braces, they can seem less burdensome. Plan to buy yourself a reward every month that you wear your braces for the duration of the treatment. The time will pass much faster when you feel you are earning rewards for your patience.

Lengthen a Paper Chain

Use strips of paper to make the links of your chain, and add a new link each week to lengthen the chain. Before sealing each new strip of paper into a circle, write on it a reason why you are getting your teeth straightened, or an event in the future when you will appreciate your straight teeth as you smile.

Use a Wall Hanging

Purchase a large pad of blank white paper. Write a “0” on the bottom sheet and a “1” on the next, and continue until you reach the number of days remaining in your treatment. Rip off the top sheet each day to see how many days are left and remind yourself of the progress you are making.

Find a Buddy

If any of your friends get braces around the same time as you, share the experience. Make a pact to celebrate each trip to Willes Orthodontics when one of you receives news about your progress.

What is malocclusion?

November 11th, 2014

The term malocclusion refers to misalignment of teeth. You may have been born with malocclusion, so your teeth simply grew in crooked, or the misalignment and crowding of your teeth occurred over a period of time. Either way, not only can malocclusion pose cosmetic issues, but it can have a negative effect on your speaking and eating abilities as well.

Types of Malocclusion

Malocclusion encompasses multiple types and classifications of misalignment issues, including twisting or rotation of the teeth and molars that do not meet when you bite down. In some cases, the top front teeth are pushed outward in an upper protrusion.

In other cases, a misplaced midline results when the front top teeth don’t meet with the front bottom teeth. Transposition occurs when teeth protrude through the gums in a position where another tooth is supposed to be.

Practically any type of crowding or spacing issues, rotation or twisting of the teeth, or bite problem – including overbite, underbite, open bite, or crossbite – is included under the umbrella of malocclusion.

Malocclusion Classifications

There are three classifications of bite or misalignment problem.

  • Class 1 malocclusion: While the bite may be normal, the upper teeth overlap the lower teeth slightly. This is the most common type.
  • Class 2 malocclusion: Known as overbite or retrognathism, class 2 involves a severe overlap of the upper teeth and jaw over the bottom teeth and jaw.
  • Class 3 malocclusion: Known as underbite or prognathism, class 3 occurs when the lower teeth and jaw overlap the upper teeth and jaw. Thus, the lower jaw juts forward.

Causes of Malocclusion

The most common cause of malocclusion is genetics. However, there may be other causes, including the development of abnormally-shaped teeth, lost teeth, or impacted teeth; thumb sucking or overuse of a pacifier as a small child; having fillings or crowns that do not fit correctly; a serious injury that causes misalignment of the jaw; or developing a tumor of the mouth or jaw.

Treating Malocclusion

Orthodontic care at Willes Orthodontics with Dr. Michael Willes is the main treatment available for malocclusion, which includes getting braces, Invisalign, or other corrective treatments. Treatment is ideal not just to have your smile improved, but because it makes the teeth easier to clean and maintain, lowers the risk of gum disease and tooth decay, and can even take pressure off the jaw and teeth.

Think about orthodontic treatment if you (or your child) display any signs of malocclusion. Early treatment of malocclusion during childhood can lessen expensive treatment later on.

The Effects of Biting Your Nails

November 4th, 2014

Also known as onchophagia, the habit of nail biting is one of the so-called “nervous habits” that can be triggered by stress, excitement, or boredom. Approximately half of all kids between the ages of ten and 18 have been nail biters at one time or another. Experts say that about 30 percent of children and 15 percent of adults are nail biters, however most people stop chewing their nails by the time they turn 30.

Here are four dental and general reasons to stop biting your nails:

1. It’s unsanitary: Your nails harbor bacteria and germs, and are almost twice as dirty as fingers. What’s more, swallowing dirty nails can lead to stomach problems.

2. It wears down your teeth: Gnawing your nails can put added stress on your pearly whites, which can lead to crooked teeth.

3. It can delay your orthodontic treatment: For those of our patients wearing braces, nail biting puts additional pressure on teeth and weakens roots.

4. It can cost you, literally: It has been estimated that up to $4,000 in extra dental bills can build up over a lifetime.

Dr. Michael Willes and our team recommend the following to kick your nail biting habit:

  • Keep your nails trimmed short; you’ll have less of a nail to bite.
  • Coat your nails with a bitter-tasting nail polish.
  • Ask us about obtaining a mouthguard, which can help prevent nail biting.
  • Put a rubber band around your wrist and snap it whenever you get the urge to gnaw on your nails.
  • Think about when and why you chew your nails. Whether you are nervous or just bored, understanding the triggers can help you find a solution and stop the habit.
  • If you can’t stop, behavioral therapy may be an effective option to stop nail biting. Ask Dr. Michael Willes and our team for a recommendation.

Halloween Fun with Braces

October 29th, 2014

Halloween is a favorite holiday among children due to the festive games, imaginative costumes, and candy. Modern celebrations stem from a combination of traditions from Pagan and Christian traditions throughout the centuries. The original holiday was called Samhain and derived from the ancient Druids of Ireland. In their belief system, November 1st marked the beginning of winter, and Pagans began their Samhain celebrations at sunset on October 31st.

Modern Celebrations of Halloween

Children and adults love dressing up for Halloween, and this tradition comes from the ancient belief in spirits. From sunset on October 31st until sunrise on November 1st, the souls of the dead entered the physical world. Some spirits were benevolent and wanted only to cross over to the afterlife while others harbored malicious intents of revenge and trickery. Pagans wore masks and disguised themselves so that the malevolent souls would mistake them as fellow spirits.

Families left food and ale outside of their doors to appease the spirits. With the rise of Christianity in Europe, the church encouraged its members to offer food and money to beggars. In exchange, the beggars would agree to pray for the family's deceased loved ones. Eventually these traditions led to the development of today's customs where children dressed up and received candy from their neighbors while circling the community.

Teeth-Friendly Treats

With all of the excitement and free candy on Halloween, it is easy to get carried away on a sugar high. Parents warn their children not to eat too many pieces in one night to avoid tummy aches and cavities. Our team at Willes Orthodontics especially wants to remind children with braces to be extra cautious about the treats they eat because some varieties can get stuck in between the brackets and damage the devices. Sticky candy, such as caramels, fruit chews, and gum should be avoided when wearing braces. Children can trade with their friends and siblings to get only safe candies. The following list offers some alternative treats that children with braces can safely enjoy.

  • Solid chocolate, including milk, white, or dark
  • Nougat-filled candy bars, such as Three Musketeers
  • Candy-coated chocolates like M&Ms
  • Powdery candy, such as Sweet Tarts or Pixie Stix
  • Mint-flavored candy
  • Malted milk balls
  • Cookies
  • Peanut butter crackers or cookies

When in doubt, children should ask their parents or Dr. Michael Willes if a specific candy is safe. Halloween is a fun holiday for children, and having braces does not have to take away any of the excitement from tasty treats.

Not-So-Sweet Sweets: The five worst candies to eat during orthodontic treatment

October 22nd, 2014

Sticky, hard, and gooey: these candies fill your dopamine receptors with spasms of sugar-filled joy, but if you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment at Willes Orthodontics to straighten your teeth, then these sweets are not so sweet. While you may have a Willy-Wonka-sized sweet tooth, there are some candies you’re going to have to avoid while wearing braces.

Here are five bracket- and wire-destroying culprits that Dr. Michael Willes and our team recommend leaving on the candy aisle and not put in your mouth, no matter how tempting they may be.

  1. Gum is sticky and stringy. It can get tangled like fishing net in your braces. You don’t want to be that boy or girl trying to pull knots of Wrigley’s out of your braces without being seen.
  2. All chewy, gooey candies need to be avoided. When you’re wearing braces, don’t even think about putting a caramel candy in your mouth. Caramel will not only stick to your braces, making it look as if you haven’t brushed your teeth in a week, but the gooey texture can pull apart the wires, and trigger an emergency visit to Willes Orthodontics.
  3. Hard candy may seem like a safe choice, but it’s not. What’s the problem? Nobody ever just sucks on hard candy; sooner or later, we bite down on it. Biting a hard candy may cause part of your braces to snap. Furthermore, once the candy is broken into a bunch of little pieces, it’s not uncommon for one of those sugary shards to get wedged between your braces and teeth … and that’s a cavity waiting to happen.
  4. The taffy you enjoy getting at a seaside boardwalk is going to have to go on the back burner. Like caramel, taffy can pull apart and damage your braces. You don’t want to have your expensive orthodontic gear replaced.
  5. Please, just one lollipop? Nope. A lollipop is nothing more than hard candy on a stick. If you can’t have hard candy during orthodontic treatment, then you shouldn't have hard candy on a stick either.

Have any more questions about what you can and can’t eat when you have braces? Please give us a call at our convenient Carlsbad, CA office to learn more, or ask Dr. Michael Willes during your next adjustment visit!

Willes Orthodontics 16th Annual Candy Buy-Back!

October 21st, 2014

For those who enjoy the excitement and events of Halloween but not the sugar-intake that follows, Carlsbad orthodontist Dr. Michael G. Willes is sponsoring his 16th annual Halloween Candy Buy-Back and School Fundraiser on Monday, November 3, 2014 between 3:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. at 740 Oak Avenue in Carlsbad Village.

Dr. Willes will pay kids $2 a pound (up to 5 pounds) to take those hard, sticky, sugary treats off of their hands and away from their teeth. Willes Orthodontics will also donate an additional $2 per pound to participating schools.

To make the trade-in even more appealing, children who choose to cash in their candy will be rewarded with a goody bag containing a fun toothbrush, dental health puzzles, stickers, magnet, etc.

As for all the candy that is bought back, Dr. Willes donates it to Brother Benno’s kitchen in Oceanside where it is distributed a few pieces at a time with the meals served there. After all, a small treat for many people is definitely healthier than one kid eating four pounds in three days. Of course, toothbrushes will also accompany the candy donation—so everybody wins.

This fun, healthy event is open to children throughout the community. For more information or directions, please call 434-5031.

Isabella and Olivia Town happily swap their candy for cash at Willes Orthodontics' Halloween Candy Buy-Back last year.

Your Five-Step Guide to Preventing Tooth Decay While Wearing Braces

October 15th, 2014

If you’re wearing braces, then you know they are working hard to straighten your teeth. However, those hard-working braces are also preventing you from easily cleaning your teeth. It is essential that you put some extra attention into preventing tooth decay while wearing your braces. When your braces are finally removed by Dr. Michael Willes, you want a beautiful, white smile, not decayed or stained teeth. Here, we’ve listed the five best ways to ensure you have the smile you’ve always dreamed of once your braces are gone.

Use a Special Toothbrush

A regular toothbrush just doesn’t cut it when you are wearing braces. You also need to use an interdental toothbrush so that you can effectively clean behind the braces. This type of brush has bristles that are shaped like a Christmas tree that can remove food residue in the braces and on the teeth. We also recommend using a WaterPik, with its highly pressurized pulsating water, to help get all of those hard-to-reach places.

Brush after Every Meal

Since braces block food from naturally escaping your teeth after eating, it’s important that you take the time to brush and floss after every meal. The less time food has to sit on your teeth, the less likely it is to cause decay. This may seem like an inconvenience, but trust us, when you get your braces off, you will be very glad you brushed after every meal.

Don't Forget the Mouth Rinse

Even after properly brushing and flossing, there are probably some food particles in your braces. A fluoride mouth rinse is the best way to ensure that every bit of food is removed after meals. If you do not have a mouth rinse available, we suggest using water — it’s better than nothing.

Avoid Sweets

Prevention is definitely the best medicine when it comes to avoiding tooth decay. If you can nix decay-causing sugary foods from the outset, we promise you’ll spend less time trying to treat problems in the future.

Get Regular Checkups

Visit your dentist regularly while you are wearing braces. Our office recommends a thorough cleaning every three to six months. Let our Carlsbad, CA office know if you have questions about your oral health while in braces - our entire team at Willes Orthodontics is here to make sure your teeth are as beautifully straight as they are healthy!

Braces-Friendly Recipe: Breakfast

October 8th, 2014

Kids can be picky eaters. How many times have you seen your child try to hide the peas under a mound of mashed potatoes?

At Willes Orthodontics, Dr. Michael Willes and our team understand how hard it can be to get your child to eat the recommended daily allowance of fruits and vegetables. The task of providing fun, nutritious meals becomes even more challenging if he or she wears braces. It's an age-old saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. These five braces-friendly recipes are not only nutritious, but they will have little Jimmy flashing his “tin grin” when he sits down at the kitchen table in the morning.

  1. Scrambled eggs are soft and easy to eat if you have braces. If you drown them in ketchup (which many kids love to do), eggs become even mushier. Minimal chewing is required, and that’s the key to a braces-friendly recipe.
  2. A healthy breakfast provides energy and jump-starts metabolism. A smoothie is not only a good source of fruit, but it’s also gentle on braces. More importantly, smoothies are fun to create. You can toss anything in the blender (bananas, mangoes, strawberries, spinach) and create a drink that’s loaded with vitamins and antioxidants.
  3. If you wear braces, eating crunchy cereals or granola for breakfast is out of the question: Bite down the wrong way and you might snap the wires or dislodge the brackets. However, you can get your grains and oats by substituting oatmeal for cereal. This mushy breakfast treat has a host of health benefits.
  4. Pancakes are not the healthiest breakfast choice. Still, this Sunday morning favorite is braces-friendly. The idea is to make it healthier by hiding blueberries in the pancake batter just like your child hides peas in the mashed potatoes.
  5. Toast with jam is ok, but skip slathering peanut butter on the bread. If you have braces, the general rule of thumb is to steer clear of foods that are hard or chewy. These types of foods can break wires. Of course, most kids will agree that toast isn’t the most exciting breakfast recipe. Make it a Pop-Tart instead!

For more braces-friendly recipes, please give us a call at our convenient Carlsbad, CA office!

Halloween Guidelines from the American Association of Orthodontists

October 1st, 2014

Fall can be a really enjoyable time of the year for you and your family. The kids are back in school, the leaves are changing, and Halloween approaches. This holiday is a lot of fun for kids, but Willes Orthodontics wants to remind you it can also be risky, especially for your child’s braces. If you have kids with braces, take a look at the following tips from the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO) on how to keep your kids and their teeth safe this Halloween season.

Important Safety Tips

Trick-or-treating is a favorite Halloween activity for kids everywhere. While it is a great holiday tradition for children, it comes with some potential risks. To keep your kids safe while trick-or-treating, try following these simple guidelines:

  • If you have young children, make sure they are accompanied by an adult at all times.
  • You or your kids should always carry flashlights.
  • For costumes, try to include a light-colored or reflective element that can be easily seen by oncoming traffic.
  • Avoid costumes that include a mask, especially for younger children. These can pose a safety hazard for both the wearers and the people around them.
  • Tell your kids not to eat any of their candy until they arrive home. Be sure to inspect all treats carefully before letting them dig in.

Following these guidelines can help you keep your kids safe on Halloween.

Halloween Treats to Avoid if Your Child Has Braces

If your kids have braces, you’ll want them to steer clear of certain treats on Halloween. Many candies can cause damage to braces, so it’s wise to avoid them while you’re celebrating this fun holiday. Here is a list of treats to stay away from:

  • Hard candies
  • Chewy candies
  • Nuts
  • Caramel
  • Licorice
  • Jelly beans
  • Taffy
  • Bubblegum
  • Hard pretzels
  • Popcorn

Some of these treats may seem harmless, but all of them have the potential to bend or break your child’s braces. So it’s best to avoid eating them altogether.

Braces-Friendly Halloween Treats

If your children have braces, they may feel like they can’t enjoy any treats on Halloween. However, there are plenty of braces-safe treat options for them to choose from, including the following:

 

  • Soft chocolate
  • Peanut butter cups
  • Gelatin treats
  • Ice cream
  • Smoothies
  • Root beer floats
  • Apple cider

These are just a few braces-friendly alternatives to traditional Halloween candy. Helping your kids have a fun and safe Halloween—while at the same time protecting their braces—can be easy if you follow these simple tips and guidelines. Help your kids enjoy the holiday without having to visit Dr. Michael Willes for repair work on damaged braces!

Are braces right for me?

September 24th, 2014

According to Preferred Consumer, it's estimated that 50 percent of people around the world have teeth that are crooked, not aligned properly, or irregular. Fortunately today, orthodontics has advanced to the point where corrective devices, such as braces and retainers, are less obvious, more comfortable, and can be worn for shorter periods of time.

So, with that being said, how do you know if braces are right for you? Typically your dentist will be able to point out any issues with your teeth at your regular six-month cleanings and recommend you to an orthodontist. But here are some other things to keep in mind when deciding whether or not braces could be in your future:

Crooked Teeth

As children grow, so do their teeth. And more often than not, certain teeth will grow in crooked. This isn't uncommon, as the majority of children will require some sort of teeth correction, whether that’s braces or retainers. Retainers are custom-made devices that either work to hold teeth in place or correct tooth alignment. They're often worn all day, aside from meals, at the start of the treatment period and then eventually are rolled back so they're just worn at night. Braces on the other hand are worn for at least a year and work to help straighten or position teeth.

Overbite or Underbite

The other main oral issue that orthodontics helps correct is uneven alignment, such as an underbite or an overbite. You might hear Dr. Michael Willes refer to this as a "malocclusion," which means "bad bite." Braces can help rearrange your alignment so an overbite or underbite is less of a problem. Typically after the braces come off for this sort of treatment, patients need to wear a retainer from Willes Orthodontics to finish the treatment.

While braces are typically associated with dental issues in children, more adults are wearing the devices as well. About one in every five braces wearers are adults; a sign that it's never too late to correct any oral issues. Part of this is due to the technological advancements in orthodontics. For instance, new braces feel much better and come in a variety of styles — including clear — so they're far less obvious. Plus, the wires on braces are now made from advanced metals, which are stronger and lighter, so they get the job done much more efficiently. With so many people wearing braces these days, nicknames like "metal mouth" and "brace face" are almost a thing of the past. What's more, is that insurance plans are increasingly covering orthodontic treatment, making braces a much more feasible option for families on a budget.

When weighing whether or not braces are in your future, it's important to study all of your options about the styles of braces and what treatment option is best for you. Also be sure to contact your insurance provider to see what is covered and what will have to be paid out of pocket. It might take a few years of treatment, but braces can give you that winning smile for the rest of your life. Call our Carlsbad, CA office with any questions you might have!

How does wisdom tooth removal affect orthodontic care?

September 17th, 2014

The purpose of braces and other forms of orthodontic treatment at Willes Orthodontics is to correct malocclusion, also known as crooked or crowded teeth, or “bad bites.” Past orthodontic practice dictated that wisdom teeth be removed, especially in cases of crowding.

The wisdom teeth are the last teeth to come in, and are officially known as the third molars. The teeth typically erupt, or break the surface of the skin, in young people between the ages of 13 and 20.

Sometimes, wisdom teeth are impacted. That means they cannot break through the gum tissue. This typically happens when the mouth or jaw is too small to accommodate the teeth. Impacted wisdom teeth can become infected, and some dentists and orthodontists may want to remove them as prophylaxis to prevent possible future infection.

Justification for removing wisdom teeth

Dr. Michael Willes will tell you that in some cases, wisdom teeth attempt to come in the wrong way, either tilting in the jaw, or sideways. If the mouth is too small to accommodate these additional teeth, they inevitably become impacted. Swelling or infection of the gum flap above an impacted wisdom tooth may cause pain. The greatest danger is pericoronitis, a potentially dangerous infection that can occur in the gum area around an impacted wisdom tooth, or around a wisdom tooth that has erupted.

Orthodontists base their decision to remove wisdom teeth on each patient's individual circumstances. To learn more about the impact wisdom teeth have on orthodontic treatment, or to schedule a visit with Dr. Michael Willes, please give us a call at our convenient Carlsbad, CA office!

How do I know if I need braces?

September 10th, 2014

Perhaps you feel your teeth are not perfectly straight, or you think your bite could be adjusted. It’s quite possible that braces and other orthodontic treatments might be the right choice for you. As orthodontic professionals, our team at Willes Orthodontics works with your general dentist in order to determine the best options for your oral health and cosmetic appearance.

You might need braces if ...

  • You lost your baby teeth relatively early in life. If your baby teeth fell out too early and your adult teeth did not come in for a while, this could have affected the way your adult teeth grew and developed.
  • Your teeth look crowded or crooked. If you are embarrassed to smile because your teeth are not straight, it might be time to consider the cosmetic options available to you.
  • Your jaw shifts or makes sounds. This can signify a developmental issue with your teeth and your jaw line, and orthodontic treatment may be able to help. Set up an appointment with Dr. Michael Willes if your jaw is recessed or protruding as well.
  • You are constantly biting the sides of your cheek or hitting the roof of your mouth. This could indicate that your teeth are not properly aligned. Braces can address an underbite or an overbite.
  • You have a difficult time chewing your food. This is not only an inconvenience, but it can also be detrimental for your health. Braces can help fix the alignment of your teeth.
  • You have to breathe through your mouth on a regular basis. You may not attribute this to an issue with the development of your teeth or jaw, but orthodontic treatment might be able to help.

The ideal age for a child to be seen by an orthodontist is age seven. However, there are many orthodontic treatment options available to adults. It is becoming increasingly common for adults to wear braces and other orthodontic devices. We recommend that people who are interested in braces and other orthodontic treatment options set up a consultation appointment with Dr. Michael Willes today.

September is Self-Improvement Month!

September 3rd, 2014

These days, Americans everywhere are putting greater emphasis on health and self-improvement, and more people are seeking orthodontic treatment to improve their smile. September happens to be Self-Improvement Month, and our team at Willes Orthodontics knows that orthodontic treatment is an investment in self-improvement that will provide benefits for a lifetime. Recent advances in orthodontia now make treatment more comfortable for many interested in obtaining that beautiful smile.

Not only does orthodontic treatment give you a beautiful smile, it can also benefit your dental and general health. If teeth are poorly aligned, removing plaque and tartar by brushing and flossing may be difficult. A bad bite may result in fractured or excessively worn tooth surfaces, and the extra stress caused by a bad bite may even result in problems with your jaw joints.

If you’ve been thinking about getting that perfect smile, Dr. Michael Willes would love to have you visit for an initial consultation. Please give us a call to schedule a visit! See you soon!

Happy Labor Day!

August 27th, 2014

Labor Day is upon us, and that means the non-official end to summer. Before the kids head back to school and temperatures start to cool down, this is your last chance to barbeque in the beautiful Carlsbad, CA community, head to the lake, and wear your favorite pair of white pants.

About Labor Day

Each year, Labor Day is celebrated on the first Monday of September. It is the one day of year Americans celebrate their achievements in work, which the US Department of Labor says has contributed to prosperity and well-being of America as a whole. Americans have been celebrating Labor Day since the 1880s, and today it is an official federal holiday.

Interesting Facts About Labor Day

  • Every year, more than 30 million Americans travel over Labor Day weekend.
  • Canada was the first to celebrate Labor Day, and the US soon followed.
  • President Cleveland made Labor Day and official US holiday in 1894.
  • Labor Day marks the beginning of the NFL and NCAA sports seasons for fans.
  • Labor Day marks the end of hot dog season, when Americans consume seven billion hot dogs.

Thanks for being a valued patient of our orthodontic office. Our staff would like to wish you a safe and happy Labor Day weekend. Enjoy your time off!

The Evolution of Braces

August 20th, 2014

Did you know that even in ancient times, people wanted to improve the look and function of their smiles? Willes Orthodontics thinks of modern orthodontic appliances as sleek, efficient technology, but this was not always so! Take a look at the highlights in the evolution of braces.

Ancient Times: From Greece to Rome

  • According to The Angle Orthodontist, Aristotle and Hippocrates first thought about methods for straightening teeth between 400 and 300 BC.
  • The Etruscans, in what we now know as Italy, buried their dead with appliances that maintained spaces and prevented collapse of their teeth and jaws during life. Archaeologists have discovered mummified remains in various locations that have metal bands wrapped around the teeth.
  • A Roman tomb has also been discovered in which the teeth were bound with gold wire, including documentation on the wire’s use as a dental device.

18th Century: A French Development

  • The French dentist Pierre Fauchard is acknowledged as the father of modern dentistry. In 1728 he published a book that described various methods for straightening teeth. Fauchard also used a device known as a “blandeau” to widen the upper palate.
  • Louis Bourdet was another French dentist who published a book in 1754 that discussed tooth alignment. Bourdet further refined the blandeau and was the first dentist to extract bicuspids, or the premolar teeth between canines and molars, for the purpose of reducing tooth crowding.

19th Century: Orthodontics Defined

  • Orthodontics started to become a separate dental specialty during the early 19th century. The first wire crib was used in 1819, marking the beginning of modern orthodontics.
  • During this period, gold, platinum, silver, steel, gum rubber, vulcanite, and occasionally wood, ivory, zinc, and copper were used — as was brass in the form of loops, hooks, spurs, and ligatures.
  • Edward Maynard first used gum elastics in 1843 and E. J. Tucker began making rubber bands for braces in 1850.
  • Norman W. Kingsley published the first paper on modern orthodontics in 1858 and J. N. Farrar was the first dentist to recommend the use of force over timed intervals to straighten teeth.

20th Century: New Materials Abound

  • Edward Angle developed the first classification systems for malocclusions (misaligned teeth) during the early 20th century in the United States, and it is still in use today. Angle founded the American Society of Orthodontia in 1901, which was renamed the American Association of Orthodontists in the 1930s.
  • By the 1960s, gold was universally abandoned in favor of stainless steel.
  • Lingual braces were the “invisible” braces of choice until the early 1980s, when tooth-colored aesthetic brackets made from single-crystal sapphire and ceramics became popular

Today

As we arrive in the present, you need only look at your own braces to see how far we’ve come. Your treatment plan was probably created with a 3D digital model, and we’ve likely used a computerized process to customize your archwires. Perhaps you have clear aligners, self-ligating brackets, or highly resilient ceramic brackets with heat-activated wires.

Orthodontics has come a long way from the days of Aristotle, and even the bulky wrap-around braces of just 60 years ago. Regardless of your specific treatment plan, the development of high-tech materials and methods has made it possible for your orthodontic experience to be as effective, efficient, and comfortable as possible. Call our office in Carlsbad, CA to schedule your first orthodontic consultation!

Sports and Energy Drink Consumption Damages Tooth Enamel

August 13th, 2014

While they may sound refreshing, especially after participating in sports activities or after a jog, recent studies suggest that energy and sports drinks can damage tooth enamel, thus elevating your cavity risk. These drinks are especially popular among our younger patients.

In the study, researchers analyzed the fluoride content and pH levels of 13 sports and nine energy drinks by soaking tooth enamel samples in the aforementioned drinks. The samples were soaked for 15 minutes in each drink, and then were soaked for two hours in artificial saliva four times a day for five days.

As much as sports drinks are harmful to your teeth, researchers found that exposure to energy drinks such as Rockstar, Monster®, and Red Bull® resulted in twice as much enamel loss as exposure to sports drinks such as Powerade®, Gatorade®, and Propel® (3.1 percent to 1.5 percent).

Yes, there are health benefits to consuming orange juice, fruit juices, sports drinks, and flavored waters, which can contain valuable ingredients such as vitamin C and other antioxidants; these drinks can also replenish nutrients lost during a sporting event and lower the chance of heart disease and cancer. But, if not consumed carefully, these beverages can harm your teeth. They are full of sugar, which converts to acid and wears away at your teeth, causing cavities, sensitivity, and eventually tooth loss.

Even one drink a day is potentially harmful, but if you are absolutely unable to give up that sports or energy drink habit, we encourage you to minimize their use and rinse with water afterward or chew a sugar-free piece of gum. Do not brush immediately after drinking them; softened enamel due to acid is easier to damage, even when brushing. Remember, it takes your mouth approximately 30 minutes to bring its pH level back to normal. The best thing to do is to wait an hour, then brush to remove sugar that lingers on your teeth and gums.

There are many sports drinks, energy drinks, and flavored waters out there today. Dr. Michael Willes and our team recommend you take the time to read the labels. Check for sugar content and citric acid in the ingredients. If you have any questions, or would like suggestions on the best sports drink options, please give us a call at our Carlsbad, CA office or ask us during your next visit!

What is a water pick and do I need one?

August 6th, 2014

Water picks, sometimes called “oral irrigators,” make an excellent addition to your regular home care regimen of brushing and flossing. Especially helpful to those who suffer from periodontal disease and those patients of ours undergoing orthodontic treatment with full-bracketed braces, water picks use powerful tiny bursts of water to dislodge food scraps, bacteria, and other debris nestled in the crevices of your mouth. Children undergoing orthodontic treatment may find using a water pick is beneficial if their toothbrush bristles tend to get caught on their wires or brackets.

When you use a water pick, you’re not only dislodging any particles or debris and bacteria you might have missed when brushing, you are also gently massaging the gums, which helps promote blood flow in the gums and keeps them healthy. While water picks are an excellent addition to your daily fight against gingivitis and other periodontal diseases, they are incapable of fully removing plaque, which is why Dr. Michael Willes and our team at Willes Orthodontics want to remind you to keep brushing and flossing every day.

If you have sensitive teeth or gums and find it uncomfortable to floss daily, water picks are a good alternative to reduce discomfort while effectively cleaning between teeth. Diabetics sometimes prefer water picks to flossing because they don't cause bleeding of the gums, which can be a problem with floss. If you have a permanent bridge, crowns, or other dental restoration, you may find that a water pick helps you keep the area around the restorations clean.

So how do you choose the right water pick?

Water picks are available for home or portable use. The home versions tend to be larger and use standard electrical outlets, while portable models use batteries. Aside from the size difference, they work in the same manner, both using pulsating water streams. A more crucial difference between water picks is the ability to adjust the pressure. Most home models will let you choose from several pressure settings, depending on how sensitive your teeth and gums are. Most portable models have only one pressure setting. If you want to use mouthwash or a dental rinse in your water pick, check the label first; some models suggest using water only.

Please give us a call at our Carlsbad, CA office if you have any questions about water picks, or ask Dr. Michael Willes during your next visit!

What is early intervention?

July 30th, 2014

Many developing orthodontic problems can be intercepted and corrected if diagnosed and treated at an early age. Dr. Michael Willes and our team at Willes Orthodontics recommend children have their first orthodontic evaluation no later than age seven, or younger if the front four permanent teeth have replaced the baby teeth. Early treatment, also known as interceptive treatment or Phase I treatment, provides both timely detection of problems and greater opportunity for more effective treatment. Early intervention guides growth and development, preventing serious problems later.

If your child is showing these signs, it may be time to think about early orthodontic treatment:

  • Early or late loss of baby teeth (your child should typically start losing teeth around age five or six, and will have all their permanent teeth in around age 12 to 13)
  • Difficulty chewing and/or biting
  • Mouth breathing
  • Sucking his or her thumb
  • Speech impediment
  • Protruding teeth (the top teeth and the bottom teeth extend away from each other)
  • Crowded front teeth
  • Teeth that don't come together in a normal manner or even at all

Early intervention will greatly reduce the severity of your child’s case, and therefore reduce the length of treatment time and cost for a second phase of treatment when all of his or her permanent teeth have erupted. An evaluation at our Carlsbad, CA office will determine if your child’s dental and skeletal growth is proceeding properly or if interceptive treatment is needed. Many times, a more severe problem can be corrected using sophisticated removable appliances instead of traditional orthodontic treatment.

To schedule a consultation for your child to visit with Dr. Michael Willes, please give us a call! We will provide your child with an initial exam, and discuss with you the best steps to take toward caring for your child's smile.

Smile with Invisalign Teen®!

July 23rd, 2014

Invisalign Teen is designed with today’s youth in mind. These clear, removable orthodontic aligners can straighten your teeth without the need for metal wires and brackets. Unlike traditional braces, Invisalign Teen aligners are comfortable, nearly invisible, and removable, which allows you to remove them as you eat your favorite foods and brush and floss your teeth. Invisalign Teen motivates teenagers to enjoy life without restrictions while promoting better overall dental care.

Key features of Invisalign Teen

Teenagers are constantly on the move and require special options when it comes to their braces. Invisalign Teen utilizes the same technology as Invisalign for adults; they consist of a series of clear plastic aligners that gradually move the teeth. Extra features designed especially for teens include:

  • Blue wear-indicators on the aligners that gradually fade from blue to clear to help you, and our team, gauge wear time
  • Aligners designed to compensate for the growth of molars and new teeth
  • Customization to fit your mouth correctly and comfortably
  • Removable and nearly transparent to ensure you can eat with freedom and smile with confidence
  • Six free individual replacement aligners in the event that your aligners become misplaced or lost

Conditions improved by Invisalign Teen

Between 70 and 80 percent of adolescents in the United States require braces, according to the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO). Invisalign Teen uses advanced technology to treat a broad range of orthodontic conditions. These include overbite, underbite, crossbite, widely-spaced teeth, and overly crowded teeth. Injuries and tooth and jaw problems may also require the use of braces to correct jaw and teeth alignment problems.

How does Invisalign Teen work?

Like any orthodontic treatment, Invisalign Teen requires a customized treatment plan created by Dr. Michael Willes. Generally, each set of aligners is worn for approximately two weeks and removed when you brush, floss, eat, and drink. Your teeth will gradually move with the series of aligners, which typically ranges from 18 to 30 aligners in total. You’ll visit our Carlsbad, CA office every eight to ten weeks to check your progress and make any needed adjustments.

Invisalign Teen introduces a whole new way to make your smile straight without the unappealing look and hassle of traditional metal braces. This revolutionary method of correcting smiles is being used by teens everywhere, including right here at Willes Orthodontics, to straighten their teeth with confidence.

Is Invisalign Teen® right for my child?

July 16th, 2014

Straightening your teeth with traditional braces used to be something of a public affair. While traditional teeth-straightening methods yielded high-quality results, it was also essentially impossible to wear them undetected as you went about your day. The visibility of braces could be especially troubling to teens in the high-stress environment of high school and even during the early years of college.

With Invisalign Teen, Dr. Michael Willes and our team at Willes Orthodontics will tell you that many of those concerns are no longer as relevant as they once were. Because Invisalign Teen aligners are constructed out of a plastic that is both smooth and clear, in all likelihood friends and family members won’t even realize the teen is wearing them. The smooth and clear plastic also makes the aligners much more comfortable than traditional braces, which means the teenaged user won’t have to deal with something large and obstructive in his or her mouth.

Additionally, the Invisalign Teen aligners are specifically made to be removable when the need arises. Your son or daughter won’t have to worry about getting food stuck in the alignment trays because they can be pulled out before a meal and popped back in afterwards. Invisalign Teen wearers can remove the aligners before brushing, which allows them to make sure their teeth are free and clear of all obstructions.

Invisalign Teen aligners also allow wearers to keep doing all the activities they have previously enjoyed. If your teen plays sports, for example, he or she won't have to worry about a mouth filled with metal brackets getting injured during play. If your teen plays an instrument, he or she won’t have to worry about traditional braces affecting normal playing techniques. The aligners will remain both comfortable and convenient during all of those activities and more.

If your teen is concerned about physical appearance and worried that braces will adversely affect his or her life for a year or more, Invisalign Teen treatment with Dr. Michael Willes is definitely the right choice. Teens don’t have to be shy about their smile, won’t have to change any of the activities they normally do, and will still get all the benefits of straight teeth when the process is completed.

For more information about Invisalign Teen, or to schedule an initial consultation with Dr. Michael Willes, please give us a call at our convenient Carlsbad, CA office today!

What is orthognathic surgery?

July 9th, 2014

Orthognathic surgery is surgery to correct a wide variety of abnormalities of our patients' jaw and teeth. The surgery is often done in conjunction with orthodontic treatment. While the patient’s appearance may be significantly improved as a result, the primary purpose of the surgery is to correct functional problems including but not limited to:

  • Unbalanced facial appearance
  • Protruding jaw
  • Open bite (upper and lower teeth don’t overlap properly
  • Excessive wearing down of the teeth
  • Difficulty with chewing or biting
  • Chronic mouth breathing
  • Sleeping problems such as sleep apnea
  • TMJ pain (jaw joint pain)
  • Restoring facial injuries

Knowing when to start the orthodontic treatment in preparation for orthognathic surgery can also be tricky if our team at Willes Orthodontics is treating a teenager. It is important to know when to get started. If orthodontic treatment is initiated too soon and the teenager is still growing, the patient will either need to hold in braces until his or her growth is complete and they are ready for surgery or the braces will have to be removed and then placed again when growth is complete. Neither of these options is attractive since it requires longer time in treatment, which is something all our patients want to avoid. Our team at Willes Orthodontics strives to get all patients finished with treatment as quickly as possible because it is healthier for the teeth and gums and gives them a beautiful smile to enjoy for a lifetime.

If you are considering orthognathic surgery or you have been told that you need jaw surgery, give us a call to schedule your initial consultation today. Dr. Michael Willes and our team at Willes Orthodontics will explain our treatment plan in a way you will understand and we will keep you informed every step of the way.

Happy Fourth of July!

July 2nd, 2014

Happy Independence Day from Dr. Michael Willes and team! The Fourth of July celebrations in America may have changed a lot over the years, but there is no doubt that we Americans love to celebrate the anniversary of our country's independence! Today we're devoting the Willes Orthodontics blog to some fun facts about the Fourth!

  • My, how we have grown! This year the United States Census Bureau estimates that our country has 313.9 million residents celebrating the Fourth of July this year, but back in 1776 there were just 2.5 million members of the country.
  • Our country loves to show how proud that we are of our independence. Did you know that there are 31 United States places with the word “Liberty” in their names? The state of Iowa actually has four towns with the word Liberty in the name: Libertyville, New Liberty, North Liberty, and West Liberty.
  • The United States loves Fourth of July food! It is expected that around 150 million hot dogs are eaten on the Fourth each year. One of the Fourth's most popular sides, potato salad, goes just perfectly with the hotdogs and hamburgers that are standard Fourth of July fare. Some people choose potato chips instead, but we wouldn't have such a plethora of potatoes if not for the prodigious production of the states of Idaho and Washington -- they provide about half of all the potatoes in the United States today!
  • Americans love celebrating the Fourth outdoors: About 74 million Americans fire up their BBQ grill every Fourth of July.
  • The Chinese contribution: Did you know that Americans have spent more than $211 million on fireworks that were imported from China?

No matter how your family chooses to celebrate the Fourth, stay safe, take precautions, and don't forget to brush after your fabulous Fourth feast!

Proper Diet while Undergoing Orthodontics

June 25th, 2014

Many people undergo orthodontic treatment during childhood, adolescence, and even into adulthood. Wearing orthodontic appliances like braces is sure to produce a beautiful smile. Though orthodontic treatments at Willes Orthodontics are designed to accommodate your lifestyle, chances are you will need to make some dietary modifications to prevent damage to your braces and prolong orthodontic treatment.

The First Few Days with Braces

The first few days wearing braces may be the most restrictive. During this time, the adhesive is still curing, which means you will need to consume only soft foods. This probably will not be a problem, however, as your teeth may be tender or sensitive while adjusting to the appliances.

Orthodontic Dietary Restrictions

You can eat most foods normally the way you did without braces. However, some foods can damage orthodontic appliances or cause them to come loose. Examples of foods you will need to avoid include:

  • Chewy foods like taffy, chewing gum, beef jerky, and bagels
  • Hard foods like peanuts, ice chips, and hard candy
  • Crunchy foods like chips, apples, and carrots

How to Continue to Eat the Foods You Love Most

Keep in mind that you may still be able to enjoy some of the foods you love by making certain modifications to the way you eat them. For example, steaming or roasting carrots makes them softer and easier to consume with braces. Similarly, you can remove corn from the cob, or cut up produce like apples and pears to avoid biting into them. Other tips include grinding nuts into your yogurt or dipping hard cookies into milk to soften them. If you must eat hard candies, simply suck on them instead of biting into them.

If you have any question whether a food is safe to eat during your treatment with Willes Orthodontics, we encourage you to err on the side of caution. Of course, you can always contact our Carlsbad, CA office with any questions you have about your diet and the foods that should be avoided during treatment. By following our dietary instructions and protecting your orthodontic appliances from damage, you will be back to chewing gum in no time.

What's the difference between an orthodontist and a dentist?

June 18th, 2014

Orthodontists and dentists both help patients improve their oral health, but in different ways. Dentistry is a broad medical specialty that deals with the teeth, gum, nerves, and jaw, while orthodontics is a specialty within dentistry that focuses on correcting bites, occlusion, and the straightness of teeth. One important difference is that all orthodontists like Dr. Michael Willes are dentists, but not all dentists are licensed orthodontists.

How are they similar?

The main similarity between a dentist and orthodontist is that they both focus on oral care. An orthodontist can work in a dental office and provide the same care as a dentist. So in this respect, they are quite similar. They are both considered doctors, and deal with the teeth and gums.

How are they different?

There are more differences than similarities. An orthodontist requires additional schooling as a dental specialty; the situation is similar to a doctor who obtains additional schooling to become a surgeon. Another difference is that orthodontists specialize in helping patients with the alignment of their teeth, improving their bite, or fitting them for corrective braces and devices. If a patient has an overbite, a dentist will refer him or her to an orthodontist.

Dentists typically encourage good oral hygiene and provide services related to:

  • Tooth decay
  • Root canals
  • Gum disease
  • Crowns
  • Bridges
  • Veneers
  • Teeth whitening

Orthodontists are dentists that specialize in the alignment of teeth, and provide services related to:

  • Misaligned teeth
  • Crowded teeth
  • Overbite
  • Underbite

What an orthodontist can help with

Orthodontists help with crooked teeth, but they assist patients with other issues as well. These include overbites and underbites, crossbites, spaces between teeth, overcrowding of teeth, and the treatment of temporomandibular disorders (TMD). Additional problems with the jaw also need to be treated by an orthodontist.

While a dentist may be trained to provide orthodontic care in addition to extractions, TMJ treatments, and fillings, trusting your smile to an orthodontist can better balance the different procedures you require.

To learn more about the difference between dentists and orthodontists, or to schedule an initial consultation with Dr. Michael Willes, please give our team at Willes Orthodontics a call at our convenient Carlsbad, CA office.

Should I use a water pick during my treatment?

June 11th, 2014

Dr. Michael Willes and our team at Willes Orthodontics know that for some of our patients wearing braces, it can be difficult to weave through those wires and brackets as you brush and floss during your treatment.

Some of our patients use a water pick to flush out food and other particles and bacteria stuck between their teeth as the water can reach behind the metal wires and hit spots where your floss simply cannot reach. People suffering from gum disease also find water picks quite effective because of their ability to flush out bacteria from inside the deep pockets.

Water picks are friendly to braces and are also gentle on the gums. They are less likely to cause bleeding for people with sensitive teeth or gums. But as many benefits as they may have, Dr. Michael Willes and our team want you to know that water picks should never be used as a substitute for flossing. Though they are great tools for helping improve oral health while you are in treatment, they are just not a good enough tool on their own to keep your mouth and gums gingivitis- and decay-free. Water picks are also incapable of removing plaque from teeth as effectively as floss can. While water picks rinse the sticky bacteria off your teeth, flossing is actually more effective as it actually scrapes the bacteria off of your pearly whites.

If you have any questions about water picks or any general questions or concerns about your orthodontic treatment, we encourage you to please ask us below or give us a call!

June is National Smile Month: Show off your smile!

June 4th, 2014

The community health awareness group Oral Health America has reported that 82 percent of adults are unaware of the role that infectious bacteria can play in tooth decay or cavities, and almost three out of five children aged 12 to 19 have tooth decay. Since June is National Smile Month, Dr. Michael Willes and our team at Willes Orthodontics thought we’d remind our patients about the importance of good oral hygiene visits between office visits.

To keep your family’s smiles healthy and beautiful for years to come, be sure to:

  • Brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
  • Floss every day to clean between your teeth
  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet
  • Reduce your intake of sugary foods and drinks
  • Visit Dr. Michael Willes for scheduled appointments

If you want to know more about healthy home care habits, feel free to ask our team at your next appointment, or ask us on Facebook!

Rubber Band Horoscopes: What your color says about you

May 28th, 2014

One exciting part about wearing braces from Willes Orthodontics is getting to choose the colors of your rubber bands. Orthodontists place elastic bands, or ligatures, over each bracket to secure the archwire in place. These rubber bands may be individual or connected, depending on your mouth’s needs. From Dr. Michael Willes, you have the option of choosing the color of your elastics, which are changed about once every month at every visit. Our offices keep a color wheel handy to help you choose which ones suit you best!

Children and teens often enjoy picking different colors each month to express their creativity and coordinate their braces with outfits. Decorating your mouth with your favorite colors is fun for kids and takes some of the stress out of wearing braces. Adults who wish for subtlety have color options that blend in with the metal brackets and archwire. Common choices for adults include silver, clear, and gray tones.

Common Color Combinations for Rubber Bands

With individual ligatures for each bracket, you may choose different color combinations for special events. You can have alternating colors or place an entire rainbow over your teeth. Here are a few options to consider:

  • School spirit colors
  • Favorite sports team colors
  • Patriotic colors
  • Holiday themes

Some patients choose only one color to match their mood, personality, or favorite outfits. The palette of choices allows you to make bold statements with your braces or go for subtler tones that blend in with the metal structures. Keep in mind that bright colors make your teeth look whiter, while lighter shades, such as yellow and white, may cause your teeth to appear less bright.

What Your Rubber Band Color Says About You

  • Red tones indicate that you are ready for action and take charge of your life with aggressive, forward-thinking steps.
  • Blue tones are calm and relaxing. You are conservative and exhibit integrity when dealing with situations.
  • Green tones represent growth and balance. You are level-headed and look for opportunities to grow emotionally and spiritually.
  • Purple tones attract creative energies. You like to have fun and use your imagination in every aspect of your life.
  • Orange tones indicate that you are optimistic and thrive in social situations where communication is open.
  • Pink is a romantic color that represents a caring personality. You also enjoy having fun with silly games and endless laughter.

Memorial Day: Parades, remembrance, and the unofficial start of summer!

May 21st, 2014

“The purpose of all war is peace.” - Saint Augustine

Fire truck sirens, baton twirlers, marching bands covering patriotic tunes, colorful floats, costumes, and millions of red, white, and blue American flags being waved in the air on a beautiful day in late May, that is what Memorial Day is all about. It is a federal holiday celebrated with town parades, remembrance, and a sense of unity and community togetherness.

Our team at Willes Orthodontics wants to take this time to wish you and your family a happy Memorial Day, as well as pause for a moment to reflect on what this holiday means and how it has changed over time. No, this is not a history lesson, but just a couple of thoughts and observances for you to take with you on your way to the next barbecue.

On the last Monday in May, America observes Memorial Day as a time to remember and celebrate the men and women who have lost their lives while serving our country in the Armed Forces. The holiday originated after the Civil War; at that time it was known as Decoration Day. While holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter remain the same from year to year, Memorial Day has changed over time, and in the 21st century we observe a far different holiday than what Americans did after the Civil War, or even the World Wars.

While many people place flags at cemeteries and visit national memorials in order to honor those who have passed away serving the country, Memorial Day is also a time for family barbecues, pool parties, trips to the beach, blockbuster movies, long weekend getaways, and fireworks. In America, Memorial Day has come to represent the unofficial start of the summer – a long, sunny, warm weekend devoted to family togetherness, outdoor events, and community.

It is time to load up the potato salad and the apple pie and head over to the neighbor’s house for their annual barbecue. And yes, contrary to popular belief, we do eat sweets, especially homemade apple pie! Everything in moderation, of course.

So whether you’re in the Carlsbad, CA area or beyond, Happy Memorial Day to you and yours from Dr. Michael Willes!

How to Protect Your Braces During Sports Activities

May 14th, 2014

Proper mouth protection is recommended by Willes Orthodontics when you participate in any sports activities. If you wear braces, this protection becomes essential. Injuries to your mouth can not only damage your teeth, but your braces could break and cut open your lip.

Full Facial Guards

Full facial guards are often used in football and offer protection to your mouth from most injuries. Even with full facial protection, you may benefit from additional mouth protection. While your face is protected from outside impact, you could still suffer from cuts or damage to your braces from internal impact.

Mouthguards

Mouthguards referred to as boil-and-bites can be purchased at many retail stores. As the name implies, these guards are boiled in water to heat and soften the material. While the guard is still warm, you place it in your mouth and bite down gently. This causes the guard to form to the shape of your mouth. Unfortunately, these guards do not necessarily offer the best protection or fit.

Dr. Michael Willes can make custom mouthguards specifically for you. The custom fitting ensures you of better protection and a comfortable fit. Custom guards are also built in layers for durability. The American Dental Association recommends custom guards for orthodontic patients. Your mouthguard will be designed to provide proper protection for both your teeth and your braces.

No matter what type of sport you participate in, a mouthguard can protect your braces. Even an activity as seemingly harmless as table tennis can result in a contact injury. The Academy for Sports Dentistry states that a properly fitted mouthguard should not interfere with any athletic activity.

Willes Orthodontics will provide you with properly-fitting mouth protection to ensure the safety of your braces and your teeth. We will be glad to answer any questions you have so you can continue the activities you enjoy with little concern. If you do suffer any injuries to your mouth or braces during sporting activities, please contact us immediately. The sooner we can care for your mouth, the better the results will be.

Wishing all our moms a happy Mother’s Day!

May 7th, 2014

"Motherhood: All love begins and ends there." - Robert Browning

We would like to take this moment to thank all the great moms out there for being so great during their child’s visits to Willes Orthodontics. Whether it’s driving their kids to regularly scheduled appointments or for “being there” while their child is treatment, the moms who come to our office are all stellar individuals, so Dr. Michael Willes and our entire staff would like you to know that we appreciate you all!

Happy Mother’s Day and enjoy your special day!

We proudly offer Invisalign Teen®!

April 30th, 2014

Dr. Michael Willes and our team are excited to offer Invisalign Teen, a clear alternative to braces that’s just for teens! With Invisalign Teen, we are able to straighten your teen’s teeth without the hassle, discomfort, and embarrassment of traditional braces.

Invisalign Teen’s clear aligners are virtually invisible. What's more, they are removable, which means your child is free to eat anything they choose, as well as brush and floss with ease! And best of all, Invisalign Teen uses no wires or metal to straighten your teen's teeth.

Invisalign Teen aligners are made from a lightweight plastic material and fit precisely on the teeth. Invisalign Teen has become a popular treatment here at Willes Orthodontics because it helps our younger patients achieve a straight, beautiful smile without their friends noticing.

Our team at Willes Orthodontics is aware that most teens today have a busy lifestyle, and sometimes, they tend to lose things, including their retainers or aligners. But with Invisalign Teen, if your child happens to lose an aligner, let Dr. Michael Willes and our team know as soon as possible and we will have the aligner replaced.

For more information on Invisalign Teen, please give us a call at our convenient Carlsbad, CA office today!

How do braces move my teeth?

April 23rd, 2014

Great question! Tooth movement is your body’s natural response to light pressure applied by braces over a period of time (usually two years). Braces work by using brackets that are glued onto your teeth; these brackets have small slots, and that is where Dr. Michael Willes and our team insert orthodontic wires. These wires are held in place by small elastic ties that fit around the brackets. As time passes during your treatment, these wires apply pressure on your teeth, which sets in motion the movement of your teeth into their desired positions. Each of your teeth has a different size and shape to them, as do the brackets. Each bracket is custom-made for the particular tooth on which it’s supposed to fit.

Not long ago, orthodontists had stainless steel wires and that was about it. Today, however, we have a number of different high-tech wires at our disposal to move your teeth faster and more comfortably.

When you first get your braces on, the first wire or two will typically be very flexible, but still strong enough to apply a constant force on your teeth. As your teeth straighten out over time, however, Dr. Michael Willes will use progressively thicker and firmer wires to help move your teeth in place for an ideal bite.

Every time you visit our office for an adjustment, we will swap out the wires in order to keep putting pressure on your teeth, which is why it’s so important for you to keep your adjustment visits during your treatment. Most adjustment appointments are scheduled four to eight weeks apart to give your teeth time to move.

As for rubber bands and elastics, most of our patients will need to wear elastics or rubber bands at some point during their treatments. These elastics typically go from one or more of the upper braces to one or more of the lower braces, and pull on your teeth to move them in the direction they need to move in order to achieve an optimal bite.

If you have any questions about wires, brackets, or elastics, or have any general questions about your treatment, please give us a call at our Carlsbad, CA office.

Every Day is Earth Day

April 16th, 2014

During the early days of the environmental awareness movement, those who demonstrated against pollution, toxic chemicals, and the general public health were known as hippies. The early 1970s were a time of change, and assertions that we needed to pay more attention to the Earth's atmosphere were generally dismissed. But within a couple decades, it had become clear that the previous generation was right; the citizens of the world needed to become more environmentally conscious.

Many people feel that they can't make a difference if they don't do something big. But caring for the environment doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing concept. In fact, the little things you do can add up to make a great impact, especially in our community. Here are a few ways you can help the environment on Earth Day, April 22nd and all year around.

Four Small Ways to be Environmentally Friendly

  • Recycle Your Textiles. Nearly 21 million tons of textiles are added to American landfills each year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Donating your unwanted clothing to a secondhand store or an organization that repurposes fabric helps cut down on solid waste and conserves natural resources.
  • Reduce Usage of Disposables. Plastic bottles and bags, disposable diapers and other things we can use and toss out are convenient, but they're not necessary. Simply choosing to replace one of type of disposable with a reusable product can help you cut down on waste that has a large negative impact on our environment.
  • Conserve Water. If everyone in the United States turned off the water while brushing their teeth, more than 1.5 million gallons of water could be conserved. Turn the water on long enough to wet your toothbrush for brushing and rinsing, and then immediately turn the water off again.
  • Turn Off the Lights. Flip the light switch to "Off" if you're going to leave a particular room for 15 minutes or more. This will conserve energy on incandescent light bulbs and cut down on cooling costs.

It's not necessary to be an activist or install solar panels all over your home to help the environment. Although you can do these things, the little everyday measures make a big difference in helping to conserve energy and the environment, while reducing your carbon footprint. Our team at Willes Orthodontics wants to remind you to celebrate Earth Day and help the environment, knowing that it will benefit your and your children's generation.

Orthodontic Emergency Care

April 9th, 2014

Although major orthodontic emergencies are relatively rare, when they do happen it is important to seek immediate attention. By comparison, a minor orthodontic issue is something you can usually take care of yourself, or wait until your next scheduled appointment for care. Here are some guidelines to help you understand the difference between an orthodontic emergency and a minor issue.

Orthodontic Emergencies

Acute, Direct Injury to the Mouth, Jaw, or Teeth

Whether undergoing orthodontic care or not, if you injure your mouth, jaw, or teeth, you should see a doctor or dentist immediately. You may need an X-ray to determine the extent of your injury. If the injury affects the orthodontic appliances, they will need adjustment or possibly replacement, depending upon the extent of the injury.

Infected Teeth

It is possible for teeth to become infected following orthodontic treatment. This may or may not be related to your orthodontic appliances. If you experience pain or swelling around a tooth that gets progressively worse, seek professional care as soon as possible.

Minor Orthodontic Issues

While true orthodontic emergencies are rare, minor issues are much more common. Here are some examples of minor orthodontic issues that can be remedied on your own and/or fixed at your next office visit:

  • Poking wire
  • Loose bracket
  • Loose elastic band
  • Loose wire
  • Loose appliance
  • Headgear does not fit
  • Lost or broken elastic band
  • General soreness

Any of the above issues can happen as a result of normal usage, shifting, and wear of your braces. Eating unusually hard or sticky foods can cause or exacerbate these problems. Vigorous brushing of the teeth can also be a factor. None of these issues are emergencies unless they are accompanied by acute or prolonged pain or discomfort.

As for on-the-spot remedies, covering a loose bracket or wire with wax can be a quick fix to alleviate discomfort until your next orthodontist visit. Poking or protruding wires can be moved with a cotton swab or tweezers, or clipped down with nail clippers. Be sure to sterilize the tweezers or clippers in alcohol first. Cover any clipped wire ends with a small ball of wax.

Some soreness or small abrasions in the mouth are normal, especially with recent orthodontic work. Rinse your mouth with a saltwater solution comprised of eight ounces or warm water and one teaspoon of salt.

When in doubt, be sure to contact our Carlsbad, CA office with any questions, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Michael Willes at Willes Orthodontics.

Play it Safe this Spring

April 2nd, 2014

It's springtime and it's again time to remind our patients at Willes Orthodontics to protect their faces and pearly whites while out on the field playing sports. According to the National Youth Sports Safety Foundation, children, high-school athletes and adults have more than 5,000,000 teeth knocked out in sporting events annually.

If you are planning on participating in spring sports, it’s imperative to have a proper-fitting mouthguard. Mouthguards can prevent chipped or broken teeth, lip and cheek injuries, jaw fractures, mouth lacerations and even concussions.

Having a mouthguard can make the difference between losing your teeth or not, and because many of our patients who play high school sports have jaws that are still growing, last year’s mouthguard may no longer fit as it should. Dr. Michael Willes and our team at Willes Orthodontics can fit you for a new guard.

To learn more about mouthguards or for general questions about your treatment at our Carlsbad, CA office, please give us a call!

Sugar and Your Orthodontic Treatment

March 26th, 2014

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 Willes 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. Michael Willes 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!

What is dentofacial orthopedics?

March 19th, 2014

You may have noticed that we specialize in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics. And while most people we talk to have heard of orthodontics, many are confused by the dentofacial orthopedics part of the title. Today, Dr. Michael Willes and our team thought we would explain the difference.

While orthodontics entails the management of tooth movement, dentofacial orthopedics involves the guidance of facial growth and facial development, which occurs for the most part during childhood, and is a reason why kids are often the best candidates for receiving dentofacial orthopedic therapy. Dr. Michael Willes will examine and monitor your child’s growth to determine when starting treatment will be most effective. If your child begins orthodontic treatment before his or her adult teeth have erupted, it is known as Phase-One treatment. During this phase, Dr. Michael Willes will use treatments designed to correct your child’s jaw growth and make sure that the jaw bone is properly aligned before beginning the next phase of treatment, which usually involves placing braces to straighten your child's teeth.

Dentofacial orthopedics is also used to treat adult patients at Willes Orthodontics, however, this process may involve surgery. With our younger patients, we know the jaw bones are still forming, making it easier for our team at Willes Orthodontics to control bone growth and toot