Cavities: Everybody hates cavities. They are holes in teeth caused by acid. Cavities may start on the surface of a tooth and spread to the softer inner layer. Help protect yourself from cavities by cutting back on sugar and sweets, or by eating sugar-free foods. And be sure to brush every day with fluoride toothpaste. 
Demineralization: It's a big word, but it just means the loss of minerals from the tooth surface around your braces, also caused by acid. This loss will cause a chalky white spot on your tooth, and it can lead to a cavity. Beware of the Big D - and be sure to cut back on soda. 
Gingivitis: This is when the tissues around the teeth become inflamed. It is the first sign of gum disease. You may have bleeding, sore gums, redness, or swelling. Don't ignore this one - it can get worse, and may lead to serious problems. Be sure to floss at least once a day. 
Sensitivity: Ouch! You may feel pain when you have hot, cold or sweet drinks or food. It can also hurt when your teeth get bumped. Let us know if sensitive teeth are bothering you. 
Plaque: This is a sticky layer of bacteria that keeps forming on tooth surfaces and can be hard to see. Plaque needs to be removed all the time - from above and below the gum line. Together, you and our orthodontic staff can show you ways to get rid of plaque! The key is regular brushing and flossing. 
Tartar: (Not the stuff you spread on fried fish!) When plaque is not removed from the tooth surface, it can harden and become tartar or calculus. (And that's not mathematics.) Only your dentist or hygienist can get rid of it during regular cleanings during your orthodontics. 
Stains: There are many kinds of stains found on teeth. Some are inside the tooth surface and others are on the tooth surface. Coffee, tea, red wine, mustard, and tobacco products are big stainers. 
Bad breath: Bacteria on the tongue and between the teeth often cause this. It can also be caused by something in the stomach. (Hint: If people move away from you when you talk, you may have bad breath!)