The Benefits of Braces Beyond Straight Teeth

In our field, Dr. Morris’Benefits Braces focus on the tangible aspects of patients’ smiles. Our specialty concerns straightening misaligned teeth and correcting malocclusions (incorrect bites). We look at the physical aspects of these problems and the physical solutions to them.

At the same time, we are aware of the psychological impact of what we do for our patients. Even though orthodontics improves oral health, it also improves mental health and well-being in a number of ways:


We’ve begun working with patients with crooked teeth who are clearly shy about how they look. They tell us they try not to show their teeth when they smile for photos, and sometimes they cover their mouths with their hands when they talk. It’s so wonderful when they’re done with treatment to see how their attitude has improved. But these benefits are not just anecdotal. According to studies, young people after orthodontic treatment have shown higher emotional and social well-being than their peers who never had treatment.

Social acceptance

Orthodontics make people’s smiles more attractive, and it’s human nature to respond positively to attractiveness.  Beyond that, braces can help in other ways. For example, crooked teeth can trap food in hard-to-reach places and result in bad breath, so straight teeth can eliminate other issues that may impact someone’s ease in social settings.

Less frustration

If you have or once had a misaligned bite, you know that malocclusions can make the everyday functioning of your mouth annoying. When your teeth don’t meet up as they should, it can be hard to bite into food, and you might have to compensate by biting with other parts of your mouth. Or your misaligned teeth may cause a speech impediment. It’s also harder and more time consuming to clean crooked teeth as opposed to straight ones.

Improved concentration

The benefit of improved concentration is primarily for those patients whose dental problems are not just annoying but are in fact painful. Jutting teeth can sometimes stick into the insides of cheeks or scrape against the tongue, and the pain can be even worse when the problems result in ongoing blisters or bleeding. Chronic pain can be very distracting. Orthodontic treatment takes care of it.

More maturity

When you’re a baby or toddler, you live in the now and have little awareness of the benefits of delayed gratification. This awareness of course improves as people get older, but teenagers’ decisions still tend to be short sighted, according to child development experts. The process of getting orthodontic treatment and the very tangible rewards at the end help exhibit firsthand the benefits of delayed gratification.

So while orthodontists may not have expertise in psychology or counseling, they still can have quite a bit of influence on their patients’ emotional happiness.




Age 7 Orthodontist

Age 7

When we tell parents that their children should first visit an orthodontist at the age of seven, they are sometimes incredulous. “That young?” they say. “But they are still losing their baby teeth!”

Yes, your child’s mouth is still developing, and that’s sort of the point. If you wait until all of a person’s permanent teeth are in and their jaw and bite have settled into place, orthodontic adjustments will likely be more difficult and arduous. Think of it as a journey on sailboat. If you make an effort to be sure that the winds are taking you in the right direction at the beginning of the trip, you won’t have to backtrack far to get to your destination. Age 7 is a time when that journey begins, because we can start see how the adult mouth is taking shape and we can steer its development into a healthy bite and straight teeth.

That’s not to say we are likely to recommend putting braces on the teeth of a seven-year-old. When braces are necessary, their wearing can only begin after permanent teeth have come in (notwithstanding late bloomers like wisdom teeth). But the idea is to begin orthodontic monitoring in the middle of childhood when jaw bones are still at their most malleable. It can forestall serious problems in the future and make corrective treatment down the road simpler and quicker.

We can start noticing:

  • A narrow jaw – If a child’s jaw is too narrow for all the permanent teeth coming in, it will result in crowded, overlapping and crooked teeth. We can widen arches to create space for teeth to come in.
  • The number of teeth coming in – Adults will typically have 32 teeth grow in when their mouths are finished developing, but sometimes there are issues with this number. Too few teeth will cause spacing issues and too many will cause crowding. The number of teeth coming in can be determined at a young age.
  • Crooked teeth – We can start making corrections to crooked teeth at a young age to ensure even wear and improve appearance. For front teeth that stick out, full corrections have to wait until adolescence but we can start to mitigate a severe problem.
  • Bad bites – Bad bites, medically known as malocclusions, include underbites, overbites, open bites, and crossbites. Some of these problems can start being corrected with appliances early. Some are a result of bad habits that we can nip in the bud. Others will need to wait until further growth before they can be definitively fixed, but even in those cases, it’s best if we get an early head start.

As a parent, you may have been hoping to put off orthodontic work for your child until they become a teenager, and indeed braces are not likely to be needed on a seven-year-old. But a head start at a young age will likely make any orthodontic corrections take less time and progress more efficiently.

Save your Teeth During National Candy Month


The website for the National Confectioners Association lists a year’s worth of candy-related holidays. For example, January 3rd is National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day, April 12th is National Licorice Day, and November 7th is National Bittersweet Chocolate witshutterstock_142437043h Almonds Day. But watch out! Candy makers are claiming the entire month of June as National Candy Month.

Of course, dentists, orthodontists, and other dental professionals shudder at the thought of National Candy Month. While, it’s OK to have candy now and then, we wouldn’t want anyone to think of June as a month to gorge endlessly on candy, which as you know, can cause tooth decay. So here are five things to consume in order to survive National Candy Month with your teeth intact:

1.Fresh fruit

Melons are great during summertime; they’re light, refreshing and very sweet. Select watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew or others. Or reach for other types of sweet fruit too—oranges and peaches, blueberries and strawberries—you name it. Even the fresh fruits that are higher in sugar such as grapes, bananas, mangos and cherries are preferable to candy.

2.Quality chocolate

The chocolate typically found on candy racks at convenience stores and vending machines contains very little actual cacao, the basic ingredient in chocolate. And this type of mass-market chocolate is high in sugar and saturated fats. It’s not good for your teeth or your body. On the other hand, quality chocolate, which is made from cacao beans, have polyphoneols and tannins which are ingredients that can stop the development of bacteria in the mouth and plaque. Choose dark chocolate without too much sugar to enjoy cacao’s oral and other health benefits.

3.Sugar-free options

You can increasingly find sugar-free candy, especially in stores that stock natural and organic foods. These candies may use natural sweeteners like fruit juice or sugar-alternatives like Xylitol which has been shown to inhibit the growth of the oral bacteria that causes cavities. But be careful of the preservatives and other ingredients in sugar-free candies that are acidic, which upsets the pH balance in your mouth and can contribute to tooth decay.

4.Snacks that aren’t sweet

Just because the National Confectioners Association says it’s national candy month, you don’t have to buy into their hype. Choose nuts, string cheese, pretzels, or chips. While many snack foods can be classified as junk food and aren’t necessarily good for your teeth, it’s still better for your teeth to avoid junk food with lots of added sugar.

5.Your homemade treats

Still crave something sweet? Make them yourself. Look for recipes for granola or muffins. Generally speaking, homemade confections are healthier for you than store bought ones, and you can choose recipes with lower levels of sugar and otherwise have total control over what you’re eating.



Hollywood Orthodontics Welcomes Everyone to our Open House!

Hollywood Orthodontics is excited to announce the opening of Hollywood Orthodontics second location!  Everyone is welcome to tour our new office which is located at 7611 W. Thomas Rd. Suite E002, Phoenix, AZ (located in the Desert Sky Mall).  Come and meet our team of professionals on Thursday, January 28th from 6pm-8pm!

Light refreshments will be served and all attendees will receive a goody bag.  Two Sonicare Toothbrushes will be raffled off.  Please contact our office at (480) 636.9970 with the number of attendees from your practice.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Ways to Make Flossing Easier While Wearing Braces

If you wear braces, it is even more important that you floss regularly in order to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Because of the hardware in your mouth, particles of food will find more spaces on your teeth and in between them to stick around. If these particles of food are not regularly cleaned away, your chances of having problems with tooth decay go way up.

At the same time, your braces provide additional challenges when it comes to flossing correctly, because your teeth are harder to access. Fortunately, there are tricks and devices that can make the task easier.

Use Waxed Floss

You will likely find it easier to slide waxed floss between your teeth without it catching on the metal pieces of your braces. The floss can be threaded over and around the wires of your braces and pulled through to fit in between each of your teeth.

Purchase a Floss Threader

A floss threader can make it even easier to get in between your teeth. Simply thread a piece of floss though the eye of the threader and place the threader underneath the wire of your braces. Once you have done this, you can floss like you normally would.

Look Into Super floss

Super floss has a stiffened end that makes threading the floss underneath the wires easier.

Try a Pick

A pick is a simple device that is made up of a thin control arm and a small piece of floss. The pick is designed to eliminate the task of having to thread floss around the brace wiring using just your hands. These devices are designed to be highly durable and can even clean between back teeth effectively.

Find a Proxy Brush

The working part of a proxy brush flares out in a cone of bristles. It might remind you of a brush you use at the sink to clean glasses, but it is of course much smaller and the bristles are softer. The way the bristles fold when you stick them between your teeth make proxy brushes well-suited for getting around orthodontic wires.

Invest in a Water Jet

If you want even more cleaning power, a water jet can do the trick. This device usually comes with a small tank that you fill with water. You can then use the handheld attachment to clean around your braces and teeth by pushing a button that shoots out a water stream. It is best to hold the attachment at a 90 degree angle toward your gum line so that the water can effectively get rid of any trapped food and built-up plaque.

Even though it is more difficult to floss while wearing braces, trying these methods and devices can make the process more manageable. Keeping your teeth clean will pay off when you’re able to show off a healthy smile when it is time to remove your braces.

Do I Really Have to Wear My Rubber Bands?

In a word, Yes. Our doctors would not have made rubber bands part of your orthodontic treatment if they didn’t determine them to be necessary.

The typical purpose of rubber bands is to correct an overbite or underbite. Once treatment is over, your teeth will fit together nicely. Your smile will look lovely, and eating will be a lot easier. Rubber bands can also be used along the brackets of one jaw to help move teeth in a way that braces might not be able to do alone.

Tips for wearing rubber bands:

  • Wear them consistently – You will need to take out your rubber bands now and then, during brushing for example. But be sure to wear them consistently. If you take them out and don’t put them back in, even if just for a little while, your jaw or teeth can start moving back to original positions, which can significantly extend treatment time. In effect, you might be starting all over.
  • Use the right rubber bands – Rubber bands come in different diameters and elastic strengths. Make sure you use the ones given to you by us, or your jaw won’t move into place properly. If for some reason you want to order some rubber bands off the Internet, don’t do it. Instead, call us. We’ll give you the ones you need.
  • Don’t improvise – Patients have been known to double up on rubber bands thinking that it will make their teeth move faster. In reality, it doesn’t work that way. Patients might also wear a set of rubber bands longer than instructed instead of replacing them daily or as directed. But rubber bands can lose their elasticity quickly, and wearing one set too long will negatively affect treatment.

How you wear your rubber bands will depend on our instructions. Some patients who wear rubber bands need to wear them all the time. Others only need to wear them while sleeping. Some will need to wear them throughout their entire treatment time, but others will only need to wear them for a portion of it.

Invisalign Q & A

If you are considering Invisalign instead of traditional braces to straighten your teeth, you probably want to know more about what it is. Here are some questions we frequently get at Birth-Stewart-Fletcher Orthodontics about Invisalign:

What is Invisalign anyway?

Invisalign is a teeth-straightening system that involves a series of smooth plastic trays, or aligners that fit directly over your teeth. You switch one tray out for the next every two weeks or so. Each tray is a little different, and as a system, they gradually move your teeth into place with the last tray matching your final teeth alignment.

What is the treatment process?

At the beginning of Invisalign treatment, we will take x-rays and impressions of your teeth in order to create a digital 3-D model of how your teeth look now, how they should move, and how they will arrive into their ideal positions. Based on this treatment plan, we will order the trays for you. Once you begin wearing the trays, you will need to come to the office about every six weeks so we can make sure your teeth are moving according to plan.

What are the advantages of Invisalign over traditional braces?

The main reason patients choose Invisalign is because the trays are virtually invisible and don’t call attention to themselves. Invisalign has other advantages as well. Since there are no metal brackets or wires, Invisalign will not cut or scrape the inside of your mouth. Also, you will never have to make an emergency visit to the office to fix a bracket that popped off or a wire that broke.

Should I wear Invisalign all the time?

You should take out your Invisalign trays when you eat, floss and brush. You might also want to take them out for certain activities, such as when playing a contact sport or a musical instrument that requires using your mouth. But aside from such exceptions, you should always wear the trays to make sure your treatment keeps moving along nicely.

Can Invisalign replace traditional braces for anyone that wants it?

Invisalign is not a suitable treatment option in all cases. Come to the office for a complimentary consultation, and we will let you know if Invisalign will work for you.

Is Invisalign treatment any faster than traditional braces?

Not necessarily. Treatment times are about comparable.

What are any disadvantages of Invisalign over traditional braces?

Invisalign is typically a little more expensive than traditional braces. You might speak with a lisp at first until you get used to the trays in your mouth (but that can happen with traditional braces, too). And the fact that the trays are removable are an advantage, but you have to remember to wear them consistently. You also have to be sure not to lose or break them.

Is Invisalign Teen Right for My Child?

Invisalign started as an orthodontic treatment for adults, but teenagers soon started asking for it as an alternative to traditional metal braces. If you don’t know what Invisalign is yet, basically it’s a treatment that consists of a series of clear plastic trays that fit directly over a patient’s teeth. The main advantage over traditional braces is that the trays are virtually invisible.

Teenagers, who by and large are already self-conscious about their appearance, typically don’t like the look of braces. In this age of selfies and social-network photo sharing, many teens are more image-aware than ever before. Invisalign allows them to get through these adolescent years without feeling as if they have to hide their smiles.

An Invisalign tray is worn for about two weeks before the patient switches it out for the next one, and each successive tray moves the patient’s teeth closer to the final teeth alignment. The trays are removable, and our doctors recommend that patients do indeed take them out for activities like eating, playing sports, and cleaning the trays. But for Invisalign treatment to work properly, the trays should be worn no less than 22 hours a day.

You know your child. Is he or she the type who will wear the Invisalign trays consistently? If so, your child could be a good candidate for Invisalign Teen. If not, he or she might not be a good candidate for this type of treatment.

If you’re on the fence about how to answer this question, keep in mind that Invisalign Teen has compliance indicators (something the adult version doesn’t have). These indicators, located near the molars of each tray, start off as blue dots. As the wearing period progresses, the dots will fade to clear. It’s one way to see if your child is following treatment properl

Kids often tend to lose or break things, which is why young patients in the Invisalign Teen program get six free replacement aligners should they need them.

Invisalign Teen also has other features that the adult version doesn’t have. For example, teens’ mouths are still growing, so Invisalign Teen features “eruption tabs” which accommodates second molars as they come in.

Keep in mind that Invisalign Teen is not appropriate for all orthodontic conditions. The treatment cannot effectively correct severely misaligned bites, severely rotated teeth, large gaps between teeth, or cases where teeth extrusion is required. There are other situations where Invisalign Teen would not be medically appropriate.

So ultimately, how do we respond to the question, “Is Invisalign Teen right for my child?” A “yes” answer depends on these four factors:

  • Your child’s orthodontic issues are treatable by Invisalign Teen. (Naturally, we will be able to determine if this is the case.)
  • Your child would prefer not to have traditional metal braces.
  • You know your child to be the type who will wear the trays consistently.
  • You trust your child to properly care for the trays and not to lose or break more than six of them during the treatment period.

6 Tools for Cleaning Braces

There’s no sugar-coating the fact that cleaning your teeth when they’re in braces is more involved than when they’re not (and at our office, we don’t like to coat things in sugar anyway). Braces create many new, tiny spaces to trap particles of food while at the same time hindering easy access to areas of your mouth.

But cleaning your teeth while in braces is more important than ever. Tooth decay and puffy gums won’t take a holiday until your treatment is over. We recommend cleaning your teeth at least four times a day, after all three meals and before you go to bed, and it’s a good idea to clean your teeth after any snacks too.

Even though cleaning your teeth when you’re wearing braces is both more difficult and more complicated, it’s not the hardest challenge you’ll ever face in life, and your local drugstore will carry all the tools you need to do it right. Here are 6 products that we recommend:

  1. Toothbrush and toothpaste

Keep these old standbys on hand. Use a soft toothbrush with just a bit of fluoride toothpaste. Make gentle, circular motions while brushing at various angles, and be sure to cover all surfaces: the gumline, behind the teeth, as well as the top, middle and bottom edges of the brackets. You’ll need to replace your toothbrush more frequently than normal.

  1. Floss threaders or Superfloss

These products have a stiffened end that allow you to thread the floss underneath the wires so you can get the floss between your teeth.

  1. Dental picks

Dental picks offer another way for you to get underneath your wires in order to clean between your teeth. These plastic tools come in various shapes and configurations, so try out a few to find the one that you like best.

  1. Proxa brush

Short for interproximal brushes, a proxa brush is like a toothbrush except that the bristles come in a short cone shape. It’s a more precise tool than a normal toothbrush so it’s good for cleaning hard-to-reach spots.

  1. Waterpik

These machines shoot a jet of water at various pressures to “floss” between teeth. Orthodontic tips are available. They can be pricy, but they work more quickly than manual flossing, and they’re quite good at cleaning.

  1. Mouthwash

Finish up cleaning your teeth with a rinse of fluoride mouthwash as extra protection against tooth decay.

Exactly which tools to use will depend on the braces you have and your personal preferences. Our doctors will offer you our advice when you get your braces on, please feel free to ask about any problems you might be having if one particular tool isn’t working for you. You’ll eventually get used to the longer process of cleaning your braces. Allow yourself to be motivated by the wonderful, straight smile that’s gradually taking shape.

Summer Safety Tips

It’s the middle summer, and we’ve all settled into to a relaxing groove. But let’s make sure the fun we’re having isn’t ruined by accidents or health issues. Stay safe this summer with these tips:


  • No one likes getting bitten by mosquitoes or other insects. Use effective insect repellents.
  • Bugs like flowery smelling things, so if you’re getting bitten up, stash away scented soaps, cosmetics, and hair products.
  • Bugs also like to come out most in early evening, so when the sun starts going down, it’s a good time to change from shorts and a T-shirt to lightweight, long-sleeved clothing and pants.
  • Check for ticks often and learn how to remove them safely. Lyme Disease and West Nile are certainly not things you want to catch.

Sun Safety

  • Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen. It prevents the premature aging of skin, blotches and discoloration, and skin cancer. Wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 whenever you’re going to be outside.
  • Don a hat, and something with a wide brim is better than a baseball cap. A baseball cap won’t protect your neck or ears.
  • Water is especially important on hot days. Carry a water bottle with you, and drink from it frequently, every 15 minutes or so.

Bicycles and Scooters

  • When you’re on a bike, wear your helmet. No one expects to fall off their bikes, but it happens, and head injuries can be serious. If you’re worried about comfort and looks, you can find plenty of stylish, lightweight helmets these days.
  • Wear a helmet when on a skateboard or scooter, too. Pads for your elbows and knees add more protection.


  • Do you have a trampoline in your backyard? If you do, only one person should be on it at a time. The vast majority of trampoline injuries happen when two or more people are on it.

Water Safety

  • Going to the beach? Waves are fun to jump in, but a strong undercurrent can pull even the strongest swimmers out to sea. Pay attention to flags and warnings about each day’s local beach conditions.
  • Not a strong swimmer? Take lessons. They’re a fun summer activity and can prevent drowning.
  • When you’re on a sailboat, windsurfer, personal watercraft, or water skis, wear a life jacket.
  • Don’t let crabs pinch your toes. It hurts!

Summertime Recipes That Won’t Bother Your Braces

Braces can make your teeth feel sore, especially when you first get them or when they’re tightened. That’s one reason you’ll need to adjust your diet when in treatment. Anything crunchy can make sore teeth feel worse. Really hard foods or foods that strain your teeth (like when biting into an apple) can make brackets pop off. You’ll also need to avoid sticky foods because they get stuck in your braces and cause tooth decay.

For summer, that might seem like a bummer. Favorite summertime foods like ice cream cones, amusement-park taffy, and corn on the cob are out for the time being. But still, there are lots of summer foods that you can still enjoy. We put together a few recipes.


  • Smoothies are a great summertime treat. They’re cool, fruity, and taste like a milkshake, only healthier. Strawberries are in season during summer, so try this Strawberry Oatmeal Breakfast Smoothie.
  • Blueberries are also in season during summer. Add them to pancakes, or try this recipe for blueberry muffins which we like because it has a low amount of sugar.
  • Scrambled eggs are soft just like a braces friendly dish should be, but they can get boring after a while. Up your egg game by adding some zucchini to your dish in this Summer Vegetable Frittata. It’s great for brunch, and there’s no reason you can’t make it for dinner either.


  • If you have the grill fired up in the backyard for hot dogs and burgers, also throw on some vegetables for this Grilled Vegetable Gazpacho. Gazpacho is a soup meant to be eaten cold, so you can put everything you grilled in the fridge to prepare the next day.


  • Even though you can’t have corn on the cob, that doesn’t mean you can’t have corn off the cob. Prepare the corn according to this guide to corn on the cob, and scrape off the kernels into a bowl. Then put them on your plate to eat with a fork.
  • Potato salad is another traditional side to go with BBQ. Try this Easy Potato Salad and just cook the potatoes a little longer than normal to make sure they’re nice and soft.


  • Basil flourishes in the heat of summer, so make your own Basic Basil Pesto sauce to add to spaghetti, ravioli, or any other noodles. Replace the jarred pesto in this recipe for Creamy Pesto Chicken Broccoli with the fresh stuff you just made.
  • If you catch any fish over the summer, instead of frying it in a crunchy coating, just bake it with a little butter or olive oil. This recipe for Easy Baked Tilapia is fairly adaptable to whatever type of fish might bite your hook.