Bad Habits That Could Be Damaging Your Teeth

Bad Habits That Could Be Damaging Your Teeth

August 29, 2021

Our expert team is committed to helping patients of all ages in Lincoln and York achieve beautiful, functional smiles. We’re able to do that by using cutting-edge technology to correct misalignments and straighten the teeth, but that’s not all we do at Pioneer Orthodontics—Dr. Annette Cserna also advises patients on a wide range of orthodontic and dental topics. That includes tips on maintaining good oral hygiene, and on bad habits that could be damaging your teeth! 

You may think that regular brushing and flossing is all that’s necessary for maintaining a healthy mouth, but bad habits like these can undermine even the best dental routine and compromise your oral health. These behaviors are so commonplace that you might engage in one or more of them without even realizing the damage they can cause! To learn more about why these habits are harmful, and what you can do to beat them, keep reading below. 

Maintaining good oral hygiene

Many people think they have their bases covered as long as they brush a couple of times a day, but your dental hygiene routine should go beyond that.

As far as brushing itself goes, Dr. Cserna recommends using fluoridated toothpaste at least twice a day and brushing for two minutes each time. For the best results, you’re better off using a soft-bristled toothbrush and gentle strokes to clean the teeth and gums. Don’t forget to floss every night before bed, too! This will get rid of any stubborn food particles and lessen the build-up of plaque, reducing your chances of developing tooth decay. 

Mark your calendar every 3-4 months to remind you that it’s time to replace your toothbrush, but do it sooner if you have a cold or any other illness. Antimicrobial and fluoride mouthwashes can also improve your oral health by eliminating the types of bacteria that cause bad breath and gum disease!

Bad Habits That Could Be Damaging Your Teeth

Grinding your teeth

Tooth grinding, or bruxism, is the involuntary grinding of the teeth outside of normal chewing, swallowing, or speaking movements. There are several possible causes for this, which can include:

  • stress and anxiety
  • medications
  • certain medical conditions
  • genetics
  • misalignment between the teeth and jaws
  • an abnormal bite
  • missing or crooked teeth

Bruxism can cause quite a few problems, from interrupted sleep to chronic headaches and many issues in between. It can also wear down the enamel of your teeth if it’s not treated, eventually exposing the much softer dentin inside. This may result in tooth sensitivity, with symptoms ranging from mild to intense.

There are several options for reducing or eliminating the symptoms associated with tooth grinding. Many of these solutions will help prevent any further damage and also treat any that’s already present. This generally involves addressing and correcting obvious underlying causes, like stress, anxiety, or untreated orthodontic issues. Dr. Cserna may recommend proactive treatment as well, such as wearing a mouthguard overnight.

Sometimes it helps to simply be aware that you’re grinding your teeth! If you feel yourself clenching or grinding your teeth, you can try positioning the tip of your tongue between your teeth to train the jaw muscles to relax. Holding a warm washcloth against your cheek can often produce the same effect and is a calming way to end your day.   

Using your teeth as a tool

You’d be surprised at what we’ve seen people use their teeth for over the years here at Pioneer Orthodontics! Tearing open bags, ripping tags off clothing, uncapping bottles—we’ve seen or heard it all. Many people do this without even thinking about it, but using your teeth as tools can be tough on them. After all, it only takes one wrong move for a tooth to be traumatized, chipped, or fractured.

With that in mind, try to stop and think when you’re about to use your teeth for something that could be harmful. Keep simple tools like scissors, nail clippers, and pliers in convenient places around the house so you aren’t tempted to do the dirty work with your mouth. Reducing the amount of unnecessary stress on your teeth will help keep them strong for years to come.

Chewing on various objects

Many adults we see at Pioneer Orthodontics find themselves crunching on ice or chewing their fingernails when they’re bored or need a distraction. These may seem like harmless habits, but they can be destructive to your teeth. Ice, for example, has freezing temperatures and a tough texture that can cause fractures, and biting down on them can also introduce microscopic cracks into the surface of the enamel. Given enough time, this can lead to several other dental issues. 

Ice isn’t the only thing to avoid here, though! Chewing on pencils, pen caps, or your fingernails are often subconscious habits, but they can chip away at the tooth enamel and irritate the soft tissue inside the teeth. If this is something you struggle with, try giving your mouth something else to do, like chewing sugarless gum or snacking on something healthy that has a satisfying crunch, like fresh fruits or veggies. These are good for you and your oral health!

Bad Habits That Could Be Damaging Your Teeth

Beat bad oral habits with help from Pioneer Orthodontics

As an experienced orthodontist, Dr. Cserna has been trained to diagnose and correct a multitude of orthodontic issues. Identifying harmful oral habits is an important part of that process, too, but you don’t have to be an orthodontic patient to benefit from breaking a bad habit!

If you’re in Lincoln or York, we can help you break free from destructive oral habits. Get in touch today to schedule a FREE consultation with our expert team and take the first step towards stronger teeth, a healthier smile, and lasting oral health.

Recognizing and Treating Your Child's Misaligned Jaw

Recognizing and Treating Your Child’s Misaligned Jaw

August 1, 2021

As parents ourselves, we know that you want your child to be as happy and healthy as possible. That includes looking out for their general oral health, and ensuring that their toothy childhood grin develops into a straight, comfortable smile. Noticing and knowing when to treat their child’s orthodontic issues is a common point of concern for parents, but you can rest assured that the team at Pioneer Orthodontics is here to help you with recognizing and treating your child’s misaligned jaw along with any other orthodontic issues they may have.

Though Dr. Annette Cserna customizes every treatment plan to meet the specific needs of the child that she is treating, there are several common conditions she’ll be looking for during your child’s initial evaluation. Let’s take an in-depth look at some of the most common issues related to misaligned jaws we see in young children, and how treating them can set your child up for a lifetime of healthy smiles! 

Crowded teeth

Healthy teeth and gums are obviously a core part of your child’s oral health, but crowded teeth can make it difficult for your child to brush and floss effectively. This can put them at risk of tooth decay and cavities which only leads to more problems down the line. 

If your child has crowded teeth, orthodontic treatment can move them into more optimal positions over time, resulting in an evenly spaced smile that’s easier to clean! Treatment can also lessen general facial tension and relieve chewing or speech difficulties. 

Gapped teeth

Gaps between teeth are very common, and can develop for a variety of reasons: genetics, thumb or finger sucking, extended bottle or pacifier use, and even gum disease. 

If your child has a bit too much space between their teeth, our doctors will be able to identify the root cause and create a personalized treatment plan to close any gaps and improve the overall appearance of your child’s smile. 

Missing teeth

Sometimes, gaps between teeth can develop because of congenitally missing teeth that simply never grew in. In other cases, these gaps may be created when permanent teeth are lost due to injury or disease. 

If this is something your child has experienced, we can use braces to move existing teeth into their proper positions, then place bonded bridges where the missing teeth would have been. This approach allows us to create an evenly-spaced smile for your child that looks great and feels great, too!

Open bite

An open bite is where the upper and lower rows of the front teeth don’t touch or close properly when the mouth is closed. Many open bites come from extended thumb sucking in childhood, which can cause the teeth in the upper jaw to develop in a noticeably rounded formation. 

Whatever the cause, an open bite can generally be treated with a combination of braces and an orthodontic appliance known as a “crib.” This device prevents the tongue from putting pressure against the anterior teeth when swallowing, thus allowing the teeth to be adjusted while also training a better swallowing pattern. 

Once treatment is complete, your child will enjoy an aligned bite that allows them to comfortably close their mouth and enjoy all their favorite foods.

Recognizing and Treating Your Child's Misaligned JawDeep overbite

When a child has a deep overbite, their lower teeth recede so far behind the upper teeth that they bite into the roof of the mouth. The upper front teeth also overlap the lower front teeth. Out of all the bite disorders, a deep overbite is the most detrimental to the teeth and health of the jaw joints, and may even impact their face shape and appearance. 

Treatment for a deep overbite may be achievable with orthodontics alone, or a combination of orthodontics and restorative dentistry, depending on the severity of the case. Correcting deep bite misalignments will not only improve the functionality of your child’s mouth but will also dramatically improve the appearance of their smile.


An underbite occurs when the bottom teeth protrude in front of the upper teeth. This type of bite misalignment can cause pain at the jaw joint, and the angled pressure it creates can wear teeth down over time. Children with underbites have quite a few treatment options available to them, including:

  • an upper jaw expander, which can be widened nightly until treatment is complete
  • a reverse-pull face mask, which wraps around the head and attaches to metal bands on the back upper teeth to pull the upper jaw forward
  • traditional braces to adjust the misaligned teeth

Orthodontic treatment like this will often relieve any pain and discomfort associated with the underbite. It can also make smiling, eating, and even breathing easier for your child!


If a child has an overjet, their top front teeth protrude far beyond the bottom front teeth. This particular malocclusion is often referred to as “buck teeth” and is most effectively treated when diagnosed as early as possible. This gives us the chance to use your child’s growth to our advantage by guiding their tooth eruption towards a more balanced mouth. The child’s age and specific needs will determine what treatment approach we take, but their options generally include:

  • bite correction devices
  • traditional braces
  • removable orthodontic appliances
  • tooth removal
  • surgery

Once we treat your child’s overjet, they’ll enjoy a beautifully balanced, functional smile. 

Recognizing and Treating Your Child's Misaligned Jaw

Help your child find their best smile with Pioneer Orthodontics

Most children around the age of 7 will have enough dental “landmarks” in place that their teeth, jaw, and bite can be assessed by a trained orthodontist to ensure everything is developing normally, which is why the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child should see an orthodontist around that age.

Though an initial consultation is only the first step in recognizing and treating your child’s misaligned jaw, it is also the most important one, because catching problems early allows the team at Pioneer Orthodontics to preemptively address orthodontic issues before they become issues.

Dr. Cserna is proud to provide customized care in a friendly, welcoming atmosphere to every child we treat. If you’ve been wondering if your child would benefit from orthodontic care, we’d love to meet you both and take a look at how your child’s smile is developing! 

If you’re in Lincoln, York, or the surrounding area and would like to know more about the benefits of orthodontics, get in touch today to schedule a FREE consultation. Whatever your child needs, we’ll provide them with the best orthodontic experience possible!


Tips for Caring for Your Clear Aligners

June 30, 2021

It’s not hard to see why clear aligner systems like Invisalign have become a common treatment option for teens and adults here at Pioneer Orthodontics. From the comfortable, simple design to the outstanding results they produce, clear aligners are a great option for patients of all ages! While clear aligners may seem straightforward, there are a few tricks to ensuring that you get the most out of your treatment. And, no matter where you are in your treatment journey, it’s always a good time to brush up on tips for caring for your clear aligners! Many of these tips can also be used on the clear retainers you’ll use after your braces treatment has finished. Keep reading for our recommendations for keeping your aligners in the best shape.

Keeping your aligners clean

It’s important to keep your aligners clean during treatment, not only to prevent dental issues like cavities or gum decay that can cause some serious setbacks but because dirty or damaged aligners can reduce their effectiveness. 

The good news is, it’s easy to care for both your oral health and your aligners when you use Invisalign with Dr. Cserna. The aligners are designed to be removed prior to eating, drinking anything other than water, and brushing your teeth. Before you remove your aligner, be sure to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, paying careful attention to the fingernails and fingertips since they will come into the closest contact with your mouth and aligners. 

It can be tempting to leave your aligners onto the nearest surface when you remove them, but you should always place your aligners in a sealed container or leave them to soak in a cleaning solution when they’re not in your mouth. This protects them from germs and also prevents you from accidentally throwing them away (which happens more often than you’d think!) Once you’re done eating or your teeth are brushed and flossed, wash your hands again and rinse your aligner well before putting it back in your mouth.

You should know that toothpaste can damage your aligners due to its abrasive nature; if you notice any build-up, you can simply soak your aligners in an oral apparatus cleaning fluid to remove it. Never clean them with or soak them in overly hot water, and keep them away from any heat sources so they retain their shape. 

It might sound like a lengthy process at first, but caring for your aligners will quickly become just another part of your daily routine. Being careful with your oral health and aligners will ensure the best end results and help protect your total body health, too!

Carry a clear aligner travel kit

We recommend that all of our Pioneer Orthodontics patients using clear aligners stay prepared for unexpected orthodontic emergencies, spur of the moment day trips, unexpected errands, or impromptu lunches out with friends by keeping a “care kit” with them in their bookbag, car, or purse at all times. Some of the items we recommend including are:

  • a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste for brushing wherever you are
  • floss or ortho picks to use after eating if you have the time and space to do so
  • orthodontic wax, which can be used to cover any irritated areas
  • an extra case for your aligners
  • an old set of aligners to hold you over in case your current set gets damaged

Throw these items in a small bag that you can keep with you and you’ll have everything you need in a pinch! This can end up saving you quite a bit of time, trouble, and discomfort, and ensures that your treatment stays on track.


Follow your orthodontist’s advice!

If you’ve been given elastics to wear with your braces or aligners, always be sure to wear them exactly as directed by Dr. Cserna. If you’ve recently completed treatment, continue to wear your retainer as directed by your doctor. 

Dr. Cserna is also available for virtual appointments if you have any questions or concerns about your treatment. Socially distanced options like these mean that all of our patients can continue their treatments safely, conveniently, and without delay. 

If we’re unable to provide you a new set of aligners right away, you can continue wearing the last set you were given. However, you should only wear them 10-12 hours each day instead of the usual 20-22 hours. This shortened wear duration will help extend the life of your aligners until an appointment is available. This way you can keep your treatment plan on track and ensure that you don’t lose any of the progress you’ve worked so hard for! 


Get a smile you love with clear aligners from Pioneer Orthodontics

Caring for your aligners may seem like a lot to deal with at first, but it won’t be long before it becomes second nature! When you take good care of your clear aligners, they’ll be more effective for your smile. Clear aligners make it easy to improve your oral health safely and effectively and will leave you feeling confident with your new beautifully aligned smile. 

If you still have questions about your clear aligner treatment or want to learn if clear aligners could be a good fit for you, we’re here to help! Contact our Lincoln or York office today for answers or to schedule your FREE consultation with Dr. Cserna!

The Importance Of Early Treatment

The Importance Of Early Treatment

May 26, 2021

Here at Pioneer Orthodontics, we’re proud to offer initial consultation services at no charge. For young children, an initial consultation will include an assessment of overall oral health and development. Dr. Annette Cserna will look for anything that might suggest that treatment would be necessary, whether immediately or down the line. In fact, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends that every child has an orthodontic evaluation by the age of 7. But why is early treatment so important? In this article, we will explain the importance of early treatment and how it can help your child’s smile shine!

The Importance Of Early Treatment

What is interceptive orthodontics?

An orthodontic evaluation for children between the ages of 6-9 can help detect problems early on and may prompt what we call interceptive orthodontics to correct them. 

Interceptive orthodontics, sometimes referred to as Phase I treatment, allows an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Cserna to detect any irregularities in jaw growth or tooth development. We can then begin orthodontic treatment to guide the proper development and eruption of your child’s permanent teeth, as well as favorably enhance the growth of their jaw, especially if these issues are detected at a younger age when they are more easily addressable. This type of early intervention can make it easier to prevent or treat certain common issues by promoting an optimal relationship between the teeth and jaws before an unfavorable situation progresses too far. This way, your child will grow up with a straighter, more symmetrical, and healthier smile! 

In what cases is interceptive orthodontics appropriate for my child?

There are many compelling reasons to consider interceptive orthodontics. Dr. Cserna will thoroughly inspect your child’s teeth and jaws during their initial orthodontic exam. Treatment may be recommended if it appears that:

  • the child will be prone to a particular problem that we want to keep from developing
  • the child already has a developing problem that we now want to intercept
  • the child’s jawbones may need a bit of guidance as they grow 

Many orthodontic issues are genetic, but some can be acquired. Inherited problems typically consist of crowded teeth or teeth with too much space between them, extra or missing teeth, and other irregularities of the jaws, teeth, and face. Acquired malocclusions can be caused by accidental trauma, extended thumb sucking or pacifier use, dental disease, premature tooth loss, or myriad other causes. 

Whether a child’s issues are inherited or acquired, they can affect oral alignment and facial development. Interceptive orthodontics can treat all of the above by catching and reversing complications before they get too serious.

What will my child’s interceptive orthodontics look like? 

Early orthodontic exams don’t necessarily lead to treatment. Immediate treatment is typically only recommended for a small fraction of the young patients we evaluate who may face immediate issues or serious complications down the line. Even when treatment is suggested, that doesn’t always mean putting braces on your child right away! Many Phase I treatments don’t involve brackets, wires, and bands at all! Examples of this may include: 

  • placing teeth spacers to help make space for permanent teeth to emerge if a primary tooth is lost early due to injury or decay
  • using expanders to help widen the upper jaw and treat extremely crowded teeth
  • removing one or more primary teeth to help guide the proper placement of permanent teeth

Here at Pioneer Orthodontics, we believe that following the normal growth and development patterns of childhood gives us the best chance to tackle orthodontic issues at the most optimal time in our patients’ lives. Many problems can be treated relatively easily in a child whose mouth is still developing but would require more invasive treatment as they get older and their jawbones stop growing. 

Interceptive orthodontics can often achieve lasting results for many of these issues and may lessen the impact of others. Most patients who receive Phase I treatment will later require a second phase of treatment with braces or aligners to complete the alignment process.  

The Importance Of Early Treatment

Get your child’s smile off to a great start with Pioneer Orthodontics

When you schedule your child for an early orthodontic evaluation at our offices in Lincoln and York, you’re giving them the best chance at a healthy smile that looks good and feels great! Even if we don’t detect any urgent issues, there are several benefits to visiting an orthodontist regularly throughout childhood. These check-ups allow us to:

  • monitor the progress of emerging teeth
  • monitor the progress of facial and jaw development
  • reduce the risk of jaw surgery in the future
  • guide incoming teeth into the ideal position
  • detect hidden dental problems
  • reduce the risk of impacted teeth
  • reduce the risk of permanent tooth extractions

We love early orthodontic evaluations because they allow us to proactively approach your child’s orthodontic care! This better allows us to give young patients the care and treatment they need when it will be most effective and beneficial to them. 

Your child’s smile is as unique as they are and we know that what works well for one patient may not be a good fit for another. That’s why our orthodontists use a personalized treatment plan for every patient, built around their specific needs and goals. 

Do you have a young child who may benefit from interceptive orthodontics? Contact our team today to schedule an orthodontic evaluation with Dr. Cserna. Your child’s smile deserves nothing but the best!