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What Should I Ask my Orthodontist Before Braces?

Getting braces, or any orthodontic appliance is a daunting life change. At the end of your appointment or evaluation, your orthodontist, such as the experienced team at McAllen Orthodontic Group, including Dr. Joseph Ryan, will ask you if you have any questions, and as a new patient, it’s sometimes hard to know what exactly you should be asking or what you’ll need to know as you navigate your new braces. Here are five questions you’ll need to know the answers to for a smooth orthodontic experience.


Five Essential Questions for Your Orthodontist:

  1. Can you describe my treatment plan?
  2. What are my options for treatment?
  3. What is this appliance doing? This adjustment?
  4. How should I care for my new appliance?
  5. Do I need to make any lifestyle changes now that I have this appliance?

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What to do to Relieve Invisalign Pain

Invisalign is awesome; it gives you an amazing smile without anyone ever noticing it doing its hard work. Mild soreness after switching your Invisalign trays is completely normal but uncomfortable. To help you manage any Invisalign pain, here are a few tips from Dr. Joseph Ryan at McAllen Orthodontic Group.

  • Switch Your Aligners Before Bed: Switching to your next set of Invisalign aligners is what typically triggers any pain or soreness. Putting your new set of trays in right before you go to sleep means the tightness and pain associated with the tooth movement can be avoided for at least the night. And, by the time you wake up the worst of it will be over!

  • Stick to Soft Foods: As always with a new orthodontic appliance or a change in your mouth, soreness can be helped with a soft-food-only diet, at least for a couple of days! We recommend stocking up on some soft braces-friendly food before you know any pain will set in. Here are some ideas: 

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What are some foods that can damage my teeth?

Diet is an important aspect of maintaining good oral health. In addition to brushing and flossing every night, it’s important to understand which foods can cause the most damage to your teeth and how to minimize or avoid that damage altogether. As you shop, it always pays off to check labels for high sugar content, high levels of acid, or unfamiliar ingredients. Here are some tips from Dr. Joseph Ryan at McAllen Orthodontic Group about the foods you should watch out for. It is always best to be mindful of what you consume!


Which Foods are the Worst for Enamel

Sugary drinks and sodas are harmful to enamel. However, some products aren’t as obvious as others. Healthy teeth can be damaged by sports drinks. As a matter of fact, the term “erode” is more appropriate, especially when wearing braces. By demineralizing your teeth, these drinks reduce the minerals in the outer enamel and dentin (dentin is yellowish, calcified tissue under the enamel).  The enamel underneath the braces covered by the brackets is not affected. 

Erosion of the teeth is common. Due to acidic destruction of enamel and dentin, tooth structure is lost. Acidic substances like sports drinks, sodas, and candy can cause dental erosion. Everyone knows about candy and soda. Sports drinks, on the other hand, are not thrown into this group of tooth killers. When citrus flavoring is added to energy drinks and some flavored waters, they can be just as harmful as those that contain caffeine.

Another thing that can dissolve enamel quickly is alcohol. Most alcoholic drinks are very high in acid content, and mixed drinks made with soda or fruit juices typically have the most. As we discussed, if left on the teeth too long, acid can erode the enamel,and increase your risk of  disease-causing bacteria.

Additionally, your alcoholic drink of choice most likely has sugar in it. Sugar is bacteria’s best friend because bacteria feed on the sugar left on your teeth and leave acid behind. Additionally, many wines and spirits contain dyes that can stain your teeth. Avoid colorful drinks and red wines to keep your teeth bright and healthy. 


Surprisingly Sugary Foods to Avoid

Foods that are hidden culprits of high sugar often seem healthy. For example, smoothies out and about are deceptively sugary. In many situations, what seems like just  blended fruit and ice may not be a healthy drink. Menus at popular national smoothie bar chains often contain over double the recommended daily sugar intake. As you watch them make the drinks, notice few only use fresh or frozen fruit.  Most use sugar flavored fruit syrups from a bottle that contain high amounts of sugar.

Like smoothies, juices also tend to have more than the recommended daily sugar content. All too often juices at the grocery contain names and photos of healthy fruits, and in reality have very  little of those fruits in them. Processed sugar is often a top ingredient in these fruity drinks.  Just because a drink on your grocer’s shelf has the name of a fruit in its title does not necessarily make it a healthy choice. 

Another item you wouldn’t consider necessarily full of sugar are prepackaged lunches. These products are certainly convenient, but aren’t really a healthy option, especially to eat consistently. Often, foods with preservatives and highly processed snack foods actually have a wealth of sugar. The varieties that include both a dessert and a drink are double trouble. 

Granola is another prime example of a food that is usually advertised and lauded as a healthy choice. But, granola contains sugary coatings used to keep clusters together and mask the “blander” tastes of the fibrous foods that actually offer a benefit.  Limit your granola to a small amount mixed with yogurt and choose wheat-based cereals over their granola-sugar-laden brother. Read the labels to determine sugar content before you buy.

What Vitamins Should You Take for Healthy Teeth?

Vitamins and minerals are essential for your health. But vitamins are not just good for keeping your energy up or gut health; they are also integral to good oral health. Your teeth are bones, just like those that make up your arms and legs, and therefore require the same support as the bones in the rest of your body.

Vitamins are essentially an all-around preventative measure for common oral health issues. Improving your mouth’s health every day with vitamins is a proactive way to ensure a pain-free, healthy dental experience. Dr. Joseph Ryan at McAllen Orthodontic Group recommends these vitamins to promote tooth health, strengthen your enamel, and support jaw health.


Here are the five vitamins and minerals you should have daily:

  1. Vitamin A
  2. Vitamin C
  3. Calcium
  4. Vitamin D
  5. Vitamin K

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Visiting the Dentist

Every year, you visit your doctor for a check-up. These well visits are to ensure you are healthy for the year to come! You also should have visits like these with your dentist, you need to have a dental check at least once every six months to make sure your teeth and mouth are healthy. Dental checkups are quick and easy, but they make sure to do a comprehensive check on your teeth and gums and then perform a professional dental cleaning.


In This Post, We’ll Cover:

  • What Happens at a Dental Check-up?
  • What Happens During a Dental Cleaning?
  • Why are Dental Cleanings so Important?
  • Why are Regular Check-ups so Important?

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Traveling with Invisalign

Traveling can be a stressful undertaking, especially in the post-COVID age. Some people forget to consider how to best travel with their Invisalign and run into some tough situations as a result. 

When you’re in a new place, far from your orthodontist’s office, and stopping at so many different places, it’s easy to remove your aligners and leave them behind. Here are some tips from Dr. Joseph Ryan at McAllen Orthodontic Group for traveling with your Invisalign, to make sure you don’t have to take time out of your vacation for an orthodontic emergency!


What if I Lose my Invisalign while Traveling?

When traveling for longer periods of time, always take your previous set of aligners, your current set, and your next set of aligners with you. Whether you will go back to the previous set or move forward to the next set if your aligners get lost will be determined by how long you have been wearing your current set. The general rule of thumb is if the current aligners are tight, go back.  If you can remove them easily and are in your second week, move forward to the next set. 

If you are going to be out of town for more than two weeks, we can order replacement aligners if needed and ship them to you directly. Continue wearing your previous set until they arrive and start again with the new set.

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