Sometimes I think the expression “pain is beauty” derived from someone talking about braces. It is no secret that braces can cause abundant soreness, irritation, and pain inside of your mouth. Luckily, there are a number of things you can do to combat the pain from braces and ensure that you are undergoing the braces process in the most comfortable way possible. Remember, you are not alone in dealing with the struggles that come with braces; and, you will be glad you invested in them once you see your new, perfect smile.

Use an oral anesthetic

Orajel and Anbesol are a few pain relievers that can be applied directly to your teeth and gums. Use a cotton swab or your finger to apply the numbing gel to the areas of discomfort. The gel may not taste fantastic, but it does help to desensitize the mouth and decrease the pain of shifting teeth.

Take over-the-counter pain relief medicine

Be proactive! If you take pain relief medication an hour before your appointment, it will help ease any potential discomfort during the tightening process. Any over-the-counter pain medication should do the trick, but just make sure to follow the usage directions provided on the container. It’s not recommended to take pain pills regularly, as overuse can be dangerous, but they can be beneficial when the pain can’t be subdued by other remedies.

Use an icepack

Just like with an injury, it’s important to apply cold pressure to the area of discomfort, as inflammation increases pain. An icepack, or a gel-icepack applied to the outside of your mouth will help decrease inflammation and ultimately help to ease the oral discomfort.

Drink cold water

Ice cold water is a great, inexpensive way to ease discomfort after you get your braces tightened. The cold temperature provides a numb sensation in the mouth and decreases inflammation in the sore gums.

Eat soft foods

Your teeth will very likely be sensitive as they shift after your braces are tightened. Avoid crunchy, hard, or difficult to eat foods and opt for more soft foods. Mashed potatoes, smoothies, pudding and soup are good options because they don’t require much chewing and involvement of the teeth.

Dr. Elizabeth Haynes is an experienced orthodontist in the Greenbelt, MD and Washington, DC area (or surrounding counties: Prince George’s, Montgomery, or Anne Arundel County) give her a call at 301-302-8395 to schedule your free consultation today.

Written by University Centre Dental Associates July 15, 2017

How Young is Too Young for Orthodontic Treatment?

When your child grins, does it reveal a mouth full of crooked teeth? Do their permanent teeth seem to be growing in adjacent to one another? Or perhaps your child has an underbite or overbite that causes them pain or insecurity.

Well, breathe a sigh of relief because all of the aforementioned issues — plus many more — are common and easily treatable with orthodontic treatment. While it is always wise to be on top of your child’s healthcare, it is important to note that there is such thing as your child being too young for orthodontic treatment.

Experts have done extensive research on the proper time to begin your child’s journey with orthodontics. While it always varies on a case-by-case basis, there are some general tips to know:

At What Age Should You Begin Your Child’s Treatment?

I suggest you bring your child in for an orthodontic screening by eight years old. I call this “Phase 1 treatment,” and it is used to screen for difficult orthodontic problems that can be corrected BEFORE braces and which can simplify future orthodontic treatment times, cost, and procedures (such as extractions of permanent teeth or even surgery in some limited cases).

While some parents may want to straighten teeth at a young age, the purpose of Phase 1 treatment is to address foundational concerns of jaw alignment and creating space for permanent teeth to come into the arch. After these foundational concerns are met the child should be ready for a fairly straight forward “Phase 2” or comprehensive orthodontic treatment (i.e braces).

Is there Such a Thing as “Too Young” When for Orthodontic Work?

Parents can have braces put in on Phase 1 for two reasons:

  1. To accomplish the above goals (jaw alignment, creating space for permanent teeth); or,
  2. To align teeth for reasons important to those children on parents who would like straight teeth early. A number of factors push some families to straighten teeth early (including but not limited to financial situations, self-consciousness, or just wanting to get treatment over with).

The American Dental Association states that children can begin orthodontic treatments at seven years old. If you believe your child should start earlier, allow me, Dr. Elizabeth Haynes, to evaluate the situation.

If you are ready to begin your child’s journey to a more beautiful smile, schedule your free consultation today at 301-302-8395. Our office serves the Greenbelt and Bowie, MD area as well as Washington, D.C., Anne Arundel County, and Montgomery County.

Written by University Centre Dental Associates July 11, 2017


Do you notice your child sucking their thumb often? Thumb sucking is a natural reflex for children. Sucking on thumbs, fingers, pacifiers, or other objects often make babies and young children feel secure and happy and may help them learn about their world. Also, children may use it as a mechanism to soothe themselves and fall asleep.

How does thumb sucking affect my child’s teeth?

Although it is common for children to suck their thumbs, it is not without detrimental effects. After permanent teeth come in, sucking may cause problems with the proper growth of the mouth and alignment of the teeth. It can also cause changes in the roof of the mouth.

Pacifiers can affect the teeth essentially the same ways as sucking fingers and thumbs, but it is often an easier habit to break.

The intensity of the sucking is a factor that determines whether or not dental problems may result. If children rest their thumbs passively in their mouths, they are less likely to have difficulty than those who vigorously suck their thumbs. Some aggressive thumb suckers may develop problems with their baby (primary) teeth.

When Do Children Stop Sucking Their Thumbs?

Children usually stop sucking between the ages of two and four years old, or by the time the permanent front teeth are ready to erupt. If you notice changes in your child’s primary teeth, or are concerned about your child’s thumb sucking consult your dentist.

How Can I Help My Child Stop Thumb Sucking?

  • Praise your child for not sucking.
  • Children often suck their thumbs when feeling insecure or needing comfort. Focus on correcting the cause of the anxiety and provide comfort to your child.
  • For an older child, involve him or her in choosing the method of stopping.
  • Your dentist can offer encouragement to your child and explain what could happen to their teeth if they do not stop sucking.

If these tips don’t work, remind the child of their habit by bandaging the thumb or putting a sock on the hand at night. Your dentist or pediatrician may prescribe a bitter medication to coat the thumb or the use of a mouth appliance.

What to do next?

If the thumb sucking become persistent you can bring it up to Dr. Maurice Haynes during your next pediatric dental appointment. If you live in the Bowie, MD or Washington, DC area, or surrounding counties (Prince George’s, Montgomery, Anne Arundel) give him a call at 301-302-8395

Written by University Centre Dental Associates July 1, 2017


Tooth whitening (or bleaching) is a simple, non-invasive dental treatment used to change the color of natural tooth enamel and is an ideal way to enhance the beauty of your smile.

Because having whiter teeth has now become the number one aesthetic concern of most patients, there are a number of ways to whiten teeth.  The most popular method is using a home tooth whitening system that will whiten teeth dramatically.  Since tooth whitening only works on natural tooth enamel, it is important to evaluate replacement of any old fillings, crowns, etc.  Replacement of any restorations will be done after bleaching so they will match the newly bleached teeth.

Tooth whitening is NOT permanent.  A touch-up maybe needed every several years, and more often if you smoke, drink coffee, tea, or wine.

I wanted to whiten my teeth but I was apprehensive about going to a professional because I was unsure what to expect. After playing around with the idea for a while, my friends finally convinced me to visit a professional to get the job done. I am typically very picky about any type of modification, so I was wary. I have had people ask about my experience, so I thought I would lay out this blog in an FAQ-style.

What prompted me to whiten my teeth?

I had for a long time thought about whitening my teeth. After learning how easy teeth whitening was to do, I decided to give it a go. My friend had also had her teeth whitened recently and it looked amazing. I wanted to feel more confident with my smile. I think that the state of your teeth can have a big impact on your overall appearance.

Was it easy to whiten your teeth?

I was amazed at how easy it was to whiten my teeth! My dentist was a big help in explaining exactly how to use my whitening trays and how much whitening gel to apply. I chose the Opalesence Home Whitening kit and had no trouble sleeping with the bleaching tray in and it was so easy to apply.

Are you pleased with the results?

I was really happy with the results! I thought that it made my smile much more stunning and I have gotten some lovely compliments. I really noticed it looking at photos now and in the past. I like it because it is still very natural looking. I couldn’t stop smiling for the first few weeks!

If you live in the Greenbelt or Bowie, MD or Washington, DC area (as well as the surrounding counties: Montgomery, Anne Arundel, and Prince George’s) call Dr. Haynes at 301-302-8395 to schedule your free consultation today.

Written by University Centre Dental Associates June 20, 2017


Everyone wants a beautiful smile they can showcase to the world. For some, the idea of having a mouthful of braces is even worse than the idea of crooked teeth. If this sounds like you, you might be a good candidate for Invisible Braces. Dr. Elizabeth Haynes is a highly esteemed orthodontist who is prepared help you reach your full potential.

Here are some reasons why others have opted for invisible braces over the traditional path:


Invisible Braces are a great option because they are as effective as traditional braces, without the metal in your mouth. Underbites, overbites, overcrowding, and gaps between teeth are all things that can be addressed when using Invisible braces. You will be fitted for several versions of retainers that make slight adjustments to move your teeth over the treatment time.


We all know that traditional braces come with a wide array of food restrictions. Luckily, Invisalign is removable so you do not have to bid adieu to your favorite foods. Do you like candy? Popcorn? Raw carrots? Just pop your invisible braces off and enjoy.


The idea of walking around with metal braces can be anxiety inducing for some, especially adults who work in a professional setting. Some fear that their braces are unsightly, or make them look young. Invisible Braces are so discreet that no one will even know you have them in.


Invisible Braces make brushing and flossing a breeze. This helps maintain proper oral hygiene. When teeth are cooked or cluttered they are harder to clean giving bacteria a playground in your mouth. Once your teeth have moved the instruments the hygienist uses are more effective. You may spend less time in the dentist chair getting your teeth cleaned.


Wearing them while at or participating in sporting activities can give your teeth more protection. Using Invisalign as a protection for the teeth when doing Things Mountain biking playing group sports gives you an added layer of security. You can use your retainer as a mouth guard protecting your teeth from grinding while you sleep. Along with this you can also use your retainers to whiten your teeth.

If you would like to learn more, give us a call today! We are located in Greenbelt, MD, but also serve the Washington D.C. area, Bowie, MD, Prince George’s County, and Anne Arundel County.

Written by University Centre Dental Associates June 12, 2017

Why you need Professional Teeth Cleaning and Dental Exams

Scheduling professional teeth cleanings and dental exams are important in maintaining good health and appearance. However, not only is good oral hygiene important for your smile, but it also contributes to your overall health playing an important part in the prevention of gum disease and other health complications. In a professional teeth cleaning and dental examination, a dental hygienist will apply a fluoride treatment to the teeth. Fluoride is a mineral which restores the enamel of teeth and helps prevent tooth decay. Your dental hygienist will also look for any early signs of cavities, gum disease, oral cancer, or any other signs of problems with the teeth and gums.

A routine professional teeth cleaning and dental exam can play huge parts in preventing gum infections such as gingivitis or periodontal disease. Gingivitis is a form of gum disease which leads to inflamed gums. Symptoms of gingivitis may include gums that are swollen, red, tender, and may bleed easily. People may even experience tooth loss, tooth ache, or ulcers. Periodontal disease may destroy the jawbone, can lead to tooth loss, be a risk factor for heart/ lung diseases and low birth weight. Regularly scheduled dental exams can also help provide an early detection of oral cancer and can be very important to improving the prognosis of cancer the earlier oral cancer is detected. Oral cancer looks like a sore or lump that doesn’t heal and may be tender or painful. Oral cancer may come from heavy alcohol use, tobacco use, and the human papilloma virus.

Improving and maintaining your oral hygiene can be an instrumental part in maintaining your health as you age. If you would like to schedule a professional cleaning, dental exam, or have further inquiries that include professional dentistry please contact Dr. Elizabeth Haynes, or Dr. Maurice Haynes at University Centre Dental Associates. We are conveniently located in Greenbelt, MD and serve the surrounding Washington, DC communities such as Prince George’s County, Montgomery County, and Anne Arundel County.

Written by University Centre Dental Associates May 31, 2017

How to Fix Gaps in Teeth

A gap tooth, or diastema, are often a worry of appearance for many people. Sometimes they even may grow further, or become a cause of discomfort and pain for people. Many seek treatment to help fix a diastema and the issues it causes. A diastema usually occurs between the two upper front teeth, but can be located anywhere in the mouth. Sometimes a diastema can be a part of several dental issues requiring orthodontic treatment, however, a diastema may also exist on its own. Spaces tend to occur for several reasons: in event of a mismatch between the teeth and the jawbone, missing or undersized teeth, an oversized labial frenum, thumb sucking, an incorrect swallowing reflex, or periodontal disease. Often, patients that simply experience a mismatch in the teeth don’t report pain, discomfort, or any increase in size. However, diastema caused by tongue thrust habits or periodontal disease may lead to discomfort, pain, and the loosening of teeth over time.

Orthodontic treatment may require braces to move the teeth together. If treatment involves the lateral incisors a dentist may suggest widening with the aid of crowns, veneers, or bonding. A diastema caused by a missing tooth may require extensive dental repair. If a gap tooth is from a large labial frenum the patient will require a surgery called a frenectomy to reduce the frenum. Lastly, if the gap stems from periodontal disease the patient will require orthodontic treatment from a periodontist, or gum specialist first. After the patient has healed, in many cases, braces may be used for further orthodontic treatment to shift the teeth into place. A splint may be used to attach teeth together to prevent moving again, also, sometimes a bridge is required to close the spaces.

If you suffer from a gap tooth, also known as a diastema, and have further inquiries for professional dentistry please contact University Centre Dental Associates today to make an appointment with Dr. Elizabeth Haynes or Dr. Maurice Haynes. Our office is located in Greenbelt, MD and we proudly serve patients in the Washington, DC area and surrounding communities such as Prince George’s County, Montgomery County, and Anne Arundel County.

Written by University Centre Dental Associates May 24, 2017

Why Does My Tooth Hurt After a Root Canal?

Root Canal Pain, Washington, DCFor the first few days after your root canal procedure, your tooth may still be in some minimal pain, tenderness, and feel sensitive due to natural tissue inflammation, especially if there was pain or infection before the procedure. You may also feel some tenderness in your jaw from keeping it open for an extended period of time. These symptoms are temporary and can be managed over-the-counter pain medications.

If, after sensitivity and post-procedure pain has worn off and you bite down and your root canal tooth still hurts, the bite may be off. This can be corrected by your dentist.

Another possible cause of pain is a persistent infection or a root fracture. If a root canal is completed, but an infection still is present around the tooth then an infection may be the cause, especially if significant time has gone by and the area still hurts.

There are guidelines for post root canal care that will ensure your mouth heals properly:

  •  Do not eat anything until the numbness in your mouth wears off. This will prevent you from biting your cheek or tongue.
  • Brush and floss your teeth as you normally would.
  • If the opening in your tooth was restored with a temporary filling material, it is not unusual for a thinlayer to wear off in-between appointments. However, if you think the entire filling has come out, contact your dentist.

Contact your dentist right away if you develop:

  • A visible swelling inside or outside of your mouth;
  • An allergic reaction to medication, including rash, hives or itching (nausea is not an allergic reaction);
  • A return of original symptoms; or
  • Your bite feels uneven.

However, if your tooth still hurts several days after your procedure, contact your dentist to be sure that it is a natural side effect of your procedure and not something more serious. If your tooth still hurts after your root canal and you think there is something amiss, contact University Centre Dental Associates today.

Written by University Centre Dental Associates September 1, 2015

5 Ways to Help Care for Your Braces During Orthodontic Treatment

top tips for braces, washington DCIt’s very important to keep your braces clean during orthodontic treatment. It can be very difficult to brush, floss, and keep your braces free of food and debris. Many people say taking care of teeth with braces takes three times as long as taking care of teeth without orthodontic gear. Here are a few tips to make braces hygiene easier:

Use waxed floss (unwaxed floss is more likely to get caught and shred in your braces), dental tape or a product specifically designed to clean around your braces. Carefully thread the floss under the wire of the braces, then between two teeth. Then remove the floss and repeat.

Brushing with braces is not all that different than brushing without braces. It is more important to brush your teeth at every opportunity after eating. Be sure to clean each tooth individually and spend about 10 seconds on each tooth before moving onto the next tooth, brushing in a set pattern so that you don’t miss any teeth. Make sure the metal is shiny when you are done.

Using Elastics
Elastics are important in making sure your braces are in place and moving your teeth as they should. They should be worn at all times, except only when brushing your teeth, gums and braces after meals. Removing them while cleaning your mouth lets you get a deeper clean.

Addressing Damage Immediately
If your elastic breaks, food becomes lodged or damages the metal, contact your orthodontist immediately. The longer you wait to address damage, the more it can hurt your gums, teeth, or hygiene.

Braces Friendly Foods
Most foods can be eaten normally. There are certain foods, however, that can break or loosen braces and should be avoided, such as:

• Hard or tough-to-bite foods, such as apples or bagels
• Chewy foods, such as taffy or caramels
• Corn on the cob
• Hard pretzels, popcorn, nuts, and carrots
• In addition to foods, do not chew ice or bubble gum.

If you are having difficulties keeping your braces clean, call University Centre Dental Associates to make an appointment today.

Written by University Centre Dental Associates June 1, 2015

What is the Best Age to Start Orthodontic Treatment?

Age to Start Braces, Greenbelt, MDThe American Academy of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that your child have an orthodontic examination by age seven. By this age, your child’s teeth have developed enough to where the subtle problems can be spotted with jaw growth and emerging teeth.

The first reason for this is because if orthodontics problems are present, it is best to catch and treat them early while they are still developing. If left uncaught or untreated, some orthodontic problems could require surgery. When you start treatment early, an orthodontist has a greater chance to:

  • Guide jaw growth
  • Lower the risk of trauma to protruded front teeth
  • Correct harmful oral habits
  • Improve appearance and self-esteem
  • Guide permanent teeth into a more favorable position
  • Improve the way lips meet

Another reason to have an orthodontist exam your child’s teeth by age seven is that teeth development is widely varied at that age. So it takes an expert to tell if a child may actually have an orthodontic problem, or if it’s just a normal developmental variation.

Of course, if your child is over the age of seven or if you are considering orthodontic treatment yourself, it is never too late to consult an orthodontist. According to the AAO, around one in five orthodontic patients today are adults. With the growing availability of clear aligners, translucent ceramic brackets, and lingual braces, it’s hard to tell if adults have orthodontic wear.

If you are considering orthodontic treatment for your child or yourself, contact University Centre Dental Associates for a consultation today.

Written by University Centre Dental Associates May 21, 2015