Brea, California -- Each April the dental community joins together to promote National Facial Protection month. It is the perfect time of year to bring attention to how important it is to protect your teeth, gum and full mouth from injury during all the spring sports. 

When it comes to dental injuries, sport related activities account for an estimated 39% during the spring months. A simple way to limit the risk of oral injury, especially while undergoing orthodontic treatment, is to always wear protective facial and mouth gear, such as a mouth guard, when engaging in organized or recreational sports. 

“It is important that adult and children athletes and coaches to play it safe by wearing mouth guards and appropriate protective gear when participating in activities that could cause injuries,” said Brea-based orthodontist Dr. Richard Curtis, a member of the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO). “Many sports injuries can be prevented by wearing appropriate protective gear.”  

Mouth guards are one of the least expensive pieces of protective equipment available. Over-the-counter mouth guards cost as little as $5 and can protect teeth and jaws, but they only provide protection when they are worn. 


Dr. Curtis advises parents and coaches to remind youngsters to always use a mouth guard when participating in any activity during which the mouth could come into contact with a hard object or the pavement.  

Consistent use of other protective equipment is important, too.  Helmets save lives and prevent head injuries.  They should be worn for activities such as bicycling, skateboarding or skating on in-line skates.  Helmet wear is mandated for many organized sports.  Face guards, devices made of plastic or metal that attach to baseball helmets, help to prevent facial injuries as well. 

For more information, visit Dr. Curtis’ website at www.breasmiles.com or call 714-990-5414.

National Facial Protection Month is co-sponsored annually by the American Association of Orthodontists, the oldest and largest dental specialty organization in the world, and by the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the Academy for Sports Dentistry and the American Dental Association. Orthodontists receive an additional two to three years of specialized education beyond dental school to learn the proper way to align and straighten teeth.  Only those with this formal education may call themselves “orthodontists,” and only orthodontists are eligible for membership in the AAO.  The AAO’s website is www.mylifemysmile.org.



AAO Mouth Guard Handout.pdf

Bubble Wrap Video 





Key Messages for National Facial Protection Month from

the American Association of Orthodontists


  • Simple and relatively inexpensive protective sports gear – such as mouth guards – can make a big difference in reducing or preventing oral injuries.
  • In a recent survey, the AAO found that 70 percent of parents said their biggest fear is that their child will get hurt while playing organized sports, yet 67 percent admitted that their child does NOT wear a mouth guard during organized sports including football, basketball, soccer and lacrosse.
  • A recently published study by the University of Alabama at Birmingham analyzed data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), a database of injuries treated at hospital emergency departments, for the period 2001-2008. Researchers found the five most common causes of childhood injuries were, in order of frequency, basketball, football, bicycling, playgrounds and soccer.
  • Consistent use of other protective equipment is important, too.
  • Mandated for many organized sports, helmets save lives and prevent head injuries.
  • Face guards, devices made of plastic or metal that attach to baseball helmets, also help to prevent facial injuries.
  • Because orthodontists help kids and adults obtain healthy, beautiful smiles – the last thing we want to see is a patient get injured because they weren’t properly equipped.
  • If an accident occurs, causing facial injury, you should go to the emergency room. If there’s any dental damage done, contact your child’s dentist so that arrangements can be made to correct the problem.
  • While damage to braces can lengthen treatment time, it also can affect results, so contact your orthodontist for advice if damage occurs.  
  • If a child has braces they should always wear a mouth guard. Serious trauma can occur to the lips and gums if they are hit in the mouth with a ball or stick without the proper protection. 
  • To prevent facial injuries, remember these four important tips:
  1. Wear mouth guards for contact sports to help prevent injuries to the teeth and mouth.
  2. Wear a helmet. Helmets absorb the energy of an impact.
  3. Wear protective eyewear. Eyes are extremely vulnerable.
  4. Be alert even as a spectator. Alert spectators can avoid foul baseballs and flying hockey pucks. Watch your step when climbing bleachers.






Orthodontists warn against uptick in

DIY teeth straightening


Mar 10, 2017, 8:23 AM ET

Orthodontists are warning parents and patients of the dangers in the recent trend of at-home teeth straightening techniques, saying that in some cases these do-it-yourself braces can cause irreparable damage to your teeth.

The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recently reported that 13 percent of its member orthodontists saw patients who have attempted DIY teeth straightening.

Some common tools used in at-home teeth straightening attempts include rubber bands, dental floss, fishing line, paper clips or other materials, according to the AAO. Recently, videos featuring amateur tutorials on how to straighten your teeth at home have also surged in popularity on social media.

“It’s really a shame when someone comes in after attempting DIY orthodontic treatment and we determine that the damage they’ve done to their teeth is so extensive that teeth cannot be saved,” DeWayne B. McCamish, DDS, MS, the president of the AAO, said in a statement. “By the time a layperson recognizes something is wrong with their teeth, it may not be reversible, even with professional help. The cost of dealing with replacing a lost tooth can easily exceed $20,000 over a lifetime and certainly be much less than ideal.

"You have to remember that the goal of good orthodontic treatment is obtaining a healthy, beautiful smile for a lifetime –- shortcuts can be disastrous,” McCamish added.

David Campbell, from Atlanta, Ga., told ABC News that at a young age his former dentist suggested that he attach rubber bands to his teeth in the evenings to try and close a gap in his front teeth by himself. At night, Campbell said he noticed the rubber bands kept disappearing, and he initially just assumed that they were falling off.

In reality, however, Campbell said he found out that, "the rubber bands were going up into my gums and killing the teeth at the root."

Campbell told ABC News that when he went to a different orthodontist, "They found about four or five rubber bands in the root of my gums" and that the rubber bands "had just strangled my teeth."

Dr. Nancy Rosen, a dentist based in New York, told ABC News that doing what Campbell did could cause damage to your teeth quickly, sometimes in just a couple of days, and that the results can become expensive.

"I think that in the end, you'll be paying double to correct all of the mistakes that you've made," Rosen said.

Campbell said that he eventually lost his two front teeth, and he estimates that he has spent between $40,000 to $50,000 on dental care over the years. He hopes to use his story to warn others to not make the same mistakes.

"It may look simple," Campbell said of DIY orthodontics, "but it can end up costing you thousands of dollars and a lot of heartache and pain."






DIY Teeth-Straightening: Don't Try This at Home

U.S. News and World Report

By Mary Elizabeth Dallas, HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, March 2, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- An orthodontist recalled a patient who devised her own means of straightening two wayward teeth.

"The patient tried to close a gap between her lower incisors by wrapping string around the two teeth," the orthodontist explained.

But the do-it-yourself method brought only trouble.

"I was horrified to see the string deep in the gum and the severe mobility in the two teeth," the unnamed orthodontist said.

Examples of people attempting to straighten their own teeth -- often using dubious "how-to" guides accessed on the Internet -- is on the rise, according to a survey by the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO).

People are resorting to the use of potentially dangerous objects such as rubber bands, string, paper clips and fake retainers to circumvent the orthodontists' office, the AAO said.

But this type of jerry-rigged orthodontics can lead to permanent damage, the group warns.

"What most people don't understand is that moving teeth is a biological process that involves bone that dissolves and rebuilds as teeth are moved into their new positions," AAO president DeWayne McCamish said in a news release from the organization.

"Moving teeth is best done under the direct supervision of an orthodontist after an in-person assessment, including complete diagnostic records," he said.

Social media has played a significant role in the dangerous do-it-yourself orthodontics trend, McCamish added. "There are literally hundreds of videos on YouTube alone, with 'tutorials' on how to straighten your own teeth," he said.

In the new survey, AAO members were queried on their experiences with patients who attempt to straighten their own teeth.

The survey found that nearly 13 percent of the orthodontists said they'd had patients -- ranging from the age of 8 to over 60 -- who tried to fix their own teeth by pushing on their teeth, biting on pencils or using a variety of household items, including paper clips.

In some cases, those who tried to straighten their teeth caused irreversible problems, the survey authors noted.

"It's really a shame when someone comes in after attempting DIY orthodontic treatment and we determine that the damage they've done to their teeth is so extensive that teeth cannot be saved," McCamish said.

"By the time a lay person recognizes something is wrong with their teeth, it may not be reversible, even with professional help," he said.

"The cost of dealing with replacing a lost tooth can easily exceed $20,000 over a lifetime and certainly be much less than ideal," McCamish said. "You have to remember that the goal of good orthodontic treatment is obtaining a healthy, beautiful smile for a lifetime -- shortcuts can be disastrous."

Of the orthodontists who said they'd had patients who tried to straighten their own teeth, 39 percent said they had to then provide treatment to correct damage that had been done as a result.

Most of the orthodontists polled believed that their patients would actually have saved time and money if they had gotten professional help to straighten their teeth.

"If it's a matter of economics, many orthodontists do an initial consultation at no cost and with no obligation," McCamish explained. "It's an opportunity to get the expert's opinion about your problem, options to resolve it and, in so doing, avoid the unintended harmful consequences that could result from DIY treatment."

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine provides more information on teeth straightening.






When Should Your Child Visit The Orthodontist?

Posted: Friday, December 2, 2016 5:44 am | Updated: 2:31 am, Sat Dec 3, 2016.

By NAPS, North American Precis Syndicate

(NAPSI)—While there's no "exact age" for a child to begin orthodontic treatment, there are a few things to consider.

Suggests Dr. DeWayne B. McCamish, president of the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO), "Somewhere between the seventh and eighth birthdays is generally when a child should visit an orthodontist. If a parent is concerned about something they observe, it's quite alright to bring in an even younger child.

"The orthodontist assesses the 'bite'—meaning how the teeth come together. There is a wealth of information we can gather just from watching how a child brings the teeth together. Some problems reveal themselves at an early age, and some of these problems can be addressed while a child still has some baby teeth."

What To Watch For

These signs suggest you should consult an orthodontist:

• Early or late loss of baby teeth;

• Difficulty in chewing or biting;

• Mouth breathing;

• Thumb sucking;

• Crowding, misplaced or blocked-out teeth;

• Jaws that shift or make sounds;

• Speech difficulties;

• Biting the check or tongue;

• Teeth that meet abnormally, or don't meet at all;

• Facial features that are out of proportion to each other;

• Jaws that are too far forward or too far back;

• Grinding or clenching the teeth.

Most children begin orthodontic treatment between the ages of 9 and 14.

Benefits of Early Evaluation

A check-up with an orthodontist while some baby teeth are still present can be beneficial for youngsters and their parents. "If we determine that treatment will be needed, an early check-up allows the orthodontist to recommend the most appropriate treatment at the most appropriate time. We can also talk with parents about budgeting for treatment, based on their individual circumstances. Orthodontists routinely offer a variety of payment plans, and parents can look into benefits to reduce their out-of-pocket expenditures such as insurance, flexible spending accounts and health savings accounts," according to Dr. McCamish. Many AAO members offer low-cost or complimentary initial consultations and a referral to an orthodontist is not necessary.

What an Orthodontist Is

Orthodontists first graduate from dental school, and then go on for an additional two-to-three academic years of study at an accredited orthodotic residency program to become orthodontists. Only orthodontists can be AAO members. You can be sure that you are being treated by an orthodontic specialist when you see the AAO logo.

Learn More

For further information or to find nearby AAO orthodontists, visit mylifemysmile.org.






Still Have a Health-Account Balance?

Time for That 11th-Hour Eye Exam

The New York Times - Your Money Adviser
By ANN CARRNS DEC. 7, 2016

WHILE rules for flexible health spending accounts have themselves become more flexible, some employees may still have a New Year’s deadline for spending their balances.

Flexible health spending accounts let workers set aside pretax dollars to pay for out-of-pocket costs not covered by health insurance, such as co-payments, deductibles and prescription drugs, said Lisa Greene-Lewis, a certified public accountant and tax expert with TurboTax, a provider of tax preparation software.

Most large employers who offer flexible spending accounts, or F.S.A.s, either give workers an extra two and a half months after year’s end to spend the money in their accounts or, increasingly, let them carry over part of their balance — up to $500 — into the next year, according to a 2016 report from Mercer, the employee benefits consultant.

But just under a quarter of big employers allow no wiggle room, Mercer found; workers must spend the balance in their accounts by the end of the year or forfeit the money.

So, if your employer sets a firm Dec. 31 deadline, this is a good time to check and see if there is any money left in your account, and what sort of care or health-related items you might need, so you do not leave money on the table, Ms. Greene-Lewis said. People in this position “should definitely consider taking advantage of any doctor’s appointments they have been putting off,” she said.

Account funds can also be used for eye care, hearing aids, dental and orthodontic treatment and a variety of other health-related items. These include thermometers, blood glucose monitors and test strips, athletic braces, contact lenses and solution, sunscreen and lip balm, according to FSAstore.com, a website that sells items eligible for purchase using flexible spending funds.

A companion site, HSAstore.com, targets users of health savings accounts, another kind of tax-favored health spending account. The accounts have different rules and contribution limits, but the eligibility criteria for purchases are the same, said Jeremy Miller, the president of both online stores.

The number of H.S.A.s has been growing in recent years, in part because they are paired with high-deductible health insurance plans that typically carry lower monthly premiums, said Sarah Grotta, director of the debit advisory service at Mercator Advisory Group, a payments consultancy. H.S.A.s may be offered independently, she said, as well as through employers.

In general, you cannot use money from either type of account to buy over-the-counter medicine, like ibuprofen — unless a doctor writes a prescription for the pills.

And wearable fitness tools, like Fitbits, generally are not eligible, according to FSAstore.com, with a possible exception for patients who obtain a letter of “medical necessity” from a doctor.

Here are some questions and answers about health care accounts:

How much can I contribute to a flexible health spending account?

Individuals can contribute $2,600 to an F.S.A. for 2017. If your employer lets you roll over funds, you can still contribute the maximum — meaning that if you rolled over $500 and made the maximum new contribution of $2,600, you would have $3,100 available for next year, said Kara Johnson, a senior vice president at Discovery Benefits, which administers F.S.A.s and other types of accounts.

At one time the maximum F.S.A. contribution was $5,000, and the American Association of Orthodontists supports legislation to restore that limit, said DeWayne B. McCamish, the group’s president. Flexible spending accounts are especially useful for orthodontic treatment, he said, because braces can usually be planned for, and treatment fees range from $4,000 to $8,000 nationally.

Do H.S.A.s have year-end spending deadlines?

No. All of the money in an H.S.A. rolls over from year to year if you don’t spend it, and you can take the account with you if you change jobs.

Can I have both an F.S.A. and an H.S.A.?

If you have an H.S.A., you may not have an F.S.A. as well, unless the flexible health spending account is a “limited purpose” version, covering just dental and vision care. Using both is ideal, said Ms. Johnson, since you can use the F.S.A. for dentist visits and eyeglasses, but let the money in the H.S.A. grow for medical care when you need it. 

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