Our Blog

Baking Soda Toothpastes

June 20th, 2019

I am asked Often about the use of Baking Soda toothpastes. Should they be used, are the safe, are they effective and are they better or worse than Other toothpastes. In today's blog we'll answer some of those questions.
What is baking soda toothpaste? It is toothpaste with the primary active ingredient of sodium bicarbonate.
Are they safe?
Yes, extensive research has Shown toothpastes containing baking soda to be safe. An interesting side note is patients swallow 5-7% of the toothpaste When brushing and  there are no negative effects here either even for patients on a low salt diet.
Are they effective?
Yes, they are effective at killing the bacteria which causes cavities. Patients who use these toothpastes have improved oral health including the teeth and gums.
Are they better or Worse than Other toothpastes?
The best reason to use baking soda toothpastes iS because Of their IOW abrasiveness and improved tooth Whitening. Most toothpastes now are very abrasive. Abrasiveness is good to clean Stain and Whiten but it also causes erosion Of the teeth. so if you are prone to erosion of your teeth then Baking Soda toothpaste is an excellent alternative because it also is excellent at whitening.
So yes, I Can recommend Baking Soda toothpaste because it is safe, kills the bugs,
reduces erosion and whitens.


Do I Have To Wait For The Dentist To Send My Child To The Orthodontist?

May 6th, 2019

Do I have to wait for the Dentist to send my child to the Orthodontist?

The simple answer to this question is NO. If you notice the permanent teeth are coming in crowded, with excessive space, the front teeth are protruded or retruded, the back or front upper teeth bite inside the lower teeth then you need to take your child to an Orthodontist.

You may assume the dentist is aware of these problems and that they will make the referral to an orthodontist but sometimes this does not occur. Dentists are often focused on the health of the teeth and gums. They look at how good the child’s brushing and flossing is and if there are cavities. They don’t often concentrate on how the teeth fit together (the bite). This is what Orthodontists specialize in doing.

The American Association of Orthodontics recommends a consultation with an Orthodontist at age 7. As most poor bites start at this age. By examining a child at this age, the Orthodontist can diagnose many potentially damaging bite and jaw development conditions before they cause major problems. If treatment is necessary at this critical stage, then results can be dramatic.

The other reason for an examination of children at this age is the detection of Sleep Disorder Breathing or SDB. It is often the precursor to Sleep Apnea. Using our diagnostic criteria and ultra-low dose CBCT radiography, we can learn if a child has an upper airway disorder (think narrow airway) which could affect their ability to get enough oxygen so their brains and bodies can develop to their maximum potential. We use this radiograph for our orthodontic purposes but can also use it for airway analysis so the child gets the additional benefit without any additional radiation! As parents, we all want to give our children the best chance for success and without a big upper airway that is not possible.

As you can see, there are many benefits to examining a child early. Not all children will need orthodontic treatment at this stage but you don’t want to miss the opportunity this age of development offers. You don’t want to be saying “I wish we had of”

At the orthodontic office of Dr. Michael Sebastian, we are here to guide your child and family through this critical stage of development.

Are thumb and finger appliances necessary?

April 22nd, 2019

Are thumb and finger appliances necessary?

The answer to the question is “Yes!” Let me explain why, when a child is actively growing, pressure from a thumb or finger can actually deform the shape of the upper jaw. Which can cause protruded upper front teeth and crossbites of the back teeth.

Protruded upper front teeth, can easily be damaged in accidents plus the child can suffer from social teasing. Crossbites of the back teeth, can cause excessive wear and fracture of the permanent molars.

If the habit is stopped prior to 3 years old the deformation will usually reverse itself without orthodontic intervention. A sequence of treatment is recommended for the greatest success. First-Talk with your child, let them know that their habit is “hurting their teeth.” Set up a calendar of positive reinforcement (prizes can help meet goals) For example, 2 days without the habit, 5 days without, 10 days, 20 days, 40 days, then 60 days. After that, it is rare to get relapse. I know you’re going to say, “but my child can’t count to 60,” that’s the reason you set up a calendar in a prominent place like the refrigerator. Have them place a mark on the calendar for each day of success. Pre-pick a prize for each goal reached.

If you can tell your child is trying, but not successful then you can try “Stops it,” (make sure no allergies!) from the pharmacy. This when put on the offending digit, gives it a bitter taste which acts as a reminder not to put the finger in the mouth.

Second-If not successful in 2 months with the above protocol, then an orthodontist can help. At our office, I repeat the above regimen with new additions as an outside authority figure, that may be all that is needed to stop the habit. If not successful in 2 months, then we proceed to the fixed (not removable) upper guard.

I find if we try the “benefit method” first then the child is much more accepting of a fixed guard. The appliance is left in for 6 months.

What if the child’s upper jaw has been permanently deformed? At the office of Dr. Michael Sebastian, we combine a thumb/finger guard with an upper expander to not only resolve the habit, but also to correct the skeletal deformation which occurs.

The last thing to consider is a tongue thrust (October 10/2018 Blog). Often, a tongue thrust will result after a thumb or finger habit deforms the upper jaw so even after the habit is resolved the tongue thrust will continue to deform the upper jaw. That is why is imperative to treat the tongue thrust while treating the upper jaw deformity. We have developed a special upper expander which treats all of these considerations.

At the office of Dr. Michael Sebastian, we emphasize the treatment of thumb and finger habits for successful development of the teeth and face.

How Do Clear Aligners Move Teeth?

March 7th, 2019

Clear aligners, Invisible braces, Invisalign

Clear aligners, Invisible braces, Invisalign (a brand name that has become a generic term like Coke even though many companies make clear aligners) are now a part of the Orthodontic tool box used to move teeth to build healthy beautiful smiles.

Like braces clear aligners are designed to move teeth in small increments. Also like braces, aligners need to be planned in a specific sequence in order to move the teeth most efficiently into the correct position. “You can’t move all the teeth at once”. Most importantly, aligners are not a “do it yourself “ technique, the computer technician moves the teeth under the guidance of the Orthodontist. The Orthodontist, not the technician, has the education, experience and skill to move the teeth correctly within biologic limits to ensure the health of the teeth, surrounding gums and jaws.

Once a plan is arrived at, the trays are fabricated to make sequential movements through multiple trays with each tray designed to make specific tooth movements. With each tray, specific teeth are reset into a new position and the tray is fabricated. Over the course of wearing the tray 7-10 days the teeth are gently guided into the desired next step. The trays must be worn 21-22 hours per day to be effective. It’s not like if you wear them less than the desired time the teeth still move but at a slower pace, they don’t move at all! So effectively, the only time they aren’t worn is for eating, drinking and oral hygiene,

The trays are made of a pliable polymer which gently flexes to put pressure on the teeth to be moved. Sometimes this is not enough to effectively move a tooth, so small tooth colored attachments are added to the outside of a tooth to enhance the desired movement. The total number of aligners needed depends on the complexity of the movement.

Advantages of clear aligners include:

  • Unless someone is directly in front of you, they are not noticeable.
  • Some people worry about it affecting their speech, maybe for the first few days while you get use to them but not long term.
  • You can remove them to eat, drink, brush and floss.
  • Less chance of developing gingivitis.
  • If you have an event where you don’t want to wear them, then don’t! Just add an extra day to that tray cycle.


  • Aligners are not the correct solution for every type of crooked teeth. Having an experienced Orthodontist will help you choose the best solution for your unique situation.
  • You can’t drink anything but water with the trays in so if you are an all morning “coffee sipper” they won’t work. The teeth will get stained and if there is sugar in the drink then cavities can develop.
  • The above mentioned attachments can be esthetically unpleasing to some people. For most they’re not.

Clear aligners can be used to treat teens as well as adults. In fact, the oral hygiene is much better in teen clear aligners than braces. As long as the teen doesn’t try to drink beverages containing sugar, such as soda, fruit juices and sports drinks with their trays in, then the oral hygiene is never a problem with clear aligners which is a plus.

Braces versus clear aligners is a choice which you should not make alone. We are here to help you at the orthodontic office of Dr. Michael Sebastian.