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Why Should I Wear a Retainer After Braces?

Imagine this: after years of navigating life with braces, the day finally arrives when the metal wires can be removed and your beautiful, aligned smile can shine through. It’s an exciting time. Finally, a whole world of foods can be added back into your diet, and your mouth is free to do as it pleases. But then, you hear the news: you need to wear a retainer. Shocked? Don’t be. There are plenty of reasons to wear a retainer after braces.

Preserve Your Hard Work

Although wearing a retainer can feel like a pain, there is a good reason to wear this device. While wearing braces, the bones and ligaments had to adjust to a new position. When the braces come off, the teeth are at risk of sliding back into their old place. Wearing a retainer will help remind the teeth exactly where they need to be until the body has adjusted.

Without a retainer, you may be frustrated to discover that your years of wearing braces were for nothing, as your teeth will eventually return to their original position. We know that no one wants that to happen, which is why we remind our patients of the importance of their retainers.

What Kind of Retainer Will I Wear?

There are two major kinds of retainers: permanent or removable. A permanent retainer will fit behind the teeth and be bonded into place. Since the patient cannot access it, it will remain there until the orthodontist decides it is time to remove it. On the other hand, a removable retainer fits around the front of the teeth and can be removed for activities such as eating. However, since this kind of retainer can be removed by the patient, it requires a greater amount of dedication to remember to wear it according to the recommendations.

We Are Ready to Help

At University Centre Dental Associates, we are skilled at understanding the best orthodontic treatment method for each individual patient. So if you have questions about the path that might be right for you, we are here to help.

Our office is located in Greenbelt, MD, making it convenient for patients from Washington, DC, Bowie, MD, Prince George’s County, Montgomery County, and Anne Arundel County. Contact us to learn more.

How to Encourage Your Children to Brush their Teeth Daily

When it comes to oral health, getting your kids on board can be a challenge. After all, brushing teeth isn’t exactly the most fun or exciting moment of the day. However, it is key to establishing healthy oral hygiene for a lifetime. So, how can you make daily teeth brushing more fun for the whole family? Here is what we recommend:

Make it Fun!how to encourage your children to brush their teeth daily, university centre dental associates, greenbelt, md

Two minutes can feel like a long time to get your child to brush when they’re not enjoying it. Instead of simply standing and brushing, consider playing your child’s favorite song, having a two-minute dance party, and making the experience more of an interactive event!

There are a number of apps and videos that can also make teeth brushing more fun for your kids, so take a look around and see what you think they might like.

Create a Routine

Since teeth brushing should be a daily habit, make sure you treat it as such. The sooner this activity can become routine, the more success you will have with encouraging your child to enjoy brushing. Even if it’s been a long day, or you’re on vacation, it’s important to keep up these habits, to establish their importance.

Praise Good Brushing

Each time your child successfully brushes his or her teeth, let them know what a great job they did! Ensure that they feel good about their behavior, so they’ll be encouraged to continue. You might also offer rewards like a sticker chart or a special request for a bedtime story. Healthy motivation can be the path to success!

Brush Together

Consider brushing your teeth at the same time as your child. This not only sets a good example but shows that even adults take the time to take care of their teeth. For added fun, make sure to include your child in on the toothbrush purchase, so they can pick out whatever design will make them want to participate in this daily practice.

With these tips in mind, you should be on your way to establishing tooth brushing excitement in even your least interested kids. Need more advice? We’d be happy to help. At University Centre Dental Associates, we work with a wide range of ages and have a firm understanding of how you can encourage your kids to get into good dental hygiene habits.

Located in Greenbelt, MD, our office is convenient for patients from Washington, DC, Bowie, MD, Prince George’s County, Montgomery County, and Anne Arundel County. Contact us today to learn more.

Food to Avoid for Sensitive Teeth

These days, it is not uncommon to struggle with sensitive teeth. Whether you have felt that uncomfortable, tingly sensation your whole life, or have just recently developed sensitivity, it can make eating and drinking a far less pleasurable experience. Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can reduce the feelings of sensitivity.



Possessing two of the top foods that can irritate sensitive teeth–sugar and acid–soda is best left off your shopping list. Not only will avoiding soda improve your sensitive teeth situation, it will also reduce your risk of developing cavities–giving you a healthier mouth overall.


Ice Cream

Although it’s delicious, ice cream is cold and contains sugar–both factors that can aggravate your sensitive teeth. Without the enamel layer on the teeth that acts as a protective barrier against temperature, very hot and very cold foods can be especially challenging to handle.



With that in mind, it only makes sense that hot coffee would be another irritant for sensitive teeth, as it’s hot and acidic. If you put sugar in your coffee, that can make things even worse. That said, if you can’t get through the day without your dose of c

affeine, adding milk can lower the temperature and reduce the acidity.



Containing copious amounts of sugar, candy of all types can wreak havoc on your sensitive teeth. Hard candy can cause the teeth to break, while sticky candy can stick to the teeth. With this in mind, you may want to find another way to satisfy your sweet tooth.



The high acid content in citrus fruits and their juice can wear away at an already depleted tooth enamel, increasing your sensitivity and discomfort.



The popular sandwich toppers pack a highly acidic punch, meaning that you may be better off avoiding them. Since both raw and cooked tomatoes can trigger sensitivity, you may want to hold off on the marinara as well.


sensitive teeth, worst foods for sensitive teeth, blog, university centre dental associates


Although a seemingly obvious observation, chewing on ice could lead to intense pain for those with sensitive teeth. Food that is cold and hard is a challenging combination, and best to be avoided as much as possible.


At University Centre Dental Associates, we understand just how frustrating your tooth sensitivity can be. In some cases, tooth sensitivity can indicate an even more serious dental concern. So if you have questions about what is going on with your teeth, we are here to help.


Our Greenbelt, MD office is a short drive from Washington, DC, Bowie, MD, Prince George’s County, Montgomery County, and Anne Arundel County. If you have questions about your tooth sensitivity and are ready to take the next step, do not hesitate to contact us.

What is the Best Age to Have an Orthodontic Evaluation?

When most people think of orthodontics, they imagine teens and pre-teens with braces. While this is often the case, it is important to understand that orthodontic treatments may span many years, and the problems that necessitate orthodontic assistance do not just pop up overnight. As a result, having an orthodontic evaluation at the appropriate age is crucial to the long-term success of your treatments. So, what is the best age? According to the experts at the American Association of Orthodontists, it is best to have an orthodontic evaluation no later than the age of seven.


Why Seven is the Magic Agechildrens orthodontics, blog, university centre dental associates

There are a variety of reasons why children should be evaluated by an orthodontist by the time they are seven years old. In general, the biggest reason is to start early treatment that could prevent larger issues later on. However, here are the specifics:

  • Spot Subtle Problems – An orthodontist will be able to see potential issues with jaw growth and teeth that have not yet emerged, while baby teeth are still present.
  • Recommend Monitoring Growth – If the orthodontist discovers a potential or developing problem, she may recommend monitoring the issue until the necessary growth has occurred for treatment to be beneficial.
  • Nip Problems in the Bud – Visiting an orthodontist at an earlier age allows for some issues to be addressed early on, leading to shorter treatment or eliminating the need for treatment later on.


Issues Can Be Corrected with Early Treatment

There are some dental problems that can be successfully corrected when addressed at a younger age. These include irregular jaw growth, protruding front teeth, harmful oral habits, the positioning of permanent teeth, and lip closure.

The ultimate goal of every orthodontist is to give each patient the beautiful, aligned smile they deserve. So, by scheduling an orthodontic evaluation early on, you’ll set your child up for a lifetime of dental success.


University Centre Dental Associates Can Help

At University Centre Dental Associates, we are experienced in helping parents understand the best orthodontic procedures for their children. Located in Greenbelt, MD, we proudly serve patients from Washington, DC, Bowie, MD, Prince George’s County, Montgomery County, and Anne Arundel County. If you have questions and are interested in scheduling an orthodontic evaluation, do not hesitate to contact us.

How to Ease Your Child’s Dental Fears

For many kids, a trip to the dentist can be extremely anxiety-producing! It’s understandable, as having a stranger poke around in your mouth is a new and often uncomfortable experience. However, since healthy teeth are an important part of overall health, you may be seeking advice on how to ease your child’s fears before a dentist appointment. We’ve seen our fair share of nervous children, and here is what we recommend:

how to ease your childs dental fears, blog, child fears dentist, university centre dental associates

Stay Positive and Avoid Details

One of the best ways to set your child up for success at the dentist is to assure them that the doctor will just be checking their smile and counting their teeth. Both of these are true statements that frame the appointment in a positive light. Emphasizing that the dentist will help keep their teeth clean and strong is often more effective than adding details such as potential cavities, which can be alarming for adults and children alike!

Practice Ahead of Time

For some children, it can be useful to play pretend, acting out a dentist appointment before they actually go into the office. To do this, simply take a toothbrush and count your child’s teeth. Then let your child be the dentist, practicing counting and brushing. In this way, your child will feel more informed and may be more comfortable when it’s time to make a real-life visit.

Listen to the Expert

Pediatric and family dentists are well aware of the ways in which kids may fuss or cry during an appointment. It’s very likely that they will have their own vocabulary and ways of approaching the situation that can help mitigate some of the fear. Take cues from the dentist–whether they ask you to stand back or hold your child’s hand, and trust that they are doing their best to make the experience a positive one for all.

Start Young

Ultimately, one of the best ways to help your child acclimatize to visiting the dentist is to start when they are young. Doing so will make it a more normal part of their life, so there will be less fear or anxiety in the years to come. For best results, considering scheduling their first appointment around their first birthday, or at the sign of their first tooth.


At University Centre Dental Associates, we have years of practice helping parents and children become less anxious during their dental procedures. If you are looking for a dentist that will offer your child a positive experience, we are here to help.


Located in Greenbelt, MD, our office is just a short drive from Washington, DC, Bowie, MD, Prince George’s County, Montgomery County, and Anne Arundel County. If you have questions about how we can help your child, do not hesitate to contact us.

Are Invisible Braces Right for Me?

For many people, braces are a necessary part of life. Although bringing the teeth into proper alignment may feel like a hassle, it will be better for overall dental health in the long-run. Unfortunately, many people shy away from or begrudge their braces due to their very obvious appearance. For teenagers, wearing braces may make them feel socially outcast, while for adults, wearing braces may make them feel like they’re back in middle school. If this is true for you or someone in your family, you may be curious about invisible braces.


Understanding Invisible Braces

Invisible braces are custom-fitted retainers. Although there are a variety of invisible braces available, Dr. Haynes uses clear aligners in her practice. Made of clear plastic, they are far less visible than their metal counterparts. In addition to being relatively undetectable, they are typically more comfortable than traditional braces and are far less of a hassle during mealtimes. Individuals with invisible braces need only take out their trays during meals, which means that sticky and hard foods are not off limits, as they are for those with traditional braces.

In order to progress with the treatment, it is important to wear the invisible braces for 20-22 hours of the day. Every two weeks, the trays will be switched out, to support the teeth in moving into proper alignment.


Who Is a Good Candidate?

Invisible braces are suitable for a wide range of patients. However, we believe that they are best suited for teens and adults with mild to moderately crowded teeth and minor spacing issues. More severe crowding issues or bite problems may need a more involved method of treatment.

invisible braces, are invisible braces right for me, university centre dental associates

Ultimately, the best way to determine whether invisible braces are right for you is to schedule a consultation. Dr. Elizabeth Haynes is a skilled and experienced orthodontist, who can provide a thoughtful and thorough recommendation based on your specific needs.


Ready to step into a life with better, more aligned teeth? If so, we are ready to help. Our Greenbelt, MD office is easily accessible to patients from Washington, DC, Bowie, MD, Prince George’s County, Montgomery County, and Anne Arundel County. So if you have questions about invisible braces, do not hesitate to contact us.

Best Time to Get Your Teeth Whitened Before an Event

There are some moments in life when having a bright, glittering smile is a top priority. Whether you are getting married, seeking a career boost, or simply looking to be more confident about your teeth, teeth whitening can help. However, the process of teeth whitening does not normally just happen overnight. So how far in advance should you plan? And what options are available? Let’s take a look.


Causes of Teeth Staining

In truth, there are a variety of factors that lead to discolored teeth. Aging, smoking, beverages such as coffee, tea and sodas, old fillings and excessive fluoride can all lead to a dimmed smile. Fortunately, there are a variety of options to help you look your best.


Teeth Whitening Timeline

best time to whiten teeth before an event, blog, teeth whitening, university centre dental associates

However, if an at-home procedure is what you prefer, we also offer convenient take-home whitening treatments. If you choose this option, we will make a custom mold for your teeth. At home, you will place the whitening solution into the tray and wear the tray typically for one hour a day, for one to two weeks.


In general, you’ll want to begin your teeth whitening procedure about two months before your big event. This gives plenty of time for the results to appear and for any negative side effects to subside. As long as you maintain a healthy oral hygiene routine, your smile should still be radiant for many months, or even years, to come.


In-Office vs. Take-Home Whitening


When it comes time to whiten your smile, we proudly offer a variety of teeth whitening options. With in-office whitening, we create bleaching trays that are molded to fit your teeth and can be used each year. Another option for in-office whitening is Zoom!® Whitening, which can offer up to eight shades of whitening.



Let Us Whiten Your Smile

At University Centre Dental Associates, we are happy to assist you in reaching your tooth whitening goals before your next big event. Located in Greenbelt, MD, we have helped patients from Washington, DC, Bowie, MD, Prince George’s County, Montgomery County, and Anne Arundel County achieve the smiles they desire. If you are ready to take control of your mouth and have whiter teeth, do not hesitate to contact us.

Benefits of Flossing Daily

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times… flossing your teeth daily is an important part of oral health. Unfortunately, many people find this the most challenging step in keeping their teeth and gums looking and feeling their best. What’s the big hype? What exactly are the benefits of flossing daily? Allow us to explain.


Removes Plaque

One of the main benefits of flossing is that it can remove plaque between the teeth. By removing plaque daily, you’ll prevent plaque buildup which can lead to tartar later on. Plaque removal also prevents tooth decay and reduces the risk of developing gum disease. Considering one out of every eight Americans has some form of gum disease, you may want to step up your flossing game to avoid this very real possibility.

benefits of flossing, blog, university centre dental associates

Cleans Hard to Reach Spaces

While brushing twice a day is a great practice, flossing ultimately provides a more comprehensive mouth cleaning. Floss can reach those food particles between the teeth that you may not be able to access with a toothbrush, leaving your teeth looking brighter and better than before. Removing food also prevents gingivitis–the first stage of gum disease.


Improves Gum Health

Many individuals fear that flossing will irritate their gums and cause them to bleed more. However, this is simply not true. In fact, flossing actually improves the health of the gums, so that they do not bleed as easily. Although your gums may bleed initially if you have not flossed in a while, this will quickly subside as your mouth acclimates to the flossing experience. Flossing also allows you to check for any swelling or redness in the gums, which can be signs of other health problems.


Assists in Maintaining a Healthy Weight

Although there is no specific study linking flossing to weight, anecdotal evidence shows that those who floss after a meal are less likely to snack. This decrease in snacking could lead to weight loss or weight maintenance.


The best news about flossing is that it is never too late to start. At University Centre Dental Associates, we encourage all of our patients to floss daily for maximum teeth and gum health. If you have questions about your dental hygiene and are seeking advice you can trust, we are here to help.


From our office in Greenbelt, MD, we have served clients from Washington, DC, Bowie, MD, Prince George’s County, Montgomery County, and Anne Arundel County. Ready to step forward into a better dental routine? Contact us today.

Things to Consider When Choosing an Orthodontist

These days, it can be challenging to know how to choose a good health care provider. After all, with so many options, where do you even begin? Can you trust a friend’s recommendation, or are you better off finding someone on your own? At University Centre Dental Associates, we believe that finding an experienced orthodontist is essential to the health and function of your teeth. Here are a few things to consider before embarking on your orthodontics journey:


Education and ExperienceThings to Consider When Choosing an Orthodontist, blog, university centre dental associates

One of the most important aspects of choosing an orthodontist is ensuring they have the appropriate education and experience. You will want to look for an orthodontist who is a Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S), Doctor of Dental Medicine (D.M.D.) or has a Master of Science in Orthodontics. Some people also prefer to see an orthodontist who has several years in the field. However, whether you choose an orthodontist who has been practicing for twenty years or two years is entirely up to you.


Office Environment

Given the long-term services orthodontists provide, you will want to make sure that you feel comfortable and supported in the office. Are the other treatment providers friendly? Do you feel your concerns are listened to and taken into consideration? Are the treatment areas sanitary? There are numerous aspects that you can and should consider before deciding on your orthodontist, so visiting the office to see it for yourself is important.


Explanation of Treatment

Typically, individuals who require orthodontia are not experts in the field. As a result, you will want to find a doctor who explains your health situation and the recommended process of treatment in a way that is easy to understand. By scheduling an initial consultation, you will be able to assess whether this orthodontist approaches patient interaction in a way that you find helpful.



Of course, a good indicator of the potential success of the practice is whether or not past clients felt satisfied with their results. Although the practice’s website may have a page of testimonials, you might want to explore online to see if there are reviews on unbiased sites that can confirm or deny the testimonials you saw on the practice’s own website. There’s a good chance that if most people were satisfied with their results, you will be too!


At University Centre Dental Associates, we offer only the highest quality dental care. Our Greenbelt, MD office is just a short drive from Washington, DC, Bowie, MD, Prince George’s County, Montgomery County and Anne Arundel County. If you are seeking an orthodontist you can trust, do not hesitate to contact us.

20 Foods that Strengthen Teeth

One of the main factors impacting dental health is our diet. Although you may not think of it, what you eat and drink can fortify or weaken your teeth. We recommend the following food for strong teeth.



Both apples and pears act as a natural toothbrush, increasing saliva flow, which prevents cavity buildup. Pears also have a neutralizing effect on tooth surfaces. Kiwis, on the other hand, contain large amounts of vitamin C, which strengthens gums and prevents gum infections.



Similar to apples and pears, celery also helps produce more saliva in the mouth. Leafy greens contain calcium, which helps produce an alkaline effect in the body and both strengthen and promote bone growth. Raw onions, although maybe not the most appetizing, will eliminate harmful mouth bacteria and prevent tooth decay.



Both milk and cheese products are excellent for your teeth. Milk contains calcium and vitamin D, which are essential for overall bone health, while cheese contains casein to strengthen the tooth’s surface.



Whole grains, which are largely praised for their health-promoting qualities, are also good for strengthening your teeth. Rich in magnesium, they help calcium absorb into bones so the bones can stay strong. Ragi, also known as finger millet and popular in Africa and Asia, also contains high levels of calcium.



If you are a fan of seafood, you’ll want to prioritize sardines, which is high in calcium and vitamin D, and salmon, which is also high in vitamin D and contains omega 3 fatty acids.


Vegetarian Protein

For those who may prefer vegetarian sources of protein, tofu and pulses are excellent for the teeth. Tofu contains calcium, protein, vitamin K and magnesium, while pulses are especially rich in calcium.



Chocolate lovers will be happy to know that cocoa is known to prevent erosion and tooth decay. Gum chewers can switch to sugar-free gum to prevent tooth decay and strengthen the jaw. And everyone could sprinkle a few more sesame seeds into their meals to dissolve plaque and build tooth enamel.



Of course, tooth strength is not just about what we eat, but what we drink as well! To round out your strong tooth goals, try water, orange juice and soy milk. Water helps clear toxins that could lead to tooth decay and produce saliva that deposits minerals on the teeth.  Orange juice contains vitamins, minerals and calcium, and is a great alternative to milk if lactose is a problem. Finally, soy milk also contains high levels of calcium in a form that can be easily absorbed by the bones.


At University Centre Dental Associates, we pride ourselves on helping our patients maintain the strong, healthy teeth they desire. Located in Greenbelt, MD, we are only a short drive from Washington, DC, Bowie, MD, Prince George’s County, Montgomery County and Anne Arundel County. If you are seeking high-quality dental advice you can trust, do not hesitate to contact us.

Written by University Centre Dental Associates June 9, 2014