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Braces-Friendly Snack Ideas

January 13th, 2021

Wearing braces limits some of the snacks you can eat. However, you still have plenty of choices for fun and healthy foods that will not harm your braces. You can even enjoy a few crunchy treats as long as you choose them carefully.

Sweet Treats

Puddings provide a sweet and safe snack while you are wearing braces. You can even select flavored puddings such as caramel to satisfy the urge for items you should not eat. They can be purchased already made or whipped up at home. You can even select low-sugar varieties that still taste good. Ice cream and yogurt are also choices; just avoid products with nuts.

Healthy Snacks

Fruits are excellent for a healthy snack. You just need to avoid biting into hard fruits such as whole apples. You can avoid the problem with fruit cocktails packed in water. Cocktails still have the nutritional benefits and flavor, but contain softer pieces. Avoid fruits packed in heavy syrup, though; these tend to have too much sugar.

Crunchy or Salty Snacks

Not all crunchy foods are bad; you just need to limit the crunch. Walnuts are a softer nut that can normally be eaten safely. Small cheese crackers satisfy the need for crunchy and salty. You can also allow pieces to dissolve slightly in your mouth before chewing, to reduce any risk.

Soft granola bars are also an option. Check the granola ingredients to ensure there are no large nut pieces, and brush your teeth afterwards. Otherwise pieces can become stuck in your dental work.

If you have any questions about safe snacks, do not hesitate to ask Dr. Negaar Sagafi and our staff.

Questions About the COVID Vaccines

January 6th, 2021

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) now has approved not one, but two, vaccines for COVID-19 and we could see final data on a few others later this winter. This news is good … very good … but I do want our patients to know that things still won’t be completely back to normal for some time. If you have questions about what’s coming next, or about the vaccine, I hope you’ll ask our team, or your family practitioner.

In the meantime, let’s going to try to answer a few common questions.

People Are Having Reactions To The Vaccine – Doesn’t That Indicate It’s Unsafe?

In short: no. In fact, if the reaction is a fever or aches and pains those actually are a sign that your body is processing the vaccine correctly. That discomfort means you’re building immunity. Truly adverse reactions to reactions to vaccines are rare. If your pain or fever hasn’t subsided after a day or two, give your doctor a call, but chances are, just like with the regular flu vaccine, you’ll feel better in no time.

Trying to explain how aches and pains mean a vaccine is working? Check out the August 14 episode of But Why? A Podcast for Curious Kids for an engaging, kid-appropriate discussion with your little ones.

When Will I Get The Vaccine?

That question is up to each state to answer. In Maryland, there will be three phases of delivery:

  • Phase 1A: health care workers, long-term facility care staff, and first responders;
  • Phase 1B: high-risk individuals, including those with underlying conditions, and adults who live in congregate settings (e.g., homeless shelters or long-term care homes);
  • Phase 2: individuals who work in “essential industries”; and
  • Phase 3: the general population.

Right now, Maryland is in phase 1A, which as WBAL-TV explained, includes hundreds of thousands of individuals.

According to WUSA-9, the District of Columbia’s plan is very similar to Maryland’s except that individuals at long-term care facilities are in the first group of recipients.

Will My Doctor Give Me The Vaccine? How About My Dentist Or Orthodontist?

Perhaps. Each state, each city, and each local health system will determine how, to whom, and where the vaccine will be administered. Because the goal is to get the vaccine as quickly as possible to as many people as possible, it is likely that you’ll see it being administered in places where you wouldn’t usually go for healthcare.

Businesses might be able to offer the vaccine onsite to employees, for example, or schools or even malls and convention centers could become vaccine sites. We certainly are looking into the possibility of offering our patients the vaccine when supplies are more plentiful. Stay tuned, but please also remember that the two current vaccines are not yet approved for use in individuals under the age of 16. Chances are mom and dad will be inoculated well before the kiddos. 

How Long Does The Vaccine Provide Protection?

The short answer is: we do not know. We know the individuals who participated in the vaccine trials continue to be evaluated and, so far, it looks like the drugs are working even months after being administered, but it’s impossible to know how long that will last.

We’re watching this question closely, so feel free to discuss it during your next visit!

Can I Take Off My Mask Once I Have The Vaccine?

The short answer is: no. As noted above, because it will take a while for everyone to receive the vaccine, things still will not look “normal” for some time. And while we know that the vaccine does a very good job of protecting you from getting sick, we are not sure yet if it prevents you from spreading the virus.

Dr. Purvi Parikh, an immunologist with the Allergy and Asthma Network who was a co-investigator for the Pfizer vaccine trials, explained why to the data analysis website FiveThirtyEight. She said, “Theoretically, a vaccine should stop both the infection as well as the transmission and spread,” but noted, because the focus of these clinical trials was narrow, scientists only looked at whether the vaccines prevented illness and were safe, not into other questions like whether vaccinated people can still spread the virus.

We wear masks to protect our loved ones, our neighbors, our teachers, and, yes, our orthodontists and dentists. We’ll be asking you to wear masks in our office even if you have received the vaccine.

If you have other questions, please don’t hesitate to raise them during your next visit, or to give us a call. We’re here for you.

Cancelling Appointments During COVID-19

December 29th, 2020

“I think I have to cancel my appointment.”

Our office has gotten that call more than once in the last several weeks, sometimes just hours before a scheduled visit. Under normal circumstances, we discourage these last-minute cancellations, but these days? Well, we certainly understand when it comes to COVID. In fact, we want you to act with extreme caution.

It is one way that you can help us keep our offices safe and help prevent community spread of this deadly virus.

As you and your family probably have seen, our offices have increased the amount of personal protective equipment we are wearing – sometimes we even don more than one mask! You’ve seen face shields (which are added protection, but should not be relied on instead of a mask) and certainly more hand sanitizer.

Dentist and orthodontist offices always are always fanatical about infection control, but we are even more so now.

And, the good news: we know it’s working.

According to a study from the American Dental Association (ADA), while dentists and orthodontist offices were shut down at the beginning of the pandemic due to fears about COVID spread, less than one percent of dentists have had the virus. That result is far below the rate of other health professionals in the United States. The ADA also noted that “99 percent of dentists are using enhanced infection control procedures such as screening protocols and enhanced disinfection practices when treating patients.”

If you are feeling well, you should feel confident about keeping your regular dentist and orthodontist appointments.

What can you do to help keep our offices free of COVID?

At home and wherever you go:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds or, if you don’t have access to soap and water, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer;
  • Maintain at least six feet of distance between yourself and anyone else, especially if they are coughing or sneezing;
  • Limit interaction with individuals outside of your household;
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth;
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze – do not use your hands; and
  • Wear a mask whenever you are outside of your household.

Obviously, if you have a fever, cough, shortness of breath, headache, or have lost your sense of taste or smell, call our office. We’ll discuss your health status, the dental treatment you require, and whether or not visiting our office will be safe for you, our other patients, and our staff. Please also give us a call if you’ve been exposed to someone that has had a positive COVID-19 test. That’s helpful information and we can always see you after you’ve had time to quarantine.

Third, while we know the early bird gets the worm, it also can cause crowding in our waiting rooms. Please be on time, but if you’re more than five minutes early, wait in your car or call to see if we can safety seat you.

Finally, a note about travel, which my patients know that I love! I have not enjoyed being grounded, but COVID-19 can travel with us wherever we go. If you have been out of the area in the last 14 days – anywhere – or if someone in your household has traveled, please let us know. Again, we can always reschedule!

At the heart of every doctor-patient relationship is trust and good communication. If you’re worried about coming in, or wondering if you should keep your appointment, just give us a call and we’ll talk through it. Remember: our job is to keep you and your family smiling and healthy.

Especially, in these times, we’ll understand if you need to reschedule.

Why Do I Need Rubber Bands?

December 9th, 2020

Getting braces is a huge step in creating the beautiful smile you want. It’s easy to see how important your wires and brackets are. Week by week, you and your family and friends can see the progress you’re making as your teeth become straighter. That makes all the careful brushing, periodic adjustments at our Bethesda office, and annoying loose ligatures worthwhile.

And while straight, even teeth are the visible reward you get for your months in braces, there’s a benefit that’s every bit as important that might go unnoticed by your friends and family—a healthy, properly aligned bite.

Many people have some kind of malocclusion, or bad bite. There are several different bite problems we treat. Some of the most common are:

  • Overjet (the upper front teeth protrude too far forward over the bottom teeth)
  • Underbite (the bottom teeth overlap the top teeth)
  • Crossbite (one or more teeth haven’t come in in the proper position, often with an upper tooth fitting inside a lower tooth)
  • Open bite (the upper and lower front teeth don’t touch).

When the jaws and teeth don’t fit together properly, you might be looking at damaged teeth, headaches, and painful problems with the temporomandibular joint, or jaw joint, in your future. That’s why correcting your bite early is so important. Using rubber bands with your braces is one of the most popular and effective ways to help create a better bite.

Bands are used with your braces to gradually move your teeth into their best position. Specially designed brackets with tiny hooks are bonded to very specific teeth. Why so specific? Because the placement of the brackets depends on which type of malocclusion we are correcting. Rubber bands are then attached to the bracket hooks, usually from an upper tooth to a lower one. When they are in just the right position, those little bands provide just enough force to move your teeth more quickly and effectively than braces alone can.

If you need bands to help correct any kind of malocclusion, you will play a very important part in your orthodontic treatment. It will be your job to attach your bands every day. Don’t worry—while it can seem confusing at first, we’ll make sure you know exactly how and where to place them.

How long should they stay in? You’ll probably need to wear your bands 24 hours a day. It’s while you’re moving your mouth and jaw muscles that your bands are working their hardest. Talk to us about removing them for brushing and flossing, and whether you should wear them while you eat.

Can you use the same bands over several days? Not a good idea. Bands are selected for size and strength to move your teeth very precisely from visit to visit. When bands stay on too long, they become too stretched out to supply the proper pressure needed to move your teeth efficiently. Dr. Sagafi will let you know how long is too long for your specific bands.

Are two bands better than one? Absolutely not. Again, the bands you’re given at each visit are designed for your specific needs. Too much pressure can actually be harmful. Just keep to your recommended schedule of replacing bands, and your orthodontic treatment will stay right on track.

Attaching rubber bands? Keeping them on all during the day? Replacing them as needed? All of these responsibilities might seem a bit overwhelming at first, but we are here to give you all the information and support you need to succeed. Because straight, even teeth and a bite that is healthy and functional? That’s truly how you create your beautiful smile!


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