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How Long Will I Wear My Braces?

February 29th, 2024

How long? Well, a beautiful smile is both science and art—proper teeth and jaw alignment united with aesthetically pleasing results. Orthodontists achieve both these outcomes with a careful analysis of any dental and facial problems, a treatment plan designed specifically for each patient’s needs, and adjustments through each phase of treatment to carefully bring about that beautiful smile.

And that’s a long way of saying, there’s no one, standard answer as to how long a patient will wear braces because there is no one, standard patient. Often, treatment takes from 18 to 24 months, but it can be months shorter or months longer depending on a variety of different circumstances.

  • Different Needs

Your orthodontic needs and goals will generally determine your treatment time. Some patients need only a bit of alignment, which can lead to a fairly short orthodontic experience. Some have malocclusions such as crossbites and open bites that require more complex and lengthy treatment.

And, while we used to think of orthodontics as a teenage rite of passage, that’s certainly no longer the case. Some children will need two-phase orthodontic treatment, where early procedures before the adult teeth even come in ease the way for any necessary second stage treatment when the permanent teeth arrive years later. And some adults will want orthodontic work later in life, where denser bone tissue might lead to (somewhat) longer treatment.

  • Different Appliances

Today’s orthodontics offers you many choices in appliances. Lingual braces are an almost invisible option, with brackets and wires on the inside of the teeth. Aligners use clear, custom molded trays to move the teeth into a better position with each new tray. Even traditional braces are smaller and sleeker today, with metal or less visible ceramic brackets. Depending on the orthodontic goals you want to achieve, there might be a small difference in the amount of time each appliance will take to get you to those goals. Talk to us about all your options and what they mean for treatment time.

  • Different Levels of Participation in the Process

This is one area you can make a real difference! If you follow our instructions for using your appliances most effectively, you’ll make progress as quickly as possible. If you have aligner trays, be sure to wear them for as long as directed each day. If you have rubber bands attached to brackets on your upper and lower teeth, wear them for as many hours as required, because these little bands are actually the tools that are moving your teeth into alignment. If you don’t wear your braces or aligners as directed, not much is going to happen, and certainly not on schedule.

Give our Round Rock, TX office a call, and we can discuss your goals for creating your very best smile. Once we’ve decided on a treatment plan, Dr. Paul Gates can give you a fairly good estimate as to how long your particular treatment will take. And, when you get to share that beautiful, healthy smile, the time you’ve spent achieving it will be well worth it!

 

Too old for braces? You Might be Surprised

February 21st, 2024

Although adolescence is a common time to get braces, there’s no reason for adults of any age to have to deal with crooked teeth, overbite, underbite, or other dental issues. In fact, the American Association of Orthodontists notes that demand for orthodontic treatment in adults continues to grow, with adults representing 20% of new patients.

You’re never too old for braces or other orthodontic appliances, but it’s important to consider the following:

  1. Braces don’t have to be as noticeable as the metal brackets of the past. Many adults opt for ceramic or plastic braces, which are bone-colored or clear, respectively. Another option is a lingual appliance, which attaches to the back side of your teeth. These so-called “invisible” braces are much less noticeable than traditional options.
  2. By adulthood, bone growth has stopped. This means that certain structural changes can only be achieved by surgery. Although this typically affects people with significant crowding, bite, or jaw problems, Dr. Paul Gates can provide an individualized treatment plan that addresses your unique issues.
  3. Treatment may take a bit longer. The length of orthodontic treatment tends to be slightly longer for adults than adolescents. Exact estimates vary by individual, but the average length of time for adult braces wearers is two years, according to the Harvard Medical School.
  4. Outcomes are just as good for adults! Many adults worry that it’s too late to treat their orthodontic problems. However, treatment satisfaction tends to be very high, which is a testament to how effective braces can be in middle-aged and older adults.

The Transformation of Valentine's Day

February 15th, 2024

Did you know the actions leading to the beginnings of Valentine's Day were actually centered on the avoidance of war? A Catholic priest named Valentine defied the orders of the Emperor Claudius II and secretly married young men and their brides after the emperor had declared it illegal because only single, young men could be sent to war. Rather than lose potential soldiers to fight his war, Claudius attempted to hoard them by proclaiming marriage illegal.

Valentine continued to marry young couples anyway and, eventually, was put to death for it in 270 AD. Before his death, he sent a letter to a secret love and signed it “From your Valentine”. Nearly 1,800 years later, people are still signing letters and cards in this manner. This year, carry on the tradition started long ago, while adding your own twist. Here are a few suggestions.

Simple and Creative Valentine's Day Ideas

  • Memorialize it with a Photo. Couples often have photos taken around Christmas, but Valentine's Day photos allow you to capitalize on romance. Famous couple Julia Child and her husband, Paul, had their picture taken together every Valentine's Day and included their sense of humor with silly props.
  • Return to Your First Date Location. Even if your first date together was at a local hotdog stand, its sentimental value can make it a fun part of your Valentine's Day agenda. Be creative and make a treasure hunt with clues that lead your partner to the original date location, where you can express your love with flowers or a gift.
  • “From Your Valentine” Messages. Deliver your message in a creative way to make this Valentine's Day stand out from the others. Bake your partner's favorite treat and write a message on it with a tube of icing, or draw a note on the steamed up mirror so it shows up when your partner takes a shower.

Although Valentine's Day is a day to celebrate love, it doesn't have to be a special day only for couples. If you're single, use this special day to shower yourself with love, because you're worth it! After all, the priest Valentine believed so strongly in the sanctity of love that he was willing to risk his life for it. Whether you're in a relationship or single, young or old, romantic or not, Valentine's Day is for you. Happy Valentine’s Day from the orthodontic office of Dr. Paul Gates.

Time to Brush Up on Brushing and Flossing

February 7th, 2024

If your child has just gotten braces, chances are it’s a good time to brush up on dental hygiene! Why now? What’s different? And how can you help? Let’s take a few minutes and explore these timely questions.

Brushing and Flossing Are Especially Important with Braces

There’s no getting around it, it’s harder to clean teeth with brackets and wires. But it’s essential to pay attention to dental hygiene. When bacteria and plaque start building up, your child is at risk for gum disease, cavities, and tooth discoloration.

  • Gingivitis

This early stage of gum disease is the result of gum irritation caused by plaque. The gums become red, swollen, sore, and can bleed or start to recede. With proper brushing and flossing, gingivitis can be eliminated, along with the risk of developing more serious gum disease.

  • Tooth Decay

One of the major reasons for cavities is the erosion of enamel caused by oral bacteria. These bacteria feed on sugars from our diet and produce acids that attack the tooth’s surface. Plaque, formed by a mass of these bacteria, sticks around brackets and the gum line, putting your child at risk for cavities near his orthodontic work—which might require removing wires and brackets to treat.

  • Demineralization

When acids attack teeth, they remove the minerals from our enamel. This demineralization eventually leads to cavities, but in its early stages can cause white spots to appear where the mineral structure has been weakened. Braces wearers are at special risk for demineralization, especially around brackets and near the gums, where plaque can be missed while brushing.

Time for New Brushing and Flossing Techniques

Even if your child has always done a wonderful job of brushing and flossing, braces provide a new challenge for getting teeth their cleanest. Unfortunately, plaque buildup around the brackets and the gum line is all too common in orthodontic patients. Dr. Paul Gates can recommend some tools that make the cleaning process easier and more effective.

  • Toothbrushes

Manual brushes are available with small, soft-bristled heads designed especially for braces wearers. If your child still has problems getting rid of plaque and food debris, an electric toothbrush might be helpful. And remember, encourage your child to be thorough but gentle for the sake of both braces and gums.

  • Flossing with Braces

Flossing can be challenging for children at any time, but especially with braces. We’ll show you how floss threaders work, and how special flosses designed just for braces can fit under wires. This might also be a good time to invest in a water flosser. Your help demonstrating how to floss even with brackets and wires blocking the way will be appreciated by your child and your dentist!

  • Products Just for Braces

Interproximal brushes are tiny cone-shaped brushes designed to fit around brackets and wires and between teeth. We can also suggest special toothpastes and rinses to help fight plaque and prevent cavities from developing. Ask us about what to shop for to make both of your lives easier.

You Can Help!

  • Teamwork—Works!

When your child first gets braces, practice brushing and flossing together. Our Round Rock, TX team will be happy to show you both the very best techniques for keeping teeth their cleanest and healthiest. Especially for young children, your help will make sure those techniques are learned and used.

  • Make Time for Cleaning

Your child’s before-braces routine might have meant brushing two minutes each morning and two minutes at night. But thorough cleaning around brackets and wires might take a bit longer. (And, with braces, it’s best to brush after every meal rather than the common twice-a-day routine). Be available, at least at first, for a quick check to make sure braces and teeth are their cleanest. And you may have to help with removing and replacing bands until your child gets the hang of it.

  • Be Prepared!

Whether it’s a day at school or an overnighter with friends, be sure your child has a kit filled with cleaning supplies ready to take along. A toothbrush, floss, an interproximal brush, toothpaste, a mirror—with these necessities, your child can keep on top of any cleaning emergencies.

For younger children especially, learning how to keep teeth and braces their cleanest can take some time. Be patient, be prepared, and be willing to help, and you and your child will have a new routine mastered—in no time at all!

Early Orthodontics

February 1st, 2024

Perhaps you are already planning for the years when your teenager will need orthodontic work. But hearing that your seven-year-old would benefit from orthodontic treatment? That might come as a complete surprise! It’s a recommendation with real benefits, though—early intervention can save children from tooth and bite problems now, and even simplify their future orthodontic care.

Treating young children for orthodontic problems is called “interceptive orthodontics.” When the permanent teeth start arriving, there might be problems with spacing, bite or protruding teeth. Often, treatment while the bones are still growing is the best way to prevent more serious problems later.

We recommend that your child have an orthodontic consultation with Dr. Paul Gates around the age of seven. This exam is especially important for children who may have been thumb suckers or used a pacifier after the age of three, or if you notice obvious teeth, speech or bite issues.

  • Crowding and Spacing Issues

Teeth are arranged in two crescent shapes called arches. When the arch of your child’s mouth is small, the permanent teeth can become very crowded as they erupt. Formerly, teeth were removed to make more room. Now, early use of a palatal expander can enlarge the upper dental arch in order to help the permanent teeth come in without crowding. The need for future tooth extraction is reduced, and there is a better chance for correct spacing and alignment with early treatment.

On the other hand, when a child loses a tooth too soon, too much space left between baby teeth can also be a problem. The remaining teeth can shift, leaving the wrong place open for the adult tooth to come in. We might recommend a space maintainer so that there is no shifting of the teeth and there is room for the proper adult tooth to erupt in its proper spot.

  • Malocclusions (Bite Problems)

Some malocclusions, like a crossbite, can be caused by problems with jaw and facial structure. Again, we might recommend a palatal expander to help the upper arch of the teeth to fit properly with the lower jaw. Problems with overbite, open bite and other bite issues can also be addressed at this age if necessary. Early care can discourage TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders, reduce speech problems, and improve facial symmetry. 

  • Protruding Front Teeth

Teeth that protrude are much more likely to be damaged when playing or after a fall. Methods such as braces or appliances can reposition them and protect them from breaking or fracturing.

Many children will not need early intervention, and many can wait until they are older for orthodontic work. But if your young child has orthodontic problems that should be addressed, early intervention can do more than set the stage for successful orthodontics in the teen years. Talk to our Round Rock, TX team about what we can do for your child. Interceptive orthodontics can protect teeth, guide jaw and speech development, modify harmful oral habits and help to adjust bite problems before they become serious—when it comes to your child’s dental health, the best solutions are early ones!

What's the difference between an orthodontist and a dentist?

January 25th, 2024

Orthodontists and dentists both help patients improve their oral health, but in different ways. Dentistry is a broad medical specialty that deals with the teeth, gum, nerves, and jaw, while orthodontics is a specialty within dentistry that focuses on correcting bites, occlusion, and the straightness of teeth. One important difference is that all orthodontists like Dr. Paul Gates are dentists, but not all dentists are licensed orthodontists.

How are they similar?

The main similarity between a dentist and orthodontist is that they both focus on oral care. An orthodontist can work in a dental office and provide the same care as a dentist. So in this respect, they are quite similar. They are both considered doctors, and deal with the teeth and gums.

How are they different?

There are more differences than similarities. An orthodontist requires additional schooling as a dental specialty; the situation is similar to a doctor who obtains additional schooling to become a surgeon. Another difference is that orthodontists specialize in helping patients with the alignment of their teeth, improving their bite, or fitting them for corrective braces and devices. If a patient has an overbite, a dentist will refer him or her to an orthodontist.

Dentists typically encourage good oral hygiene and provide services related to:

  • Tooth decay
  • Root canals
  • Gum disease
  • Crowns
  • Bridges
  • Veneers
  • Teeth whitening

Orthodontists are dentists that specialize in the alignment of teeth, and provide services related to:

  • Misaligned teeth
  • Crowded teeth
  • Overbite
  • Underbite

What an orthodontist can help with

Orthodontists help with crooked teeth, but they assist patients with other issues as well. These include overbites and underbites, crossbites, spaces between teeth, overcrowding of teeth, and the treatment of temporomandibular disorders (TMD). Additional problems with the jaw also need to be treated by an orthodontist.

While a dentist may be trained to provide orthodontic care in addition to extractions, TMJ treatments, and fillings, trusting your smile to an orthodontist can better balance the different procedures you require.

To learn more about the difference between dentists and orthodontists, or to schedule an initial consultation with Dr. Paul Gates, please give our team at Round Rock Orthodontics a call at our convenient Round Rock, TX office.

Get Your Orthodontic Journey Off to a Good Start

January 17th, 2024

Whether you’ve chosen traditional braces or invisible aligners, congratulations! You’ve taken the first step on your way to a beautiful, healthy smile. Of course, like every other journey, a good start helps you get where you’re going as quickly and easily as possible. And the best way to start your orthodontic journey at Round Rock Orthodontics is with a visit to your dentist for a checkup and a cleaning.

Dr. Paul Gates and our team will want you to make sure your teeth and gums are healthy before you begin. A complete dental exam will let you know if you have any dental conditions that need to be addressed before you get braces or aligners. Why be proactive? Because if you need dental work during your orthodontic treatment, it can cause delays in your treatment plan.

  • Cavities

Cavities grow over time and can eventually reach the inside of the tooth, causing infection and damaging the pulp. For this reason alone, it’s best to find and treat cavities before you get braces or aligners.

If you’re wearing braces when a cavity’s discovered, the situation gets a bit more complicated. Your dentist might be able to work around your braces if the cavity is easy to reach. But if a cavity’s near your brackets, Dr. Paul Gates might have to remove a wire or bracket before treatment can start. This means scheduling different appointments to a) remove a section of your braces, b) repair your cavity, and c) replace your bracket and/or wire. See what we mean? Definitely more complicated.

  • Gum Disease

While serious gum disease is most common in adults, children and teens can suffer from early-stage gum disease. Your gum health affects your orthodontic treatment—and can be affected by it, too—so your gums need to be healthy before you begin wearing braces or aligners.

Early gum disease can frequently be reversed with careful brushing and flossing habits. Because advanced gum disease weakens the bone under the teeth, patients with this kind of gum disease will need dental or periodontal treatment before any orthodontic work.

  • A Clean Start

Once you’ve made sure your teeth and gums are healthy, there’s one more proactive step you can take for a better orthodontic experience. Whenever you’re at the dentist for an exam, it’s always a good idea to get a professional cleaning. It’s especially important when you’re getting—or wearing—braces.

Even with the most dedicated everyday brushing and flossing, plaque and tartar can build up, especially between and behind the teeth. A professional cleaning by an expert is just what you need to remove any plaque or tartar that you’ve missed before you start wearing braces or aligners.

And keep up with professional cleanings while you’re in treatment. It can be difficult to clean around brackets and underneath wires. Your dental team knows how to gently and thoroughly clean plaque from these hard-to-reach spots. In fact, Dr. Paul Gates and your dentist might recommend that you have your teeth cleaned more often while you’re wearing braces.

  • Your Best Bonding Experience

If you’re getting metal brackets, ceramic brackets, or lingual braces, your brackets will be applied to your tooth enamel with a special bonding glue. Applying brackets to teeth that are their cleanest will start you off with the best possible bond.

If you need dental work while you wear braces, we can certainly accommodate that. But why make life more difficult? See your dentist for a cleaning and an exam and get any necessary dental treatment before you get your braces at our Round Rock, TX orthodontic office. The easiest journey to a lifetime of beautiful, healthy smiles begins with a good start!

How Braces Can Work at Any Age

January 11th, 2024

Are you an adult who is considering getting braces? Perhaps you’ve had them before, but over the years that dental work has been reversed. Or maybe you’ve never had any orthodontic work done, but are considering braces for the first time. In either case, Round Rock Orthodontics can help you enjoy straighter teeth, an improved bite, and a more beautiful smile. If you are considering getting braces, here is what you need to know about adult orthodontic work from Dr. Paul Gates.

Can braces work for adults?

Absolutely! Braces work for just about anyone. However, there are several different types of braces, and not all of them may work for you. Different types of orthodontic treatments include:

  • Ceramic braces
  • Metal braces
  • Self-ligating brackets
  • Lingual brackets (braces behind the teeth)
  • Invisible braces
  • Rubber bands for bite correction
  • Headgear and other appliances

By scheduling a consultation, we can determine which treatment or combination of treatments would be best for your specific needs.

How do I get started?

Getting braces can be a little bit daunting. At first glance, the process may appear expensive and time-consuming. However, if you take it step by step, getting braces can be a simple and relatively pain-free experience. Here are the first steps you need to take to get on the road to straight teeth:

First, you need information. If you are nervous about getting braces, or are having trouble getting started, learning more about the process can help ease your mind. Here are a few sample questions to ask:

  • What kind of braces do you recommend for my teeth?
  • How long will the treatment take?
  • How often will I need to come in for adjustments?
  • What is the total cost of the treatment? Do you accept insurance? Will you require the full amount up front, or do you have payment plans?

Asking these types of questions will help you understand what to expect during the entire process, which can aid your decision on the proper course of action.

The next step is to complete any prerequisite treatment. During your first meeting with Dr. Paul Gates, we’ll need to take some X-rays and molds of your teeth, and then help you determine an appropriate treatment plan. Recommendations may include some preliminary dental work before you get your braces, which can be an important step in making sure your orthodontic treatments are effective.

Once you have completed these steps, you are ready to get started! After you’ve chosen a treatment plan and undergone any necessary prerequisite dental work, you’ll be able to get your braces. Just like that, you’re on your way to a better smile! If you’d like to get started right away, call our Round Rock, TX location today!

Plaque Attack? Let’s Fight Back!

January 4th, 2024

Plaque is a sticky subject! It sticks to the enamel of our teeth above and below the gum line, and it collects around braces. Plaque is one of the major causes of tooth decay and gum disease, and our teeth are under daily attack by this filmy menace.

What are the facts about plaque, and how can we fight back? Read on for some effective strategies!

What Is Plaque?

Plaque is a sticky film that builds up on our teeth, largely made up of millions of different types of oral bacteria. Plaque is a colorless biofilm at first, but as it collects, it takes on a white or yellow tint. If you haven’t brushed for a few days, that fuzziness you feel on your teeth is plaque build-up. Unless it’s removed, plaque hardens within a matter of days to become tartar.

  • Tip: You can remove plaque with careful brushing and flossing, but it takes a dental professional to remove tartar. Be proactive!

Why Does Plaque Cause Cavities?

Bacteria in plaque use our food as their food, especially sugars and carbs. They can then transform these nutrients into acids, which attack our tooth enamel, weakening it and leaving it vulnerable to further erosion and eventual decay.

  • Tip: Cavities aren’t the only damage caused by accumulated plaque. Plaque also collects along and below the gum line. If tartar forms here, it irritates delicate gum tissue, leading to gingivitis and more serious gum disease. Make sure you don’t forget your gums when you brush and floss.

When Does Plaque Build Up?

The short answer? Plaque is always forming, because oral bacteria are a natural part of our biology. (In fact, there are even oral bacterial which are beneficial.) Plaque starts building up within minutes after eating, and during the night as we sleep.

That’s why we recommend brushing for two minutes at least twice a day, and flossing at least once a day. When you wear braces or aligners, brushing more often is a good idea. Food collecting around braces or inside aligners is a feast for plaque! Ask Dr. Paul Gates for suggestions for your best brushing schedule.

  • Tip: Just because plaque is unavoidable, that doesn’t mean we need to give the bacteria in plaque any additional encouragement. Every time you have a meal or a snack that’s heavy in carbs and sugars, you are providing more fuel for acid production. Cutting down on foods like sugary desserts and sodas is not only nutrition-healthy, it’s tooth-healthy!

Where Does Plaque Collect?

Plaque builds up all over tooth surfaces, at the gum line, and even below the gum line. It’s especially easy to miss in hard-to-reach places like the irregular surfaces of molars, between the teeth, behind our front teeth, and near the gum line. Plaque also collects around your braces, and requires special care to make sure your teeth don’t suffer cavities or the white spots caused by demineralization.

  • Tip: One of the ways plaque avoids detection is its invisibility. Fortunately, if you’re having trouble brushing away all your plaque, there are plaque-disclosing toothpastes and chewable tablets available in the dental aisle which reveal the plaque hiding between, behind, or around your teeth by tinting it with a can’t-miss color. Just brush the color away, and you’ve brushed the plaque away as well.

How Do We Clean Away Plaque?

Use the Right Tools

Floss at least once a day. There are different materials, sizes, and coatings for floss, so you can find one that’s comfortable for you. Floss reaches those spots in between teeth and around the gum line that brushes miss.

Choose a soft toothbrush (soft bristles are better for your enamel) and change it every three to four months, or as soon as the bristles show wear. Make sure the head is the right size—too big, and it’s not only uncomfortable, but you won’t be able to reach all the surfaces you need to.

  • Tips: There are special dental flosses created just for your braces. You can also use interproximal brushes water flosser to clean around wires and brackets. If you have trouble removing plaque around your teeth and braces with a manual toothbrush, consider an electric model. Several studies have shown a reduction in plaque with the use of an electric brush.

Use the Right Toothpaste

There are many toothpastes specifically formulated to fight plaque and tartar. And fluoride toothpastes not only fight cavities, they can strengthen your enamel.

  • Tip: Studies have shown that toothpastes with baking soda, in particular, are effective in reducing plaque. Ask Dr. Paul Gates for a recommendation the next time you’re at our Round Rock, TX office.

Use the Right Technique

What not to do?  A forceful, horizontal sawing motion is awkward, hard on your enamel, and misses plaque and debris between the teeth. Technique is important—not for style points, but for cleaner teeth!

Hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle, especially at the gum line, to gently remove plaque from teeth and gums. Use short strokes or a circular motion to clean as much of the surface and between the teeth as possible. Brush the inside of your front teeth with careful vertical strokes—remember, that’s one place where plaque is easy to overlook. The same holds true for the tops of your molars, so thoroughly clean those uneven surfaces.

If you wear braces, be sure to clean thoroughly around brackets and wires, where plaque can accumulate quickly.

  • Tip: If you wear clear aligners, don’t forget to give them a gentle brushing as well! Plaque can stick to aligners, causing discoloration and odors, so follow our cleaning instructions carefully.

Who Can Help You Fight Plaque?

Even when you do your best at home, plaque can still be a sticky problem. That’s why we advise regular professional cleanings, which not only remove any plaque that’s hiding away, but also eliminate any built-up tartar around your braces. And, of course, there you can learn all about how to keep your teeth their cleanest.

True, you’re fighting plaque every day, but you have all the tools you need to make sure your teeth and gums stay healthy. You’re winning the battle with plaque every time you eat a nutritious meal, and every time you brush and floss. With that kind of strategy, plaque doesn’t stand a chance. And your bright smile and healthy teeth and gums? That’s a victory worth celebrating!

Does my child need two-phase treatment?

December 28th, 2023

You might be surprised to see one of your second grader’s friends with a dental appliance. Isn’t orthodontic work just for teenagers? And, if not, should your seven-year-old be sporting braces right now? The answer to both of those questions is “Not necessarily.” Two-phase treatment is a process designed to correct issues that arise during different times in your child’s life.

First Phase Treatment

We recommend that every child have an orthodontic evaluation around the age of seven to determine if there is a problem that would benefit from early treatment. First phase orthodontics is not the same as orthodontics for older patients. The focus here is on the developing bone and muscle structures which form your child’s bite and provide space for the permanent teeth when they arrive.

There are some clear-cut orthodontic goals that are much easier to attain when children’s bones are still growing.

  • Reducing Crowding

If your child’s mouth is small, the permanent teeth will have little room to fit in when they arrive. We may recommend gently enlarging the upper dental arch with the use of a palatal expander. This device will provide room for the adult teeth, and could potentially shorten second phase treatment time. Sometimes the extractions necessary to create more room for permanent teeth in later years can be avoided, as well as the possibility of an impacted tooth—one which doesn’t erupt because it is blocked by other teeth.

  • Dealing with Jaw and Bite Concerns

Bones and muscles do not always develop properly, leading to problems with jaw and facial structure. Your younger child still has growing bones, so this is a great time to gently re-form the jaw into a healthy shape. Problems caused by crossbites, underbites, open bites, and other malocclusions can be reduced with early treatment.  

  • Protecting Teeth

If your child has protruding front teeth, these teeth are more likely to be damaged in falls, at play, or while participating in sports. We can gently reposition them.

Second Phase Treatment

Second phase treatment is designed for your older child. After a resting period, when the permanent teeth finish erupting, we should see your child to evaluate any further orthodontic needs. This is the time to finish the process of straightening the teeth and making sure that each tooth fits together properly for a comfortable and healthy bite. This phase usually makes use of braces or aligners, and can take approximately 12-24 months.

Two-phase treatment is not necessary for every child. But there are some unique reasons that early orthodontics might be recommended for your child, even if it’s clear that more orthodontic work will be needed later. Make an appointment with Dr. Paul Gates at our Round Rock, TX office, and let’s evaluate your child’s orthodontic needs, whether now or in the future, for a lifetime of beautiful smiles.

I got my braces. Now what?

December 21st, 2023

You’ve taken the first step toward a healthier and more beautiful appearance by getting braces at Round Rock Orthodontics, and you’re probably wondering what comes next. The first week is the period of biggest adjustment, and there’s a lot to learn in this short time. Don’t worry; in a few short days your braces will feel completely natural.

The first week

On the first day, your braces will probably feel very odd in your mouth; it will take time to get used to them. By the second day, you may feel some soreness or pain. If you are going to experience any pain, the second and third days are when it will happen. Most pain can be dealt with by taking an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as Tylenol.

What about sore spots?

Your cheeks and tongue are getting used to your new braces, just like your teeth are. You may develop sore spots where this soft tissue rubs against the harsh metal of your braces. The best way to avoid this and allow your mouth to heal is by covering the metal spot with orthodontic wax. Break off a small piece and roll it into a ball in your hands. Dry the metal of the braces with a cotton swab, then wrap the wax around the sharp spot to create a cushion.

What if they break?

Braces are held onto your teeth with special orthodontic glue. Once in a great while, part of your appliance may come loose from the surface of a tooth. This won’t harm anything; it will just be slightly inconvenient. Call our office right away and we will be able to glue the bracket back on.

Make sure you avoid hard items such as ice, brittle, and other hard candies, and don’t open packages with your teeth. These habits can contribute to braces popping off. Even fairly innocent-sounding items like popcorn or French bread can be a culprit, so avoid eating any hard foods, or cut them up into small pieces before consuming.

If you have questions about which foods to eat and avoid, or if your braces are more sore than expected, feel free to contact our Round Rock, TX office and ask Dr. Paul Gates and our team. We’re more than happy to help!

Foods can Wreak Havoc on Your Enamel

December 14th, 2023

It’s possible to develop tooth decay even when you take great care of your teeth. Brushing and flossing may not be enough to keep your teeth healthy, depending on your diet. Cavities, discoloration, and decay are still possible when certain foods feature in your daily intake. Keep an eye out for foods that will damage your enamel and cause the very issues you’ve been trying to avoid.

What causes enamel damage?

Tooth enamel is the hard outer layer of your teeth that is made of various minerals. Tooth decay results when the acids in your food react with the minerals in your enamel. Strongly pigmented foods may also cause unsightly discoloration on the surface of your teeth. Avoid wreaking havoc on your beautiful smile by identifying the foods that can harm your enamel.

Acid

Acidic food is your teeth’s worst nightmare! This is the greatest cause of enamel damage, even if you brush and floss regularly. To avoid damaging your teeth, make sure you can determine whether a food is acidic or not.

The pH levels are a way to determine acidity on a one-to-seven scale. This defines the relative acidity or alkalinity of a food or substance. Foods with high pH levels are not as likely to harm your enamel.

It’s wise to avoid or minimize foods that are high in acids. Highly acidic food can include fruits such as lemons, grapefruit, strawberries, grapes, and apples. Moderately acid foods may surprise you; they include tomatoes, maple syrup, pickles, and honey.

Not surprisingly, eggs and dairy products such as milk and cheese contain the least amount of acid. Red wine and coffee can also discolor your enamel if they’re drunk in excessive amounts.

What can I do to prevent enamel damage?

There are plenty of ways to avoid discoloration and decay of your enamel. The best thing to do is limit the amount of high-acid foods, including sugary juices and soda, in your diet.

Another way is to brush and floss regularly, an hour after each meal. If you can’t make time to brush, an easy solution is to swish your mouth with water or mouthwash to rinse away any leftover acidic particles.

Damaged tooth enamel may be common, but is avoidable when you know which foods to stay away from and the steps to take after you do eat highly acidic foods. Take our advice and you’ll be sure to slow down any future discoloration and decay that happens in your mouth.

For more advice on protecting your enamel, give our Round Rock, TX a call to learn more!

What’s the deal with bottled water?

December 7th, 2023

As more people turn to bottled water and away from the tap, they may be missing out on one important ingredient that most brands of bottled water fail to include: fluoride! Because fluoride helps strengthen teeth, it is an important component of maintaining good oral health. Our friends at the American Dental Association have endorsed both community water fluoridation and the use of fluoride-containing products as a safe means of preventing tooth decay.

In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also warned that “bottled water may not have a sufficient amount of fluoride, which is important for preventing tooth decay and promoting oral health.” If you are avoiding fluoridated tap water in favor of ever-more-popular bottled water, you could be missing out on the levels of fluoride necessary to make a difference in your oral health. One 2012 study in the Journal of Pediatric Dentistry found that more than 65 percent of parents using bottled water did not know what levels of fluoride it contained.

If bottled water happens to be your or your children’s beverage of choice, check the label to make sure your brand contains fluoride. Of course, simply drinking fluoridated water is not a magic ticket to perfect teeth. To keep your pearly whites in tip-top shape, it’s important to brush and floss daily and avoid sugary sweets, in addition to maintaining your fluoride intake.

Questions about fluoride? Give us a call at our convenient Round Rock, TX office! We look forward to hearing from you!

Periodontics and Braces Treatment

November 30th, 2023

Most people think braces are all about their teeth. While it is true orthodontics is meant to move your teeth into proper position, there's more to it than that. To safely move your teeth with braces, you're going to need healthy and stable gums (or periodontium—the tissues that support your teeth).

For this reason it's critical to have your periodontal health evaluated prior to getting braces. This applies particularly to adults, since a 2013 study by the Center For Disease Control found that an estimated 47.2% of adults 30 years of age and older had periodontitis (gum disease). If you do have periodontitis, moving your teeth with braces will only make things worse.

Conversely, there is also risk for periodontal disease if you don't get orthodontic treatment. Malocclusion, as well as crooked and spaced teeth, can all contribute to periodontal disease. In these situations your teeth and gums are more difficult to clean and become breeding grounds for disease causing bacteria. Bad oral hygiene combined with these traits can greatly contribute to the development of periodontitis.

So, periodontics and braces have a tricky relationship. On one hand, you shouldn't get braces if you show signs of developing or have periodontitis, while on the other hand, braces can help prevent the possibility of developing periodontitis by correcting the bite and straightening the teeth.

If you are 30 years of age or older and are considering getting braces, it would be wise to first:

  • Let Dr. Paul Gates know about your desire to get braces
  • Get an exam to make sure you're in good periodontal health and a good candidate for braces
  • If you are a good candidate, keep an eye on your teeth and gums and get regular dental checkups throughout your entire course of treatment.

If you are in any doubt about the status of your teeth and gums, it's always best to get them checked before embarking with braces treatment. For more information or to have your periodontal health assessed for braces treatment, please contact our Round Rock, TX office.

Besides straight teeth, what are the benefits of braces?

November 30th, 2023

Everyone wants a naturally aligned and beautiful smile, and it is no secret that orthodontic braces from Round Rock Orthodontics 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.

Dr. Paul Gates and staff will be happy to answer any of your questions about your orthodontic treatment. Visit us in Round Rock, TX today!

Common Braces Problems

November 22nd, 2023

It’s useful to know some of the common problems that can arise when you get braces. Even if you take great care of your braces and teeth, you might not be able to avoid certain issues or side effects that accompany braces. But don’t worry: These are all common problems that can be taken care of by following some simple advice.

If you just had your braces put on, you may notice some general soreness in your mouth. Your teeth are starting to adjust to having to shift, so they may ache, and your jaw might feel tender at first. This will subside once your mouth becomes used to the new appliance in residence.

You may experience soreness on your tongue or mouth, which may be a sign of a canker sore. Canker sores are common when braces rub against your mouth. You can use ointments to relieve pain and numb the area that’s been irritated. Canker sores are commonly caused by broken wires or loose bands on your braces.

Common Issues

  • Loose brackets: Apply a small amount of orthodontic wax to the bracket. 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 Dr. Paul Gates. Try to save the band for repair.
  • Protruding or broken wires: Use the eraser end of a pencil to push 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, clean your mouth with warm salt water or antiseptic rinse.
  • Loose spacers: These will need to be repositioned by Dr. Paul Gates and possibly replaced.

Avoiding Issues

You should avoid certain foods that could cause major damage to your braces. No matter what you eat, make the effort to cut your food into small pieces that can be chewed easily. This will prevent chunks of it from getting lodged between brackets.

Avoiding hard and chewy foods is also wise. Some foods can break your hardware: for example, popcorn, nuts, apples, gum, taffy, and hard candies. Avoiding any foods that easily got stuck in your teeth when you didn’t have braces is a good rule to follow.

The appliances in your mouth are bound to attract food particles and make it easier for plaque to build up. By making sure you brush and floss carefully every day, you can prevent stains and cavities from developing over time. Dr. Paul Gates and our team recommend brushing and making sure that food isn’t lodged between your braces after every meal.

Having braces can be very exciting, but it can also be challenging at first. Watching for these common issues during your first few weeks can prevent problems down the road. If you experience a lot of pain from your braces, contact our Round Rock, TX office and we can try to resolve any issues.

Braces can sometimes be a pain, but they’re well worth it once your new smile gets revealed!

Are you visiting the dentist during your orthodontic treatment?

November 22nd, 2023

If you’re brushing your teeth twice a day during your orthodontic treatment, Dr. Paul Gates and our team think that’s wonderful! But, don’t forget that it’s also important for you to visit your general dentist every six months, or as recommended, in addition to brushing your teeth and flossing. (And visiting Round Rock Orthodontics for regular adjustments, of course.)

Dental checkups are crucial for maintaining good oral health. Your general dentist can check for problems that might not be seen or felt, detect cavities and early signs of tooth decay, as well as catch and treat oral health problems early. During an oral exam, your dentist can also check the health of your mouth, teeth, gums, cheeks, and tongue. Checkups will also include a thorough teeth cleaning and polishing.

If you have not been to the dentist in the last six months, let us know during your next adjustment visit and we will provide a few great references in the Round Rock, TX area!

Positive Aging with Orthodontics

November 15th, 2023

Crooked or crowded teeth aren’t always just a cosmetic issue; they also are more difficult to clean, which can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Likewise, if your teeth don’t align properly when you bite (known as malocclusion), this can cause chewing, swallowing, and speaking problems.

You can put these risks to rest and look amazing, however, with well-thought-out orthodontic treatment from Dr. Paul Gates. More and more adults are opting for orthodontic treatment and changing their lives in the process.

Childhood is of course the ideal time to get treatment, since the mouth and jaws are still growing, but many adults still can get beautiful and lasting results which can be achieved discreetly and effectively with modern orthodontic appliances and technologies.

Traditional braces used to be the only thing going, and many adults understandably don’t like the way they look. There are so many other options for braces these days that it’s possible for almost any patient to be treated effectively and efficiently — usually in one to two years.

Here are some of the technologies being implemented in our modern Round Rock, TX orthodontic office:

  • Clear aligners: Practically invisible clear plastic aligners are great for less severe cases.
  • Lingual braces: These are placed on the back of your teeth instead of the front, and can handle anything that traditional braces can.
  • Ceramic braces: Translucent ceramic brackets make for effective and more discreet treatment.
  • Self-ligating braces: These require less manipulation by the orthodontist, which means fewer appointments and quicker results.

It should also be noted that the goal of orthodontic treatment (especially in adults) isn’t always limited to straightening teeth and/or correcting a bite. Teeth provide support for the lips and cheeks and help define your face.

The relationship between the jaws, teeth, face, soft tissues, and underlying skeleton of the face are important, and an orthodontist takes this into account when designing a smile.

In short, getting orthodontic treatment won’t just give you a good-looking and healthy smile; it can help define and enhance the entire appearance of your face. Knowing just how crucial your teeth are in determining how you look and live will help you age positively and confidently.

Foods that are Safe for Braces

November 15th, 2023

Orthodontic braces are used to straighten the teeth, which not only creates a more pleasing appearance, but also helps prevent tooth decay and other oral health problems. Braces are only effective when they are properly cared for, however. Certain foods, for example, are better suited for individuals who have braces, as opposed to hard and sticky foods that can cause damage. So, what types of foods should you or your kids eat to protect dental appliances?

The best foods to eat with braces are those that are not high in sugar and do not require excessive chewing. For breakfast, try eggs, yogurt, bacon, wheat toast, or oatmeal. Lunch may steer toward a banana rather than an apple, a salad without nuts, and a glass of water. If you are looking for some after-school snacks for your kids, consider baked tortilla chips with salsa and guacamole, or try string cheese with fruit.

A healthy dinner can include most types of vegetables, so long as they are cooked to an appropriate softness. Pair that with a lean protein, such as fish or chicken, and follow up with dessert. Just be sure to brush afterward!

Post-Tightening Foods

As braces begin to adjust the alignment of the teeth, our team at Round Rock Orthodontics will periodically tighten them to continue the alignment process. After tightening occurs, the teeth may be sore and sensitive to certain foods. During this time, it is best to eat soft foods. Examples include:

  • Pudding
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Soup
  • Ice cream
  • Cottage cheese
  • Peas
  • Pancakes
  • Pasta

Foods to Avoid

Anyone who wears braces – whether fixed or removable – should avoid excessive snacking and should aim to eat a healthy and balanced diet. It is also important to avoid foods that could cause damage to the braces, such as:

  • Hard candies
  • Gum
  • Nuts
  • Popcorn
  • Certain raw vegetables (for example, carrots)

Considerations

Regardless of what types of foods you eat with braces, it is important to keep the crevices between the teeth and around the braces very clean. That means brushing and flossing after meals to prevent the build-up of plaque and decay. Not only can failing to do so damage the teeth, but it can also cause discoloration.

Have more questions about orthodontic treatment? The Round Rock Orthodontics staff is always ready to answer all of your questions and help you get the most out of the treatment plan prescribed for you by Dr. Paul Gates!

Keeping It Clean—Better for Your Retainer, Better for Your Oral Health!

November 9th, 2023

Now that you’ve graduated from your braces or aligners, you might think you’re finished with orthodontic cleaning tips. Not quite yet! Your retainer needs love, too—not just because it can look or smell “less than appealing” without your help, but because it’s good for your dental health.

Removable Retainers

If you have a Hawley retainer or a clear retainer, cleaning it whenever you remove it is a great idea. Unappetizing white patches mean plaque or mineral deposits from your saliva have dried and hardened on your retainer’s surface. And if you notice an unpleasant taste or odor, it probably means that germs and bacteria have made themselves at home and are growing in and on your appliance.

You don’t want old plaque or new bacteria in your mouth! Here are some ways to keep your retainer clean and fresh:

  • After wearing it, you can clean your retainer with a toothbrush, but don’t brush too vigorously. You might scratch it. Use a soft or even extra-soft brush to clean out all the nooks and crannies, and then rinse.
  • Use cleaning products which have been recommended by Dr. Paul Gates if your retainer needs a deeper clean. Denture cleaners, retainer cleaners, and even toothpastes can be too abrasive or cause discoloration, so use the products made for your specific retainer.
  • Let your retainer dry before storing it in a dry place after cleaning. Shutting a damp retainer into a closed case provides bacteria with the damp, dark environment they thrive in. (PS—clean your case regularly, too!)
  • One of the benefits of a clear retainer is that it’s almost invisible. And you can help keep it that way by removing it whenever you eat or drink. Your retainer can become stained from colored foods or liquids.

Fixed Retainers

A permanent retainer is a small piece of wire that is custom-fit and bonded to the inside of selected teeth to keep them from shifting. Because food particles and plaque can accumulate around a fixed retainer, brushing after meals and at least twice a day is recommended. Bacteria and plaque cause bad breath, cavities, and tartar buildup, and removing tartar might require removing your retainer.

While a fixed retainer can be tricky to clean, there are techniques and products that make cleaning easier and more effective:

  • An orthodontic toothbrush with a smaller head might reach behind your teeth more comfortably.
  • Don’t forget to floss! Using a floss threader will help you get that wriggly floss behind the retainer and between your teeth.
  • Try a water flosser. These handy devices direct a stream of water right into hard-to-reach places for more thorough cleaning.

If you’re having trouble keeping your retainer clean, our Round Rock, TX orthodontic team can teach you all you need to know about tools and techniques to keep your retainer—and your teeth and gums—healthy. An attractive smile is a great thing. A healthy, attractive smile is even better!

Why choose an orthodontic specialist over a general dentist?

November 8th, 2023

Patients have so many choices for straightening their teeth nowadays — clear aligners, ceramic braces, lingual braces, self-ligating braces — but who is best suited to guide them through orthodontic treatment? Well, an orthodontist like Dr. Paul Gates in Round Rock, TX of course!

This may seem obvious, but there’s misinformation circulating with regard to the roles dentists and orthodontists play in treating patients’ oral health.

Dentists are trained to clean teeth, fill cavities, perform certain dental surgeries, and examine overall oral health. Many dentists now offer braces to their patients, but according to the American Association of Orthodontists, it’s better to consult an orthodontist if you need to straighten teeth or fix a bite.

Why an orthodontist? Because they are...

  • Specialists in straightening teeth and aligning jaws, even advanced cases
  • Required to study an additional two to three years after dental school
  • Trained to choose the correct treatment option because they have worked with all the available options
  • Trained to recognize the potential pitfalls with certain treatments and cases, which means there’s less chance of problems after treatment has started or been completed
  • Familiar with emerging treatments and technologies so they can make the best choice for a patient’s case

Some dentists claim to have taken enough continuing education or additional training to offer braces to their patients. But this can't compare to the advanced training an orthodontist receives during his or her education.

Ideally, dentists and orthodontists work hand in hand to make sure oral health and the alignment of teeth and jaws are the best they can be. Think of a dentist as the one who is there for a lifetime, to make sure teeth and gums are healthy.

In contrast, an orthodontist is the highly skilled teammate who helps the dentist by straightening teeth and aligning the jaws over the course of a few years. Instead of one replacing the other, they work together for the health and benefit of their patients.

Just What Is Plaque?

November 1st, 2023

From the time you were small, you’ve been warned about the dangers of plaque. Why? Because:

  • It’s an unpleasant film that sticks to your teeth
  • It causes cavities
  • It causes gum disease
  • It can cause extra problems when you wear braces

And really, do we need to know much more than this to motivate us to brush? But if you’re in a curious mood, you might be wondering just how this soft, fuzzy film accomplishes all that damage. Let’s take a closer look at the sticky problem of plaque.

How does plaque form?

We live with hundreds of species of oral bacteria, most of which are harmless, and some of which are actually beneficial. But when our oral ecosystem gets out of balance, problems can occur. For example, without regular and thorough brushing and flossing, we start to build up plaque.

Plaque starts forming within hours of your last brushing. And even though plaque fits the very definition of “seems to appear overnight,” this biofilm is actually a complex microbial community with several different stages of development.

  • It starts with saliva.

Saliva is vital to our oral health, because it keeps us hydrated, washes away food particles, neutralizes acids in the mouth, and provides minerals which keep our enamel strong. Saliva also contains proteins, which help form a healthy, protective film on the tooth surface. This film is called a pellicle.

  • Bacteria attach to the pellicle.

There are species of oral bacteria that are able to attach themselves to the pellicle film within hours of its formation. As they become more firmly attached, they begin to grow and divide to form colonies, and are known as the early colonizers of the plaque biofilm.

  • A complex biofilm forms.

If you’ve skipped brushing for a few days (please don’t!), you’ll notice a fuzzy, sometimes discolored film on your enamel—that’s a thriving plaque community, and it only takes a matter of days to go from invisible to unpleasant.

If you’re not removing plaque regularly, it can harden further and become tartar. And once you have tartar buildup, you’ll need the care of a dental professional to remove it.

  • What happens if we ignore plaque and tartar?

We get cavities and gum disease.

How does plaque cause cavities?

  • The bacteria in plaque, like all organisms, need nutrients.

Our normal oral environment and the food in our everyday diets provide the nutrients plaque needs. And, as we mentioned above, certain types of oral bacteria convert these nutrients into acids. Foods such as carbohydrates, starches, and sugars are most easily converted into acids, which is why we recommend that you enjoy them in moderation.

  • The biofilm promotes acid production.

Within the plaque film, anaerobic bacteria (bacteria which don’t use oxygen) convert sugars and starches into acids. As the plaque film becomes denser, it blocks acid-neutralizing saliva and oxygen from reaching these bacteria close to the tooth’s surface, creating an ideal environment for the bacteria to produce their acid waste products.

  • Acids attack enamel.

The sticky nature of plaque keeps these acids in contact with tooth enamel, where, over time, acids dissolve minerals in enamel, weakening the mineral structure of the tooth.

How does plaque cause gum disease?

  • Bacteria cause inflammation and gingivitis.

The bacteria in plaque irritate the delicate tissue of the gums, which causes an inflammation response which can leave your gums swollen, red, bleeding, or tender. This early form of gum disease is gingivitis. Fortunately, good dental care and careful brushing and flossing can usually prevent and even eliminate gingivitis.

  • Plaque and tartar can lead to periodontitis.

When plaque and tartar build up around and below the gumline, the gums pull away from the teeth, leaving pockets where bacteria collect, leading to infection as well as inflammation. Infections and constant inflammation not only harm gum tissue, they can destroy the bone supporting the teeth. This serious gum condition is periodontitis, and should be treated immediately to avoid further infection and even tooth loss.

How does plaque affect orthodontic patients?

  • Plaque collects around your braces.

Braces provide plenty of spots for plaque to hide from your brush. If you aren’t extremely diligent with your brushing and flossing, plaque collects near brackets, wires, and bands—all those spots that a brush and floss find difficult to reach.

  • Plaque promotes demineralization

The demineralization process we mentioned above can cause white spots on teeth (decalcification), where minerals have dissolved. Sometimes these spots can be treated, and sometimes they are permanent. They can become quite sensitive, and may lead to cavities.

Careful brushing and flossing around your braces will help eliminate the plaque that can cause demineralization near brackets. Ask Dr. Paul Gates about the tools and the brushing and flossing techniques which will give you the best results.

How do we fight plaque?

From the time you were small, you’ve learned how to fight plaque:

  • Brush at least twice a day for two minutes, and be sure to brush all of your tooth surfaces and around the gumline.
  • Floss to remove plaque from between the teeth and near the gumline.
  • See your dentist as recommended for a thorough professional cleaning.

Be proactive. If you have any questions, talk to us at our Round Rock, TX office about the best way to keep plaque at bay. We can show you the most effective ways to brush and floss, recommend anti-plaque toothpastes and rinses, even suggest plaque-revealing tablets if you’re missing some trouble spots.

We’ve only brushed up on some plaque basics, because there is a lot more to discover about this complex biofilm. Happily, even with all there is to learn about plaque’s growth and development, it’s reassuring to know that getting rid of it is quite simple—with just a soft-bristled brush, some dental floss, and a few minutes of your time each day, you’re on the way to a healthy, happy, plaque-free smile.

Will my child benefit from early orthodontic treatment?

November 1st, 2023

According to the American Association of Orthodontists, orthodontic treatment for children should start at around age seven. Dr. Paul Gates can evaluate your child’s orthodontic needs early on to see if orthodontic treatment is recommended for your son or daughter.

Below, we answer common questions parents may have about the benefits of early childhood orthodontics.

What does early orthodontic treatment mean?

Early orthodontic treatment usually begins when a child is eight or nine years old. Typically known as Phase One, the goal here is to correct bite problems such as an underbite, as well as guide the jaw’s growth pattern. This phase also helps make room in the mouth for teeth to grow properly, with the aim of preventing teeth crowding and extractions later on.

Does your child need early orthodontic treatment?

The characteristics and behavior below can help determine whether your little one needs early treatment.

  • Early loss of baby teeth (before age five)
  • Late loss of baby teeth (after age five or six)
  • The child’s teeth do not meet properly or at all
  • The child is a mouth breather
  • Front teeth are crowded (you won’t see this until the child is about seven or eight)
  • Protruding teeth, typically in the front
  • Biting or chewing difficulties
  • A speech impediment
  • The jaw shifts when the child opens or closes the mouth
  • The child is older than five years and still sucks a thumb

What are the benefits of seeking orthodontic treatment early?

Jaw bones do not harden until children reach their late teens. Because children’s bones are still pliable, corrective procedures such as braces are easier and often faster than they would be for adults.

Early treatment at our Round Rock, TX office can enable your child to avoid lengthy procedures, extraction, and surgery in adulthood. Talk with Dr. Paul Gates today to see if your child should receive early orthodontic treatment.

The Intriguing History of Halloween

October 26th, 2023

Halloween is fast approaching, and Dr. Paul Gates wanted to be sure to wish our patients a happy day, no matter how you might celebrate this holiday. The Halloween that is familiar to most people today bears little resemblance to the original Halloween; back in the "old days" it wasn't even called Halloween!

Festival of the Dead

Halloween started out as a Celtic festival of the dead that honored departed loved ones and signified a change in the cycle of the seasons. The Celtic people viewed Halloween, then called "Samhain," as a very special day – almost like our New Years day in fact, as their new calendar year began on November 1st. Samhain was the last day of autumn, so it was the time to harvest the last of the season's crops, store food away for winter, and situate livestock comfortably for the upcoming cold weather. The Celts believed that during this day, the last day of winter, the veil between this world and the spirit world is the thinnest, and that the living could communicate with departed loved ones most effectively on Samhain due to this.

Modern Halloween

Halloween as we know it today started because Christian missionaries were working to convert the Celtic people to Christianity. The Celts believed in religious concepts that were not supported by the Christian church, and these practices, which stemmed from Druidism, were perceived by the Christian church as being "devil worship" and dangerous.

When Pope Gregory the First instructed his missionaries to work at converting the Pagan people, he told them to try to incorporate some of the Pagan practices into Christian practices in a limited way. This meant that November 1st became "All Saints Day," which allowed Pagan people to still celebrate a beloved holiday without violating Christian beliefs.

Today, Halloween has evolved into a day devoted purely to fun, candy, and kids. What a change from its origins! We encourage all of our patients to have fun during the holiday, but be safe with the treats. Consider giving apples or fruit roll-ups to the kids instead of candy that is potentially damaging to the teeth and gums.

Remind kids to limit their candy and brush after eating it! Sweets can cause major tooth decay and aggrivate gum disease, so to avoid extra visits to our Round Rock, TX office, make your Halloween a safe one!

Halloween Fun with Braces

October 26th, 2023

Halloween is a favorite holiday among children due to the festive games, imaginative costumes, and candy. Modern celebrations stem from a combination of traditions from Pagan and Christian traditions throughout the centuries. The original holiday was called Samhain and derived from the ancient Druids of Ireland. In their belief system, November 1st marked the beginning of winter, and Pagans began their Samhain celebrations at sunset on October 31st.

Modern Celebrations of Halloween

Children and adults love dressing up for Halloween, and this tradition comes from the ancient belief in spirits. From sunset on October 31st until sunrise on November 1st, the souls of the dead entered the physical world. Some spirits were benevolent and wanted only to cross over to the afterlife while others harbored malicious intents of revenge and trickery. Pagans wore masks and disguised themselves so that the malevolent souls would mistake them as fellow spirits.

Families left food and ale outside of their doors to appease the spirits. With the rise of Christianity in Europe, the church encouraged its members to offer food and money to beggars. In exchange, the beggars would agree to pray for the family's deceased loved ones. Eventually these traditions led to the development of today's customs where children dressed up and received candy from their neighbors while circling the community.

Teeth-Friendly Treats

With all of the excitement and free candy on Halloween, it is easy to get carried away on a sugar high. Parents warn their children not to eat too many pieces in one night to avoid tummy aches and cavities. Our team at Round Rock Orthodontics especially wants to remind children with braces to be extra cautious about the treats they eat because some varieties can get stuck in between the brackets and damage the devices. Sticky candy, such as caramels, fruit chews, and gum should be avoided when wearing braces. Children can trade with their friends and siblings to get only safe candies. The following list offers some alternative treats that children with braces can safely enjoy.

  • Solid chocolate, including milk, white, or dark
  • Nougat-filled candy bars, such as Three Musketeers
  • Candy-coated chocolates like M&Ms
  • Powdery candy, such as Sweet Tarts or Pixie Stix
  • Mint-flavored candy
  • Malted milk balls
  • Cookies
  • Peanut butter crackers or cookies

When in doubt, children should ask their parents or Dr. Paul Gates if a specific candy is safe. Halloween is a fun holiday for children, and having braces does not have to take away any of the excitement from tasty treats.

Courting Disaster

October 18th, 2023

When we think of sports and dental damage, we naturally think of hockey and football. But when it comes to the actual number of dental injuries suffered each year, vying for top seed is the game of basketball.

How is this possible? After all, football and hockey are categorized as “collision sports”! But along with the helmets, shin guards, and padding, these teams quite often require mouthguards—and this makes all the difference. Studies have shown that an increase in the number of players wearing mouthguards means a decrease in the number of oral traumas.

And while basketball isn’t considered a collision sport, it is a contact sport. Basketball is a combination of running, jumping, hard surfaces, and solid bodies. And elbows. We can’t forget elbows. So a broken or even a knocked out tooth isn’t, unfortunately, all that unusual when bodies in motion meet hard surfaces—or other players. But there are other dental dangers as well. Besides tooth injuries, oral injuries can involve:

  • The ligaments and bone structures holding teeth in place
  • Bones in the upper and lower jaw
  • Delicate gum, tongue, and mouth tissue.

You need a solid defensive strategy to reduce the severity of oral injuries or to prevent them from happening altogether, especially when you wear braces. The best play in your playbook? Wearing a mouthguard!

Choosing the right guard is key. There are three common options, and you can choose the model which works best for you:

  • Stock guards, which are ready-made guards in pre-formed shapes and sizes. You can buy them over the counter in drug stores and sporting goods stores. Because these guards aren’t shaped to fit your teeth and mouth specifically, they can be less protective (and harder to speak around).
  • “Boil-and-bite” guards can also be purchased, and can provide a closer fit. After warming the guard in hot water as directed, you place it in your mouth and bite down firmly to mold it to your teeth.
  • Dr. Paul Gates can make you a mouthguard that is designed and crafted specifically for your use. Because this guard is custom-fitted, it provides better protection for your teeth and mouth. Patients often find custom guards much more comfortable and more durable as well.

Mouthguards are most effective when you wear them on the court and care for them off the court. This means avoiding a few flagrant fouls.

  • Dirty play

All those moist nooks and crannies inside your mouthguard are a perfect environment for bacteria, mold, and plaque buildup. You should clean your mouthguard carefully every time you wear it, and let it air dry before popping it back in the case. Ask Dr. Paul Gates for advice on getting your guard and its case their cleanest.

  • Failure to sub out in a timely fashion

Mouthguards don’t work if they’re damaged. If you notice any warping, breakage, or jagged or sharp edges, contact our Round Rock, TX office for a replacement. If a guard doesn’t fit you properly, it doesn’t protect you, and sharp edges can irritate or injure delicate mouth tissue.

  • Unnecessary roughness

Your mouthguard protects you, so don’t forget to protect it! Keep your guard in its case when you’re not wearing it to save it from dirt, damage, and disappearance.

If you know your basketball, you know your guard game can make all the difference. Even though a mouthguard might not be mandatory on your team, that doesn’t mean it’s not essential. Remember that basketball is a contact sport, and protect your teeth, your mouth, and your braces with a mouthguard whenever you play.

Braces-Friendly Recipe: Lunch

October 18th, 2023

Getting braces comes with a lot of rules. No sticky candies, watch out for popcorn, and steer clear of chips. These rules leave many braces-wearers wondering what they can still eat without hurting their teeth or their expensive orthodontic appliances. Fortunately, constructing a braces-friendly lunch is straightforward once you know which foods to avoid.

Foods to Avoid When Wearing Braces

There are a few food categories to avoid when you have braces. Sticky foods also stick to the metal in your braces, and can potentially break wires or individual braces. For example: bubblegum, candy bars, caramel, licorice, fruit roll-ups, and Starbursts should be avoided. Many of these foods also contain high levels of sugar, which can cause plaque build-up if not brushed away properly.

Also, be wary of hard foods that can harm your orthodontic appliances. Avoid eating hard taco shells, chips, Rice Crispy treats, hard candy, beef jerky, and popcorn. Some healthy foods, such as carrots, apples, corn on the cob, and nuts, are hard on braces. To eat these foods safely, cut them into smaller pieces before eating.

Remember that certain habits may be harmful to your braces. For example, crunching on ice cubes may be a reflexive response when you’re enjoying a cold beverage, but this can significantly harm your braces and extend treatment time. To stay on the safe side, Dr. Paul Gates and our team at Round Rock Orthodontics recommend you drink beverages without ice or add crushed ice whenever possible.

Lunch Recipe

Even with braces, it’s easy to enjoy a healthy, nutritious lunch. For example, make a panini on whole wheat bread with slices of turkey deli meat, a piece of Swiss cheese, and tomato slices. Spread 1 tbsp. of mustard or mayonnaise on the bread before toasting the sandwich in a panini grill. Serve the panini with ½ c. low-fat cottage cheese and a sliced pear or apple for a balanced meal. Then grab a pudding cup or some JELLO for dessert. Wash it all down with water containing a lemon wedge or all-natural fruit juice. Make sure to brush your teeth or rinse with mouthwash after lunch to wash away sugars and food residue that can get trapped in braces and cause decay.

If you have any questions about what you can and can’t eat with braces during your treatment at Round Rock Orthodontics, be sure to ask our team during your next appointment at our Round Rock, TX office!

Positioned for Success

October 11th, 2023

As you near the end of your orthodontic treatment, you’re probably already imagining the day when your brackets and wires finally come off. Or the moment you’ve finished with your last set of aligners. That day might come just a bit sooner if Dr. Paul Gates and our team recommend a positioner.

While not as well-known as other orthodontic treatments, a positioner is an appliance that can shorten your time in traditional braces and aligners by weeks or even months. Curious? Read on!

  • What Exactly Is a Positioner?

A positioner resembles a clear mouthguard. Its arched shape is designed to fit snugly over your teeth. It’s sometimes called a finishing appliance, because it’s designed to make those last small adjustments to your alignment and bite. If you’re a good candidate for a positioner, it can replace your braces or aligners for your last several weeks or months of treatment.

  • How Are Positioners Made?

This appliance is custom fabricated to fit your very specific orthodontic needs. Commonly, a mold is made of your teeth. A model of your teeth is made from this mold. Precision instruments are used to move the model teeth into your ideal alignment.

Once this model of your future finished smile is complete, it is used to create the positioner. When the thermoplastic material is molded to the model, it creates an appliance with an indentation for each individual tooth in its desired final location.

Available in a variety of materials, a positioner is most often designed as a clear single piece, covering both your upper and lower teeth. This makes sure that your teeth are not only aligned properly, but that your upper and lower teeth are working together for a healthy bite. Openings in the positioner provide airways which allow you to breathe easily.

  • How Do Positioners Work?

Because your teeth haven’t settled firmly into place yet (this will happen as you wear your retainer), they’re still able to move. That’s why your positioner is shaped to fit your teeth in their future ideal placement, not where they are at present.

Positioners require your active participation. Your teeth move to the ideal spots molded into the positioner through “exercise”—biting down on your appliance for 15-20 seconds before relaxing your bite, usually every 10-15 minutes during your daily wear. The gentle force provided by your jaw muscles helps guide your teeth into position more quickly. Dr. Paul Gates will give you instructions on just how to—and how often to—do these exercises.

  • How Long Are They Worn?

Positioners are commonly worn at least four hours a day to start with and all night long, or Dr. Paul Gates might recommend 24 hour a day wear for the first week. As you progress, you’ll wear them for shorter periods during the day, gradually tapering off until your treatment is complete.

Depending on the amount of correction that’s still needed, positioner use ranges from several weeks to several months. One thing that will ensure that your time in a positioner is as short as it can be is your willingness to follow our instructions. The speed and effectiveness of your final tooth movements is largely up to you!

  • Caring for a Positioner

Gentle treatment is best. Clean your positioner before and after wearing it using a toothbrush and mild toothpaste. Never boil it or expose it to heat. We will give you instructions for how to clean it more thoroughly, if needed.

Like retainers, clear aligners, and mouthguards, a positioner needs to be protected when it’s not in your mouth. Your positioner will come with a case, so be sure to use it!

Positioners aren’t recommended for every orthodontic patient. But if you feel this might be an option worth pursuing, talk to us when you visit our Round Rock, TX office. A positioner could be an effective, time-saving step on your path to a lifetime of healthy smiles.

What makes teeth crooked?

October 11th, 2023

Dr. Paul Gates and our team hear this question a lot. Some of the common reasons for crooked teeth include:

  • Thumb sucking
  • Tongue thrusting or improper use of the tongue during speaking and swallowing
  • Premature loss of baby teeth, which causes teeth to drift and shift
  • Poor breathing airway caused by enlarged adenoids or tonsils

There are also hereditary factors we get from our parents, like:

  • Extra teeth
  • Large teeth
  • Missing teeth
  • Wide spaces between teeth
  • Small jaws

Dr. Paul Gates and our team know that having crooked teeth isn’t just a cosmetic issue; it can lead to serious health problems as well. Crooked teeth can:

  • Interfere with proper chewing
  • Make keeping teeth clean more of a challenge, increasing the risk of tooth decay, cavities, and gingivitis
  • Strain the teeth, jaws, and muscles, increasing the risk of breaking a tooth

There are several treatment options we offer at Round Rock Orthodontics that can help correct crooked teeth. Please give us a call at our convenient Round Rock, TX office to learn more or to schedule an initial consultation.

Fall Holiday Guide for Braces

October 4th, 2023

If this is your child’s first holiday season with braces, here are some tips on how to help children get the most enjoyment from these celebrations without compromising their braces or leaving them feeling left out of the festivities.

Halloween

When you think dental health, “Halloween” is not usually the first thing that comes to mind. Halloween can be tricky, but with some planning and intervention, you can make sure your child doesn’t miss out on the treats that make the holiday a favorite.

Braces present other challenges besides dealing with the scary amount of sugar in every trick-or-treat bag. Certain treats can be a challenge to clean from braces, and can even cause broken brackets and wires. How to avoid these frightful results?

  • Go through your child’s treat bag when you get home after neighborhood trick-or-treating. Anything which can damage braces, such as regular gum, candy with nuts or caramel, or hard or chewy candies should be discarded. Perhaps you and your child can choose a selection of soft candy such as plain chocolate and peanut butter cups to trade for those tricky treats. Your child’s favorite soft fruits, cupcakes, and cookies could also be safe substitutes.
  • Party time? Candy apples, bowls of candy corn, and popcorn balls are favorite treats at Halloween parties, but very bad for braces. Help your child recognize what should be avoided before attending, and suggest safe options like soft cupcakes.
  • Finally, even safe treats will leave more sugar than normal in your child’s mouth and therefore more potential for plaque build-up. Brush and floss more often, if needed, and rinse regularly with water.

Talk candy guidelines over in advance with your child. If you’d like, Dr. Paul Gates can recommend safe alternatives. With your help, Halloween won’t be a fearsome experience for you or your trick-or-treater.

Thanksgiving

Now, this is a holiday to be thankful for! Almost all of your traditional favorites are perfect for family members with braces.

  • Appetizers: Offer soft food options such as silky cheeses and deviled eggs instead of crunchy vegetables, chips, and nuts.
  • Dinner: Turkey is a required dish on many tables, and no need to miss out! Just make sure pieces are bite-size and off the bone. Creamy mashed potatoes and gravy and jellied cranberry sauce are also braces-friendly traditions. Any cooked vegetable should be fine, but do cut the corn from the cob first. Dressing is a great side dish if your child avoids any crunchy tops and edges, as are soft, nut-free rolls and muffins.
  • Dessert: Pumpkin pie, cheesecake, and apple pie with ice cream are all safe (and delicious) choices. Leave the pecan pie, caramel sauce, and anything nutty or chewy off your child’s menu. And remember to brush and floss carefully after the feast!

If you are concerned that following the usual food guidelines might be a little more difficult during this time of year, talk to us. Dr. Paul Gates and our team are happy to suggest ways to make your child’s first holidays with braces memorable for all the right reasons. The last thing you’ll want is an emergency visit to our Round Rock, TX office!

Year-End Insurance Reminder

October 4th, 2023

Now that October is upon us, Dr. Paul Gates and our team at Round Rock Orthodontics wanted to send you a friendly reminder to schedule your orthodontic appointment prior to the end of the year to take full advantage of any flex spend, health savings, or insurance benefits that you may have.

The end of the year is always a busy time so make your appointment now so you don’t lose your available benefits! Give us a call today!

Help! My gums hurt when I floss!

September 27th, 2023

By no stretch is it rare for your gums to hurt during and after flossing. Even some bleeding is to be expected. This is especially true if you have not flossed in a long time. However, if your gums do indeed hurt when you floss, and unbearably so, there are some things you can do.

Be Gentle

Perhaps the most obvious way to combat gum soreness and bleeding is to be gentle. One of the most common occurrences of these gum problems is over-aggressive flossing. In other words, if you are too rough on your gums while flossing, either because you are out of practice or because you are in a hurry, soreness and hurting is to be expected. Instead, try taking your time and be gentle. Also, if you are just starting out, be patient and consistent, your gums will become more conditioned over time.

Use an Alternative Method

If being consistent and gentle does not work, there are other alternative methods of flossing that you can try. You can also try a water floss machine, or what is sometimes called a water pick. The device essentially shoots water into the crevasses between your teeth, and in other areas of your mouth, in order to dislodge food and plaque. These oral instruments also come with different attachments that allow you to reach many of the hard to see and reach areas of your mouth. And lastly, you can always buy floss that is not as abrasive to your gums. There is floss that comes with soft and gentle coatings that will do less harm to your gums while they are adjusting to the good oral hygiene habit you are creating.

Flossing is one of the easiest parts of oral hygiene to overlook. When you first start out, it is common that you may want to stop because of the pain it can initially cause. However, if you try one, or all, of the above mentioned methods, you will give yourself the best chance of being success with your flossing, and it won't hurt as much.

For more flossing tips, schedule an appointment at our Round Rock, TX office and askDr. Paul Gates or a member of our team!

Tips for Handling and Avoiding Orthodontic Emergencies

September 27th, 2023

The best way to avoid orthodontic emergencies is to know how to take care of your braces properly throughout your entire treatment. However, emergencies are … well, emergencies, and sometimes no matter how cautious you are or how well you take care of your braces, the wires loosen, the bands pop, or you experience orthodontic discomfort.

Common orthodontic emergencies include broken braces, poking wires, lost or broken retainers, mouth sores, and mouth injuries sustained playing sports, which often happens when you don’t wear a mouthguard to protect your teeth and appliance.

Food

It’s important to avoid foods that can damage your braces. Most people wear braces for about two years. All chewy, sticky, crunchy, and hard foods should be avoided during that time. While this may seem like a long time to go without popcorn or bubble gum, hard foods can break the brackets of your braces and sticky foods can bend the wires. If you have a loose wire, don’t try to fix it yourself. Call Round Rock Orthodontics. In the meantime, if a wire is poking into your cheek or lip and causing irritation, put wax or a wet cotton ball over it to dull the sharp edge.

Pain and Discomfort

Some discomfort is a normal part of orthodontic treatment, especially in the hours after the braces are placed on your teeth or after a recent tightening or adjustment. However, if the pain doesn’t subside in three to five days, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment at Round Rock Orthodontics. Until then, try dissolving a teaspoon of salt in an eight-ounce glass of water and gargling with the solution. Over-the-counter pain medication will relieve discomfort, too.

Playing Sports

Just because you wear braces doesn’t mean you can’t play sports. You just need to take some extra precautions. Sports-related injuries to the mouth and jaw are common. The best way to protect your mouth and your appliance is to wear a mouthguard. There are several different types of mouthguards available, so be sure to ask Dr. Paul Gates what’s best for you.

Brushing and Flossing

In order to keep your braces in good condition and avoid orthodontic emergencies, it’s important to brush and floss thoroughly after every meal. It’s easy for small particles of food to get trapped in your braces, and if the food isn’t removed, it gets wedged between the teeth and gums and causes plaque.

Need more tips on how to avoid orthodontic emergencies? Just ask any member of our Round Rock, TX team.

Braces-Friendly Recipe: Breakfast

September 20th, 2023

Kids can be picky eaters. How many times have you seen your child try to hide the peas under a mound of mashed potatoes?

At Round Rock Orthodontics, Dr. Paul Gates and our team understand how hard it can be to get your child to eat the recommended daily allowance of fruits and vegetables. The task of providing fun, nutritious meals becomes even more challenging if he or she wears braces. It's an age-old saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. These five braces-friendly recipes are not only nutritious, but they will have little Jimmy flashing his “tin grin” when he sits down at the kitchen table in the morning.

  1. Scrambled eggs are soft and easy to eat if you have braces. If you drown them in ketchup (which many kids love to do), eggs become even mushier. Minimal chewing is required, and that’s the key to a braces-friendly recipe.
  2. A healthy breakfast provides energy and jump-starts metabolism. A smoothie is not only a good source of fruit, but it’s also gentle on braces. More importantly, smoothies are fun to create. You can toss anything in the blender (bananas, mangoes, strawberries, spinach) and create a drink that’s loaded with vitamins and antioxidants.
  3. If you wear braces, eating crunchy cereals or granola for breakfast is out of the question: Bite down the wrong way and you might snap the wires or dislodge the brackets. However, you can get your grains and oats by substituting oatmeal for cereal. This mushy breakfast treat has a host of health benefits.
  4. Pancakes are not the healthiest breakfast choice. Still, this Sunday morning favorite is braces-friendly. The idea is to make it healthier by hiding blueberries in the pancake batter just like your child hides peas in the mashed potatoes.
  5. Toast with jam is ok, but skip slathering peanut butter on the bread. If you have braces, the general rule of thumb is to steer clear of foods that are hard or chewy. These types of foods can break wires. Of course, most kids will agree that toast isn’t the most exciting breakfast recipe. Make it a Pop-Tart instead!

For more braces-friendly recipes, please give us a call at our convenient Round Rock, TX office!

Orthodontic Emergency Care

September 20th, 2023

Although major orthodontic emergencies are relatively rare, when they do happen it is important to seek immediate attention. By comparison, a minor orthodontic issue is something you can usually take care of yourself, or wait until your next scheduled appointment for care. Here are some guidelines to help you understand the difference between an orthodontic emergency and a minor issue.

Orthodontic Emergencies

Acute, Direct Injury to the Mouth, Jaw, or Teeth

Whether undergoing orthodontic care or not, if you injure your mouth, jaw, or teeth, you should see a doctor or dentist immediately. You may need an X-ray to determine the extent of your injury. If the injury affects the orthodontic appliances, they will need adjustment or possibly replacement, depending upon the extent of the injury.

Infected Teeth

It is possible for teeth to become infected following orthodontic treatment. This may or may not be related to your orthodontic appliances. If you experience pain or swelling around a tooth that gets progressively worse, seek professional care as soon as possible.

Minor Orthodontic Issues

While true orthodontic emergencies are rare, minor issues are much more common. Here are some examples of minor orthodontic issues that can be remedied on your own and/or fixed at your next office visit:

  • Poking wire
  • Loose bracket
  • Loose elastic band
  • Loose wire
  • Loose appliance
  • Headgear does not fit
  • Lost or broken elastic band
  • General soreness

Any of the above issues can happen as a result of normal usage, shifting, and wear of your braces. Eating unusually hard or sticky foods can cause or exacerbate these problems. Vigorous brushing of the teeth can also be a factor. None of these issues are emergencies unless they are accompanied by acute or prolonged pain or discomfort.

As for on-the-spot remedies, covering a loose bracket or wire with wax can be a quick fix to alleviate discomfort until your next orthodontist visit. Poking or protruding wires can be moved with a cotton swab or tweezers, or clipped down with nail clippers. Be sure to sterilize the tweezers or clippers in alcohol first. Cover any clipped wire ends with a small ball of wax.

Some soreness or small abrasions in the mouth are normal, especially with recent orthodontic work. Rinse your mouth with a saltwater solution comprised of eight ounces or warm water and one teaspoon of salt.

When in doubt, be sure to contact our Round Rock, TX office with any questions, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Paul Gates at Round Rock Orthodontics.

New Ligatures? Some Things to Consider When You Choose Your Hues

September 13th, 2023

Colorful elastic ligatures (the official name for those tiny bands around your brackets) are often replaced when you come in to have your braces adjusted. Which is great! Now you have the opportunity to go with your team colors, or your school colors, or tones that work with your skin and eyes, or shades that represent your favorite holiday season. Today’s bands come in a wide variety of colors, so you never need to worry about becoming bored with your choices.

But are there certain hues that can be a bit more challenging to work with. Let’s look at some of those trickier tones.

  • Lunch Look-Alikes

If you don’t want kind friends constantly informing you that you have something stuck in your teeth, you might want to leave certain colors off your list. Dark greens and browns can sometimes give the appearance of food trapped in your braces. Have a look at the shades available, and see what is least likely to send you running for a mirror and a toothbrush.

  • Smile Dimmers

A blazing white band might seem like a good match to your blazing white teeth, but for many people, really light colors can make teeth look more yellow. And often bands in shades of yellow can bring out any yellow in your enamel. If you’re looking for a brighter smile, try some darker, richer tones for a gleaming contrast.

  • You’re So Over the Rainbow

If you are someone who loves a monochromatic look, perhaps any colors will be, well, just too colorful. In that case, there are ligatures for you! Silver or grey braces will blend with your metal brackets, and clear or tooth-colored bands will be less obvious with metal or ceramic brackets. Light colored bands can be more prone to staining, so keep that in mind if you’re going for invisibility or a close bracket match.

Now with all that being said, you be you! If you like a color, give it a go. It might be the perfect accessory for your smile and your personality. And, if it doesn’t work . . . no big deal! You can explore another part of the color palette on your very next adjustment to our Round Rock, TX office.

The Hazards of Smokeless Tobacco

September 13th, 2023

Many smokers believe that chewing tobacco is a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes. This simply isn't the case! In fact, smokeless tobacco can cause serious health concerns.

Smokeless tobacco comes in many forms and goes by many names: dip, snuff, snus, or simply chewing tobacco. Use of these products usually involves sucking or chewing on shredded or loose tobacco leaves, sometimes flavored, for a prolonged period. There are even products that emulate a dissolvable candy-like consistency which are made of compressed tobacco powder.

What are risks and smokeless tobacco?

Whichever form a tobacco product takes, the dangers of using or consuming them is very real. According to a 2007 study by the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer, there are upwards of 28 cancer-causing chemicals in smokeless tobacco that are known to cause cancer. And these products are habit-forming just like any other tobacco product that contains nicotine. Using them will increase your risk for many serious diseases including but not limited to: cancer (especially oral and esophageal), gum and heart disease, cavities, and pre-cancerous mouth lesions.

At the end of the day, long-term use of smokeless tobacco can cause serious health issues. These products really take a toll on both your oral and overall health. They put a strain on your immune system and make it less capable of warding off infection and disease.

Dr. Paul Gates and our team strongly advise you to stop using smokeless tobacco—or any kind of tobacco product—and not to pick up the habit if you aren't. There is no safe level of tobacco use, smokeless or otherwise.

Need to quit smoking or using smokeless tobacco products?

You can and should always talk to your doctor, healthcare practitioner, or Dr. Paul Gates for help quitting. But there are many other resources available today for those who'd like to quit. The National Cancer Institute offers information, support (local and online), and tools to help smokers and smokeless tobacco users quit. They offer live online chat with cessation counselors Monday through Friday and even have a smartphone application available to help people who are serious about quitting.

You can take a look at their website at smokefree.gov or call them toll-free at 1–877–44U–QUIT (1-877-448-7848). There is also help available from your state's quit line at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).

Make the best choice for your health and well-being; avoid the bad habit of tobacco products. If you have any questions about how tobacco related products affect your oral health and hygiene, please don't hesitate to ask one of our Round Rock, TX staff members.

Going Back to School with Braces

September 7th, 2023

Going back to school is already an exciting (and sometimes nerve-racking) time so we don't want your braces adding to that. Our Round Rock, TX team has compiled some helpful tips to make the process as easy and fun as possible.

1. Make sure you pack or purchase braces-friendly lunches

Try to avoid overly crunchy foods (think carrots, celery, hard crackers) especially if your teeth are sore from having your braces tightened. But you shouldn't stop eating healthful foods that fall in this category. For instance apples can be sliced into wedges or carrots can be cut into coins.

You should also avoid sticky foods like candy or gum that can and will stick in your braces like glue! Softer foods are easier on your teeth and braces, so aim to make a good portion of your lunch on the softer side.

2. Have a braces kit in your backpack or locker

Having some useful items on hand at school when you need them is one of the most helpful things you can do. Pack some wax for sores or tenderness, floss and/or flossing tools made for braces, a toothbrush and toothpaste, a small cup for rinsing, a small mirror to check for trapped food, and some lip balm if your lips tend to chap. With these tools on hand, you'll avoid most if not all braces-related nuisances!

3. Know that you're not alone

If you're feeling self-conscious about your braces, don't. Be proud of them! There are many other people your age who have braces, and if they don't have them now, they probably will in the future. Relax and know that you're on the path to a straighter and healthier smile.

If you have any questions about making your transition into "braceshood," just ask Dr. Paul Gates or any member of our Round Rock, TX team! We're here to help make your braces experience (and your smile) the best it can be.

September is Self-Improvement Month!

September 6th, 2023

These days, Americans everywhere are putting greater emphasis on health and self-improvement, and more people are seeking orthodontic treatment to improve their smile. September happens to be Self-Improvement Month, and our team at Round Rock Orthodontics knows that orthodontic treatment is an investment in self-improvement that will provide benefits for a lifetime. Recent advances in orthodontia now make treatment more comfortable for many interested in obtaining that beautiful smile.

Not only does orthodontic treatment give you a beautiful smile, it can also benefit your dental and general health. If teeth are poorly aligned, removing plaque and tartar by brushing and flossing may be difficult. A bad bite may result in fractured or excessively worn tooth surfaces, and the extra stress caused by a bad bite may even result in problems with your jaw joints.

If you’ve been thinking about getting that perfect smile, Dr. Paul Gates would love to have you visit for an initial consultation. Please give us a call to schedule a visit! See you soon!

Importance of Oral Hygiene with Braces

August 30th, 2023

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Proper oral hygiene techniques are always worthwhile, but they are especially crucial when you’re wearing orthodontic appliances such as braces. When you don’t maintain an effective oral hygiene routine, you can be more susceptible to gum disease as well as tooth decay, cavities, decalcification, discoloration, and/or staining of the teeth.

Braces themselves don’t cause these issues, but since they create spaces that are difficult to clean, they provide extra sources of food (dental plaque and food debris) for the bacteria that do. Bacteria create a biofilm on the surface of a tooth that can spread if not addressed. That bacteria food can only be removed by a mechanical action: brushing and flossing your teeth!

Here’s a list of smart hygiene steps to follow for the duration of your braces treatment:

Proper tooth brushing technique: Make sure to brush your teeth thoroughly (for a total of about two minutes), but not too hard. Point the head of the toothbrush at the gum line and brush just hard enough so that you feel slight pressure against the gums. Use a soft, small-headed toothbrush or an electric toothbrush if you’d like. Try your best always to clean on and around every tooth, bracket, and wire in your mouth!

Flossing: Braces can make flossing a chore, but it’s an essential adjunct to proper tooth brushing. Make sure to floss between all your teeth and brackets. Dr. Paul Gates can provide you with braces floss threaders and interproximal toothbrushes (small brushes used to clean areas under wires and between brackets) to make the task easier. You might also consider purchasing an oral irrigator that uses a stream of water to blast food particles and debris from between teeth and gums.

Rinse with water: This may sound slight, but it’s a good idea, especially if you aren’t able to brush. Rinsing your mouth with water throughout the day helps to dislodge the decay-causing food particles that become lodged in braces.

Hygiene away from home: It’s a good idea to have a kit with a toothbrush, floss, floss threaders, mirror, and small water cup on hand at school or work. That way, you’ll be sure to have all the tools you need to keep your mouth clean.

Regular professional cleanings: As always, it’s best to visit your dentist regularly to verify everything in your mouth is in order and your oral hygiene routine is effective. Twice a year is sufficient, unless the dentist recommends more frequent visits.

It's vital to keep your teeth and gums clean during your braces treatment, and that requires your care and attention. If feel like you need help with any of the techniques above, a member of our Round Rock, TX team can demonstrate them for you!

The Importance of Orthodontic Treatment at a Young Age

August 30th, 2023

When you think of orthodontic treatment, you may automatically assume that it only relates to older children and teens with alignment and spacing issues. But this isn’t the case: Orthodontic treatment at Round Rock Orthodontics offers many benefits when applied at a young age.

By considering orthodontic treatment at a younger age, Dr. Paul Gates and our staff are able to identify your child’s alignment issues early on, and are able to intervene in order to provide treatment as the teeth begin to develop. It is important to start dental care early, not only for proper dental health and the cosmetic benefits, but to improve a child’s overall health as well.

The Benefits of Straighter Teeth

Besides the cosmetic benefits, there are multiple advantages to starting orthodontic treatment at a young age:

  • It can reduce the extent of orthodontic treatment needed later.
  • With early treatment, the pediatric dentist helps guide the teeth into their right position to prevent the removal of teeth and improve an overbite, underbite, or crossbite.
  • Straighter teeth are easier to clean and better for preventing tooth decay.
  • As a benefit to you, the parent, your child’s orthodontic expenses will be much lower with early treatment.
  • Lastly, much early treatment is covered by dental insurance.

Stages of Orthodontic Treatment

Multiple stages are included in early orthodontic treatment, with three stages in all:

The first stage is early treatment that starts around age two or three, and continues until the child is around six years old. This stage deals with preventive measures, such as avoiding bad habits that lead to crooked teeth and creating a plan for the future based on how the teeth are growing in.

During stage two, when the child is six to 12 years old, the first permanent teeth erupt and the dentist looks at possible early treatment for misalignment or bite issues.

Finally, stage three occurs during adolescence to correct any further problems with permanent teeth.

Dr. Paul Gates and our staff are able to see how the teeth first erupt and know right away whether or not your child will need to have braces later on. Early treatment means fewer procedures, cleaner teeth, and less expense.

Flossing Fact or Flossing Fiction?

August 24th, 2023

Somewhere in a bathroom drawer or medicine cabinet, we all have one—that little plastic dental floss dispenser. And whether you use your floss every day (yay!), or have completely forgotten it was in there (not so good), just how much do you know about that sturdy string? Let’s find out!

  • Flossing has been around for hundreds of years.

FACT: It’s been just over two hundred years since Dr. Levi Spear Parmly, a dentist in New Orleans, suggested his patients use waxed silk thread to clean between their teeth. This is considered the first “official” invention of dental floss, although using some form of tool to get rid of food particles between the teeth has been around since prehistoric times.

  • Brushing well is the same as flossing.

FICTION: It’s really not. While brushing does a great job of cleaning food particles, plaque, and bacteria from your enamel, there are some places those bristles can’t… quite… reach. Floss was designed to clean plaque and food from between the teeth and close to the gum line where your brush doesn’t fit.

  • There’s more than one way to clean between your teeth.

FACT: Indeed there is! Not only are there many varieties of dental floss (waxed, flavored, round, flat, thick, thin, in a dispenser, attached to miniature floss wands), but you have alternatives if using any kind of floss is difficult for you. Water-flossers direct a pulsing stream of water between and around the teeth and gum line to remove food particles and plaque. Another useful alternative is the interproximal brush, a tiny little cone-shaped brush designed to remove food and plaque from those hard-to-reach spots.

  • It’s impossible to floss with braces.

FICTION: Untrue—but it can be more challenging! That’s why there are any number of flossing products designed to work with and around your braces. Stiff strands of floss which work like dental picks, floss threaders, water flossers, and interproximal/interdental brushes can both clean between your teeth and remove food particles and plaque where they collect around your braces. Dr. Paul Gates can suggest some great options to work with your individual orthodontic treatment.

  • Flossing helps prevent gum disease.

FACT: Scientific studies haven’t provided definitive answers. But dental and periodontal associations strongly recommend daily flossing as one of the most important things you can do to prevent gum disease. Gingivitis, or mild gum disease, is caused by irritated, inflamed gum tissue. Gum tissue becomes irritated and inflamed as a response to the bacteria, plaque, and tartar that stick to your teeth. Anything you can do to help remove these irritants will reduce your risk of gum disease.

  • Flossing helps prevent cavities.

FACT: Dentists strongly recommend daily flossing to remove the food particles and plaque that lead to cavities. Brushing removes cavity-causing plaque from the outer surfaces of your teeth. But there’s a lot of enamel between your teeth as well. Flossing removes plaque from these hidden spots, helping to prevent interproximal (“between the teeth”) cavities from forming.

  • Bleeding when you floss is normal.

FICTION: Bleeding isn’t a typical reaction to flossing. Bleeding gums could be an early sign of gum disease caused by plaque and tartar buildup. On the other hand, if you floss too hard, or go too deeply below the gum line, you can make delicate gum tissue bleed. Ask Dr. Paul Gates for tips on perfect flossing technique.

  • You need to floss after every meal.

FICTION: Dental professionals generally recommend brushing twice a day and flossing at least once each day. But this suggestion comes with some exceptions. Since you have braces, Dr. Paul Gates might recommend flossing whenever you have a meal or snack.

  • Your dentist will never know that you haven’t been flossing.

FICTION: Nope. Sure, you can miss flossing a few times and catch up before your appointment at our Round Rock, TX office. But built-up plaque between the teeth, red, swollen, or bleeding gums, and gingivitis and interproximal cavities let both you and your dentist know that you’ve been neglecting good dental habits.

  • It’s never too late to start flossing!

FACT: Flossing is a simple, quick, and inexpensive way to maintain tooth and gum health. If you haven’t had much luck flossing in the past, ask Dr. Paul Gates for flossing tools and techniques that will work for your specific needs. Start now, and see what a difference it will make at your next checkup!

If you had all these flossing facts at your fingertips, congratulations! But if you didn’t, no need to worry, because the real test of your knowledge is in its application. Flossing properly at least once each day will give you something far more rewarding than blog-quiz kudos—you’ll see that regular flossing rewarded with healthier teeth and gums!

Eating with Braces: Braces-friendly snack recipe

August 23rd, 2023

At Round Rock Orthodontics, Dr. Paul Gates and our staff know that eating with braces can be tricky. You want to avoid damaging the bands, brackets, and wires, since any damage can delay the progress of your treatment. After adjustments, your mouth may also feel sore, which will make eating more of a chore than a pleasure.

The good news is you do not have to avoid all of your favorite foods; there are ways you can still enjoy them. Try some of these ideas and recipes for great snacks that are friendly to your braces.

Fruits and Vegetables

You still need to eat fruits and vegetable for the healthy nutrients. The trick is to cut harder items into small pieces that you can chew easily with your back teeth. Canned fruits are also a great choice, but select fruits packed in water to avoid the heavy, sugary syrups. It’s a good idea to avoid excess sugar with braces, since sugar build-up around your braces can lead to plaque formation.

Single-serving packages are available to make your snack portable and convenient. Enjoy vegetables with a small amount of a healthy dip. Hummus or yogurt can be used for flavor without adding unnecessary fat or calories.

Banana and Honey Smoothie

Smoothies are a healthy treat, and you can create these drinks with your favorite ingredients. You can use a variety of yogurt types for your smoothie: regular, low or non-fat, and Greek are all great choices.  Here’s one of our favorite smoothie recipes:

  • 6 ounces of your choice of yogurt
  • 1 or 2 teaspoons of honey
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 6 ounces milk

Chop the banana into smaller pieces and put all your ingredients into a blender. Blend on low until everything is mixed and then blend on high for about 20 seconds to make your smoothie fluffy.

The great thing about this recipe is that you can substitute just about any small or cut-up fruit for the banana. Try blackberries, raspberries, or peaches for variety. Try to avoid fruits with small seeds; strawberries can leave bits stuck in your braces. You can even make a smoothie with peanut butter and jelly!

Please ask our team if you have any concerns regarding the foods you can safely eat while wearing braces.

Working Behind the Scenes—Lingual Braces

August 16th, 2023

There are many great reasons to see an orthodontist. For a healthier bite. For straighter teeth. For a more confident smile. So why are you hesitating? If the visibility of traditional braces is what’s holding you back, ask Dr. Paul Gates about lingual braces.

With regular braces, brackets are bonded to the front of each tooth with a special adhesive. Ligatures around each bracket or bracket clips grip an archwire, which does the work of moving the teeth. The gentle pressure from the wire guides the teeth into alignment in gradual stages. Every adjustment moves the teeth to their perfect positions. These braces are quite effective—and they are usually quite visible.

Lingual braces, on the other hand, are virtually invisible. Lingual means “toward the tongue,” and this placement is the difference between lingual braces and more traditional types of orthodontic braces.

Lingual braces are custom designed to be applied to the inside of your teeth. Specially designed brackets are attached to the backs of the teeth. Individually crafted archwires are used to guide your teeth to their best alignment.

Lingual braces can be the solution to many orthodontic concerns:

  • If you need or want invisible braces for personal or professional reasons, lingual braces are a great option. Because they are behind your teeth, they are even less noticeable than clear aligners—and you don’t need to keep track of your hours wearing them.
  • Lingual braces keep the front of your teeth braces-free for playing a brass or reed instrument, or for participating in sports. (Just remember, a mouthguard is always a good idea for athletic activities, and especially when you wear braces.)
  • Both brackets and wires can be customized to fit your teeth perfectly, and new lingual brackets and wires are more comfortable than ever.

You might be a good candidate for lingual braces if:

  • You have a large enough tooth surface to place a bracket. Adults with small teeth—or children—might not be have enough room on the back of each tooth to hold a bracket.
  • You don’t have a major malocclusion (bite problem) which would make lingual braces impractical. A deep overbite, for example, could cause the wires and brackets behind the upper teeth to come loose or detach as they come in contact with lower teeth.
  • You are dedicated to keeping up with your oral hygiene. Because wires and brackets are behind the teeth, it can be harder to keep them free from food particles and plaque.

Finally, even if lingual braces aren’t the perfect match for your orthodontic needs, there are other options that can work for you. Smaller metal brackets, ceramic brackets that blend in with your enamel, and clear aligners mean today’s orthodontic work is more subtle and discreet than ever before.

For a healthier bite, for straighter teeth, for a more confident smile—don’t hesitate. Contact our Round Rock, TX office to discuss the many great options you have available to give you the smile you’ve always wanted—front and center.

What Are Adjustments?

August 16th, 2023

If you’ve just gotten braces at our Round Rock, TX office, you’ve probably also learned a whole new vocabulary. Malocclusion, brackets, archwires, ligatures, elastics—you’ve got the definitions down. But now you’re scheduled for an “adjustment.” What exactly does that mean?

Why Do I Need an Adjustment?

After all, you’ve just gotten braces! But the fact is, moving your teeth to their ideal location is a process that involves many steps. The brackets and wires you have today are only a starting point. Wires, and rubber bands if you need them, put gentle pressure on the teeth, gradually moving them into a better position. Every time we see you, we check the progress you’ve made and adjust your braces to move the teeth into even better alignment. It’s a careful process to make sure your teeth and jaws fit together perfectly for straight teeth and a healthy bite.

What Will Happen at an Adjustment?

Because your braces are made specifically for you, there is no one answer for everyone or even every appointment. Usually, your ligatures (the colorful bands around your brackets) will be removed, and often the orthodontic wire that is attached to your brackets will be removed as well. We’ll check to make sure you are brushing and flossing properly around your wires and brackets, and check on the condition of your braces.

Your wire might be adjusted, or bent, or tightened, or replaced all together. In the beginning, the wire will probably be more flexible. Later in your treatment, you might get a thicker, firmer wire to move your teeth more effectively, or we might bend a wire to move specific teeth.

If you need rubber bands to make sure your bite is in alignment, we’ll show you how to attach and take care of those. We’ll also look for other adjustments that might need to be made to your brackets. If you have any concerns about brackets, wires, or any other part of your braces, let Dr. Paul Gates know! And once we’re done adjusting your braces, this is your chance to change the color of your ligatures for a new look.

Will It Hurt?

You might suffer some discomfort in the hours after an adjustment, so treat yourself gently! Stick to soft foods for a few days, and treat yourself to something cold and soothing like ice cream, yogurt, or a smoothie. Brush gently if your teeth are sensitive. Usually, over-the-counter pain relievers will take care of any soreness. You can even take a pain reliever 30 minutes to an hour before the adjustment if you are expecting some discomfort. We have more great ideas on how to reduce any tenderness you might feel—let us know if we can suggest some.

Within a day or two, you should be back to normal. If you ever suffer serious discomfort, or if the soreness lasts more than a few days, give us a call.

Remember, each adjustment brings you closer to your goal—straight teeth and a healthy bite. And that’s the definition of a beautiful smile!

Wearing Braces? Make Cavities a Remote Possibility

August 9th, 2023

Press Pause

If you are getting braces in the near future, it’s very important to see your regular dentist first. That way, any cavities or other dental problems can be treated before your first orthodontic appointment at our Round Rock, TX office.

Play it Safe

Once you have your braces, you’ll hearing a lot about how you need to be especially careful with your dental hygiene. Why? Because wires and brackets are obstacles to getting your teeth and gum area their cleanest. Plaque and food particles tend to stick to braces, and all too often can be missed while brushing. Plaque builds up around your gum line and brackets, and, in a very short time, can lead to sensitivity, demineralization, and cavities.

What can you do to prevent tooth decay?

  • Increase Your Brushing Time

Instead of brushing twice a day, start brushing for two minutes after every meal. Put together a travel bag with a small toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and interproximal brushes to clean your teeth when you’re on the go. If you absolutely can’t brush, rinse carefully with water, and then brush as soon as you can.

  • Flossing—More Important than Ever

Use the flossing tools designed just for braces to make sure you’ve removed food particles and plaque from around your braces and gums. A water flosser can be helpful if manual flossing isn’t effective.

  • Keep Up with Your Regular Dental Care

Schedule regular checkups and professional cleanings at your dentist’s office. They will be able to remove plaque you might miss at home.  

  • Follow Our Advice

We’ll give you instructions on how to brush and floss, what products to use, and diet suggestions (such as keeping sugary and sticky foods off the menu and away from your braces). If we notice plaque building up around your gums and brackets, we’ll let you know that you need to step up your hygiene habits. We can also suggest rinses and toothpastes that help fight plaque.

But if, despite all your efforts, you do get a cavity? There are options!

  • Ignoring Your Cavity?

Not an option. You shouldn’t wait until you are out of braces to get a cavity treated. This just gives decay a chance to spread further.

  • Working With Your Braces

Repairing a cavity means removing the decay in the tooth, cleaning the area, and then filling the tooth. If your cavity isn’t located near your bands, brackets, or wires, your dentist might be able to work around your braces, and you can get your cavity treated during a regular dental appointment.

  • Removing Parts of Your Braces for Treatment

Sometimes a cavity is located in a spot that your dentist can’t reach because of your braces. In that case, we’re able to coordinate with your dentist and remove a wire or bracket temporarily so you can have your tooth filled. Make an appointment to replace your bracket and re-attach your wire, and you’ll be back on schedule as soon as possible.

Fast Forward

Keep your eyes on your goal--you’re in braces because you want a beautiful smile. Keeping on top of your dental health is an essential part of creating that smile. Talk to Dr. Paul Gates about tips for getting your teeth their cleanest. If you do develop a cavity, we’ll help you figure out the best way to treat it without causing too much delay in your orthodontic treatment. Taking care of your teeth now is the best way to create a future of beautiful smiles!

Are you ready for orthodontic treatment?

August 9th, 2023

If you’ve been hiding your smile because you have crooked teeth or gaps between your teeth, it’s time to consider orthodontic treatment with Dr. Paul Gates. Preparing for treatment is an important part of getting the smile you want.

Basic exams

The first step of preparation is the examination. An oral exam and X-rays taken at our office are necessary to identify potential problems and ensure the right steps are taken to prepare for orthodontic treatment at Round Rock Orthodontics.

Dr. Paul Gates will first examine your teeth and take X-rays to determine if it is necessary to extract any teeth or additional work is necessary before braces are possible. You will be prepared for the next step of treatment after your exam is complete and potential problems are identified.

Model for bite

The next step in preparing for orthodontic is taking a plaster model of the mouth. With the model, Dr. Paul Gates will be able to determine how the jaw is aligned so that appropriate adjustments can be made to the mouth and jaw with braces.

Depending on the situation, the model may be used to help evaluate your jaw and make decisions about appropriate treatment for your specific needs. Dr. Paul Gates can create a model of your mouth with the bite indentation that is taken during preparation.

Extracting teeth

If it is determined that a tooth extraction is necessary, then the final step of preparing for orthodontic treatment is the removal of teeth. Only Dr. Paul Gates can determine if it is necessary to remove any teeth before moving forward with the procedure to put on braces.

When your teeth are crooked, have a gap, or otherwise make you unhappy, orthodontic treatment at Round Rock Orthodontics may be an appropriate solution. Although it may take time to prepare for the actual procedure, making the decision to seek treatment can provide the opportunity to show the world a beautiful smile.

For more information about orthodontic treatment and its benefits, or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Paul Gates, please give us a call at our convenient Round Rock, TX office!

Heading Back to School? Save Some Room in Your Backpack!

August 2nd, 2023

If you’re heading back to classes in the next few weeks, you’re probably getting your gear together now. So let’s talk about some of the items you can pack to make orthodontic care easier during school hours.

  • Dental-Healthy Food

Watching what foods you eat is especially important now. If you’re carrying your lunch or snacks in your pack, you want to be sure that they’re approved for braces and aligners.

If you wear braces, avoid foods which are sticky, chewy, or crunchy. They can stick to your teeth (making it easier for cavities to develop) or cause damage to your brackets and wires (making repairs necessary). Your orthodontist will give you a list of braces-friendly foods.

If you have clear aligners, even though you’ll remove them to eat, that sticky rule still applies. You don’t want food trapped in your aligners if you can’t brush right after eating, because that food is also food for the oral bacteria which cause cavities.

Bringing a water bottle with you is a great idea if it’s hard to brush after eating. Rinsing with water is a good way to get rid of loose food particles, and staying hydrated helps maintain normal saliva production—which also helps wash away food debris.

  • Toothbrush, Toothpaste, and Floss

It’s best to clean your teeth after every snack and meal if at all possible. A travel-sized brush, toothpaste, and dental floss or picks designed for braces will help you get rid of any unwanted dental leftovers. And a small mirror can help you discover any lingering food particles.

It’s especially important now to practice careful hygiene, so be sure to wash your hands before and after cleaning your teeth or appliances.

  • Your Aligner or Retainer Case

Whenever you take off your retainer or aligners to eat, you should always have your case handy. Cases make sure your appliances stay off germy desk and table surfaces—or worse, floors—and protect them from breakage. A case is also a good way to make sure your retainer doesn’t accidentally end up in a trash bin after lunch.

Again, before and after you handle your braces, aligners, or retainer, be sure to wash your hands carefully.

  • Dental Wax & Extra Bands

Sometimes a wire comes loose or a bracket irritates the inside of your cheeks or mouth. In this case, dental wax is a great way to protect yourself from irritation and injury. And if a band is lost or breaks, it’s always good to have a spare (or two) handy. As always, handwashing rules apply!

  • Your Mouth Guard

If your afterschool activities involve contact sports, a mouthguard is always a good idea, and especially when you wear braces. Dr. Paul Gates can create a custom guard which will protect your teeth, your delicate mouth tissue, and your braces from many impact injuries.

  • Your Orthodontist’s Phone Number

One important item that takes up almost no space in your backpack, locker, or phone is the phone number for our Round Rock, TX office. If your braces are damaged, or if your aligner or retainer is lost or broken, we will let you know what to do until you can safely visit the office in person.

Talk to our team about how to care for your braces or aligners while you’re at school, and talk to your school about how you can manage your dental care safely during school hours.

Interproximal Cavities: The Inside Story

August 2nd, 2023

Time to brush! So, you make sure you gently brush the plaque off the outside surfaces of your teeth. You want to present a gleaming smile to the world, after all. And you make sure to brush the inside surfaces as well, because who wants to feel a fuzzy patch of plaque every time their tongue hits their teeth? And, naturally, you remember to clean the tops of your molars, because those crevices make them more cavity-prone than any other surface.

Done? Not quite!

You might be surprised to learn that no matter how well you’ve brushed all the visible surfaces of your teeth, you’ve left quite a bit of enamel untouched—the adjoining, or touching, surfaces of the teeth that sit next to each other.

You’ve probably noticed that your bristles can’t . . . quite . . . reach all the enamel between your teeth (especially between your molars!) when you’re brushing. This means that food particles and plaque have an easier time sticking around. And when the bacteria in plaque are left undisturbed, especially with a banquet of food particles available, they produce acids which gradually eat away at the enamel covering our teeth, creating a cavity.

Here’s where we work in some specific dental vocabulary. “Interproximal” means between the adjoining, or touching, surfaces of the teeth. And an interproximal cavity is a cavity that develops on one of those side surfaces of your teeth.

  • Preventing Interproximal Cavities

Fortunately, prevention is about as basic as it can be—brushing and flossing effectively. Dentists recommend brushing for two minutes at least twice a day and flossing once each day. While most of us are good about keeping up with brushing, sometimes that daily flossing is more a goal than a reality.

But it’s flossing which really does the trick when it comes to interproximal cleaning. If you floss correctly, food particles and plaque are removed from between the teeth and around the gum line—places where bristles just can’t reach.

When you wear braces, though, flossing isn’t quite so basic. Getting that floss just where it needs to be in between brackets and wires and in between teeth can be a challenge!

The good news is there are many products designed just to make flossing easier while you’re in orthodontic treatment:

  • Floss threaders are flexible hoops that help you thread floss behind your wires easily.
  • Precut floss strands use a stiff tip at one end for threading floss through wires.
  • Interproximal brushes are tiny, cone-shaped brushes which can fit between your teeth and braces for precise cleaning.
  • Water flossers eliminate floss altogether, using a pulsing stream of water to clean between and around teeth and braces.

During your next visit to our Round Rock, TX office, Dr. Paul Gates can give you tips on how to use any of these tools effectively for cleaner teeth and cleaner braces.

Preventing cavities on the exterior surfaces of your teeth is probably pretty much automatic by now, but don’t forget the potential for stealth decay! If we find signs of erosion on the sides of your teeth, or if your hygienist lets you know that you’ve got a lot of interproximal plaque buildup, work with your dental team to make sure “interproximal cavity” doesn’t become a working part of your dental vocabulary.

Predicting Your Smile’s Future?

July 26th, 2023

Dr. Paul Gates and our team have the experience and training to evaluate the present state of your teeth and bite, and to design a treatment plan to give you the healthy, attractive smile you picture for your future. And when you choose Invisalign® for your treatment, you’ll be able to get an advance view of exactly what that future will look like!

How is this possible? Because when you choose Invisalign, you’re getting the benefit of some of the most advanced technology in orthodontics.

The process begins with a computerized scan of your teeth and mouth. Special scanner software creates a 3D image to capture your smile as it is now. But that’s not all. Using our customized treatment plan, Invisalign software can provide not only a model of your smile today, but an evolving model of what your smile can be. Seeing your present smile transform step-by-step into your future smile is a great motivator to follow that treatment plan!

For each step of your treatment, Dr. Paul Gates will provide a new set of aligners created to move your teeth and bite toward this goal. Why don’t you need a mold made of your teeth every time you get a new aligner? Because, with Invisalign, we design your aligners to fit your future tooth alignment.

Aligners are not fabricated to snugly fit around your teeth as they are, but as they will be after several days of wear. Each set is molded with small improvements to your alignment, and provides gentle, consistent pressure to move your teeth to that next step.

This “future fit” is why you may experience a bit of discomfort with a new set of aligners. Over the days that you wear them, the fit will become more and more comfortable. This won’t be because your aligners have changed. It will happen because your teeth have gradually moved where your aligners direct them.

Once your teeth and bite have reached this new step in your treatment, it will be time for the next set of aligners in the series, and so on. Dr. Paul Gates will let you know just how long you need to wear each set, and you can even track your progress with every appointment.

So, are we predicting the future? Not really. When you use Invisalign, we are planning and creating your future smile. Dr. Paul Gates will use the Invisalign system to customize your treatment for your very specific needs, step by step, and aligner by aligner, until you attain the smile you previewed before you even started treatment.

But one thing we can predict: If you follow our recommendations, keep your appointments at our Round Rock, TX office, and wear your aligners as directed, there’s going to be a beautiful, healthy smile in your future.

Common Malocclusions

July 26th, 2023

When we think orthodontics, we commonly think teeth. Naturally! Straight teeth and a beaming smile are everyone’s orthodontic goal. But orthodontics is a field which specializes in more than misaligned teeth. While your beautifully aligned teeth are the visible outcome of your orthodontic work, a properly aligned bite is the foundation for your healthy smile.

A malocclusion occurs when the teeth and jaws aren’t properly aligned—they don’t fit together the way they should when the mouth is closed. A malocclusion, or bad bite, affects many people to some degree, but not always in exactly the same way. Some of the different types of malocclusion include:

  • Crossbite

A crossbite occurs when upper teeth fit inside lower teeth. An anterior crossbite refers to the front teeth, with one or more upper front teeth, or incisors, fitting behind lower front teeth. A posterior crossbite affects the back teeth, with upper teeth fitting inside the lower teeth on one or both sides of the jaw.

  • Crowding

When the jaw is small and/or the teeth are large, lack of space can result in crowded, twisted, or crooked teeth.

  • Open bite

An anterior open bite means that the front teeth don’t close when biting down, leaving an open space between the upper and lower teeth. A posterior open bite occurs when the back teeth don’t make contact when the front teeth close.

  • Overbite

Our upper front teeth naturally overlap the lower ones a small bit when the teeth are closed. An overbite occurs when the upper teeth significantly overlap the lower teeth.

  • Overjet

When the upper front teeth protrude too far forward over the bottom teeth, it’s called an overjet, or, sometimes, buck teeth. Where an overbite causes a vertical overlap, an overjet takes into account the horizontal relationship of the teeth.

  • Spacing

A jaw that is large, teeth that are small, missing teeth—these conditions can lead to gaps between the teeth.

  • Underbite

An underbite results when the lower teeth and jaw extend further forward than the upper teeth and jaw, causing the bottom teeth to overlap the top teeth.

If you have a malocclusion, what comes next? This depends.

Some malocclusions are so minor that no treatment is necessary. Some are the result of misaligned teeth. Some occur because the upper and lower jaws are growing at different rates. Some are a combination of teeth and jaw misalignments. Some are caused by genetics, while others are caused by injuries or habits like prolonged thumb sucking or tongue thrusting.

Because malocclusions are so varied, your treatment plan will be designed for your specific needs. Braces, aligners, appliances like the Herbst® appliance or the palatal expander, surgery for severe malocclusions—there is a larger variety of treatment options than ever before to help you achieve a healthy bite.

When teeth and jaws don’t fit together as they should, the consequences can be damaged teeth and enamel, problems with the temporomandibular joint, headaches and facial pain, and difficulty chewing, eating, and speaking.

The good news is that early intervention for children can help correct teeth and jaw problems before they become more serious, leading to easier orthodontic care in the teen years, and helping to avoid the possibility of surgery or extractions. This is why Dr. Paul Gates and our team recommend an orthodontic assessment at our Round Rock, TX office for children around the age of seven.

If you’re an adult with concerns about your teeth or bite, there’s good news for you, too. Dr. Paul Gates can devise a treatment plan to improve your bite and your smile no matter what your age.

Of course, despite our title, there’s really no such thing as a “common malocclusion” when we’re talking about your dental health. Each person—and each smile—is unique. Dr. Paul Gates will diagnose your malocclusion and create a personalized plan carefully tailored to your exact needs, for an uncommonly attractive, confident, and healthy smile.

Gums and Braces

July 19th, 2023

“Yes,” you’re thinking, “I shouldn’t be chewing sugary, sticky gum while I’m wearing my braces.” Or perhaps, “I should check with my orthodontist to see if this sugar-free gum is safe for my braces.” And these are both great thoughts—but today, we’re thinking about gums of a different sort!

While you’ve been taking care of your teeth with regular brushing and flossing, you’ve also been taking care of your gums. And now that you’re wearing braces, your gums need a bit of special attention to keep them their healthiest.

We tend to think of gum disease as an adult problem. In fact, periodontitis, or serious gum disease, is one of the most common chronic infections in the adult population. But young gums need care, too! Gingivitis, a milder form of gum disease, is unfortunately a common problem for both children and adults.

Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums caused by the build-up of plaque and tartar. When plaque builds up, it irritates delicate gum tissue. And while gingivitis is not as serious as periodontitis, the symptoms caused by this disease are nothing to smile about:

  • Redness
  • Tenderness and soreness
  • Swelling
  • Bleeding
  • Bad Breath

If you’re already feeling a little tender or swollen after an adjustment, the added discomfort caused by gingivitis is the last thing you want. But even worse, neglected gingivitis can lead to more serious infections of gum and even bone tissue. Luckily, gingivitis is both preventable and treatable with proper dental care.

So, how to protect your gums? We have some suggestions.

  • Brushing Better with Braces

It can be hard to brush around your brackets and wires, but keeping these areas free of food particles and plaque makes for healthy gums—and fewer cavities! There are specially designed manual toothbrushes made for braces wearers, and tiny interproximal brushes that can reach tight spaces. Or, perhaps an electric toothbrush will do a better job for you. Just be sure to brush after each meal for the most complete removal of bacteria and plaque.

  • Learn New Flossing Techniques

You might wonder how on earth you’ll get in between your teeth with your wires and brackets in the way. We have the answers! We know the best techniques for flossing your specific braces, and we’ll recommend specially designed flossing tools to make the job easier. Water flossers can also be a great help for cleaning in tight spots. Be sure to make flossing part of your daily routine—you’ll be able to remove plaque from places brushing just can’t reach.

  • Rinsing? Recommended.

Talk to Dr. Paul Gates about the best dental rinses for reducing plaque and tartar, or how gargling can help prevent irritation. And drink water! Water helps wash away plaque and bacteria, and is a great way to rinse teeth and braces if you absolutely can’t brush after eating.

  • Keep up with Professional Cleanings

Be sure to keep up with your regular dental exams and cleanings. Your dentist or hygienist will be able to remove any plaque or tartar build up that home brushing can’t handle.

We want your time in braces to be as healthy—and comfortable—as possible. If you have any gum discomfort, swelling, or sensitivity, give our Round Rock, TX office a call. With prompt action, gingivitis can be treated, and with careful attention to your cleaning routine, gingivitis can be prevented altogether. Something to think about!

Orthodontics and Whole Body Health

July 19th, 2023

In recent years, many links have been established between orthodontic treatments and whole body health. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, researchers have observed that people with gum disease are more likely to develop heart disease or experience difficulty controlling blood sugar than people without gum disease. While researchers continue to find associations between oral health and the overall health of the body, as of yet it hasn’t been determined whether gum disease is the sole cause of these health conditions. What can be determined, however, is that good oral health isn't just about maintaining a healthy smile; it has an impact on the health of your entire body.

The associations between gum disease and whole body health

The links between the health of your mouth and the health of your body are too many to ignore. Is it a coincidence that gum disease and other health problems occur together? Researchers don’t think so, despite the lack of definitive proof.

Here are four possible connections between the health of your mouth and the health of your body.

  • Excessive oral inflammation has been linked to a greater incidence of clogged arteries.
  • The American Society of Microbiology has revealed that certain types of oral bacteria can infect the arterial cells and weaken the wall of the heart.
  • Loose teeth are often believed to be a warning sign for osteoporosis, a disease that causes the bones to become less dense.
  • Some studies suggest women with gum disease are more likely than those without gum disease to deliver preterm, low-weight babies.

Orthodontics and gum disease

So what does undergoing orthodontic treatment at Round Rock Orthodontics have to do with gum disease? Braces do so much more than give you a nice-looking smile. Quite simply, straight teeth are easier to keep clean than crooked teeth. Your toothbrush is able to remove more plaque-causing bacteria, and your floss is more effective at ridding tiny particles between your teeth.

Despite the lack of hard facts in these findings, the message is clear: If you improve your oral health, you will also have a greater chance of maintaining the health of your entire body. And that’s a chance Dr. Paul Gates and our team at Round Rock Orthodontics believe is worth taking. For more information about this topic, please give us a call at our convenient Round Rock, TX office or ask Dr. Paul Gates during your next visit!

Awesome Archwires

July 13th, 2023

When we think braces, we can’t help but think of the brackets on each tooth and the colorful ligature bands that surround them. But actually, the whole point of those brackets and bands is to hold the archwire in place as it gradually moves your teeth to create a better bite and a straighter smile. Let’s learn more about this talented part of your braces!

  • Wire We Wearing These, Anyway?

Archwires use gentle, continuous pressure to move your teeth into alignment. That sounds simple, but there is actually a lot going on. Teeth often need more than realigning. Some teeth need to be turned a bit, some tilted. Your teeth need to be better aligned with those next to them, of course, but also need to fit properly with the teeth above or below them. You might have a malocclusion, or bad bite.

How can one wire handle all that? Well, it can’t. That’s why there are different types of wire. We often use thinner, flexible wires at the beginning of treatment, to put gentle pressure on the teeth as they start their movement. Other wires are firmer, and can be helpful in later phases, when each tooth is carefully moved to its specific, ideal spot. Archwires can be round or rectangular, thicker or thinner, springy or stiff, remember their shape or be bendable—all depending on what they need to do.

Whew! This sounds confusing, but Dr. Paul Gates and our team are archwire experts! At every adjustment appointment, we check on the progress of your alignment and choose the exact wire you need to take you to the next stage of your orthodontic journey.

  • Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Wire

Now that you have braces, it’s more challenging to make sure that your teeth are clean after eating. We’ll give you advice on how to get rid of the pesky food particles that sometimes get stuck in your braces. First, that’s absolutely not the look you’re going for. But, more than that, bacteria can use these “leftovers” as fuel to create the acids that damage your enamel and cause cavities.

There’s a whole new world of dental products out there waiting to help get your braces clean. Special toothbrush heads work in the spaces between your teeth and the archwire. There are floss threaders that can get dental floss into tight places, and flosses with one stiff end you can guide under the wire so you can direct the floss to where it’s needed. There are even tiny cone-shaped brushes called “interproximal brushes” that can fit under your wires to clean around your brackets and teeth.

Take a care kit to school or work with you so you can keep the tooth surface under your wires and around your brackets free of plaque. After all the hard work you’ve put in with your braces, the last thing you want is cavities once you’ve achieved your beautiful smile!

  • Down to the Wire

We said archwires were awesome, but we didn’t say they were perfect! We couldn’t leave without suggestions for handling any wire-related problems that might come up.

One of the most common problems is the irritation caused by the end of a wire that has somehow come loose. You might be able to use a cotton swab to gently push the wire flat against the tooth. If that doesn’t work, orthodontic wax can be used to cover the end of the problem wire and smoothed into place. We’ll provide you with instructions on how to handle these and other minor wire problems at home. 

Other problems should be run past us first. If you feel your wire is coming loose, or if a loose end is causing a lot of pain and irritation, call our Round Rock, TX office. We’ll give you instructions on how to help, and make an appointment if necessary for a professional fix.

In fact, call us anytime you have questions about your braces. We’re here to help you understand each phase of the orthodontic process as you move step by step on the path to a healthy bite and a beautiful smile. And what’s more awesome than that?

Five Reasons for Your Bad Breath

July 12th, 2023

Bad breath, or halitosis, is probably not a matter of life or death. But it can make you feel self-conscious and have a negative impact on your life. The majority of people suffering from bad breath are dealing with oral bacterial. However, there are other causes of this embarrassing problem. Learning more can help you fight this solvable problem.

Five Causes of Embarrassingly Bad Breath

  1. Dry Mouth. A decrease in saliva flow can be caused by several things. Most often, medication or mouth breathing are the culprits. As saliva helps wash away food particles from your mouth, it prevents bad breath. Dry mouth can be dealt with by stimulating salivation.
  2. Gum Disease and Poor Oral Hygiene. Not brushing and flossing well enough or with enough frequency can lead to gum disease, which leads to bad breath. Halitosis can be a sign that plaque is present on your teeth.
  3. Food-Related Bad Breath. Food particles that aren't brushed or flossed away attract bacteria that leads to bad breath. It's especially important to brush after eating strong-smelling foods, such as garlic or onions.
  4. Smoking and Tobacco. Tobacco is bad for your health, and that includes your oral health. Smoking or chewing tobacco can contribute toward the development of gum disease, as well as oral cancer.
  5. Mouth Infections and Other Medical Problems. A mouth infection, sinus infection or even the common cold can cause you to temporarily have bad breath. Even conditions such as diabetes and reflux can cause halitosis. It's always wise to see Dr. Paul Gates to help determine the cause.

We are Your Ally

Even if you maintain good oral hygiene, it's important to see Dr. Paul Gates at our Round Rock, TX office to deal with or avoid problems with bad breath. We can help you uncover the cause of halitosis, while also providing solutions that allow you to enjoy fresh breath without relying on mints and breath fresheners. As is the case with all things related to oral health, we are your number-one ally when it comes to eliminating the problem of bad breath.

Hot Day? Three Drinks to Leave Home When You’re Packing the Cooler

July 5th, 2023

Whew! It’s a hot one! And whenever the temperature soars, you need to stay hydrated, especially when you’re outside or exercising. But all cold drinks aren’t equal when it comes to healthy hydration. Which beverages shouldn’t have a prime spot in your cooler when you’re wearing braces or aligners?

  • Soft Drinks

You’re probably not surprised to find soft drinks at the top of the list. After all, sugar is a) a big part of what makes soda so popular, and b) not a healthy choice for your teeth.

Sugar is a favorite food source for the oral bacteria that make up plaque. These bacteria convert sugar into acids, and these acids attack the surface of your tooth enamel. Over time, the minerals which keep enamel strong begin to erode, and weakened, eroded enamel is a lot more susceptible to cavities.

So, what about sugar-free drinks? Does this make soft drinks a better choice? Unfortunately, you can take the sugar out of many sodas, but you can’t take the acids out. Most soft drinks are very acidic, even without sugar, and will cause enamel erosion just like the acids created by bacteria will.

  • Fruit Drinks

Fruit juice provides us with vitamins, which is great, but it’s also full of natural sugars and acids. And blended fruit drinks and fruit punches often contain added sugars and added citric acids. Best to choose 100% fruit content and check the labels before you buy. (And you can always get refreshing fruit flavor by adding a slice of fruit to a glass of water.)

  • Sports Drinks

You might be surprised to see these on the list—after all, they promise healthy hydration while you’re working out. And hydration is healthy—but sugars and acids aren’t. Even when the label tells you there’s no added sugar, that same label will often reveal high amounts of citric acid. In fact, some sports drinks are more acidic than sodas.

We’ll make an exception, though, for thirsty people who participate in sports or activities that require a lot of physical exercise and produce a lot of sweat. When we sweat, we lose electrolytes, those ionized minerals which help regulate many vital bodily functions. Talk to Dr. Paul Gates about which sports drinks are best for you if you need to replenish your electrolytes when working out.

So, what’s your best hydration choice on a hot day? Water! It not only hydrates you, it cleans your teeth, it helps you produce saliva, and it often contains tooth-strengthening fluoride. But if you only have sports drinks in the cooler, or if you just want to enjoy a soft drink or a bottle of juice from time to time, no need to go thirsty. We have some ways to make sure your teeth are safer, even with this tricky trio:

  • Rinse with water after you drink a sugary or acidic drink. And remember to brush when you get home.
  • Be choosy. Check labels for added sugars and acids.
  • Don’t sip your drinks all day long. Saliva actually helps neutralize acids in the mouth, but sipping acidic beverages throughout the day doesn’t give saliva a chance to work.
  • Use a straw to avoid washing your enamel in sugars and acids.

While sugar and acids are never good for your teeth, it’s especially important to reduce your exposure while you’re in braces or aligners.

  • Increased sugar means increased plaque and bacteria, which can collect around your brackets. When plaque isn’t cleaned away, bacterial acids cause mineral erosion, which shows up as white spots on your enamel. You don’t want to see a collection of white spots when those brackets come off!
  • Filling a cavity might require the (temporary) removal of part of your braces.
  • There’s a reason Dr. Paul Gates and our team recommend that you only drink water with your aligners on. If you wear them while you drink sugary and acidic beverages, the liquid collects in your aligner tray, literally bathing your teeth in sugar and acid—and speeding up the process of erosion and decay.

You need to keep hydrated when it’s hot. When you’re packing your cooler, choose drinks that are healthy for your entire body, including your teeth and gums. Ask our Round Rock, TX team for the best choices in cold drinks to make sure you’re getting the hydration you need—without the sugar and acids you don’t!

Tell us about your summer!

July 5th, 2023

The dog days of summer are upon us, and what better time for Dr. Paul Gates and our team to ask our patients about their summer!

Whether you visited our nation’s capital, went on a camping trip, or just stayed in Round Rock, TX and relaxed, we want to know how you’re all spending your summer! Please feel free to share your summer plans and experiences with us below or on our Facebook page as summer rolls on!

What causes crooked teeth?

June 28th, 2023

Crooked teeth, more correctly called malocclusions, have reached epidemic proportions in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. According to the American Association of Orthodontists, approximately 80 percent of American teenagers are currently undergoing orthodontic treatment. Although advances in orthodontic devices and increased availability of such devices explain part of this increase, it still means there are a lot of crooked teeth in the world.

The theories about what is causing so many crooked teeth range from the ridiculous to the scientific. For years, oral health professionals believed that crooked teeth were an evolutionary result of the change in Western diets from raw, wild foods to soft, processed foods. That theory has since been debunked.

The truth is that crooked teeth can be caused by a number of things. Crooked teeth can be an inherited trait. Parents with crooked teeth and malformed jaws are more likely to have children with malocclusions. Ill-fitting or poorly-executed dental restorations, such as fillings and crowns, can also cause teeth to become crooked. Baby teeth that fall out early, gingivitis, and even a jaw that is too small to accommodate all of a person’s adult teeth are additional causes of crooked teeth. In addition, thumb sucking and the use of a pacifier for too long can contribute to crooked teeth.

What to do about crooked teeth

Fortunately, modern orthodontics offers a number of solutions for crooked teeth. Traditional metal braces are the most popular, though our Round Rock, TX office provides a number of clear, aesthetic options as well. If you’re tired of hiding your smile because of crooked teeth, contact Dr. Paul Gates and our team at Round Rock Orthodontics and set up an appointment. We’ll have you showing off your straight pearly whites in no time!

Midline Misalignment

June 28th, 2023

By and large, the human body is a marvel of symmetry. But, of course, no one is perfect. You might have noticed one ear is a bit higher than the other. That you wear a shoe a half-size bigger on your left foot. That one shirtsleeve always looks longer.

Or that your smile looks off-center. This dental asymmetry could be caused by a condition known as “midline misalignment,” and, unlike that left foot, you can do something about it!

The dividing line between our center teeth, upper and lower, is called the midline. If we draw an imaginary line down the middle of a face, from the forehead to the nose to the midpoint of the chin, that line should go right between the front teeth. When it doesn’t, because the teeth have shifted past the midpoint, it’s often due to a condition called midline misalignment.

This kind of misalignment, also known as a deviated midline, can have several causes:

  • Baby teeth that are lost too early

Baby teeth do more than promote healthy eating and speech development. They also reserve space for permanent teeth. If a primary tooth is lost too early, permanent teeth might “drift” to fill the empty space, causing the midline to move as well.

  • Thumb sucking that goes on too long

As a child gets older, and certainly when by the time permanent teeth start to arrive, aggressive thumb sucking can lead to numerous orthodontic problems, including a deviated midline, as the teeth shift in response to that continuous pressure.

  • Missing adult teeth

When you lose a tooth through decay or trauma, or when an adult tooth simply never develops, the remaining teeth can shift over to fill the open spot.

  • Spacing issues

Crowded teeth, teeth with significant gaps between them, very large teeth, very small teeth—all of these issues can affect spacing and midline alignment.

  • Crossbite

A crossbite is a kind of malocclusion, or bite problem. When you have a crossbite, the teeth don’t fit together properly, with upper teeth fitting inside lower teeth, instead of aligning on the outside where they belong. A deviated midline can indicate a posterior crossbite, where the top back teeth slant inwards or fit inside the bottom back teeth.

A tiny bit of midline shift one way or the other might be nothing to worry about, but if one front tooth is literally the center of attention, or if your teeth are noticeably out of alignment, it’s a good idea to talk to our Round Rock, TX orthodontic team.

Because there are several potential causes for midline misalignment, Dr. Paul Gates will carefully analyze your individual situation to determine where the problem lies: with the teeth, the bite, or, rarely, the jaw itself.

Dr. Paul Gates will also offer you your best dental treatment options. A shift of a few millimeters might be treated with clear aligners or traditional braces. A crossbite could require braces or aligners coupled with elastics (rubber bands) to bring your bite into alignment. A palatal expander can help correct a serious crossbite.

Why visit Round Rock Orthodontics because of a little asymmetry? Because a deviated midline is more than a cosmetic concern. If you have a malocclusion to begin with, or if your misalignment leads to changes in chewing habits, which cause new bite problems, you might be facing jaw pain, chipped and cracked teeth, headaches, and all the other unpleasant consequences of malocclusion.

By and large, perfect symmetry in life is unattainable. But if you want a smile that is well-balanced and healthy, talk to us about all the treatments available to make sure your smile—and not a single tooth—is the center of attention.

When Clear Aligners aren’t the Answer

June 22nd, 2023

Clear aligners like Invisalign® have become increasingly popular over the past several years and rightly so. They’re removable, easier to clean than braces, and hardly anyone knows you're wearing them. They are great in treating many cases, but they aren't for everyone.

Below, Dr. Paul Gates and our team cover some of the instances where clear aligners just aren't the answer:

  • If drastic tooth movement is required – Fixed appliances deliver much more significant tooth movement. So if your case is a drastic one, clear aligners may not be the best choice.
  • If you need to move molars – Molars have much stronger roots than your other teeth and would require significantly longer to move with clear aligners. A fixed appliance is the best choice in this instance, especially if you have a substantial overbite or underbite that needs to be dealt with.
  • If you're the type who often forgets or loses things –If you would forget to wear your aligners for the prescribed amount of time (usually at least 22 hours per day), clear aligners are probably not the best choice for you. Forgetting to wear them can delay treatment and even make it so you need to regress to the previous set of aligners to be able to move forward with treatment. And let's face it, if you're not careful, removable aligners are easy to lose. Losing aligners delays treatment and is expensive since you need to buy replacements to stay on course. Replacing a lost set of aligners usually takes between seven and ten days—a definite setback in treatment.
  • If you're looking for the fastest treatment possible – Clear aligners usually can't move teeth as quickly as fixed appliances. So if you're looking for the fastest way to achieve your desired result, clear aligners may not be the best bet.

Feel free to talk with Dr. Paul Gates about your options regarding braces and clear aligners. We know there are pros and cons to both, so let’s find the option that works best in your life and for your specific needs in terms of treatment. Schedule an appointment at our Round Rock, TX office today!

When should my child be seen for an orthodontic evaluation?

June 22nd, 2023

Thanks for asking! It really depends on the dental age of the patient rather than their chronological age. Usually a good time to have your child evaluated by an orthodontist is after the front permanent teeth have erupted into the mouth or if there appears to be extreme crowding of the teeth.

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children between the ages of seven and nine should be evaluated by an orthodontist. There are times when an early developmental treatment is indicated to correct situations before they become major problems. In these circumstances the patient will most likely benefit from a second phase of orthodontics when all of their permanent teeth have erupted.

Most full orthodontic treatment begins between ages nine and 14, and lasts from one to three years, with two years being the average. It’s important, however, that children be screened at an early age for Dr. Paul Gates and our staff to assess if your child can benefit from orthodontic treatment and when treatment should begin.

We hope this helps, and invite you to give us a call if you have any questions about your child’s treatment at Round Rock Orthodontics.

Top Five Best Foods for Oral Health

June 15th, 2023

Some foods are just terrible for your teeth — think cookies and candy bars — but there are certain foods that are beneficial to your oral health. Below, Dr. Paul Gates and our team have covered five of the top foods to keep your teeth and gums healthy!

1. Crispy, low-acid fruits and vegetables: Fruits like apples and vegetables such as carrots and celery act like “natural toothbrushes,” helping to clear plaque from your teeth and freshen your breath.

2. Kiwis: These little green superstars are packed with vitamin C which is essential for gum health. The collagen in your gums is strengthened when you consume foods that are high in vitamin C, like kiwis, thus helping to prevent periodontal problems.

3. Raw onions: Onions have long been studied for their antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties. Proliferation of bacteria is what leads to tooth decay and cavities. By including raw onions in your diet, you'll be doing your part to wipe out those little microbes before they can multiply!

4. Shiitake Mushrooms: A specific compound in shiitake mushrooms, lentinan, has been shown to have antibacterial properties that target the microbes that cause cavities while leaving other beneficial bacteria alone. It may also help prevent gingivitis, or inflammation of the gums.

5. Green Tea: Often lauded for its high antioxidant content and many health benefits, it turns out green tea also benefits your oral health! A Japanese study found men who drank green tea on a regular basis had a lower occurrence of periodontal disease compared to men who drank green tea infrequently. It's believed this is due to the catechins in green tea, a type of flavonoid that may help protect you from free radical damage, but more research needs to be done. Either way, drink up for your overall health, as well as your teeth!

If you have any questions about your oral health, or are looking for even more oral health tips, contact our Round Rock, TX office!

Planning Your Vegetarian Diet with Your Oral Health in Mind

June 15th, 2023

If you’ve been following a vegetarian or vegan diet, you know that there’s much more to living a healthy life than simply avoiding meat products. Making sure your diet includes enough protein, as well as any nutrients that are primarily available in animal products, takes planning, and there’s no one-menu-fits-all solution.

Why? Because there’s no one menu that will suit all vegetarians. Specific vegetarian diets can allow for many different options:

  • Vegan—a plant-based diet which excludes meat, fish, dairy, and egg products
  • Ovo-vegetarian—includes eggs as a dietary option, but no dairy
  • Lacto-vegetarian— includes dairy as a dietary option, but no eggs
  • Lacto-ovo-vegetarian—a meat-free diet which allows both dairy products and eggs

If you are a pescatarian, who eats fish on occasion, or a flexitarian, who sometimes includes meat in a meal, your menu options are even broader.

So let’s look at the big picture—a healthy vegetarian diet is really more concerned with the foods you do eat for nutrition rather than the foods you don’t. You can create a meal plan rich in all your essential nutrients with a little research, no matter which type of vegetarian diet is your go-to choice.

And while you’re constructing your ideal menu guidelines, don’t forget about your dental nutrition!

In terms of keeping your teeth and gums their healthiest, what important vitamins and minerals are often missing from vegetarian and vegan diets? Let’s look at three of them.

  • Calcium

Calcium is essential for maintaining strong bones and tooth enamel. Without enough calcium, a weakened jawbone leads to loose, and even lost, teeth. The acids in our food and the acids created by oral bacteria also weaken the minerals in enamel, including calcium. These weak spots can eventually become cavities. A diet rich in calcium not only supports the bones holding our teeth, but can even help repair, or remineralize, enamel which has been weakened by acidic erosion.

For vegetarians who include dairy in their diets, dairy products are a great way to include calcium. Milk, cheese, and yogurt are traditional and rich sources of this mineral.

For vegans, it’s a bit more challenging, but still doable! Non-dairy foods providing calcium include dark green vegetables (kale, broccoli, spinach), certain types of tofu, and fortified cereals, juices, and non-dairy milks.

  • Vitamin D

Now you’re ready to put that calcium to work by making sure you have enough vitamin D in your diet. Vitamin D not only helps keep our bones healthy, it also enables our bodies to absorb calcium. Bonus—it’s been linked to better gum health in several studies.

So how to get more vitamin D? If you eat dairy, most dairy products have been fortified with vitamin D. If eggs are a part of your diet, egg yolks are a great source. Pescatarians can enjoy the benefits of vitamin D from fatty fish such as tuna and salmon.

Because we get most of our vitamin D from sun exposure or foods derived from animals, plant-based foods are not a practical way to obtain the vitamin D you need. But, just as non-vegetarians can get plentiful vitamin D from fortified dairy products, vegans also have options. Try adding cereals, juices, and non-dairy milks fortified with this essential nutrient to your diet, or take a vegan vitamin D supplement.

  • Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is essential for healthy red blood cells, nerve cell development, brain function, and DNA production. (This is why it’s especially important for pregnant and nursing women.) Vitamin B12 can also impact your oral health. A B12 deficiency can cause a swollen, sore, or inflamed tongue, loss of taste, and gum, tongue, and mouth ulcers.

Unfortunately, vitamin B12 is reliably found only in animal foods and nutritional yeasts. If you would prefer an egg-free and dairy-free diet, look to B12 supplements or B12-fortified cereals, plant-based milks, energy bars, and other vegan options. This is a good subject to discuss with your physician, because even supplements and fortified foods might not provide enough B12.

In fact, Dr. Paul Gates can be vital resources when you’re planning your healthiest vegetarian diet. The next time you visit our Round Rock, TX office, ask for recommendations for supplements if you’re concerned that diet alone can’t provide for all of your nutrition essentials. Finally, care should be taken to ensure that, even with supplements, you get the proper amount of the vitamins and minerals you need.

As a vegetarian, you are used to the concept of care. Whether it was concern for nutrition, the planet, the animal world, or another reason that drew you to a vegetarian diet, be sure to care for your body as well as your dietary choices. Careful planning can ensure a diet which supports not only your general health, but your oral health, for a lifetime of nourishing—and well-nourished—smiles.

What Did You Do on Your Summer Vacation?

June 7th, 2023

The best part of summer vacation is time. Time to hang with friends, time to travel, time to get a summer job, time to catch your breath after a busy school year. And if Dr. Paul Gates and our team have recommended braces, summer is also a great time to start orthodontic treatment!

  • Time for Office Visits

It can be easier to get an appointment in the summer because many patients and their families are on vacation. And, because your earliest visits are generally the longest, you won’t have to disrupt your school schedule as much or work around after-school activities.

  • Time to Get Used to Your Appliance

There can be some discomfort in the first few days after you get your braces, so you might find it’s more convenient and comfortable to be at home. You’ll have time to get used to choosing and eating braces-friendly foods, to practice speaking clearly with new braces or aligners, to appreciate your new look. And your friends will have time to get used to your braces, too!

  • Time to Establish New Dental Routines

Over the years, you’ve gotten used to brushing at least twice a day for two minutes and flossing at least one a day. Now it’s time to add some new moves. Brackets and wires can trap food particles and lead to a greater risk of cavities, so you’ll need some new tools to keep your braces their cleanest.

There are toothbrushes that have heads designed especially for cleaning around brackets. Floss threaders get floss in between wire and brackets, or use a floss specifically designed for braces. Little cone-shaped brushes called interproximal brushes fit around your braces and under your wires to remove hard-to-reach food particles and plaque.

Getting your cleaning routine down during the summer will help you take care of any clinging food particles quickly during your lunch hour or before after-school activities. And, you’ll know exactly what dental supplies you’ll need in your locker.

  • Time to Make Adjustments to Your Extra-Curricular Activities

Braces or aligners will provide you with a future filled with beautiful smiles, but they might require some present-day adjustments in your normal activities.

If you play a sport, especially where contact is possible, a custom mouthguard is the best way to protect your teeth, your jaw, and your braces in case of collision or a fall. Let us know what sports you play as soon as you get your braces.

If you play a reed or wind instrument, you might have to adjust the way you use your lips and teeth to produce your sound. Learning to use dental wax to cover brackets and protect your lips and mouth is well worth it. If you take lessons, talk to your instructor about the best way to adapt to your braces if you think your tone has been affected.

If you are in speech or drama, it could take a while to be comfortable with your articulation. Talk to us if you find you are having problems with your regular pronunciation for some great suggestions on getting back to normal as quickly as possible.

Summer certainly offers some advantages in giving you the time you need to get comfortable with your braces or aligners. But, there’s really no bad time to begin your orthodontic treatment. Spring, summer, fall, or winter, we’re here to help make sure your treatment experience at our Round Rock, TX office is a positive one. After all, working toward a lifetime of beautiful smiles is always in season.

Going Beyond Braces

May 31st, 2023

At Round Rock Orthodontics, we aren’t just concerned with straightening your teeth and giving you the beautiful smile you’ve always wanted. We are also committed improving the oral health and the well-being of all our patients. Dr. Paul Gates and our team strive to serve our patients by educating them about their treatments, as well as making them feel as comfortable as possible during their initial consultations up until the day they complete their treatments.

Making our patients more comfortable with taking care of their braces in between visits increases the likelihood that they will complete their treatments successfully. We want you to know that if you should ever have any questions about your orthodontic treatment, whether it’s during your adjustment appointment or after hours, we are always here for you and your family.

Please do not hesitate to give us a call at our Round Rock, TX office or ask us any questions you may have on our Facebook page! We can’t wait to hear from you!

When Your Smile Isn’t Aging as Gracefully as You Are

May 31st, 2023

You might have been one of the lucky few born with perfectly straight teeth and a healthy bite. You might have spent months in orthodontic treatment as a teenager to achieve perfectly straight teeth and a healthy bite. But now that you’re growing older, you might be unhappily surprised to discover that your smile isn’t aging as gracefully as you are.  What’s changed?

That’s a trick question, because our bodies never stop changing, growing, and adapting. And these constant adjustments include the changes taking place in your teeth and mouth. You might begin to notice subtle differences in your smile when you’re in your thirties or forties. After young adulthood, several factors come into play which can cause shifting teeth and a misaligned bite:

  • Teeth naturally shift.

Shifting can be a result of the normal changes time brings. The periodontal ligaments which attach our teeth firmly to the jawbone lose some of their strength; the jawbones which hold our teeth in place lose some of their density and begin to narrow. Our teeth also have a natural tendency to move toward the front of the mouth, a phenomenon called “mesial drift.”

Add all of these elements together, and your once straight teeth start to crowd together and even overlap—especially the front bottom teeth.

  • Stressful habits stress your teeth.

If you habitually grind or clench your teeth, you’re putting pressure on them. Just like the gentle pressure of braces and aligners can shift teeth into alignment, the more uncontrolled force of grinding can push teeth out of alignment.  

  • Losing a tooth affects surrounding teeth.

Nature abhors a vacuum, and so does your smile. If you lose a tooth, your other teeth will automatically start to drift into the space left open by the missing tooth.

  • A neglected retainer is gathering dust in a drawer somewhere.

You might have spent time as a teenager in orthodontic treatment, with a beautiful smile to show for all your hard work. And, back in the day, your orthodontist no doubt let you know that you needed to keep wearing your retainer at night once your treatment was completed.

If that’s one healthy habit you abandoned as you got older, don’t be surprised if your teeth start to migrate back to their old, less-than-perfect positions.

Between normal biological changes and the wear and tear of daily life, you might find one day that your smile isn’t that same beaming smile you’re used to seeing in the mirror. And it’s not just an aesthetic concern.

Crooked teeth are harder to clean, and built-up plaque means more decay and gum disease. Shifting teeth can cause malocclusions, or bite problems, which can bring you jaw pain, headaches, and chipped or cracked teeth.

If your smile has changed over time, it’s time to give Dr. Paul Gates a call. There are many discreet options which can return your smile to you, including:

  • Clear aligners—comfortable, removable, and often unnoticeable.
  • Traditional braces—brackets are smaller than ever, and you can choose ceramic brackets which are color-matched to blend in with your enamel.
  • Lingual braces—these braces are attached to the inside of the teeth, for complete invisibility.

And what if you’ve never been as confident in your smile as you wanted to be? There’s good news here as well—it’s never too late to see an orthodontist. Make an appointment at our Round Rock, TX office to discover how you can make sure your smile looks just as young as you feel!

How can I protect my child's teeth during sports?

May 24th, 2023

Sports are great for children for a variety of reasons. Children can develop their motor skills, learn how to solve conflicts and work together, and develop their work ethics. As a parent, you may recognize the benefits of sports, but also naturally worry about your child’s health and safety. Your job goes beyond providing a water bottle and making sure your child follows the rules of the game.

Although you may not think of your child’s teeth first when you think about sports, accidents can happen that affect your children’s teeth. A stray hockey stick, an errant basketball, or a misguided dive after a volleyball are examples of ways a child could lose a tooth. In fact, studies show that young athletes lose more than three million teeth each year.

Becoming a Better Athlete to Protect Teeth

Becoming a better athlete involves refining skills, learning the rules of the game, and being a good sport. These components are not just about winning. They are also about safety. Young athletes who are better ball-handlers and who are careful to avoid fouls and penalties are less likely to have harmful contact with the ball, teammates, or opponents. Children who are better roller-bladers are less likely to take a face plant into the blacktop, and more likely to save their teeth. Being a good sport and avoiding unnecessary contact is one way to protect teeth.

Proper Protective Equipment for Teeth

If your child is in a sport that poses a high threat to teeth, it is essential for your child to wear a mouthguard. Mouthguards fit your child’s mouth and consist of soft plastic. Dr. Paul Gates can custom fit a mouthguard if generic ones are uncomfortable. While children may resist wearing a mouthguard initially, your persistence in insisting that they wear it should be enough to convince them. A helmet or face mask provides additional protection.

While prevention is best, rapid treatment can improve the situation if your child does happen to lose a tooth during sports. Rapid implantation can work in about ten percent of cases. To learn about ways to save a lost tooth, contact our Round Rock, TX office.

Feeling Confident at Your Orthodontic Consultation

May 24th, 2023

How You Can Start Preparing Now

When you first start thinking about going to the orthodontist, it is normal to feel apprehensive. What will your orthodontic experience bring? Whether you have been advised by a dentist or chosen to seek out orthodontic care from Dr. Paul Gates on your own, there are a few things you can do to prepare for your initial consultation at Round Rock Orthodontics.

One of the best ways to prepare for an orthodontic consultation is to understand your options. With so many choices available today, orthodontic care is a lot more versatile than in the past. You can start preparing now by seeking out and understanding those options. With a few specific things in mind, you can be totally confident and prepared for your consultation.

Questions to Ask During the Consultation

As you consider orthodontic care, it is likely that a few questions may naturally arise. Don’t be afraid to ask any questions you might have. Our orthodontic team is here to help. Here are just a few examples of questions you may want to ask at your consultation.

  • Is there an estimated length of time that I will likely require braces?
  • How much should I expect to pay for my treatment? What are the payment options?
  • Does getting braces hurt? Is there anything I can do to prevent or minimize pain?
  • Is it likely that I will be wearing extra appliances in addition to braces to correct my overbite or other problems?
  • Are there specific foods I will need to avoid when I get braces?
  • Will braces prevent me from playing my favorite sport or musical instrument?
  • How can I keep my teeth clean with braces?
  • How often will I be expected to come in for checkups and other appointments?

Once your consultation is over, you don’t have to feel like your options are exhausted. If questions arise after the consultation, don’t be afraid to ask. Our orthodontic team will be here to help throughout the entire process.

Confidence throughout the Process

With answers to your questions, and an orthodontic team on your side, you can be confident about any necessary orthodontic treatments. From the initial consultation to the day your braces come off, your orthodontic treatment at Round Rock Orthodontics can be a smooth and simple process. The moment you see that beautiful smile, you’ll know it was all worth it.

We love bringing nothing but the most amazing smiles to our patients!

I Have Gum Disease. Can I Still Get Braces?

May 17th, 2023

Gum disease is one of our most common dental diseases, affecting both children and adults. If you are considering getting braces or aligners, make sure your gums are their healthiest before beginning orthodontic treatment.

  • Gingivitis

For both younger and older patients, gingivitis (mild gum disease) can be the result of poor brushing and flossing habits. When plaque builds up around the teeth and gums, it irritates delicate gum tissue. The gums become inflamed, and symptoms such as redness, swelling, tenderness, bleeding, and bad breath can result. Usually, your dentist can treat early stages of gingivitis with tips on more efficient brushing and flossing, a professional cleaning, and suggestions for mouth rinses if needed.

Because brushing and flossing with braces can be more difficult, you need to devote special attention to your cleaning routine to prevent gingivitis from developing after you start treatment. Talk to us any time about how to brush and floss most effectively when you wear braces. Dr. Paul Gates can also recommend tools designed especially for braces wearers to get your teeth and gums as clean and plaque-free as possible. If you are a candidate for clear aligners, this option can make it easier to keep your teeth their cleanest. We’ll work with you to keep your gums healthy as your orthodontic work takes place.

  • Periodontitis

For older patients, gingivitis, left untreated, can eventually lead to periodontitis (severe gum disease). This chronic infection can lead to the formation of pockets between your gums and teeth that become home to bacteria and infection. Over time, periodontitis can lead to the destruction of gum, ligament, and bone tissue. Left untreated, it can lead to loose teeth and even bone and tooth loss.

Making sure you schedule regular dental exams will allow your dentist or periodontist to detect and treat any signs of periodontitis as early as possible. If you have any of the symptoms of gum disease, it’s important to treat the cause of these symptoms as soon as possible to protect your gums, bone, and teeth. Deep cleaning procedures such as scaling and root planing, topical and oral antibiotics, and oral surgeries such as flap surgery or bone and tissue grafting can help reverse the effects of periodontitis.

Because orthodontic treatment involves moving the teeth and re-forming the ligament and bone tissue, which hold them in place, you need healthy periodontal ligaments and bones to begin treatment. If you have suffered shifting teeth or bone loss due to periodontitis, talk to us. We will let you know at your visit to our Round Rock, TX office if you are a good candidate for orthodontic work, and which type of appliance is best for your periodontal health.

We are happy to talk to you about the best way to achieve an attractive smile and a healthy bite if gum disease has been a problem in the past. Most important, we want to make sure that your teeth and gums are their healthiest even before you begin orthodontic treatment. Preventing and treating gum disease will provide the foundation you need for a lifetime of beautiful smiles.

Heading Off to College? Maybe It’s Time to Graduate to an Electric Toothbrush!

May 17th, 2023

Your trusty manual toothbrush has been with you from pre-school through high school—well, obviously not the same manual toothbrush, because that would be seriously unhygienic—but it’s the kind of toothbrush you’re used to and comfortable with.

Now, though, you’re off to college, and your lifestyle will be changing. Late night study sessions complete with study session snacks. Getting caught up in a project and making dinner from dorm vending machines. Grabbing fast food on the way to the practice field, or work-study job, or evening class. You get the point—meals can be hectic, unscheduled, and less than tooth friendly.

And if you’re wearing braces or aligners, you know you need to keep on top of brushing more than ever. It’s challenging to brush away cavity-causing plaque when it sticks around brackets and wires. And with aligners, teeth don’t benefit as much from the constant cleansing action of saliva, so it’s really important to brush away plaque and food particles before you replace the aligners after eating.

Maybe it’s time to consider an electric toothbrush. After all, anything that can make your life easier and more efficient during busy college days deserves a spot in your dorm room.

  • Electric Brushes Are Effective

The most important reason to switch to an electric toothbrush is its effectiveness. Several studies have shown that regular use of an electric toothbrush leads to a marked reduction in plaque, that bacteria-filled film which sticks to the teeth and leads to cavities and gingivitis. And it’s really no surprise that an electric brush can out-perform a manual brush.

Electric toothbrushes offer several design options, from oscillating/rotating brushes to oscillating/rotating/pulsating models to brushes using sonic vibration technology. What these technologies all have in common is the ability to remove plaque far more efficiently than we can on our own, because electric brushes provide the equivalent of thousands and even tens of thousands of brushstrokes per minute, compared to the hundreds we can achieve by hand.

There might be a bit of a learning curve to discover how to use your brush around wires and brackets. Ask us for the best method of using an electric brush with your braces, and check out brush heads specifically designed for orthodontic work.

If you use buttons with aligners, electric toothbrushes should be safe to gently clean around the buttons to remove built-up plaque. It’s usually best to stick with a manual brush for cleaning your aligners themselves—we’re happy to give you your best cleaning options, no matter which brush you choose.

You know by now what your brushing habits are like. If you tend to be a bit cavalier with your brushing and flossing, make sure you set yourself up for success. Because you have better things to do during semester breaks and summer vacations than visiting Dr. Paul Gates!

  • Electric Brushes Can Make Life Easier

Several of today’s electric brushes come with options designed to do more than simply remove plaque. They can let you know if you’ve brushed for the recommended two minutes and remind you when it’s time to replace the brush head. They can even alert you if you’re brushing too hard, which is especially important when you’re wearing braces.

Want more from your electric brush? Some models offer apps that can map out just where you’ve brushed, in case there are a few spots that often get overlooked. Or provide different brushing modes for daily cleaning, deep cleaning, whitening, and more. Or come with a travel case that can recharge while you’re busy exploring the world—or going home for a visit.

In the end, it’s up to you. Do some independent study and research the toothbrushes that will give you the best results for your individual brushing habits. You might not need or want a brush with all the technological bells and whistles.

If you’re comfortable with your manual brush and you get good grades when you visit our Round Rock, TX office, stick with it. But if you think you might benefit from the ease and efficiency of an electric toothbrush, if an electric toothbrush makes your teeth and gums healthier and your smile brighter, that’s extra credit worth pursuing.

Toothbrush Science

May 10th, 2023

Let’s talk science! From the vastness of the cosmos to sub-atomic particles, science helps us understand the world around us and how it works. So, let’s take some familiar scientific fields of study and apply them to your toothbrush.

My toothbrush?

Yes, indeed! When it comes to your oral health, your toothbrush is the first line of defense, so understanding how and why it works so well might help us use this handy tool even more effectively.

Biology—the study of living organisms

Unfortunately for your toothbrush, the living organisms we’re talking about here are the bacteria which cause tooth decay and those which can lead to illness. How do these problems arise, and how do we prevent them?

Fight Plaque

Plaque is the sticky film that builds up on teeth, and millions of oral bacteria help make up this biofilm. These bacteria convert sugars and other carbohydrates in the foods we eat into acids. And these acids erode our tooth enamel, leading to tooth decay. (More on this when we get to Chemistry.) The best ways to get rid of plaque?

  • Brush often. The recommended minimum is two minutes of brushing twice a day, but when you’re having orthodontic work done, it’s even more important to banish the plaque that can stick to your braces or inside aligners. Ask us what brushing schedule is best for you.
  • Try an electric toothbrush. For some people with braces, cleaning the teeth is easier and more thorough with an electric brush.
  • Replace your brush regularly. Brushes become worn and frayed after three or four months, and you won’t be brushing as effectively.

Stop Germs from Spreading

  • Don’t share. Sharing toothbrushes can lead to an increased risk of colds and infections.
  • Rinse thoroughly after brushing, making sure you remove any toothpaste or debris left after you brush.
  • Store the brush upright and let it air-dry. Covering the brush or keeping it in a closed container can promote the growth of bacteria more easily.
  • Keep different brushes separate when they’re drying to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Replace your brush regularly!

Chemistry—the study of what makes up substances, their properties, and how they interact

When it comes to improving your brushing chemistry, the best thing you can do for your toothbrush is to put a dab of fluoride toothpaste on it! Why fluoride? Let’s look at the chemistry of tooth enamel.

Tooth enamel is the strongest substance in our bodies—even stronger than bone. But it is not indestructible, and acidic substances can dissolve the mineral bonds which give our enamel its strength, whether they come from the bacteria in plaque or are found in our favorite foods and drinks (sodas, coffee, tomatoes, and citrus are among the tasty, but acidic, culprits).

The enamel in our teeth contains calcium and phosphate ions, minerals which help make it the strongest substance in our bodies. But when the level of acidity in our mouths becomes too high, these minerals begin to dissolve. Eventually, teeth become pitted, bacteria can penetrate more deeply, and decay is the result.

So what can we do? While our saliva helps neutralize acidity naturally, and we can cut back on acidic foods in our diets, using fluoride toothpaste actually helps restore the strength of our enamel in a process known as “remineralization.”

Fluoride works on the surface of enamel to both attract and anchor calcium ions, reducing mineral loss and strengthening the weakened enamel. Fluoride also interacts with the calcium and phosphate compound to create a new compound that is even stronger and more acid-resistant.

When you brush with fluoride toothpaste, you help replace and restore the mineral composition of your enamel—and there’s evidence that fluoride might even interfere with oral bacteria’s ability to produce acid. Now that’s good chemistry!

Physics—the study of matter and energy and their interactions

The matter here is your tooth enamel, and the energy is the force you use when brushing. And this is one time the force should not be with you.

  • Over-vigorous brushing can not only damage your brackets, but can also irritate delicate gum tissue and wear down enamel. A “sawing” back-and-forth motion is both hard on your enamel and misses plaque and debris between the teeth. We’ll be happy to show you the safest and most effective way to brush with braces. Just remember, “Massage, don’t scrub.”
  • A soft toothbrush is almost always your best option when you use a manual brush, but if you’re still a heavy-handed brusher, or have sensitive teeth and gums, consider an electric model. An electric toothbrush should provide a continuous brushing motion without needing any heavy pressure from the brusher. Some models will even let you know when you are brushing too hard.

Brushing harder is not brushing better, and your teeth, gums, and braces will be heathier with careful brushing habits. If you need tips on brushing with braces, contact our Round Rock, TX office and ask!

There’s a lot of science in the simple act of brushing, but we don’t need to spend hours studying to get a passing grade in dental health. The things you do normally—brushing at least two minutes twice a day, using fluoride toothpaste, and applying proper brushing technique—will help create a smile which will earn you top marks from Dr. Paul Gates for a lifetime!

Shark Teeth

May 10th, 2023

It seems like sharks are everywhere these days—on land, sea, and air(waves). A halftime show meme gone viral. A week of summer TV devoted to our favorite apex predators. And who doesn’t have “Baby Shark” playing in their heads all day once they’ve heard it? But are we jumping the shark to discuss this topic in an orthodontic blog?

Not at all! Because today, we’re going to talk about shark teeth—just not the ones you might be expecting.

One of the expected sights when a shark opens its mouth are those rows and rows of shiny shark teeth. Sharks can grow from two to 15 rows of teeth at any one time (and some sharks have even more). This means sharp new teeth are always ready to replace any shark tooth which is lost, broken, or worn out.

An unexpected sight? When children point to their new adult tooth or teeth coming in—right behind their still-firmly rooted baby teeth! This double set of teeth is called “shark teeth,” and, while it certainly might come as a surprise, it’s not all that uncommon. But why do children develop shark teeth at all?

After all, baby, or primary, teeth have small roots, and are designed to come out easily when the adult teeth start arriving. When a permanent tooth starts to erupt, it pushes against the root of the baby tooth above it. This pressure gradually dissolves the root of the primary tooth, and with nothing to anchor it, it’s now loose, wiggly, and ready to fall out. That’s why baby teeth often look like they have no roots at all when they eventually wiggle free.

Sometimes, though, the roots of a primary tooth don’t break down, which means baby teeth stay right where they are. It also means that the permanent teeth have to erupt somewhere else—usually behind those stubborn little baby teeth.

Shark teeth can first appear around the ages of five to seven when the permanent front teeth start arriving, or several years later, when the adult molars begin to come in. Any extra teeth in one small jaw naturally raise concerns about tooth misalignment, especially when those extra teeth are molars. If double molars are causing crowding, it’s a good time for your child to have an orthodontic examination at our Round Rock, TX office to make sure the permanent teeth are properly positioned.

Unlike sharks, we don’t have an endless supply of replacement teeth, so it’s understandable to worry when you see anything unexpected. If you want to know more about shark teeth, or if you have any concerns, don’t hesitate to call Dr. Paul Gates for expert advice.

Speech! Speech!

May 3rd, 2023

If you are a student of Speech or Drama, you know how important it is to be clear and articulate. You’ve worked on pronunciation and projection, and the audience in the back row can understand every word.

And now you’ve gotten braces, and, suddenly, you don’t sound quite like yourself. Why? And, more important, what can you do?

  • Don’t Panic!

Many patients see no change at all in their speech after getting braces. With some orthodontic conditions or appliances, you might have problems pronouncing certain sounds, but these changes in articulation are usually quite temporary. 

  • Why Are You Sounding Off?

Every consonant is formed in a precise way as tongue, lips, and teeth work together. If you have brackets and wires in the way, or just got a new retainer, or have a set of aligners, you might find that your articulation is a little off, especially for sibilant sounds such as S’s and Z’s. Luckily, we humans are a flexible bunch, and it usually takes a very short time for our tongues and mouths to adapt to orthodontic appliances and return to normal pronunciation.

If your speech is affected at first because your lips and cheeks are sore or sensitive after getting braces, take time to take care of yourself! Use wax as often as needed to cover irritating brackets and wires, eat foods that are low in salt, spice, and acids, and follow your orthodontist’s instructions for taking care of your mouth. You should start feeling better within a few days, and should be fine after a week or two. If pain or discomfort persists, call your orthodontist.

  • Practice Makes Perfect

If you want to speed along the process of getting back to your normal pronunciation habits, practice! Read aloud, sing along to your favorite songs, recite lists of words with the specific sounds you want to work on. Oddly enough, to get back to your normal speech more quickly, slow down. Thinking before you speak is never a bad idea, and, in this case, thinking while you speak can help you position your tongue and mouth to verbalize tricky sounds more easily.

You don’t have to be a national debate champion or the world’s most blood-curdling Lady Macbeth to be concerned about clear speech. Talk to Dr. Paul Gates during your next appointment at our Round Rock, TX office if you find you are having problems with pronunciation. Whether your appliance needs an adjustment, or you need a few suggestions for speech exercises, or it’s simply a matter of time, soon you’ll be back on the road to perfect pronunciation—and on the way to your perfect smile.

When Does an Underbite Need Surgery?

May 3rd, 2023

When does an underbite need surgery? The short answer is: when Dr. Paul Gates and our team recommend surgery as the best way to give you a healthy, functional bite. But let’s take a longer look, and see just why your doctors might come to that conclusion.

  • First, what exactly is an underbite?

In a perfect bite, the upper and lower jaws align, well, perfectly. Upper teeth overlap lower teeth very slightly, upper and lower teeth meet comfortably, and jawbones and joints function smoothly. When the alignment is off, it causes a malocclusion, or “bad bite.”

When we talk about an underbite, or Class 3 malocclusion, it means that the lower jaw protrudes further than the upper jaw. This protrusion causes the bottom teeth and jaw to overlap the upper teeth and jaw.

  • What causes an underbite?

Sometimes an underbite is caused by childhood behaviors while the teeth and jaw are developing, including tongue thrusting or prolonged thumb-sucking and pacifier use. (Working to stop these behaviors before they affect tooth and jaw formation is one of the many good reasons children should have regular visits with their dentists and pediatricians.)

Most underbites are genetic, however, and tend to run in families. It’s estimated that from five to ten percent of the population has some form of underbite. The lower jawbone (mandible) might be overdeveloped, the upper jawbone (maxilla) might be underdeveloped, both bones could be affected, or, sometimes, tooth size and placement might cause an underbite. These irregularities in jaw shape and size and/or tooth crowding are not something that can be prevented, and require professional treatment.

  • Why? What’s the problem with an underbite?

Even a minor underbite can cause difficulties with biting and chewing. A more severe underbite can lead to speech problems, decay and loss of enamel where the teeth overlap, mouth breathing and sleep apnea, persistent jaw and temporomandibular joint pain, and self-confidence issues.

  • Can’t my dentist treat my underbite?

Most probably not. A very mild underbite can be camouflaged cosmetically with veneers, but this does not address the cause of the underbite, and will not work for moderate or severe underbites.

  • Can my orthodontist treat my underbite?

Dr. Paul Gates will create an underbite treatment plan after a detailed study of each patient’s individual dental and skeletal structure. Treatment options will vary depending on the cause of the underbite, its severity, and even the patient’s age.

Early intervention is especially important for children who show signs of an underbite. That’s why we recommend that children visit our Round Rock, TX office by the age of seven.

If an underbite is caused by tooth misalignment or crowding, braces can reposition the lower teeth. Sometimes extractions are necessary to make room for proper alignment.

If the cause is due to jaw structure, children’s bones are still forming, so treatment can actually help correct bone development. Palatal expanders, headgear, and other appliances are various methods of encouraging and guiding bone development.

But braces and appliances aren’t effective for every patient with an underbite, and especially in patients (usually those in their late teens and older) when the jawbones are already fully formed. In this case, we might suggest coordinating treatment with an oral and maxillofacial surgeon.

  • What does an oral and maxillofacial surgeon do?

An oral surgeon has the training, experience, and skill to help correct an underbite by surgically reshaping and repositioning the jawbone. This corrective jaw surgery is called orthognathic surgery.

  • What will happen during orthognathic surgery?

Your treatment will be tailored to your specific needs. Two of the common surgical procedures for treating an underbite involve repositioning the upper jaw to lengthen it and/or reshaping the lower jaw to shorten it.

Bone is sometimes removed or added, small bone plates or screws are sometimes used to stabilize the bone after surgery—your surgeon will let you know exactly which procedures will give you a healthy, functional bite. The surgery itself is most often performed under general anesthesia and requires a brief stay in the hospital.

  • How will my orthodontist and oral surgeon coordinate my treatment?

Correcting a Class 3 malocclusion can take time. Your oral surgeon will work together with Dr. Paul Gates to analyze the interrelationship of teeth, bones, and joints to determine dental and skeletal problems, and will develop the best treatment plan possible to create a healthy alignment.

  • So, when does an underbite need surgery?

Sometimes, a minor underbite can be corrected with braces and appliances alone. A serious underbite, however, will often require the specialized skills of both Dr. Paul Gates and an oral surgeon.

And, while it’s not the primary purpose of surgery, corrective jaw surgery and orthodontics can also make you happier with your appearance and boost your self-confidence. Achieving a lifetime of beautiful, comfortable, and healthy smiles—that’s the answer to your question.

Color Combinations of Elastics for the Holidays

April 26th, 2023

There's something special about customizing the elastics on your braces to fit your unique personality. Once you embrace your braces (no pun intended) you'll realize how many color options and combinations there are to choose from. Although you'll have a fantastic smile afterward, you won't have this level of customizability once your braces come off, that's for sure!

Adding flair to your braces isn't what all patients are looking to do (like those opting for clear aligners or ceramic braces), but it's part of the fun of traditional metal braces! Many of our patients ask Dr. Paul Gates to have their elastics match the colors of their favorite sports teams or their school, but how about changing your elastics to match holiday colors?

Here are some options to consider:

  • Valentine’s Day – Red and pink
  • Easter – Pink, blue, and violet
  • Halloween – Orange and black
  • Christmas – Red, green, and white
  • Saint Patrick’s Day – Green and white

There are a few colors that some people choose to avoid. But if you’re trying to make your teeth stand out in a crowd, the following suggestions need not apply!

  • Brown or Green – can be mistaken for food being stuck in your teeth
  • Black – might look like a rotten tooth if someone isn't looking hard enough
  • White – Some patients think it will make their teeth look whiter, but in fact it can make your teeth appear yellower than they actually are. White elastics can also stain easily.
  • Yellow – accentuates the yellowness of your enamel

Since changing the color of your elastics has no effect on the actual orthodontic treatment process, the idea is to have fun and add a personal touch. So, next time you get your elastics changed at our Round Rock, TX office, why not wear your braces boldly and opt for something festive?

Brushing with Braces: How to Keep a Clean Mouth

April 26th, 2023

A clean mouth is a happy mouth. And when Dr. Paul Gates and our staff see you have a clean mouth, we are happy too. Of course, all of this should make you happy because you’re the one preventing sneaky little food bits from getting trapped under the wires of your braces.

Still, you need to be thorough with your brushing. When you have braces, you’re playing a game of hide-and-go-seek with everything you eat. Here are five tips to keep your mouth (and us) happy.

  1. How is brushing with braces like geometry? It’s all about the angles. Brush the tops of your teeth and braces with your brush angled down. Brush the bottom of your teeth with the brush angled up. Pointy brushes, aka interproximal brushes, are good for reaching the tiny spots around braces.
  2. Brush after every meal. If those sneaky little food bits hide in your mouth for very long, they’ll turn into plaque. And plaque is a sign of a very unhappy mouth.
  3. Brush one tooth at a time for at least ten seconds, and pay close attention to the spots where your braces touch your teeth.
  4. Fluoride is your new BFF. Make sure your toothpaste and mouthwash contain this cavity-fighting ingredient.
  5. Braces are no excuse not to floss. In fact, saying you can’t floss because you have braces is like saying the dog ate your homework. Dr. Paul Gates and our staff, like your geometry teacher, aren’t going to buy it. Be sure to floss after every meal.

The Best Brush of the Day

April 25th, 2023

Imagine that you’re only going to brush your teeth once tomorrow. Don’t worry, we know you would never skimp on your dental hygiene like that, but let’s just pretend for a moment. When would be the best time to brush? When you wake up? During the day? Or perhaps before you go to bed?

Actually, whenever you choose to brush, you’ll receive important overall dental benefits as well as specific benefits tied to the time of day. Let’s explore your daily schedule to see why.

Brushing in the Morning

Brushing when you first jump out of bed produces several positive results.

  • Cleaning plaque from your teeth

Plaque is a sticky film made up of oral bacteria, food particles, and saliva. As you sleep, these oral bacteria multiply and produce acids which attack the minerals in your enamel, leaving weak spots which, over time, can become cavities. Brushing removes these bacteria and acids from your enamel before they cause serious harm.

Moreover, plaque hardens if it’s left undisturbed, turning into tartar in a relatively short time. And once plaque becomes tartar, it must be removed by a dental professional. Brushing first thing in the morning removes this plaque buildup and helps prevent tartar from forming.

  • Fresh breath

That bacterial growth we mentioned? It’s also responsible for morning breath. If nothing else, brushing when you wake up means greeting a fresh day with fresh breath, and that’s reason enough to pick up your brush in the morning.

Brushing During the Day

Brushing after meals and snacks also has a lot to recommend it.

  • “Leftovers” lead to cavities

Foods, especially foods rich in sugar and carbohydrates, are converted by oral bacteria into acids which weaken enamel and lead to cavities. When food particles remain in the mouth after a meal, bacteria have more time and more fuel to manufacture these acids.

  • Acidic foods also affect your teeth

If you have eaten something acidic, such as citrus fruits, sodas, or pickled anything, the acids from these foods can temporarily weaken the mineral strength of your enamel. But brushing immediately after eating or drinking acidic foods can damage weakened enamel. Better to rinse well with water and brush after half an hour or so.

  • When you wear braces

One of the first things you discover when you get your braces is that you might need to brush more often. In fact, it’s best to brush after every meal and even every snack while you’re in braces.

Why? First, because no one wants to smile with food particles sticking to brackets and wires. Even more important, though, the filmy plaque which sticks to your enamel can be harder to remove with those brackets and wires in the way. Since plaque causes weakened enamel and cavities, brushing thoroughly is more important than ever when you wear braces.

  • When you wear aligners

Wearing clear aligners means you don’t need to worry about food trapped in brackets or cleaning around wires. After all, you take them out when you eat. But this doesn’t mean you are home free. Brushing after every meal is also a good idea when you wear aligners.

Our teeth have an organic way to help wash away food particles, acids, and bacteria between brushings—saliva! Your aligners, while covering your teeth, decrease their exposure to saliva. It’s really important, then, to make sure you brush after eating. Otherwise, food particles and acids which remain on your teeth after eating are trapped in your aligners, increasing the risk of enamel erosion and decay.

Whether you wear braces or aligners, you’re especially at risk for food particles sticking around your teeth and in your orthodontic appliances. Talk to Dr. Paul Gates about when to brush your teeth after eating and how to keep your braces or aligners clean throughout the day.

Brushing at Night

Growing up, you probably received regular reminders to brush before bedtime—for several really good reasons:

  • Saliva production slows while you sleep

During the day, saliva helps to wash away food particles and neutralize acidity in our mouths. It also contains proteins and minerals which help keep tooth enamel strong. But as we sleep, saliva production slows dramatically, and our bodies can’t remove bacteria and acids as effectively.

  • Food particles fuel bacterial growth

If you haven’t brushed since morning, you’ve accumulated a whole day’s worth of food particles from meals and snacks. Remember, oral bacteria use the sugars and carbs we eat as fuel to produce the acids which attack our tooth enamel throughout the night.

  • Brushing helps prevent both of these problems

Brushing your teeth before bed not only cleans away the accumulated food particles of the day, but also eliminates the plaque and bacteria which would have a much easier time sticking to your teeth without that daytime saliva flow to wash them away.

So, When’s the Best Time to Brush?

In the morning, during the day, at night—there are solid advantages to brushing any time of day. The question isn’t so much when to brush as how often you should brush.

While many dental professionals consider brushing before bedtime as the most important brush of the day, brushing at least two full minutes, at least twice during a 24 hour period, is a necessity for basic dental hygiene, along with flossing at least once a day.

When you’ve been eating sugary snacks, when you’re showing signs of gingivitis or getting more than your share of cavities, when you want to reduce the chance of plaque and tartar buildup, or when you simply want to make sure you’re doing everything you can to maintain your overall dental health, brushing after meals is also highly recommended.

And when you wear braces or aligners, frequent brushing (and flossing) is the very best way to make sure your teeth stay clean and cavity-free.

Talk to Dr. Paul Gates about your brushing habits at your next appointment at our Round Rock, TX office. No need to use your imagination to plan your best brushing schedule. We have all the answers you need to help you brush your way to your best—and healthiest—smile!

Be Prepared!

April 25th, 2023

When you’re busy at school or work, when you’re on vacation, when you’re on the road to adventure—preparation helps everything go smoothly. Especially when the unexpected happens! So, how can you be prepared for any orthodontic and dental situations which might arise? By creating these useful—and portable—travel kits.

Everyday Basics Kit

Dentists recommend brushing twice a day and flossing at least once each day for clean and healthy teeth. But after a long day at school or work with no time to head home before your date, or a garlic-heavy lunch in the cafeteria, or a dash from the classroom to after-school activities, you might feel like there’s no time like the present to give your smile a bit of a boost.

Be prepared with a small travel bag filled with these easy-to-carry basics to get you through your busy day with clean teeth, fresh breath, and a confident smile:

  • Toothbrush and case—and do make sure your case is ventilated so your brush can air dry. Bacteria love a closed, damp environment!
  • Toothpaste
  • Mini-bottle of mouthwash
  • Small mirror—to check for any lunch leftovers
  • Dental floss—to remove any lunch leftovers. Use braces-friendly dental floss if you have traditional braces.
  • Dental Wax—to cover any uncomfortable wires or brackets
  • Interproximal brushes—to remove food particles from around your braces and between your teeth
  • Extra rubber bands
  • Aligner/Retainer case—keep your aligner or retainer safe and clean while you’re eating

Flight Gear

Getting set to travel by air again after this long lay-over? Your basic kit will do the job with just a few minor additions and alterations.

  • A travel version of your manual or electric toothbrush and travel case
  • Plug adapter or voltage converter as needed for your electric brush if you’re visiting another country
  • Quart size, resealable plastic bag to hold your carry-on supplies. Toothpaste and mouthwash are included in the list of items which need to fit carry-on guidelines.
  • Travel-size toothpaste—3.4 oz (100 ml) or smaller tube size. (And an almost-empty regular size tube doesn’t count!)
  • Travel-size mouthwash—also in a 3.4 oz (100 ml) or smaller container
  • Our Round Rock, TX office’s phone number. In case of emergency, Dr. Paul Gates can give you advice on how to handle any problem which might arise when you’re far from home.

Looking for Adventure?

If you’re camping in the forest, leaving for the lake, going for a road trip, or heading out on any travel adventure, you’ll be bringing the dental care basics, of course. We’d also like to recommend some items to take along in the event of a dental emergency while you’re away from home:

  • Dental mirror
  • Cotton rolls
  • Over-the-counter pain relief—including a tube of oral pain relief gel
  • Ice pack
  • Dental wax—this handy item not only protects against sharp wires, it can cover the sharp edges of a broken bracket
  • Temporary fillings—to protect your sensitive tooth if a filling or crown is lost
  • Tooth preservation kit—to protect a dislodged tooth in case it can be reimplanted. (This means seeing a dentist very quickly, usually within 30 minutes of the accident.)

And, if you’ll be mountain biking, water skiing, or enjoying any activity where there’s potential for impact, don’t forget to pack your mouthguard!

Preparation is key to eliminating a lot of stress in our daily lives, and who couldn’t use a bit of stress-relief these days? Make room in your bag, locker, desk, luggage, or backpack for some portable, lightweight dental necessities. Be prepared to share your confident, healthy smile no matter what life has in store!

Five Fun Ways to Count Down Your Braces Time

April 25th, 2023

Braces can straighten your teeth to give you a more attractive smile for life. The process can take 18 months to two years or more, and this amount of time can seem unending when you first get your braces. Counting down your brace time can help the time pass more quickly and build the excitement for when you finally get your braces removed.

Make a Wall Calendar

Crossing out each day on a calendar is a standard way of counting down time. You can make this more personal by designing your own calendar to help you count down. Use an online customization service to upload photos or designs for each month. Each month’s picture can also display the number of months remaining until you expect your braces to come off.

Schedule Rewards

When you receive regular rewards for continuing to wear your braces, they can seem less burdensome. Plan to buy yourself a reward every month that you wear your braces for the duration of the treatment. The time will pass much faster when you feel you are earning rewards for your patience.

Lengthen a Paper Chain

Use strips of paper to make the links of your chain, and add a new link each week to lengthen the chain. Before sealing each new strip of paper into a circle, write on it a reason why you are getting your teeth straightened, or an event in the future when you will appreciate your straight teeth as you smile.

Use a Wall Hanging

Purchase a large pad of blank white paper. Write a “0” on the bottom sheet and a “1” on the next, and continue until you reach the number of days remaining in your treatment. Rip off the top sheet each day to see how many days are left and remind yourself of the progress you are making.

Find a Buddy

If any of your friends get braces around the same time as you, share the experience. Make a pact to celebrate each trip to Round Rock Orthodontics when one of you receives news about your progress.

When should I floss during the day?

April 25th, 2023

A vital step in your oral health routine is flossing. We hope our patients at Round Rock Orthodontics maintain good oral hygiene, including daily flossing between each visit to our Round Rock, TX office. A toothbrush is not always enough to get to the hard-to-reach areas of your mouth. When food remains between your teeth, bacteria starts to grow and will break down your enamel. This is where flossing comes in!

Should you floss before or after brushing?

Whatever your personal preference, you may floss before or after you brush your teeth. When you floss first, you can brush away any leftover dislodged food debris from your teeth. On the other hand, when you brush first, you will loosen the plaque between your teeth, which makes flossing more effective.

The essential aspect is that you floss thoroughly by using a fresh strand of floss and make sure to get between every tooth. Even if your teeth look and feel clean, don’t skip flossing or plaque will begin to build up on your teeth.

When is the best time to floss?

Although you should brush your teeth at least twice a day, Dr. Paul Gates and our team recommend flossing your teeth thoroughly once a day. Many people prefer to floss before bed, so that plaque doesn’t sit between their teeth all night.

What kind of floss should I use?

You may choose between interdental cleaning picks or flexible floss strands to perform your daily flossing routine. If you have permanent oral appliances or restorations, be sure to follow the flossing instructions provided to you.

Do you need help flossing?

If you’re having trouble flossing or have questions about which floss is best for your teeth, contact our Round Rock, TX office and we can provide you with support. Be sure to keep up with your daily flossing routine, and we will see you at your next appointment!

What’s on Your Orthodontic Calendar?

April 5th, 2023

Did you know that there’s a World Orthodontic Health Day in May? Or that National Orthodontic Health Month takes place in October? You may not have circled these days on the calendar—in fact, this might be the first time you’ve heard about them! But celebrating these special days is just one way that orthodontists share the health benefits of orthodontic treatment with us.

That’s because orthodontic treatment is about more than creating a beautiful smile. With the help of Dr. Paul Gates, you might also be creating:

  • Healthier Teeth and Gums

When your teeth are aligned, it’s easier to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Crowded, crooked, or overlapping teeth make it harder to brush and floss as effectively. Plaque that builds up in those hard-to-reach places on the tooth enamel helps create cavities. And over time, built-up plaque turns into tartar, a leading cause of receding gums and gum disease. Straight, properly spaced teeth make efficient brushing and flossing a breeze!

  • A Comfortable, Functional Bite

A malocclusion, or bad bite, occurs when the teeth and jaws don’t align properly. In a healthy bite, teeth aren’t crowded, twisted, or spaced too widely apart. The top teeth should slightly overlap the lower teeth. And the ridges of your upper molars should fit smoothly with the grooves of the lower molars.

If your bite is off, you’ve probably noticed chewing pain, headaches, or jaw pain. Over time, malocclusions can lead to worn enamel, cracked teeth, and tooth grinding, and have been linked to mouth breathing, which dries out the mouth and isn’t good for your dental health. Braces or aligners, with other appliances if needed, can not only correct a malocclusion, but prevent the very uncomfortable side effects of a bad bite.

  • Improved Facial Symmetry

Malocclusions affect facial symmetry. Underbites occur when the lower jaw is too large, while small lower jaws can cause serious overbites. Bite problems can mean overjets (also called “buck teeth”), or open bites (where the front teeth don’t touch when the mouth is closed). Crossbites result in one or more upper teeth fitting inside the lower teeth. These conditions can affect both facial balance and profile.

With the use of braces and appliances like palatal expanders, Herbst® appliances, or headgear, Dr. Paul Gates can guide jawbone development while a child’s bones are still growing. For older patients, we can design a treatment plan to align teeth, correct malocclusion, and improve facial symmetry.

  • Psychological Benefits

We can’t forget the invisible benefit of orthodontic treatment: a happy, comfortable smile is a great confidence-booster! If you’re reluctant to share your smile with the world, a visit to Dr. Paul Gates can let you know just what to expect from treatment, and just how it can improve your life.

Because it’s so important to both our dental health and our overall well-being, we’re happy to celebrate orthodontic health on special days throughout the year. And let’s also celebrate the fact that there’s no calendar deadline when it comes to scheduling a healthier smile! Whether it’s early treatment for younger children to guide jaw growth, or the common orthodontic treatment window during the teen years, or adult treatment to create the smile you’ve always wanted, help is available at our Round Rock, TX office whenever you’re ready to set the date!

How does wisdom tooth removal affect orthodontic care?

April 5th, 2023

The purpose of braces and other forms of orthodontic treatment at Round Rock Orthodontics is to correct malocclusion, also known as crooked or crowded teeth, or “bad bites.” Past orthodontic practice dictated that wisdom teeth be removed, especially in cases of crowding.

The wisdom teeth are the last teeth to come in, and are officially known as the third molars. The teeth typically erupt, or break the surface of the skin, in young people between the ages of 13 and 20.

Sometimes, wisdom teeth are impacted. That means they cannot break through the gum tissue. This typically happens when the mouth or jaw is too small to accommodate the teeth. Impacted wisdom teeth can become infected, and some dentists and orthodontists may want to remove them as prophylaxis to prevent possible future infection.

Justification for removing wisdom teeth

Dr. Paul Gates will tell you that in some cases, wisdom teeth attempt to come in the wrong way, either tilting in the jaw, or sideways. If the mouth is too small to accommodate these additional teeth, they inevitably become impacted. Swelling or infection of the gum flap above an impacted wisdom tooth may cause pain. The greatest danger is pericoronitis, a potentially dangerous infection that can occur in the gum area around an impacted wisdom tooth, or around a wisdom tooth that has erupted.

Orthodontists base their decision to remove wisdom teeth on each patient's individual circumstances. To learn more about the impact wisdom teeth have on orthodontic treatment, or to schedule a visit with Dr. Paul Gates, please give us a call at our convenient Round Rock, TX office!

When is the best age to begin orthodontic treatment?

March 29th, 2023

Most parents know that routine dental care should begin during their child’s toddler years. And many assume they must wait until their child has all of his or her permanent teeth to visit Dr. Paul Gates for an initial orthodontic consultation.

The ideal age for an orthodontic evaluation is age seven. At that age, your child will have a mixture of adult and baby teeth for Dr. Paul Gates and our team at Round Rock Orthodontics to make a determination about whether any problems are present. Typically the first molars have come in by the time your child turns seven, giving us an opportunity to check for malocclusion, also known as “bad bite.” Also, by the time your child reaches the age of seven, the incisors have begun to come in, and problems such as crowding, deep bites, and open bites can be detected.

When Dr. Paul Gates and our team perform an evaluation on your child at an early age, you get one of two positive outcomes. Although treatment usually will not begin until one to five years after the initial evaluation, it’s still helpful in determining whether your child has any problems with the jaw and teeth early when they are still easy to treat. Earlier treatment can also cost less to correct a potential problem than delayed treatment.

Early evaluation, of course, may signal a need for early treatment. For some children, early treatment can prevent physical and emotional trauma. Aside from spurring years of harmful teasing, misaligned teeth are also prone to injury and are detrimental to good oral hygiene.

If your child is approaching age seven, or has already surpassed his or her seventh birthday, it is time to schedule an appointment for an initial examination at Round Rock Orthodontics.

There’s an App for That!

March 29th, 2023

Modern orthodontic technology has led to major changes in the world of braces. Brackets are smaller and come in both metal and ceramic materials. Wires are more efficient and more comfortable. Elastic bands come in a variety of vivid colors, or you can choose brackets which work without bands. You can even decide on clear aligners, with no brackets or wires at all.

And since modern software technology has given us a program for just about everything, it’s no surprise that you can install apps to help make your modern orthodontic treatment more convenient and more enjoyable. What can an orthodontic app do for you?

  • Keep Track of Your Appointments

There are many apps out there that are designed to help you keep your treatment on track with appointment reminders. This sounds pretty basic, but when you have school, work, sports, and activities filling your days, it doesn’t hurt to get a timely reminder that our Round Rock, TX office will be expecting you in the near future. And, since missed appointments delay your progress, you are making sure you achieve your beautiful, healthy smile in the shortest amount of time.

  • Mapping Out Your Routine

You know how important it is to keep track of the hours you wear your aligners. Apps can help remove the guesswork with a timer to make sure you’ve got the hours you need to progress to the next phase of treatment. Apps can also remind you when you’re ready for a new aligner, and let you track your progress in one convenient place with selfies after each aligner transition. After all, it’s really exciting to see just how far you’ve come.

If you wear traditional braces, there are apps with very helpful reminders for you, too. For example, forgetting to wear your elastics can really delay your progress. An app can let you know when it’s time to wear your rubber bands and keep track of your hours. It can also remind you to replace your bands regularly, because elastics become less elastic through the day. And take advantage of the countdown feature some apps offer to see just when you can expect to be done with your treatment when you keep on top of your routine.

  • Brushing and Flossing? Apply Yourself!

A big part of making your smile look its best after your orthodontic treatment is making sure you take care of your smile during your treatment. This means keeping up with daily brushing and flossing, and using proper technique. Two minutes brushing, twice each day, and flossing at least once a day are the basic recommendations for preventing cavities and gum disease. (During orthodontic treatment, you might need to increase your brushing and flossing—ask us how often is best for your needs.)

And to help you make sure you get a solid two minutes of brushing twice a day? Try an app that plays two minutes of your favorite music with a perfectly timed brushing playlist. Apps can also send you brushing and flossing reminders, let you know when it’s time to change your toothbrush (every three months, please!), and give you tips on better brushing and flossing techniques.

  • Have Fun with Your Appearance

Not sure just how you’ll look in braces? Get a preview with an app that uses one of your selfies to model different types and styles of braces, brackets, bands, and aligners. Metal brackets? Ceramic? Elastic bands in your favorite colors? No bands at all? Hardly visible aligners? Find the look that works for you!

  • When Problems Happen

Some apps will even guide you through common orthodontic problems, such as applying wax to an irritating bracket or relieving discomfort. Always remember, though, an app is not an orthodontist. If you have a serious problem or concern, call us immediately.

  • Orthodontist Approved

If you’ve checked out the orthodontic apps available for your operating system, you know that there are a lot of options out there. If you’re looking for an app providing information about your treatment, tips for dealing with your braces, or a convenient way to track your progress or even be part of a community, you want the best information, tips, and conveniences possible—and hopefully all in one place.

To help you find the best orthodontic app for you, talk to Dr. Paul Gates! We might know just the app for your specific needs. Whether you choose aligners or brackets and wires, consider all the wireless options that can make your life easier, your dental care more complete, and—just maybe—your orthodontic experience a little more fun.

Bracketology

March 22nd, 2023

Analyzing strong points, looking for potential problems, making comparisons—it’s bracketology time! Nope, not basketball (although we hear they have something similar), but a brief analysis of your orthodontic options when it comes to choosing a winning bracket.

If you’re getting braces, you’re probably already familiar with how they work—brackets are bonded to the teeth to hold an archwire, which provides gentle, controlled pressure to move the teeth into alignment. But within that basic bracket-and-wire system, there are several different bracket designs available to you at our Round Rock, TX orthodontic office. Let’s see what the scouting report has turned up on our final four, pointing out their distinct advantages as well as some potential mismatches.

Traditional metal brackets

Advantages:

  • Traditional braces with metal brackets are effective for more than just straightening teeth. They can be used to correct rotated teeth, differences in tooth height, and bite problems. For severe bite and alignment problems, traditional braces are most often the right choice.
  • Metal construction makes these brackets able to handle the controlled pressure needed to treat serious malocclusions.
  • Cost-effective. These are usually the least expensive option.

Potential Disadvantage:

Clear/Ceramic Brackets

Advantages:

  • Lack of visibility! Whether you go for clear brackets or brackets tinted to match your enamel, you’ll be keeping a low-profile with this choice.
  • Stronger and more stain-resistant than ever before, using the latest in ceramic, porcelain, or plastic materials.

Potential Disadvantages:

  • Not as durable. Unlike metal, these clear brackets can crack or break. If you play a contact sport, these might not be for you.
  • Some ceramic brackets are larger than other choices, so might be recommended only for the top teeth.
  • Clear or tinted brackets can be more expensive.

Self-Ligating Brackets

Advantages:

  • These brackets use a clip or trapdoor mechanism to hold your archwire without the need of bands. Ceramic options are available if you want an even more discreet appearance.
  • Can be more comfortable with less friction between wire and bracket.

Potential Disadvantages:

  • Self-ligating braces are generally more expensive.

Lingual Braces

Advantages:

  • Lingual braces use metal brackets, but they attach to the back of each tooth for almost invisible bite correction.
  • Custom-made. Lingual brackets can be designed and fabricated to fit your individual teeth perfectly.

Potential Disadvantages:

  • Trickier to clean because of their placement behind teeth.
  • Might not be suitable for a deep bite if there’s not enough clearance between top and bottom teeth.
  • Initial discomfort caused by the tongue’s contact with the braces when you speak and eat.
  • Custom-made brackets are more expensive.

So that’s a brief rundown of your bracket choices. But, unlike sports bracketology, there are no losers here! Dr. Paul Gates can give you the pros and cons of each bracket design, so you can make an informed decision based on the kind of braces which will work best for you. With coaching like that, no matter which bracket option you choose, the final result is the same—a winning smile!

Snacks that are Healthy for Your Body and Your Braces

March 22nd, 2023

You know the school day’s over when you hear these seven little words: “I’m home! Is there anything to eat?”

And before your child got braces, you had the answer: simple, tasty snacks that provided not only an energy boost, but nutritional elements to help build strong teeth and strong bodies. But now whole carrot sticks and unsliced apples are out. Nuts and crunchy peanut butter? Not in your pantry. Hard cheeses and crunchy whole grain crackers? Also off the shopping list.

Because any foods that are crunchy, chewy, or hard to bite into can damage brackets and wires, it’s time to freshen up your go-to snack list. Luckily, Dr. Paul Gates can recommend many healthy and braces-friendly choices when children need something to tide them over until dinner.

  • Fruits and Vegetables for Vitamins and Minerals

Soft fruits like berries, melon, and bananas provide essential vitamins and minerals while going easy on your child’s braces. Make it a blended smoothie for a cool treat—you can even add a healthy handful of spinach or kale without interfering with that fruity taste. If your child still loves apples and carrots best, keep them on hand—but remember that thin slices are the only way to go.

  • Dairy Delivers Calcium

Cottage cheese, string cheese, and other soft cheeses provide essential calcium and vitamin D. Yogurt in all its many flavors is another great option.

  • Meats Provides Protein

Lean meats such as thinly sliced ham, chicken, or turkey provide flavor and protein, and don’t require the chewing that bologna, roast beef, and salami do. And nothing packs a protein punch like eggs—hard boiled, deviled, or diced up in egg salad.

  • Grains, Legumes, and Vegetables for Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates—the “good” carbs—are important sources of energy for our bodies. Snacks such as hummus with soft whole grain pita wedges or blended black bean dip and soft crackers are a delicious, energizing option.

You are constantly looking for ways to make your children’s lives better. Mix and match any of these foods for a snack that’s not only good for their braces, but good for their teeth and bodies! Let us know your child’s favorite snack the next time you visit our Round Rock, TX office!

Adjusting Your Diet after a Braces Adjustment

March 15th, 2023

We all welcome the idea of braces adjustments at our Round Rock, TX office—an adjustment, after all, means you have taken another step on the way to your ideal smile! But sometimes the reality of an adjustment can be a little less welcome—you might have a few days of discomfort as you get used to new or different pressure on your teeth. Luckily, there are some menu options that will help you get through these days in a comfortable and tasty way.

Keep Your Cool

If you are feeling a bit sore after your braces have been tightened, a cool treat might be just the thing. Ice cream is the classic choice, but if you are looking for some healthier options, consider yogurt. It generally has less sugar, while still providing soothing, creamy sweetness. A fruit or vegetable smoothie is always a good (and nutritious) choice. Pudding and gelatin cups? Chilly, delicious, and easy to eat.

Comfort Food

Some of our favorite comfort foods mean literal comfort for newly adjusted braces. Creamy soups, soft pastas and noodles, mashed potatoes, and macaroni and cheese are warm, silky options that don’t require a lot of chewing. Just don’t go too hot or too spicy—that might irritate sensitive gum and mouth tissue.

Breakfast All Day Long

Most of our favorite braces-friendly breakfast foods are delicious any time of day. Eggs scrambled, fried, or in an omelet are easy on your braces and packed with protein. Are you an oatmeal fan? Try some oatmeal with mashed fruit for a more flavorful bowl. And you can’t beat the taste and texture of pillowy pancakes.

The discomfort that follows an adjustment is temporary, but treat your teeth—and yourself—gently over the next day or two. Take over-the-counter medication if needed for pain, brush carefully, and eat a comforting, comfortable diet. Soon you will be back to your normal, braces-friendly menu, and one step further on your way to a beautiful smile!

Not-So-Sweet Sweets

March 15th, 2023

Birthdays. Valentine’s Day. Halloween. A trip to the movies. There are just some occasions where a sweet treat is on the menu. Now that you are getting braces, does that mean you have to give up desserts completely? Not at all! The trick to finding the right treat is to know which foods are safe for your braces and which should wait until your treatment is complete.

There are some foods which should always be avoided. They fall into three main categories:

  • Hard and Crunchy

Hard candies, peanut brittle, popcorn balls, nutty candy bars—anything that is hard to bite into is hard on your braces, and can damage brackets or even break them.

  • Chewy

Caramels, taffy, chewy squares and rolls, licorice and other super-chewy candies can break brackets and bend wires. Not to mention, they are really difficult to clean from the surface of teeth and braces.

  • Sticky

Soft foods are generally fine, but soft and sticky candies are another thing entirely. Gumdrops, jelly beans, most gum and other sticky treats stick to your braces, making it hard to clean all that sugar from around your brackets. And even soft sticky candies can bend wires or damage your brackets.

As you have probably noticed, almost all candy falls into one of these categories. Of course, while sugary treats shouldn’t be a major part of anyone’s diet, and careful brushing and flossing are always on the menu if you do indulge, wearing braces does not mean giving up on treats entirely. A better alternative when you are craving something sweet is to choose something that avoids crunchy, chewy and sticky hazards, such as soft puddings, cupcakes or cookies. There are even some candy brands that are safe for your braces.

Talk to Dr. Paul Gates the next time you visit our Round Rock, TX office about the dos and don’ts of desserts—we have tasty suggestions that will make those special occasions both sweet for you and safe for your orthodontic work!

Mouthguard Protection

March 8th, 2023

Let’s talk about mouthguards.

We could talk about how important wearing a mouthguard is when you lead an active life. If you play sports, ride bikes, skateboard, or participate in many other kinds of exercise, mouthguards protect your teeth, mouth tissue, and jaws from accidents. 

Or we could talk about how wearing a mouthguard while you’re wearing braces has extra benefits. Besides its normal protection, your guard helps protect your brackets and wires from damaging contact, and your delicate mouth tissue from impact with your braces.

But we’re not going to talk about any of these important topics today. Instead of looking at how your mouthguard protects you, today we’re going to look at how you can protect your mouthguard.

If you want your guard to last longer, work better, and stay (and smell!) cleaner, some basic tips make all the difference.

  • Keep your guard clean.

This can’t be stressed enough. Without a good cleaning routine, your guard can become discolored, develop an unpleasant odor, and even cause illness. Not very appealing, right? Happily, keeping your mouthguard clean isn’t difficult.

When you wear your guard, the same plaque that is present in your mouth makes itself at home in your appliance. And when your guard is in its case, that dark, moist environment makes it a perfect breeding ground for all kinds of bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

As soon as you take your mouthguard out, rinse it off. Brush with a soft toothbrush to remove all the plaque, saliva, or food debris that might be lingering in your appliance. (If you are on the playing field, in the park, or at some other inconvenient location, rinse it and brush as soon as you can.) Toothpaste can help get your guard its cleanest, but can be too abrasive for some appliances.

Once you’ve cleaned it, let your guard air dry in a clean spot for about 30 minutes. Air drying helps prevent bacterial growth. After your guard has dried, return it to its case.

Once a week, you might need to give your mouthguard a good soak in a mouthwash or other dental cleaning solution.

Since cleaning instructions can be different depending on which type of mouthguard you have, be sure to follow our instructions if you have a custom guard, or clean as directed by the manufacturer if you have a store guard.

  • Keep it safe.

When your mouthguard isn’t in your mouth, it should be in its case. Floating loose in your locker or tumbling around in your gym bag puts your guard at risk for breakage and bacteria.

And don’t forget to clean your case thoroughly every few days and air dry it as well. Bacteria, viruses, fungi, mold, and other unwelcome guests can collect in your case, too.

  • Keep it only as long as it’s in good condition.

You can purchase mouthguards from sporting or drug stores, or Dr. Paul Gates can make you a mouthguard designed to fit your teeth and braces perfectly. These appliances are made to be strong and durable, but they’re not indestructible. Over time they can wear down or become damaged, especially if you treat them carelessly.

Bacteria can lurk in dents and cracks, and you can cut your mouth on rough, sharp, or broken edges. But if your mouthguard isn’t fitting properly, don’t resort to self-help! Trying to repair, reshape, or trim your appliance yourself is not a good idea, because it might affect its fit and protective ability.

Any sign that your guard isn’t fitting properly or shows signs of wear and tear could mean it’s time for a replacement. You can replace a store model, or see Dr. Paul Gates about replacing or repairing your custom guard. A mouthguard that doesn’t fit, doesn’t keep you safe.

Take care of your guard, and it will take care of you. The reward for the small amount of time and effort you put into caring for your mouthguard is braces that will last through your treatment at our Round Rock, TX office and a smile that will last you for a lifetime. Those are benefits we can talk about all day!

When It Come to Chewing Gum, Be Choosy!

March 8th, 2023

Why do you chew gum? Perhaps because it’s a habit that comes with some healthy benefits. Chewing a stick or two reduces the urge to snack between meals. It’s a substitute for behaviors like nail biting that you’d like to change. It might even give you fresher breath after those tuna sandwiches in the cafeteria.

And, as it happens, chewing sugarless gum actually offers a few dental benefits as well! The act of chewing increases saliva production. Saliva washes away food particles, neutralizes acids in the mouth that can damage enamel, and even bathes the teeth in essential minerals that help strengthen weakened enamel. We’re talking about sugar-free gum here, of course, because regular gum will just bathe your teeth in sugar—no one’s idea of a dental benefit!

So why not open that pack and enjoy? Because, despite the many positive reasons you can think of for chewing gum, sometimes gum can have a negative impact on your braces.

  • A Sticky Situation

Keeping your braces clean can be a bit of a challenge. That’s why you have special toothbrushes, flosses, and interproximal brushes to get rid of food particles that stick around after you eat. And, while any food can get caught in your braces, sugared gum, because it is so sticky, can stick to appliances much more easily and much more thoroughly than even sugar-free gum. You might be able to remove gum residue with regular brushing and flossing, but, worst case scenario, you might be looking at gum firmly stuck in the brackets or between the brackets and wires.

  • Gumming Up the Works

Chewing gum can also affect your treatment time if the action of chewing causes your arch wire to bend. When your wire isn’t providing the proper shape or the right amount of tension, your teeth won’t get to where they need to be as quickly and efficiently. No piece of gum is worth discovering at your next appointment that you haven’t made any progress for weeks due to a damaged wire. And since chewing gum can also lead to loose brackets and bands, you might wonder if this sticky habit is ever worth the trouble it can cause.

  • Something to Chew Over

Before you decide, talk to Dr. Paul Gates! Chewing sugarless gum increases saliva production, which can help wash away food particles from your mouth and your braces. As an added benefit, the action of chewing for a few minutes after an appointment has been shown to reduce the discomfort of an adjustment. Because today’s braces are stronger and more durable, and sugarless gum much less likely to stick to them, we can let you know if chewing gum might be acceptable or even desirable depending on your specific treatment plan and your appliance.

Talk to us at your next appointment at our Round Rock, TX office about gum chewing, and we’ll give you the very best recommendations for keeping your teeth healthy, your braces clean, your appliance intact, and your treatment plan on track. Even if gum needs to be off the menu for a while, what you’ll get in return—the best and fastest path to your beautiful smile—will be well worth it!

The Evolution of Braces

March 1st, 2023

Did you know that even in ancient times, people wanted to improve the look and function of their smiles? Round Rock Orthodontics thinks of modern orthodontic appliances as sleek, efficient technology, but this was not always so! 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. Call our office in Round Rock, TX to schedule your first orthodontic consultation!

How Long Will My Retainer Last?

March 1st, 2023

You’ve worked hard for your attractive, healthy smile, and now you’re making sure it stays attractive and healthy by wearing your retainer. Since wearing a retainer is usually a matter of years, not months, it’s natural to wonder just how long you can count on that retainer to help you maintain your smile.

That answer depends on the type of retainer you get at our Round Rock, TX office. A Hawley retainer, a clear retainer, and a fixed wire retainer have different lifespans. Because they each have their own advantages, Dr. Paul Gates will recommend the retainer that’s right for protecting your individual smile.

So let’s look at the average lifespan for different retainers, and, equally important, some of the common mishaps that can shorten that working life.

The Hawley Retainer

This is the retainer most people picture when they think “retainer.” Made of wire securely attached to an acrylic base, the Hawley retainer keeps the teeth in place, and can even be adjusted, if needed, to improve alignment. They generally last anywhere from three to ten years.

How can you make sure your Hawley retainer keeps working for you as long as possible?

  • Keep it in its case. While some damages to these retainers can be repaired, why take a chance? And it’s much harder to lose a retainer if it’s in its case as opposed to, say, a cafeteria napkin.
  • Keep it away from your pet. Dogs, especially, are tempted by the taste and smell of saliva, but there are safer, less expensive chew toys out there.
  • Keep wearing it. Without your retainer, your teeth can shift. Over time, not only will your retainer fail to fit anymore, but you might need to return for further orthodontic treatment. If you notice your retainer is starting to feel uncomfortable, give your orthodontist a call.

The Clear Retainer

Clear retainers look like clear aligners, and, like clear aligners, are almost invisible. Made of vacuum-formed plastic, they’re designed for a close, comfortable fit, often around the entire arch of your teeth. Also like clear aligners, these retainers aren’t made to last forever. If they become loose, warped, or cracked, they should be replaced. With care, they can last from six months to several years. How to protect them?

  • Protect your retainer from damage. Keep it in its case when you’re not wearing it. You’ll avoid losing it, and you’ll avoid damaging it.
  • Protect it from teeth. And we don’t just mean pets, although they find clear retainers yummy, too. If you grind your teeth, your retainer can suffer. Clear retainers are not the same thing as night guards, so talk to your orthodontist for recommendations.
  • Protect it from heat. Hot surfaces like ovens or heaters, hot dashboards, washers and dryers, even very hot drinks can be a problem. (You should only be drinking water while you wear your clear retainer, so that particular issue shouldn’t arise!)

The Fixed Retainer

A fixed retainer is a small piece of wire that is custom-fit and bonded to the back of specific teeth to prevent any movement from occurring. Because it’s bonded to the inside of the teeth, a fixed retainer is completely invisible when you speak or smile. It can last five years, ten years, and in some cases, even longer. Even though you won’t be exposing this retainer to external dangers like hungry pups or the wash-and-rinse cycle, there are still some situations to watch for:

  • Watch your diet. The same sticky, crunchy, or hard foods that can damage brackets and wires can also loosen a fixed retainer.
  • Watch your dental hygiene. While cleaning around a bonded retainer can be a bit challenging, not cleaning around it can result in plaque and tartar buildup—and your retainer might have to be removed to clean your teeth.
  • Watch for changes. If your teeth start to shift, it could mean your retainer has detached from one or more teeth. Ask your dentist to check the retainer’s bond whenever you have a checkup.

So, how long will that retainer last? Depending on the kind of retainer you have, if you don’t keep it in its case, or if you don’t watch your diet, or if you expose it to heat, the answer is—not nearly long enough. Dr. Paul Gates will give you the very best tips to keep your retainer clean, safe, and working for as long as possible. Now, it’s up to you!

Looking—and Feeling—Your Best in Braces

February 22nd, 2023

It’s normal to be a little self-conscious when you first get your braces. Even though you really want to straighten any crooked teeth, or correct a bad bite, you might still be a bit hesitant about sharing your new orthodontic work with the world. What are some ways to get over those under-confident feelings?

  • Keep It Clean

Make sure you brush after every meal to reduce the chance of food particles and plaque sticking to your enamel and brackets. Brushing and flossing is particularly important now, not only to prevent cavities, but because nobody wants to see food stuck in your braces—especially you! If you absolutely can’t brush, rinse with water right after eating.

And carry a small bag filled with all the essentials for gleaming braces: a travel toothbrush, floss, a small tube of toothpaste, an interproximal brush, and a handy mirror to make sure you’re good to go. When you know your teeth and braces are their cleanest, you can’t help but feel more confident.

  • Express Yourself

Braces are no longer the one-style-fits-all appliances of the past. Traditional metal braces at our Round Rock, TX office are more compact, and now come in different colors and shapes. Metal brackets are typical, but ceramic brackets are an option for an almost unnoticeable look. And don’t forget to accessorize!

You can choose from a rainbow of band colors to make a fashion statement that’s uniquely you. Show your spirit with school colors, celebrate the holidays with festive tones, or choose shades that do wonders for your coloring. Whether you go for bold contrast, mono-chromatic subtlety, or “just because I’m in the mood” quirky combinations, let your braces showcase your style. And remember—you can change that style with every adjustment!

  • Smile with Confidence

Nothing looks better on you than a confident smile. If you’re a little unsure, practice! Some mirror or selfie time will get you used to seeing yourself in braces. Break them in with friends and family before you go public. Remember that any difficulties with talking or eating should only last a little while.

Above all, you’re still your unique and valued self. You can wear braces and be a good friend, a student, an athlete, a lovestruck Juliet on the theater balcony, a star at your after-school job. Don’t let wearing braces hold you back from the activities you love.  Act like your old self, and you’ll soon feel like your old self!

It’s normal to feel a little self-conscious when you first get your braces. But when you care for yourself and your braces, good things happen! If you’re having difficulty adjusting, talk to Dr. Paul Gates. We want to help make sure your journey to a beautiful, healthy smile is as rewarding and as positive as it can be.

At what age should my child have an orthodontic evaluation?

February 22nd, 2023

You may have noticed that kids seem to be getting braces and other orthodontic care a lot earlier these days. There was a time, only a decade or two ago, when braces were mainly seen on teenagers, but that is beginning to change. If you’re wondering when to bring your child to our Round Rock, TX office for an orthodontic evaluation, the answer actually has several parts.

The Telltale Signs

If your child has a very crowded set of adult teeth coming in, or if the permanent front teeth came in very early, these are signs that your child should see Dr. Paul Gates, regardless of age.

The Dental Age

Barring signs of trouble or early adult teeth as mentioned above, the time that your child needs to be seen for initial orthodontic evaluation depends not so much upon your child’s actual age, but on what is known as a “dental age.”

The dental age of the patient might be entirely different from his or her actual chronological age; for example, an eight-year-old could have a dental age of 13. It is part of Dr. Paul Gates and our staff’s job to determine the dental age and then make appropriate recommendations for the resolution of orthodontic issues if they are emerging.

The Official Recommended Age

The American Association of Orthodontists officially recommends that kids should see an orthodontist for the first time between the ages of seven and nine. Even if the child does not have all his or her permanent teeth, the teeth growth pattern can usually be predicted quite effectively by an orthodontist.

This allows for a proactive response to emerging problems, and this is the reason that some younger children are now getting orthodontic devices earlier in life. If a young child has serious orthodontic issues emerging, Dr. Paul Gates can usually address the problems immediately and then follow up with another round of treatment when the child has all the adult teeth.

Orthodontic Treatment: Does a Missing Tooth Mean Missing Out?

February 15th, 2023

You’ve decided—now’s the time to talk to Dr. Paul Gates about straighter teeth and a better bite. So what’s holding you back? If you are concerned because you have a missing tooth, don’t let that stop you from making that first appointment. Orthodontists today have many options to help you achieve the benefits of a more attractive, and even healthier, smile.

How can we accommodate a patient with a missing tooth or teeth? Because each patient is different, our approach will be tailored to your specific needs.

A Lost or Missing Permanent Tooth

There are a number of treatment options available, depending on the position of your other teeth.

  • If your teeth are already crowded, it might be possible to close a small gap left by a missing tooth with braces.
  • If the space between your teeth is the perfect size for a replacement tooth, your orthodontic appliance will keep that spot open as your braces move the rest of the teeth into alignment.
  • If you need more space for a replacement tooth, braces can help widen the space between your surrounding teeth for an ideal fit.

Tooth loss can occur for a number of reasons. Accidents, decay, and gum disease can lead to tooth loss.  Congenitally missing teeth, teeth that simple never developed, are also a fairly common condition. But missing teeth are not merely a cosmetic issue, and should not be ignored. A gap in your smile can lead to shifting of the teeth around it, bite problems, difficulty chewing, and gradual loss of bone tissue beneath the missing tooth.

Today’s implants are a permanent, natural-looking replacement for a lost tooth. If you decide that an implant is your best option for tooth replacement, you are still a candidate for orthodontic treatment. Dr. Paul Gates and your oral surgeon can decide on a schedule that will provide the best timing for each phase of your treatment.

A Lost Baby Tooth

Finally, let’s not forget younger patients. Sometimes children benefit from orthodontic care before all of their adult teeth have erupted. If your child has lost a baby tooth too early, a space maintainer can be used to prevent shifting and misalignment of the remaining baby teeth and leave room for the adult tooth to erupt in its proper spot.

We recommend that your child have a first orthodontic assessment around age seven, but if your child has lost a primary tooth before its time, give our Round Rock, TX office a call. We can let you know if a space maintainer is the best way to prevent future dental and orthodontic problems.

If you have concerns about a missing tooth or teeth, talk to us! Orthodontic treatment is always custom-designed to fit the needs of each individual patient. We can discuss your specific goals, and how orthodontic treatment can help you achieve them. There is no reason to let a missing tooth keep you from a more attractive, healthier smile!

The Best Treats in the House

February 15th, 2023

You waited for this movie all year. You got your tickets early, and you’ve got the best seats in the theater. Whether you paid to see the latest action flick or the most romantic comedy in the history of romcoms, it’s not as nearly as much fun if the trip to the snack bar is a horror story. Perhaps Dr. Paul Gates can help!

If you’re wearing traditional braces, the usual suspects, chewy, sticky, hard, and crunchy foods, are still off limits even when the lights go down. Let’s look at some alternative casting.

  • The Candy Counter

Licorice, caramels, taffy, and candy with nuts can make any film a disaster movie—and can make your next visit to our Round Rock, TX office an emergency one. Stick with soft chocolates, chocolates with creamy fillings, ice cream, and ice cream bars (without nuts or caramel, of course).

  • The Soda Fountain

Sodas won’t break your braces, but they will damage your teeth, so try to brush as soon as you can or rinse with water after enjoying one of those titanic servings. And no crunching on ice! That can damage your braces.

  • The Popcorn Machine

Sorry, we can’t help you here. Popcorn, with or without that tempting flood of melted butter, is off limits. The kernels can get lodged between your teeth and braces, and can be very hard to remove. They can also cause breakage to wires and brackets.

If you still crave something salty, check with us to see if soft pretzels or baked potato chips might be an option for you.

Movie treats contain a lot of starches and sugars, which stick to braces and feed cavity-causing bacteria, so it’s always best to go easy on the snacks. But you don’t have to give up the concession counter completely—just enjoy in moderation and be sure to brush thoroughly when you get home.

And if you wear clear aligners? You can remove your aligners, eat what you like, and clean your teeth carefully before replacing them. But do remember—you’re supposed to wear your aligners for a set number of hours each day. If you’re looking forward to a four-hour epic, make sure to take into account your treatment schedule.

We don’t know if your movie was worth the wait. But we do know that the results of your orthodontic treatment will be! Take care of your teeth and braces, and you’ll be on the fastest, healthiest track to an award-winning, red carpet smile.

Valentine Candy: Is It 4 U?

February 8th, 2023

It’s Valentine’s Day. Love and friendship are in the air, and candy is on the gift list. Are there tasty Valentine treats that are safe to eat even with your braces? We have some sweet news for you!

Safe Valentine candy, like the rest of your braces-friendly diet, won’t stick to your braces (potentially causing cavities) or damage them (potentially causing emergency visits to the orthodontist). In other words, foods that aren’t sticky, chewy, hard, or crunchy.

So, which candy treats are on the “Loves Me Not” list?

  • Chewy Candies

Love heart-shaped gummies? Or spicy cinnamon jellies? Or Valentine-pink taffy? These sweet confections might be delicious, but, no matter how delicious, all that sugar sticking to your brackets and wires is not healthy for your teeth and it’s especially hard to brush off. And the chewy nature of these treats can break wires and pull brackets loose from your enamel.

  • Hard Valentine Candies

Do U luv these? R they UR favorites? Whether or not they come in the shape of colorful hearts with clever stamped messages, as crunchy nuts surrounded by chocolate, or as gleaming red hearts on a lollipop stick, hard candies R not 4 U when you wear braces. Biting down on hard foods can damage wires and loosen brackets.

  • Boxes of Assorted Chocolates

The beauty of a heart-shaped box filled with chocolates is its variety. The problem with a heart-shaped box filled with chocolates is its variety. Any pieces with nuts, toffee, or caramel should be left in their little paper cups. Sticky, chewy, and crunchy foods are some of the worst offenders when it comes to damaging your braces. If your candy doesn’t come with descriptions, break open the piece before you indulge to see just what you’re biting into.

Is this list a bit depressing? Take heart! There are several Valentine’s options that are safe for your braces.

  • Soft Chocolates

Any kind of soft chocolate should leave your braces intact—and if you choose dark chocolate, you’ll be enjoying less sugar and more minerals and antioxidants.

  • Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter Candies

These treats are also soft enough to be harmless to your brackets and wires. And if they’re molded into hearts? Bonus!

  • Boxes of Assorted Candies

The problem with a heart-shaped box filled with chocolates is its variety. The beauty of a heart-shaped box filled with chocolates is its variety. Nestled among all the sticky, chewy, and crunchy chocolates are the safer soft cream centers. Choose the braces-friendly options and share the rest.

Whether you’re buying a candy gift for someone in braces, or you’re the lucky giftee, choose candies that will make Valentine’s Day memorable for all the right reasons! Don’t be afraid to think out of the (heart-shaped) box—pink milkshakes or smoothies, sweetly decorated cupcakes, and creamy pastel ice creams and frozen yogurts are soft, smooth, and safe holiday treats.

Of course, after indulging in any Valentine treat, be sure to clean your teeth and braces carefully. Cavities are never fun, and especially not when you’re in braces. Brush and floss after eating, and make sure your brackets and wires are clear of any sticky, sugary souvenirs. If you do have a problem with damaged wires or brackets, be sure to call our Round Rock, TX office right away to keep your treatment plan on track. Valentine’s Day comes once a year, but your beautiful, healthy smile? You want it to last 4ever!

The Start of Valentine’s Day

February 8th, 2023

Valentine’s Day, also known as Saint Valentine’s Day, has been said to originate with a Catholic priest named Valentine several thousand year ago. Valentine defied the emperor at the time by secretly marrying men and their brides after the emperor had made it illegal to marry. Emperor Claudius II did this because he wanted as many single young men to fight in his war as he could get.

Valentine disobeyed the emperor’s edict by continuing to marry couples until he was sentenced to death. Before his execution, he sent a letter to a secret love and signed it “From your Valentine.” Dr. Paul Gates and our team have come up with some suggestions on how you can celebrate this Valentine’s Day, whether you have a valentine of your own or not.

Valentine's Day Ideas

  • Enjoy a tasty treat. There are plenty of options when it comes to cooking and/or baking on Valentine’s Day. Make your significant other his or her favorite meal or sweet treat, or make your own favorite dish to enjoy on this day. Oh, and be sure to make enough for leftovers!
  • Make a personalized card. Instead of buying a card from the grocery store, take the time to make your own for a loved one. People love handwritten notes, especially when it’s from someone special. If you’re single this Valentine’s Day, make a card for fellow single friend to brighten the day and remind the person that he or she is also loved.
  • Watch a movie. We all know there are plenty of romance movies out there. Put on your favorite romantic comedy, or pick up your significant other’s favorite movie to watch together. Even better, if you’re single, pick up your own favorite movies to watch to pass the time this Valentine’s Day.
  • Do nothing! We all know Valentine’s Day can sometimes get a lot of hype. If you’re worried about not making a reservation in time, don’t feel like planning an extravagant night out, or simply not in the holiday mood this year, spend your day sitting back and relaxing.

Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate love and spend quality hours with the people you care about the most. Whether you’re in a relationship or single, take some time today to appreciate those you love in your life.

We wish you a happy Valentine’s Day celebration and look forward to seeing you at our Round Rock, TX office during your next appointment.

Worst Candy for Braces

February 1st, 2023

Most kids love candy; actually, most people in general love candy. So when it comes time for you to get braces there can often be a natural conflict between candy consumption and maintaining the integrity of your braces. For that reason, Dr. Paul Gates and our team know that it’s good to know which types of candy are not good for your braces. To better illustrate, here are some candies that you will want to avoid.

Caramel

Caramel is a sweet and often exceedingly sticky and chewy type of candy that just does not mix well with braces. Caramel can cause a mess in regular teeth, but teeth with braces are a whole other story. The sticky candy can very easily get lodged and stuck between the teeth, gums, and braces, making for a difficult task of cleaning your mouth. And if your teeth don't get cleaned properly, cavities can easily form. If you get cavities while you have braces, that could mean additional appointments at our Round Rock, TX office and an extended treatment time.

Salt Water Taffy

Another sticky and chewy candy to avoid with braces is salt water taffy. For many of the same reasons as caramel, it is best to avoid taffy until you get your braces removed. It may be a long wait, but when it comes to the health of your teeth, and the purpose of your braces, it really is best to avoid taffy.

Popcorn

Popcorn of any kind is best to avoid when you have braces. The kernels can easily do damage to the braces as you chomp on them, and they can get stuck between your teeth and the braces causing discomfort and further complications. In this sense it does not matter which flavor of candy popcorn you eat, all popcorn is bad news until you get your braces off.

Generally speaking, any candy that is chewy, crunchy, or sticky is not a good idea to eat with braces in your mouth. These types of candy will make life wearing braces much more difficult than if you were to just wait until your braces come off. With a little patience you will be back to eating all your favorite candy again, and with straightened teeth at that.

Braces-Friendly School Lunches

February 1st, 2023

If your pre-teen or teenager is home for the summer, it’s easy to provide braces-friendly lunch options. The school lunchroom, though, presents another challenge altogether. What menu selections are most compatible with braces? And what can you put in that lunch box or brown bag to provide a tempting, healthy lunch during school hours? Let’s look at some options!

From the Cafeteria

Encourage your student to stick with soft foods that don’t require biting into. Some good choices include:

  • Soup, either creamy or with soft vegetables
  • Salads without crunchy vegetables or croutons
  • Soft, shredded chicken or beef
  • Egg or tuna salad
  • Tofu
  • Pasta
  • Meatloaf
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Soft casseroles
  • Steamed vegetables
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Soft breads or tortillas

Bringing a Lunch?

There are many great options for packing a lunch bag! Just remember to keep foods at the proper temperature, with insulated containers for hot foods and two cold sources, such as two frozen gel packs, for cold foods.

  • Sandwiches with soft filling (no chunky peanut butter!) on soft bread. Thinly sliced, easy to chew cold cuts will work, but cold cuts like salami are too chewy. Cut the crusts off if necessary. Cutting sandwich wedges into smaller portions will also make them easier to eat.
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Hummus and soft pita wedges
  • String cheese and soft crackers
  • Applesauce
  • Yogurt
  • Soft fruits such as berries or bananas
  • Jell-O or other gelatin dessert cups
  • Pudding cups

When to Say “No, Thank You”

If you have to bite into it, if it’s chewy, or if it’s crunchy, it’s best to choose something else! Here are some common culprits when it comes to broken brackets and wires:

  • Caramel
  • Hard candy
  • Popcorn
  • Whole carrots
  • Whole apples
  • Hard rolls
  • Pizza
  • Corn on the cob

And remember to send your child to school with a brush and floss to clean teeth and braces after lunch. Dental hygiene is very important now, because brackets and wires can both trap food particles and make brushing them away more difficult. This can lead to increased plaque, cavities, and staining around the area of the braces. If it’s impossible to brush, be sure to remind your student to rinse thoroughly with water after eating.

Lunch hour should be a time to relax, get together with friends, and recharge for the rest of the school day. Talk to us about the most (and least) braces-friendly foods and recipes. By learning what foods to avoid and adjusting some old favorites, your school-age child can continue to enjoy healthy, tasty lunches. Most important, visiting Dr. Paul Gates at our Round Rock, TX office for an emergency repair will not be on anyone’s list of afterschool activities!

The Many Benefits of Braces

January 25th, 2023

It’s true that orthodontic braces can give you a beautiful smile. But did you know there are other benefits of having braces than just getting perfectly straight teeth? Dr. Paul Gates and our team want you to understand the other positives that can come out of having braces and relate to your oral health.

When teeth are crooked or crowded, it’s hard to brush and floss effectively. When there isn’t enough space in your mouth, bacteria and plaque can build up between these teeth. This can lead to serious issues like tooth decay and gum disease. When braces correct the spacing between teeth, and get rid of the tight spaces, patients are able to brush and floss more effectively and not miss essential areas of the mouth.

Surprisingly, braces can also address speech problems. They can shift problem teeth that may be causing embarrassing speech impediments. When an overbite or underbite gets adjusted, patients can pronounce certain words more clearly.

Spaces between teeth may also cause whistling, which braces can fix by closing off the gaps. Word slurring can also be improved with the help of braces by realignment of the jaw or teeth, which opens room for your tongue to move with greater ease.

Braces can also be helpful in supporting the bones and tissues in your mouth. Braces move periodontal ligaments by stretching the connective tissues and nerves. The bones naturally rebuild once they’re settled in their new spot.

Without support from poorly aligned teeth, gum tissue can erode. Braces help prevent erosion of the gums, and will alleviate pressure from the jawbone by fixing a bad bite over time.

If teeth are misplaced, they may not break down food effectively before it enters your stomach. Teeth aid with digestion when you can thoroughly chew your food. If your teeth are badly placed, braces can straighten them for optimal alignment. Once you can chew properly with the help of braces, your food will be more easily and fully digested.

If you have questions regarding braces and how they can help you, contact our Round Rock, TX office and set up a consultation appointment. Braces can help with many oral health problems, and may save you a lot of money and time in the future.

If you’re not sure whether braces would be worth your time or money, consider the benefits above, and how they add to the value of this treatment. You’ll be getting more than just a beautiful smile!

 

How NOT to Forget Your Retainer

January 18th, 2023

The alarm sounds in the morning, you wake up and realize "I forgot to wear my retainer!"

If this only happened once, don't panic. Missing one night with a retainer is unlikely to cause significant teeth movement. However, if it has happened often, give our Round Rock, TX office a call to make sure your teeth haven’t shifted position.

Here are some tips from Dr. Paul Gates to help you remember your retainer:

1. Write down the instructions we give you for wearing the retainer, whether you should wear it all day or at night, or just a few times a week. Writing things out like this helps set the schedule in your memory.

2. Clean the retainer when you take it out each time. If you don’t you may not have time when you’re rushing to get to work or school to clean it properly and may be tempted not to wear it.

3. Put a note on your mirror or in your purse or wallet reminding you to wear your retainer.

4. Set an alarm on your mobile phone to remind you when it’s time to put the retainer in. If you have email with a calendar you can set up daily reminders, too.

5. Always put the retainer in its case when you take it out to eat or sleep. You’ll reduce your risk for losing it or accidentally throwing it away.

6. If you don’t have to wear the retainer every day, you can use some recurring events to help you remember. With this system for example, watching your favorite weekly TV show, laundry day, or family pizza night can all serve as reminders that you should put in your retainer.

7. Don’t be shy about asking for help if you’re forgetful. Assure your spouse, parents, siblings, or roommates that you won’t consider if nagging if they remind you to wear your retainer.

8. Surf online for examples of how teeth can shift when retainers are not properly used. Those stories can serve as timely warning not to let the same thing happen to you!

Remember, you can always call our Round Rock, TX office if you feel your retainer is uncomfortable or painful. We'll work with you to protect your smile!

The Importance of Wearing Your Retainer after Orthodontic Treatment

January 18th, 2023

It's the big day and your braces are finally coming off! Does that mean you are completely done? Not so fast! After you complete your treatment here at Round Rock Orthodontics, Dr. Paul Gates and our team will recommend you wear a retainer, which must be worn routinely after treatment in order to hold your teeth in their proper, new position while your gums, ligaments and bones adapt. Most patients are required to wear their retainer every night at first, with many also being directed to wear them during the day. It's important to know there are different kinds of retainers, and today we thought we would explain the differences between them.

Hawley Retainers

The Hawley retainer is one of the most common types of retainers. It is a removable retainer made of a combination of a metal wire that typically surrounds the six anterior teeth and is designed to keep your teeth in place. This retainer is made from impressions of your teeth so that it fits snugly and comfortably in the roof of your mouth, while the wire and acrylic framing keeps your teeth in an ideal position. The acrylic can also be personalized with a large number of colors or patterns.

Essix (Clear) Retainers

The Essix retainer is a transparent removable retainer that fits over the entire arch of your teeth. This clear or transparent retainer fits over the entire arch of teeth and is produced from a mold. Similar to Invisalign’s clear aligner trays, Essix retainers have no metal or wires. They can also be used to produce minor tooth movements and can be helpful in prevention of tooth wear due to tooth grinding at night.

Bonded Retainers

Bonded lingual retainers are cemented directly to the inside surface of your lower canines. Dr. Paul Gates and our team at Round Rock Orthodontics encourage our patients with bonded lingual retainers to be careful with their bite as the bonding material may break due to incorrect biting and cause your teeth to shift. As with removable retainers, it is important to keep your bonded retainers clean. When brushing, make sure to carefully clean the inside of your lower teeth, as well as the wire itself.

The retention phase of treatment begins when the patient’s braces are removed. Retainers are worn full time, typically for the first nine months, except while eating. Retainers should also be removed before brushing your teeth.

If you have any questions about the retainers we offer or to learn more about post-orthodontic treatment, please feel free to contact us at our convenient Round Rock, TX office and we will be happy to answer any of your questions!

Adults and Braces

January 11th, 2023

Nowadays, many adults are taking advantage of getting straighter teeth with braces. Dr. Paul Gates and our team love to help patients create the dazzling, confident smile they’ve always wanted.

Our adult patients usually fall into two categories: some had braces in the past but didn’t wear their retainers, while others are brand-new to wearing braces. Either way, both groups want the same thing: straighter teeth and a beautiful smile!

You will have several options for getting braces, depending on your financial situation and how quickly you would like your treatment to finish. Traditional metal braces are a less-expensive option and can help people who have severely crooked teeth. But many adults may not prefer this option because they dislike the appearance of metal brackets.

If you’re concerned about how you’ll look, we offer clear ceramic braces that aren’t as visible. These are more expensive than metal braces, and patients need to be careful with colored drinks that can stain them, such as coffee or red wine.

Another popular option is a clear aligner treatment called Invisalign®. This type is practically invisible; it uses a series of aligners that are customized to fit your teeth. The process of straightening your teeth can last anywhere from three to 18 months. For people who have extreme bite problems or crowded teeth, a different method may work better.

Don’t hesitate to call our Round Rock, TX office today to set up a consultation. Dr. Paul Gates will help you choose the best option so you can be on your way to a straighter, more confident smile!

Your First Orthodontist Visit

January 11th, 2023

If you’ve never been to an orthodontist before, you might be wary of what to expect during your first visit. Your dentist may have recommended an orthodontic appliance if it could improve the state of your oral health. More often, you may suspect that you or your child should have orthodontic work done if the time is right financially.

Understanding the various options your orthodontist can perform will be helpful to know before your appointment.

Your initial appointment usually lasts at least an hour. It’s common that diagnostic work will need to be done. This might include getting X-rays so Dr. Paul Gates can better understand the overall structure of your mouth. A quick mold of the mouth may also be taken if braces are a possibility.

Your first appointment is intended to find out how we can efficiently give you a great smile! Here’s a list of common questions you might ask during your first visit:

  • Is now the right time for treatment, or should it wait?
  • What is the estimated length of time for the treatment?
  • How much should I expect to pay? What are the payment options?
  • What can I do to prevent or minimize pain?
  • Is it likely that I will wear extra appliances in addition to braces to correct my overbite, underbite, or other problems?
  • Are there specific foods I will need to avoid?
  • Will braces prevent me from playing my favorite sport or musical instrument?
  • How can I keep my teeth clean with braces?
  • How often will I be expected to come in for checkups and other appointments?

Don’t be afraid to ask these and other questions before you or your child commits to getting braces. Dr. Paul Gates and our team are happy to answer any of them before or after your visit.

Once you’ve had your initial consultation, our team will be here throughout the entire process if any problems arise. We look forward to seeing you at your first appointment in our Round Rock, TX office!

New Year’s Resolutions—Counting Down to a Beautiful Smile

January 4th, 2023

Traditionally, January is a great time to choose some bad habits you’d like to lose, and some good habits you’d like to develop. If one of your goals this year is to help make your orthodontic treatment as efficient and successful as possible, we have the perfect resolutions for your New Year.

  • Brush after every meal

If you’ve grown up brushing for two minutes twice each day and flossing regularly, you have been doing everything right! But now that you have braces or aligners, you should plan on brushing after every meal and each snack.

Food particles can stick to wires and brackets, which is nothing to smile about. Worse, plaque can be easy to miss around your braces, which can lead to enamel erosion and possible cavities. Brushing after eating is the best way to eliminate food particles and plaque from braces and enamel, but if you can’t brush, be sure to rinse well with water.

Patients with aligners benefit from brushing, too, to keep food particles and sugary or acidic beverages from remaining trapped around the teeth after the aligners are replaced. If you absolutely can’t brush, remember to rinse carefully with water after eating and drinking and before replacing your aligners.

  • Watch your diet

Changes to our diets are probably one of the most common resolutions, so it’s no surprise we have recommendations for your dental diet. Dr. Paul Gates and our team are happy to provide you with a comprehensive list of the foods that can harm your wires and brackets, or which are especially difficult to keep from sticking to your appliance and enamel. No tempting caramels or buttery ears of corn are worth damage to your braces! Follow the guidelines for braces-friendly foods, and you’ll help keep your treatment problem-free and on track.

  • Do your part

Wearing braces or aligners can require some interactive work on your part. If you are supposed to wear your aligners for 22 hours a day, be sure to follow those instructions to keep your treatment plan on schedule. If you have bands that you need to wear with your traditional braces to help correct your bite, wear them as directed. And never try to make up for lost time by doubling your bands—this can actually be harmful to your teeth.

If we can help demonstrate or explain anything you need to do at home, don’t be afraid to ask!

  • Keep your retainer case handy

When you finish orthodontic treatment, you will probably have a retainer to help your teeth maintain their new, healthy alignment. Keep your retainer healthy by making sure to use your case whenever you’re not wearing it. Bent, broken, or lost retainers should be repaired or replaced as soon as possible to avoid changes in that smile you’ve worked so hard for.

  • Keep your appointments

The more you stay on schedule, the faster you will achieve your ideal smile. And if you have a problem between appointments, call our Round Rock, TX office! Broken braces and aligners aren’t effective and can delay your progress, so let us know if you think you might need to see us earlier than scheduled. Finally, don’t forget your regular exams and cleanings at your dentist’s office.

Traditionally, the beginning of the year is a great time to choose some bad habits you’d like to lose, and some good habits you’d like to develop. But you needn’t wait for that New Year’s Eve countdown clock.  Adopting these orthodontic resolutions at any time of year will keep you on track for a lifetime of beautiful, healthy smiles.

New Year's (Orthodontic) Resolutions

December 28th, 2022

Why are New Year’s resolutions so often negative? A depressing reminder of things-you-should-be-doing-but aren’t. A new set of rules-that-must-be-obeyed. A nagging list of changes you should make right this very . . .  

No! That’s no way to start the year! Let’s make your resolutions for the New Year a positive, proactive guide to help you achieve your goals for the next 12 months. And high on that list? Creating a beautiful, healthy smile.

If you are working with Dr. Paul Gates to improve the alignment of your teeth and bite, here are some easy, affirmative resolutions to make sure your treatment stays on track.

  • Be Healthy

Brushing is always important. That’s why we recommend brushing at least twice a day, at least two minutes each time. But when you wear braces or aligners, brushing regularly is even more important.

After every meal and every snack, food particles collect around brackets and wires. If you wear aligners, food particles on and between the teeth can end up trapped there.

No one wants more opportunities for cavities to develop, so follow our advice on brushing and flossing around your braces whenever you eat a meal or snack, and be sure to clean your teeth before replacing your aligners.

  • Be Thorough

Brushing carefully is important not just for preventing cavities, but for a brighter smile. And while you want a whiter smile, what you don’t want is white spots on your teeth. These discolored spots are caused by decalcification. What’s decalcification, you ask?

Bacteria and plaque stick to our teeth, and, when not brushed or flossed away, produce acids which eat away at minerals in our enamel. In places where minerals such as calcium and phosphorus leach out of the enamel, a white spot on the tooth appears. Left untreated, these weakened areas can develop into cavities.

Avoid having to deal with this discoloration when your braces or aligners are removed by careful brushing and regular professional cleaning.

  • Be Safe

If you play sports or live an active life, you might already be using a mouthguard. Good for you! Mouthguards have prevented countless injuries. Now that you have braces, talk to Dr. Paul Gates about whether a custom mouthguard is a good idea.

  • Be Responsible

If you have braces, brackets and wires can come loose. You can reduce the chances of that happening by following our instructions on what and what not to eat, and by brushing thoroughly-but-gently with a soft-bristled toothbrush.

If you have aligners, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for caring for them. Exposing them to heat, or eating with your aligners in, or not keeping them in their case when you’re not wearing them, can cause warping or breakage.

If you have a retainer, always make sure it’s in its case when it’s not in your mouth.

  • Be Adaptable

When you visit our Round Rock, TX office, ask us about better brushing tools and techniques, so once your braces or aligners come off, you’ll have a bright, beautiful, healthy smile as the reward for all your hard work.

  • Be Finished!

Dr. Paul Gates will give you precise instructions on when and how long to wear your bands or your aligners. Failing to put in the hours now means that you will have to spend more time in treatment later. And, of course, make sure you keep all your orthodontic appointments.

Resolving to follow our advice can bring you a healthier, happier smile before you know it. Positive goals lead to positive results, so let this be the year that your proactive resolutions lead to a lifetime of beautiful smiles.

Things You Probably Didn’t Know About New Year's Eve

December 28th, 2022

It’s no secret that New Year’s Eve is one of the most widely celebrated holidays in the world. Dr. Paul Gates and our team love it too. It’s a fresh start, another year of surviving the crazy world we live in, a time to refocus on the things we want for ourselves, a celebration with those we love … the list goes on.

Dozens of countries welcome the New Year with over-the-top parties and celebrations. Because it’s a public holiday, many offices, businesses, and schools close for the day. As you think about your plans for this holiday, here are some fun facts about New Year’s that might surprise you!

Can you guess what the most common New Year’s resolutions are? You may already have one or two of these on your own personal list. The top five New Year’s resolutions are: to quit smoking, get a new job, lose weight, increase personal savings, and return to school. Just remember that coming up with a concrete plan to reach your goals is the surest way to achieve your resolutions!

About one million people brave the cold to watch the New Year’s Eve ball drop in New York City’s Times Square in person. Yes, that’s one million! This event is one of the most iconic celebrations in the world. People travel from all over just to experience it, but you can watch from the warmth and comfort of your living room.

If you’re not a fan of cabbage, collard greens, black-eyed peas, or ham hocks, you might want to revise your tastes. All these foods are all regarded as lucky fare on New Year’s Day. Unless you’re allergic, of course!

For many people in Mexico and Latin America, eating 12 grapes at midnight is a tradition that brings good luck in the 12 coming months. Most people even make a wish per grape!

Whether you’re celebrating in Round Rock, TX or traveling elsewhere to observe the holiday, New Year’s Eve is a time to enjoy the company of your friends and family. Don’t forget to send warm wishes to your loved ones, and snag a midnight kiss with that special someone if you can!

Does smoking affect oral health?

December 21st, 2022

By now, everyone knows that smoking is bad for you. But the truth is its broad-reaching health effects are not all known by everyone. This is especially true of oral health. Smoking can have serious repercussions in this regard. To give you a better idea of how smoking can affect your oral health, Dr. Paul Gates and our team have listed some issues that can arise.

Oral Cancer

Oral cancer can have steep ramifications for anyone that gets it. Surgery can be required to eliminate the cancer before it spreads to more vital parts of your body. Any type of cancer is about the worst health effect you can get, and this especially holds true to the affects that smoking has on your mouth. The type of mouth surgery required with oral cancer can leave your face deconstructed in certain areas, and it is all due to smoking or use of other tobacco products.

Tooth Discoloration and Bad Breath

At the very least, it is fair to say that as a smoker you will often have bad breath, and while you may try to cover it up with gum or mints, tooth discoloration is a whole other story. The chemicals and substances in cigarettes stick to your teeth staining them brown and yellow colors that are increasingly difficult to disguise.

Gum Disease and Loss of Bone

Another effect of smoking is the increased risk of gum disease. Your gums may start to recede, which can eventually lead to the loss of teeth. Smoking can also increase bone loss and density in your jaw which is vital to the health of your mouth. Gum disease and bone loss are two signs that smoking is definitely bad for your mouth.

When it comes to the health of your mouth, the question is not whether smoking affects your health, it's how does it affect your health and to what degree. If for no other reason than because smoking involves your mouth as its entry point, it is safe to say that it can have long-lasting and detrimental consequences on your oral health.

To learn more about smoking and your oral health, contact our Round Rock, TX office to schedule an appointment with Dr. Paul Gates.

TMD Problems and How You Can Prevent Them

December 21st, 2022

Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) describe a set of conditions that involve trouble with your jaw and face muscles. They result from a problem in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), which is a hinge that connects the temporal bones, in your skull in front of each ear, to your jaw. The joint enables you to talk, yawn, and chew by letting your mouth move.

TMD can be very painful and interfere with functions such as eating and speaking. This what to watch for and how to try to prevent TMD.

Risk Factors for TMD

You are at higher risk for TMD if you are a women than if you are male. The disorder is most common among adults between the ages of 20 and 40 years. Other risk factors for TMJ disorders include the following.

  • Arthritis in the area, making movement more difficult
  • Excessive tooth grinding, because it increases stress on the joint
  • General stress, which can lead you to clench your teeth and strain facial muscles

Symptoms of TMD

Symptoms of TMD can last for just a short while, or for several years. Seeing Dr. Paul Gates is important if your symptoms make it impossible for you to eat regularly or if you have unbearable pain or discomfort. The following symptoms can occur on both or one side of your face.

  • Aching or very tired facial muscles
  • Jaws that are fixed open or shut without you being able to unlock them
  • Grating or popping sounds when you chew or close or open your mouth
  • Pain in the entire area, including the mouth, jaw, neck, or shoulders, that comes on when you chew or yawn

Preventing TMD

You can try to prevent TMD by focusing on reducing risk factors. If you grind your teeth at night, ask Dr. Paul Gates about wearing a mouthguard. If you are overly stressed, look into ways to better manage your stress and relax your muscles. Another strategy for trying to prevent the development of TMD is to avoid chewing gum, since that puts stress on your jaw.

If you have questions about TMD, don’t hesitate to contact our Round Rock, TX office.

Dental X-rays: The Inside Story

December 14th, 2022

We’re all friends here, so if you sometimes feel a bit nervous before your orthodontic appointments, no judging! Ask us about any worries you might have. We are happy to explain procedures, equipment, and your orthodontic options so you know exactly what is going on during treatment. And if X-rays are a concern, we can put your mind at ease here as well.

What Exactly Are X-rays?

Sometimes patients feel reluctant about the process of imaging because X-rays are a kind of radiation. But the fact is, radiation is all around us. We are exposed to radiation naturally from our soil and water, sun and air, as well as from modern inventions such as cell phones, Wi-Fi, and air travel.

Why is radiation so common? Because matter throughout the universe constantly gives off energy, and the energy that is emitted is called radiation. This radiation takes two forms—as particles (which we don’t need to consider!) and as traveling rays. This second type is known as electromagnetic radiation, created by photons traveling in regular waves at the speed of light.

We are exposed to electromagnetic radiation every day, because, whether we can see them or not, these different wavelengths and frequencies create various forms of light. Radio waves, microwaves, infrared, visible, and ultraviolet light, X-rays, and gamma rays are all part of the electromagnetic light spectrum.

Different types of radiation on this spectrum have different wavelengths and different frequencies, and produce different amounts of energy. Longer wavelengths mean lower frequencies and less energy. Because X-rays have shorter wavelengths and higher frequencies than, for example, radio waves and visible light, they have more energy.

How Do Dental X-rays Work?

An X-ray machine produces a very narrow beam of X-ray photons. This beam passes through the body and captures images of our teeth and jaws on special film or digital sensors inside the mouth (intraoral X-rays), or on film or sensors located outside the mouth (extraoral X-rays). These X-ray images are also known as radiographs.

Why are X-rays able to take pictures inside our bodies? Remember that higher energy we talked about earlier? This energy enables X-rays to pass through the softer, less dense parts of our bodies, which are seen as gray background in a radiograph. But some substances in our bodies absorb X-rays, such as the calcium found in our bones and teeth. This is why they show up as sharp white images in radiographs. 

There are many different types of dental X-rays used in orthodontics, including:

  • Occlusal X-rays, which show the entire arch of teeth in the upper or lower jaw.
  • Panoramic X-rays, which use a special machine to rotate around the head to create a complete two-dimensional picture of teeth and jaws.
  • Cephalometric X-rays, which show the patient’s entire profile, and the position and development of the teeth and jaws.
  • Cone Beam Computed Tomography, an external device which uses digital images to create a three-dimensional picture of the teeth and jaws.

Why Do We Need X-rays?

You might have noticed that these X-rays, unlike, for example, typical bitewing X-rays, don’t take images of individual teeth. That is because orthodontists deal with the teeth in relationship to each other and to the structures around them.

Beautifully aligned teeth and a healthy bite are the visible result of your orthodontic work, but there’s a lot going on above and below the surface that needs to be discovered and taken into account before your treatment even begins. X-rays help us evaluate:

  • The size, shape, and position of your teeth, including impacted teeth and wisdom teeth
  • The size, position, and health of your roots throughout treatment
  • The size and shape of your jaw bones, and how they affect your teeth alignment and bite
  • Your progress during different phases of treatment

How Do Orthodontists Make Sure Your X-rays Are As Safe As They Can Be?

First of all, the amount of radiation you are exposed to with a dental X-ray is very small. In fact, a typical panoramic X-ray provides roughly the same amount of radiation we are exposed to through our natural surroundings in just one day. Even so, Dr. Paul Gates and our team are committed to making sure patients are exposed to as little radiation as possible.

Radiologists, the physicians who specialize in imaging procedures and diagnoses, recommend that all dentists and doctors follow the safety principal known as ALARA: “As Low As Reasonably Achievable.” This means using the lowest X-ray exposure necessary to achieve precise diagnostic results for all dental and medical patients.

The guidelines recommended for X-rays and other imaging have been designed to make sure all patients have the safest experience possible whenever they visit the dentist or the doctor. We ensure that imaging is safe and effective in a number of ways:

  • We take X-rays only when they are necessary.
  • We provide protective gear, such as apron shields and thyroid collars, whenever needed.
  • We make use of modern X-ray equipment, for both traditional X-rays and digital X-rays, which exposes patients to a lower amount of radiation than ever before.
  • When treating children, we set exposure times based on each child’s size and age.

And now that we’ve talked about some things you might like to know,

Please Let Us Know If . . .

  • You are changing orthodontists and have had previous orthodontic X-rays taken. Ask to have your older X-rays sent to our office so we have a complete record of your orthodontic history. (With digital X-ray technology, this transfer can be accomplished with e-mail!)
  • You’re pregnant, or think you might be pregnant. Even though radiation exposure is very low with dental radiographs, unless there is a dental emergency, dentists and doctors recommend against X-rays for pregnant patients.

X-rays play an important part in helping us make sure your orthodontic treatment provides you with a lifetime of beautiful and healthy smiles. If you have any concerns, contact our Round Rock, TX office. When it comes to making sure you’re comfortable with all of our procedures, including any X-rays that might be necessary, we’re happy to give you all the inside information!

Your First Winter in Braces? Tips for a Warm and Wonderful Holiday

December 7th, 2022

If this is your first winter with braces, you might be wondering how to make the best of the holiday season. Dr. Paul Gates and our team have some suggestions for happy and healthy holiday smiles.

Treat Yourself

Winter means tasty holiday treats, and just because you wear braces doesn’t mean you need to step away from the holiday table! You can enjoy your favorites if you remember to check your list for the usual problem foods. Hard, crunchy, chewy, and sticky items? Naughty list.

  • Crunchy vegetables on the appetizer plate
  • Nuts
  • Hard rolls
  • Candy canes and other hard sugar treats
  • Caramels, Toffee and other sticky candies
  • Pecan pie
  • Fruit cake

Luckily, there are plenty of nice alternatives.

  • Turkey and ham—remember, small pieces are best
  • Dressing and stuffing
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Soft breads and rolls
  • Pumpkin pie—but skip a tough crust!
  • Cheesecake
  • Soft cookies and cakes
  • Soft chocolates

We’re happy to provide recommendations for braces-friendly holiday foods. And we don’t expect you to turn down every sweet treat this season.  Just be sure that if you enjoy something sugary, brush carefully after indulging.

Express Yourself

While you’re decking the halls, or pinning up the New Year’s balloons and streamers, or even choosing a great holiday outfit, don't forget that your ligatures can be decorative as well as functional.

  • Celebrating Christmas? Red and green bands around your brackets are jolly and traditional.
  • How about Hanukkah? Try blue and white!
  • Love the season? Icy silvers and pale blues are a frosty statement—and can have the benefit of making your teeth look whiter, as well. Snowy white? The arctic idea is great, but white bands can sometimes make teeth look more yellow, or become stained themselves.
  • Glam New Year? Gold adds sparkle to your smile, but can bring out any yellow tones in your teeth. Silver might be the perfect choice, because it is generally neutral with enamel shades.

Check out our ligature colors for the best possible choices for your teeth and coloring. Take advantage of these options to create a fresh, confident look for the season. Give others the gift of your smile!

Look After Yourself

Winter comes with some special reminders about your dental health.

  • Winter sports are a great way to celebrate the snow and ice, but be sure to protect your teeth and braces. If you enjoy skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, hockey, or any other winter activities, talk to us about why a mouth guard is so important.
  • While you enjoy your winter break, don’t forget to keep up with your dental routine. And because ‘tis the season for holiday treats, be especially careful to clean your teeth and braces after sweet desserts and snacks. Don’t forget to floss!
  • What do cold breezes and hot chocolate have in common? They can both trigger tooth sensitivity! While some sensitivity is normal after an adjustment, if you find you are experiencing tooth sensitivity more often or more strongly than you usually do, give us a call. It might be something as simple as brushing habits, or you might need to see your dentist.

If you have any questions about your braces, in this season or any other, just ask when you visit our Round Rock, TX office. Your beautiful, healthy, and confident smile can make this the most wonderful time of the year!

Orthodontics—Gift Yourself!

December 7th, 2022

It’s the season of giving and the start of a new year. What better time to gift yourself with the orthodontic treatment you’ve always wanted?

Orthodontic treatment isn’t just for children and teenagers. In fact, adults make up a significant—and growing—number of new patients looking forward to beautifully aligned teeth and a healthy bite.

And because today’s orthodontic treatments are more comfortable, take less time, and are less visible than ever before, they are a great fit for your busy adult life. You also have many more options from which to choose, including:

  • Traditional Braces

Traditional braces are a proven method of aligning your teeth and bite, can be more economical than other options, and are often most effective in treating complicated orthodontic issues.

If traditional braces are best for your needs, you’ll be happy to hear that today’s braces are better than ever. Brackets are smaller. Innovative wire technology makes the orthodontic process even more efficient. And with self-ligating brackets, there’s no need for those colorful little bands around each bracket to hold those wires.

  • Ceramic Braces

If you’re looking for something more inconspicuous, consider ceramic brackets. These ceramic or porcelain brackets are color-matched to your teeth, and, especially used with clear bands and lighter wires, create a less visible profile.

  • Lingual Braces

This is your most discreet option, because these braces are located on the inside of the teeth. Lingual braces are custom designed, so they can be more expensive, and treatment can take a bit longer, but they are perfect for those who want invisible braces for personal or professional reasons.

  • Clear Aligners

Clear aligners can treat many orthodontic conditions, including some complicated malocclusions. Your orthodontist can let you know if these removable, comfortable, and subtle aligners will work for you.

Adult orthodontics can give you the confident smile you’ve always wanted, which is reason enough to seek orthodontic treatment at our Round Rock, TX office. And perfectly aligned teeth and a healthy bite have dental benefits as well as mental benefits!

  • Reduce the Risk of Cavities and Gum Disease

Crooked and overlapping teeth are harder to keep clean. Getting in between the teeth to remove all the food particles and plaque can be difficult even with the most careful brushing and flossing. Built up plaque increases your risk of cavities, irritates delicate gum tissue, and causes gum disease.

  • Prevent Tooth and Jaw Injuries

If your jaws have never fit together properly, you’ve probably experienced at least some of the consequences of a malocclusion, or bad bite. Worn and cracked teeth, damaged fillings and crowns, jaw pain, headaches, difficulty breathing—all of these problems can be caused by a misaligned bite.

If you’ve always wanted orthodontic treatment, talk to Dr. Paul Gates to discover the possibilities. A more confident appearance, reduced risk of cavities and gum disease, a comfortable, pain-free bite—there’s no better gift to give yourself than a lifetime of healthy smiles!

My teeth don't line up any more. Why?

November 30th, 2022

If your teeth don't line up like they used to any more, you may be suffering from temporomandibular joint disorder, often called TMD. This is a term that can actually be applied to any condition that occurs because the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is inflamed.

The temporomandibular joint is essentially the hinge that holds your lower jaw to your skull, and when it is inflamed or damaged in any way, it can be extremely painful. You have two temporomandibular joint, one on each side of your jaw, and it is typical to experience TMD in both sides at the same time.

Shifting of the Teeth

The reason that your teeth may not line up as they once did is that the ball and socket joints are often out of alignment and, as mentioned above, often very inflamed as a result. In order to correct the problem, Dr. Paul Gates may prescribe dental orthotics such as a lower jaw splint.

Sometimes, the wisdom teeth can play a role in the shifting of the teeth as well. If shifting wisdom teeth is combined with TMD, it may be necessary to have your wisdom teeth removed. Dental splints may follow if your teeth don't shift back to their proper positions on their own.

TMD is certainly a difficult thing to deal with, so if you experience your teeth shifting, scheduling an appointment at our Round Rock, TX office is the smartest course. We want to help you get your smile back, so give us a call anytime.

Just Add Water

November 30th, 2022

One of the many benefits of your clear aligners is that you can remove them to eat. You should brush after every meal, just like you would with traditional braces, but cleaning your teeth is much easier without having to work around and between brackets and wires.

But when you wear your aligners 22 hours a day, you might be tempted to leave them in when you’re just having a sip of something when you’re thirsty. Unless you’re drinking water, please don’t.

What’s the problem with a can of cola or a cup of coffee?

  • Staining

The virtue of your clear aligners is that they are, well, clear! Probably one of the reasons you decided on this method of treatment was because you liked the idea of an inconspicuous appliance.  Unfortunately, dark beverages such as colas, coffee, tea, and red wine can stain your aligner, making it more visible.

  • Warping

Very hot beverages might actually affect the shape of your aligners. Since they are formed using heat, it makes sense that heat can also de-form them. If hot teas and coffee drinks cause a change in the shape of your aligners, they will not move your teeth the way they were meant to.

  • Affecting Tooth Health

Even though our enamel is very strong, sugary and acidic drinks can damage it. Acidic foods can erode enamel, and the sugars in our diet provide food for cavity-causing bacteria, which then produce acids that erode enamel.

Normally, saliva provides some protection from acids and sugars by diluting them and washing them away from the teeth. When you drink a cola or an orange juice with your aligners on, some of the liquid will get in them, and can stay in them until the aligners are removed. You will actually give these problem beverages the opportunity to bathe your teeth in sugar and acid over a longer period of time, without exposure to saliva to help offset potential harm. And after all your work to create a beautiful smile, you certainly don’t want new cavities!

How to protect your aligners and keep them their cleanest—and most invisible?

  • Take your aligners out before drinking beverages that can stain them, or, if you can’t, try using a straw. Clean your aligners according to Dr. Paul Gates and our team’s instructions to keep them as clear as possible.
  • Don’t drink very hot beverages with your aligners in place. Try icing your coffee and tea if you can’t remove your aligners. And if you think your aligners have changed shape, please give us a call.
  • Drink water! Water hydrates you, doesn’t damage enamel, and keeps your aligners clean. Tap water is your best option, as even bottled waters can be acidic.

If your aligners should become stained, remember that you change them frequently, so the staining can be a temporary problem. If you do have a drink of something hot and your aligners feel “off,” give our Round Rock, TX office a call. We’ll let you know if you need to replace them.

But prevention is always best! Avoid staining from the start by removing your aligners before you drink dark beverages. Don’t expose your aligners to heat. Think about replacing unhealthy drinks with water. And certainly brush right away, or rinse with water if that’s not possible, if you drink a sugary or acidic beverage. These simple precautions will help keep your aligners, and, most important, your teeth, looking their best.

Rubber Band Horoscopes: What your color says about you

November 23rd, 2022

One exciting part about wearing braces from Round Rock Orthodontics 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. From Dr. Paul Gates, 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.

Helpful Retainer Habits

November 16th, 2022

We’ve probably all seen that unhappy kid or frazzled parent sifting through trash for a lost retainer. If we’re really unlucky, we might have been that unhappy kid or frazzled parent sifting through the unpleasant remains of third period lunch hour. But getting tossed isn’t the only risk these appliances face. Read on for ways to keep your retainer (and your parent!) happy.

  • Keep Your Retainer With You

Always carry a retainer case. If you automatically put your retainer in its case when you’re eating, you are much more likely to remember it then if it has been wrapped up in a napkin on your lunch tray. And, if the worst happens, much more likely to recover it in one piece.

Choose the brightest colored case you can live with, so you will have an easier time locating it if need be, and discuss how to label the case to get it back safely to you--just in case.

  • Keep Your Retainer Intact

You might think if you put your retainer in your backpack, or purse, or saxophone case, or athletic bag, it will be safe. It will not. Retainers are designed to be tough enough for everyday wear, but being tossed on the floor while inside a backpack is not everyday wear. Always put your retainer back in its (brightly colored) case before packing it away.

Retainers can warp if they are exposed to heat, so keep them away from potential heat sources like stoves, microwaves, and washers and dryers. Even your car dashboard can become hot enough to warp your retainer. And never use boiling water to clean them.

Finally, your dog might find your retainer to be the #bestchewtoyever, so be sure to put it in a spot pets can’t reach when you’re not wearing it.

  • Keep Your Retainer Clean

Just like plaque can build up on your teeth, minerals and calcium can build up on your retainer. Different types of retainers require different cleaning methods, so talk to Dr. Paul Gates about how to keep your retainer clean and bacteria-free. We will be happy to give you instructions on the best way to take care of your particular appliance. And don’t forget to clean your case regularly!

Accidents will happen, of course. If your retainer is lost or damaged, call our Round Rock, TX office as soon as possible. We might be able to fix minor damage, and, if needed, we can replace a lost retainer quickly.

Your time in braces is over, but your teeth are still stabilizing in their new, healthy positions. Wearing your retainer regularly is the final step in producing the beautiful smile you’ve worked so hard for. Keep your retainer clean, keep it safe, and keep it with you, and you can enjoy that smile now and for years to come!

No Wooden Teeth, Please! Why Oral Health is So Important

November 9th, 2022

Your teeth are precious. Once your permanent teeth come in, they need to last you a lifetime. Extensive tooth decay can lead to dental caries and the need for fillings, crowns, bridges, and dentures.

While these fixes can go a long way toward maintaining your quality of life, they cannot compare to your natural teeth. Getting braces is no excuse to let up on your thorough oral health routine: You need to take good care of your teeth before, during, and after braces to benefit completely from the gains you get from newly straightened teeth.

Why You Should Maintain Good Oral Health for Life

Begin a complete oral health regimen as early as possible in life, and maintain this routine throughout your life. Keeping your (or your child’s baby) teeth clean establishes a routine. It preserves healthy baby teeth whose function is to save space for the permanent teeth when they are ready to come in. Care of your permanent teeth helps preserve the enamel and prevent decay.

Take Special Care with Braces

It is important to pay attention to oral health when you have braces. If you do not take special care of your teeth during the months or years that you have braces, you risk irreversible damage to your teeth. Care is more difficult with braces because food can easily get stuck. In addition to brushing twice daily and flossing each day, Dr. Paul Gates and our staff suggest avoiding sticky foods.

Dangers of DIY Orthodontics on the Internet

November 2nd, 2022

All over the Internet you'll find videos and articles showing how you can close the gap between teeth or space them out. There is a plethora of DIY orthodontic techniques out there — you can even mail order your own impressions to get clear aligners, without even seeing a dentist or orthodontist. Following the instructions laid out in these videos and articles (by people who have zero training in orthodontics) is about the worst decision you can make for your overall oral health.

Performing DIY or at-home orthodontia can lead to or cause:

  • Loss of teeth
  • Infection
  • Cavities or infections that are missed or undiagnosed
  • Gum damage

Dr. Christina Carter, president of the Northeastern Society of Orthodontists, says that DIY orthodontics can have terrible consequences. She spoke to TODAY about closing gaps between teeth using rubber bands or elastics:

"The teeth are connected to the gums and the blood supply and there is a risk of infection, of tearing the gums which might not heal properly, and a risk of damaging the attachment between the tooth and gums so the tooth no longer gets the support it needs." She also noted, "A simple rubber band can actually slide up the tooth and cut all the attachments to it and you can actually lose a tooth."

One of the worst parts about DIY orthodontics is that you never consult with a trained orthodontist, so you're really operating on a dangerous lack of information. It's best not to risk damage to your teeth or infection. Let Dr. Paul Gates know what you want to accomplish with your teeth and we will help you find the safest and most cost-effective way to achieve it.

Dr. Paul Gates want you to be informed and practical about your oral health. Should you have any questions about orthodontic treatment options, please do not hesitate to give us a call at our convenient Round Rock, TX office.

A Fun Halloween with Braces

October 26th, 2022

Having teeth encased in braces can be discouraging during Halloween. If you or your child has braces, there are certain candies to avoid this holiday season—and in general—while you have braces. Candy can be tempting, especially for children.

But don’t worry; other sweet treat options can readily take their place. Take a look at the American Association of Orthodontists’ tips on how to keep your braces safe.

Treats to avoid because they can cause damage to your braces include:

  • Hard candies
  • Chewy candies
  • Nuts
  • Caramel
  • Licorice
  • Jelly beans
  • Taffy
  • Bubblegum
  • Hard pretzels
  • Popcorn

These goodies should be avoided because they have the potential to bend or break your braces. Broken brackets and loose wires can waste time and money.

Switch out hard, chewy, and sticky candies for these options in the mean time:

  • Soft chocolate
  • Peanut butter cups
  • Gelatin treats
  • Ice cream
  • Smoothies
  • Root beer floats
  • Apple cider

Encouraging your child to stay with alternative, braces-friendly treats may prevent her from trying to eat candies that could break or damage braces. Halloween can still be fun, especially if your youngster (or you) don’t have to visit our Round Rock, TX office get braces fixed.

Make sure to remind your child to avoid harmful candies, and encourage him to exchange treats with friends to make it more fun. Only passing out candies that children can eat safely, such as soft chocolates, can make them feel included.

Dr. Paul Gates and our team hope you enjoy your Halloween season, regardless of whether you are wearing braces.

Wax Facts

October 19th, 2022

In the long run, wearing braces is so worth it. Whether you’re working toward straight teeth, an improved bite, or both, you’ll end up with a beautiful smile! But sometimes, in the short run, they can be really annoying. Braces can irritate your lips, tongue, and cheeks while you are getting used to them or after an adjustment. Or a problem wire can poke the inside of your mouth and you can’t see us immediately for a repair. At times like these, Dr. Paul Gates will recommend orthodontic wax to make your life more comfortable.

  • What is Orthodontic Wax?

Orthodontic wax is made from non-toxic products like beeswax, carnauba wax, and paraffin wax. Some products might contain extras like vitamin E, aloe, or flavorings. The soft wax covers the bracket or wire that is bothering you with a smooth surface that won’t irritate sensitive mouth tissue and will give sore areas a chance to heal.

  • What if I Swallow a Piece?

All dental wax is made of non-toxic ingredients. If you accidentally swallow a bit, no need to worry.

  • Is It Hard to Apply?

It’s not hard, but it takes a bit of practice. First, locate the wire or bracket that is causing the problem. You might know where it is right away, or be able to discover it by discovering which sharp bracket or wire is across from the sore spot in your mouth.

Always wash your hands first. Brush and floss, so you will have a clean surface to apply the wax. The drier the surface, the better the wax will stick, so let the area air dry or use something clean such as sterile gauze to dry around the bracket.  

The wax is actually quite easy to work with. Break off a small piece of wax (no bigger than the size of a popcorn kernel or a pea), roll it in your fingers to soften it, and press the wax firmly but carefully over the problem bracket or wire until it sticks. Rub until the wax is smooth. Don’t worry, we will be happy to show you just how it’s done.

  • Can I Eat with Wax in Place?

If you find that you can eat without much irritation, it’s better to eat without wax over your braces. Remove the wax before eating and brush carefully to remove any food particles from your braces before applying new wax. If you do snack while using wax, be sure to change it after you eat. Wax, after all, sticks easily to your braces—and food particles stick to wax! Not a good look, and not good for your teeth.

  • Brushing and Flossing

Take off any wax before you brush and floss. Your toothbrush will thank you!

You probably have lots of other questions. Can you sleep with wax on your braces? Will it help you be more comfortable at trumpet practice? That’s why we’re here! If you have any questions at all about orthodontic wax and how to use it, call our Round Rock, TX office. We want to make sure that the months you spend wearing braces are as comfortable as possible on your way to a lifetime of beautiful smiles. It’s so worth it!

What is dentofacial orthopedics?

October 12th, 2022

You may have noticed that we specialize in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics. And while most people we talk to have heard of orthodontics, many are confused by the dentofacial orthopedics part of the title. Today, Dr. Paul Gates and our team thought we would explain the difference.

While orthodontics entails the management of tooth movement, dentofacial orthopedics involves the guidance of facial growth and facial development, which occurs for the most part during childhood, and is a reason why kids are often the best candidates for receiving dentofacial orthopedic therapy. Dr. Paul Gates will examine and monitor your child’s growth to determine when starting treatment will be most effective. If your child begins orthodontic treatment before his or her adult teeth have erupted, it is known as Phase-One treatment. During this phase, Dr. Paul Gates will use treatments designed to correct your child’s jaw growth and make sure that the jaw bone is properly aligned before beginning the next phase of treatment, which usually involves placing braces to straighten your child's teeth.

Dentofacial orthopedics is also used to treat adult patients at Round Rock Orthodontics, however, this process may involve surgery. With our younger patients, we know the jaw bones are still forming, making it easier for our team at Round Rock Orthodontics to control bone growth and tooth movement. Adults, however, are a different story; their bones are no longer growing, and their jaw bones have hardened, so it is more difficult to adjust the bite and move teeth into proper alignment. Dr. Paul Gates may recommend surgery to adjust the jaw bone and establish the proper bite alignment before beginning treatment.

Because our team at Round Rock Orthodontics is skilled in both areas, we are able to diagnose any misalignments in the teeth and jaw as well as the facial structure, and can devise a treatment plan that integrates both orthodontic and dentofacial orthopedic treatments.

We hope that helps! To learn more about dentofacial orthopedics, and to find out if this type of treatment is right for you, please contact our Round Rock, TX office and schedule an initial consultation for you or your child. It’s never too late to get a great smile, and we can’t wait to help you or your child get started.

Halloween Guidelines from the American Association of Orthodontists

October 5th, 2022

Fall can be a really enjoyable time of the year for you and your family. The kids are back in school, the leaves are changing, and Halloween approaches. This holiday is a lot of fun for kids, but Round Rock Orthodontics wants to remind you it can also be risky, especially for your child’s braces. If you have kids with braces, take a look at the following tips from the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO) on how to keep your kids and their teeth safe this Halloween season.

Important Safety Tips

Trick-or-treating is a favorite Halloween activity for kids everywhere. While it is a great holiday tradition for children, it comes with some potential risks. To keep your kids safe while trick-or-treating, try following these simple guidelines:

  • If you have young children, make sure they are accompanied by an adult at all times.
  • You or your kids should always carry flashlights.
  • For costumes, try to include a light-colored or reflective element that can be easily seen by oncoming traffic.
  • Avoid costumes that include a mask, especially for younger children. These can pose a safety hazard for both the wearers and the people around them.
  • Tell your kids not to eat any of their candy until they arrive home. Be sure to inspect all treats carefully before letting them dig in.

Following these guidelines can help you keep your kids safe on Halloween.

Halloween Treats to Avoid if Your Child Has Braces

If your kids have braces, you’ll want them to steer clear of certain treats on Halloween. Many candies can cause damage to braces, so it’s wise to avoid them while you’re celebrating this fun holiday. Here is a list of treats to stay away from:

  • Hard candies
  • Chewy candies
  • Nuts
  • Caramel
  • Licorice
  • Jelly beans
  • Taffy
  • Bubblegum
  • Hard pretzels
  • Popcorn

Some of these treats may seem harmless, but all of them have the potential to bend or break your child’s braces. So it’s best to avoid eating them altogether.

Braces-Friendly Halloween Treats

If your children have braces, they may feel like they can’t enjoy any treats on Halloween. However, there are plenty of braces-safe treat options for them to choose from, including the following:

 

  • Soft chocolate
  • Peanut butter cups
  • Gelatin treats
  • Ice cream
  • Smoothies
  • Root beer floats
  • Apple cider

These are just a few braces-friendly alternatives to traditional Halloween candy. Helping your kids have a fun and safe Halloween—while at the same time protecting their braces—can be easy if you follow these simple tips and guidelines. Help your kids enjoy the holiday without having to visit Dr. Paul Gates for repair work on damaged braces!

Retainer Hacks

September 28th, 2022

Even with the best of care, accidents can happen, and your retainer, unfortunately, is not immune. Of course, you need to visit our Round Rock, TX office ASAP if your retainer is damaged, but, in the meantime, there are some strategies you can use to help your teeth—and your retainer—stay as healthy as possible while you wait.

For Removable Retainers

  • When you notice any damage to your removable retainer—remove it.

Don’t wear a damaged retainer, especially overnight. You don’t want to damage it further, and you do want to avoid the possibility of choking if a retainer breaks while you’re sleeping. Dr. Paul Gates and our orthodontic team are experts when it comes to deciding if your retainer is wearable, so always consult an expert before putting a suspect retainer back in your mouth.

  • Damaged Hawley retainer?

If you have a Hawley retainer—the traditional wire retainer—here’s some good news: a Hawley retainer can often be repaired if it’s not damaged too badly. Don’t try to fix your retainer yourself, and bring it into our office as soon as possible to see if it’s fixable.

  • Damaged clear retainer?

If you have a clear retainer, let’s start with the bad news: A clear retainer is not a repairable retainer. Cracks, breaks, warping—these injuries mean that a new retainer is in your future.

The good news is that materials for plastic retainers are available that are more durable than ever. This might be a good option for you to check out, especially if you suffer from bruxism, or tooth grinding, which can be very hard on clear retainers.

  • When you’ve just finished treatment with clear aligners . . .

It’s worth asking if your last tray can sub for your retainer until you have it repaired or replaced.

  • Ask us about over-the-counter mouthguards.

While you wait for a retainer repair/replacement, your teeth are at risk of shifting out of alignment. A customizable OTC mouthguard might reduce the chance of shifting, although it’s definitely not a long-term solution! We can let you know if this temporary fix is worth it.

For Fixed Retainers

If the wire retainer bonded to your teeth becomes loose, or if you notice your teeth shifting, you might need a repair or a replacement. This is a job for us. In the meantime,

  • When you have a broken wire . . .

If a broken wire is causing discomfort, check to see if you should flatten it or cover the wire tip with dental wax to protect soft tissues. Warm water rinses can ease irritation.

  • When your wire is broken or loose . . .

Stay away from chewy, sticky, and crunchy foods. You should be doing this anyway with a fixed retainer to keep it from becoming detached—and if it’s already loose, no need to make it more so!

  • Ask us about over-the-counter mouthguards.

Check to see if an OTC, customizable mouthguard is a good idea to keep your teeth from shifting if you can’t visit Round Rock Orthodontics right away.

We started off by saying that accidents can happen even with the best of care. So you can imagine what can happen without the best of care. Keep your retainer in its case, keep it away from heat, don’t eat foods that can harm your retainer—all the precautions that make accidents unlikely to happen.

But if something awful befalls your retainer, call our Round Rock, TX office right away. Why aren’t we suggesting ways to fix your broken retainer with the supplies you have in your home toolbox? Because the best life hack of all for someone with a damaged retainer is to leave the fixing to a dental professional.

Are braces right for me?

September 21st, 2022

According to Preferred Consumer, it's estimated that 50 percent of people around the world have teeth that are crooked, not aligned properly, or irregular. Fortunately today, orthodontics has advanced to the point where corrective devices, such as braces and retainers, are less obvious, more comfortable, and can be worn for shorter periods of time.

So, with that being said, how do you know if braces are right for you? Typically your dentist will be able to point out any issues with your teeth at your regular six-month cleanings and recommend you to an orthodontist. But here are some other things to keep in mind when deciding whether or not braces could be in your future:

Crooked Teeth

As children grow, so do their teeth. And more often than not, certain teeth will grow in crooked. This isn't uncommon, as the majority of children will require some sort of teeth correction, whether that’s braces or retainers. Retainers are custom-made devices that either work to hold teeth in place or correct tooth alignment. They're often worn all day, aside from meals, at the start of the treatment period and then eventually are rolled back so they're just worn at night. Braces on the other hand are worn for at least a year and work to help straighten or position teeth.

Overbite or Underbite

The other main oral issue that orthodontics helps correct is uneven alignment, such as an underbite or an overbite. You might hear Dr. Paul Gates refer to this as a "malocclusion," which means "bad bite." Braces can help rearrange your alignment so an overbite or underbite is less of a problem. Typically after the braces come off for this sort of treatment, patients need to wear a retainer from Round Rock Orthodontics to finish the treatment.

While braces are typically associated with dental issues in children, more adults are wearing the devices as well. About one in every five braces wearers are adults; a sign that it's never too late to correct any oral issues. Part of this is due to the technological advancements in orthodontics. For instance, new braces feel much better and come in a variety of styles — including clear — so they're far less obvious. Plus, the wires on braces are now made from advanced metals, which are stronger and lighter, so they get the job done much more efficiently. With so many people wearing braces these days, nicknames like "metal mouth" and "brace face" are almost a thing of the past. What's more, is that insurance plans are increasingly covering orthodontic treatment, making braces a much more feasible option for families on a budget.

When weighing whether or not braces are in your future, it's important to study all of your options about the styles of braces and what treatment option is best for you. Also be sure to contact your insurance provider to see what is covered and what will have to be paid out of pocket. It might take a few years of treatment, but braces can give you that winning smile for the rest of your life. Call our Round Rock, TX office with any questions you might have!

Braces-Friendly Recipe: Dinner

September 14th, 2022

Wearing braces during your treatment at Round Rock Orthodontics presents some unique challenges in the types of food you can safely eat. The wrong items can be difficult to remove from between your teeth and the appliance. Other foods may even break or loosen your braces.

Dinner recipe ideas

Lasagna is a great dinner choice because it provides you with several food groups in one easy dish.

  • 1 ½ pounds ground hamburger
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tsp. basil
  • 1 pound diced tomatoes — canned is fine
  • 12 oz. tomato paste
  • 1 package of dry spaghetti sauce mix for seasoning
  • 10 oz. box dry lasagna
  • 3 cups ricotta or cottage cheese or 1 ½ cups each mixed
  • ½-cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 pound sliced or shredded Mozzarella cheese

Brown and drain your hamburger meat. Dice the garlic and simmer the hamburger, garlic, basil, diced tomatoes, tomato paste and powdered sauce mix for ½ hour.

Cook the lasagna noodles as directed on the package and drain.

Beat the eggs and combine them with your ricotta or cottage cheese.

Layer ½ of the noodles in a 13 x 9 pan. Spread ½ of your cottage cheese mix on top of the noodles, then layer ½ of the mozzarella on top. Finish this layer with ½ of your hamburger mix. Repeat the layering with the other half of your ingredients. Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes.

Meats

You can enjoy ribs and chicken wings as long as you cut the meat from the bone before you eat. The same rule applies to turkey legs; do not gnaw on bones, because this can damage your braces.

Vegetables and fruits

You still need to include fruits and vegetables in your daily meals. Skip corn on the bob, whole apples, and raw carrots. Broccoli is soft but particles can become stuck in your braces, so be sure to brush and floss after your meal.

Desserts

Avoid caramel, taffy, and hard candies for dessert. Pudding and ice cream are fine, but low-sugar versions are best.

Remember that your mouth will be sore after adjustments with Dr. Paul Gates. Stick to softer foods until the sensitivity is reduced. Please do not hesitate to ask our team for recipe and meal ideas. We will be happy to take the time to explain which foods items are the best choices and why.

If you have any questions about these recipes, or if you have any questions about eating with braces, please give us a call at our Round Rock, TX office!

What was your favorite part of summer?

September 7th, 2022

It's the end of summer, and fall is just around the corner. Soon the temperatures will cool down, the leaves will start to change, and Dr. Paul Gates and our team at Round Rock Orthodontics are sure that you’ll soon be thinking about Halloween costumes and Thanksgiving plans in no time. But wait! First, we want to know about your favorite parts of the summer! Did you go on a wonderful family trip? Did you pick up a new hobby? Did you try to spend as much time outside and in the sun as possible?

Share your favorite memories, stories, or photos with us by leaving a comment below or on our Facebook page.

Labor Day: Our favorite holiday to rest!

August 31st, 2022

Labor Day, celebrated on the first Monday each September here in the United States, is a holiday devoted to the American working community. The purpose of the holiday is honoring the country's workers and their contributions to the strength of our country as a whole.

How Labor Day Started

There is actually some debate as to the origins of Labor Day. It is uncertain whether Peter McGuire, a cofounder for the American Federation of Labor, or Matthew Maguire, who was the secretary of Central Labor Union of New York, had the great idea. However, the Central Labor Union's plans were what launched the first Labor Day in America.

The First Labor Day

The very first Labor Day was celebrated on September 5th, 1882. The Central Labor Union then held annual celebrations on September 5th for what they called a working man's holiday. By the year 1885, the Labor Day celebration had spread to many different industrial areas, and after that it began spreading to all industries in the United States.

Labor Day Today

Labor Day today is a huge United States holiday during which we honor the country's workers with a day of rest and relaxation or a day of picnics and parades. This holiday is truly one to honor the many people who work hard to contribute to the economic well-being of our great country!

Our team at Round Rock Orthodontics hopes all of our patients celebrate Labor Day, and every holiday, safely and happily. Whether you stay in the Round Rock, TX area, or travel out of town, have fun, and don't forget to brush!

Orthodontic Treatments

August 24th, 2022

It’s not unusual for a patient to be unaware of the range of services that orthodontists can provide for their patients. Knowing which services Dr. Paul Gates and our team perform can help you better understand your options and why we might select a particular method of treatment.

Both orthodontists and dentists care about good oral health, but they approach treatment in differing ways. You know that dentists clean teeth and treat gum disease, tooth decay, toothaches, and other oral health problems.

But what does your orthodontist do besides help straighten teeth with the help of braces? Orthodontists are commonly known to help fix or realign crooked teeth. Many of the patients at Round Rock Orthodontics come in for appointments that relate to their braces.

Dr. Paul Gates and our team recommend that children be seen around the age of seven to evaluate their potential orthodontic needs. Common problems may include overcrowding of teeth, large gaps or spaces, and overbites or underbites, among other things.

In order to address these common problems, we offer several methods of treatment besides standard braces and retainers:

  • Space maintainers can be used to fill the spaces left by missing baby teeth so other teeth don’t shift and occupy the adult tooth’s location.
  • Jaw repositioning appliances, sometimes known as splints, are used to reposition the upper and lower jaw bones correctly.
  • Lip and cheek bumpers can also be used to avoid having to pull teeth. These bumpers are placed in the mouth so the patient’s lips or cheeks don’t put pressure on specific teeth.
  • A more common appliance that orthodontists use is expanders. If your mouth is crowded, expanders will be placed on the curve of the upper and/or lower jaw(s) in order to make room for teeth to be properly aligned.
  • As a last resort, an orthodontist may turn to headgear. This is normally provided to slow down the growth of the jaw. It must be worn a number of hours each day.

When you visit our Round Rock, TX office, we will go over these options with you and pick the best course of treatment, depending on the current state of your oral health.

No matter which oral appliances you end up with, Dr. Paul Gates and our team will go over all the available options with you to give you a beautiful smile. If you have questions regarding your treatment method, don’t hesitate to call our office and we can provide you with some insight.

Understanding the different options your orthodontist can provide should make matters less confusing if you should need to select a method of treatment.

Electric Toothbrushes vs. Regular Toothbrushes

August 17th, 2022

Convertible or sedan? Downtown or suburbs? Electric or manual toothbrush? As life decisions go, it’s certainly not choosing your next car, or deciding where you want to live. But, even when you are selecting a toothbrush, it helps to make a list of the pros and cons of the contenders before you make that final selection.

  • Efficiency

The most important factor in choosing a toothbrush is finding out which model works best to eliminate bacteria and plaque. And studies have shown that, used properly, both electric and manual toothbrushes do a great job of removing plaque. Some electric models can reach the backs of teeth and the gumline more easily, some manual head designs work better for your individual mouth and teeth, so your particular needs should dictate which style of toothbrush you use. Talk to us about the best methods to brush with your preferred toothbrush, and we’ll let you know if one type of toothbrush or the other might work better for you.

  • Health Considerations

Brushing too energetically can actually harm teeth and gums, causing sensitivity and damage to the enamel and gum tissue. An electric toothbrush should provide a continuous brushing motion without needing any pressure from the brusher. This might be the model for you if you have a too-vigorous approach to brushing, or sensitive teeth and gums.

An electric toothbrush can also be more efficient for older and younger brushers, those with limited mobility, and those with health conditions or injuries that make brushing with a regular toothbrush more difficult.

  • Cost

An electric toothbrush is not a one-time investment. You should change the removable head as often as you change your manual toothbrush (every three to four months, please). But this cost is offset if an electric toothbrush is more efficient in removing your plaque, easier to use, or even if you just prefer it to manual brushing. If you find that you brush better and more often with an electric toothbrush, the added expense is well worth it.

Whichever brush you decide on, the most important part of the brush is the person holding it! A regular appointment with your toothbrush for two minutes of thorough brushing in the morning and two in the evening, daily flossing, and regular visits to our office for checkups and cleanings will keep your teeth healthy and strong no matter which toothbrush you choose.

Questions about your toothbrush choices? Don’t hesitate to ask Dr. Paul Gates at our Round Rock, TX office.

Forget Something? It’s on the Tip of Your Tongue!

August 10th, 2022

Let’s see…

Toothbrush? Check.

Fluoride toothpaste? Check.

Floss? Check.

Two minutes of thorough brushing? Check.

Careful cleaning around your brackets and wires? Check.

Wait… there’s something else… it’s right on the tip of your…

Ah! Your tongue! Whenever you brush, morning, evening, or any time in between, if you want the freshest breath and cleanest teeth, don’t forget your tongue.

Why your tongue? Because the tongue is one of the most common sources of bad breath. Let’s examine just why this occurs.

The tongue is made up of a group of muscles that help us speak and chew and swallow. But there’s more to this remarkable organ than mere muscle. The surface of the tongue is covered with mucous membrane, like the smooth tissue which lines our mouths. But the tongue isn’t completely smooth—it’s textured with thousands of tiny bumps called papillae.

These little elevated surfaces have several shapes and functions. Some make the tongue’s surface a bit rough, which helps move food through your mouth. Some are temperature sensitive, letting you know that your slice of pizza is much too hot. And some are covered with thousands of the taste buds, which make eating that pizza so enjoyable.

All of these papillae with their various functions combine to create a textured surface, filled with miniscule nooks and crannies. And if there’s a nook or a cranny where bacteria can collect, no matter how miniscule, it’s a good bet that they will, and the surface of the tongue is no exception. But bacteria aren’t alone—the tongue’s surface can also hide food particles and dead cells.

How does this unappealing accumulation affect you? These elements work together to cause bad breath, especially the bacteria that break down food particles and cell debris to produce volatile sulfur compounds—compounds which create a particularly unpleasant odor. Including your tongue in your brushing routine helps remove one of the main causes of bad breath.

And that’s not the only benefit! Cleaning the tongue helps eliminate the white coating caused by bacterial film, and might even improve the sense of taste. Most important, studies show that regular cleaning noticeably lowers the levels of decay-causing plaque throughout the mouth.

So, how to get rid of that unwanted, unpleasant, and unhealthy debris?

  • When you’re done brushing your teeth, use your toothbrush to brush your tongue.

Clean your tongue by brushing gently front to back and then side to side. Rinse your mouth when you’re through. Simple as that! And just like a soft-bristled toothbrush helps protect tooth enamel and gum tissue, we also recommend soft bristles when you brush your tongue. Firm bristles can be too hard on tongue tissue.

  • Use a tongue scraper.

Some people find tongue scrapers more effective than brushing. Available in different shapes and materials, these tools are used to gently scrape the surface of the tongue clean of bacteria and debris. Always apply this tool from back to front, and rinse the scraper clean after every stroke. Wash and dry it when you’re through.

  • Add a mouthwash or rinse.

As part of your oral hygiene routine, antibacterial mouthwashes and rinses can assist in preventing bad breath. Ask Dr. Paul Gates for a recommendation.

  • Don’t brush or scrape too vigorously.

Your tongue is a sturdy, hard-working organ, but tongue tissue is still delicate enough to be injured with over-vigorous cleaning.

Taking a few extra seconds to clean your tongue helps eliminate the bacteria and food particles which contribute to bad breath and plaque formation. Make this practice part of your daily brushing routine—it’s a healthy habit well worth remembering!

Orthodontics and Implants

August 3rd, 2022

Maybe you’ve wanted braces since childhood. Maybe you had them, but your teeth have shifted over time. Maybe you’re tired of living with an uncomfortable bite. Good news! If you’re not happy with your adult smile, that doesn’t mean you’ve missed the opportunity to have the healthy, attractive smile you’ve always dreamed of.

While there are many benefits to having orthodontic work done as a child, there’s a lot to be said for orthodontic treatment as an adult. After all, you know exactly what you want. You’re dedicated to following your treatment plan. You have plenty of discreet orthodontic options available now, from clear aligners to lingual braces, to make your treatment as inconspicuous as possible.

But, on occasion, adult treatment does come with some adult baggage. Worried about your crowns, fillings, or veneers? If these restorations are part of your dental history, we can generally work with them. Dental implants? Those might fall into a slightly different category.

Implants are a great way to restore your smile because they function like your natural teeth. They are designed to look just like natural teeth, and they allow you to speak, chew, and bite with confidence. Implants even stimulate the jawbone when we chew just as natural teeth do, helping to prevent bone loss in the jaw as we age.

But there is one important difference between implants and natural teeth: implants are firmly anchored in the jaw, while your natural teeth can change position.

Why is this a concern? Because tooth movement is one of the basics of orthodontic treatment. Unlike implants, our teeth aren’t firmly anchored in our jaws. They are held in their sockets by a ligament which cushions them and connects the tooth to the bone.

When braces or aligners gently apply consistent pressure to the teeth, the ligaments and eventually the bones holding the teeth reshape themselves in response to this pressure, and then become stable again during the retainer phase of treatment.

Implants, on the other hand, are crowns attached to a metal cylinder or screw that is surgically implanted into the jawbone. After several months, osseointegration takes place—which is a technical way of saying that the metal base fuses with the bone. This means that there won’t be any movement taking place—good when you’re chewing, but not helpful for realignment!

If you haven’t yet replaced a missing tooth with an implant, it’s often best to wait before starting orthodontic work. We can design treatment around a missing tooth, leaving room to accommodate an implant in just the right spot when your orthodontic treatment is finished.

If you have an implant already, the placement of your implant will help determine your treatment:

  • If your implant is already perfectly placed for your future alignment, braces or aligners can be designed to work with and around your implant.
  • If the placement is almost ideal, you might find a very small degree of misalignment acceptable, and we can plan your treatment around your existing implant.
  • If it’s not possible to work with your implant where it’s presently located, it is possible to remove an implant. You would then have the implant procedure redone after your orthodontic work is complete.

Talk to Dr. Paul Gates about your treatment possibilities. By analyzing your orthodontic goals and working with your dental history, we can let you know exactly what can be done for your teeth and bite—even if you have an implant.

True, there are many benefits to having orthodontic work done in your childhood, but there’s a lot to be said for orthodontic treatment as an adult. And the greatest benefit of all? You’ll finally have the healthy, self-confident smile you’ve always dreamed of. Talk to our Round Rock, TX team about making that smile a reality.

How Often Should You Brush?

July 27th, 2022

If you’ve been following your dentist’s advice, you know that you should be devoting two minutes twice a day to gentle, thorough brushing, and floss carefully at least once a day. It’s automatic. It’s habit. You’re in the zone. Now that you have braces or aligners, though, it’s time to step up your game!

Removing Food Particles

No one wants to worry about food particles stuck in braces right after lunch—or, worse, noticed hours after lunch! Because food tends to stick around brackets and wires, Dr. Paul Gates and our Round Rock, TX team recommend brushing after a meal. Not only will you be confident in your smile, you’ll be improving your dental health.

But why?

Better Plaque Removal

Plaque is a sticky film containing acid-producing bacteria. These acids lead to weakened enamel and, eventually, cavities. Careful brushing with a fluoride toothpaste helps eliminate plaque. But as you may have discovered, it can be more difficult to clean around brackets and wires. Brushing after eating will help keep plaque from forming on your enamel, and using the right tools (floss made for braces and interproximal brushes) will help clean plaque more effectively.

But what about aligners?

If you wear clear aligners, you take them out when you eat. This avoids the problem of food particles trapped in brackets and difficulty brushing around wires. But this doesn’t mean you are home free. Brushing after every meal is also a good idea when you wear aligners.

Our teeth have an organic way to help remove food particles, acids, and bacteria between brushings—saliva! Your aligners, while covering your teeth, decrease their exposure to saliva. It’s really important, then, to make sure you brush after eating. Otherwise, food particles and acids can remain on your teeth after you replace your aligners, increasing the risk of enamel erosion and decay.

Brushing helps keep your aligners clear as well. If you notice aligner discoloration, this could be the result of food residue such as tomato sauce or coffee that remained on the teeth after a meal. Anything that stains your enamel can stain your aligners. And don’t forget about plaque. Plaque can stick not only to your enamel but to your aligners as well. If you notice that your aligners are cloudy, or have an unpleasant odor, talk to us about the best way to keep them their cleanest.

Make a Plan

So, what can you do to make brushing more convenient during a busy day? Be prepared! Keep a small kit with you containing a travel brush, a small tube of toothpaste, floss, and an interproximal brush for quick cleanings when you’re out and about, and you’ll never have to worry about your smile.

Of course, there are occasions when it’s just not possible to brush. At times like this, whether you have traditional braces or aligners, it’s a good idea to rinse well with water after meals or snacks, and brush as soon as you can.

Start your new dental routine now, and soon it will be automatic. An everyday habit. Your new comfort zone. After all, taking a few extra minutes from your day to brush after every meal will be well worth it when you end your orthodontic treatment with a smile that is as healthy as it is beautiful!

What is malocclusion?

July 20th, 2022

The term malocclusion refers to misalignment of teeth. You may have been born with malocclusion, so your teeth simply grew in crooked, or the misalignment and crowding of your teeth occurred over a period of time. Either way, not only can malocclusion pose cosmetic issues, but it can have a negative effect on your speaking and eating abilities as well.

Types of Malocclusion

Malocclusion encompasses multiple types and classifications of misalignment issues, including twisting or rotation of the teeth and molars that do not meet when you bite down. In some cases, the top front teeth are pushed outward in an upper protrusion.

In other cases, a misplaced midline results when the front top teeth don’t meet with the front bottom teeth. Transposition occurs when teeth protrude through the gums in a position where another tooth is supposed to be.

Practically any type of crowding or spacing issues, rotation or twisting of the teeth, or bite problem – including overbite, underbite, open bite, or crossbite – is included under the umbrella of malocclusion.

Malocclusion Classifications

There are three classifications of bite or misalignment problem.

  • Class 1 malocclusion: While the bite may be normal, the upper teeth overlap the lower teeth slightly. This is the most common type.
  • Class 2 malocclusion: Known as overbite or retrognathism, class 2 involves a severe overlap of the upper teeth and jaw over the bottom teeth and jaw.
  • Class 3 malocclusion: Known as underbite or prognathism, class 3 occurs when the lower teeth and jaw overlap the upper teeth and jaw. Thus, the lower jaw juts forward.

Causes of Malocclusion

The most common cause of malocclusion is genetics. However, there may be other causes, including the development of abnormally-shaped teeth, lost teeth, or impacted teeth; thumb sucking or overuse of a pacifier as a small child; having fillings or crowns that do not fit correctly; a serious injury that causes misalignment of the jaw; or developing a tumor of the mouth or jaw.

Treating Malocclusion

Orthodontic care at Round Rock Orthodontics with Dr. Paul Gates is the main treatment available for malocclusion, which includes getting braces, Invisalign, or other corrective treatments. Treatment is ideal not just to have your smile improved, but because it makes the teeth easier to clean and maintain, lowers the risk of gum disease and tooth decay, and can even take pressure off the jaw and teeth.

Think about orthodontic treatment if you (or your child) display any signs of malocclusion. Early treatment of malocclusion during childhood can lessen expensive treatment later on.

What role do elastics (rubber bands) play in orthodontics?

July 13th, 2022

Wearing orthodontic braces may be the best choice for correcting your teeth and improving your smile, and that's why you've come to see Dr. Paul Gates at Round Rock Orthodontics. Braces, which consist of brackets and wires, work by gently applying pressure to the teeth, and that pressure causes them to move into the correct position. In some cases elastics, or rubber bands, are used to apply additional pressure needed to move your teeth.

The Purpose of Elastics

Customized for each patient, the rubber bands typically stretch over tiny loops on the top and bottom brackets. If worn consistently, and every day, these tiny elastics will apply the steady pressure needed to guide your teeth into the correct position.

These elastics are crafted from medical-grade latex, which is safe to be in contact with your mouth. It's common to remove the elastics during meals if opening your mouth wide enough to eat is difficult. Our staff will demonstrate how to affix the elastics so it will soon become second nature to replace them.

The Do’s and the Don'ts

DO - Get in the habit of carrying around extra rubber bands and replace them as soon as one breaks. By consistently wearing the elastics, you may shorten the overall time needed to wear braces.

DON'T - Double up on elastics as this will cause too much pressure on the tooth or teeth and can actually harm the root of the tooth.

DO - Always wash your hands before removing or replacing the rubber bands.

DON'T - Overstretch the rubber band or it will lose its strength and it will be ineffective.

DO - Call us if you run out of rubber bands.

DO - Have fun with your braces and elastics. There are many different colors available that can let you show off your soon-to-be perfect smile.

Rubber bands are a key part of your orthodontic treatment, and learning how to remove and replace them is an important part to maintaining your braces. Before we set you on your journey to a perfect smile, we'll make sure you understand all there is to know about how to take care of your braces. Of course, if you have any questions about your orthodontic treatment, or orthodontics in general, be sure to contact our Round Rock, TX office, and our staff will be happy to assist you!

Five Great Reasons to Visit Our Practice this Summer

July 6th, 2022

We’ve heard all the reasons why folks put off scheduling an orthodontic consultation: not quite ready to begin treatment, vacations, busy schedules, financial concerns, etc.

Here are five reasons why you shouldn’t delay another day to make an appointment for yourself or your child with Dr. Paul Gates.

1. Growth – there is a window of opportunity during growth when an orthopedic appliance can change the direction of jaw growth and dramatically improve your child’s case. Once this time has passed, the correction becomes harder and may involve extraction of teeth or even worse, a surgical procedure to properly align the jaws.

2. Scheduling – Summertime is the perfect time to begin orthodontic treatment, because your child doesn’t have to miss school, especially for those longer appointments needed at the start of treatment.

3. Early Diagnosis – Many times, early interceptive treatment at Round Rock Orthodontics can dramatically improve the alignment of your child’s teeth and jaws. If baby teeth need to be extracted in order to allow the permanent teeth to erupt, timing is everything. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children receive an orthodontic consultation as early as age seven.

4. Financial Concerns – We offer several flexible payment plans which can be extended over your or your child’s treatment time.

5. A Lifetime of Smiles – Why wait when you can enjoy the many benefits of a beautiful and functional smile now. The sooner you get started the sooner you will be showing everyone your world-class smile.

Give us a call at our convenient Round Rock, TX office to book your initial consulation with Dr. Paul Gates.

Five Great Reasons to Visit Our Practice this Summer

July 6th, 2022

We’ve heard all the reasons why folks put off scheduling an orthodontic consultation: not quite ready to begin treatment, vacations, busy schedules, financial concerns, etc.

Here are five reasons why you shouldn’t delay another day to make an appointment for yourself or your child with Dr. Paul Gates.

1. Growth – there is a window of opportunity during growth when an orthopedic appliance can change the direction of jaw growth and dramatically improve your child’s case. Once this time has passed, the correction becomes harder and may involve extraction of teeth or even worse, a surgical procedure to properly align the jaws.

2. Scheduling – Summertime is the perfect time to begin orthodontic treatment, because your child doesn’t have to miss school, especially for those longer appointments needed at the start of treatment.

3. Early Diagnosis – Many times, early interceptive treatment at Round Rock Orthodontics can dramatically improve the alignment of your child’s teeth and jaws. If baby teeth need to be extracted in order to allow the permanent teeth to erupt, timing is everything. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children receive an orthodontic consultation as early as age seven.

4. Financial Concerns – We offer several flexible payment plans which can be extended over your or your child’s treatment time.

5. A Lifetime of Smiles – Why wait when you can enjoy the many benefits of a beautiful and functional smile now. The sooner you get started the sooner you will be showing everyone your world-class smile.

Give us a call at our convenient Round Rock, TX office to book your initial consulation with Dr. Paul Gates.

Happy Fourth of July!

June 29th, 2022

Happy Independence Day from Dr. Paul Gates and team! The Fourth of July celebrations in America may have changed a lot over the years, but there is no doubt that we Americans love to celebrate the anniversary of our country's independence! Today we're devoting the Round Rock Orthodontics blog to some fun facts about the Fourth!

  • My, how we have grown! This year the United States Census Bureau estimates that our country has 313.9 million residents celebrating the Fourth of July this year, but back in 1776 there were just 2.5 million members of the country.
  • Our country loves to show how proud that we are of our independence. Did you know that there are 31 United States places with the word “Liberty” in their names? The state of Iowa actually has four towns with the word Liberty in the name: Libertyville, New Liberty, North Liberty, and West Liberty.
  • The United States loves Fourth of July food! It is expected that around 150 million hot dogs are eaten on the Fourth each year. One of the Fourth's most popular sides, potato salad, goes just perfectly with the hotdogs and hamburgers that are standard Fourth of July fare. Some people choose potato chips instead, but we wouldn't have such a plethora of potatoes if not for the prodigious production of the states of Idaho and Washington -- they provide about half of all the potatoes in the United States today!
  • Americans love celebrating the Fourth outdoors: About 74 million Americans fire up their BBQ grill every Fourth of July.
  • The Chinese contribution: Did you know that Americans have spent more than $211 million on fireworks that were imported from China?

No matter how your family chooses to celebrate the Fourth, stay safe, take precautions, and don't forget to brush after your fabulous Fourth feast!

Bracing for the Heat? Try These Braces-Friendly Summer Treats!

June 22nd, 2022

Summer means sun and heat and delicious, frosty treats to keep you cool while you’re enjoying the sun and heat. If you’re wearing braces this summer, not to worry! Dr. Paul Gates and our team have plenty of ideas for icy treats to help you beat the heat.

  • Fruit Smoothies

Low on refined sugars, high on vitamins and minerals, refreshing, delicious, easy on brackets and wires—what’s not to like about fruit smoothies? And if you want to up the nutritional value by adding some green vegetables to the blender, even better!

If you’re buying your smoothie instead of making it yourself, watch out for added sugars in ingredients like ice cream, sherbet, frozen yogurt, and sweetened fruit juice. It can be more challenging to keep your teeth clean with braces, so watching your sugar intake is more important than ever. Try a smoothie made with low-fat yogurt, fruits and/or vegetables, and 100% fruit juice instead. Just as delicious, without extra tablespoons of added sugar.

  • Iced (Herbal, Green, or White) Tea & Frozen Coffee Treats

Coffee and black tea contain compounds called tannins, which can stain tooth enamel and braces. Using a straw can help you limit your enamel’s exposure. If you enjoy a cold, iced beverage occasionally, consider green, white, or herbal iced teas. They don’t stain as much, and many contain healthy antioxidants and other health benefits.

And if you can’t resist that creamy iced coffee beverage? Use a straw to avoid bathing your teeth in the stain-causing tannins and enamel-weakening acids found in coffee. Because these drinks can be full of added sugars, consider reduced-sugar options and skip the toppings.

  • Frozen Treats

When you hear that familiar tune coming from the neighborhood ice cream truck, do you have to stand on the sidewalk, sadly watching it disappear into the distance? Not necessarily!

Milk shakes, ice cream, and frozen yogurt are a refreshing choice in a braces-friendly form—and they contain calcium. Popsicles and fruit bars can be a safe choice if you don’t bite into solid ice. You wouldn’t chew on ice because it could damage your braces, so make sure your frozen bar softens a bit before you enjoy it.

What kinds of frozen treats to avoid? If your favorite flavor of ice cream or your go-to ice cream bar contains hard or chewy additions like nuts and pieces of candy, choose another item from the menu. Surrounding nuts and candies with ice cream doesn’t actually make them any safer for your brackets and wires, and may lead to an unplanned visit to our Round Rock, TX orthodontic office to fix a broken bracket.

We don’t recommend a steady diet of sweet treats, because you want a cavity-free smile when your braces come off. And water is always an excellent summertime choice for both hydration and health. But an occasional frosty dessert is cool and tasty and soothing, especially if you’ve just had an adjustment. Just be sure to brush—or rinse with water if you can’t brush—after indulging. Now, what’s on the menu for fall?

Don't forget your retainer this summer!

June 1st, 2022

As we start our summer, our team at Round Rock Orthodontics wants to remind our patients who have completed treatment that it is very important to wear your retainer as prescribed even while away for vacations and summer camps.

If you are away from home and only wearing your retainer at night, here is a helpful tip: after removing and brushing your retainer in the morning, place it back in the case and then put it with your PJ’s or on your pillow. That way you have a reminder to put your retainer back in at night.

Remember, retainers should be worn every night, not just some nights.

We wish you safe travels and adventures this summer!

Memorial Day and Getting Ready for Summer

May 25th, 2022

Memorial Day didn't become an official holiday until 1971, but Americans started gathering annually in the spring to remember those who lost their lives in war during the 1860s, right after the Civil War. Celebrated on the last Monday in May, people still decorate the grave sites of war veterans and hold memorial services, but Memorial Day has also evolved into a day that signifies the beginning of summer.

During the summer months, many people take road trips to visit family members. Some head off to the airport to enjoy a long-awaited vacation far away, while others look forward to spending time with friends and family at home. However you spend Memorial Day and the subsequent summer months, there are a few things you can take care of to ensure your summertime is enjoyable.

Checklist for an Enjoyable Summer

  • Have the AC Checked. During the hottest days of summer, many families find themselves sweating it out due to a broken air conditioning system. Be proactive so you can avoid waiting for hours or days because the HVAC repair person is booked solid. Have your air conditioning system checked before or around Memorial Day each year.
  • Ensure Security While You're Away. When you leave for vacation, the last thing you should have to worry about is the security of your home. Install a home security system, if possible, and put a timer on your lights so they go on and off at normal hours. You can also alert your local police department that you'll be gone, and ask them to drive by your house once in a while to make sure everything is okay.
  • Visit Dr. Paul Gates Before Vacation. Many people put off exams until after summer vacation. Avoid the crowds and make sure your physical and oral health are in top shape prior to vacation time so there are no unpleasant surprises.

Our team at Round Rock Orthodontics wants you to look forward to Memorial Day and the days of summer by preparing to spend the time safely and comfortably. As you plan ahead, take care of your health and secure your home, you can place your focus on creating memories with family members and friends while enjoying your favorite Memorial Day traditions.

What is expected of me during my orthodontic treatment?

May 18th, 2022

We hear this question a lot at Round Rock Orthodontics, and we don’t mind when patients who are eager to complete their orthodontic treatment ask us. After all, we know there is no better feeling than getting your braces off!

During your initial consultation with Dr. Paul Gates, we will map out a specific treatment for you and will try our hardest to give you a timeline of when we expect you to wrap up treatment.

Having said that, we know every patient is different. People have different biological responses to orthodontic treatment and some people’s teeth may move faster than others.

Luckily, there are things you can do to ensure your treatment wraps up in a timely manner. By following these suggestions, you can avoid any setbacks during your treatment.

  • Make sure to keep your adjustment appointments. Postponing or cancelling will delay treatment!
  • Be sure to show up on time to your appointments. This will give Dr. Paul Gates and our team time to do everything we planned during your adjustment visit.
  • When prescribed, make sure you are diligent about wearing rubber bands or other appliances.
  • Avoid damage to your braces and teeth by wearing a mouth guard during sports activities.
  • Make sure to brush and floss regularly! Gum disease or other dental work can delay orthodontic treatment.

If you remember to follow these guidelines, you’ll be on your way to having the dazzling, healthy smile you’ve always wanted. As for us, our team at Round Rock Orthodontics will do our part to move your orthodontic treatment along efficiently. If you have any questions about your treatment time, please give us a call at our Round Rock, TX office or ask us during your next visit!

What is a palatal expander?

May 11th, 2022

Orthodontists like Dr. Paul Gates recommend a first orthodontic visit and evaluation for your child around the age of seven. We will evaluate your child’s jaw and facial development and make sure that there is enough room in the mouth for the permanent teeth when they arrive. One of the recommendations we might make for early treatment is the use of a palatal expander. If you are unfamiliar with this device, let’s take a closer look at why it’s necessary and what exactly it does.

Why do we recommend the palatal expander?

There are two dental arches, composed of the upper and the lower teeth, in your child’s mouth. This arch-shaped design is meant to accommodate all the permanent teeth. Further, when the upper and lower teeth meet, they should result in a healthy occlusion, or bite.

Sometimes, the upper dental arch is simply too small to accommodate all of your child’s permanent teeth, leading to crowding, extractions, and impacted teeth. Also, a too-narrow arch can result in a crossbite, where some of the upper teeth bite inside the lower ones. An improper bite can lead to problems such as TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder, improper wear and stress on teeth, certain speech difficulties, and other potential complications. The palatal expander was designed to prevent these problems from occurring.

What is a palatal expander and how does it work?

The expander itself is a device that increases the size of the upper dental arch. Before your child’s bones are finished growing, the space between the two bones of the upper palate is filled with cartilage. This tissue is flexible when children are young, but gradually fuses solidly into place by the time they are finished growing (usually in the early to mid-teens). If the arch can be widened to accommodate the emerging permanent teeth, or to reduce malocclusions, this improvement can also affect the need for, and length of, future dental work.

There are several types of expanders available at our Round Rock, TX office. These are custom-made appliances, commonly attached between the upper teeth on each side of the jaw. The two halves of the device are connected with a screw-type mechanism that can be adjusted to widen the upper palate and dental arch with gentle pressure. This is a gradual process, with small adjustments usually made once or twice a day to slowly move the bones further apart. As weeks go by, you will notice a successful change in the spacing of the teeth. Your child might even develop a gap in the front teeth, which is normal and will generally close on its own.

If you would like more detailed information, talk to Dr. Paul Gates about the palate expander. We can tell you what to expect from this treatment if we think it is best for your child’s unique needs, and how to make it as easy as possible for your child. Our goal is to provide your child with the healthiest teeth and bite possible, always making use of treatments that are both gentle and effective.

Summer is Almost Here: Tips for a bright, white smile!

May 4th, 2022

Summer is almost here, which means a season full of vacations, adventures and great memories is just around the corner for our patients at Round Rock Orthodontics.

Everyone wants a glowing and radiant white smile when the sun comes around and we have a few reminders to keep your pearly whites healthy and beautiful over the summer! Try to stay away from drinks that will stain your teeth like coffee, soft drinks, or dark colored juices. Not only will drinks like this weaken your enamel but they will also darken that fabulous smile you're working on! Another tip is to try and focus on brushing your teeth; everyone knows that when busy schedules start picking up, getting a good brushing session in tends to take the backseat! A good tip for keeping your mouth safe from staining and other possible pitfalls is to rinse your mouth with water after any meal you can’t fully brush your teeth after. Your teeth, inside and out, will benefit!

And remember, whether you are headed to a barbecue, a camping trip, or just having fun in the backyard this summer, we want to hear all about it! Make sure to let us know what you’re up to below or on our Facebook page! We also encourage you to post any photos from your adventures!

Why Do I Need a Retainer?

April 27th, 2022

Congratulations! You’ve done the hard work necessary to create your beautiful smile! You’ve carefully completed all the steps needed to reach the end of your orthodontic journey. Well, nearly all the steps. We can’t forget that last step which will ensure that all your hard work is rewarded.

When you first began orthodontic treatment, Dr. Paul Gates decided on the best plan for straightening your teeth and perfecting your bite, whether you wore traditional braces, lingual braces, aligners, or other orthodontic appliances. And now that you’re finishing treatment, there’s one more option to consider—your retainer.

Why do I need a retainer?

While you’ve spent time in treatment, more has changed than just the position of your teeth. The periodontal ligament, the connective tissue that connects the teeth to the jawbone, is stretched as the teeth shift. The bone in your jaw changes, too, reforming and rebuilding around the roots of your teeth as they move to their ideal locations.

These changes happen because your braces or aligners apply gentle, constant pressure to move your teeth. When you’ve finished wearing these appliances, the pressure stops. Ligaments will try to return to their original shape, which can shift teeth back toward their old positions. And the rebuilding bone isn’t dense enough yet to stop teeth from shifting due to the normal, everyday pressures of eating, chewing, and smiling.

A retainer prevents your teeth from moving back, or “relapsing,” by giving your bones and ligaments time to stabilize and rebuild. The process takes months, so keeping your teeth in place as bones rebuild and grow denser is crucial. This is especially important for patients with more serious misalignments. Dr. Paul Gates will let you know which kind of retainer will be best for you and just how long you’ll need to wear your retainer.

Are there different kinds of retainers?

There are! Retainers can be removable or fixed, visible or nearly invisible, metal, plastic, or metal and plastic. Three of the most popular retainer options include:

  • Hawley Retainers—the traditional removable retainer, which uses a molded acrylic plate with wires attached to keep your teeth properly aligned and to hold your retainer in place.
  • Clear Plastic Retainers—a removable retainer made of custom vacuum-formed plastic, which fits over the teeth like a clear aligner.
  • Fixed Retainers—a small single wire bonded to the back of specific teeth, which holds them in place and prevents any movement.

Dr. Paul Gates will let you know whether a removable or fixed retainer is best for making sure your teeth don’t start to relapse, and fill you in on the benefits and care of each type of retainer.

How long do I need to wear a retainer?

There’s no standard answer to this question. Just like your retainer is custom-built to fit your individual teeth, the amount of time you’ll spend in that retainer depends on your individual needs. Retainers might be worn fulltime for months or years, be worn only at night after several months of daily wear, or be worn long-term to make sure your orthodontic work lasts.

Because you’ve done the hard work already, and your beautiful, healthy smile is the result. Talk to a member of our Round Rock, TX team about which retainer option will be best for making sure that this smile lasts a lifetime.

Orthodontic Treatment—The Sequel

April 20th, 2022

Some experiences are great, and we look forward to enjoying them again and again. Others have wonderful outcomes, but you feel no need for a sequel. If you’re wondering whether you need to revisit orthodontic treatment, you’re probably in this second group.

After all, you put in your time as a teenager. All those days in bands and braces, all the adjustments, all that cleaning with little tiny tools in little tiny places. That was a lot of work, and you reaped the rewards of your conscientious orthodontic habits with beautifully aligned teeth and a healthy, comfortable bite.

But now you’ve started to notice that your teeth aren’t quite as beautifully aligned, or your bite’s not quite as comfortable. So, what’s happened? Let’s look at some possibilities, and whether a return to the orthodontist’s office is in order.

  • You’ve Lost a Tooth

If you’ve lost a tooth because of injury or decay, that gap is an open invitation for surrounding teeth to move in to fill the void. Whenever you lose a tooth, consider an implant. Implants function, look, and maintain healthy spacing just like natural teeth.

One thing implants can’t do? Move like our own teeth will during orthodontic treatment. Your natural teeth can move because they are held in place within the bone by flexible periodontal ligaments. Implants, on the other hand, are anchored directly to the bone for stability.

If you’re considering new or further orthodontic work and want to replace a lost tooth with an implant, it’s a good idea to talk to Dr. Paul Gates to discover the best timing and scheduling for your procedures.

  • You’ve Gained a Tooth

Problems with your alignment can also arise if you add a tooth or teeth. If you’re in your late teens or early twenties, wisdom teeth could be in your near future. And a new tooth can throw off the spacing and alignment of your existing teeth.

Talk to Dr. Paul Gates about your options if your wisdom teeth are about to make an appearance, and if it looks like your tooth and bite alignment might be affected.

  • You’re Getting Older

Our teeth naturally tend to shift as we age. Teeth move forward, causing crowded or crooked front teeth—especially on the lower jaw. There’s even a medical term for this phenomenon: mesial drift. While we don’t know exactly why this drifting occurs, we can treat it.

Adults make up a large—and growing—segment of orthodontic patients. If your teeth have lost their ideal alignment over time, a visit to our Round Rock, TX office is a great way to bring your youthful smile back. And you’ll probably find your treatment much shorter and more comfortable than it was decades earlier!

  • You Haven’t Been Wearing Your Retainer

Remember that word “conscientious” in the second paragraph? You need to wear your retainer conscientiously, for as often and for as long as recommended by Dr. Paul Gates.

If you’ve been ignoring a damaged retainer, or you keep forgetting to look for your lost retainer, or you have a perfect, undamaged retainer sitting unworn on your dresser, your teeth can start to shift out of their hard-won alignment within a short time.

Does this mean it’s back to months of bands and adjustments and appointments? Maybe not! See us as soon as you notice any changes in your teeth or bite. When caught early, shifting teeth can be treated much more easily.

What can we do to help you regain your best smile? A lot!

  • Treatment Planning

When you need to accommodate implants, wisdom teeth, or other dental work which could affect your tooth alignment, Dr. Paul Gates can work with your dentist to make sure your alignment isn’t disturbed in the process. They can also map out a treatment schedule which coordinates your other procedures with any orthodontic treatment.

  • Retainer Evaluation/Adjustment

Your retainer is probably a passive retainer, meaning it keeps your teeth in place instead of moving them. If you notice your alignment shifting, or if your retainer is uncomfortable when you try to put it on after a lapse in nightly wear, ask us about a replacement.

  • Active Retainers

An active retainer helps move teeth into alignment rather than simply keeping them in place. A new active retainer might be just what you need to correct a slight shift.

  • Aligners or Braces

If you have some serious shifting going on, we might recommend a second round of treatment with clear aligners or braces. But there’s good news here, as well! Treatment to correct an orthodontic relapse usually takes less time than it did originally, and treatment options are more comfortable and less noticeable than ever before.

Talk to Dr. Paul Gates about an orthodontic sequel if you have any concerns about changes in your bite or alignment. You might need only a simple retainer adjustment or a short time in clear aligners or traditional braces to make your smile its best and healthiest once again. And this time, remember to wear your retainer to make sure there’s no need for Orthodontics—Part III!

Hey, Metal Mouth, Hey, Train Tracks! Six Funny Comebacks for People Who Wear Braces

April 13th, 2022

Brace-ism: believe it or not, it’s a concept. The Urban Dictionary defines brace-ism as “acting mean to people who have braces on their teeth.” Phrases like metal mouth, brace face, and train tracks are common jokes uttered by gap-toothed fools who like to make fun of people with braces.

While ignoring these comments and taking the high road is the best thing to do, there’s nothing wrong with having a few clever retorts and quick-witted comebacks up your sleeve.

  1. The next time someone calls you train tracks, break into an obnoxious train imitation, with lots of toot-toot and chuga-chuga-chuga. Finish off your crazy locomotive impersonation with some sort of deafening train horn. That’ll keep the bullies at bay.
  2. “It’s better to be a brace face than a space case.”
  3. Counter with a ridiculously childish joke that makes the schoolyard tormentor feel even smaller than he already is. “Oh. Yeah. Why did the deer need braces? Because he had buck teeth. Hahaha.” Top it off with an exaggerated eye roll.
  4. “Yeah, my brother tells that joke. He’s six. You guys should hang out.” That’ll stop the haters dead in their tracks. Or would that be train tracks?
  5. Here’s one from the sarcasm grab bag. “Well, I’m just glad there’s a way to fix what’s wrong with my face.”
  6. “I can’t wait to discuss this formative moment at our ten-year class reunion, when my teeth are razor-straight and you’re wearing adult braces.”

 

Play it Safe this Spring

April 6th, 2022

It's springtime and it's again time to remind our patients at Round Rock Orthodontics to protect their faces and pearly whites while out on the field playing sports. According to the National Youth Sports Safety Foundation, children, high-school athletes and adults have more than 5,000,000 teeth knocked out in sporting events annually.

If you are planning on participating in spring sports, it’s imperative to have a proper-fitting mouthguard. Mouthguards can prevent chipped or broken teeth, lip and cheek injuries, jaw fractures, mouth lacerations and even concussions.

Having a mouthguard can make the difference between losing your teeth or not, and because many of our patients who play high school sports have jaws that are still growing, last year’s mouthguard may no longer fit as it should. Dr. Paul Gates and our team at Round Rock Orthodontics can fit you for a new guard.

To learn more about mouthguards or for general questions about your treatment at our Round Rock, TX office, please give us a call!

Braces Repairs—Should You Try This at Home?

March 30th, 2022

No matter how careful you are, accidents can happen. Perhaps it’s a slice of apple that was a little bit larger than it should have been. Or you were chewing on your pencil while you were trying to work out an algebra problem. Or you tried a piece of candy that your friend really, truly thought didn’t have a caramel center.

No matter the cause, when something‘s wrong with your braces, you know it. And you want to fix it as soon as possible. What can you do to make yourself more comfortable? And which repairs are best left to orthodontic professionals?

First things first. If you have been injured, and suffered a trauma to your mouth or jaw that has damaged your braces, we want to make sure that you get any medical attention you might need before we worry about your appliance. Call Dr. Paul Gates, and your doctor, immediately if you have suffered a medical or dental injury.

Even if your braces are the only injured party, you might need a special appointment if the damage is something that shouldn’t wait and can delay your orthodontic progress. Broken wires, brackets that have fallen off, and loose orthodontic bands, for example, need to be replaced in our office.

But what about minor problems? First, call us to see if it’s something that really is minor, and whether you can do some home repairs to keep you going until your next regular visit.

  • Wayward Wires

One of the most common—and most annoying—problems is a broken or out-of-place wire. If a wire end is poking you, dental wax can be applied to the loose end to protect your cheeks and gums. If that doesn’t work, we can let you know how to apply gentle pressure to move the wire away from delicate tissue. Don’t try to cut a broken wire or remove it without talking to us—small pieces can be swallowed accidentally. We’ll give you suggestions for how to handle a broken or loose wire and protect your mouth until you can see us.

  • Breakaway Brackets

If your bracket becomes loose, this is another good reason to give us a call. Brackets are specifically placed to let your archwire guide your teeth where they need to be. Without a firmly bonded bracket, the wire isn’t doing you much good! If a loose bracket is irritating your cheeks or gums, you can try a bit of dental wax to stick it in place and cover hard edges until we can re-bond it. If the bracket comes off all together, bring it with you to your next appointment.

  • Balky Bands

Spacers are little rubber bands we put between your teeth if we need to create some room between your molars before you get your braces. They have a tendency to fall out after several days. We’ll let you know if their work is done, and you’re ready to start your orthodontic treatment. If you lose one of your ligatures, those colorful bands around your brackets, give us a call and we’ll let you know if replacement can wait.

We’re happy to help you with any braces problems, large or small. It’s best to check with us for even small fixes to make sure you avoid injury. Larger repairs can be handled in our Round Rock, TX office—and we can give you tips on how to prevent future ones. Accidents happen, but they don’t need to delay your progress toward a beautiful, healthy smile.

What's the best dental floss?

March 23rd, 2022

Dental floss is similar to a lot of products that depend mainly on the consumer’s preference. Fact is, floss comes in a wide variety of flavors, coatings, and other variations, but all types of floss essentially do the same thing. After all, that is what is most important: that the dental floss you buy is functional—cleaning the areas in between your teeth. If you want to know what the best dental floss is, the answer is the kind that enables you to successfully and regularly clean those areas. So to help you find the right type of floss for you, here are some options.

Flavored Dental Floss

Many people that floss prefer a flavored dental floss because it freshens their breath even more than unscented floss. The latter can also take on the smells associated with bacteria in your mouth. And we all know how bad that can be. So, if flavored dental floss is what you prefer, and it allows you to floss your teeth regularly, then it is automatically best for your mouth.

Flossers

There are also products on the market called flossers, which usually consist of a plastic instrument with strung floss and a pick on the opposite end. This option can be both effective at cleaning the areas in between your teeth and scraping off plaque. These flossers also come flavored in mint and various other varieties.

Gentle Dental Floss

Some people find that typical dental floss is too harsh on their gums. For that reason some companies make floss with soft coatings that are less abrasive on the gums. For the most part these types of floss are just as effective as regular floss, and for those people that require a more sensitive approach to flossing, especially when just starting out, this is the best option.

Of the aforementioned options, it is difficult to name an absolute best type of floss. However, Dr. Paul Gates and our team say that the type of floss that works best for you, giving you the greatest chance of succeeding at regular flossing, is the best. For more information on floss, contact our Round Rock, TX office.

St. Patrick's Day

March 16th, 2022

On March 17, everyone has a little Irish in them. St. Patrick’s Day is a joyous celebration of Irish heritage. The holiday originated as a commemoration of Saint Patrick, who brought Christianity to Ireland. The saint arrived in Ireland in 432 and earned the reputation of a champion of Irish Christianity. March 17th, the day of St. Patrick’s death, has been commemorated by the Irish for over 1,000 years. St. Patrick’s Day is still observed as a religious feast day by several Christian denominations, but it is better known in the public imagination as a rich celebration of Irish culture.

St. Patrick’s Day has been an official public holiday in Ireland since 1903. Each year, the Irish celebrate with a several-day festival that includes theater performances, music, fireworks, and festive parades. The celebration is also a public holiday in Northern Ireland, Montserrat, and Newfoundland and Labrador. In other parts of the world with heavy Irish populations, it is an unofficial celebration of Irish heritage. Parts of Great Britain, Canada, Argentina, South Korea, Switzerland, New Zealand, the United States, and Australia commemorate the holiday each year. Typical celebrations in these countries include drinking green beer, wearing green, eating traditional Irish foods, parades, and shamrock decorations.

Many people, Irish and non-Irish alike, take part in the “wearing of the green” on St. Patrick’s Day. In fact, the color originally associated with Saint Patrick was blue. His use of shamrocks to explain the Holy Trinity to the Irish made the green clover emblematic of the holiday, leading to the traditional green attire worn by thousands on St. Patrick’s Day. Other little-known facts about St. Patrick’s Day include the following:

  • Each year, the United States and Ireland face off in a rugby competition called the “St. Patrick’s Day Test.”
  • Montreal celebrates the holiday with an annual parade, which has been held each year since 1824. The Montreal city flag even features a shamrock in its corner, as a nod to its Irish heritage.
  • The Guinness World Records named St. Patrick’s Day the “Friendliest Day of the Year.”
  • Along with Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day is one of the most widely celebrated saint’s day in the world.

No matter your cultural heritage, St. Patrick’s Day is a great time to let loose and celebrate your inner Irish-ness! Don your greenest attire and exclaim “Erin go Bragh!” (Ireland forever!) to everyone you meet. From Dr. Paul Gates - have a great St. Paddy’s day!

Welcome to Our Blog

November 16th, 2020

Thank you for taking the time to visit our blog. Please check back often for weekly updates on fun and exciting events happening at our office, important and interesting information about orthodontics and the dental industry, and the latest news about our practice.

Feel free to leave a comment or question for our doctors and staff - we hope this will be a valuable resource for our patients, their families, and friends!

503 E Palm Valley Blvd Building 2 Suite 200
Round Rock, TX 78664
(512) 244-2644
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