Protecting Your Braces for Sports

Sports are important to most teenagers, and many are very active in some themselves! Getting braces is something that athletes often dread because they assume that will be the end of their school sporting career. That could not be further from the truth! At Smile Orthodontics, we get questions all the time about how patients can still play sports while undergoing orthodontic treatment.

The great new is that you can still play any sport with braces!

That being said, you probably shouldn’t go play tackle football with reckless abandon. There are still some precautions you should take in order to make sure that your mouth and teeth stay safe while participating in your sport. Your teeth are of utmost importance to us and we hope you feel as strongly about them as we do, especially if you’re playing sports with braces. Now let’s take a look at how you can protect your mouth from injury while playing sports!

Regular mouthguard vs. Orthodontic mouthguard

Obviously, mouthguards are going to be your best friend when it comes to sports. They’re simple ways to keep your teeth from receiving too much damage if your mouth gets banged up a little bit while playing a sport. The best way to protect at-risk mouths is by wearing an orthodontic mouthguard.

Now, orthodontic mouthguards are different than regular mouthguards. Regular mouthguards are thermoplastic, which means they are heated up and molded to your teeth, even around brackets. This can pose a problem, though, when undergoing orthodontic treatment: since they are molded to your teeth, the mold doesn’t also shift whenever the teeth move positions. The mouthguard will actually work against the braces to keep them from straightening your teeth. Another problem with these types of mouthguards is that the mold fits a little bit too well to the brackets on the teeth. If you get a hit to the mouth hard enough, the force of it could potentially knock the brackets off of your teeth. This can lead to more orthodontic visits and prolonged treatment, and all because you weren’t wearing a more particular type of mouthguard. While we love when our patients stop by, we also know how inconvenient that can be!

This is why an orthodontic mouthguard is considered a much better option for someone with braces or other orthodontic treatment. These mouthguards were made especially for someone with braces: it is made of high-grade silicone and has large, rubber flanges that go under the lip to keep them from being pushed into brackets. This is very beneficial because if your lip or the inside of your cheek gets stuck on the wings of a bracket, it can be very painful! If your lip begins to swell, it gets pinched tighter and tighter, and the only way it might be able to be dislodged is by seeing an orthodontist!

Now that you know the difference between the two types of mouthguards, let’s have a look at the different brands of orthodontic mouthguards. All of them work well, but the best one you can get is one that is made custom for you by either your orthodontist or dentist. That being said, there are also plenty of other over-the-counter mouthguards that can work and are easy to use.

Orthodontic mouthguards

Shock Doctor

Some of the best sports orthodontic mouthguards come from Shock Doctor. These are specifically designed for athletes with braces in mind. They conform to the upper teeth brackets for comfort and to prevent lacerations. They are made with 100% medical grade silicone, and they adjust to the changes in structure that your teeth are making during treatment. They’re reasonably priced, and they come in both strapped and unstrapped designs. These mouthguards are some of the slimmest and most lightweight mouthguards in their field, and they have the reviews and solid reputation to back up the claim.


Having a lip guard is something that is encouraged when playing a sport with braces. It can keep you from biting yourself accidentally and it’s also easy enough to wear while having a conversation. If you’re looking for one of these, Vettex makes some of the best mouthguards that also contains lip guards as well. They’re simple and lightweight, but they can be a little bulkier than most. They are cost effective, but keep in mind that these are not custom models and they are also not specifically made for athletes with braces.


This brand of mouthguards is preferred by many wrestlers and mixed martial artists, since it’s super easy to lose your mouthguard in sports like these. They are fairly reasonably priced and are custom fit. A plus to this company is that they offer a “self-impression kit” so that you can make a mold of your teeth from the convenience of your own home!


Tapout is a new mouthguard that can be re-molded to your teeth multiple times. They claim that their mouthguards can be used with and without braces and will adjust as your bite adjusts. It is also designed to let in some air-flow around your teeth and jaws. They can be a little bit more expensive than other mouthguards, but Amazon claims that is comfortable and that you are able to talk almost completely normally.


We realize that some of these options for mouthguards can be a little pricey, but you’ll want the ones that will do the best job at protecting your mouth while also allowing room for your teeth to adjust to their new positions. We promise they’re worth it for the protection and quality you’re getting! We will always recommend a custom-made mouthguard from your orthodontist first, but these brands that we’ve mentioned are very good alternatives.

At Smile Orthodontics, we want to help your protect your child’s mouth from any harm from sports, and we hope you feel the same! If your child is worried about not being able to play sports when they get braces – or just worried about braces in general – bring them into Smile Orthodontics! We are more than willing to talk to your child to make sure they know exactly what to expect with braces while playing sports. Visit either of our locations in Santa Rosa or Windsor or click here for a free consultation. We hope to see you soon!

The Best Dental Hygiene Routine for Braces

Maintaining a good oral health routine is extremely important if you’ve got braces. If you don’t, you run the risk of having food caught in your appliance for extended periods of time, uneven staining after removal, and even accelerated tooth decay in some cases. To ensure you’re happy with the results of your treatment, there are a few extra steps you should add to the beginning and end of your day. Let’s go over these–as well as some additional hygiene tips–in the rest of this post.girl brushing teeth

It Starts with What You Eat

If you’ve got braces, your orthodontist will have told you to avoid certain foods. This can be annoying, but it’s certainly for a good reason. Sticky foods like gum and caramel can easily get caught in wires and brackets, leading to hard-to-remove build-up. Remembering to avoid these foods in the first place is the best strategy.

Hard foods like nuts don’t pose the same risk of gumming up your appliance, but you should still be wary of them. Chewing nuts or ice can damage your braces, meaning you’ll have to take time out of your day to have repairs done. Avoid the hassle by cutting these kinds of foods out completely, or eating them in softer, smaller forms.

citrus fruits

Whether you’ve got braces or not, you should also watch your intake of highly acidic foods. These include but aren’t limited to:

  • Soft drinks
  • Citrus fruits
  • Salsa
  • Vinegar

Of course, you don’t have to cut these out completely, but you should be aware that acid damages tooth enamel over time. The less acid that you subject your teeth to, the more healthy they’ll be.


Create the Routine

No matter who you are, you should make it a priority to brush your teeth thoroughly at least twice a day. Regular brushing eliminates stubborn food particles, keeps the mouth healthy, and leads to fresh breath. There are tons of benefits to maintaining a healthy mouth, some of which are less obvious than others. For example, some scientific research points to an increased likelihood of heart attack in those who don’t brush regularly. You get a lot more than fresh breath out of your commitment to regular brushing, but that’s certainly a nice bonus.

Easier Access

Let’s go through a daily brushing routine with braces, shall we? You’ve just rolled out of bed, and your mouth’s got that trademark unpleasant feeling. It’s time to get that grimy feeling off your teeth. Arriving at your sink, you’d just start brushing your teeth without any extra steps. If you’ve got braces, though, you should remove any elastic bands before you begin. Allowing for easier access, and you can give the rubber bands a once over while they’re out to make sure everything’s looking clean.

Take a Look

After setting those aside, take a second to check your braces in the mirror. Make sure to examine every angle that you can. You’re just making sure that everything’s looking right and that there are no glaring issues. Once this becomes second nature to you, you’ll have an easier time quickly spotting anything out of the ordinary. Broken brackets or wires can sometimes go unnoticed for extended periods of time, potentially causing slow-downs in your treatment. Be careful to stay on top of it.

Brush, Brush, Brushtoothbrush and toothpaste

Now it’s time to brush! Make sure to get toothpaste with fluoride, and a soft-bristled toothbrush. Begin cleaning in just about the same way you normally would, but pay extra attention to the areas behind your wires and around your brackets. Do your best to get in all the nooks and crannies without being too rough. Brush for about two minutes, but don’t be afraid to take a little extra time to get all over your braces.

For even more detailed instructions on brushing, check out this article from Colgate.


Some people believe that braces make flossing their teeth impossible. This just isn’t the case, though it may seem difficult to maneuver dental floss around your appliance at first. In fact, it’s very important to floss when you’ve got braces on, as there are simply more areas where food can become trapped.

You should begin by finding some waxed dental floss. Unwaxed floss can sometimes get caught on brackets and shred, leading to an annoying clean-up process. Once you’ve got the right stuff, snap off a thread of about 18 inches or so. Place the thread between the teeth–being careful around your wire–and gently move it up and down. Moving slowly will prevent snapping, discomfort, and bending of your wire.

A Quick Fix

Between your morning and evening hygiene routines, you might find yourself with food particles caught in your braces from lunch or a snack. Instead of harboring these passengers through the afternoon, it might be more comfortable to dislodge them as soon as you can. To do this, many people with braces use a Waterpik. These use a safe, high-pressure stream of water to get into those hard to reach places.

It’s important to note that–while this device is helpful and effective–it isn’t a one-to-one replacement for traditional floss. Feel free to use both, or only the Waterpik if you’re in a hurry, but don’t throw out that floss.

If You’re Unsure…

doctors 3When it comes to healthcare, the best advice comes from a meeting with a professional. If you’ve got further questions about how to care for your braces, you shouldn’t hesitate to contact your orthodontist. This kind of communication is crucial to us at Smile Ortho; we always value patient understanding and open communication.
If you’re in the Santa Rosa or Windsor, California area, feel free to give us a call at 707.546.8600 to get orthodontic advice. You can also visit this contact form if that’s more your speed. Happy brushing!

Orthodontics: Fact vs. Fiction

Many people–both children and adults–hold misconceptions about the field of orthodontics and life with braces. This can make paying a visit to an orthodontist daunting; if you aren’t equipped with accurate information, you might have some considerable fear. Luckily, your fear can certainly be assuaged with a few facts. Let’s go over some common misconceptions about orthodontists and set the record straight.

Myth: Visiting the Orthodontist Means I’ll Have Teeth Extracted

orthodontics-tipsNobody likes the idea of tooth extraction. While this is certainly a procedure performed by orthodontists in individual cases, it’s become rarer and rarer as less invasive treatment options have been developed. Modern orthodontists have great mapping technologies that allow us to understand better how braces and aligners will move and shape your teeth. This means more accurate predictions about how your teeth will move together or apart, and less tooth extraction as a result. At Smile Orthodontics, we use a state-of-the-art iTero 3D scanning system to do this. Also, when using Damon Braces, we rarely encounter the need to extract permanent teeth. In some cases, early orthodontic treatment can even reduce the risk of permanent tooth extractions.


Even with this new technology, there are two factors that most often lead to tooth extraction: tooth decay and overcrowding. Maintaining proper oral health will easily combat tooth decay, but certain cases of overcrowding make tooth extraction necessary for straightening. Sometimes, there’s just not enough room for all those teeth to properly develop. Even when this is needed, modern extraction techniques make the procedure exponentially less painful than it’s ever been. 

Myth: Orthodontists Just Provide Braces

While traditional metal braces have been an orthodontic mainstay for a very long time, a few new technologies are moving the field away from brackets and wires. Increasingly popular is the Invisalign system. An efficient replacement for traditional metal braces in mild to moderate cases of crookedness, gapped teeth, overbites, crossbites, and underbites, these invisible aligners can work wonders. They’re completely removable, which means you can eat whatever your heart desires. Also, nobody will ever know you’re wearing them!

At Smile Orthodontics, the cost is the same whether you choose to get Invisalign or braces. We take the cost out of the equation so that you can choose whatever treatment best fits your lifestyle. We are Elite Invisalign providers and we can tackle any kind of orthodontic cases with clear aligners. The smiles they help create last a lifetime, and we certainly believe they’re worth it!

Myth: Braces are Painful and Annoying

braces-treatmentFor most people, metal braces don’t hurt. Certainly, you shouldn’t be feeling any sharp pains at any point, and no real dull pain after the first week or so. This dull pain is usually just soreness as your teeth and jaw get used to the new forces acting on them. By keeping Advil on hand, you won’t have much to worry about at all.


Occasionally, metal brackets and wires can rub against the inside of your mouth and lips. This can lead to irritation, but it can be easily avoided with a tasteless wax applied to the offending area. By understanding these potential annoyances, you can minimize any discomfort on your road to a great smile! At Smile Orthodontics, we provide our patients with 24/7 access to care instructions for their braces. You can find more information here.

Myth: Orthodontic Treatment is Just for Kids

This myth stems from the fact that orthodontic treatment usually begins when a patient’s a child or adolescent. By starting early, we can provide results sooner. This also allows us to provide treatments that take advantage of a still-growing mouth.


orthodontic-factsThis doesn’t mean we don’t treat adults. You could be someone who’s never once paid a visit to an orthodontist, and it’s likely that we have treatments available to tackle your precise situation. Among adults, Invisalign is an incredibly popular treatment. This is because many people often don’t want the baggage associated with metal braces complicating their busy lives. Sometimes, though, metal braces are the best solution–even for adults–and the best treatment may be provided this way. Consult an orthodontist for advice about your options.

Myth: Treatment is Too Expensive

Many people are dissuaded from seeking treatment because they think it’s just too expensive. At Smile Orthodontics, we work our hardest with patients to make sure their treatment is affordable as possible. We offer payment plans that make the cost manageable, no matter what treatment is provided.

Dental insurance plans are increasingly likely to cover treatment for both children and adults; it’s certainly worth checking with your provider to see what’s included in your plan.

It’s important to note that the confidence inspired by your great smile isn’t quantifiable. The way you look and feel about yourself is significant, and these are the areas that Smile Orthodontics shines in. We want you to get the best bang for your buck, and our many satisfied patients have seen the results!


Myth: All Orthodontists Are the Same

While any certified orthodontist has to go through specific training, not all practices are the same. Many don’t offer Invisalign technology, great payment plans, and access to a state-of-the-art office. Smile Orthodontics has all of these, and we love seeing the results they help our experienced doctors provide.

The best way to experience this difference is to visit our office for a consultation. Smile Orthodontics will be able to answer any more questions you have at this meeting, and you’ll see for yourself what sets us apart as a practice. If you have any other immediate questions, please visit our Life With Braces page or give us a call at 707.546.8600 to make an appointment at our Santa Rosa or Windsor office today. See you soon!

Your Child’s First Orthodontic Visit: What Age and Why?

Sonoma County Santa Rosa Orthodontics
Dr. Eliason

As your child’s baby teeth fall out to be replaced by a permanent set, you might wonder about bringing them in for their first visit to the orthodontist’s office. Luckily, our team at Smile Orthodontics has tons of experience with first-time visitors, and we’re more than happy to help you out through what can be a nerve-racking time for any parent.

Mapping Things Out

Perhaps the most important reason for younger patients to come in is to get an early orthodontic screening. We can do this once most of the permanent teeth have come in—generally, that’s around the age of seven. This process is pretty straightforward. We want to identify any possible issues before they get very far along. Sometimes, we call this “interceptive treatment,” which just means catching problems as the mouth is still developing. This strategy has some great benefits for your child, including:

– An understanding of how permanent teeth will come in and develop

– Identifying any bad habits before they cause too much damage

– Thwarting future damage to protruding teeth

– Improving a child’s self-esteem by way of heightened confidence in his or her  appearance

Most of our patients won’t require corrective treatment as a result of what’s identified in a first consultation, but the assuredness that results from this free meeting can be invaluable. By knowing what to expect as your child’s teeth develop, you’ll know what to look out for as abnormalities. One of our doctors’ biggest priorities is a parent’s understanding of the situation, and we do everything we can to assure that you know exactly what’s going on.

Sonoma County Santa Rosa Orthodontics

We also recommend that children have their first visit to the dentist’s office before the age of two. A dentist will make sure all of the baby teeth are normal, and can refer you to an orthodontist if a visit should be made sooner than usual. Make sure to continue regular visits to the dentist, as it can be very difficult to identify dental issues without a trained eye. It’s what we do!

Regular Visits

This first orthodontic visit marks the beginning of a regular monitoring effort meant to ensure lifelong health. Regular check-ins mean we can anticipate problems, and nip them in the bud before they become more difficult to treat in later life. This is incredibly beneficial, as early treatment options avoid both tooth extraction and more expensive techniques. During the time between visits, what kinds of things should you be keeping an eye out for?

Crowding and Spacing

While there can be obvious tooth crowding, it’s sometimes very subtle. Even if it’s not obvious to the untrained eye, these orthodontic problems (called malocclusions) can cause real grief later on in the mouth’s development if left untreated. Make sure to regularly check your child’s mouth for teeth bunched together, teeth with larger than normal gaps between them, and teeth erupting from the gums in abnormal locations.

happy child brushes teeth

If left untreated, these problems increase the likelihood of periodontal disease, tooth decay, and possible jaw problems later in life, not to mention that crowded or gapped teeth can be unsightly, negatively impacting your child’s self-esteem. With identification and treatment, we can make sure your child’s proud of their smile! If you notice any of these problems arising, you should certainly make an appointment with your orthodontist. We’ll be able to diagnose problems in greater detail, and offer treatment plans if necessary.

Irregular Bites

Of all early-arising oral problems, an irregular bite is usually the easiest to detect. Keep an eye out for:

an open bite, where the front teeth don’t meet at all. Usually, this you’ll see an oval-  shaped gap between the top and bottom teeth.

an underbite, where the lower jaw extends farther forward than the upper jaw.

a crossbite, where a bottom tooth or multiple bottom teeth overlap the upper teeth.  Crossbites can sometimes be hard to notice, as a single bottom molar can rest farther towards the outside of the gums than an upper molar. Keep an eye out!

Because these misalignments can be more obvious, they are more likely to negatively impact your child’s self-esteem. As long as they’re caught and treated early, an orthodontist can almost always offer a solution that’ll make a kid proud of his or her smile.

Behavior and Speech

Thumb sucking past the toddler stage can lead to some malocclusions later in life. The effects vary from child to child, so if you’re suspicious of problems caused by this behavior, it’s best to visit an orthodontist for advice. This goes for problems chewing or biting as well, which can indicate a host of oral problems, or nothing strange at all.

A lisp often indicates an oral issue, even if your child’s teeth appear straight. If your child has a lisp, it’s best to visit the orthodontist in order to track down the source.

Sonoma County Orthdontics Santa Rosa

Don’t Take it for Granted

Just because a malocclusion is cosmetic and doesn’t pose a physical health risk, you shouldn’t disregard it. When a child isn’t confident in their smile, there can be very real psychological effects. Make sure to have an open dialogue with your child and your orthodontist to find the best way forward.

One Last Tip

Keep in mind that the age range of about 10-15 is the “sweet spot” for most orthodontic treatments, as the jaw bones haven’t fully taken their adult shape. Treatments during this time, including braces and aligners, can be less difficult and expensive than in adulthood. Modern techniques allow orthodontists to treat people of all ages, but the “sweet spot” still reigns supreme.

If your child hasn’t seen an orthodontist, or you’re looking for somewhere to get a consultation, feel free to contact us here in beautiful Santa Rosa! We’d be happy to start your child on the path to a healthy, beaming smile. Consultations are free, quick, and thorough! Just call 707.546.8600, or visit our website.

Smile Orthodontics Santa Rosa

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