orthodontist Munster IN

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

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.

How long does orthodontic treatment take?

August 17th, 2012

Orthodontic treatments are used to correct malocclusion, a condition more commonly known as a bad bite. The length of treatment time varies depending on the severity of the bite problem.

What is a "bad bite"?
A bad bite occurs when spacing or alignment problems are present. This often includes teeth that are protruding, crowded, or crooked. Sometimes teeth appear straight, but have an uneven bite because the upper and lower jaws do not align properly. Teeth that are irregularly spaced - either too far apart or too close together - can also cause bite problems.

Frequent causes of bite problems:

  • Heredity
  • Thumb-sucking
  • Premature tooth loss
  • Accidents

Benefits of orthodontic treatment:

Appearance -
Correcting a bad bite often creates a more attractive smile, which frequently raises the patient's self esteem.

Preventing Decay -
It also results in a healthier mouth. It is much more difficult to thoroughly clean teeth that are crooked, protruding, overlapped, or crowed. This may allow plaque to build up, which can lead to gum disease, tooth decay and even tooth loss. Orthodontic treatment corrects these conditions, so cleaning can be more efficient.

Avoiding Alignment Issues -
An uneven bite can interfere with the motions of chewing and speaking. This can cause abnormal wear to tooth enamel, which may require pricey cosmetic restorative treatments, such as crowns or veneers, to correct. It can also lead to problems with the jaws. Orthodontic treatment lessens the likelihood of those issues, as well.

Types of orthodontic treatment:

- Braces: Metal or ceramic brackets are bonded to the front of teeth. Wires and elastics are attached to the brackets to straighten teeth.

- Invisalign®: Advanced 3D computer images of the patients' mouth are used to create clear, custom aligners that slowly move teeth. They are nearly invisible and are more comfortable than traditional braces. They are also removable, which makes it possible to continue with normal brushing and flossing.

- Retainers: A retainer is a removable piece worn inside the mouth that uses pressure to force teeth to move into proper alignment. They are used after braces are removed.

Length of orthodontic treatment:
Treatment typically ranges from 12 to 36 months. Factors include the age, cooperation level, and growth occurrence of the patient. The complexity of the case also impacts the treatment time.

What are the Early Signs of Orthodontic Problems?

August 10th, 2012


Visibly crooked teeth are not the only reason to take your child into the orthodontist. There are some subtle things to look for as well, which may indicate the onset of more serious orthodontic issues. Many orthodontic issues are much easier to address if treated and corrected during a child's development.

Waiting until facial development is complete or until the permanent teeth have come in can make correction of many orthodontic issues more challenging. Both children and adults can benefit from orthodontic care at any age, but addressing issues early is almost always the ideal choice.

If you're wondering if you or your child might have need for orthodontic care, there are some things you can be on the lookout for. Here are some of the most common warning signs of orthodontic issues:

• Difficulty when chewing or biting
• Chronic mouth-breathing
• Sucking the thumb, the fingers, or any other oral sucking habits that continue after the age of six
• Overbite - when the upper teeth overlap the lower teeth by more than 5mm
• Top front teeth that cover more than 25% of the bottom teeth while biting
• Underbite - when the top front teeth go behind the bottom row of teeth when biting
• Crowded, crooked, overlapped, misshapen, misplaced teeth or extra teeth of any size
• Crossbite - when one or more teeth tilt toward the cheek or toward the tongue causing excessive stress on the jawbone
• The center of the top and bottom teeth don't line up
• Uneven teeth-wearing
• Baby teeth coming out too early for the child's age
• Pain in jaws
• Clicking in the jaw joints
• The jaw shifts off-center while chewing or biting
• A jaw that protrudes, or recedes, too much
• Difficulty speaking or enunciating clearly
• Chronic biting of the inner cheek or roof of the mouth
• Asymmetrical facial structure
• Grinding or clenching of the teeth

If you notice that either you or your child has one or more of these conditions, they could be signs that there is a risk of orthodontic or health problems. The sooner these problems are addressed, the wider and brighter you will be able to smile going forward!

Making Your Life Better with Orthodontics

June 11th, 2012


The number one goal of orthodontic treatment is to give you or your child a good bite, meaning straight teeth that work well with the teeth in the opposite jaw. A good bite makes it easier for you to eat, chew and speak. It can enhance your dental health and your overall health, and may well improve your self-esteem. As a part of your comprehensive dental health care plan, orthodontic treatment can help you retain your teeth—and your smile—for a lifetime.
Let your smile express yourself! Nothing can show the world how happy you are quite like a beautiful smile. In fact, it’s one of the first things others notice about you, too. With orthodontics, you can be proud to flash your smile, because you’ll know that your smile truly represents your positive attitude.
Make your mouth healthy! Straight teeth aren’t just pretty, they’re healthy as well. Teeth that are properly aligned are easier to clean, reducing the amount of plaque buildup and risk for gingivitis. The cleaner you keep your teeth, the longer they’ll last!
Feel free to live your life! Orthodontics is easier today than ever before, with treatment options that fit your lifestyle and schedule. We can personalize your treatment to suit all of your needs!

The benefits of a beautiful smile

May 30th, 2012


We know that having an attractive smile puts a spring in your step—or two—as well as increases your self-confidence, no matter if you’re 14 or in your late forties. Smiling not only makes people happy and puts them in a good mood, doing it often can even help you live longer, according to previous studies!

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

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

May is National Teen Self-Esteem Month!

May 4th, 2012


At our office, we know image can be everything. At an age when image is so important, the thought of having braces may intensify the already-delicate confidence of today's teens. Well, May is National Teen Self-Esteem Month, and during this time, parents are encouraged to act as positive role models, help stop negative self-images, and improve confidence and security among teenagers.

One of the great ways to improve your confidence is to improve your smile. And that begins with a consultation at our office. After all, what better time to avoid having crooked teeth in your adulthood than coming in for a consultation?

We invite you to give us a call to schedule a consultation or ask us on Facebook!

Celebrating Earth Day by Doing Our Part to Help the Planet!

April 27th, 2012

We are living in an age with a renewed commitment to conservation, and are frequently reminded to recycle, reduce and reuse. Last Sunday marked Earth Day, so today we thought we would discuss some of the things we do to conserve our natural resources and the environment.

Our office is digitalized, which means we can operate without the use of large amounts of paper and printing materials. The information in our office can be sent and processed digitally, which is also more efficient. We take all of the steps possible to be a 'green' office, making us better for the planet and more convenient for our patients.

We would love to hear how you minimize your impact on the environment. Leave us a comment below or post on our Facebook page!

Spring is here! Do we have your current contact info?

April 13th, 2012


Spring is in the air! As you probably know, you can always connect with us on our Facebook page, but we invite you to please contact our office with any updates to phone numbers and addresses, so that we may be able to reach you.

We also encourage you to call us and let us know if you have any new phone numbers or if your contact information has changed!

Thank you! Have a great weekend!

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

April 6th, 2012

Visiting your dentist during your orthodontic treatment will not only help keep your teeth and mouth healthy while you have braces, but will also help keep the rest of your body healthy. The fact is, every hour of every day in the U.S., someone dies of oral cancer, which is the sixth-most common diagnosed form of the disease. The five-year survival rate is only 50 percent, and oral cancer is one of the few cancers whose survival rate has not improved. Since April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, we would like to take this opportunity to remind all of our patients about the importance of maintaining good oral hygiene while you’re undergoing orthodontic treatment.

Your dentist is specifically trained to diagnose, treat, and prevent oral health problems. Please let us now if you have any questions about your oral health during your next adjustment appointment. Take care of your teeth!

What do rubber bands do?

March 22nd, 2012


Rubber bands, or elastics, can be an integral aspect of orthodontic care, so if Drs. Michael Koufos and David Albright have prescribed elastics as a part of your treatment, it’s important to follow the directions fully. Elastics help to align your bite or cause teeth to move in different directions and straighten more quickly. We will instruct you how to hook one end to an upper bracket and the other end to a lower bracket so the rubber band goes vertically or diagonally from one bracket to another. The tension of the rubber band produces pressure on the bracket, which causes the teeth to move and straighten. This tension is also sufficient to correct an overbite or an under bite in the jaw.

If rubber bands are a part of your treatment plan, there are a few things to keep in mind. With rubber bands, you won’t be able to open your mouth fully, so they will have to be removed when you eat and reapplied after meal time. Many times, rubber bands are only needed at night, so you won’t need to worry about eating with them. Also, if you try to open your mouth too wide, your rubber bands might snap – so be careful!

Failure to wear your elastics full time or as instructed can lengthen your treatment time and may make it more difficult to achieve an optimal result. But don’t worry; your time in elastics will be well worth it when you see your beautiful, new smile.

Which questions should I ask during my orthodontic consultation?

March 8th, 2012

When you visit Orthodontic Specialists for your orthodontic consultation, you’ll probably have a lot of questions. We want you to be prepared for your appointment and feel in charge of your orthodontic treatment decisions, so keep these questions in mind to ask when you come in for your appointment:

• How long will I have to wear braces?
• Will getting braces hurt?
• Will I have to wear additional appliances to correct jaw problems while I have braces?
• What can I eat when I have braces?
• Are there certain things, like playing sports or playing an instrument, which I won’t be able to do?
• How can I make sure my teeth stay clean and healthy while I have braces?
• How often will I need to come in for appointments?
• How much will my orthodontic treatment cost?

The team at Orthodontic Specialists is here to answer all your questions and concerns, and we’re happy to explain all aspects of your treatment plan and expected outcome. Your orthodontic experience should be comfortable, hassle-free, and most importantly, leave you smiling!

Valentine's Day and your teeth, from Drs. Koufos and Albright

February 14th, 2012


Valentine’s Day is here, and there is a lot of candy making the rounds this week. It’s once again time to remind all of our patients to be extra careful when choosing those candies and treats!

All those sweet, sour and sticky candies may taste great, but these treats are known to damage teeth, as well as braces! Did you know sour candies can be acidic to your teeth, and actually wear down the enamel that protects them? This can cause tooth decay and cavities! Sour and fruity candy, such as Starburst and Skittles, are the worst for your teeth since these candies have a low pH value, which is known to ruin enamel.

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends softer treats, such as soft chocolate or peanut butter cups, or melt-in-your-mouth foods. Those who indulge should make sure they brush and floss between teeth, around brackets and at the gum line. If damage occurs, please call us as soon as possible.

Happy Valentine’s Day from all of us at Orthodontic Specialists!

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, from Orthodontic Specialists

February 9th, 2012

Each February for the past 62 years, the American Dental Association (ADA) has sponsored National Children's Dental Health Month to raise awareness about the importance of oral health. Developing good habits at an early age and scheduling regular dental visits helps children get a good start on a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.

For kids wearing braces, brushing and flossing can become more difficult, requiring extra time and vigilance to remove food particles that accumulate on and between the teeth and in braces. New options for braces such as Invisalign Teen, which is removable, make it easier for kids to maintain good oral health during orthodontic treatment.

If the health of your teeth is ignored during treatment with braces, the results can be significantly compromised. Drs. Michael Koufos and David Albright are available and happy to explain why effective brushing and flossing is one of the most critical actions needed from patients during orthodontic treatment. Have you visited us lately? Give us a call and schedule an appointment!

Ask Orthodontic Specialists: What's the deal with mouthwash?

February 2nd, 2012

While mouthwash is not an alternative to regular brushing and flossing, it can help keep your teeth and gums clean and healthy. There are several different types of mouthwashes available, and all of them will help do different things for your smile. The most common types of mouthwashes are:

Fluoride – fluoride is the most used type of mouthwash available, and is used to strengthen the enamel of the teeth while preventing cavities and tooth decay.
Antiseptic – an antiseptic mouthwash is used to kill bacteria and germs in the mouth. Most commonly used before and after a dental surgery, antiseptic mouthwashes can also help to fight gum disease, and halitosis (chronic bad breath). Antiseptic mouthwashes can affect your sense of taste and may stain the teeth, so it is recommended that you consult your dentist before using this type of mouthwash.
Combination – a combination mouthwash is designed to help prevent tooth decay, freshen the breath, and maintain the health of your smile.
Prescription – for patients with gum disease, or any signs of gum disease, you may need a prescription mouthwash. Prescription mouthwashes, like Peridex of PerioGard, are used to treat gingivitis, and other forms of decay.

There are also many different brands of mouthwash. Some common brands include:
• Scope
• Listerine
• Act
• Crest
• Tom’s of Maine (all-natural)
• Plax (anti-plaque rinse)
• Breath Rx
• Orajel
• Targon (special mouthwash made for smokers)
• Rembrandt (whitening mouthwash)

If you are curious about which kind of mouthwash would work best for you, be sure to ask us at your next appointment. If you have a favorite mouthwash, let us know by posting a comment for others to read!

– Orthodontic Specialists

Patient Question: “How do I prevent tooth decay during my treatment?”

January 26th, 2012

Great question!

If you are brushing and flossing daily during your orthodontic treatment with Drs. Michael Koufos and David Albright, we think that’s great! But, don’t forget that it’s also important for you to visit your general dentist every 3-to-6 months in addition to brushing your teeth and flossing (and visiting Orthodontic Specialists, of course). Regular dental checkups are important for maintaining good oral health, especially during orthodontic treatment.

Tooth decay, which is caused by sugars left in your mouth, can turn into an acid, which in turn can break down your teeth. Children are at high risk for tooth decay because adolescents tend to be lax in their oral hygiene habits. Proper brushing and flossing routines, combined with regular dental visits, help keep tooth decay away.

If you have any questions, please be sure to keep ask Drs. Koufos and Albright or our team during your next adjustment appointment, or ask us on Facebook!

The benefits of a beautiful smile

January 12th, 2012


Drs. Michael Koufos and David Albright and our team know having an attractive smile puts a spring in your step—or two—as well as increases your self-confidence, no matter if you’re 14 or in your late forties. Smiling not only makes people happy and puts them in a good mood, doing it often can even help you live longer, according to previous studies!

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

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

Happy New Year! From Orthodontic Specialists

December 29th, 2011


The year is almost over, so we wanted to ask what was memorable about 2011 for you, and what are you looking forward to in 2012? Do you have a new year's resolution, or any exciting plans for the coming year?

Have a safe and happy New Year, from Orthodontic Specialists!

Beware of those holiday goodies!

December 20th, 2011

At Orthodontic Specialists, we know maintaining a healthy diet over the holiday season can prove a difficult task. After all, who can resist the tasty treats of Christmas? With grandma and everybody else offering you candy, chocolate logs or Christmas pudding, you just can’t say “I’ll pass” each time. But trouble lurks: every time you chow down on that chocolate or candy, the bacteria in your mouth have a feast on the sugar—at your expense. The sugar turns into acid, and the acid eats away at the enamel on your teeth and between your braces. Then, you start getting cavities.

Instead, try fudgy cocoa bites, marvelous molasses cookies, wonderful waffles or other braces-friendly recipes, courtesy of the American Association of Orthodontics, or AAO, and “The Braces Cookbook” by Pamela Waterman.

If you must indulge in chocolaty goodness this Christmas or holiday season, remember to brush your teeth after eating sugary treats. Hope this helps! Give us a call if you have any questions!

Happy Holidays!

Do YOU like orange?

December 6th, 2011


Don't forget about our current contest at Orthodontic Specialists! You have until December 18, 2011 to enter to win a new North Face Jacket, so don't delay in entering by visiting our Facebook page!

Good luck! If you have any questions, feel free to contact us at the office, or leave us a comment on Facebook.

Happy Thanksgiving from Orthodontic Specialists!

November 21st, 2011


With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season knocking at our door, Drs. Michael Koufos and David Albright and our entire staff at Orthodontic Specialists wanted to stop for a moment and extend our best wishes to you, our patients, referring doctors and families, for a wonderful Thanksgiving.

As always, if you know anyone we can help, just let us know. We promise to give them the same quality orthodontic care that we have given you.

We hope that this Thanksgiving and holiday season brings fond memories. Thank you for being part of our family.

Rock that Orange at Orthodontic Specialists!

November 15th, 2011

All of us at Orthodontic Specialists are excited to announce our current contest! You have until December 18, 2011 to enter, so don't delay in entering by visiting our Facebook page. You could be the lucky winner of a new North Face Jacket. Good luck! If you have any questions, feel free to contact us at the office, or leave us a comment on Facebook.

*Only one entry, in each category above, per person allowed for a maximum of 7 entries total.
This contest is open to all Orthodontic Specialists patients and family members who were treated by Dr. Koufos or Dr. Albright. This includes current, past and those patients in recall.
Winners will be notified by phone and their names will be posted on our website and at our three office locations.
This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by or associated with Facebook. You understand that you are providing your information to Orthodontic Specialists and not to Facebook. The information you provide will only be used by Orthodontic Specialists.

Halloween Candy Buy Back going on NOW at Orthodontic Specialists

November 3rd, 2011

All of us at Orthodontic Specialists want to remind you about our Annual Halloween Candy Buy Back going on NOW until November 7th in our office!

Patients will receive $2.00 per pound of candy they bring in, with a maximum of 10 pounds. Bring in your candy to our Munster, Schererville, or St. John offices until November 7, 2011. All of the candy we receive will be donated to Treats For Troops.

Thank you in advance for helping us support Treats For Troops. We have already collected about 60 pounds of candy, and we can't wait to get even MORE!

October Anniversary at Orthodontic Specialists

October 18th, 2011

We love our staff here at Orthodontic Specialists. This month we are celebrating an anniversary in our office!


Yasmin Navarrete has been with the practice for 3 years!

Thank you Yasmin for all of your hard work and dedication! We are looking forward to spending many more years with you in our office.

Annual Halloween Candy Buy Back!

October 11th, 2011

It's almost Halloween, which means trick-or-treating and bags filled with candy are right around the corner. Our team at Orthodontic Specialists is excited to announce our Annual Halloween Candy Buy Back! Patients will receive $2.00 per pound of candy they bring in, with a maximum of 10 pounds. Bring in your candy to one of our three locations from November 1st until November 7th. All of the candy we receive will be donated to Treats For Troops.

Thanks in advance for helping us support this wonderful cause!

October is National Orthodontic Health Month!

October 4th, 2011

Happy October! For those who don't know, it's National Orthodontic Health Month. This month-long event is organized by our pals at the American Association of Orthodontists, or AAO.

Drs. Michael Koufos and David Albright and our team realize that this is a great opportunity for us to raise awareness about the importance of oral hygiene. National Orthodontic Health Month also aims to recognize the dedicated work of orthodontists like Drs. Koufos and Albright and other dental professionals.

The AAO recommends patients avoid the following Halloween treats, or recipes with these ingredients:

• Caramel
• Nuts
• Popcorn (including un-popped kernels)
• Taffy
• Jelly beans
• Hard pretzels
• Licorice
• Bubblegum
• Taco chips
• Ice

If you have any questions, please feel free to give us a call, ask us on Facebook or ask Drs. Koufos and Albright during your visit to Orthodontic Specialists this month!

You're never too old to treat yourself to a new smile!

September 28th, 2011

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 with Orthodontic Specialists!

Can Braces Work for Adults?
People of all ages can benefit from orthodontic treatment with Drs. Michael Koufos and David Albright. 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 Orthodontic Specialists a call, so we may set up a consultation to determine what type of treatment best meets your needs.

September Anniversaries at Orthodontic Specialists

September 20th, 2011

We have a great staff here at Orthodontic Specialists. This month we are celebrating five anniversaries in our office!


Dr. Michael Koufos has been with us for 23 years.


Georgia Karagan has been with us for 28 years.


Susan Kilinski has been with us for 20 years.


Donna Hofsommer has been with us for 15 years.


Linda Russell has been with us for 7 years.

Thank you so much for all of your hard work! We look forward to the many years to come.

Your new pal, fluoride

September 15th, 2011

There are so many ways you protect your teeth throughout your orthodontic treatment at Orthodontic Specialists. You brush your teeth twice a day, floss regularly and protect your mouth and appliances from being damaged. But did you know there is another, often forgotten about, way to keep your teeth clean and healthy during your treatment? Fluoride – a mineral that helps prevent cavities and tooth decay – can help keep your teeth strong! Fluoride comes in two varieties: topical and systemic. Topical fluoride is applied directly to the tooth. Topical fluoride includes toothpastes and mouth rinses. Systemic fluorides are swallowed in the form of a dietary supplement.

Fluoride used in the dentist or orthodontist's office is often times a stronger concentration than in toothpaste or mouthwash, but is available at some drug stores or a pharmacy (ask your doctor how to purchase professional strength fluoride). A fluoride treatment typically takes just a few minutes. After the treatment patients may be asked not to rinse, eat or drink for at least 30 minutes in order to allow the teeth to absorb the fluoride. Depending on your oral health or doctor’s recommendation, you may be required to have a fluoride treatment every three, six or 12 months. Your doctor may also prescribe a fluoride product such as mouthwashes, gels or antibacterial rinses for at-home treatment.

When choosing your own fluoride product, be sure to check for the American Dental Association’s (ADA) seal of acceptance. Products marked with the ADA seal of approval have been carefully examined and have met the criteria of the ADA for safety and effectiveness. Take care of your teeth, and smile bright!

Online Access at Orthodontic Specialists

September 6th, 2011

At Orthodontic Specialists we now offer online access 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We offer convenient and secure online services with our patient login system. You may view all of your account information such as ledgers or payment amounts, and even receive appointment reminders through email or text messages. Patients can also view and print photos or x-rays, and receive monthly newsletters.

Be sure to sign up today either online or in our office. All we need is your email address! Feel free to let us know if you have any questions about our patient login system. We are here to help!

Emergency Care, with Orthodontic Specialists

August 24th, 2011

At Orthodontic Specialists, we know orthodontic emergencies are never convenient nor timely. If you are a patient of record, Drs. Michael Koufos and David Albright and our team are committed to your dental health and are more than willing to see you after hours or over the weekend. As a general rule, you should call the office when you experience severe pain or when you have a painful appliance problem that you can’t take care of yourself. We’ll be able to schedule an appointment to resolve the problem. If you have a orthodontic emergency after regular office hours, please give us a call. If you are calling us after hours, please follow the emergency prompts to learn how you may be able to solve the problem yourself, or, if you cannot, how to contact Drs. Koufos and Albright and team.

Common issues include:

*Broken Brace
*Broken Wires
*Tie has come off of a Brace
*Loose Expander
*Poking Wire Tie
*Sharpness Felt on the Tongue Side of a Brace
*Loss of a Separator
*Initial Soreness
*Wire Poking

You might be surprised to learn that you may be able to temporarily solve many problems yourself until you visit our office.

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