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Snacks for Healthy Teeth while Watching the Big Game

June 13th, 2024

It's almost game day and you're wondering what to put on the menu for your guests. Most snacks are typically highly processed and unhealthy. Why not mix it up this year and opt for some snacks that promote good oral health? Here are some of Dr. Joel Martinez, Dr. Christopher Martinez, and Dr. Vanessa Martinez favorites!

  • Apples, carrots, celery, and cucumbers: These foods and other crispy, fibrous, fruits and vegetables are an excellent choice for the big game. Not only are they rich in vitamins and minerals which your body and mouth need, they are also known as detergent foods because of the cleaning effect they have on the teeth and gums. Try apples wedges spread with peanut butter and sprinkled with cinnamon.
  • Beans: Beans are filling because they are packed with fiber and that keeps you from opting for sugary or fatty snacks. Along with fruits and vegetables, beans should be one of the stars of your game-day snack lineup. How about some hearty chickpea hummus with cucumber chips?
  • Nuts like almonds, walnuts, pistachios, and cashews: Nuts abound in the minerals that help keep your teeth and gums strong like calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Put out a bowl of raw or roasted nuts for your guests as a crunchy, satisfying alternative to chips or crackers. Recent research even shows that the polyunsaturated fatty acids in nuts may help prevent gum disease. But remember not to eat the whole bowl! Nuts are very high in calories and a little goes a long way. Enjoy and handful or two along with your other healthy snacks.
  • Dark chocolate: This one may be hard to believe at first, but research shows chocolate can be great for your teeth and help prevent decay! Now don't run off and start stocking your pantry with a bunch of that super sweet stuff, because these benefits come mainly from the tannins, polyphenols, and flavonoids present in the cacao bean. Dark chocolate is the least processed variety of chocolate and the closest to the cacao bean, so make sure you purchase a variety that is listed as 70% cocoa or more for these benefits. Like with nuts, chocolate is easy to overdo — aim to eat two or three squares.

Barbecues and Braces

June 5th, 2024

One of the sure signs that summer has arrived is the unmistakable aroma of barbecue drifting over backyards across the country.

If you’re new to braces, you might be wondering just how many of your favorite outdoor treats can still go on your plate. Good news! You have a lot of braces-friendly options available—with a little extra planning on your part. Two things to remember: tools and textures.

  • BBQ Tools

We’re not talking about spatulas and tongs and skewers—the barbecue tools we’re talking about here are your knife and fork. Sure, many classic BBQ dishes are finger foods, but those are the very dishes which can cause problems for your braces.

Eating savory ribs or chicken legs, juicy burgers or hot dogs, or delicious corn on the cob the traditional way means biting into these foods with your front teeth. That biting puts a lot of pressure on your braces and can lead to bent wires and loose or broken brackets.

But there’s a way to get around this without giving up on your tasty favorites! There’s no rule against using your knife and fork at a BBQ, and there’s no need to bite into foods when you can cut them up into small, manageable pieces.

If you remove meat from bones before eating, if you deconstruct your grilled burger or brat by cutting it up into smaller pieces, if you slice the kernels off your corn on the cob, you can chew with your back teeth and avoid any damage to your brackets and wires. Cut grilled foods into manageable bites just like you do with your regular meals, and you won’t be leaving the party early!  

  • BBQ Textures

Now let’s talk texture. Crunchy, hard, and sticky foods should never be on the menu when you’re wearing braces. These foods can damage your wires and brackets or get stuck between your braces and your teeth.

This is a time for clever substitutions. Exchange the corn chips for soft potato or pasta salad. Trade crusty and seeded buns for softer, seedless versions. Skip the grilled sticky s’mores and enjoy creamy, soft ice cream instead—but without nuts or other crunchy, sticky additions, please!

Dr. Joel Martinez, Dr. Christopher Martinez, and Dr. Vanessa Martinez and our team are happy to offer suggestions for what to eat and how to eat it safely while you’re in braces at our McAllen orthodontic office. There are unavoidable events that can put a damper on outdoor activities. Pouring rain and insect pests—not much we can do about those. But taking simple precautions with your braces means no bent wires and broken brackets to ruin your BBQ fun. Now, dig in!

Talking Over Your Underbite

May 29th, 2024

You’ve been told that you have a malocclusion called an “underbite.” Let’s look at just what this diagnosis means, and what it means for you.

Just what is an “underbite”?

A malocclusion is another way of saying that you have a problem with your bite, which is the way your jaws and teeth fit together when you bite down. In a typical bite, the front top teeth project slightly beyond, and slightly overlap, the bottom teeth.

An underbite, on the other hand, 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.

What causes an underbite?

Underbites tend to be genetic, and run in families, so, most often, an underbite is something you’re born with. The size of your jaws, the shape of your teeth, or both will affect your bite.

A smaller number of underbites develop because of injuries or early oral habits, such as prolonged and vigorous thumb sucking or tongue thrusting.

How do we treat an underbite?

Your treatment will depend on the type and severity of your underbite, and your age when treatment occurs.

  • Braces and Aligners

If your underbite is a slight one, caused, for example, by crowded or overly large teeth, braces or clear aligners can help move the teeth into proper alignment.

  • Functional Appliances

If the underbite is caused by a problem with upper and lower jaw development, devices called functional appliances can be used to help guide the growth of the jawbones while a child’s bones are still growing and forming.

If you’re a young patient, two appliances commonly used to help correct an underbite are palatal expanders, which gradually widen the upper jaw if it’s too narrow, and reverse pull headgear, which fits both inside the mouth and outside on the face, and provides a steady, gentle pull to encourage the forward growth of the upper jaw.

  • Surgical treatment

In some severe cases, surgical treatment can correct an underbite by reshaping the jawbone itself and positioning it further back to align properly with the upper jaw.

Why treat your underbite?

A serious underbite can cause damaged teeth and enamel, painful problems with the temporomandibular joint, headaches and facial pain, sleep apnea, difficulty chewing, eating, and speaking, and can affect confidence and self-esteem.

By following your treatment plan, you’ll not only prevent these consequences, but you’ll achieve major benefits—a healthy, comfortable bite, and an attractive, confident smile. Want to know more? Talk it over with Dr. Joel Martinez, Dr. Christopher Martinez, and Dr. Vanessa Martinez at our McAllen office for all the information you’ll need!

Caring for Your Smile While Wearing Invisalign®

May 28th, 2024

Getting your braces off is exciting. You’ve been working on your new smile for months or years, and it’s time for the trips to our McAllen office to pay off. Can you imagine how bad it would be to discover that your teeth are straight, but that there’s decay?

Caring for your smile while wearing Invisalign goes beyond just waiting for your teeth to get straighter. It involves cleaning your teeth regularly and thoroughly to prevent tooth decay. That way, your smile will be more beautiful than ever when you’re done with your Invisalign treatment.

Take Your Trays Out

The first difference you may notice between Invisalign and traditional metal braces is that Invisalign aligners are invisible, but there’s another important distinction as well. Invisalign braces are removable. You can take the trays out, and you should. Remove the trays while you’re eating so you don’t get food stuck in them. Also, remove them while you’re cleaning your teeth so that you can have full access to all the nooks and crannies in your mouth.

Brush Normally

The guidelines for brushing your teeth with Invisalign don’t change compared to braces. Brush your teeth at least twice a day using a soft toothbrush and a fluoride toothpaste, being sure to get all surfaces of your teeth. If possible, brush after each meal.

If you can’t, be sure to drink some water and swish it around in your mouth when you’re done eating to get rid of the extra food on your teeth. Leaving carbohydrates, such as sugar and starch, on your teeth opens the door to tooth decay.

Floss and Wash

Flossing your teeth gets out the bits and pieces stuck between them. It’s a time-consuming task when you need to navigate the wires of traditional metal braces, but thanks to Invisalign’s removable design, flossing is no problem. Rinsing your mouth with a fluoride antibacterial mouthwash also helps clean your teeth because it gets into all of the spaces. Floss and rinse one or two times daily.

Cleaning Your Trays

Cleaning your Invisalign trays keeps them from getting riddled with bacteria, and it helps keep your teeth free from excess food. You can use the Invisalign cleaning system, which involves placing the trays in a tub with cleaning crystals. The plastic trays are clean after 15 minutes. You can also ask Dr. Joel Martinez, Dr. Christopher Martinez, and Dr. Vanessa Martinez for other ways to clean your trays.

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