orthodontist munster

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!

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

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!

June marks National Dairy Month!

June 7th, 2012

In honor of June Dairy Month, our team would like to thank all of our hard working families in the Dairy Industry.

In fact, dairy is important to your overall health! A 2008 study from the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) found that regular consumption of dairy products, such as milk, cheese and yogurt, can lower your chances of contracting periodontal disease (also known as gum disease).

Results of the study show that adults who consume at least 55 grams of lactic acid a day are less at risk for gum disease. Eating dairy is not just healthy for building strong bones, but is essential for maintaining a strong, healthy mouth.

Questions about which foods you should steer clear of and which you should enjoy during orthodontic treatment? Give us a call or ask us on Facebook!

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!

What are your 4th of July plans?

June 30th, 2011

This coming Monday, July 4th, is Independence Day and the United States of America will be turning 235 years old! It’s a day to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence and also a time for every American to pay homage to our soldiers, past and present, who have placed themselves in harm’s way so that we may continue to enjoy our freedom.

Drs. Koufos & Albright and team will be celebrating this Monday and we would like to know, what are your plans for the 4th of July? Will you be out in the sun? Have you stocked up on fireworks? Are you going to grill up your favorite summer foods? Are you staying in town or heading somewhere else? If you have a 4th of July tradition, we would love to hear about it.

Whatever you plan to do, we hope you have a fun and safe holiday! Feel free to upload your 4th of July photos to our Facebook page and let us know how your Independence Day turned out this year.

Stay Cool with a Braces-Friendly Summer Treat!

June 23rd, 2011

Summer is here! Kids and adults alike will now be spending more time outside being active and enjoying the hotter temperatures. And what’s better on a hot summer day than a delicious treat that will cool you down after doing something active in the summer sun? Luckily, our friends at the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) have just the thing, Watermelon Sorbet! You can find the complete recipe below:

Watermelon Sorbet

Ingredients
• ¾ cup water
• ¼ cup sugar
• 1 teaspoon lime juice
• 2 to 3 cups watermelon, diced, no seeds or rind
Directions
In a small saucepan, heat the water, sugar, and lime juice on medium high for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Chill this “syrup” at least 20 minutes. In the meantime, place the watermelon chunks in a food processor or blender and liquefy them. Add the chilled syrup to the watermelon puree and blend. Freeze sorbet in an ice-cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions. Serve immediately.

Happy Summer!

-Drs. Koufos & Albright and team

Smile! June is National Smile Month!

June 16th, 2011

According to the American Dental Association, a person's smile outranked eyes, hair and body as the most important physical feature, which is why it's important for our team at Orthodontic Specialists to support National Smile Month this June.

Here are a few simple steps you can take to improve your oral health so that you may celebrate National Smile Month for many, many years to come:

* Brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Here's a helpful video showing you how to brush with your braces on.
* Floss every day to clean between your teeth.
* Reduce your intake of sugary foods and drinks during your orthodontic treatment with Drs. Koufos & Albright.
* Visit your dentist regularly (usually every six months apart).

If you have questions about any of these tips, we encourage you to give us a call.

The 12th Annual Postcard Contest

June 10th, 2011

Whether you are going on vacation or just sticking around town, send us a postcard or picture with our doctors and you could win an Ipod touch, Wii Entertainment System or a Waterproof Camera!

This year's categories are:

Mystery Destination - we pick a destination and if you send us a postcard from there you win! (one winner will be randomly choosen if more than one postcard is sent from the destination)

Take Our Doctors with You - take a picture with our doctors and send us a picture (one winner will be randomly chosen)

Farthest Traveled - send us a postcard that is the farthest place from Munster, IN (one winner will be randomly chosen )

**all postcards and pictures must be received by Sept. 3rd!!

For more details or questions, call us at any of our 3 locations!

Have fun! We look forward to seeing where you have been!

Is Invisalign® really customized for each patient?

June 3rd, 2011

Yes, it is, and that’s part of what makes it work. To find out if you are the right candidate for Invisalign treatment, the first thing we do is to take an impression of your teeth as they are now and digitize it. Using special software, we look at the current positioning of your teeth and compare it to the way your teeth should look.

Next we use special software to map out the exact path your teeth will take from the beginning of your treatment to the end. Based on the results, a set of custom aligners are created just for your teeth. Throughout the course of treatment, you will be required to wear these clear, removable aligners one at a time; each one moving your teeth closer and closer to their final, perfectly aligned position. The best thing about it all? Nobody around you will even know you are wearing braces!

Drs. Koufos & Albright are certified Invisalign providers in Munster, Schererville, and St. John. If you have questions about Invisalign, or would like to find out if you are a candidate for Invisalign treatment, please give us a call.

Dr. Koufos, Dr. Albright and team, wishing you a relaxing and memorable Memorial Day weekend

May 26th, 2011

Memorial Day weekend is a time when Americans everywhere stop and remember all those men and women who bravely gave their lives for our country.

Memorial Day also marks the unofficial start of summer 2011, and for many folks in our community, getting out of town for three days after being cooped up in the office or in the classroom means sweet, sweet relief. At Orthodontic Specialists, we also know Memorial Day weekend is ripe for travel. After all, it’s a season of vacations, adventures and great memories. Whether you are headed to a barbecue, a camping trip, hitting the great open roads or hanging out in your backyard this weekend, we want to know about it!

Have a nice and relaxing Memorial Day weekend!

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