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All Posts in Category: Dental Health

Tooth Brush, Floss, Tooth Paste, Picks, and Other Dental Instruments

Whiten Your Teeth: A How-To

Whether you want to whiten your teeth naturally at home, with OTC products, or in our office, you have many different options!

Having a bright, white smile is a huge confidence booster that anyone would love to have. While the absolute best way to have the whitest smile possible is having an in-office procedure, here a couple different options:

Natural, at-home remedies

You may want to opt for some home remedies for whitening your pearly whites. These options are inexpensive and you may have many of the ingredients for a bright smile already in your home! While we cannot attest to the full effectiveness of these home remedies (everything works differently for different people!), these are easy for anyone to try.

baking-soda-768950_640Baking soda: Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, acts as a natural toothpaste when scrubbed onto your teeth.

Hydrogen peroxide and baking soda: Mixing these two ingredients together to make toothpaste will help whiten your teeth. Make sure that your ratio of baking soda is less than the hydrogen peroxide and that your paste is not gritty (we like about 2 tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide and 1 tablespoon of baking soda).

strawberry-361597_640Strawberries (used alone or mashed into a paste with salt): strawberries are nature’s natural whitener! Unlike other berries (raspberries or blackberries), strawberries do not stain teeth. Rather, they contain malic acid, which can help remove the surface stains on your teeth. Adding salt to a strawberry paste can act as the coarse part of the paste.


Over-the-counter (OTC) products

Whether you want whitening strips, toothpaste, or a mouthwash, there are a few different OTC items that you can find in any drugstore. We like:

Knowing what causes yellow, stained teeth is the best way to combat the stains in the first place. Anything from food, beverages, genetics, to lifestyle will contribute to stained teeth. A quick look at some causes of stained teeth:

  • Coffee coffee-660394_640
  • Tea
  • Medications
  • Cigarettes/smoking
  • Berries
  • Deep pigmented foods
  • Age

If you want to get your teeth whitened in our office, read more on whitening here, and contact us for an appointment!



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Raspberries and Blueberries

Stained Teeth: Common Culprits

Stained Teeth: The Culprits

Did you know that many of your favorite foods and drinks can stain your teeth? It is always good to brush your teeth or rinse your mouth after consuming these items, but did you know that drinking milk, eating vegetables, or even eating hard cheeses can help you combat stains? We compiled a list of things that you may or may have not known can discolor your teeth.

SpaghettiTomato-based pasta sauces: your go-to dinner of spaghetti and meatballs can be staining your pearly whites! The acidity in the tomatoes, in addition to their bright red coloring, are both culprits for tooth discoloration.

What are acids? Acids make the enamel of your teeth softer and more rough, so it is easier for stains to stick.

Berries: while berries are great for your overall health (tons of antioxidants) they can also stain your teeth. The

Berriesdeep pigmentation in cranberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries will stain. Whether they are consumed as a juice, jellies, jams, or eaten whole, they can definitely stain your teeth.

Tea causes more stains than coffee: most people may think that coffee is the biggest beverage culprit for staining, but it is actually tea that is the biggest offender! It is more likely that coffee will stain your teeth due to the high tannin content that is in tea.

What are tannins? Tannins Teaare plant-based compounds that make stains adhere to teeth easier

Tea also is full of acid, which also causes teeth to stain easier. Even white tea can stain teeth! Of course, it would be better to choose white, green, or herbal teas versus black tea. Still, all teas stain: black teas stain teeth yellow, and green teas stain them grey.

Sodas stain teeth: your favorite (non-alcoholic) bubbly is harmful to your teeth. When you are downing a cold soda, your teeth will also contract, and makes them easier to stain. Both very hot and very cold Sodadrinks will do this! How else soda is a pretty terrible beverage option: the acids in soda chip away at the protective layer of your tooth, the enamel. Also, all the sweeteners (artificial or real sugars) make a great breeding ground for tooth decay. Dark colored sodas contain chromogens, which stain teeth very easily!

What are chromogens? Chromogens are compounds that have very dark, strong pigments and stick to the enamel of your teeth easily.


Other common foods and beverages that stain:

  • Curry powders
  • Sports drinks
  • Red and white wine (Did you know white wine is more acidic than red wine?)
  • Fruit juices
  • Hard candies, colored candies
    • This is because artificial colorings are from food coloring, which is very dark and aggressive colors!
  • Condiments, dressings, etc.
    • Ketchup, soy sauce, and balsamic vinegrettes are very common culprits of staining
  • Beets

If you are reading this list in dismay, don’t worry! There are actually foods that help combat stains! They are:

  • Strawberries: they contain malic acid, which help remove plaque.
  • Baking soda: try scrubbing your teeth with this once a week.
  • High fiber fruits: think apples and pears. The high fiber content help “scrub” your teeth when you eat them!
  • Cheese: creates a higher pH level in the mouth, which lowers cavity risk.
  • Water: just rinsing your mouth with this after eating helps clear the acids and plenty of water keeps gums and teeth healthy.

Stained teeth aren’t forever!

Now, if your teeth are stained, there are solutions to fixing them and making them pearly white. There are many over-the-counter (OTC) treatments for you to whiten your teeth (check out this or this). For the best results possible, an in-office whitening treatment is the best option. Ask us about Zoom! Whitening today – it is a quick, in-office procedure that give you a bright, white smile.

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Model Teeth

What Is Malocclusion?

Braces and Invisalign are both orthodontic appliances used by an orthodontist to fix malocclusion. Some fast facts about malocclusion: it is both diagnosed and treated by a medical professional, and is incredibly common (just in the United States alone, there are about 200,000 cases per year). This term started with Edward Angle, better known as the “father of modern orthodontics.”

What is malocclusion, exactly?

Malocclusion is misalignment of the upper and lower teeth when your jaw is closed. This is also known as the “incorrect” or “imperfect” relation of the dental arches as well. There are different types, or classes of malocclusion:

  • Class I: crowding/spacing/over eruption/under eruption or neutrocclusion
  • Class II: overjet/overbite or distocclusion/retrognathism
  • Class III: underbite or mesiocclusion/prognathism

More generally speaking, any kind of bite problem, crowding, or spacing is considered a kind of malocclusion.

Why should malocclusion be treated?

When your teeth are crooked, or misaligned, it can subsequently lead to much more serious oral health problems – like tooth decay or gum disease! You may also have some more “minor” problems that are associated with misaligned teeth. These problems can include: mild discomfort when eating, speech problems, such as a lisp, breathing through your mouth instead of your nose, and even the alteration of your face!

How does it happen?

Believe it or not, you can actually inherit crooked teeth (thanks mom and dad!). The traits that you can inherit can be jaw size and tooth size. An example would be small teeth in a large jaw. You may also inherit traits like missing or transposed teeth. A more rare condition would be a severely underdeveloped upper or lower jaw, or a cleft palate. More minor causes range from thumb-sucking to tooth loss to impacted teeth. even having a filling or crown that does not fit correctly can cause teeth misalignment!

What are treatments for misaligned teeth?

If you have been recommended by a dental professional or believe you would benefit from orthodontic treatment, come in to see us for a complimentary consultation! Orthodontic care from Dr. Hickory will treat any kind of crooked teeth you may have. In addition to treating any kind of health issue associated with malocclusion, having a straight smile has been proven to boost confidence.

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Invisalign facts (fact #1, they're invisible!)

Facts About Invisalign!

There is so much to know about Invisalign – we thought we would share the facts!

  • Invisalign is manufactured by Align Technology, Inc.
  • Invisalign was “born” in 1997 and founded by Zia Chishti and Kelsey Wirth.
  • Chishti was an orthodontic patient himself, and while using his retainer post-treatment, he realized that a similar approach could be used for the entire orthodontic treatment!
  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Invisalign in 1998.
  • In 2000 Align Technology spent $31 million dollars in an aggressive television advertising campaign (New York Times called it “the most aggressive consumer advertising plan the dental profession has ever seen”)!!
  • Invisalign went public in 2001.
  • In 2005 The Harvard School of Dental Medicine began requiring its ortho grad students to complete Invisalign certification prior to graduating.
  • Invisalign is a series of thermoplastic, clear, BPA-free aligners used in orthodontic treatment as an alternative to braces.
  • The aligners are custom-made for the patient (you!).
  • In order to create the aligners made specifically for the patient, x-rays, pictures, and impressions will need to be taken.
  • All orthodontic diagnosis for Invisalign is done digitally.
  • Aligners are worn for about 14 days, or 2 weeks, at a time.
  • There are no wires or metal brackets with Invisalign.
  • Invisalign corrects many orthodontic problems including crowding, underbite, overbite, spacing, and deep bite (all ranges of malocclusion).
  • Invisalign is an alternative to traditional braces.
  • Aligners need to be work for at least 22 hours a day.
  • If you have an important event, such as a date, an interview, a photoshoot, or whatever else, you can remove your aligners for a short amount of time for that!
  • Total treatment time in Invisalign is generally one year.
  • Invisalign aligners are clear, which makes them invisible to the eye!
  • It is easier to keep your teeth clean with Invisalign (in comparison to metal braces).
  • There are no restrictions on what you can eat or drink with Invisalign.
  • Teens wear their Invisalign aligners more diligently than adults patients!
  • More than 3 MILLION patients have been treated with Invisalign.

Whew. If you want to know more about Invisalign after reading all of these interesting facts, contact us! We can set you up for a complimentary consultation or just talk to you.

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Young Person with Traditional Braces

History of Orthodontics

You may think orthodontics is a modern branch of the dental field, but really, did you know the idea of straight and perfect smile has been around for centuries (thousands of years, even!)? The history of orthodontics goes back 50,000 years! While exactly how people throughout the years have tried to straighten their smile varies, the concept has remained the same: a perfect smile is something everyone wants!

History Lesson: Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Etruscans, and Romans

Orthodontists today use braces and Invisalign to straighten teeth, and while Invisalign is a bit too advanced for the Ancient Egyptians, they did try braces! Archaeologists have found a type of wiring system on Egyptian mummies. Want to know what archaeologists think Egyptians used to put pressure on the teeth? Catgut (coincidentally, this is made of dried “guts” and intestines of horses or sheep, not cats!).

A gold wiring band has been known to be used on Etruscan women after their death to keep the positioning of their teeth. This looked similar to a mouthguard, and was found uniquely only in Etruscan women! This signified the need to have straight teeth as a vain or cosmetic procedure. In Ancient Rome, a writer named Aulus Cornelius Celsus, told people to “push” on new teeth regularly to bring them to a proper position. Census spent his whole life researching and finding out new medical procedures.

The 1800s

While orthodontics seem to have hit the pause button after Ancient times, there was a huge push for orthodontic development and research in the 1800s. The Father of Dentistry, Pierre Fauchard, created a dental appliance called a bandeau. This was a U-shaped piece of metal that had holes to fit around teeth to move them! Fauchard wrote a book in 1728 called “The Surgeon Dentist.”

United States and Orthodontics

There was significant increase in orthodontics in the United States – J.S. Gunnels made something called the occipital anchorage (a kind of early, crude headgear) in 1822, Chapin A. Harris wrote the first book on dentistry “The Dental Art” in 1840, and E.G. Tucker (an American Dentist) used rubber in orthodontics in 1846.

The Father of Modern Orthodontics

Edward Hartley Angle is credited with identifying what really classifies misalignment of teeth (malocclusion) and identified orthodontic appliances that would truly straighten teeth in 1880.

Braces As We Know Them Today

Orthodontists used to wrap wire around each tooth to secure the bracket to the tooth, but in the 1970s orthodontists discovered they could use adhesives to place the bracket directly onto the tooth. Also during this time, orthodontists stopped using gold and silver for wiring and instead started using stainless steel! This caused the pricing of braces and orthodontic work to be much lower (go figure, right?).

Lingual braces were also invented during this time because people were interested in discreet treatment. They would have to wait 20+ years for…

Invisible braces!

In the 1990s a man named Zia Chishti saw that when he didn’t wear his plastic retainer for a few days, his teeth would shift back. Chishti went to Kelsey Wirth and the two of them created a way to use 3D computer technology to make plastic retainers. Chishti and Wirth went on to cofound Align Technology, the company known to make Invisalign. In 2000 their process was available to the public, and the rest?

Is history!

If you are interested in getting either braces or Invisalign, contact us!

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Old Woman Pulling Mouth Open with Fingers

Orthodontics: Good for All Ages

Image source

What is the best age for orthodontics? It could be any age depending on the problem.

How old is too old for orthodontics? How young is too young? While teenagers make up a large percent of our patients, did you know that some of our patients are as young as age 5? Patient ages can range from over age 5 to seniors in their 80s.


As early as age 5 (or even earlier, if needed), there are treatment appliances that look very similar to sports mouth guards. While these simple appliances may not look very complex, they can have a huge impact for many dental or oral problems such as: proper swallowing, nose breathing instead of mouth breathing, poor tooth alignment, and jaw growth.

There are other systems that can be used in addition to mouth appliances – one system is called Myobrace. Myobrace was developed over a course of 20(!) years by an Australian dentist who was particularly interested in preventative orthodontics. One major problem that Myobrace appliances can help aid in are poor sleep for children. This is helpful as poor sleep effects a child’s behavior during the day and their performance in school.

Early Phase Treatment

The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) and the American Dental Association (ADA) recommend orthodontic evaluation by age 7. At this age, there are usually enough permanent teeth to use many different appliances such as expanders, jaw growth modifying appliances, conventional braces, or Invisalign to correct narrow jaws, overbites and underbites, or crowding.

This is also a great time to make space in a child’s mouth for teeth that may not have room to grow. Back in the 1970s and 1980s, American orthodontists waited until a child was around age 12 to begin treatment. However, at that age, most permanent teeth have grown in. This resulted in extraction of permanent premolar teeth in 60% of their patients! Today, orthodontists extract in less than 5% of their patients. This is due partly to early phase creation of space.

Teenage Treatment

Preteens and teenagers age 11 to 15 is the standard orthodontic age. The benefit of treating at this age is that while most of the permanent teeth are present, there is still growth happening, which can be used to correct jaw and bite problems.

Teenagers benefit greatly from orthodontics as a misaligned, crooked smile may have immensely negative effects on a teenager’s confidence.
Adult Treatment

Today, many adults are seeking orthodontic treatment because while they may have had treatment as children/teens, they did not wear their retainer (learn more about retainers here!). The lack of retainer wear, or replacing their retainer, caused relapse.

Relapse can occur for many reasons, but with orthodontic treatment, teeth can be straightened again. Whether it is through braces or Invisalign, many adults are opting to undergo orthodontic treatment again. While the majority of our patients (roughly 90%) are adults and opt for Invisalign due to the discreet treatment, the primary goal is to have straight and healthy teeth.

Teeth are never “too old” for orthodontics as long as they are healthy and in good care! Adults may also take note that orthodontic treatment can be a huge health benefit, and prevent serious oral problems such as gum disease or even tooth decay.

Interested in learning more about orthodontics? Contact us here!

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The Benefits of Orthodontics

3 Key Benefits of Orthodontics


The field of orthodontics has advanced tremendously in recent years. Now, patients have a variety of treatment options available to them, ranging from traditional braces to lingual braces to clear aligners. But how do you determine whether you should invest in orthodontic care or not? To help you make a more informed decision about your dental health, we have compiled a list of the key benefits orthodontic treatment provides.

Key Benefits of Orthodontics

Benefit 1: A More Radiant Smile

The most noticeable advantage of undergoing orthodontic treatment is the improved appearance of your smile. Straighter teeth and a more attractive smile provide a boost in self-esteem and confidence, which often helps a person’s professional and personal success. Whether you’re on a date or at job interview, a beautiful smile will leave a positive impression on those around you.

Benefit 2: Greater Dental Stability

There is a direct correlation between the straightness and stability of your teeth. The straighter they are, the greater their long-term stability. Unfortunately, this correlation also means that untreated orthodontic problems tend to exacerbate over time. In particular, crowding occurs when teeth aren’t locking in their space and back teeth begin to drift forward. Once teeth slip contact with each other, the door is open for crowding to worsen. If the crowding progresses too far, there may no longer be enough room for all the teeth. Consequentially, one or more teeth may need to be extracted. Naturally, the sooner crowding is corrected, the easier the process will be.

Benefit 3: Long-Term Periodontal Health

Finally, it has been shown that straight teeth are less prone to developing periodontal (gum) problems. Properly aligned teeth are easier to clean and offer little to no room for food particles to get trapped. This reduces the likelihood of plaque and tartar build-up, which often leads to gingivitis, gum recession, and gum disease.

If you’re looking to get a professional opinion on different treatment options, we encourage you to contact us to schedule a complimentary consultation. We will perform a digital scan of your mouth, share the results with you, and put together a treatment plan customized specifically to your needs.

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Do I Need Orthodontic Treatment?

Do I Need Orthodontic Treatment?

Have you ever wondered whether you need orthodontic treatment or not?

Maybe you’re feeling self-conscious about your bite or the alignment of your teeth. Even if your teeth are straight, you may have underlying issues such as discomfort or pain when you chew. There are many reasons why you might be looking into different orthodontic treatment options. As a DC-based orthodontist with over 25 years of experience in the field, I’ve treated tens of thousands of patients and seen many types of cases. Here are some of the most common reasons why I believe people go to their orthodontist for a professional evaluation.

Aesthetics and Confidence

Oftentimes, crowding, spacing, and protrusion make people feel insecure about their teeth. They are embarrassed to smile in photographs and in front of others. Fortunately, orthodontic treatment can help correct these aesthetic imperfections and give you the confidence and pride that come with straight teeth and a great smile.

Orthodontic Relapse

Many of the patients that come to our practice had braces as children. Unfortunately, teeth have a natural tendency to return to their original positions if retainers are not diligently worn. Orthodontic relapse is a condition where teeth slowly fall out of alignment following treatment. This usually compels people to return to a practice for another round of orthodontic treatment to correct it. At Embassy Row Orthodontics, we make sure that after our patients have finished their treatment, they understand the importance of wearing retainers to minimize the risk of relapse. We also help patients create healthy dental habits and give them valuable tips on how to maintain their new beautiful smile.

Pain, Tooth Decay, and Gum Disease

Due to misalignment, teeth can overlap and create tight spaces that are hard for toothbrushes and floss to reach. Consequentially, plaque and bacteria can accumulate, leading to dental problems like tooth decay, gum recession, and gum disease. Through proper orthodontic treatment, your teeth will be spaced and aligned correctly, allowing you to brush and floss your teeth more effectively. In addition, there will be less stress and wear on your teeth and on your jaw joints (TMJ).

Early Treatment

Since most orthodontic problems can now be treated with Invisalign, adults and children of all ages are finding orthodontic treatment is easier than they had ever imagined. For children, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends a consultation at age 7. Some children, typically in the 7 to 9 year-old age range, benefit from an early phase of orthodontics while there are still primary (baby) teeth. If there is crowding, space can be made to allow for the normal eruption of teeth. If there is a jaw relation problem (such as crossbite, overbite, under-bite, open bite or deep bite) orthopedic appliances can be used to harmonize jaw growth. We encourage early screening visits to address orthodontic problems before they worsen.

To learn more about whether orthodontic treatment is right for you or your child, contact us to schedule a complimentary consultation appointment. We will perform a digital 3-D scan of your mouth, share the results with you, and if appropriate, put together a treatment plan customized specifically to your needs.

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