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Valentine Candy: Is It 4 U?

February 15th, 2024

It’s Valentine’s Day. Love and friendship are in the air, and candy is on the gift list. Are there tasty Valentine treats that are safe to eat even with your braces? We have some sweet news for you!

Safe Valentine candy, like the rest of your braces-friendly diet, won’t stick to your braces (potentially causing cavities) or damage them (potentially causing emergency visits to the orthodontist). In other words, foods that aren’t sticky, chewy, hard, or crunchy.

So, which candy treats are on the “Loves Me Not” list?

  • Chewy Candies

Love heart-shaped gummies? Or spicy cinnamon jellies? Or Valentine-pink taffy? These sweet confections might be delicious, but, no matter how delicious, all that sugar sticking to your brackets and wires is not healthy for your teeth and it’s especially hard to brush off. And the chewy nature of these treats can break wires and pull brackets loose from your enamel.

  • Hard Valentine Candies

Do U luv these? R they UR favorites? Whether or not they come in the shape of colorful hearts with clever stamped messages, as crunchy nuts surrounded by chocolate, or as gleaming red hearts on a lollipop stick, hard candies R not 4 U when you wear braces. Biting down on hard foods can damage wires and loosen brackets.

  • Boxes of Assorted Chocolates

The beauty of a heart-shaped box filled with chocolates is its variety. The problem with a heart-shaped box filled with chocolates is its variety. Any pieces with nuts, toffee, or caramel should be left in their little paper cups. Sticky, chewy, and crunchy foods are some of the worst offenders when it comes to damaging your braces. If your candy doesn’t come with descriptions, break open the piece before you indulge to see just what you’re biting into.

Is this list a bit depressing? Take heart! There are several Valentine’s options that are safe for your braces.

  • Soft Chocolates

Any kind of soft chocolate should leave your braces intact—and if you choose dark chocolate, you’ll be enjoying less sugar and more minerals and antioxidants.

  • Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter Candies

These treats are also soft enough to be harmless to your brackets and wires. And if they’re molded into hearts? Bonus!

  • Boxes of Assorted Candies

The problem with a heart-shaped box filled with chocolates is its variety. The beauty of a heart-shaped box filled with chocolates is its variety. Nestled among all the sticky, chewy, and crunchy chocolates are the safer soft cream centers. Choose the braces-friendly options and share the rest.

Whether you’re buying a candy gift for someone in braces, or you’re the lucky giftee, choose candies that will make Valentine’s Day memorable for all the right reasons! Don’t be afraid to think out of the (heart-shaped) box—pink milkshakes or smoothies, sweetly decorated cupcakes, and creamy pastel ice creams and frozen yogurts are soft, smooth, and safe holiday treats.

Of course, after indulging in any Valentine treat, be sure to clean your teeth and braces carefully. Cavities are never fun, and especially not when you’re in braces. Brush and floss after eating, and make sure your brackets and wires are clear of any sticky, sugary souvenirs. If you do have a problem with damaged wires or brackets, be sure to call our Frankfort, IL office right away to keep your treatment plan on track. Valentine’s Day comes once a year, but your beautiful, healthy smile? You want it to last 4ever!

Team Dark Chocolate

February 15th, 2024

Valentine’s Day is the holiday to celebrate all the treasured relationships in your life. It’s a time to honor love in all shapes and forms with cards, social gatherings, and sometimes even binge eating of sweets.

It's hard to look the other way when grocery stores and pharmacies are invaded with goodies connected to the Valentine’s Day theme, and especially if you’re on the receiving end of some of these sweets. We get it. In fact, we’re all for it!

However, we also support a cavity-free smile. So in the interest of your dental and general health, and because we think it’s genuinely tasty, John Burke recommends an alternative to the Valentine treats you may be accustomed to: dark chocolate. 

Yes, Healthy Chocolate Exists

Studies have shown that dark chocolate is high in flavonoids, an ingredient found in the cocoa beans used to make chocolate. Flavonoids can help protect the body against toxins, reduce blood pressure, and improve blood flow to the heart and brain.

By opting for dark chocolate rather than milk chocolate, you get to reap these benefits! Pretty sweet, right? Just make sure to stick to high-quality dark chocolates that have undergone minimal processing.

Dark Chocolate, AKA Protector of Teeth

Not only does dark chocolate provide some nice benefits for your overall health, it also helps protect your teeth against cavities! According to the Texas A&M Health Science Center, dark chocolate contains high amounts of tannins, another ingredient present in cocoa beans.

Tannins can actually help prevent cavities by interfering with the bacteria that causes them. Think of them as scarecrows for bacteria. They don’t always prevail, but isn’t it nice to have them there?

Smooth Never Sticky

Unlike many popular candies, dark chocolate is less likely to stick in the crevices of your teeth. Chewy, gooey sweets are more likely to hang around in your mouth for longer periods of time, which means they raise the odds of your harboring cavity-creating bacteria.

While some dark chocolates have additives like caramel or marshmallow, it’s best to opt for the plain varieties, which are just as delicious. If you’re feeling festive, though, a dark chocolate with caramel is still better than a milk chocolate with caramel, so that’s the way to go!

While dark chocolate has some pretty sweet benefits, the most important thing to remember (whether you go the dark chocolate route or not), is that moderation is key. That being said, we hope you have fun satisfying your sweet tooth and shopping for treats for your friends and loved ones. Happy Valentine’s Day from all of us at Burke Orthodontics!

Aftercare After Extraction

February 7th, 2024

Orthodontists do everything they can to save teeth, but sometimes, a tooth is so damaged by accident, injury, infection, or decay that extraction is the only option. Or perhaps your child’s wisdom teeth are starting to come in—and starting to cause problems. Or, when this is the healthiest alternative, an extraction might be necessary for orthodontic reasons.

While there are several possible reasons an extraction might be necessary, one thing is true for any extraction: you want to make sure that your child is as comfortable as possible and heals as quickly as possible after the procedure.

Aftercare and recovery time isn’t exactly the same for every extraction. Whether your child’s tooth is a baby tooth or a permanent one, whether it’s a single tooth or several, whether it’s erupted or impacted, whether a local anesthetic or sedation is recommended—these factors and more can make a difference in recovery time.

John Burke will provide you with clear, specific instructions for helping your child to a speedy recovery after an extraction. We’d also like to offer you some general aftercare ideas to make sure your child is as comfortable as possible while recovering.

  • Bleeding

Some bleeding is normal after an extraction. Follow your dentist or oral surgeon’s instructions carefully to minimize bleeding at the extraction site. Your child will probably need to keep a gauze pack in place for as long as directed to reduce bleeding and to help a clot form. If bleeding is heavier than expected or goes on longer than expected, call our Frankfort, IL office.

  • Swelling

Swelling is a normal response to extractions. Your dentist might suggest cold compresses to help reduce swelling immediately after the extraction. If you don’t have an ice pack, ask whether a bag of frozen peas or corn can substitute.

With any cold compress, it’s important to protect your child’s skin from injury. Follow your dentist’s suggestions for application and be sure not to exceed the time limits recommended. And don’t apply a compress directly to your child’s face—wrap a towel or cloth around the bag or pack to protect the skin.

  • Careful Cleaning

The area around the extraction shouldn’t be disturbed or touched. The blood clot that forms after an extraction protects the area from irritation and infection caused by food particles and bacteria. If a clot is dislodged accidentally, it can lead to a condition called dry socket, which can be very painful.

This means no brushing near the extraction site, and no heavy rinsing or spitting for as long as directed. If your child is younger, you might need to help with brushing over the days following to make sure those sturdy bristles don’t get close to the extraction site before it’s healed.

  • Soothing Foods

Have a supply of your child’s favorite comfort foods handy while healing, such as cream soups, mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs, gelatin, yogurt, and smoothies. Hot and cold foods can be irritating, so stick to cool or lukewarm foods for the first few days. Encourage your child to drink lots of liquids, but nothing carbonated. And do wait until any numbness wears off before giving your child chewable foods to avoid biting tongue or cheeks.

Remove spicy favorites from the menu, which can be irritating, as well as chewy, crunchy, or jagged foods like crackers, since tiny, sharp bits of food can make their way inside the site. Remind your child to chew on the side of the mouth opposite from the extraction site. And, since suction is an all-too-easy way to dislodge the clot over the extraction site, no straws!

  • Schedule Recovery Time

Make sure your child rests and takes it easy after the procedure. Exercise, lifting, even bending over can dislodge a protective clot, so re-schedule any physically demanding sports and activities until your child is given the dental all clear.

  • Medication

If your child has been given a prescription for pain medication or antibiotics, follow the instructions as directed. John Burke might recommend age-appropriate over the counter pain relievers to have on hand. For severe or continuing pain, call your orthodontist or oral surgeon right away.

  • Coordinate Dental Schedules

Orthodontic extractions, if needed, will be scheduled into your child’s orthodontic treatment plan. Treatment can begin or resume when the extraction site has healed.

If an emergency extraction is necessary, call our Frankfort, IL office so we can be aware of the situation and can coordinate with your child’s dentist or oral surgeon to keep treatment on track as much as possible.

An extraction can be worrying for both patient and parent, so talk to your orthodontist for the best ways to make this experience a positive one for your child before, during, and after treatment.

Proper Diet while Undergoing Orthodontics

February 7th, 2024

Many people undergo orthodontic treatment during childhood, adolescence, and even into adulthood. Wearing orthodontic appliances like braces is sure to produce a beautiful smile. Though orthodontic treatments at Burke Orthodontics are designed to accommodate your lifestyle, chances are you will need to make some dietary modifications to prevent damage to your braces and prolong orthodontic treatment.

The First Few Days with Braces

The first few days wearing braces may be the most restrictive. During this time, the adhesive is still curing, which means you will need to consume only soft foods. This probably will not be a problem, however, as your teeth may be tender or sensitive while adjusting to the appliances.

Orthodontic Dietary Restrictions

You can eat most foods normally the way you did without braces. However, some foods can damage orthodontic appliances or cause them to come loose. Examples of foods you will need to avoid include:

  • Chewy foods like taffy, chewing gum, beef jerky, and bagels
  • Hard foods like peanuts, ice chips, and hard candy
  • Crunchy foods like chips, apples, and carrots

How to Continue to Eat the Foods You Love Most

Keep in mind that you may still be able to enjoy some of the foods you love by making certain modifications to the way you eat them. For example, steaming or roasting carrots makes them softer and easier to consume with braces. Similarly, you can remove corn from the cob, or cut up produce like apples and pears to avoid biting into them. Other tips include grinding nuts into your yogurt or dipping hard cookies into milk to soften them. If you must eat hard candies, simply suck on them instead of biting into them.

If you have any question whether a food is safe to eat during your treatment with Burke Orthodontics, we encourage you to err on the side of caution. Of course, you can always contact our Frankfort, IL office with any questions you have about your diet and the foods that should be avoided during treatment. By following our dietary instructions and protecting your orthodontic appliances from damage, you will be back to chewing gum in no time.

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