Am I Too Old For Braces?

If you’re like most people, when you think about orthodontics, you think of a teenager wearing metal braces. This may lead you to wonder, am I too old for braces? This stereotype has had a lot of staying power throughout the years, but thankfully, it’s not the case! Orthodontic treatment has a variety of benefits for patients of all ages, including adults. While it’s true that we do have many younger patients, there’s been a large increase in the number of adults seeking orthodontic treatment in recent years. About 1 in every 5 current orthodontic patients is over the age of 18!

You only have one smile, and if you’ve spent your life feeling unhappy or self-conscious about how your teeth look or function, now’s the time to look into improving your oral health. It’s never too late to achieve a healthy, confident smile! Here at Dudley Smiles, we’re proud to offer multiple treatment options to correct a wide range of orthodontic issues, including crooked teeth, overbites, underbites, incorrect jaw positioning, and more. 

Let’s explore what orthodontics really is and how our expert team can help you achieve the beautiful smile you deserve!

What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics is a dental specialty. An orthodontist is a dentist who has had additional years of education and training in diagnosing and correcting bite abnormalities. They also learn how to successfully straighten teeth, correct misaligned jaws, and improve the overall function and health of the mouth.

An experienced orthodontist like Dr. Dudley is able to diagnose, prevent, and treat dental and facial abnormalities. When these conditions are left untreated, they can get worse over time, leading to premature wear and tear on the teeth, gum tissue, and bone. This can eventually lead to pain in the face and neck area, headaches, and even difficulties with chewing or speaking. 

Orthodontists are able to diagnose and treat these types of issues, improving both the function and appearance of your smile. 

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Why are more adults now choosing orthodontic treatment?

As we get older, we often begin to learn more about how our oral health is related to our overall health. This can lead many people to begin to seek out orthodontic treatment, in order to better care for their teeth and gums. 

We also see many adult patients who started orthodontic treatment when they were younger, but never completed it and are looking to do so now. Another common desire is touchup treatment, since teeth that were straightened in a patient’s youth may shift over time, due to age, genetics, or improper retainer use. In these cases, we have multiple options, including monitoring the teeth, providing new retainers, or re-treating with braces or aligners. 

Finally, there are a number of adults who have never had orthodontic treatment but are simply looking to improve the cosmetic appearance of their smile. This can lead to improved self-esteem and can even have a positive impact on their personal and professional lives!

What orthodontic options are available for adult patients?

No matter what your reason for seeking orthodontic treatment as an adult, there are more options for you to choose from than ever before! Dudley Smiles offers the following treatments for a total smile makeover.

Traditional metal braces

Traditional metal braces are the most popular orthodontic treatment and with good reason! Braces are one of our most efficient treatments, particularly for more severe or complex cases. Modern braces use high-quality stainless steel, with innovations in the design making them much more comfortable and light-weight than previous models. The total treatment time in today’s braces also tends to be shorter than it used to be.

Ceramic braces

These function in much the same way traditional braces do but use ceramic brackets instead of metal ones. The brackets can be clear, white, or tooth-colored, and for a nearly invisible treatment option, they can be used with elastics or ties that are also clear, white, or tooth-colored. Ceramic braces can be an excellent choice for patients who want a more subtle way to straighten their smile, but because they are more delicate than metal braces, we generally only recommend them for older teens and adults.

Invisalign clear aligner therapy

Instead of brackets and bands, the Invisalign system uses a series of clear, customized, removable aligners. These are custom-designed for each patient to fit snugly over the teeth, and gently move them into the desired positions over time. Aligners are made of a soft but strong thermoplastic resin and are replaced with the next in the series every 1-2 weeks to keep up with the shifting teeth. 

All three of these options can be a great fit for busy adults! You can trust that Dr. Dudley will only recommend the treatment he feels will work best with your smile, lifestyle, and goals. 

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Get the smile you’ve always wanted with Dudley Smiles

Here at Dudley Smiles, we believe that each patient is unique, and so is their smile! There is no “one size fits all” treatment, and Dr. Dudley is dedicated to creating a treatment plan that fits your individual needs. We’ll give you everything you need for a positive orthodontic experience and long-lasting results!

If you’re ready to take the first step to discovering the smile of your dreams, contact the team at Dudley Smiles today and schedule a free consultation with Dr. Dudley!

Maintaining Orthodontic Treatment At Home

There is no doubt times are changing. As the CDC continues to encourage social distancing and more local governments are enacting “safer-at-home” orders, life is starting to look quite different. This may leave you wondering where that leaves your orthodontic treatment or if you can even continue on. The good news is you don’t have to worry! There’s a multitude of ways for maintaining orthodontic treatment at home while keeping in touch with Dr. Dudley

With today’s technology along with a few simple habits, you can keep your smile on track from home! Whether you’re currently undergoing braces treatment or wearing Invisalign aligners, you can keep working towards the smile you’ve always dreamed, while still practicing social distancing. We’ve put together a guide on how you can take quality care of your smile while helping slow the spread of COVID-19, no matter what type of treatment you’re pursuing! Keep reading below to find out more. 

Invisalign 

If you’re wearing Invisalign aligners, you can simply proceed with treatment as usual! If you’re approaching the end of an aligner series, and don’t have the next one, don’t worry. If this happens, wear the most recent aligner in the series for 15-18 hours a day. It’s crucial that you don’t stop wearing your aligners, as this can drastically slow your progress, and even cause your teeth to move back to their original position in your mouth. Because of this, if you do not have more aligners, continue to wear the last aligner you have until our office reopens. 

At Dudley smiles, we know accidents happen, and aligners may get lost or broken. If this happens while our office is closed, simply return to the previous aligner in the series and continue to wear that one until your next in-office visit. You should also continue to wear any elastics as directed by Dr. Dudley. If you run out, that’s no problem. Just get in touch with a member of the team and we’ll be happy to mail you more!

Braces

Orthodontic treatment is a big investment in your health and we know you want to do everything possible to protect that investment. That’s why it’s more important than ever to follow the guidelines put in place by Dr. Dudley at the onset of your treatment. When you’re undergoing braces treatment, any deviation from your plan can lead to problems down the road. Continue wearing any elastics as directed by Dr. Dudley to keep your teeth moving in along as planned. If you run out, just let us know and we’ll be happy to mail you more!

If you experience any kind of pain or discomfort related to your orthodontic treatment, we’re here to help! If you have any wires sticking out, you can use a pair of small cuticle scissors to trim the end. Then, you can place a small amount of orthodontic wax on the end of the wire to relieve any pain. Additionally, if you find you have a loose bracket, don’t worry! Just let us know and once our office is reopened, Dr. Dudley will see you right away. Until then, however, you can try gently sliding the bracket back to the center of the tooth. Be sure to avoid all sticky and chewy foods until your next in-office visit!

Retainers

If you’re in the final stages of your treatment, it’s very important that you stay on track! Wearing your retainers as directed by Dr. Dudley will give you the long lasting results you desire and protect your smile investment. If you lose or break a retainer, just let us know! We can set up a virtual appointment to discuss your options and figure out what works best for you. Be sure to keep your retainer especially clean during this time. Plaque and bacteria from your teeth can build up in your retainer, which can lead to oral health issues. By keeping your retainer clean, you can stop any buildup and protect the overall health of your teeth and gums. Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before handling any orthodontic equipment. 

Maintaining Orthodontic Treatment At Home

General Oral Health

The biggest factor in taking care of your smile while staying home is the most simple: keeping up your daily oral care routine. Fixed surface appliances like braces add more area for plaque to build up. If you have access to an electric toothbrush, they are great for removing stubborn plaque! A water flosser is also a great tool to have at home, especially while keeping up your treatment in the time of social distancing. Be sure to brush your teeth twice a day and floss every night before bed, to best support your smile progress! By taking good care of your mouth, you’re taking care of your whole body. 

As our offices are closed, it’s more important than ever to stay away from any and all restricted foods! By doing so, you can avoid any preventable accidents, saving a trip to the office. We want to do everything possible to keep your treatment going smoothly during this uncertain time. Avoid any foods that are sticky, hard, or crunchy. You may also want to consider cutting food into smaller bite-sized pieces or even steaming it to make it easier on your braces. Keep in mind this won’t last forever. Doing what’s necessary now will save more work in the future! 

If you have any kind of emergency, we’re here to help! While our office may be closed, we’ll remain available by phone and email to answer any questions you may have. Additionally, if you have any serious issues that can’t be addressed by virtual consultation, we can schedule an emergency appointment in our office with minimal staff present. Your health and safety is our top priority! We want to help you achieve the smile of your dreams while ensuring the health of you, your family, and our team.  

Staying home doesn’t have to set back your smile progress! Follow these guidelines and you’ll have the smile you deserve, without leaving the comfort of your home.

Playing Sports While Wearing Braces

Many of our Dudley Smiles patients play sports, either for their school, in their community, or just for fun. They’re often concerned that beginning their braces treatment will keep them on the sidelines for the season. If you’re an athlete, you may be worried about playing sports with braces and how they will affect your performance, or even keep you from playing. 

This is a common concern but the good news is that it’s unfounded! You can continue playing any sport you enjoy during your orthodontic treatment, but you’ll need to take precautions to keep your braces and mouth safe. We’re focused on protecting your braces from damage and making sure you don’t injure your teeth or gums. To learn more about how you can protect your braces and your mouth while playing sports, keep reading! 

 

Understanding Mouthguards

Mouthguards are the single best way to protect your teeth when you’re in the game. 

They do a great job of protecting your teeth no matter what sport you’re playing, even high-contact sports like football and hockey. Best of all, they’re simple to use. We recommend wearing them for low-impact sports, too, since even a small amount of pressure on your braces can irritate your mouth, causing small cuts or abrasions to your gums and the inside of your cheeks.

When you know the differences between a regular mouthguard and an orthodontic mouthguard, you can make the best decision for you based on what you need it for. These over-the-counter options provide effective protection for you and will be able to meet all your basic needs. 

If you play sports while wearing braces, one of the best investments you can make is an orthodontic mouthguard. Regular mouthguards do provide some protection, but they’re made of a rigid material called thermoplastic, which heats up in your mouth and molds to your teeth. This kind of mouthguard can’t adjust well as your teeth move, so it may end up working against your braces. This can interrupt or delay your treatment.

Not only that, but a regular mouthguard that has molded itself too snugly around the brackets could shift them or even knock the brackets off completely if you sustained a hard enough hit. This could mean extra orthodontic visits or increase your total treatment time. 

Orthodontic mouthguards are made from a high-grade silicone that cushions your lips and keeps them from bumping against your teeth and braces. This helps protect the brackets from any impact-related damage, and can also prevent painful scenarios like your lip getting caught in your braces (yes, it’s exactly as bad as it sounds!) Since they’re made of silicone, they are more flexible which helps prevent damage to your brackets. Orthodontic mouthguards can be slightly larger than regular mouthguards, but they’re just as comfortable.

Over-the-counter mouthguards

Shock Doctor

One of the most well-known brands, Shock Doctor mouthguards are considered some of the best orthodontics mouthguards on the market. Because they are made of 100% medical grade silicone and designed to conform to the upper brackets, they’re more comfortable than options and help reduce or eliminate cuts and scrapes. Shock Doctor mouthguards adjust to the movement of your teeth during treatment and are affordably priced in both strapped and unstrapped styles.

Vettex

If you’re in braces and regularly play sports, mouthguards with a lip guard are a huge plus. Lip guards will keep you from accidentally biting yourself, but still allow you to speak clearly. Vettex mouthguards contain lip guards, and while this makes them a little bulkier, they’re still an inexpensive, lightweight option. However, they have a more generalized design and aren’t made specifically for athletes in braces. 

Tapout

Tapout mouthguards are a newer, more diverse style with a distinct design promoting airflow. The comfortable fit makes them easy to talk with, and they can re-mold to your teeth multiple times as they change. Because they’re meant to adjust based on your current bite, athletes undergoing orthodontic treatment can use them, as well as those without any orthodontic appliances.

SISU

SISU mouthguards are also a newer type of mouthguard.  They are very thin, thus can be a little more comfortable to some people if they do not like the bulk of the other types of mouthguards.  They are made of a harder material, so sometimes does not provide as much cushion. They can be re-boiled to fit the teeth, so they are great for orthodontic patients as their teeth move.

Injuries from playing sports in braces

Even if you’re wearing a mouthguard, a direct hit to your mouth while you’re in wearing braces and playing a sport still needs attention. If it happens, get in touch with our office as soon as possible. We’re always available if you have an orthodontic emergency! Once we know what’s going on with you and your braces, Dr. Dudley will be able to tell if we need to schedule you for an emergency appointment or not. Remember, the single best way to protect your teeth, mouth, and braces while playing sports is by always wearing a mouthguard! An orthodontic model is the best option, but even a basic mouthguard will help prevent hits that could lead to bleeding gums, broken brackets, or even fractured teeth.

Playing Sports While Wearing Braces

Protect your game-changing smile with Dudley Smiles Orthodontics

Mouthguards are a crucial investment in your oral health. They protect your teeth while they move into their new permanent positions. They also protect the straightening process itself! They work hard to protect your smile investment. We encourage all of our patients to wear any kind of mouthguard over not wearing one at all when participating in sports or other physical activity.

Whether you’re a current patient or have an appointment to get your braces on soon, we understand that you may be nervous about the impact they’ll have on your ability to play sports. We’d be happy to set your mind at ease! Our team is always here to answer any questions you may have or to talk through any concerns you have. With mouthguard protection and our skilled staff behind you, you’ll have everything you need to keep your smile looking and feeling great!

Types Of Braces

Here at Dudley Smiles Orthodontics, we’re proud to offer a variety of unique orthodontic treatment options to patients of all ages in our Kent and Issaquah offices. Our expert team is committed to creating personalized treatment plans that are designed specifically for your unique smile! Using the latest techniques and innovative technology, Dr. Dudley is able to successfully treat a wide range of orthodontic issues, including

  • Crowded teeth
  • Gaps/Spaces between teeth
  • Protruding teeth
  • Overbite
  • Underbite
  • Crossbite
  • Impacted teeth

We treat these using a variety of treatment methods, including traditional braces. As the most common type of orthodontic treatment, braces have gone through quite a transformation over the years. Not only are today’s braces smaller and more aesthetically pleasing, but they also move the teeth more efficiently, leading to a better orthodontic experience all around! 

Once you decide to pursue braces treatment to improve your oral health and align your smiles, you may wonder what options you have. At your initial appointment, Dr. Dudley will perform an orthodontic examination that will help him determine which treatment option is right for you, your smile, and your lifestyle. 

Let’s take a closer look at the types of braces we offer and how they differ, and how they can give you a confident smile you’ll love!

Types Of Braces

A note about traditional braces

Braces are exceptionally good at fixing complex tooth issues and can work faster at closing gaps and aligning teeth than other treatments might, which has the potential to shorten your treatment time. Because every case is different, treatment time with metal braces will vary from patient to patient. The average is anywhere from 18-36 months. You can often start to see improvement in a short time, which can be very encouraging. 

Taking care of your traditional braces can be a little tricky in the beginning, but it gets easier over time. A good dental hygiene routine is essential for oral health, particularly during orthodontic treatment. There are a lot of tools designed to make cleaning braces easier, such as waterpiks to help rinse any hard to reach areas and ortho picks to make flossing easier. We recommend brushing twice a day for at least two minutes each time and flossing every night before bed.

Some foods will need to be avoided while wearing braces in order to protect them, including anything sticky or crunchy since these can damage the brackets and wires. This won’t last forever, though, and will all be worth it once your braces come off and you see your beautiful new smile!

As a patient in braces, you can expect follow-up visits with us every 4-8 weeks or so throughout the treatment process. During these appointments, Dr. Dudley will change the bands that are attached to the brackets and may replace the wire as well. Check-ups tend to be fairly quick, so you can get back to school or work on time! Though there may be some slight residual soreness after each adjustment, it should be temporary. These visits are a very important part of the overall treatment plan and help us ensure the best results in the least amount of time, so try your best not to miss them. 

Metal braces

Metal braces are one of the most recognizable symbols of orthodontics, and also the most common type of treatment. Thanks to a mix of stainless steel, nickel, and other high-quality metals, the brackets are very durable and long-lasting. 

Modern metal braces are much more comfortable and lighter than they used to be, and they’re also customizable, thanks to a variety of fun colored bands to choose from! These braces deliver excellent results and are especially useful in cases that are more serious or complicated.

Metal braces also tend to be a little more affordable option, since they don’t require some of the more complex technology or expensive equipment that newer treatments do. The overall strength, durability, and cost-effectiveness of traditional braces keep them the top treatment for orthodontics, year after year. 

Types Of Braces

Ceramic braces

Sometimes referred to as clear braces, tooth-colored braces, or aesthetic braces, ceramic braces function in much the same way metal braces do, with the added benefit of semi-translucent or tooth-colored ceramic brackets. While ceramic braces are about the same size and shape as metal braces, they’re better able to blend in with a patient’s natural smile for a more subtle straightening option. 

Although ceramic braces are tough, the material they are made from can be prone to chipping or cracking. Since metal braces can hold up to more pressure than ceramic ones, they may be a better option for those who have severe corrections that need to be made. 

Ceramic brackets are often slightly costlier than metal brackets, as well. Since they can be more expensive and are more prone to breaking, we believe ceramic braces are generally better suited to adults and older teens. That said, ceramic braces can be an excellent option for many patients. They are an incredibly discreet and efficient way to straighten smiles! 

Find braces that work with your smile at Dudley Smiles Orthodontics

At Dudley Smiles Orthodontics, we know every smile is unique, and what works for one patient may not be a good choice for another. That’s why Dr. Dudley creates a customized treatment plan for every patient! With his education, skills, and experience, you can be sure that he’ll only recommend the course of treatment that’s best for your smile. 

If you’re in Kent, Issaquah, or the Sammamish area, we’d love to give you more information on how braces can give you a healthier, straighter smile. Get in touch today to schedule your FREE consultation!

Is Your Child Scared Of Braces?

No parent looks forward to having to sit their child down and tell them they need braces. After all, it’s a huge change we all know how scary changes can be! Your child may be nervous about embarking on such an important journey, and that’s natural. If they’re feeling less than enthusiastic about the whole process, we get it! Even as adults, we can be apprehensive about new things, especially when it involves changes to our appearance or lifestyles.

We see orthodontic anxiety a lot at Dudley Smiles Orthodontics. We treat many children and teens, and we know what a big leap this is for them! That’s why we put a lot of hard work into helping each patient feel comfortable with their orthodontic treatment, and confident in the care our expert team provides. Now we want to help you turn some of that apprehension into excitement at home, so we’ve put together a few of our favorite ideas for getting your child on board with braces treatment! Take a look below for ways to help if your child is scared of braces. 

Together is always better

Millions of Americans are wearing or have worn braces before, but the early days of treatment can still feel a little lonely. If you or anyone else in your family ever had braces, dig out some old photos or yearbooks to show your child that they aren’t alone. 

Let your child see how normal you looked (for the time….) and that you got it through it, too. You can remind them of all the celebrities who have had braces, too, starting with this list. Knowing those famous faces achieved their red-carpet smiles through orthodontic treatment can encourage your tween or teen that it’s all worth it in the end.

Is Your Child Scared Of Braces?

Go out with a bang! 

It’s a fact that braces come with their fair share of annoying food restrictions. Instead of wallowing about all the things they won’t be able to eat, why not throw everything off-limits a special goodbye party? Go all out with themed decorations, games, and activities. Line up big bowls of popcorn, sticky and crunchy candy, pretzels, chips, and bubblegum, and invite everyone to dig into the foods your child will soon have to avoid. 

Don’t forget dental hygiene, though! Throw in some toothbrushes and flavored floss as party favors, too.  

Every journey ends

Whether a patient is in braces for a few months or even years, it can sometimes feel like treatment will last forever. There’s no “one size fits all” answer to how long a child will need braces since every patient responds to treatment in their own way, but the average tends to be around 18-24 months. To someone just beginning braces treatment, that may seem like an eternity, but it will fly by once they get used to them! Braces will be just another part of your child’s daily routine before you know it. Remind them often that all of their hard work will pay off when they have their braces taken off and get to see their beautiful new smile! 

Better braces

The braces of years past could be pretty awkward, bulky, and obvious. The good news is that modern models have come along in leaps and bounds! Today’s braces are sleek, comfortable, and more customizable than ever before. Depending on the type of braces your child will be in, colored bands for their brackets may be an option. This allows patients to choose their favorite colors, coordinate with holidays, or even show off their school spirit with a smile! Being able to express themselves through colored ties can make treatment feel more like fun and less like a hassle. 

Make progress a celebration! 

Make it a point to regularly update your child’s orthodontic progress with pictures! Start right before they have their braces put on, and keep track of their journey by photographing their smile every month or two. If they’re older, have them take a cute selfie! This will remind them of where they began and how far they’ve come, something that can be really encouraging on days when they’re feeling a little impatient. Are you or your child super creative? Put all the photos together in a time-lapse video you can share to celebrate their braces coming off when the time comes!

Is Your Child Scared Of Braces?

Supporting your family through braces treatment

It’s a big decision to put your child in braces, and we understand that it can make you both a little anxious. Your child may not thank you right away, but they’ll be grateful every time they get a glimpse of their beautiful smile in the future! 

Dr. Dudley and our talented team are dedicated to providing your family with the most positive and stress-free orthodontic experience we can, from the first appointment to the last. We take pride in staying up-to-date on the latest in orthodontics and braces technology, and combine state-of-the-art techniques and equipment with a variety of treatment options. This allows us to offer the best in individualized orthodontic care to patients of all ages! 

If you’re looking for information on orthodontic treatment for your child in Issaquah, Kent, and the surrounding communities, get in touch today to schedule your FREE consultation with us. Your child’s best smile is waiting for them at Dudley Smiles!

What Can I Eat With Braces?

Like any new adventure in life, choosing to improve your smile with braces from Dudley Smiles is exciting but can come with quite a few changes. While most of these are minor, some will take a bit of getting used to! For instance, food restrictions can be one of the biggest learning curves when it comes to braces. These limitations can be frustrating, especially in the early days of treatment, but avoiding certain types of food throughout the orthodontic process is necessary to protect your braces while we straighten your teeth.

It’s important to us that you feel confident in the treatment process, and we want to provide you with a positive orthodontic experience in a stress-free environment. To help you get a handle on some of the dietary changes on the horizon, we’ve put together this quick list of braces-friendly food you can safely indulge in. We’ve also included a few of our favorite tips for getting through your orthodontic journey with your smile and sense of humor intact. Keep reading below to learn more!

Hang in there: patience is key

Investing in your oral health is one of the best things you can do for yourself, but it does take time and effort. Whether you’re in braces for a few months or a few years, there will be times when you feel as though it’s taking forever. We promise this part is only temporary! Treatment will go much more smoothly for you if you can accept from the beginning that you’ll have a few limitations while undergoing orthodontic treatment. Follow our recommendations, stay positive, and before you know it, we’ll be removing your braces and revealing your brand new smile! 

Healthy teeth lead to a healthier mouth (and a healthier YOU)

Oral care is always important, but when you’re in braces, it becomes even more essential to take good care of your teeth and gums. You should have a good dental hygiene routine in place the entire time you’re in treatment – and beyond that, too! We recommend that you brush at least twice a day for two minutes each time, and floss every night before bed. That’s not where oral care ends, though. You should also pay attention to your diet, and aim for food that’s rich in vitamins and minerals. 

What Can I Eat With Braces?

Foods you can emBRACE

Not all of us know what a healthy and varied diet looks like. Let us help! Below you’ll find some of our favorite foods that are good for your braces and your total body health.

Yogurt

Yogurt is high in calcium and protein, and also provides you with a boost of beneficial bacteria. The coolness and texture of it can be soothing if your mouth is feeling sore following an adjustment, and it’s an excellent choice for strengthening your teeth and improving your oral health. Enjoy it plain, Greek-style, or topped with fruit and honey, but be sure to brush your teeth afterwards since even plain yogurt contains naturally-occurring sugars. 

Smoothies

Some days, eating can feel like a real chore. Nothing sounds good, and you just can’t seem to summon up the energy to make something. This may happen occasionally as a braces patient, and can be exacerbated by any feelings of tenderness after an appointment. Smoothies are great for times like these, and can provide you with a quick blast of healthy vitamins and minerals. There’s such a big variety of fruits, vegetables, and other add-ons to choose from that you’ll never get bored, and the temperature and texture can be soothing for sore teeth, too.

Chicken noodle soup

It’s not just for sick days! This comfort food is a staple for a reason. It’s packed with minerals, gelatin, and collagen that work together to build strong teeth and bones, so it nourishes your body while giving your jaws a break from chewing. The protein and vitamins found in a cup of chicken noodle soup can even speed up the rate at which you heal, which can be especially helpful if you’ve been experiencing any irritation or soreness in your mouth.

Sweet potatoes

Even though these root vegetables are often relegated to Thanksgiving, they’re a delicious addition to any meal throughout the year! The keratin they contain helps tooth enamel form properly, and they’re full of vitamin A, which maintains the mucous membranes and soft tissue of the gums. With so many different ways to eat them, you can almost always count on sweet potatoes to provide you with a healthy and filling side that’s still soft enough to eat when your teeth and jaws are feeling tender.

Fish

Occasionally, you may have days where you don’t want to put any pressure on your teeth at all. This is relatively common right after your braces are put on, or following an adjustment appointment. Even bite-sized pieces of beef, pork, and chicken can feel like too much when you’re dealing with residual soreness!

Because it’s naturally soft and flaky, fish can be a fantastic alternative to tougher cuts of meat. Fattier fish like tuna and Atlantic salmon in particular are a great source of vitamin D, which helps your body absorb and use calcium more effectively. That’s a really good thing when it comes to improving your oral health, since calcium plays a big role in protecting the teeth and gums from disease.

It probably hasn’t escaped your attention that we mentioned words like soreness, swelling, and tenderness several times above. Don’t worry! It’s common for your mouth to feel slightly tender immediately after your braces are put on or following an adjustment, but this is only temporary. During this time, you may find it helpful to stick to softer foods, like soups, shakes, mashed potatoes, pasta, and rice. If you’re feeling like a little pick-me-up, frozen yogurt, popsicles, and ice cream taste great and can provide your mouth with some cool relief. 

What Can I Eat With Braces?

Make the most of your braces with support from Dudley Smiles

There’s no denying that braces require a little bit of extra effort on your part, especially where food is involved. But you’ll be surprised by how quickly the treatment process goes! Remember that making these changes to your teeth and jaws will benefit not only your smile, but many other aspects of your life as well. We think every single one of them is worth the wait!

Would you like to learn more about braces and how they can give you the beautiful smile you’ve always wanted? Get in touch with us today to schedule your FREE consultation.

Your First Visit

It’s exciting when you finally take the first step towards straightening your smile with orthodontics. You’ll not only be improving your appearance, your oral health will benefit, as well. However, this is also a big step, so it can feel a little overwhelming in the beginning, particularly if you aren’t familiar with the orthodontic process. You may not know much about the treatment options or what to expect in the days and months ahead. 

Here at Dudley Smiles, we know that orthodontic treatment is an investment across the board, and we take the trust you place in our practice seriously. We always want you to feel informed about and confident in the care that we provide, and that begins with your initial visit to our Issaquah or Kent offices! Let’s take a look at what you can expect from this free consultation, and what will happen afterwards. 

Your first visit at a Dudley Smiles office 

You’ll always be greeted warmly when you visit our office! For your first visit, we’ll take extra special care of you. We’ll show you around the office, introduce you to some of our team, and then you’ll meet Dr. Dudley. Following this, we will take some digital photographs of your teeth, along with a panoramic and cephalometric x-ray if necessary. These images are the best way for us to see your teeth, jaws, and facial soft tissue, so we can ensure everything is growing and progressing the way it should be. 

Once he’s reviewed these records, Dr. Dudley will join you in a private consultation room to point out any specific areas of concern and explain what you can expect from treatment by showing you photos and videos of similar cases. He will then present you with your customized treatment plan and walk you through the process. Depending on the developmental stage of the teeth and jaws, it may be best to begin treatment right away, or at a later time. Whether you’re planning to start treatment now or later, this is the best time to discuss any questions or concerns you may have.

To ensure you fully understand the orthodontic process, during this appointment our team will cover:

  • any oral issues you’re experiencing
  • if treatment is needed immediately
  • what treatment options are available to correct the problem
  • if any teeth will need to be removed
  • an estimate of how long we expect your treatment to take
  • the total investment required for treatment
  • any payment or financing options we have available to you

At Dudley Smiles, we take an individualized approach to treatment, which means we  consider your specific needs, lifestyle, and goals when working out a treatment plan for you. This method allows us to produce superior results and a rewarding orthodontic experience for each and every patient we treat!

Dr. Silas with a patient

Investing in a healthier smile

After you decide on a treatment plan with Dr. Dudley, we’ll go over the investment needed for your new smile. The total treatment costs will vary from case to case, but we’ll break down all the applicable fees for you before any treatment actually begins.

At Dudley Smiles, we don’t stop at flexible appointment scheduling and flexible treatment options. We also offer flexible payment options! We never want cost to be an obstacle to you obtaining the orthodontic care you need, so we offer discounts to patients who pay in full at the front end, and we will also work out monthly payment plans to fit every budget. If you have insurance that covers orthodontic treatment, we’ll file your claim for you and help you maximize your benefits. 

The next step in your orthodontic journey

Once your initial consultation is complete, we’ll schedule an appointment for you to come into one of our offices and receive your orthodontic appliance! Depending on the type of treatment, you’ll then have follow-up appointments with us every 6-10 weeks or so. During these visits, Dr. Dudley will adjust your appliance if necessary, monitor the movement of the teeth, and check to be sure that everything is progressing the way it should be. 

These visits are an essential part of your orthodontic treatment, so it’s important that you keep them. We do our best to schedule appointments for a day and time that’s convenient for you, we know that life happens, too, and you may sometimes need to reschedule. If you’re running late or can’t make your appointment for any reason, we simply ask that you let us know as soon as possible. We’ll be happy to reschedule your appointment for another day in order to keep your treatment on track!

Dr. silas talking to a patient's mom

Your best smile is waiting for you at Dudley Smiles

Your smile lasts forever, so it’s important that you put it in only the best hands. That’s exactly what you get when you choose Dudley Smiles as your orthodontic team! Our expert team has been busy creating beautiful smiles for patients in Issaquah, Kent, and the surrounding communities for many years. The innovative techniques and cutting-edge technology we use allow us to deliver the very best results for you in the shortest amount of time possible. We also use only the most necessary and efficient treatment for your specific needs to give you a personalized and rewarding experience at each and every visit.

Orthodontic treatment is one of the most important investments you can make for yourself or your family. Would you like to know more about how orthodontics can benefit you or your family? We’d love to hear from you! Get in touch with us today to schedule your FREE exam and get ready to take the first step toward the healthy, beautiful smile you deserve!

ABC’s Of Braces: All You Need To Know Before Starting Treatment

Orthodontics has come along in leaps and bounds in recent years, with innovative techniques and technology creating a variety of effective treatment options. But when it comes to creating straighter, healthier smiles for patients of all ages, traditional braces are still one of the best tools we have. Braces have been the top treatment method for a long time, and it’s easy to see why once you take a look at how they work and the results they achieve. With an impressive track record of aligning teeth and improving oral health, traditional braces are an effective, long-lasting, and cost-effective option!

Beginning braces treatment with Dudley Smiles is an exciting time. After all, you’re starting a journey that will lead to a beautifully aligned smile that’s also fully functional! However, many patients still have questions and concerns they want to discuss before their braces are put on. Because it’s important to us that you feel confident in the orthodontic process, we’ve put together an outline that includes everything you need to know before beginning treatment. Keep reading below for the ABC’s of braces!

Dudley Smiles assistant working on a young patient's teeth.

What are  braces made of?

Knowing more about what braces are made of and how these components work together to move the teeth can give you a better understanding of the treatment process.

Brackets

Brackets are the part of braces that we attach directly to your teeth. They are typically made from a mix of durable stainless steel, nickel, ceramic, or other high-quality materials. There are tiny hooks or doors over which the wire is threaded, and brackets are secured by closing the door, or by applying an elastic over the top of the wire.

Glue

Tooth glue is essentially a form of the same composite bonding material we use for tooth-colored fillings or sealants. We use this adhesive to attach the brackets to the teeth. In some cases, we may use metal bands on the back teeth in conjunction with the glue to give braces more leverage and stability.

Wire

The wire is a thin piece of metal that runs from one bracket to another. We change the shape and curvature of the wire throughout the treatment process, which actively moves the teeth where we want them to go. For some patients, the wire will attach all the bottom or upper teeth together. For others, we may choose to cut the wire strategically if connecting only a few teeth makes more sense for the treatment plan.

Elastics

Almost every patient will need elastics at some point in their treatment plan, but they’re especially important for those who need bite correction. Elastics are most often strung between an upper bracket hook and a lower bracket hook, pulling the upper teeth backwards to correct an overbite, or the lower teeth backwards to correct an underbite. We use rubber bands for many different situations, but they can be particularly useful when we want to bring the upper and lower teeth together successfully.

How does the treatment process work?

Once you’ve decided on a customized treatment plan with Dr. Dudley, we’ll schedule you for an appointment to have your braces put on. Since your treatment plan includes information on how each tooth needs to move in order to achieve the best possible position, Dr. Dudley will use it to decide how to place the brackets. Once the brackets have been attached, the wire will be inserted. Bends in the wire will encourage specific and precise movements by providing different types of pressure on different teeth.

This process of tooth movement is called remodeling, and involves minor changes in the bone surrounding the roots of the teeth. When pressure is put on a tooth, cells called osteoblasts and osteoclasts form around its root. The pressure of the wire works with the osteoblasts and osteoclasts to create a negative pressure on one side of the tooth. At this site, bone is removed. On the other side of the tooth, bone is reformed. This system of pressure and remodeling slowly moves the tooth into the desired position.

The remodeling process can only occur while constant pressure is being placed on a tooth. Once the pressure stops, the tooth will begin to settle into its new position, but most will begin drifting back to their old positions over time. This is why it’s so important to wear the retainer we give you exactly as directed once your braces come off! Doing so will help keep your teeth in their new, improved positions and prevent any natural drifting from occurring.

Dr. Silas working on a patient's teeth.

Taking care of your braces

You may find that caring for your braces comes with a bit of a learning curve, but hang in there! It just takes a little patience and practice. Because braces create numerous nooks and crannies that can trap food particles and other debris, it’s important that you clean your teeth and gums thoroughly each day. We recommend brushing at least two times each day with fluoride toothpaste, especially after meals and before bed. Pay close attention to the areas between the brackets and gums, and carefully clean between the wires and your teeth. Interdental brushes can make this easier, as they are designed to fit in those hard-to-reach spaces to remove plaque and debris.

Flossing is also an essential part of maintaining oral health, and it should be done nightly. If you find regular floss difficult to manage with braces, try a floss threader! Oral irrigators like a Waterpik are another excellent option. These instruments shoot a small, high-pressure stream of water onto the teeth, targeting food debris and plaque that can form between the teeth and braces.

Keep in mind that all of these tools are supplemental, and should never take the place of brushing and flossing.

Food restrictions

Food restrictions can be challenging, especially in the beginning, but they’re necessary to protect both your braces and your teeth. During the treatment process, you’ll need to avoid anything too crunchy or too chewy, like chips, ice, gum, some raw fruits and veggies, popcorn, and many kinds of candy. The good news is, food restrictions are only temporary! All your hard work and dedication will be worth it when your braces come off and your beautiful new smile is revealed.

Estimated treatment times

Every smile we treat is unique and every patient responds to braces in their own way, so there’s no “one size fits all” estimate when it comes to how long you’ll need treatment. On average, the active stage of orthodontic treatment can last anywhere from 6-24 months, but this may be longer or shorter, depending on your particular case.

Get the smile you deserve with Dudley Smiles

The first step in your orthodontic journey is a FREE consultation with an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Dudley. If you’re in Issaquah, Kent, or the surrounding communities and would like more information on how braces can give you a straighter, healthier smile, get in touch with us today. The smile you deserve is waiting here for you!

Top Tips To Keep Your Smile In Shape in 2019

As busy as the world is these days, it can be hard to find time to do things just for yourself. The start of a brand new year can provide you with the perfect excuse to focus on YOU! Whether you want to drop a few pounds, hit the gym more often, or improve your oral health, you can take advantage of the energy and excitement this time of year brings to create an even better version of yourself.

If you’re looking to take your smile to the next level in 2019, Dudley Smiles is here to help! To maintain teeth and gums that look and feel great, a good oral hygiene routine is key. We’ve put together some of our favorite tips for achieving excellent oral health and a confident smile below. Keep reading to learn more!

How are your oral hygiene habits?

Most of us have an oral hygiene routine we’re pretty comfortable with. However, it’s still worth reviewing that routine from time to time since guidelines and recommendations can change. If you want to ensure you’re doing everything you can to keep your mouth healthy, the best place to start is with your brushing and flossing. While it may not seem like rocket science, you’d be surprised how many people get it wrong! Brushing and flossing regularly is the best way to maintain good oral health, but how you carry out these tasks is almost as important as how often you do so.

When bacterial plaque is left to accumulate, it can cause cavities, tooth decay, and eventually, it may even lead to gum disease. In order to successfully remove it, there are some basic steps you should always follow when cleaning your teeth and gums. To get the most out of your dental hygiene routine, you should be:

  • brushing at least twice a day for two minutes each time, preferably with a soft toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste
  • brushing gently at a 45-degree angle toward the gumline, moving the toothbrush across all surfaces of the teeth to remove bacteria and any trapped food particles
  • flossing at least once per day to remove any bacteria and food that has accumulated
  • using antimicrobial and fluoride mouthwashes as needed

Although it would be beneficial for all of us to take our oral health seriously, it’s imperative that you do so as an orthodontic patient, especially if you’re in braces. That’s because the brackets and wires can create lots of little nooks and crannies that can trap food debris and bacteria. These areas may take a little more time and effort to clean thoroughly, so if you do wear braces, take care to clean them thoroughly and carefully.

After you’ve brushed up on all the basics of your oral hygiene routine, we recommend trying these additional tips to add a little extra something to your smile!

  • Replace your toothbrush as soon as it begins to show signs of wear (or when you’ve had a cold or any other illness)
  • Brush around every part of your braces if you wear them
  • Brush the surface of every tooth
  • Floss every night before you go to bed, using tools like a floss threader or oral irrigator to get into hard-to-reach areas

You may also want to consider purchasing and using a power toothbrush, such as Sonicare or Oral-B, to help with your brushing.  These toothbrushes may be better at removing food and plaque than a manual toothbrush for some people. Power toothbrushes removes some of the technique that is required for a manual toothbrush.  As an added bonus, they often have a timer on them to tell you when to stop brushing!

A note for our Invisalign patients

If you’re using a clear aligner system like Invisalign to straighten your smile, you may be enjoying a bit more freedom and flexibility than those in traditional braces, but you’re not off the hook when it comes to caring for your teeth! You should also be maintaining an excellent dental hygiene routine, and because Invisalign relies on patient compliance to work, you should be:

  • removing your aligners every time you eat or drink anything other than water
  • wearing your aligners for 20-22 hours every day, throughout the course of treatment
  • changing your aligners out on the schedule given to you by Dr. Dudley

If you neglect to follow our recommendations throughout the orthodontic process, it can result in a longer treatment time and may even affect the overall success of the system.

Dudley Smiles team member

Take advantage of the tools you’ve got

We touched on it briefly above, but traditional braces can sometimes make your dental hygiene routine a little more complicated. This is especially true in the early days! Fortunately, there are many products available that have been designed to make the cleaning process easier for you.

Floss threaders are a good example of this. As you might expect from the name, it threads a bit like a needle, and works by pulling one end of the floss through the threader, then feeding the threader under the archwire. This allows you to grab the floss on each end, sliding it up and down the sides of both teeth and under the gums for a thorough job. This can be an excellent alternative to regular dental flossing.

We also love interdental brushes for keeping teeth clean while you’re in braces. Because they fit easily in between the wires and the teeth, they’re able to remove plaque and food debris from areas that can otherwise be hard to reach. Oral irrigators, like Waterpiks, work similarly by shooting a high-pressure stream of water onto the teeth that targets any remaining food debris and plaque that may be stuck between your teeth and braces.

Just remember, as helpful as these products can be, they shouldn’t take the place of your normal oral hygiene routine. They work best when you use them in conjunction with regular brushing and flossing.

Stay prepared for on-the-go care

We’d love it if all of our patients would brush and floss after every meal, but we also know that can be hard to accomplish if you’re always on the go! Get ahead of the game by filling a small bag with toothpaste, an orthodontic toothbrush, and floss. If you’re in braces, add some orthodontic wax, too. This way you’ll have always have a quick fix with you in case any minor emergencies pop up!

Dudley Smiles waiting area

Let your smile shine this year with Dudley Smiles

Here at Dudley Smiles, we’re known for providing patients with more than a beautiful smile. We work hard to give every patient we treat a stress-free, rewarding orthodontic experience from your first appointment to your last. While the simple tips we’ve listed above give you a great start on improving your oral health, our care doesn’t stop there! Our talented team is always here for you should you find yourself needing a little extra help or encouragement, too. We look forward to working with you towards a straighter, healthier smile this year!

Best Dental Hygiene Routine for Braces

As an orthodontic patient, you play an essential role in the success of your treatment. In fact, any journey towards a straight smile should be a team effort that includes you, your orthodontic team, and your general dentist. At Dudley Smiles, that concept is important to us! By working together, we can give you a beautiful smile and improved health at the end of the treatment process, but this depends in part on you following our recommendations. One of the most important things you can do to ensure you receive the best results is to maintain a good oral hygiene routine. This is a key component of braces care, and even though it may take a little extra time and effort, it will be more than worth it once we reveal your beautiful new smile! Let’s take a closer look at the best ways to keep your teeth and gums clean, healthy, and free from bacteria while you’re in braces.

Avoiding plaque

Plaque is a sticky, colorless film that is made up of bacteria, food, and saliva. If you aren’t careful to brush, floss, and rinse thoroughly, it can easily collect on your teeth and around your braces. Over time, this can lead to a number of issues.

Increased risk for cavities and decalcification

Plaque contains a bacteria that can react with the sugars and starches in food, eventually forming an acid that eats away at the enamel on your teeth. This can cause cavities, leave white marks on the teeth, and even lead to gum disease. When plaque is allowed to accumulate around your braces, it can leave stains on your teeth we refer to as decalcification. Unfortunately, the lines and spots that come from decalcification are permanent, so prevention really is key in this case!

Periodontal disease

Periodontal disease is more commonly referred to as gum disease. This is caused by a buildup of plaque on the teeth, and generally occurs in three distinct stages.

The first stage is gingivitis, which occurs in response to an accumulation of plaque irritating the gums. In response, they may be puffy, swollen, or bleed slightly when you brush or floss. 

If gingivitis is left untreated, the plaque can then harden into a substance called tartar. When tartar accumulates, gaps or pockets may form between your gums and teeth. This allows even more tartar to collect in the pockets, exacerbating the problem. This second stage of periodontal disease is known as periodontitis.

If periodontitis is left untreated for too long, pockets of bacteria can form and go deeper beneath the gums, attacking and eventually destroying the bone that holds your teeth in place. This state of advanced periodontitis can cause even healthy teeth to loosen or fall out, and is the third stage of gum disease. It’s also the most serious.

With professional help from an experienced general dentist, and vigilant follow-up care at home, the early stages of gum disease are often reversible. This is one set of symptoms you don’t want to ignore, however. Because gum disease is usually painless, especially in the beginning, you will need to be on the lookout for any signs of it while undergoing orthodontic treatment. That includes bleeding, swollen, or puffy gums. By carefully following Dr. Dudley’s directions on how to care for your braces, you’ll be able to get a great headstart on keeping plaque, bacteria, and tooth decay away.

Dudley patient looking at her braces

The best dental hygiene routine for braces patients

Problems caused by improper dental hygiene can be frustrating enough to deal with on their own, but it doesn’t stop there. Secondary oral health issues can also crop up when plaque and bacteria are allowed to gain a foothold. This can extend the total time spent in braces, and in more serious cases, braces may even need to be removed while we wait for any mouth and gum issues to be resolved before picking treatment back up.

Being in braces often means adjusting both the way you brush your teeth and how often you do it. We recommend brushing your teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush after every meal (and preferably after every snack) for at least two minutes each time. This keeps food particles and plaque from gaining any ground in your braces and teeth. To properly clean the brackets, you should angle the brush head against them, and be sure to brush thoroughly underneath the wires, too.

Flossing is a skill that can be tricky to master at the best of times, but it tends to have an even bigger learning curve when you’re wearing braces. But it’s very important for you to floss every night, because even if it seems like all food particles have been brushed away, braces can trap them in places that are hard for you to see and reach. To correctly floss with braces, try the following:

  • Select a piece of floss about 18 inches and slide it under the wire, above the space between the two teeth.
  • Insert the floss halfway through, then hold both ends of the floss. Carefully slide the floss up and down a few times between the teeth. You’ll hear a slight squeaking sound when it’s thoroughly clean.
  • Floss the gum line with the floss in the shape of a “C,” and below the gum line with a soft up and down motion.
  • Be careful not to apply too much pressure when flossing around the archwire.
  • Gently remove the floss, threading it under the next wire, and repeating the steps above.

Although this can be time-consuming in the beginning, be patient. The more you practice, the faster you’ll be! You can also look into the products available that have been designed to make this an easier process for braces patients. “Threader floss” has a stiff end that permits flossing between brackets, while a steady orthopick easily slides between the teeth and the bracket wire, removing debris and keeping your teeth clear of bacteria. Electric toothbrushes and oral irrigators give you more power and better reach. All of these tools can work together to make dental hygiene much easier and much more efficient while you’re working on straightening your smile. 

Dudley staff talking to a patient

Keep your braces sparkling clean with Dudley Smiles

Beginning an orthodontic journey with braces can be really exciting, but comes with its own set of challenges, too. While you’ll likely have to make a few adjustments as you go, caring for your braces will be just another part of your daily routine before you know it! Our talented team is committed to making the process as stress-free and positive as possible, so get in touch with us any time you have questions or concerns about the treatment process, or if you want to know more about caring for your braces. Your satisfaction with the experience is as important to us as creating a beautiful, healthy smile for you!