What Type of Braces Are Right For My Family?

We are on a mission to create a healthy smile for your child and today we have more options than ever for making that happen. Traditional metal braces are a great fit for many patients, but new alternatives like ceramic braces and Invisalign® are giving traditional metal braces some serious competition. For many patients, the choice for straight teeth comes down to cost, appearance, and the level of maintenance needed to achieve a beautiful, healthy smile.

How Do Braces Work?

Orthodontic treatment, whether it is done with braces or Invisalign® (or other clear aligners), is accomplished by gently putting pressure on the teeth to move them into a new position. In the case of traditional braces, brackets are bonded to the tooth surface and a wire is then placed that puts pressure on the teeth. That wire is kept in place by small, often colorful ties. Patients need to see their orthodontist every six to eight weeks to have the wire adjusted and new ties placed.

When Should I Start Considering Braces?

Most people associate braces with the “tween” years of 12-16. But it’s important to evaluate potential needs as early as 7 years old when your child still has plenty of baby teeth. They may look perfectly straight to you, but there could be developmental or growth problems lurking behind that adorable smile. Taking an early peek at the jaw structure and mouth allows your orthodontist to identify problems right away and come up with an early treatment plan. With early evaluation and continued monitoring, your orthodontist can let you know what to expect as your child grows and his/her adult teeth begin to erupt.

If an early evaluation does reveal some potential problems, then those issues can be addressed as your child grows. Handling some orthodontic concerns while your child is still experiencing rapid growth can prevent more severe problems later in life. In some cases, early treatment will help to avoid surgery and prevent periodontal issues in the future.

An early visit to your orthodontist can improve and safeguard your child’s oral health in a variety of ways, including:

  • Eliminate or reduce the need for corrective surgery as a teen or adult
  • Shorten the length of any treatment needed as a teen or adult
  • Correct oral habits that may be impacting teeth and/or jaw
  • Optimize facial appearance later in life
  • Assist permanent, adult teeth into a better position
  • Improve speech

Metal Braces

The good news is that even traditional braces are a far cry from the old-school appliances many parents grew up with. Metal braces are far less intrusive and noticeable than they used to be. The size of individual braces, also known as brackets, has significantly decreased over time. The materials used for the wire has also changed; this results in lighter forces on the teeth making the orthodontic process more comfortable for patients. The ties that hold the wire to the brackets come in a variety of colors and for many patients choosing these colors at each visit is one of the most exciting parts of having metal braces.

The pros: Metal braces can withstand the most pressure of any orthodontic appliance. They are less likely to break than ceramic brackets; this is a definite advantage for patients who have a hard time staying away from the hard and sticky foods that should be avoided during orthodontic treatment. Metal braces may be the best option for patients who need more complex orthodontic treatment. They are also great for patients that want fun colors to match holidays, sports teams, or a special outfit!

The cons: Metal braces are the most visible treatment option which may not be desirable for patients who are self-conscious about their appearance. Metal brackets can also cause irritation of the cheeks and gums when the braces are first placed.

Ceramic Braces

Ceramic braces are similar to metal braces and use the same wire and bracket system, however ceramic braces are less noticeable because the brackets are made of clear or tooth-colored ceramic material. Like metal braces, ceramic braces also use ties to hold the wire in place, but these ties are generally clear or white to blend in with the teeth.

The pros: Ceramic braces are less visible than metal but are still strong and durable. Some patients think they are more comfortable than metal braces. For patients who might not be good candidates for clear aligners and who don’t want metal brackets, ceramic braces are a great alternative.

The cons: Ceramic braces can stain if certain foods or drinks are frequently consumed or if the braces and teeth are not properly cleaned. They are slightly less durable than metal braces so it is very important that patients are careful with what they eat.

Clear Aligners: An Alternative To Braces

Removable clear aligners like Invisalign® are more popular than ever and offer patients a more flexible and less noticeable orthodontic treatment. Your orthodontist creates a customized plan for gradually straightening your teeth using a set of clear aligner trays to shift the teeth into the desired position. Aligners need to be worn for 20 to 22 hours a day to be effective, and many patients appreciate the chance to remove their appliances while eating and cleaning their teeth. Every one to two weeks, patients switch to a new aligner tray throughout the process.

A note of caution – there has been an influx of “At Home” options for clear aligners. These are typically not under supervision of an orthodontist and are not ideal for a complete orthodontic plan. We recommend working directly with an orthodontist for a safe and effective solution.

The pros: Invisalign® is becoming an increasingly popular choice for both teens and adults. Aligners are clear and much less visible than braces so they can be a great choice for patients who might be self-conscious about metal braces. One of the main benefits of aligners is that they are removable. This makes things like flossing, brushing, and eating much easier. Additionally, the food restrictions that many patients face with traditional braces (i.e. overly hard or chewy food), do not apply when using aligners. Many patients also report that the plastic used for removable aligners is less irritating to the cheeks than braces. Another advantage of clear aligners is that orthodontic office visits are less frequent with Invisalign® which saves patients time.

The cons: Aligners only work when they are worn and thus may not be the best option for patients who are not ready to take responsibility for their treatment. Aligners must be taken out to eat and immediately placed back in the mouth after eating. Patients who frequently lose things or are forgetful may want to consider an alternative form of orthodontic treatment.

Choosing The Right Braces: Your Orthodontist Can Help

There are a variety of great orthodontic treatment options. Your orthodontist is an important partner in helping you make the best decisions based on all of the considerations. With years of expertise and a caring approach, Dental Health Associates will help you choose the best type of orthodontic treatment for you or your child.

Request a Free Orthodontics Consultation


May is National Save Your Tooth Month

xray dentist

May is Save Your Tooth Month and, this year, we are highlighting the role our endodontists play in helping patients SAVE their natural teeth.

Keeping Natural Teeth

Natural teeth allow you bite and chew, but they also retain bone structure in the jaw and face. Oftentimes, tooth decay is a leading cause of lost teeth.

It all begins with oral bacteria growing rapidly in deposits of dental plaque, and in turn producing high levels of acid in the mouth. Excessive acidity can erode the minerals in tooth enamel to create holes or “cavities” that allow bacteria to enter a tooth and infect it.

If at all possible, we need to try to stop tooth decay early by disinfecting and filling these cavities. If not, decay can spread through the teeth to the underlying nerve (pulp) tissue, following passageways known as root canals. If this happens, the chances for saving the tooth are extremely low.

But if the decay does reach the tooth’s innermost layer—the pulp—filling the cavities won’t be enough. Decay this advanced requires a procedure known as root canal.

How a Root Canal Can Save Your Tooth

If you winced a little at seeing “root canal”, it’s understandable. Root canals have gained an unfair reputation as an unpleasant experience. In reality, a root canal performed by a skilled dentist or endodontist (a specialist in root canals) isn’t painful. In fact, if you come in with a painful tooth, you’re very likely to leave after the procedure with a significant pain reduction.

Root canal procedures can vary depending on the type of tooth and the intricacy of its root canal network. Essentially, though, we remove the diseased pulp tissue, and then clean and fill the empty pulp chamber and root canals. This stops the infection and, along with sealing and crowning the tooth, helps prevent a future re-infection.

Root Canal Procedure

Root Canal Procedure Steps

Do I need a Root Canal?

How do you know if you need a root canal? You may find out from us if we discover advanced decay during a checkup or cleaning appointment. But you may encounter signs yourself like a throbbing toothache, pain during and after eating and drinking, or gum tenderness around a tooth. These are all possible indications of tooth decay.

If you experience any of these signs, you should see us as soon as possible for an examination. If the pain subsides, keep your appointment anyway—this could simply mean the nerves in the pulp have died and are no longer transmitting pain signals. The infection, though, could still be there and continuing its rampage beyond the tooth and into the surrounding bone tissue.

Root canal therapy may not seem glamorous, but it’s an excellent option for a diseased tooth that would otherwise have to be removed. A root canal could get rid of your pain and give your troubled tooth a new lease on life!

If you have a natural tooth compromised by infection or injury, you may believe that extraction is your only solution. However, many compromised teeth can be saved by endodontic treatments such as root canals or other more complex procedures.

Celebrating Dr. Nicholas Anders

We are fortunate to have our own endodontist on staff. Dr. Nicholas Anders is one of the only board certified endodontists in the Madison area. His commitment to patient comfort and high quality care sets him apart. He was named a Top Dentist in Madison Magazine and continues to advocate for patients to save their teeth. He practices out of our South Clinic location in Fitchburg.

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

We are all familiar with pink highlighting the importance of breast cancer awareness month (and men are encouraged to be screened for prostate cancer), but when was the last time you were checked for oral cancer? This month is Oral Cancer Awareness Month and at Dental Health Associates, we are committed to getting the word out and checking all of our patients as part of a regular dental visit. Early detection is important for treating oral cancer, and your dentist can help.


Oral cancer is cancer that develops in any part of the mouth, lips, or the back part of the throat (oropharynx). Each year, an estimated 54,000 Americans – mostly over 60 years old—are diagnosed with oral cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute. In addition, oral cancer kills more Americans than cervical cancer, malignant melanoma or Hodgkin’s disease.
While anyone can develop cancer at any age, those at highest risk for developing oral cancer fall into these categories:

  • Over 40 years old
  • Use tobacco products – including cigarettes and chewing tobacco
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Combine alcohol and tobacco – these create a greater risk combined than by using either one alone
  • A family history of oral cancer
  • Extensive sun exposure, which increases the likeliness of developing lip cancer
  • A diet low in fruits and vegetables
  • White or red patches in the mouth
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Loose teeth
  • Numbness of lower lip
  • Problems moving the jaw or tongue
  • A consistent feeling that something is stuck in the throat
  • A sore, irritation, or lump in the mouth, lip, or throat

Your dentist will conduct an oral cancer screening by examining your throat, the inside of your cheeks and lips, and the roof of your mouth at a regular dental cleaning and evaluation visit. However, if you have noticed any of these symptoms alone or in any combination, reach out to your dentist and primary care doctor as soon as possible. It’s better to eliminate the more serious possibilities early in order to get to the root cause behind your symptoms. Additionally, it’s much better to rule out cancer as a possibility or treat it quickly if it’s discovered.


Early detection is vital. One of the reasons oral cancer has a low (5-year) survival rate when compared to other major cancers is because many cancerous lesions are not diagnosed until they are in an advanced stage. However, if detected early, the survival rate for oral cancer is better than that of most cancers.

To perform a self-screening or learn more about potential symptoms, the Oral Cancer Foundation has created a website called CheckYourMouth.org.

While use of tobacco products remains a high risk factor for oral cancer, the disease has seen an increased prevalence among young, non-smokers due to oropharyngeal (throat) cancers related to the HPV virus.

For more information about Oral Cancer Awareness Month, visit the Oral Cancer Foundation.

About Dental Health Associates

At Dental Health Associates of Madison we are here to support you and your overall health and we create a personalized treatment plan for each and every patient. All of our dentists and staff will always be open and honest with you about your dental health, with a focus on preventative treatments and patient education. We’d love to schedule an appointment for you today!

Oral Health is Overall Health

Dental Health and Overall Health

The health of your mouth, teeth and gums plays a significant role in the state of your overall well-being.

Recently, oral health has been significantly elevated in importance, as researchers are able to find a direct correlation between declining oral health and underlying health conditions. Also, we are learning that a healthy mouth can help you maintain a healthy body and a healthy mind.

Are you wondering how oral heath can affect other systems in your body? Bacteria can spread from your oral cavity to your bloodstream, causing infections and other issues such as:

1. Heart disease

Several studies link chronic inflammation from periodontitis with the development of cardiovascular problems. Some evidence suggests that oral bacteria may be linked to heart disease, arterial blockages and stroke.

2. Diabetic complications

Periodontal disease can make your blood sugar difficult to control and cause worsening of your diabetes symptoms.

3. Pregnancy complications

Several studies have shown an association between periodontal disease and adverse outcomes in pregnancy such as premature deliveries, fetal growth restriction, and other complications.

4. Rheumatoid arthritis

Because arthritis is an autoimmune disease, improving your dental care could play a role in reducing the effects of RA.

5. Dementia

A recent analysis led by the National Institute of Aging scientists suggests that bacteria that cause gum disease are also associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, specifically vascular dementia.*

Your oral health influences more than just your teeth. Poor oral and dental health can contribute to issues with your self-esteem, speech, or nutrition.

Keeping you smile healthy is an important part of your overall health.  Make sure to schedule regular cleanings and focus on preventative care in order to reduce your risk of severe gum disease and tooth loss.

* Source: Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.


About Dental Health Associates

At Dental Health Associates of Madison we are here to support you and your overall health and we create a personalized treatment plan for each and every patient. All of our dentists and staff will always be open and honest with you about your dental health, with a focus on preventative treatments and patient education. We’d love to schedule an appointment for you today!

COVID Update From DHA

Dentists of Dental Health Associates of Madison

A message to our valued patients and friends:

First, an overdue – Happy New Year! With this new year we are incredibly proud to say we are providing yet another layer of protection to our patients and community. As part of group 1a, the majority of our clinicians have received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, with some already receiving their second dose. Please know that your safety and the safety of our staff is, and will continue to be, our top priority.

Second, we would like to take a moment to commend our staff for their resilience throughout this pandemic. Although they were already accustomed to intense sterilization procedures, proper PPE usage and infection control, the use of face shields, N95’s and other safety measures were new to them. They have met and overcome these challenges in order to continue doing what they’re passionate about – providing our patients with excellent dental care.

Lastly, while we don’t know what tomorrow brings, we will approach it with the same fortitude that we have mustered over the past year. We are exceedingly grateful for the community in which we practice and live in. We are grateful for our patients, our colleagues, and the many essential workers it takes to pull through and reach the finish line of this pandemic. Stay safe, be well, and don’t forget to floss.

The Doctors of DHA

About Dental Health Associates

At Dental Health Associates of Madison we are here to support you and your overall health and we create a personalized treatment plan for each and every patient. All of our dentists and staff will always be open and honest with you about your dental health, with a focus on preventative treatments and patient education. We’d love to schedule an appointment for you today!

Reasons To Keep Your Dental Check-Up During COVID

Dental Visit during COVID

One of the most common questions we hear is, “Is it safe to visit the dentist during COVID?” While we each need to assess our own risk level when leaving our homes, we are doing our best to make sure all precautions are taken. We have implemented infection control and social distancing protocols at every level, which you can read more about here.

If you have delayed your cleaning or addressing a dental issue, here are some important reasons to consider keeping your cleaning and checkup on schedule.

Routine Teeth Cleanings

During a routine hygiene appointment, your teeth and gums are examined for disease, decay or cavities, followed by a cleaning to remove plaque from all surfaces. This is the perfect time to evaluate overall dental health and discuss any changes in your health.

Benefits of keeping a regular scheduled hygiene appointment include:

  • Prevent Gum Disease – Regular visits with cleanings in combination with at home care can prevent gum disease.
  • Talk About Your Oral Health – Routine exams with your dentist make for the perfect time to ask any dental questions, express concerns, or learn something new. This is your one-on-one time with an expert.
  • Receive Brushing and Flossing Tips – Your hygienist will speak to you about brushing and flossing to make sure you are maximizing at home care and doing what is best for your oral health.
  • Benefit of Early Detection – The best way to prevent extensive and long-lasting oral damage is to catch any issue early! With regular cleanings and exams, it is more likely that the dentist or hygienist will catch the problem while in an early stage.
  • Preserve Your Natural Teeth – While there are dental procedures that can replace or fix your teeth and gums it is always preferable to keep your natural teeth. The chance of this is much higher with a combination of routine hygiene exams, early detection, and at home care.

Health Benefits of Dental Visits During COVID-19

For many people in an elevated risk category, visiting the dentist may seem like an unnecessary exposure in an uncertain time. However, several reports have shown extremely low rates of COVID transfer linked to dental offices, primarily due to strict existing protection practices and adherence to CDC guidelines.1

As elective physician visits have transitioned to virtual appointments, dental appointments typically require an in-person visit. In addition to the benefits listed above, by visiting our office, we’ve been able to address other oral health concerns peripherally related to COVID.2 Some of these include:

  • Stress-related issues like clenching and grinding3
  • Gum inflammation and tenderness
  • Headaches or sore jaw
  • Chipped or cracked teeth
  • Reduced at-home daily care (brushing & flossing)
  • Cavities

While we don’t have the ability to snap our fingers and end the pandemic, our team can help keep you on a path to oral health and immediately address any serious concerns. A routine hygiene appointment is not only about having your teeth cleaned, it is also about prevention. It is important to not neglect your visits, regularly or during the pandemic, in order to enjoy all the benefits of oral health.

About Dental Health Associates

At Dental Health Associates of Madison we are here to support you and your overall health and we create a personalized treatment plan for each and every patient. All of our dentists and staff will always be open and honest with you about your dental health, with a focus on preventative treatments and patient education. We’d love to schedule an appointment for you today!


Data Source :

  1. https://www.healthline.com/health-news/why-dentists-are-reporting-a-low-rate-of-covid-19
  2. http://www.mouthcovid.com/
  3. https://www.ada.org/en/publications/ada-news/2020-archive/september/hpi-poll-dentists-see-increase-in-patients-stress-related-oral-health-conditions