Dr. Albright orthodontist

football mouthguards as pop art!

September 5th, 2016

Looks like art!

For over 25 years, Dr. Koufos and staff have volunteered to make custom fitted mouthguards for the Munster football team!  "This is a great effort for everyone, including the coaches, to make sure that the oral safety is a top priority for the Mustang team," Dr. Koufos said.

Each teammate will have a plaster mouth impression made at the football field. Next, we use our in-office dental lab at Orthodontic Specialists' where these red plastic molds are vacuumed sealed and trimmed to make red mouth guards for each team player.  Safety is of the upmost importance for not only football but any contact sport played by  young men and women alike.

Patients in our office will use our state of the art iTero impression technology. This is the most advanced way to make digital impressions without all the messy goop! http://www.orthospcs.com/itero-digital-impression-system

For more information on custom mouthguards, please call your general dentist or certified orthodontists, Drs. Koufos & Albright at Orthodontic Specialists' in Munster and St. John Indiana offices or call us at 219-924-1440 for a free consultation!

Permanent or Removable Retainers: Which is Right for You?

November 9th, 2012

When the time to remove your braces finally arrives, it is very exciting. Unfortunately, it can be somewhat confusing, too, because you are faced with choosing between two kinds of retainers. Should you go with permanent, removable, or a combination of the two? It is always wise to follow your orthodontist’s recommendations, but knowing more about the two types of retainer beforehand can be helpful.

Removable Retainers
Removable retainers offer the advantage of easy use: you will generally put a removable retainer in at night and take it out in the morning. Regardless of your retainer schedule, you'll be able to enjoy some time with no retainer. However, a removable retainer can easily be forgotten at times, and this means you won't be taking full advantage of teeth retention.

Another potential advantage of a removable retainer is that you can take it out and brush and floss your teeth with ease, which is more of a challenge with a permanent retainer. Although removable retainers can be very effective, they don't tend to be as effective as permanent retainers, especially if they are not used as directed.

Permanent Retainers
Permanent retainers are the clear choice for patients who want to “get it and forget it.” Once your permanent retainer is placed in your mouth, you won’t need to worry about daily retainer schedules, since it is permanently affixed to your teeth.

Because teeth begin to shift naturally as we age, a permanent retainer typically offers better long-term results for teeth straightening than a removable one. You can't forget to put it in — it's already there! Temporary retainers get lost or are forgotten on trips, and often fail to get used as often as they should be.

One drawback to permanent retainers is flossing. Some patients find it more difficult to floss with a permanent retainer, but we can show you effective ways to floss fairly quickly with your permanent retainer.

Some orthodontists may recommend a combination of the two; for example, a removable retainer for the top teeth and a permanent one for the lower ones because the lower teeth are smaller and tend to shift more.

Ultimately, the most important thing to remember is that wearing your retainer as directed is extremely important. As long as you follow our orthodontist’s advice, you will get the best results from your retainer, regardless of its type.

Avoiding Common Problems Associated With Braces

November 2nd, 2012

While braces play an important part in helping to create a healthy mouth and teeth, you might experience a few side effects while wearing them that are common and can be easily treated.

Even with the best of care, braces can cause soreness to your mouth. As your teeth begin to move, it is natural for your teeth to feel aches and your jaw to develop soreness.

If there are broken wires or loose bands on your braces, a sore tongue, mouth, or canker sore will occur. Canker sores are a common occurrence when braces rub inside the mouth. There are ointments available to reduce the pain and irritation associated with mouth sores. If you experience a sore mouth or any of the following problems, call our office to schedule an appointment.

• Loose brackets: Apply a small amount of orthodontic wax to the bracket temporarily. You might also apply a little between the braces and the soft tissue of your mouth.
• Loose bands: These must be secured in place by our office. Try to save the band for repair.
• Protruding or broken wires: The eraser end of a pencil can be used to move the wire carefully to a less painful spot. If you are unable to move it, apply orthodontic wax to the tip. If a mouth sore develops, rinse with warm salt water or antiseptic rinse.
• Loose spacers: These will need to be repositioned and sometimes replaced.

Foods to Avoid
Some foods can also help or hurt you while you’re wearing braces. Remember to cut your food into small pieces that can be easily chewed. You will want to avoid hard and chewy foods that can break your hardware. Foods such as corn on the cob, nuts, carrots, apples, ice, and bubble gum should be avoided.

Braces, rubber bands, springs, and other mouth appliances associated with braces will normally attract food particles and plaque. Without the proper care, this could cause staining of your teeth.

We recommend brushing after every meal or snack and carefully removing any food that might be lodged in the braces. A fluoride mouthwash might be helpful as well as flossing. At your next appointment, we can advise you how to floss with a brush specially designed for braces!

Rubber Band Horoscopes: What Your Color Says About You

October 26th, 2012

One exciting part about wearing braces is getting to choose the colors of your rubber bands. Orthodontists place elastic bands, or ligatures, over each bracket to secure the archwire in place. These rubber bands may be individual or connected, depending on your mouth’s needs. You have the option of choosing the color of your elastics, which are changed about once every month at every visit. Our offices keep a color wheel handy to help you choose which ones suit you best!

Children and teens often enjoy picking different colors each month to express their creativity and coordinate their braces with outfits. Decorating your mouth with your favorite colors is fun for kids and takes some of the stress out of wearing braces. Adults who wish for subtlety have color options that blend in with the metal brackets and archwire. Common choices for adults include silver, clear, and gray tones.

Common Color Combinations for Rubber Bands
With individual ligatures for each bracket, you may choose different color combinations for special events. You can have alternating colors or place an entire rainbow over your teeth. Here are a few options to consider:
• School spirit colors
• Favorite sports team colors
• Patriotic colors
• Holiday themes

Some patients choose only one color to match their mood, personality, or favorite outfits. The palette of choices allows you to make bold statements with your braces or go for subtler tones that blend in with the metal structures. Keep in mind that bright colors make your teeth look whiter, while lighter shades, such as yellow and white, may cause your teeth to appear less bright.

What Your Rubber Band Color Says About You
• Red tones indicate that you are ready for action and take charge of your life with aggressive, forward-thinking steps.
• Blue tones are calm and relaxing. You are conservative and exhibit integrity when dealing with situations.
• Green tones represent growth and balance. You are level-headed and look for opportunities to grow emotionally and spiritually.
• Purple tones attract creative energies. You like to have fun and use your imagination in every aspect of your life.
• Orange tones indicate that you are optimistic and thrive in social situations where communication is open.
• Pink is a romantic color that represents a caring personality. You also enjoy having fun with silly games and endless laughter.

The Evolution of Braces

October 19th, 2012

Did you know that even in ancient times, people wanted to improve the look and function of their smiles? We think of modern orthodontic appliances as sleek, efficient technology, but this was not always the case! Take a look at the highlights in the evolution of braces.

Ancient Times: From Greece to Rome
• According to The Angle Orthodontist, Aristotle and Hippocrates first thought about methods for straightening teeth between 400 and 300 BC.
• The Etruscans, in what we now know as Italy, buried their dead with appliances that maintained spaces and prevented collapse of their teeth and jaws during life. Archaeologists have discovered mummified remains in various locations that have metal bands wrapped around the teeth.
• A Roman tomb has also been discovered in which the teeth were bound with gold wire, including documentation on the wire’s use as a dental device.

18th Century: A French Development
• The French dentist Pierre Fauchard is acknowledged as the father of modern dentistry. In 1728 he published a book that described various methods for straightening teeth. Fauchard also used a device known as a “blandeau” to widen the upper palate.
• Louis Bourdet was another French dentist who published a book in 1754 that discussed tooth alignment. Bourdet further refined the blandeau and was the first dentist to extract bicuspids, or the premolar teeth between canines and molars, for the purpose of reducing tooth crowding.

19th Century: Orthodontics Defined
• Orthodontics started to become a separate dental specialty during the early 19th century. The first wire crib was used in 1819, marking the beginning of modern orthodontics.
• During this period, gold, platinum, silver, steel, gum rubber, vulcanite, and occasionally wood, ivory, zinc, and copper were used — as was brass in the form of loops, hooks, spurs, and ligatures.
• Edward Maynard first used gum elastics in 1843 and E. J. Tucker began making rubber bands for braces in 1850.
• Norman W. Kingsley published the first paper on modern orthodontics in 1858 and J. N. Farrar was the first dentist to recommend the use of force over timed intervals to straighten teeth.

20th Century: New Materials Abound
• Edward Angle developed the first classification systems for malocclusions (misaligned teeth) during the early 20th century in the United States, and it is still in use today. Angle founded the American Society of Orthodontia in 1901, which was renamed the American Association of Orthodontists in the 1930s.
• By the 1960s, gold was universally abandoned in favor of stainless steel.
• Lingual braces were the “invisible” braces of choice until the early 1980s, when tooth-colored aesthetic brackets made from single-crystal sapphire and ceramics became popular.

Today
As we arrive in the present, you need only look at your own braces to see how far we’ve come. Your treatment plan was probably created with a 3D digital model, and we’ve likely used a computerized process to customize your archwires. Perhaps you have clear aligners, self-ligating brackets, or highly resilient ceramic brackets with heat-activated wires.

Orthodontics has come a long way from the days of Aristotle, and even the bulky wrap-around braces of just 60 years ago. Regardless of your specific treatment plan, the development of high-tech materials and methods has made it possible for your orthodontic experience to be as effective, efficient, and comfortable as possible.

Besides Straight Teeth, What are the Benefits of Braces?

October 12th, 2012

Everyone wants a naturally aligned and beautiful smile, and it is no secret that orthodontic braces can help deliver one. However, there are greater benefits to wearing braces than just having straight teeth. You’ll gain many oral health benefits in addition to the cosmetic ones.

Tooth Decay and Gum Disease
Crooked or crowded teeth may overlap each other and create tight spaces in between. These can make it very difficult to brush and floss effectively, allowing bacteria and plaque to build up, and eventually leading to tooth decay and gum disease. With orthodontic treatment, your teeth will become properly aligned and spaced, which allows for more effective brushing.

Difficulties with Speech
Your teeth play an essential role in speech. When they are out of line or lean too far forward or backward, this can affect your speaking patterns, and possibly cause embarrassment and frustration. Braces can readjust the positioning of the teeth to allow for clearer, more professional speech.

Bone Erosion
Bone and gum tissues begin to erode when there are no teeth to support. This is also true for poorly aligned teeth that leave gaps and spaces or place too much pressure on the jawbone due to a bad bite. With braces, the bones and tissues are less likely to erode and can continue to support the teeth in their new alignment.

Digestion
Your teeth play an important role in digestion. Before food ever enters your stomach, it has been partially digested by the teeth. If teeth are severely out of line, however, they may not play their role in breaking down food as effectively as they should. With braces, your teeth will be straightened into optimal alignment for eating and chewing.

National Orthodontic Health Month is Here!

October 4th, 2012

We love October, and not just for the changing weather and Halloween excitement! It’s National Orthodontic Health Month.

Every year, the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recognizes October as a time to raise awareness of the benefits of orthodontic treatment. The AAO is the largest, oldest professional association for orthodontists in North America, and is comprised of more than 16,000 members.

In a month full of hard, sticky, crunchy, and chewy treats, it’s more important than ever to encourage patients to be kind to their teeth during treatment. If you have braces, try to avoid caramel, taffy, bubblegum, and candy with nuts. If you can’t keep yourself away from the sugar, opt for softer candy such as peanut butter cups or other melt-in-your-mouth treats.

As always, remember to brush and floss after consuming sugary foods. Exposing your teeth to sweets increases your risk of cavities, and allowing the sugar to sit there can lead to decalcification, the loss of calcium from the teeth.

If you have any questions about what foods are best and worst during orthodontic treatment, feel free to ask during your next visit!

How much do you know about your toothbrush?

September 28th, 2012

Taking care of your smile is nothing new! People have been brushing their teeth for thousands of years. In fact, the first “toothbrush” was created around 3000BC! Ancient civilizations used a thin twig with a frayed edge to rub against their teeth for cleaning.

The first toothbrush with bristles – similar to today’s toothbrushes – was invented in 1498 in China. Brushes were made out of bone or bamboo with bristles made from the hairs on the back of a hog’s neck.

It wasn’t until 1938 that the first nylon bristle toothbrush was introduced and people quickly became aware of practicing good oral hygiene.

Here are some other interesting facts about your toothbrush (and toothpaste):
• Most people are said to use blue toothbrushes over any other color
• The first toothpaste was used in 500 BC in China and India
• On average, children smile about 400 times per day
• Your toothbrush should be replaced every two months
• The first known toothpaste was used in 1780, Crest was introduced in 1955 and Colgate in 1873

You're Never Too Old to Treat Yourself to a New Smile!

September 21st, 2012

Did you know one in every five orthodontic patients is an adult? We’re living longer and technology is improving, making orthodontic treatment an appealing and safe option for patients of all ages. As the trend toward treatment later in life grows, we’re seeing braces on parents as well as children – and even adult celebrities such as Tom Cruise, Gwen Stefani and Nicholas Cage have shown off their braces. It’s never too late to look and feel your best!

Can Braces Work for Adults?

People of all ages can benefit from orthodontic treatment. The physical process for moving teeth is the same, young or old, which means it’s never too late to address issues such as an overbite or underbite, crooked or crowded teeth, or jaw disorders.

How Do I Get Started?

If you’re considering orthodontic treatment, we’ll make a consultation appointment with you. During this meeting we will perform a general assessment of your oral health, discuss options for treatment, and answer any questions you may have. We will also discuss matters of cost and insurance. The next step is an orthodontic records appointment in which we take x-rays, photos, and an impression of your teeth. This information drives your unique treatment plan.

What Are the Benefits?

Straightening your teeth can improve your smile, your self-esteem, and your dental health. Technologically advanced new treatments make it easier to identify the option that best fits your lifestyle. Modern techniques and materials have made braces and aligners more effective, comfortable and unobtrusive than ever.

If you think you might benefit from orthodontic treatment, give our team a call so we may set up a consultation to determine what type of treatment best meets your needs!

Playing fall sports? Don't forget your mouth guard!

September 14th, 2012

Now that school is back in session, fall sports are, too! Fall brings an increase in outdoor activities and a greater chance of damaging your beautiful smile. Our team also knows sports-related injuries are common among children and teens. It's been found that 70 percent of parents said their biggest worry is that their child will get hurt while playing sports. Another 67 percent admitted their child doesn't wear a mouth guard when playing sports such as football, volleyball, baseball and soccer.

That’s why we think it’s a good time to remind you that many facial sports injuries can be avoided by wearing mouth guards. Whether you’re in the middle of orthodontic treatment or enjoying a stunning new smile, we’re happy to recommend a mouth guard to suit your needs.

In addition, the following tips can help athletes of all ages stay safe on the field:

  • Wear mouth guards during contact sports
  • Wear a helmet
  • Stretch before and after a game or practice
  • Wear protective eye wear
  • Wear a face shield to avoid scratched or bruised skin
  • Be observant—even as a spectator

All of these can reduce injuries. Only by using a mouth guard and other forms of facial protection can kids with and without braces avoid serious sports injuries. If you have any questions about mouth guards, feel free to call or ask the next time you you’re in the office!

Understanding Orthodontic Appliances for Jaw Growth Correction

September 7th, 2012

Children and adults often feel confused and a little frightened because of the various metal tools and appliances used for orthodontic treatment. Knowing the applications of such devices can help ease a patient's mind when undergoing treatment. Dentofacial orthopedics is a specialty that uses appliances to adjust the jaws for ideal compatibility. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends these treatment options for children between the ages of eight and 12 to make adjustments during developmental stages. Adults also experience dental changes throughout their lives and can benefit from dentofacial orthopedic appliances. Some common problems with jaw alignment or development include:

  • Underdeveloped lower jaw
  • Protrusion of upper teeth
  • Malocclusions
  • Crossbite
  • Overbite

Orthodontic Appliances for Correcting Jaw Growth Problems

Jaw-correcting appliances are either fixed or removable. Fixed appliances are applied to the teeth with the use of cement. Removable appliances require dedication from the patient to wear the devices as instructed. You will receive better results by wearing your orthodontic gear and following the treatment plan designed for your specific needs. Understanding the potential results will help you stay motivated, and parents can help their children to follow recommendations. Some appliances can cause slight discomfort during adjustment periods, but wearing them regularly will help shorten the time frame for treatment. Here are some of the most common appliances for correcting jaw growth problems.

  • Headgear: This appliance is removable and consists of a stainless steel facebow and fabric safety strap. The orthodontist fixes metal bands to your upper-back teeth where you attach the facebow. The safety strap wraps around your head and secures the facebow. Headgear affects jaw growth and tooth movement by applying pressure to the upper teeth and maxilla.
  • Herbst® Appliance: Typically permanent, these appliances attach to the upper and lower molars to hold the mandible forward. The purpose of this type of treatment is to eliminate an overbite. With expansion screws, the Herbst can also widen the jaw.
  • Mara: This appliance pushes the mandible forward to reduce overbite. Crowns are placed on your top and bottom molars, and a metal elbow connects the crowns.
  • Bite Corrector: This appliance is combined with braces to correct different malocclusions. Metal bars with enclosed springs apply pressure to both the upper and lower jaws. The placement of such bars will depend on the bite type.
  • Bionator: This removable appliance guides the lower jaw so that it grows in proportion to the upper jaw. Children can develop aligned bites by wearing bionators.
  • Palatal Expansion: There are two options for placement, fixed, or removable palatal expansions, to fix crossbites. The appliance attaches to the upper-back teeth and widens the jaw.

You will get used to the feeling of most appliances within one month, and the adjustment period is easier if you follow the treatment plan that our staff designs. The average time it takes to correct jaw problems is 12 months, so you can expect to see a more beautiful smile in about one year.

What questions should I ask during an orthodontic consultation?

August 31st, 2012

Are you thinking about orthodontic treatment to straighten teeth or correct jaw alignment?  Consider making your first step an orthodontic consultation. During the consultation we will address your questions, concerns, and talk about a treatment plan that would best suit your situation.

We want you to feel prepared and in charge of your orthodontic treatment decisions, so keep these questions in mind when you come in for your appointment.

  • If I do need some adjustments to my teeth, what options will I have besides braces?
    (This will help you determine what approaches we use to straighten your teeth.)
  • What kind of preparation is needed to get braces? How many visits will it take?
    (It’s important to know how many appointments may be needed and what you will need to do between appointments to be ready for braces.)
  • Can I expect any pain when getting braces?
    (Ask about the ways we address pain management.)
  • What determines how long I have to wear braces?
    (The length of treatment will vary from patient to patient.  During your consultation we can evaluate your teeth and jaw alignment to determine the correct course and length of treatment.)
  • How will braces affect my lifestyle? Foods I can eat? Activities I can do?
    (You may find that little needs to change in your daily routine to have a successful orthodontic outcome. We can discuss and address any changes so you can be prepared before you get your braces.)
  • Who will be involved in the orthodontic work?  Whom can I expect to see during my adjustment visits?
  • What will my orthodontic work cost? What is the ”average” cost and what could be the maximum?
    (Make sure you are clear about what your insurance covers, who contacts the insurance company for pre-authorization, who files the insurance forms, and what flexibility there is to pay the remaining amount not covered.)

Your initial orthodontic consultation may just be the first step in relieving a lot of pain and discomfort in your life. Going in with the right questions will help you to understand the entire process and prepare you to do your part for your own dental health. Be sure to bring a list of your questions!

When Should My Child See an Orthodontist?

August 24th, 2012

Orthodontic treatments vary from dental treatment, in that they primarily address malocclusions, jaw spacing and tooth alignment, rather than the actual health of the teeth. That is why it is often more difficult for parents to determine when a child needs orthodontic treatment rather than dental treatment. So how can you know it is time to take your child to the orthodontist?
Bad Bite - As the adult teeth begin to replace primary teeth, bite occlusions can develop. These often become visible to parents between middle childhood and the pre-teen years, although an orthodontist can identify a bad bite with early evaluation.
Visible Tooth Crowding - If your child's newly emerging teeth are already crowded, you should make an appointment with our office to discuss braces.
Tooth Grinding (Bruxism) - Children who grind their teeth at night may do so unconsciously, but the condition requires treatment to prevent the development of headaches, TMJ, and tooth damage. Oral appliances are available to correct nighttime tooth grinding.
Difficulty Chewing, Biting, or Speaking - If your child is displaying difficulty speaking or eating, or if he or she often experiences cheek biting, schedule an orthodontic consultation.
Asymmetry - If your child's face is asymmetrical, or if his or her teeth do not meet together in a natural way, orthodontic treatment may be necessary.
Evaluation and Preventive Care
Even if your child has no visible tooth or jaw alignment problems, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child visit the orthodontist for an initial examination no later than age seven. The reason for early evaluation is because orthodontists are capable of finding subtle problems with the jaw and teeth growth and spacing before they become more pronounced and also more difficult to treat.

By bringing your child in for an evaluation, you may be able to treat orthodontic conditions with shorter and more simplified treatments that are also more affordable than treatment during the teenage and adult years.

Summer Postcard Contest!

July 26th, 2011

Here at Orthodontic Specialists the Annual Summer Postcard Contest is going on now through September 3rd. We have 3 different categories:

--Farthest Traveled - any postcard we receive that is the farthest from our main office in Munster, IN. The winner will receive a Fuji Waterproof camera!

--Mystery Destination - we have a place picked out and if we receive a postcard from that destination, that person will win an iPod Touch!

--Take Our Doctors with You - you can pick up a picture of the doctors at our office. Cut their head out and place it on a popsicle stick, and take a picture at your destination. The winner will win a Wii Entertainment System!

If you have any questions about the contest, feel free to leave us a comment or contact our office! We wish you good luck and safe travels!

-The team at Orthodontic Specialists

*One winner is randomly drawn if more than one entry is received for each destination.

Foods to avoid during your orthodontic treatment

July 20th, 2011

There are a variety of foods Drs. Michael Koufos & David Albright want you to avoid while you're wearing braces. Some foods can occasionally damage braces, but certain foods can bend the wires or even break the brackets on your braces. If you’re wearing braces, you should avoid starch, sugar and gummy foods, as these foods can be difficult to remove during brushing. Foods that are high in sugar and starch tend to cause plaque, cavities and even tooth decay.

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

Foods you should avoid include:

• Chewy foods: bagels, hard rolls, licorice
• Crunchy foods: popcorn, ice, chips
• Sticky foods: caramels, gum
• Hard foods: nuts, candy
• Foods you have to bite into: corn on the cob, apples, carrots

Also, chewing on hard things (for example, pens, pencils or fingernails) can damage the braces. Damaged braces will cause treatment to take longer.

If you have any questions on which foods you should be avoiding and why, we invite you to give Orthodontic Specialists a call or ask our staff during your next visit.

The importance of retainers, from Drs. Koufos & Albright

July 6th, 2011

If you recently completed treatment at Orthodontic Specialists, we’d like to congratulate you! Now that your braces have been removed, Drs. Koufos & Albright will provide—or has provided you—with retainers. After braces are removed, teeth can shift out of position if they are not stabilized. Retainers provide that stabilization. They are designed to hold teeth in their corrected, ideal positions until the bones and gums adapt to the treatment changes. Wearing retainers exactly as instructed by Drs. Koufos & Albright is the best insurance that the treatment improvements last for a lifetime. Here are some things to remember when you receive your retainers:

* Wear your retainers full time, until the doctor instructs otherwise. Wearing your retainers at night ensures that your pearly whites won’t relapse.

* Take your retainers out when eating...and always put retainers in their case! (Most appliances are lost in school lunch rooms or restaurants.)

* Clean retainers thoroughly once a day with a toothbrush and only a small amount of toothpaste. Use warm but not hot water.

* When retainers are not in your mouth they should ALWAYS be in a retainer case.

* Retainers are breakable, so treat them with care. If retainers are lost or broken, give us a call immediately.

* Remove retainers when swimming or during any sporting activity in which the retainers could fall out and get broken or lost (cheerleading, basketball, etc.) or when you should be wearing a mouth guard (football, soccer, etc.).

We hope this helps! You can always contact our team if you have any questions!

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