Our Blog

All Things Plaque

April 11th, 2021

We all want that perfect smile. But, while you’re on your orthodontic journey, one major opponent that you’ll face is plaque. Read on to learn more from our team!

Plaque and orthodontic treatment

Plaque contains ever-growing bacteria in your mouth. It mixes with proteins and leftover food and grows under your gum line as well as on your teeth. If plaque is not removed, it can harden and turn into tartar. Tartar forms below and above the gum line and can lead to receding gums, inflammation, and periodontal disease—all of which can prolong your orthodontic treatment. You cannot remove tartar on your own, which is why regular dental appointments are so important, especially if you have braces.

When you have braces, it may be difficult to clean every hard-to-reach area in your mouth. Braces can make it more challenging to effectively remove traces of food and bacteria between teeth, brackets, under the gumline, and around your orthodontic appliances. For those with aligners, lingering bacteria can grow rampantly if you do not clean teeth before putting trays back on.

Unfortunately, orthodontic treatment makes you more at risk for developing tartar—especially if you aren’t being diligent with oral hygiene. The best way to fight plaque is through preventative care. Here are some tips to remove plaque, avoid tartar, and ensure a healthy smile transformation.

  1. Floss. While many people skip flossing, it is imperative during orthodontic treatment of any kind. Toothbrushes cannot reach every area in the mouth. If you have braces, flossing helps remove bacteria that might have become stuck in brackets and wires. For those with aligners, flossing ensures that your teeth are clean before placing your plastic trays on top of them.
  1. Eat well. Think about it this way: when you eat, the bacteria in your mouth also eat. The bacteria thrive on sugary and starchy foods and release detrimental acids once they feed on them. Changing your diet to include healthier meals will make your mouth healthier as well. Remember, no matter what foods you choose, avoid anything sticky, hard, or chewy if you have braces!
  1. Brush regularly. Although it is recommended that people brush twice a day, when you have braces or aligners, you should brush more often and for longer. During orthodontic treatment, brushing after having anything other than water is a smart move. This helps keep your aligners clear, your braces clean, and your smile pearly white!

With these tips in mind, you’ll be able to enjoy a healthy smile transformation and fight plaque. For more information or to book your appointment, call our team today!

Stress, Your Smile, and Orthodontic Treatment

April 5th, 2021

With April comes Stress Awareness Month, the perfect time to take a step back and evaluate your smile habits. Though they may seem unrelated, your oral health and stress are connected. Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic, dentists across the country have witnessed a spike in stress-related dental problems. In honor of Stress Awareness Month, read on to discover the ways that your stress could be impacting your smile journey.

Stress and orthodontic treatment

Directly or indirectly, stress can lead to a variety of dental or orthodontic issues. Clenching, grinding, biting your nails, eating unhealthy foods, or neglecting good oral hygiene habits can all be caused by stress. In the past year, up to 70% of dentists reported seeing more issues like bruxism, chipped teeth, and TMJ dysfunction in the chair.

For those undergoing orthodontic treatment, these issues can be even worse. Not only can some bad habits lead to decay, but they can also cause damage to your orthodontic appliances. This means possible discomfort, pain, stress, or even emergency orthodontic visits to repair appliances.

If you clench your teeth while wearing aligners, you can warp your trays. And if you choose to snack on foods like candy or popcorn, you can break your brackets or bend a wire. Even without stress, it can be challenging to keep teeth healthy during treatment since braces create hard-to-reach areas. So, if stress is causing you to skip brushing or flossing, you can easily end up with cavities, gum disease, and a slowed down smile transformation.

Enjoy stress-free smiles

Focus on healthy smile habits no matter what! Practicing excellent oral hygiene and properly caring for aligners or braces can deliver both a stress-free journey and a beautiful, healthy result.

After eating or drinking, brush and floss—even if you’re enjoying a late-night snack; wear a mouthguard during sports; and book those biannual appointments with a dentist. Finally, follow all the instructions from our orthodontists. If you stop wearing your retainer, remove your aligners too often, or eat foods that aren’t braces friendly, you can end up in a stressful scenario—with a less than ideal result.

Come see us today

All month long, de-stress and embrace healthy oral hygiene habits. Have any questions about how to best care for your smile? Call our team and book a stress-free appointment with our experts.

Adults, It’s Time to Get Your Best Smiles!

March 28th, 2021

Though some people may think that braces are only for teens and children, this isn’t true! According to the American Association of Orthodontists, one in four orthodontic patients today is an adult. With spring on the horizon, it’s time to transform your health and smile. Read more to learn about whether orthodontic treatment as an adult is right for you!

Orthodontic technology is better than ever

Many adults had orthodontic treatment as a child and either did not complete it or did not wear a retainer. In these cases, their teeth likely regressed. If your first experience with orthodontics was uncomfortable or unpleasant, you may be unsure whether treatment as an adult is the right choice.

These days, orthodontic technology is better than ever! Newer advancements, like self-ligating Damon Braces as well as clear aligners, allow adults to have incredible smile transformation experiences. Treatment today is more discreet, efficient, and comfortable than ever before. As more adults discover how advanced orthodontic treatment is, we know that even more will want to transform their smiles.

Getting treatment as an adult

If you are insecure about your smile, there is no need to deal with a bad bite, gaps, misalignment, or spacing. Using appliances, like braces and aligners, we can promote excellent dental health and create a beautiful, lifelong smile.

At our practice, we use advanced technologies, like Damon Braces and Invisalign®. Self-ligating braces, like Damon Braces, improve upon traditional metal braces. Using a slide mechanism instead of elastic ties to connect arch wires to brackets, Damon Braces are more hygienic and efficient. These braces do more than just align your teeth and bite. Among other aesthetic improvements, they also widen the dental arch, provide facial support, and correct gummy smiles. Plus, for those adults who want a discreet transformation, these braces come in clear as well.

Depending on your goals, we may recommend clear aligners, like Invisalign. These are fully removable and even less noticeable than clear braces. No matter what treatment our experts recommend, we will always deliver your best smile and health!

Book an appointment today

As part of our smile family, you can feel confident in your orthodontic care. Our experts are ready to help you achieve the dream smile you deserve. If you have questions about receiving treatment as an adult or if you want to book an appointment, call our Petty & Bielik Orthodontics team today.

Celebrating Dentist’s Day

March 6th, 2021

Today is Dentist’s Day, a time to celebrate smiles and dental health! But, should you thank your orthodontist on this holiday? Is your orthodontist even considered a dentist? Find out everything you need to know in this blog!

What is an orthodontist?

An orthodontist is a dental specialist. However, the type of work that they engage in is very different than that of a general dentist. General dentists are primary dental providers. They promote dental hygiene through regular exams and refer patients to specialists when needed. They regularly diagnose and treat oral conditions, like decay or gum disease. In the office, they provide a wide range of services, such as regular cleanings, teeth whitening, tooth extractions, and filling cavities.

In comparison, orthodontists diagnose, prevent, and treat issues with facial structure, tooth and jaw alignment, bites, and aesthetics. Using specialized appliances, including braces, clear aligners, and palatal expanders, orthodontists are able to influence facial growth and correct problems to improve a patient’s health, comfort, and confidence.


Both dentists and orthodontists have a dental degree—either a DDS or DMD. However, orthodontists are required to obtain additional education and training before going into practice. They must complete an orthodontic residency program for an additional two to three years. During this time, they receive specialized training and education that helps them deliver healthy smiles.

Celebrating Dentist’s Day

This Dentist’s Day, celebrate all dental professionals—from your general dentist to your orthodontist! Both are needed for a healthy, happy smile. While orthodontists focus on bringing the face, teeth, mouth, lips, and jaw into harmony, oral health and orthodontic treatment are directly connected. Aligned teeth are easier to clean and less likely to develop gum disease or cavities. When you have misaligned teeth, some areas in your mouth may be difficult to reach, making them prone to poor oral hygiene.

And, during orthodontic treatment, maintaining excellent oral hygiene is crucial—especially since food can easily get stuck between brackets or in your aligners. Sticking to a healthy routine, including booking regular appointments with your general dentist, will promote the healthiest results.

We hope you have a happy and smile-friendly Dentist’s Day! Have any questions for our Petty & Bielik Orthodontics team? Call us for more information or to book an appointment.

(708) 636-2900 4233 W 95th St, Oak Lawn, IL 60453