What is it? The term occlusion refers to the way your teeth are aligned. Malocclusion occurs when the alignment of your teeth differs from what is considered to be ideal. Proper alignment of the teeth is important for many reasons, including the role the teeth play in protecting your cheeks and your tongue from being bitten.
Malocclusion can occur in several different ways. Most commonly, malocclusion is hereditary, passed down from generation to generation. So, you can thank your great grandmother for your overbite!
Malocclusion can also occur as a result of other conditions or behaviors that impact a person’s mouth. A child who sucks their thumb, uses a pacifier, or drinks from a bottle well into their childhood is at risk of pushing their teeth out of the way of their thumb and causing malocclusion. An injured jaw can cause misalignment of the teeth. Medical conditions such as allergies, tumors, and cleft palates can also cause malocclusion.
The good news is, no matter what the cause is for your malocclusion, your orthodontist can likely help you treat your misaligned teeth.
What’s so bad about it? Malocclusion doesn’t only affect the alignment of your teeth. It can affect other functions of your mouth, including the frequency with which you bite the insides of your cheeks or your tongue; discomfort you may feel when you’re chewing or biting into food; certain speech problems, including a lisp; and breathing through your mouth instead of your nose. While treating malocclusion may result in a straighter, more beautiful smile, its benefits are much further reaching than purely aesthetic.
How can I prevent it? There’s not much we can do about your hereditary, but parents can help stack the deck in their children’s favor by helping their youngsters wean off pacifiers and thumb sucking at an early age. Parents can also graduate young children from bottles to sippy cups as early as possible, with the guidance of their pediatricians. Protect your teeth with a mouth guard while playing sports. A little bit of preventative action can really do a lot of good in preventing nonhereditary malocclusion in your life and in your children’s lives.
What can I do about it? If you feel like you’re experiencing malocclusion, talk to your orthodontist. They can talk you through their treatment plan for you. Treatment of malocclusion can include use of braces to realign teeth, stabilization of the jaw bone, removal of teeth to address over crowding, and sometimes surgery.
As with many medical and dental issues, we often put off addressing the issue and having it treated. Oftentimes, treatment can drastically improve your quality of life. Don’t put off taking care of your teeth. Schedule an appointment with your friendly neighborhood orthodontist (we definitely know a guy!) and make the first step to a healthier mouth!
To read more about malocclusion, check out these helpful articles:
There’s really no way around it: braces just aren’t that comfortable. Sometimes, they can really hurt! We want to arm you with as many tools as possible to address your braces pain and discomfort, so you can have a relatively smooth ride toward straighter teeth.
Change your toothpaste! Try out a toothpaste designed especially for sensitive teeth. Even if your teeth aren’t normally sensitive, they may begin to feel sensitive after you get your braces.
Brush your teeth gently! While we’re talking about brushing, let’s talk about how you’re brushing your teeth. You may really want to consider your tooth brushing technique now that you have braces. Go at it slowly and gently. You don’t want to hurt your braces or your mouth. Take your time!
Address your discomfort naturally! You may want to run to the medicine cabinet every time you feel braces pain, but you don’t need to! You can use household items to soothe your mouth, and save the painkillers for later.
Dissolve salt in warm water and swish it around in your mouth. This will soothe your gums without medication. It’s also a great way to bring comfort to a sore throat!
Suck on ice! The cold from ice or other frozen foods numbs your mouth and eases pain. If you’re going to be dealing with the discomfort of braces, you may as well get a few milkshakes out of it!
Be mindful of what you eat! Put the hard, crunchy food back in the fridge. Stick to soft foods that don’t require much chewing, if any. Mashed potatoes and thoroughly steamed carrots, while not particularly exciting, are your friends. Learn how to use a blender—you don’t have to chew smoothies!
Prevent Infections! Keeping your mouth as healthy as possible also prevents unnecessary pain and discomfort. Rinse with mouthwash to kill bacteria that are just looking for a place to call home. If your mouth doesn’t grow infections, you won’t feel that extra pain!
Use Wax! Purchase dental wax to protect sensitive areas of your mouth from being poked by your braces. Applying a ball of wax to your brackets provides a smooth, protective barrier between the metal and your mouth. This method is especially helpful at night, when you’re less aware of how you’re moving your teeth around.
Take Oral Painkillers Once you’ve sucked on ice and applied wax, you can always take over the counter painkillers. If you’re a kid, ask your parent to help you with this, of course.
Distract yourself!! It can really help for you to distract yourself from the discomfort. Watch your favorite TV show or play your favorite game. Take your bike for a ride around your neighborhood or cozy up with a good book.
Sometimes, the best thing to do is to not lose hope! Remember why you have braces. Look forward to the day your braces come off! You can do this!!
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Enjoying the holidays can still be wonderful, even when you are wearing braces. Spending time with family, caroling with your friends, pretending to laugh at Uncle Larry’s corny jokes. Seeing people you may not have seen all year gives you a chance to show off your oral bling!
If your child (or niece or nephew, or neighbor kid down the street) has braces, please, parents—make wise choices about what candy to stuff in their stockings, or what treats to send in to school for the holiday party. Kids (and, well, grown-ups, too) can only handle so much temptation before diving face first into a stocking full of candy canes.
For your benefit, we have compiled a list of Do’s and Don’ts for the braces-wearers in your life this holiday season.
See our blog post about a recipe for soft gingerbread cookies as another great gift idea!
Showing your friends and family you care is one of the most important parts of the holiday season. This year, take a little bit of time to make sure the people with braces who you love know that they matter to you. They will be constantly aware of how their food and other choices are impacting their braces, and they may really appreciate someone else being mindful as well.
The holidays are upon us! Those of us who wear braces can enjoy all of the delicious flavors of the season without hurting our mouths. We just need to pay a little more attention to what we eat, like we always do. So, sip away at that eggnog, and avoid crunching into that candy cane.
We love ourselves a good gingerbread cookie. We have found this recipe for delicious soft gingerbread cookies, so you can enjoy cookies with Santa and take care of your braces at the same time! Look at you, multitasking over the holidays!
If you have other braces-wearers in your life, these cookies (and other soft holiday treats) would make a fantastic, thoughtful gift. Wrapped in wax paper with a festive bow, or nestled in a holiday tin among green and red tissue paper, you can really help another person feel special.
Happy Holidays from all of us at James Karpac Orthodontics! We hope you have a warm, joyful, merry holiday with friends, family, and your friendly neighborhood orthodontist!
The recipe is included below. You can also follow this link!
SOFT GINGERBREAD COOKIES
Soft Gingerbread Cookies have the taste of gingerbread cookies, but are soft and thick. Roll the dough balls in sugar for the perfect sweetness!
Calories: 111 kcal
Author: Lizzy T
• 1 cup shortening
• 1 cup brown sugar packed
• 1 cup molasses
• 1 cup buttermilk
• 5 1/2 cups flour
• 4 teaspoons baking soda
• 1 teaspoon ginger
• 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
• 1/4 teaspoon cloves
• 1 teaspoons salt
• 1/2 cup extra sugar for rolling dough
US Customary - Metric
1 In a large bowl, cream together the shortening, brown sugar, molasses and buttermilk.
2 In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt.
3 Add the dry ingredients to the creamed sugar mixture and mix well.
4 Roll the dough into balls and then roll the balls in sugar.
5 Place the cookie dough balls on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 11-12 minutes.
6 Allow the cookies to cool on a wire rack and then store in an airtight container.
We all know that braces help to realign crooked teeth. But that’s not all that they do! Braces can help to correct a number of oral issues. Braces can address many oral issues, including teeth that are in the wrong place, teeth that are trying to be in the same place as other teeth, and teeth that aren’t even there at all!
Teeth that are crooked or just don’t line up properly. Like we said, this is a common reason someone may suspect that they need braces. Crooked teeth can cause someone to feel self-conscious. Someone may not want to smile or laugh or even talk as much for fear that others will see that their teeth aren’t as straight as they’d like them to be. (See more about the many benefits of smiling in a recent blog post of ours!)
Teeth that are too crowded, or too far spread out. Braces don’t just help teeth straighten. They help their spacing, too. If teeth are too crowded together or spread too far apart, they can wear unevenly, and make cleaning more difficult, resulting in gum disease and decay.
Teeth that bite the inside of the mouth. If your teeth naturally bite the roof of your mouth or the inside of your cheek, it can cause a great amount of discomfort and even damage to the tissue. Many people develop painful mouth sores when they bite the insides of their mouths. Closing your mouth in a resting position should be just that—restful. If your natural oral resting position is causing you pain because your teeth are biting into your cheek or other parts of your mouth, braces may be very helpful.
Extra teeth or not enough teeth. Some people grow more teeth than the typical person. Other people don’t grow enough teeth. Braces can be used in these patients to help with the spacing of these teeth—either to make sure each tooth gets the room it deserves, or to help the other teeth make room for permanent dental implants (fake teeth that take the place of teeth that just didn’t ever grow).
If in doubt, ask a professional! These are just a few of the common reasons people may need braces. If you think braces are something from which you can benefit, ask! If you have an orthodontist (like us!), ask about your specific issue to see what the doctor recommends. If you don’t yet have a relationship with an orthodontist, your dentist can answer some of your questions and refer you to a trusted orthodontist (like us!).
Braces work hard to move our teeth so they’re straight and beautiful. But braces aren’t invincible. Much of what we eat everyday can damage our braces and prevent them from doing their job! Learning the do’s and don’t’s of eating with braces can, just like anything else, be difficult to get used to. But once you do, you’ll have no problem protecting your braces from the food you eat and helping them do what they were made to do.
What is nutritionally healthy for your body is not always safe for your braces. Braces-wearers should follow a few cardinal rules when making food choices.
Avoid sticky or chewy foods.
Sticky foods, including gum, can get caught in your braces and be difficult to clean off. People who don’t wear braces should avoid sticky candies anyway, because the sticky sugar can stick between your teeth and cause cavities. With braces, there are more places for the sticky stuff to hide, making it harder to clean and likelier to produce cavities.
Sticky foods include taffy, caramels, and other candy, and also gum.
Avoid hard, crunchy, and tough foods.
Food that requires a substantial amount of biting or ripping pressure to eat may not be the best choice with braces. When you’re crunching down hard on that carrot or tugging at the crust of pizza, you’re also putting that extra pressure on your braces, which can damage them.
Hard, crunchy, and tough foods to avoid include meats like jerky, raw vegetables, nuts, and ice.
Avoid the big stuff.
Some foods are perfectly safe for you to eat with braces, if you eat them the right way. Foods like burgers, corn, and bagels just need a little extra prep before making their way into your mouth. Cut the burger or bagel into bite-sized pieces. Cut the corn off the cob. Taking small, separate bites will protect your braces.
Food Prep is Key!
So many foods have the potential to be either really harmful to your braces or pretty safe. It all depends on how you prepare them. Vegetables that would be a major no-no raw are a delicious, healthy, braces-friendly side dish once they’ve been steamed and cut into bite-sized pieces. Taco Tuesday can still be a huge hit as long as you reach for a soft tortilla instead of a hard taco shell. Search out hull-less popcorn to avoid getting popcorn kernels stuck in your teeth.
Stick to the Soft Stuff
At the end of the day, you can’t go wrong if you stick to tried and true, braces-safe soft food that is gentle on your mouth. Foods like yogurt, ice cream, eggs, pudding, applesauce, pasta, and muffins are all delicious and won’t hurt your braces.
When you realize how much you can actually eat with braces, you’ll see that it is entirely possible to have a healthy, delicious, well-rounded diet and also keep your braces safe!
Beginning an orthodontic treatment plan can feel so daunting! We know that it can feel like you are being told that you will have to wear your braces, like, literally, for EVER. It can be a difficult journey to start. But there are MAJOR benefits to seeing it through! And there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to celebrate your progress during your journey.
We have compiled a list of ways that you and your family may be able to mark the passing of this time, so you—and the people in your life—can appreciate just how far you’ve come!
1. Mark it off your calendar!
Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best ones. Hang a wall calendar (remember those?? They’re made of paper. You’ll have to tack it to your wall. No, it’s not on your phone), and mark a big, happy X through each day as it passes. Take joy in those X’s—you’ve worked hard to get through each braces-filled day. Revel in it! One more day done, baby!
2. Create a crafty countdown calendar!
If you search Pinterest for “Advent calendars,” you’ll find pages and pages of crafty, fun ways to countdown the days until Christmas. Apply this same idea to your braces! Instead of one number, or clothespin, or paper bag, or toilet paper roll, representing a single day in the countdown, consider making each number represent a week in your journey. Inside each number can be a braces-friendly treat, or a “great job making it this far!” sticker, or some other small way to reward yourself for making it as far as you have.
3. Document your progress with a selfie!
We know this wouldn’t be your first experience with a selfie. If we had to bet, we’d say you’re likely a selfie pro! Apply those highly sharpened selfie skills to your braces journey! Some mothers-to-be document their pregnancies week by week with a side profile pic. You can document your braces progress with a weekly selfie! Feel free to keep these photos for your personal reference, to remind yourself of how far you’ve come, or (with a parent’s permission) post them to social media to show your friends what great progress you’ve made since Day 1!
Remember, you’ll never be as far away from your goal of straighter teeth than you are the day before your orthodontist puts your braces on. Each day that passes is another day closer to your goal of straighter teeth, and getting those braces removed! YOU CAN DO IT!
It’s here! We can’t believe it’s finally here! We can struggle so much with letting go of summer. Goodbye, sunny days by the pool! So long, watermelon seed spitting contests! Farewell, family trips to Zoombezi Bay! Fall is officially here, folks, and there’s nothing we can do about it.
BUT! For so many of us, the sting of saying goodbye to summer is softened by the beginning of our OTHER favorite season: pumpkin spice season!
We understand that, for those of you with braces, it’s not as easy as collecting and gobbling up all the pumpkin spice goodness you can find. You need to make sure you’re making smart choices for your teeth.
We are here to help! We have scoured the internet, and we’ve found this fantastic, cinnamony, nutmegy, gingery (yes, these are now words. Feel free to use them liberally.), bronze orange pumpkin cream cheese muffins that will make you forget all about your post-summer misery.
This recipe is GREAT because it’s so versatile! You can make muffins (or mini muffins! just bake them for a little less timed) for yourself, and a loaf for everyone else! That’s right—we allotted 12 muffins for you, and one loaf for the rest of your crew. Hey, you’re baking them. You can eat as many of them as you want!
Check out the recipe below!
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bread and Muffins
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree
1/2 C. vegetable oil
1/2 C. applesauce
2/3 C. milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 C. sugar
3 1/2 C. flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. ginger
1 1/2 C. mini chocolate chips.
Cream Cheese Filling:
16 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 C. sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 Tbsp. milk
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease loaf pans, muffins pans or come of each (I made 1 large loaf and 12 muffins!)
2. In a large bowl, combine pumpkin, eggs, vegetable oil, applesauce, milk, vanilla extract and sugar.
3. In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger together.
4. Combine the 1st and 2nd bowl and stir only until combined.
5. Stir in chocolate chips.
6. Filling: Beat cream cheese, sugar, egg and milk together until smooth.
7. For Loaf Pans: Pour a little bit of batter into the loaf pan, spread to cover the bottom and then spoon cream cheese filling and spread it on top. Continue to alternate until your pan is 3/4 full and then bake for 60-80 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out clean.
8. For muffins: Fill each muffin tin 1/3 full, then spoon your filling in the pan, then top with another spoonful of pumpkin batter. Bake for 14-18 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out clean.
NOTE: I sprinkled extra chocolate chips on top of my bread before baking to make it look extra pretty
Find the original recipe at:
And happy baking!
Did you know that there are apps designed specifically for people who wear braces?? It’s true! We have combed the internet and have brought you a list of apps for all of our fabulous braces-wearers!
This fun app puts braces on a picture of your smiling face. You may want to know how you would look in braces before take the plunge at the orthodontist’s office. Or, maybe you already have braces, and your brother or sister (or friends, or parents!) want to know how they would look in braces like yours.
This helpful app provides critical orthodontic information for people who wear braces. Menu options include Elastics, Brush Timer, Color Braces, My Doctor, Home Care, Food Center, Emergency, and more. From answering your basic questions about braces care to helping you pick the color of your braces and helping you remember what to do when a problem with your braces arises, this certainly seems to be a handy app to keep on your device!
This app isn’t necessarily specifically for people with braces, but it is a fun way to help everyone take the time they really need to brush their teeth. The app plays songs from your library or from a streaming service, and sets a timer for two minutes, so you can have fun while you brush for exactly as long as you need to. The app also allows you to set reminders for when it’s time to exchange your old toothbrush for a new one, or when it’s time to brush or floss, and even when you need to make your next dental appointment.
Speaking of setting alarms, this helpful app reminds you to wear your rubber bands. Wearing your rubber bands when you’re supposed to decreases the amount of time you’ll need to wear braces. In addition to giving you reminders, the app can “challenge” you, by asking you throughout the day if you’re currently wearing your rubber bands. Based on your (honest!) answers, the app will grade you on your progress that you can proudly show your parents and orthodontist. The app also has a fun “braces-off-O-meter” that rangers from “You’ll never get them off” to “You are going as fast as possible.” This app certainly seems like a fun and helpful way to encourage braces-wearers to stay on track!
My Day: Countdown Timer
This app can be used for any number of special days, but we know if you have braces, the day your braces come off can feel like the most important day of your life! This app is easy to use and has beautiful graphics for whatever occasion you are counting down to (get the app for your braces, keep it for other important dates in your life!). Not only can you count DOWN to the day your braces come off; you can also count UP to appreciate the number of days you have powered through so far.
We all love to smile. Smiling lifts our spirits, brightens our days. Smiling at other people can cheer them up, too.
Let’s Talk About Endorphins
Science shows us that when we smile (or laugh!), our body releases endorphins. Endorphins are a hormone that our central nervous system and pituitary gland produce. Not only do these hormones inhibit the transmission of pain signals; they also produce in us a euphoric feeling.
In short, they help us feel great!
Do we smile because we’re happy, or does smiling make us happy?
We smile when we are happy, but we also become happier when we smile. Charles Darwin first suggested this theory, which is known as “facial feedback hypothesis,” or “feedback loop.” When we smile, our brain decides we must be happy!
A Natural Stress Reliever
Smiling is also known to relieve stress. When we become stressed, we can calm ourselves down by breathing deeply and smiling, to try to change our mood. In fact, a scientific study was conducted that revealed this very fact! The abstract of the study (whose link you can find below) states that the findings of the study show “that there are both physiological and psychological benefits of maintaining positive facial expressions during stress.” We don’t always feel like smiling when we are stressed, but let’s trust science and give it a try!
Watch out, it’s contagious!
Smiles are contagious! Actually, science shows this statement to be true, too! (Follow the link below to read more about the study.) When someone sees another person smile, they are likely to smile, as well. And, because smiling can decrease stress and release endorphins in our brains, our smiles spread calm, positive euphoria to everyone around us!
People can trust a smile!
Another scientific study showed that people who are viewed as being more attractive—including people who smile—are also perceived as being more trustworthy. (Again: the link to the study is below!) We know smiling doesn’t actually make you more trustworthy. We’ll leave it to you to back up your newfound perceived trustworthiness with actual substance!
Let us help your smile!
So now that we know that smiling has SO MANY benefits to us physiologically, psychologically, socially, and communally, we’d love to help you attain a smile that you are truly proud of! If you are self-conscious about your smile, or hide your teeth when you smile, give your orthodontist a call. Truly, it’s for the betterment of society as a whole that everyone has a smile they are excited to show off!
Stress relief study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23012270
Smiles are contagious study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12738341
Smiling and trustworthiness study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22913033