8 Holiday Safety Tips to Keep in Mind This Year

8 Holiday Safety Tips to Keep in Mind This Year

Keeping the family safe during the holiday season requires some forethought and some carefully considered decisions. In order to ensure safety throughout this holiday season, here are a few tips to help reduce the chance of fires and other accidents.

Consider a Fire-Resistant Tree for Indoors

An artificial tree may not have the romance as a real one, but they can look quite realistic and offer many advantages. They can be reused, don’t shed needles, and are fire resistant. If you’re concerned about a fire in your home, look into a fire-resistant tree.

Cut a Few Inches Off Your Christmas Tree Trunk

Cutting a few inches from the trunk of your Christmas tree is a way to remove dry wood, which can catch fire in a home or confined space.

Water Your Christmas Tree Regularly

Always be sure to water your Christmas tree regularly to ensure it doesn’t dry out and become a fire hazard.

Choose Decorations and Ornaments Wisely

If you have young children in the house, avoid breakable ornaments or those with loose beads or baubles that can become a choking hazard. Again to reduce fire risk, steer clear from ornaments and tree decorations that require live flames or intense bulb wattage.

Only Use Outdoor Lighting For the Outdoors

When stringing lights outside, only use outdoor lighting and setups that are designed for outdoor weather.  Using the right equipment is necessary to prevent shorts and other electrical hazards.

Turn Off All Lights When Vacating the Home

Any time you are vacating your home during the holiday, be sure to disconnect holiday lights as well as electrified characters and decorative ornaments. Unplugging all electronics and decorations while you are gone helps reduce fire risks.

Consider Using Lighting Timers for the Holiday Season

If it’s too difficult for you to unplug everything every time you leave the house, consider using lighting timers to turn things off automatically for you.

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How Long Do Retainers Last?

Your braces may be history, but retainers are forever. Sorry if you weren’t aware of this fact, but it’s true. If you’ve had orthodontic treatment, you should wear a retainer not just after your braces are removed but for the rest of your life.

Indeed, the most important time to wear a retainer is immediately after orthodontic treatment is completed, because the bone in your jaws needs some time to solidify around the new position of your teeth. But even when your braces are a distant memory, your teeth can still shift. A retainer is important to make sure your orthodontic work keeps your teeth in place. In other words, retainers “retain” the position.

So when you first begin wearing a retainer, you should wear it pretty much consistently over six months, and then you can gradually decrease usage. Once your teeth have settled into place, wearing a retainer while you sleep 3 to 5 times a week should be enough. But like toothbrushes, a retainer won’t last forever. How often do you need to replace them? That will depend on a variety of things, including what type of retainer you have.

Bonded retainers

A bonded retainer is a type of permanent retainer, in that it is essentially a wire that’s bonded to the back of your teeth. The glue that bonds the wire can wear out with the everyday activity your mouth experiences—eating, talking, brushing and flossing. A bonded retainer on your upper teeth may last up to three years, while a lower bonded retainer will last longer, as this part of the mouth doesn’t see as much activity.

Even if it’s been a short time since the retainers’ installation, the wires can become unbonded to the teeth without you realizing it. Ask your dentist during your regular dental checkups if anything’s amiss.

One problem with bonded retainers is that you can have a harder time cleaning your teeth, and sometimes things can happen that result in pain. You may also grow tired of wires being permanently in your mouth. At some point when you’re years out of braces, you may ask your orthodontist to remove your bonded retainers and switch to removable ones.

Removable retainers

There are two main types of removable retainers, Hawley and Essix. Hawley retainers have an acrylic part that fits snugly to the roof of your mouth or behind your teeth, and from this base wires protrude and wrap around the front of your teeth. Meanwhile, Essix retainers are single pieces of clear molded plastic that fit directly over your teeth.

Both types of retainers can wear out and get yucky. The Hawley wires may break off at the points of attachment to the tray. Fore Essix, hot water can distort the shape, and through wear and tear, it can come to pass that the retainers just don’t fit well after a while.

Essix retainers can last from six months to a few years. Hawley retainers will typically last longer, maybe five to ten years.

Invisalign also makes a line of retainers called Vivera which are similar to the Essix but are more customized to each patient’s individual bite. These are sold through a subscription service so you know you’ll always have a fresh one at hand.

Whatever retainer you end up using, be sure to have a dental professional check them now and then so you can be sure that your beautiful smile is always “retained.”

The Benefits of Braces Beyond Straight Teeth

In our field, orthodontists focus on the tangible aspects of patients’ smiles. Our specialty concerns straightening misaligned teeth and correcting malocclusions (incorrect bites). We look at the physical aspects of these problems and the physical solutions to them.

At the same time, we are aware of the psychological impact of what we do for our patients. Even though orthodontics improves oral health, it also improves mental health and well-being in a number of ways:

Self-confidence

We’ve begun working with patients with crooked teeth who are clearly shy about how they look. They tell us they try not to show their teeth when they smile for photos, and sometimes they cover their mouths with their hands when they talk. It’s so wonderful when they’re done with treatment to see how their attitude has improved. But these benefits are not just anecdotal. According to studies, young people after orthodontic treatment have shown higher emotional and social well-being than their peers who never had treatment.

Social acceptance

Orthodontics make people’s smiles more attractive, and it’s human nature to respond positively to attractiveness.  Beyond that, braces can help in other ways. For example, crooked teeth can trap food in hard-to-reach places and result in bad breath, so straight teeth can eliminate other issues that may impact someone’s ease in social settings.

Less frustration

If you have or once had a misaligned bite, you know that malocclusions can make the everyday functioning of your mouth annoying. When your teeth don’t meet up as they should, it can be hard to bite into food, and you might have to compensate by biting with other parts of your mouth. Or your misaligned teeth may cause a speech impediment. It’s also harder and more time consuming to clean crooked teeth as opposed to straight ones.

Improved concentration

The benefit of improved concentration is primarily for those patients whose dental problems are not just annoying but are in fact painful. Jutting teeth can sometimes stick into the insides of cheeks or scrape against the tongue, and the pain can be even worse when the problems result in ongoing blisters or bleeding. Chronic pain can be very distracting. Orthodontic treatment takes care of it.

More maturity

When you’re a baby or toddler, you live in the now and have little awareness of the benefits of delayed gratification. This awareness of course improves as people get older, but teenagers’ decisions still tend to be short sighted, according to child development experts. The process of getting orthodontic treatment and the very tangible rewards at the end help exhibit firsthand the benefits of delayed gratification.

So while orthodontists may not have expertise in psychology or counseling, they still can have quite a bit of influence on their patients’ emotional happiness.

 

 

Three Ways to Protect Your Braces When Playing Sports

Getting braces from Dr. Cauble doesn’t mean you have to give up your athletic activities, but it does mean you need to be a little more careful about them. A hard hit in a football game can lead to a popped-off bracket, a cut wire, and damage to your teeth or the inside of your mouth. And a really hard hit can dislodge a tooth or two. Even an impact in a less intense sport than football—say baseball, softball or even tennis—can harm your braces and your mouth.

If you play sports, you should look into these three ways to protect your braces and your mouth:

Full-Facial Guard

A full-facial guard is the hard plastic piece that juts out in front of the mouth on football, hockey, and lacrosse helmets. If you wear braces, be sure to wear a helmet when you play rough contact sports (and even if you don’t wear braces, wearing a helmet provides general head safety). While a full-facial guard will protect your mouth from external impact, collisions and tackles can still cut the inside of your mouth or damage braces.

Mouth Guards

Mouth guards are made to absorb and disperse the shocks that come from collisions with other players, balls hitting your face, and falls to the ground. They are worn inside your mouth to fit directly over your upper teeth, and you can find some dual-arch models that are designed to fit over your lower teeth as well. There are many different types of mouth guards available at just about any sporting goods store. They should be used for sports like soccer, basketball, baseball, and volleyball. They are also a good idea for non-contact sports like gymnastics, biking, and skateboarding where a fall can still harm your mouth.

Make sure your mouth guard fits well, is comfortable and allows you to breathe. We don’t recommend the “boil-and-bite” type for our patients that wear braces, because these mouth guards can stick to brackets and pull them off when removed. Ask us during your next visit for specific advice about what mouth guard we recommend for your particular sport or to judge how well a recent purchase fits.

Dental Silicone or Wax

Dental silicone comes in long strips that you cut to size and press into your braces. A good brand is OrthoSil Silicone Dental “Wax” (which is not really made of wax). Dental silicone is a great way to supplement protection when you’re wearing a helmet with a full-facial guard. You can use the strips to protect the inside of your mouth during other athletic activities where an impact can cut your mouth or damage your braces. Depending on your preferences, you might favor actual dental wax or a product called Gishy Goo.

 

 

Summer Safety Tips

It’s the middle summer, and we’ve all settled into to a relaxing groove. But let’s make sure the fun we’re having isn’t ruined by accidents or health issues. Stay safe this summer with these tips:

Bugs

  • No one likes getting bitten by mosquitoes or other insects. Use effective insect repellents.
  • Bugs like flowery smelling things, so if you’re getting bitten up, stash away scented soaps, cosmetics, and hair products.
  • Bugs also like to come out most in early evening, so when the sun starts going down, it’s a good time to change from shorts and a T-shirt to lightweight, long-sleeved clothing and pants.
  • Check for ticks often and learn how to remove them safely. Lyme Disease and West Nile are certainly not things you want to catch.

Sun Safety

  • Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen. It prevents the premature aging of skin, blotches and discoloration, and skin cancer. Wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 whenever you’re going to be outside.
  • Don a hat, and something with a wide brim is better than a baseball cap. A baseball cap won’t protect your neck or ears.
  • Water is especially important on hot days. Carry a water bottle with you, and drink from it frequently, every 15 minutes or so.

Bicycles and Scooters

  • When you’re on a bike, wear your helmet. No one expects to fall off their bikes, but it happens, and head injuries can be serious. If you’re worried about comfort and looks, you can find plenty of stylish, lightweight helmets these days.
  • Wear a helmet when on a skateboard or scooter, too. Pads for your elbows and knees add more protection.

Backyard

  • Do you have a trampoline in your backyard? If you do, only one person should be on it at a time. The vast majority of trampoline injuries happen when two or more people are on it.

Water Safety

  • Going to the beach? Waves are fun to jump in, but a strong undercurrent can pull even the strongest swimmers out to sea. Pay attention to flags and warnings about each day’s local beach conditions.
  • Not a strong swimmer? Take lessons. They’re a fun summer activity and can prevent drowning.
  • When you’re on a sailboat, windsurfer, personal watercraft, or water skis, wear a life jacket.
  • Don’t let crabs pinch your toes. It hurts!

 

 

8 Common Misconceptions About Orthodontics

The field of orthodontics is no exception to common misconceptions. Below are some of the common misconceptions we often hear at our practice:

Misconception 1 – Orthodontists and dentists are the same

Truth – Both dentists and orthodontists go to dental school, but orthodontics is a specialty within the field of dentistry. Orthodontists spend an additional two to three years after dental school studying the complexities of moving teeth and correcting malocclusions (misaligned bites), and once they begin practicing, that’s all they do. Meanwhile, dentists are often called “general dentists” because they handle the non-specialized tasks for maintaining oral health such as doing check-ups, filling cavities, and cleaning teeth.

Misconception 2 – Only kids get braces

Truth – This misconception is going away, because according to the American Association of Orthodontists, around 20% of people with braces are over age 18, and some statistics put that figure much higher. Meanwhile, the number of adult orthodontic patients keeps going up every year.

Misconception 3 – Only kids with all their adult teeth should see an orthodontist

Truth – The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that visits to an orthodontist begin at age 7. For patients at that age, the orthodontist can foresee problems in the future. Also, young children have more malleable facial bones. The orthodontist may want to use devices to reshape the dental arch to avoid the need to pull teeth later on.

Misconception 4 – Braces will make you have a “metal mouth”

Truth – Braces used to involve a lot more metal than they do today. Now, the brackets are much smaller, lightweight, and discreet than ever before. Patients can also choose lingual, or behind-the-teeth braces. Treatments like Invisalign involve no metal at all.

Misconception 5 – Braces are out of reach financially

Truth – Orthodontic treatment can be expensive, it’s true, but our practice offers various payment plans and work with patients to find ways to make braces affordable. We feel it is important to make orthodontic care accessible to all.

Misconception 6 – Braces are only for cosmetic purposes

Truth – People with straight teeth and aligned bites have decreased risk of plaque build-up, tartar, cavities and gum disease. Teeth also wear more evenly which helps them remain strong and resistant against infection. The cosmetic aspect shouldn’t be discounted either, as an attractive smile correlates to higher self-esteem and psychological health.

Misconception 7 – Braces are painful

Truth – When patients periodically have their braces tightened, their teeth may feel sore for a day or two, but medical advances have made braces so comfortable that patients typically forget they have them on.

Misconception 8 – Treatment takes a long time

Truth – Depending on a patient’s medical situation, treatment in braces can take as little as one year and rarely longer than three. “Long” is a relative term, but treatment times are demonstrably short when measured against a lifetime of benefits. Patients who keep their orthodontic appointments and follow their orthodontist’s instructions will see results the most quickly.

Tired of Your Toothbrush? Try a Twig.

These days, you have multiple products to choose from to clean your teeth and maintain good oral health. Do you want the bristles of your toothbrush soft, medium, or hard? And is your toothbrush electric or manual? What types of toothpaste, mouthwash, and dental floss do you prefer?

Having all of these options may seem unnecessary or even a bit silly, but it’s something to be thankful for. Our ancestors, who were without these modern-day conveniences, did their best to keep their mouths healthy using items that would be considered quite strange today.

Take toothbrushes, for instance. Throughout history, many cultures—including ancient Babylonians, Egyptians, and Chinese—used twigs or sticks to clean their teeth. Often, one end of the twig would be frayed into loose strands similar to the bristles on a toothbrush. The other end might be sharpened into a point at the end, not unlike a toothpick. Such “chewing sticks” are still used in many places around the world and are often taken from trees whose material is known (or believed) to have tooth-protecting properties. In some predominately Muslim parts of the world, this stick is known as a miswak and is taken from an arak tree. In Africa, this species of tree (salvador persica) is known as a “toothbrush tree.”

Dental floss also looks a lot different than it once did. There’s speculation among some historians that prehistoric man may have used a type of floss (possibly made from horse hair) for between-teeth cleaning, but nothing conclusive about that has been found. The invention and popularization of modern dental floss is credited to an early 19th century dentist, Dr. Levi Spear Parmly. Dr. Parmly, who lived and practiced in New Orleans, advocated for the use of waxed silk for flossing teeth in his book, A Practical Guide to the Management of Teeth. Though this idea took a while to catch on, by the end of the 19th century many prominent companies of the time—Johnson & Johnson among them—were marketing, packaging, and selling their own varieties of dental floss. The silk used during that time was later replaced by the nylon floss we see today.

Contemporary forms of toothpaste and mouthwash are especially different from what they once were. The ancient Egyptians mixed up their own versions of toothpaste using items as varied as rock salt, spices, honey, herbs, dried flowers, and even goose fat! Toothpastes made just a few hundred years ago utilized burnt bread and soap as key ingredients. A version of mouthwash popular in ancient Greece included olive juice, milk, and vinegar. Elsewhere, rinsing with tortoise blood was done as a way to counteract toothaches.

Many of these methods for maintaining dental health seem laughable to us now, but for many cultures it was all they knew. Modern dentistry has come a long way since then, with technologies and products based on science rather than lore. Maintaining a proper teeth-cleaning routine is certainly a lot more convenient, effective, and tastier than it used to be.

Famous Dentists, from Outlaws to Politicians

In the history of dentistry, there have been dentists who invented new tools or methods, started dental schools, made discoveries, or advanced the profession in other significant ways. Many of these dentists remain well known in their field and are still recognized and honored, but some dentists have gone on to become famous, or even infamous, for reasons that have nothing to do with oral health.

One dentist in particular became notorious during the days of the Wild West. Ever heard of “Doc” Holliday? John Henry Holliday was a “doc” because he had worked as a dentist. He is best known for his partnership with Wyatt Earp and their infamous battle at the OK Corral. Holliday became a gunslinger after leaving an active dental practice in Atlanta. He contracted tuberculosis and abandoned his practice for the West’s drier air and gambling dens.

A decade after Holliday passed, Harry J. “Doc” Sagansky was born in Boston in 1898. After graduating in dentistry at Tufts University, he opened his practice at a pharmacy, which was also a secret liquor store during Prohibition. Sagansky eventually became involved in illegal gambling, nightclubs, and loan sharking. He served jail time for attempting to bribe a city official and was hauled into court during organized-crimed hearings in the 1950s for being a major figure in “the largest racket kingdom” in Boston. He has the dubious distinction of being the oldest organized crime figure to be sentenced to Federal prison at the age of 91.

Another dentist, Thomas Welch, started his career as a Methodist minister but decided to attend New York Medical College in 1856. While building a successful dental practice in New Jersey, he invented a non-alcoholic grape juice to be used instead of wine in religious services. Welch’s grape juice became popular in the 1890s (and remains popular to this day), while Welch continued to practice dentistry.

Some other dentists that became well known include:

  • Zane Grey – He chose New York City to begin his dental practice because he wanted to be near publishers. He eventually became famous for writing over 80 western novels.
  • Annie Elizabeth Delaney – A 1923 graduate of Columbia University, she was the second African American woman to be a dentist in New York, but she is better known for her best-seller, Having Our Sky, which also became a Broadway play.
  • Paul Revere – He is famous for alerting Boston citizens that “The British are coming…,” but he was a dentist who also made dentures for his patients.
  • Charles Murray Turpin – Turpin, a Pennsylvania dentist, served 15 years in Congress in the 1930s. Three dentists are currently Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives: Brian Babin (Texas), Paul Gosar (Arizona) and Mike Simpson (Idaho).
  • Steve Arline – Arline, a pitcher in the National League in the 1970s, was known for his baseball career of 463 strikeouts. Arline practiced dentistry after retiring from baseball. Another successful pitcher, James Reynold Lonborg (better known as “Gentleman Jim”), also became a dentist later in life.
  • Alfred P. Southwick – This Buffalo, New York dentist is credited with creating the first electric chair.

Most dentists seem mild-mannered and friendly, but as you can see, they sometimes hide hidden talents and notorious secrets.

The Tooth Fairy and the Mouse

When a growing child loses his or her first tooth, what should you do with the tooth? In America of course, the parents put it under the child’s pillow for the Tooth Fairy to collect in the middle of the night. On the face of it, the Tooth Fairy seems like a cute but insignificant little tradition. In actuality, it reflects a rite of passage that extends across just about all cultures worldwide.

The specific traditions regarding what to do with children’s baby teeth vary from country to country. Sometimes the tooth is thrown somewhere—up into the sun, into a fire, or over a roof. Sometimes it’s buried. Sometimes it’s hidden where animals can’t find it, and other times it’s given (either symbolically or literally) to an animal to take or swallow. In some cases, the mother swallows the tooth, and in other cases the child does.

The loss of the child’s tooth signifies the boy or girl is taking an early step into adulthood. This step can be scary for the child, and ritualizing the disposal of the tooth can bring comfort. Other children are excited about losing their first tooth, because they can’t wait to grow up. However the kid feels about it, all cultures agree that doesn’t seem right to let the moment pass without performing some sort of custom.

The animal most associated with these traditions is a mouse. Mice have strong teeth that continually grow, and parents wish to transfer the idea of strong, healthy teeth to their children. In France, it’s not a fairy but La Bonne Petite Souris, or “The Good Little Mouse,” who sneaks under kids’ pillows to trade a tooth for cash or candy. In Spain, the mouse is named Raton Perez (or some variation on this). He looks under the pillow too, but sometimes, the tooth is left in a glass of water on the nightstand. In the morning the water and tooth are gone and replaced by coins or a small gift. In South Africa, instead of under a pillow the tooth is left in a slipper on the floor, sometimes with a piece of cheese.

Asian countries, from China to Japan to Vietnam to India, favor the tradition of throwing the tooth somewhere, and while it’s in the air, they might ask for the tooth to be replaced by the tooth of, yes, a mouse. In Iraq and Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries, the tradition is also to throw the tooth.

Some of these traditions can be traced back hundreds and hundreds of years, but the Tooth Fairy tradition in America is relatively new. Its first appearance in print appears in 1927, and it is believed to have started a few decades before that. Americans at the epoch were becoming enamored with the figure of a kindly, motherly fairy, as seen in everything from Glenda the Good Witch in The Wizard of Oz to fairy godmothers in classic Disney movies. The Tooth Fairy herself seems to be a mixture of this sort of fairy and European mouse traditions.

How about the money she leaves? Well, since losing a baby tooth symbolizes the path to adulthood, the giving of cash is part of that transition. Money belongs in the realm of adulthood, not childhood. A child can make his or her own decisions about what to do with the Tooth Fairy’s gift, whether buying something independently of Mom or Dad or saving it for the future.

February 28th is National Tooth Fairy Day, but the next time a child you know loses a tooth, you can hide it for the Tooth Fairy to find, give it a mythical mouse, or throw it into the s

What are your Goals for the New Year?

The new year is both a time for reflection and a time for looking forward. What did you accomplish in 2014? More importantly, what do you hope to accomplish in 2015? If you’re really serious about creating and sticking to New Year’s resolutions, it’s best to create some concrete goals.

But before you start to formulate your goals, take some time to think about what you really want from your life in the near future and the long-term. Do a little brainstorming. Jot down some ideas on paper (or type them on a keyboard) without stopping to censor yourself. Do this exercise as you think about questions like: How can my life be better? How can I improve? What do I imagine my life could be like?

Now you can set goals around those desires. Many people who are successful at setting and attaining goals swear by the SMART method. They say that goals should be:

  • S – Specific
  • M – Measurable
  • A – Attainable
  • R – Relevant
  • T – Time-bound

As an example, a poorly stated goal would be “I want to lose weight in the new year.” A better version would be, “I want to lose 10 pounds by the end of March 2015.”

How does the second version check out against the SMART method? Let’s see:

  • Specific – Yes. It specifies the amount of weight to be lost.
  • Measurable – Yes. Weight loss can be measured.
  • Attainable – Most likely, depending on where the person’s starting weight is.
  • Relevant – Yes, as long as it matches up with a larger ambition such as “I hope to feel more fit in the new year.”
  • Time-bound – Yes. It specifies an end date of March 31.

Think About Systems Instead of Goals

 While many people swear by setting goals, goals can have some downsides, after all. If you set a goal and fail at meeting it, you will feel bad about yourself or lose motivation. The overall point of New Year’s resolutions is build yourself up, not tear yourself down.

And if you do reach your goal, it may not lead to lasting change. Using the example above about losing 10 pounds by the end of March, suppose the person who made this goal meets it. What happens then on April 1? The person may abandon whatever habits helped them reach that goal and put the weight back on.

For other goals, the problem can be that the results are out of your hands. Suppose someone might set a goal to get a raise in 2016. That raise, however, isn’t up to them. Their boss could refuse.

For these reasons, it may be better to establish systems instead of goals. A system could be:

  • Eat under 2,000 calories a day and exercise three times a week (to help lose weight)
  • Create weekly reports of accomplishments to send to my boss (to advocate for promotions and raises)

Like well-formed goals, systems need to be specific, relevant, and attainable.

Select Some Software

With the rise of the smart phone, a host of apps can help you define, track, and achieve your goals. Some teach you tricks to build new habits. Others offer ways to share goals with friends because telling others about your goals can help keep you on track. And if you don’t have a smart phone or prefer to use a standard computer, there are plenty of other goal-tracking websites out there.

Goals or systems? Apps, web-based software, or pen and paper? The way you define your goals and meet them is up to you. Setting and reaching goals is not an area where one size fits all, but no matter who you are, you can take steps to improve your life in the new year. Happy 2016!