Playing Sports with Braces

November 16, 2020

Many of our Pioneer Orthodontics patients are involved in sports and have some questions about playing sports in braces. They’re often worried that they’ll have to miss out on a season or during their orthodontic treatment. The good news is that athletes at any level can continue to play any sport they love while wearing braces, as long as they take the necessary precautions. 

We recommend sports mouthguards for our athletic patients. Mouthguards are the best way to keep mouths, teeth, and braces protected while in action on the court or field! Some patients prefer to use a regular mouthguard, which also provides some measure of protection. Keep reading to learn more about the differences between the different options and what that means for your smile. 

Regular mouthguard vs. orthodontic mouthguard

Mouthguards are the easiest and most effective method for protecting your smile from while playing any sport. We recommend using a mouthguard for any sport, whether you play a light-contact sport like baseball or volleyball, or a high contact sport like football, hockey, or basketball.

While both regular and orthodontic mouthguards protect your mouth when you’re playing sports with braces, there are a few differences you need to know about. Standard mouthguards are thermoplastic, which means they are designed to heat up in the mouth and then mold around the teeth. If you wear braces, the material will mold around the brackets, which can be an issue for a few reasons. If the molding fits too well around the brackets, the force of a blow can potentially knock the brackets right off the teeth, leading to a longer treatment time and extra visits to our office. 

Additionally, this kind of molding does not allow for the teeth’ movement, which is what orthodontic treatment is working to achieve! A non-orthodontic mouthguard can work against the patient’s orthodontic progress in this way. These mouthguards will also need to be replaced more often to keep up with the way your teeth shift during treatment. 

Orthodontic mouthguards are made differently. The material is a high-grade silicone that cushions the lips from bumping and rubbing against the teeth. This is an essential feature since it can be extremely painful for patients to get a lip caught up in a bracket during a blow or a fall. This can cause swelling, and you may even need orthodontic help to release it! 

Orthodontic mouthguards are built with this in mind. They protect the brackets on the teeth and soften any hit they take. To make room for your braces, they’re slightly larger than regular mouthguards. However, they are just as comfortable to wear. 

There are mouthguards explicitly made for athletes in braces available online and over-the-counter in some sporting goods stores, such as the ShockDoctor, Gladiator, and Vettex brands. While these are a bit pricier than regular mouthguards, it is worth the extra cost for comfort and protection. While nothing can beat a customized orthodontic mouthguard, we recommend these over the standard mouthguards and a regular mouthguard over nothing! 

Over-the-counter mouthguards

Shock Doctor

One of the most well-known brands, Shock Doctor mouthguards, are some of the best orthodontics mouthguards. Because they’re made of 100% medical grade silicone and designed to conform to the upper brackets, they’re more comfortable than other options and help reduce or eliminate cuts and scrapes. Shock Doctor mouthguards adjust to your teeth’ movement during treatment. Plus, both strapped and unstrapped styles are affordable. 


If you’re in braces and regularly play sports, mouthguards with a lip guard are a huge plus. Lip guards will keep you from accidentally biting yourself, but still, allow you to speak clearly. Vettex mouthguards contain lip guards, and while this makes them a little bulkier, they’re still an inexpensive, lightweight option. However, they have a more generalized design and aren’t made specifically for athletes in braces. 


Tapout mouthguards are a newer, more diverse style with a distinct design promoting airflow. The comfortable fit makes them easy to talk with, and they can re-mold to your teeth multiple times as they change. Because they’re meant to adjust based on your current bite, athletes undergoing orthodontic treatment can use them and those without any orthodontic appliances.

When should mouthguards be worn?

For patients in braces who play a contact sport, a mouthguard should be worn at all times. That includes warming up, during practice, and throughout the game. Injuries don’t always wait for the show-stopping plays. Something as simple as dumping into someone on the way to the field can put you in an uncomfortable situation.

How to care for an orthodontic mouthguard

It is essential to care for orthodontic mouthguards properly so that they last. Bacteria can quickly grow on mouthguards, so they should be cleaned every time they are taken out. We recommend using a soft toothbrush and toothpaste to clean the inner and outer surface gently. An antimicrobial solution may be used as a bacteria-killing rinse. For deep cleaning, the mouthguard can be left to soak overnight in a glass of water with a denture cleaner tablet. Mouthguards should always be kept in a case when they are not in use.

Pioneer Orthodontics are invested in keeping smiles safe

While mouthguards are the best way to ensure teeth stay safe even when participating in a sport that can potentially cause injury, we understand that damage can still occur. If a patient sustains damage to their mouth, teeth, or braces, we recommend calling our office as soon as possible to assess the situation and figure out the next step. 

At Pioneer Orthodontics, we do all we can to help our patients in braces continue their normal activities, including athletics. We hope we’ve put your mind at ease and that you’re as excited as ever about your next big game. Our team would be happy to answer any questions you may still have about playing sports with braces. If you’re ready to put in the work on the field and on your smile, call us today to schedule a free consultation. 


Types of Braces

November 11, 2020

The first question many people have when they start to consider braces treatment to improve their smile is what types of braces are available. When you schedule your initial free consultation, Dr. Cserna will conduct an orthodontic examination to determine which treatment path is the best fit for you, your smile, and your lifestyle. 

Modern technology has helped orthodontics develop brackets that are smaller and more aesthetically pleasing and able to move your teeth faster and more efficiently. This means a better orthodontic treatment experience overall!

Here at Pioneer Orthodontics, we’re proud to offer a wide range of treatment options to patients of all ages in Lincoln and the surrounding communities. Dr. Cserna can successfully treat many orthodontic issues using the latest orthodontic techniques and technology. The most common treatment, however, continues to be traditional braces. Keep reading to find out more about why braces continue to be the top orthodontic treatment throughout the years!

What you should know about traditional braces

When it comes to treating complex orthodontic issues, traditional braces can provide unmatched results. We are pleased to offer our patients the Damon System. These self-ligating braces allow your teeth to move more comfortably and efficiently than traditional braces. With the help of this appliance, achieving your perfect smile can be faster and easier than you ever thought possible! Because every case is different, treatment time with metal braces will vary from patient to patient. In general, however, average treatment time can be anywhere from 18-36 months. The good news is you’ll start seeing signs of improvement after just a short time, so you can be encouraged that your new appliance is working and enjoy the excitement of your new smile. 

Some patients experience a learning curve when they first start taking care of their braces. Don’t let this keep you from seeking treatment, because it gets easier. Most people adjust within a couple of weeks. Plus, the team at Pioneer Orthodontics is always here to help! A good dental hygiene routine is always essential, but it’s especially important during orthodontic treatment. There are some accessories designed to make cleaning braces easier. A Waterpik is a great tool to help rinse away any substances that get caught in your braces that may be difficult to reach and ortho picks to help with flossing. Brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time and flossing before bed is the best way to keep your teeth and gums healthy.

As you probably know from watching friends and family members who have undergone orthodontic treatment, you’ll need to avoid certain foods to keep your braces intact and functional. Anything sticky or crunchy can damage the brackets and wires, causing your treatment to last longer than anticipated. Just remember: this doesn’t last forever! It’ll all be worth it once your braces come off, and you see your beautiful new smile!

You can expect a follow-up appointment at our office every 4-6 weeks. During these appointments, Dr. Cserna will inspect your teeth and appliances to ensure that nothing is broken or otherwise not going according to plan. These check-ups tend to be fairly quick so that you can return to work or school in no time! You may experience some slight soreness after each adjustment, but this is typically short-lived so that it won’t hold you back from your daily routines. Since the Damon brackets we use are always working, you’ll experience even less discomfort than your would with other types of braces. These check-ups are critical in your treatment plan’s success as they help us make sure your treatment is progressing as it should. We ask that you do your best to make everyone!

Metal braces

They have always been and continue to be the most widely used type of fixed orthodontic appliances and are typically made of a mix of high-grade stainless steel, nickel, and other metals. These braces consist of bands that wrap around the back molars, with smaller metal brackets cemented to the front surfaces of your other teeth. The archwire is made of thin, springy metal, and runs through the brackets. It’s fixed to the brackets by elastics, or with the Damon System, small doors. These components gently apply pressure, which then moves the teeth into more optimal positions over time.

Metal braces are reliable, effective, and economical. Today, braces are smaller, lighter, and more comfortable to wear than ever before. They can even be personalized by choosing from differently colored elastics, for patients who love to show off their personality!

Ceramic braces

These are sometimes referred to as clear braces or tooth-colored braces, and work the same way metal braces do. But, they have the added benefit of semi-transparent or tooth-colored ceramic brackets. While ceramic braces are about the same size and shape as metal braces, they’re better able to blend in with a patient’s natural smile for a more subtle straightening option. This makes them an excellent choice for our older patients or those who want a more discreet look. 

Although ceramic braces are sturdy, the material they are made from can be prone to chipping or cracking. Since metal braces can tolerate more pressure than ceramic ones, they may be a better option for those who have severe corrections that need to be made. Ceramic brackets also tend to cost slightly more than standard metal braces. Since they can be more expensive and are more prone to breakage, we believe ceramic braces are generally better suited to adults and older teens. 

Invisalign clear aligner therapy

The Invisalign system uses clear removable aligners to move your teeth into more desirable positions gradually. The trays are made just for your teeth and are designed to fit snuggly but comfortably. This is achieved by wearing them 20-22 hours per day throughout treatment and replacing them every 1-2 weeks for the next aligner in the system.

Invisalign offers patients a bit more freedom and flexibility than regular braces do. Since you can remove the aligners when eating or drinking, there are no food restrictions like traditional braces. This also makes it easier to keep your teeth and gums clean and healthy since you don’t have to work around wires and brackets. You simply remove the aligner, then brush and floss the way you usually would!

Find the perfect braces for your smile at Pioneer Orthodontics

We believe that every smile is unique. Because of that, what works for one patient may not be the best fit for another. That’s why Dr. Cserna and the team work together to create a customized plan for every single patient. If you’re in Lincoln or the surrounding areas, we would love to meet you and talk more about how braces can give you the healthy, straight smile you’ve always wanted. Contact our office today to schedule your free consultation!

Debunking Common Myths About Braces For Adults

November 2, 2020

If you’re like most people, when you hear the word “orthodontics”, the first thing you probably think of is teenagers wearing braces. This stereotype is persistent, but it isn’t quite true. The truth is, orthodontic treatment can benefit patients of all ages – including adults! Did you know that more adults than ever before are pursuing orthodontics to straighten their teeth and improve their oral health? About 1 in every 5 orthodontic patients is over the age of 18, and that number is increasing every day. Below, we’ll be debunking common myths about braces for adults (and give you a glimpse as to why they continue to be the most popular orthodontic treatment, year after year!)

Have you spent years of your adult life feeling unhappy with the way your teeth look, feel, or function? If so, it’s the perfect time to take a look at how Pioneer Orthodontics can help! We offer a variety of state-of-the-art treatment options to correct orthodontic issues ranging from mild to severe, including traditional braces. Although today’s braces are more comfortable and efficient than ever before, some adult patients are still on the fence about using them to straighten their smile. If you find yourself unsure about using braces to achieve a healthier smile, it’s probably because of what you think you know about them. 

Myth #1: Only children and teens need braces 

One of the most prevalent myths about braces for adults is that braces are designed only for children and teenagers. While it’s true that we have many patients who are kids and teens here at Pioneer Orthodontics, but anyone can benefit from all orthodontics has to offer. As we get older, we often begin to understand the many ways our oral health is related to our total body health. This can result in a desire to take better care of our teeth and gums, which may include seeking dental care or orthodontic treatment. 

Maybe you have crooked teeth, overbites, underbites, incorrect jaw positioning, or other orthodontic issues that you’ve waited your whole life to correct. Or you may simply be seeking to improve the cosmetic appearance of your smile. Whatever inspired you to seek treatment as an adult, braces can help you achieve a straighter, healthier, and more confident smile. 

Myth #2: Braces are too obvious

This is another common myth that prevents many adults from getting braces. You don’t want to draw attention to your teeth if you’re already feeling self-conscious about them. Some people believe that’s exactly what will happen with braces treatment, but thanks to modern orthodontic technology, there are lots of options available to adult patients! Dr. Annette Cserna offers the following options for a complete smile transformation:

Traditional metal braces

Metal braces are one of our most popular and efficient treatments. They’re made out of high-quality stainless steel. Modern metal braces are much more comfortable and lighter than they used to be. At Pioneer Orthodontics, we offer Damon Smile braces, which eliminate the need for elastic ties. This means fewer orthodontic appointments! These braces provide great results and are especially useful in cases that are more severe or complicated.

Clear braces

Also known as ceramic or tooth-colored braces, these function the same way metal braces do. However, you get the added benefit of semi-translucent or tooth-colored ceramic brackets. Both options blend in well with your natural smile. The brackets are about the same size and shape as metal braces, but much less noticeable. This style of braces is especially popular with our adult patients.

Clear aligners

Clear aligners such as the Invisalign system use a series of removable plastic trays that fit snugly over your teeth and gently guide them where they need to go over time. These customized aligners are replaced with the next in the series every 1-2 weeks to accommodate the movement of your teeth. These systems offer patients a bit of freedom and flexibility that isn’t available with fixed braces since the aligners can be removed when eating or drinking. It also makes maintaining an oral hygiene routine much simpler since you can brush and floss normally.  

Myth #3: Braces are too painful 

Modern orthodontic treatment is more gentle and effective than it was in the past. This means braces, in general, are more comfortable than they’ve ever been! While you may experience some occasional discomfort as described below, these minor issues are usually easy to take care of with a little patience and know-how!

General mouth irritation

Non-specific irritation in your cheeks, lips, or gums isn’t uncommon over the course of your treatment. Orthodontic wax is a great way to get some relief! Make sure the bracket or wire is completely dry, then pinch off a small amount of wax and roll it into a ball. Flatten this ball and then gently but firmly place it over the source of irritation.

Protruding wires

It’s possible for a wire to sometimes come loose and irritate the inside of your mouth. This can be fixed with a pencil by using the eraser end to nudge it back against the teeth until it flattens out. You can also place a piece of orthodontic wax over the wire to reduce any irritation and provide extra stability.

Loose bracket

Loose brackets are a problem we need to know about as soon as possible. Once you let us know what’s happening, Dr. Cserna can help you decide what the next steps should be. In the meantime, you can try gently sliding the bracket back along the wire to the center of your tooth. Orthodontic wax placed over the bracket can also make it more stable. 

Tenderness in your mouth or gums

It’s normal to feel some slight tenderness right after your braces are put on or after your adjustment appointments. A saltwater rinse can be an easy and effective home remedy for braces patients. To relieve soreness, simply mix one teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water, then swish it around your mouth for about 30 seconds. 

A warm washcloth or a warm heating pad placed on the outside of your jaw can also offer you some relief. Over-the-counter pain relievers are another useful remedy, just be sure to check in with Dr. Cserna first! 

Myth #4: Braces are too expensive 

It’s true that orthodontic treatment will require an investment of both your time and money. However, the benefits you’ll enjoy once your treatment is complete will last a lifetime. There are no hidden costs or unwelcome surprises here at Pioneer Orthodontics. During your initial free consultation, we’ll outline everything included in your treatment plan. These customized plans contain everything necessary for beautiful, long-lasting results, such as:

  • all appointments, including emergency visits
  • braces or aligners
  • retainers
  • post-treatment follow-up visits
  • and an oral hygiene starter pack, too!

Our treatment fees are based on the skill of our expert team, the quality of the products we use, and the world-class service we provide. Dr. Cserna has many years of experience creating healthy smiles and is proud to serve patients of all ages throughout Lincoln, York, and the surrounding communities. Our team appreciates what a big investment treatment is for patients, and our team will work with your budget to make sure you get a healthy, beautiful smile you love! We offer convenient payment plans, and we also accept most major credit cards and insurance plans. We’ll even file your insurance claims for you!

Get a beautiful smile with braces by Pioneer Orthodontics

Braces are a great option to straighten your teeth and improve your oral health, whether you’re 14 or 40. Choosing an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Annette Cserna will guarantee you only get the best treatment for your unique smile. Our expert team provides patients with an orthodontic experience that’s rewarding and stress-free from your first appointment to your last! 

Don’t let any common myths about braces keep you from a beautiful, healthy smile. If you’re ready to take the first step towards the smile you’ve always wanted, get in touch with us today to schedule your FREE consultation. 


3 Questions To Ask When Choosing An Orthodontist

October 19, 2020

Choosing an Orthodontist

We believe orthodontic patients deserve to feel informed and empowered at every step of your orthodontic journey, from your first visit to Pioneer Orthodontics to your final retainer check. Starting the process of choosing an orthodontist and improving your smile can be as intimidating as it is exciting. You only get one smile, so it’s important to only trust it to an expert orthodontic team such as ours. But how can you be sure you’re making the right choice? Here are 3 questions to ask when choosing an orthodontist to ensure the best experience and the best results. 

Is the doctor a trained orthodontic specialist?

While this may seem so obvious that it doesn’t need to be asked, it’s actually pretty important when choosing an orthodontist. Before starting treatment with braces or Invisalign, you should always make sure the provider is qualified. That’s because some general dentists can also provide orthodontic treatment, even though they don’t specialize in it. 

A general dentist will offer standard dental services like crowns, fillings, dentures, and occasional orthodontic treatment like Invisalign. An orthodontist, on the other hand, spends their days providing only orthodontic services.

This distinction is pretty important. For instance, imagine that you or your child required specialized treatment or surgery. Would you feel comfortable with your family physician handling your case, or would you prefer a dedicated specialist? 

Orthodontists are essentially dentists who also have several years of additional specialized training and experience. This means an orthodontist has:

  • studied the growth and maturation of the teeth and jaws
  • been introduced to thousands of case studies
  • Researched all the latest advancement in technology and methods
  • developed extensive diagnostic skills
  • learned biomechanical techniques to properly move teeth
  • studied how to change the development of the dental alveolar complex and facial growth of younger patients

Orthodontic residency programs are pretty competitive, as evidenced by the fact that they only accept the top students from a dental school graduating class. Orthodontic programs last 2-3 years and include full-time training focused on correcting orthodontic issues using braces and Invisalign. While there are exceptions to every rule, most dentists won’t possess this same level of exhaustive orthodontic training and experience. 

Dr. Cserna is a 1982 graduate of Fresno State, where she received her Bachelor of Arts. After obtaining her Doctorate of Dental Surgery in 1989 from the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Dentistry, she went on to complete a general practice residency at the Veteran’s Administration Medical Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

She practiced general dentistry in rural Nebraska and taught at the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Dentistry for several years. Dr. Cserna returned to the College of Dentistry to earn her certificate in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics in 1996 as well as a Master of Science in oral biology.

Dr. Cserna believes that staying directly linked to the professional community is one of the most important ways to provide you with the highest quality of care. Her commitment to this is clear from her membership in several professional organizations, including:

  • American Dental Association
  • American Association of Orthodontists
  • Nebraska Dental Association
  • Lincoln District Dental Association
  • Nebraska Society of Orthodontists
  • Lincoln Orthodontic Society
  • Midwestern Society of Orthodontists

Choosing an Orthodontist

What treatment options does the orthodontist offer?

It is important to look at the treatment options offered when choosing an orthodontist. Pioneer Orthodontics has a wide variety of treatment options available to patients of all ages in Lincoln and the surrounding communities. 

Metal braces

Traditional metal braces have been around for a long time, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t always improving, especially in recent years. They’re made from a mix of high-grade stainless steel, nickel, and other safe and durable metals. Bands that wrap around the back molars are sometimes used, and smaller metal brackets are cemented to the other teeth. There is also a thin, springy metal wire that connects the braces, tied into the brackets by colorful elastics, metal ties, or another type of clasp. All of these components come together to gently guide your teeth into the desired positions over time.

Clear braces

These braces can go by many names: clear braces, ceramic braces, or tooth-colored braces are most commonly used. They work the same way that metal braces do, but are less obvious on your teeth thanks to the clear ceramic material used to make them. 

Because they are less visible than traditional braces, they’re popular with older teens and adult patients. They may be more image-conscious and looking for a more esthetic treatment option. They’re larger and more brittle than their metal counterparts, so we tend to use them on the upper front teeth more often than the lower teeth. 


The Invisalign system is made up of a series of customized aligners that are nearly invisible and completely removable. No need to worry about brackets and wires getting in your way, and the freedom and flexibility can’t be beaten by any other treatment. The aligners are designed to fit snugly over your own teeth, and you may be surprised at how comfortable your orthodontic experience is. When worn the recommended 20-22 hours per day, and changed weekly to progress in the series, these aligners will gradually move your teeth into proper position.

Invisalign Teen

Although Invisalign and Invisalign Teen work the same way when it comes to the underlying technology, Invisalign Teen was developed with the unique needs of teen patients in mind. There are a few unique features specific to the Invisalign Teen system, including compliance indicators, eruption tabs, and replacement aligners. 

How frequent are follow-up visits with the orthodontist?

Different cases will require different length of time between appointments, so that is important to consider when choosing an orthodontist. Whatever treatment option you choose with Dr. Cserna, you should expect regular monitoring visits to our Lincoln or York office. Most patients will have adjustment appointments every 4-8 weeks or so. Dr. Cserna will use these appointments to make sure everything is going according to plan, and your teeth are moving in the right direction. Invisalign patients may come in less often, but these appointments are still an essential part of the orthodontic process, so you don’t want to miss them! 

Depending on case difficulty, treatment time varies greatly, ranging anywhere from 6-36 months. Regardless of your total estimated time, you’ll be seeing us often throughout your orthodontic journey! We know how busy today’s families are, so we never overbook patients and always aim to see you at your scheduled time.

Choosing an Orthodontist

Don’t trust your smile to anything less than the best!

Dr. Cserna has the education, skills, and experience needed to provide the best care and create a beautiful smile that will last a lifetime. If you’re ready to take the first step in your orthodontic journey, we would love to meet you and talk more about how we can help you achieve the smile you desire. There’s never been a better time to take the first step towards improved oral health, so get in touch today to schedule your FREE consultation with Dr. Cserna!