Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Can Black Triangles Be Fixed With Braces?

 Have you ever noticed a triangular gap between your tooth and gum line? That gap is commonly called a ‘black Triangle’, also known as “Open Gingival Embrasures.”

According to research, “One-third of adults have unaesthetic black triangles worldwide.”

Black triangles are not considered unhealthy or problematic; however, they do have an undesirable appearance and may affect a person’s self-esteem. Luckily, there are treatments available to correct this condition!

Why do Black Triangles in Teeth Appear?

These small triangles occur due to the shape of the teeth, a lack of gum tissue, and/or gum disease (caused by poor hygiene). As we get older, our gums naturally start to recede. This is why black triangles often appear in adults.

Other causes of black triangles include nail picking, aggressive flossing, and excessive tooth picking.

In the case of orthodontic treatment, the alignment process of your teeth may reveal black triangles; yet, they are not the source of black triangles.

Black triangles can be problematic because they have an undesirable appearance, and they can harbor food particles, which can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.

But how do you prevent them in the first place, and what can you do once they appear? Here’s what you need to know.

Can Black Triangles be Prevented?

You cannot always avoid black triangles. In fact, some spacing between your teeth is natural and can be helpful for cleaning purposes. However, if the space is vast, you can reduce it by committing to a strong oral hygiene routine.

When you have black triangles, it is essential to follow a rigorous oral routine, including flossing, brushing your teeth thoroughly, using mouthwash, and attending all of your dental cleaning appointments. These activities will keep your gums healthy by preventing inflammation and bone loss around the teeth. Visiting your dentist regularly is incredibly important for him or her to monitor your gum and dental health.

Can Orthodontics Cause Black Triangles?

The belief that black triangles are caused by orthodontic treatment, such as braces or Invisalign, is false. Orthodontic treatment doesn’t cause black triangles; it simply exposes them.

When your teeth are aligned, receding gums or lack of gum tissue between the teeth can expose these black triangles.

If you visit a highly-qualified orthodontist, you do not have to fear gum loss or black triangles due to orthodontic treatment.

Triangles and Orthodontic Treatment

If you notice a small triangle between your teeth, we can provide orthodontic treatment to close it!

At Spannhake Orthodontics, Dr. Spannhake can treat black triangles using Interproximal Reduction (IPR), Invisalign® or braces.

  • Braces and Invisalign
    Your orthodontist may recommend treatment with braces or Invisalign to reduce the appearance of black triangles. The treatment consists of applying direct pressure to specific teeth to encourage movement towards a proper alignment. Shifting the teeth into alignment can effectively eliminate black triangles.
  • Interproximal Reduction (IPR)
    Interproximal Reduction is a technique performed by highly-skilled orthodontists to close black triangles. The treatment is performed by hand, using flexible diamond coated strips that are worked back and forth between your teeth. A tiny part of the tooth enamel is trimmed, which will allow your teeth to be pushed closer together. Thus reducing the black triangles and spaces your gum needs to fill between teeth.

We understand the presence of black triangles can leave patients feeling self- conscious about their smile. We want you to feel confident during and after your orthodontic treatment! Our team uses the latest technologies, techniques, and materials to ensure that you achieve the best possible results!

Wednesday, April 21, 2021




Much like with laundry, orthodontic health can be more manageable if you get ahead of it.

You wouldn’t skip a well-check at the pediatrician, and you shouldn’t skip an early trip to the orthodontist either. A visit to your orthodontist by age 7 will help keep your child’s oral health in check. And it may help you avoid more costly or more invasive treatments down the road.

How so?

Palatal expander – Your child may be a good candidate for palatal expansion, which can make the upper jaw wider and help to reduce crowding in abnormally narrow arches. Ideally, a palatal expander is used when a patient is still growing. Expansion occurs when the growth plate or suture in the middle of the palate is stretched and the two halves are pushed apart. As the two halves are spread, new bone is added.

In younger patients, palatal expansion may reduce the need for extractions or prevent impacted teeth. Cases not corrected in growing patients may require surgery for correction in adulthood and may lead to abnormal wear or bite problems if not corrected at all.

Early interceptive treatment–Sometimes a short time in braces can correct problems early on to prevent larger problems later.  An example of interceptive treatment is correcting an anterior crossbite.

Tooth removal – Sometimes removing baby or impacted teeth can help permanent teeth emerge better and encourage them to come in closer to their ideal position even without an orthodontic appliance. Your orthodontist will suggest the best time for extractions  to take advantage of your child’s growth and development. Getting them into the orthodontist early allows you to receive the optimum  treatment for them.

Not all early visits result in orthodontic treatment

One of three things could result from your child’s first appointment with the orthodontist. 1) There may be no need for treatment recognized at that time. 2) Treatment may be necessary in the future, so the child will be followed periodically while the face and jaws continue to develop. Or, 3) A problem already exists that would benefit by early treatment, and you are in the right spot to get started!

Most orthodontists offer free consultations, so there’s no reason to wait.

Trust an AAO orthodontist

You can work with an American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) Orthodontist to achieve a healthy, beautiful smile at any age. Orthodontists are experts in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics – properly aligned teeth and jaws – and possess the skills and experience to give you your best smile. 

The Precocious Kid

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

What is a Cavity


A cavity, also known as tooth decay, is a hole that can form in your tooth. Usually cavities start very small and gradually become bigger if they are left untreated. Most of the time cavities are not painful in their beginning stages, making it difficult to detect them until they become more severe. The best way to stay on top of your oral health and catch a cavity early on, is by visiting your dentist on a regular basis. In fact, many people are shocked when they go to the dentist and learn they have a cavity when they have zero signs or symptoms. It’s always best to treat your cavity ASAP to avoid the progression of tooth decay.

What are the symptoms of a cavity?

Some common symptoms of a cavity may depend on the severity of the decay or how long it has been present. You may experience tooth sensitivity, tooth pain, white or black staining on the tooth or you may even see the start of a hole.

Common causes of tooth decay | Cavities

Cavities on a tooth are typically caused by a substance called plaque. Plaque is a combination of food particles, acid, bacteria and saliva that form a sticky film on your teeth. We all have bacteria in our mouths – it’s inevitable! After we eat or drink something, the bacteria in our mouth turns sugar into acid which then begins the process of erosion of the tooth enamel. Enamel is the hard protective layer on our teeth that protects us from getting tooth decay. If that enamel is weakened, there is much higher chance for tooth decay. 

Risk factors for tooth decay

Everyone is at risk for getting a cavity in their lifetime, but some people are at a higher risk depending on their lifestyle and habits.

Habits/Lifestyles that put you at risk for getting a cavity:

·         Consuming sugary/acidic beverages or foods

·         Not having a daily dental hygiene routine. The American Dental Association recommends flossing at least once a day as well as brushing at least twice a day, especially before bedtime.

·         Not getting enough fluoride. People can increase their fluoride intake by simply drinking tap water, or purchasing a fluoride rinse/toothpaste to help strengthen their enamel.

·         Eating disorders such as bulimia or anorexia

·         Dry mouth

·         Acid Reflux Disease

How to treat a cavity

If you feel any sensitivity or pain in a tooth, call your dental office as soon as possible. Most of the time your dentist can detect tooth decay after a regular dental exam. Sometimes however, a cavity may not be visible at that time, so he/she may need to take x-rays to check for decay. 

The role of orthodontics and tooth decay

Sometimes if teeth are positioned too close together or spaced apart, food can get trapped and remain on the tooth for long periods of time. This can then cause tooth decay and eventually put you at a higher risk of getting cavities.

At Spannhake Orthodontics we would love to help you improve your overall oral health!  It’s never too late to improve the health of your smile.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

How To Enjoy Easter With Braces


If the Easter Bunny is headed to your house and your child has braces, you don’t have to turn him away. Just make sure he leaves treats that can be enjoyed without any damage to their brackets or wires.

What Not to Eat if You Have Braces

On Easter, it’s best to avoid any sugary treats on Easter if you have braces. However, part of the fun of the holiday is getting candy. Since it’s likely you won’t be able to avoid candy altogether, it’s best to leave out the candy that can do the most damage to braces. This includes:

  • Anything with caramel or nuts
  • Taffy
  • Jelly beans
  • Peeps
  • Candy-coated chocolate or malt eggs

Candy You Can Eat if You Have Braces

Luckily, there are many types of treats that are safe to enjoy with braces. Chocolate without nuts is soft and won’t get as stuck in braces as taffy, caramel, or jelly beans. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Nestle Crunch and Three Musketeers are good chocolate options, in addition to plain chocolate bunnies and eggs. Plain M&Ms are a good option because their candy coating is thinner than candy-coated eggs. Just be sure to brush and floss thoroughly after you eat any candy. This will help remove any bits of chocolate lingering in your braces.

Homemade goodies, like brownies or cupcakes, are also good options. They are soft, and it’s possible to reduce some of the sugar in them by replacing it with a different type of sweetener.

Easter Gifts for Kids With Braces

Easter baskets don’t have to be filled with only candy. We don’t know many pre-teens or teens who would turn up their noses at an Amazon or iTunes gift card, a new case for their cell phone, makeup, a video game, or the next book in the series they are reading.

You can also encourage your child’s favorite hobby with gifts in their Easter basket. If you have a budding artist in your family, include paintbrushes, paints, a new sketchbook or pencils in their Easter basket. For a dog lover, you could include a book about teaching your pet tricks, a dog-themed t-shirt, or a gift card to the pet store or for animal training classes.

Another option is to fill a few plastic eggs with dollar bills (five-dollar bills if you’re feeling generous) instead of jelly beans.

Including Easter treats that are safe for kids braces ensures everyone will enjoy the holiday, rather than worrying what to do with a loose bracket or broken wire.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

5 Daily Habits to Boost Your Dental Health


If you’re looking for ways to boost your dental health, look no further! Here are some daily habits that you can work into your routine to maintain the healthiest mouth possible.

1. Proper Brushing

Brushing is something everyone does, some better than others. It’s important to make sure you are brushing properly and efficiently and for the right amount of time. Here are some tips on how to properly brush your teeth:

·         Brush twice a day for 2 minutes (brush to your favorite song!)

·         Brush in a circular motion with medium pressure to avoid damaging gum tissue.

·         Brush your tongue. Did you know plaque also builds up on the surface of your tongue? In most cases, it looks like a white film and discolors the muscle. Not only will brushing your tongue on a daily basis better your overall dental health, it will also improve halitosis (bad breath).

2. Floss

In order to floss correctly, make sure you are flossing thoroughly on both sides of the tooth. Work the floss in a “C” motion around each tooth to ensure you are cleaning the interproximal areas that are hard to reach with a toothbrush.

3. Use Products that Contain Fluoride

Using fluoride is a great/easy way to boost your dental health! Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by slowing down the process of enamel breaking down and increasing the rate of remineralization process. The enamel of your tooth is hard yet porous. Because of this, plaque that sits on the surface of your teeth can produce acids that go into the pores of the enamel causing it to break down its structure from the inside. If left untreated a weak spot can form resulting in a cavity.

Here are some examples of how you can introduce fluoride into your dental health routine:

·         Fluoride Mouthwash-

·         Fluoride Toothpaste- Most toothpastes contain fluoride! Make sure to check the label before purchasing.

·         Visit your general dentist– At your routine dental check up’s, your dental hygienists uses fluoride to deep clean your teeth.

·         Drink tap water- Tap water contains fluoride which will naturally help strengthen your teeth. In fact, studies show that drinking tap water can decrease your chances of getting a cavity by up to 50%! 

4. Drink Plenty of Water

Drinking water is essential, but some may not realize the positive benefits it may have on your smile. By simply drinking plain water while eating, you are helping clean away excess food particles that may be sitting on your teeth. However, drinks such as coffee, tea, or flavored water may contain added sugars or acidity that can cause cavities.

Water does not stain or damage teeth, making it the healthiest beverage choice when choosing to boost your dental health!

5. Eat Healthy

You’ve heard it from your doctor time and time again, and now you’re hearing it from your orthodontist! The foods you choose to consume will ultimately have an effect on your teeth one way or the other. Here are some healthy food options that you can add into your daily routine:

·         Hard/Solid Foods- These are necessary to maintain a strong mouth and jaw.

·         Crisp Fruits & Raw Vegetables- Chewing a crispy apple, or munching on some carrots or celery can do a lot of benefit for your oral health! Not only will they help clean plaque off of your teeth, but they can also naturally freshen your breath. The nutrients from fresh fruits and vegetables are also healthy for your gums and protect against cell damage.

For more information on boosting your dental health, visit the Spannhake Orthodontics website:

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Why Are My Teeth Shifting?


Why Are My Teeth Shifting After Having Braces?

Uh oh! It’s been a few years since you’ve completed orthodontic treatment and you’re wondering why your teeth are shifting after having braces. Did you know the #1 reason this occurs is due to the lack of retainer wear? Retainers are actually the only way to prevent your teeth from wanting to go back into their old position. If you are not wearing your retainer regularly after having braces, your teeth may want to shift for a variety of reasons… Visit our website to learn more about the importance of wearing retainers.  

Grinding Your Teeth

Grinding or clenching your teeth can be a very destructive. Not only does it wear down the enamel on your teeth, but it can also result in shorter teeth and bite/facial changes. Grinding puts unnecessary pressure on your teeth which causes them to shift in different directions.

Tooth Loss

When you have a missing tooth, the teeth on either side will want to drift into the empty space causing total misalignment. This is why it is always a good idea to replace the missing tooth with an implant, fixed bridge or removable partial. At the very least, wearing a retainer every night will prevent teeth shifting.

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease occurs when the gums surrounding your teeth become so damaged it eventually destroys the bone supporting your teeth. When this occurs, teeth become more mobile causing them to move in different directions and/or fall out completely.


Natural physiologic drift is what happens when teeth move as you age. Your facial bones continue to grow throughout your lifetime usually resulting in the lower jaw growing forward and becoming more narrow. This causes your lower teeth to crow or overlap.


Relapse occurs because teeth have memory and will want to move back into the position they were in before you had braces.

Preventing Your Teeth from Shifting

If you want to make sure your teeth do not shift after having braces, it’s extremely important that your remember to wear your retainer every night! If you realize you missed a few days and your retainer is no longer fitting properly, call your orthodontist immediately. This could be due to a damaged retainer or your teeth already starting to shift. If the retainer you wear is permanent (bonded) your orthodontist will want to make sure it is still working properly and hasn’t broken without you being aware.

Here at Spannhake Orthodontics, we encourage you to see your general dentist every 6 months to minimize decay and prevent periodontitis. Also be sure to address any bite problems you may be experiencing at this time along with grinding issues. By staying on top of your oral health, you can prevent many issues from progressing and your teeth from shifting. Above all else, always remember how important retainer wear is. At Spannhake Orthodontics, we only want our patients to have to wear braces once. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Do Braces Hurt?


One of the main questions we get at Spannhake Orthodontics is, “Do Braces Hurt?” We are here to ease your fear and let you know that braces are nothing to be scared of! You may feel some mild discomfort and soreness while your mouth is adjusting the first few days, but nothing extreme.

 Two Types of Discomfort Caused by Braces

Tooth Soreness

Having minor tooth soreness is typical the first few days after getting braces put on. Many patients describe this as a “tight” feeling. Here are a few ways to alleviate discomfort while your teeth adjust to your new braces:

·         Eat soft foods. This discomfort is like a bruise. If you eat hard foods, you are not giving the area time to heal before using it again. When you eat soft food, you are not putting as much pressure on the area, which will allow the area to heal quicker. 

·         Take Tylenol. Tylenol is an over the counter pain reliever. This can help dull the pain that is occurring due to the braces. 

·         Drink/eat something cold. The first couple sets of wires that are used are activated at body temperature. If you drink or eat something cold, then you will have less tightness due to the wires not actively pushing on your teeth. 


Tongue/Cheek Irritation

The second type of discomfort you may feel after getting braces put on are some sores from wire or bracket irritation. This is a normal occurrence the first week after getting braces put on. When this happens:

·         Try using wax. Wax is given to you at your first appointment at Spannhake Orthodontics and we provide this to you as often as you need it. When there is a wire or bracket rubbing on your cheek or tongue, roll a piece of wax between your fingers and place it the sore area. This will allow the area to heal so a sore does not form.

·         Let it run its course. After a few days of allowing your braces to work, eventually your cheeks and lips will toughen up to the braces. Once this happens, the feeling of rubbing or sores forming will decrease significantly.

Keep in mind that this soreness will not last forever. Getting braces put on is an exciting time and pain is nothing to fear! Follow the tips we listed above on how to alleviate some of this mild discomfort and after a few weeks you won’t even notice you have them on.

Click here to learn more about your first days in braces.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Invisalign for Teens | Why It’s Becoming More Popular


Did you know that Invisalign for teens is becoming more and more popular every day? Many people make the assumption that Invisalign is only an option for adults who want to straighten their teeth in a discreet way. Despite common belief, Invisalign is actually a great treatment option for people of all ages – even teens!

History of Invisalign

When Invisalign made it’s first appearance in the orthodontic field in 1998, there were many restrictions on what types of cases it could and could not treat. Since then, these clear, removable aligners have undergone many technological changes and now have the ability to treat complex orthodontic cases that they once couldn’t. At Spannhake Orthodontics, we have successfully treated many patients with Invisalign who were experiencing complex issues such as: crowding, spacing, and various bite abnormalities.

Why Invisalign for Teens is a Great Option

No Wires or Brackets

One thing many teenagers love about Invisalign is the fact that there are no wires or brackets that can irritate the mouth or fall off the tooth. This means, little to no emergency appointments!

Quick Appointments | Fewer Appointments

Invisalign appointments are much quicker than a typical braces adjustment, and less frequent. We see Invisalign patients once every 8 weeks, for appointments that last an average of about 15 minutes in length. People who choose to go the braces route, typically are seen every 4 weeks throughout the duration of their treatment with appointments averaging 30 minutes.

Appointments alone is a big reason why Invisalign has become so popular among teens nowadays. Less appointments means less time missed from school and work!

No Food Restrictions

Since there is no actual metal hardware on the teeth with Invisalign, there are no food restrictions during treatment. Teens enjoy the fact that they do not have to give up their favorite foods like they would have to if they went with traditional braces.

Not having any hardware on the teeth also allows the teen to brush and floss like normal, instead of having to take the extra time to brush and floss around wires and brackets. This helps with overall oral hygiene throughout orthodontic treatment which is extremely important when moving teeth into a new position.

“What Happens if My Teen Loses their Aligner?”

This is a legitimate concern among many parents when considering Invisalign for their teenager. However, we have seen in our office that if a teen is determined or excited about getting started with Invisalign, they are overall more responsible about keeping track of their trays and wearing them. Why? We attribute this to the fact that some kids do not want brackets on their teeth at any cost. If teens are not motivated about their Invisalign treatment, they would most likely not be motivated with traditional braces either. No matter what treatment type they choose, lack in motivation will always result in an issue arising or a set back of some sort. In order to get the best results possible, motivation and determination from the patient is a must!

We understand that life happens! If an aligner does get lost, give our office a call to discuss what steps need to be taken to keep your teenagers treatment on course. Normally, our doctor will advise the patient to move on to the next set of their assigned aligners to avoid any unplanned movement or shifting. Losing an aligner does not drastically affect overall treatment, but it is important to notify your orthodontist if this were to happen. At Spannhake Orthodontics, we believe in our teens and have seen great results with their motivation when it comes to Invisalign.

#spannhakeorthodontics #invisalign #invisalignteen #orthodontictreatment #invisaligntreatment

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Take A Pizza My Heart

National Pepperoni Pizza Day 
Thursday, September 20th
National Pepperoni Pizza Day

According to legend, Raffaele Esposito created the first pizza in 1889 in honor of the Queen of Italy, Margherita of Savoy. A pizza topped with tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella represented the colors of the Italian flag was aptly named Pizza Margherita.

While pizza might be most heavily associated with the Italians, pepperoni pizza is purely American. Served on more than a third of American pizza orders, it’s safe to say that pepperoni is America’s Sweetheart.   

September 20th is a day set aside to pay homage to the most popular pizza ever created…Pepperoni Pizza! So get the invitations in the mail…cause you’re throwing a Pizza Party! 

Photo provided by
Rather than call up your favorite Pizza Parlor, considering Throwing a “Make Your Own Mini Pizza” Party and create a DIY Mini Pizza Bar where all of your friends and family can come together to celebrate. 

What You Will Need: 
Pizza Dough 
Pizza Sauce 
Toppings (cheese, tomatoes, olives, mushrooms, onions, and of course, Pepperoni) 

You can always make your own Light and Fluffy Pizza Dough, but if you don’t have time for that, don't worry, you can purchase ready made Pizza Dough or even use Pre-Made Pizza Crusts.

Photo provided by

And no celebration would be complete without a cake!...a Pizza Cake that is! This simple recipe for a layered pepperoni pizza cake is sure to be a hit. It’s just a layer of pizza, topped with another layer of pizza, topped with another layer of pizza, and all wrapped up in Pillsbury dough. Yes…we know…it sounds delicious.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Braces are Magnetic

Image provided by

We all know someone who has a friend who has a brother who knows a guy that had the story must be true. 

There are a lot of myths about orthodontics and getting braces, some of which have been told so many times, by so many different people, they are now believed to be the truth. Well...guess what? Even if you know the guy who has the brother who has the friend...the story is most likely an Urban Legend. 

Legend: Only children and teens need to visit an orthodontist. 
TRUTH: It is very typical for adults to experience rotation or misalignment of teeth. If you’ve still got teeth, Dr. Spannhake can straighten them! Certainly there are age-related changes that affect the way treatment proceeds. Restorative needs and periodontal concerns necessitate a full diagnosis and discussion of your needs...but the truth is...everyone, no matter what their age, can enjoy the benefits of a healthy, pleasing smile. Health, happiness and self-esteem are important at any age. 

Legend: Braces interfere with radio signals and electronic devices. 
TRUTH: In theory any metal can act as an antenna. Radio signals are modulated electro-magnetic waves transmitted through the air. In order for these transmitted signals to travel well in air, they must be sent at high-frequencies. This is achieved through modulation. Even if someone's braces could receive these frequencies, it would have to be decoded to actually hear any messages. 

Legend: Braces are just for cosmetic purposes and aren’t necessary for your overall dental health. 
TRUTH: While braces can definitely help you get that beautiful smile, they aren’t just for cosmetic improvement. Well aligned teeth can facilitate good oral hygiene making it easier to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. In addition, resolving certain orthodontic problems with the use of braces can improve your ability to speak, chew, and even breathe. 

Legend: Wearing braces will increase your chances of being struck by lightning? 
TRUTH: The chances of a person getting struck by lightning are the same, with or without braces. In the U.S. in any given year, the chance that you will be struck by lightning is 1 in 700,000 no matter what you are wearing. 

Legend: You don't need to visit your General Dentist when you are in braces treatment. 
TRUTH: Even if you are having regular orthodontic checkups, you should never skip your regular dental checkups. Having braces makes you more prone to plaque and tartar accumulation, so your dental cleanings are actually more important now. Regular dental checkups are the best way to ensure harmful buildup is removed from your mouth. 

Legend: If there was a giant magnet overhead, anyone who is wearing braces would get stuck to it. 
TRUTH: Braces are made of materials which are non-magnetic in nature. Therefore, getting stuck to a giant magnet is highly unlikely. And really...where is this giant magnet everyone is talking about anyway? We haven't seen it. Have you?

Image provided by HSOrtho

Point is...Orthodontic Urban Legends are just that...Legends. No matter what your friend's brother's cousin says.