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Thanks to Invisalign®, you can have a perfect smile without metal wires or brackets!

October 21st, 2020

When it comes to straightening your smile, our team at Bethesda Orthodontics knows that having a mouth full of metal braces may not be your idea of fun. Luckily for you, Dr. Negaar Sagafi can offer a cosmetic alternative: Invisalign!

Using a series of clear, comfortable, and completely customized aligners, you can get the smile you’ve always wanted without traditional braces.

Since Invisalign aligners are discreet, they’re hardly noticeable when you speak and smile, and because they’re removable, you can eat and drink whatever you want. Just remember to brush and floss before putting your aligners back in! Treatment with Invisalign is just as effective as with metal braces, and the results are just as amazing!

If you want to know more about Invisalign, contact our Bethesda office to schedule an appointment.

Halloween Doesn't Have To Be Scary

October 15th, 2020

By Dr. Negaar Sagafi

As my patients know, I have opinions about Halloween. More specifically, I have opinions about Halloween candy, which is hard on braces and brackets. Orthodontia and Jolly Ranchers simply do not mix. In fact, the results often are terrifying.

This year, Halloween is scarier than usual. Coronavirus threatens to steal more happy moments from our children and while I’d prefer that kiddos stay away from hard candy, I want them to celebrate. I want them to have fun.

How can they do that?

First, let’s remember that some of the most active participants in our Halloween traditions are our elderly neighbors. Who doesn’t get excited to see a sweet little Hermione or Harry Potter at their door? As we have for the last eight months, we must think first of the health and safety of our most vulnerable friends and family. Every piece of advice below is an effort to keep them – and you – safe.

But if you are someone who falls into the “vulnerable” category, there are still ways to celebrate – without even opening your door. Try:

  • Putting a spin on the “garden walk.” Establish a list of neighbors that will commit to putting out the spookiest decorations. Create a map, post it on your local listserv, and encourage families to drive the route during an established time on October 31.
  • Channeling your inner Willie Wonka. Willie Wonka didn’t just make candy … he made candy an experience. Get creative about delivery. Leaving out a bowl rarely works (teenagers always take it all, right?), so create a scavenger hunt. Leave clues to where you’ve hidden morsels around your yard. Or do what this dad featured in The Washington Post did: create a candy chute.
  • Boo’ing your neighbors. This tradition is perfect for our current times. Boo’ing involves placing a basket of goodies on a neighbor’s porch and disappearing. The candy comes with a note instructing your neighbor to “boo” someone else. If your home has been boo’d, put a sign out so as many children as possible receive sweet treats.

The Centers for Disease Control, along with Washington, D.C. and Montgomery County, Md. public officials, also have released guidance on how to celebrate Halloween this year. As a healthcare provider, I agree with it, but I also recognize that families have approached this pandemic differently. While officials do not recommend traditional trick-or-treating, some parents will allow this tradition, so the question is: what are some smart tactics that will keep children safe.

First, remember that costume masks will not protect your child from getting the virus, or spreading it. Adequate face coverings are not optional. The CDC’s advice on choosing masks is here.

Second, do not allow children to pop a piece of candy into their mouths while trick or treating, even if they have used hand sanitizer. Your child should not touch their face until their hands have been thoroughly washed. We still do not know everything there is to know about COVID-19 transmits, but we do know it is a respiratory disease. Keeping masks on and keeping interactions short are two of the best steps a person can take to protect themselves.

Third, travel the neighborhood only as a family. For many children, Halloween will be their first big event in eight months. It will be hard, if not impossible, to contain their considerable excitement, but it will be easier if a group is small. And, of course, it is easier to stay at least six feet away if you’re travelling as a small unit. Remember: the six foot rule applies especially when individuals are talking, eating, and drinking … which we do a lot of on Halloween.

Other steps to take include:

  • Carrying a bell or noisemaker instead of ringing the doorbell.
  • Sanitizing the candy. I recommend creating your own “candy wipes” using gauze and Cavicide, a safe disinfectant we use in our office that is available on Amazon.
  • Keeping interactions as brief as possible. If a friend opens the door, stay six feet away, say thank you, and politely move on.

These steps should mitigate risk, but, they will not eliminate it. To keep Halloween as safe as possible, stay home. While bobbing for apples is a bad idea, there are plenty of ways to celebrate the holiday, including:

  • Going on a ghost hunt by downloading an online game like Phasmophobia and playing it virtually with friends or family;
  • Holding a family Halloween movie night;
  • Decorating your home (inside and out) with Halloween-themed arts and crafts;
  • Finding an outdoor restaurant with a Halloween-themed meal, or cooking one at home;
  • Using an online meeting platform to host a costume contest or pumpkin carving contest; or
  • Dressing up your pups for a Halloween parade around the neighborhood.

One of my favorite ideas? The Switch Witch … with a pandemic twist. Leave candy on the kitchen counter for the good witch Switch. She will swoop in during the night on her mighty broom, grab the sugar, and leave a new toy in its place! (Normally Switch claims the candy trick or treaters amass on October 31, but with this spin anyone can play during COVID.)

Another smart idea is reverse trick or treating, which combines the fun of a Fourth of July parade with Halloween’s creativity. With this option, children dress up, but stay on their own lawns and porches. Adults who parade through the neighborhood on foot or decorated bikes and vehicles while throwing candy. Staying safe this Halloween is all about proper mask-wearing, mitigating contact, and maintaining a safe social distance. Reverse trick-or-treating, when properly supervised by mom and dad, achieves all that.

Just remember to brush those teeth!

Invisalign® vs. Traditional Braces

October 14th, 2020

A great smile can go a long way. Scientific research suggests that people who smile are perceived as more attractive and confident than those who don’t flash their pearly whites. When it comes time to invest in orthodontics to improve your beautiful smile, choosing the best option can be daunting. Comparing Invisalign to traditional braces is a great way to determine what orthodontics make most sense for your unique smile.

How is Invisalign different?

Unlike traditional braces, in which brackets are affixed onto each tooth and connected by wires Invisalign corrects orthodontic problems using a set of clear trays. These trays are specially formed to fit your teeth, allowing you to wear them 24/7.


One of the primary advantages of Invisalign is that the clear trays are nearly invisible. Particularly for adults self-conscious about appearing professional with traditional braces, Invisalign can correct orthodontic issues without capturing the notice of others. Their nearly invisible appearance is one of the topmost reasons that orthodontic patients choose Invisalign.

Complexity of the Orthodontic Problem

Invisalign works well for people who have relatively minor problems, such as crooked teeth or small gaps between teeth. For more complex problems, particularly issues with bite or vertical problems (i.e., one tooth being significantly higher than another), traditional braces may be better at pulling teeth into alignment.

Eating and Drinking

Invisalign trays are removable, meaning that you cannot eat or drink while wearing them. Unlike traditional braces, however, you are not limited in the foods you may eat. Chewy, sticky, or hard foods may be eaten, provided that you brush your teeth before reinserting the Invisalign trays.

In the end, only you can weigh the pros and cons of Invisalign versus traditional braces. Consult with Dr. Negaar Sagafi to understand how these orthodontic interventions may work for your unique situation.

The Intriguing History of Halloween

October 7th, 2020

Halloween is fast approaching, and Dr. Negaar Sagafi 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 Bethesda office, make your Halloween a safe one!

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