How To Prepare Your Children For Braces

Even if your children still has primary (baby) teeth, your dentist may recommend they see an orthodontist.  Some children are ready for

orthodontic treatment as early as 7 or 8 years old.  When they’re that young they may not understand why they need a limited set of braces or an appliance so it is important that, as their parent, you talk them through the process and the benefits of orthodontic treatment.

Straight smile

One benefit your child gets from starting braces is that they gain perfectly straight teeth that will last a lifetime as long as they wear their retainers consistently.

Preparing them for their treatment

Spend some time with your child before their first appointment with the orthodontist to talk through what is going to happen.  Talk about what will be done at the appointment and what the orthodontist and assistant will do.  If they have already met the doctor and staff and are preparing to have the braces placed, reassure them that everyone will be friendly and the process is easy and painless.

You should talk about how they may feel discomfort the following day (s). The discomfort isn’t uncommon as it is caused by the pressure of the wires. You can reassure them it will only last a few days.  Ibuprofen and warm moist heat applied to the outside of the mouth often helps the soreness.

Personalize their braces

A good way to get your child excited for their braces is by letting them choose the color of their rings (ties).  The combinations are endless.

Soft foods

You will need to stock up on soft foods for your child to eat after their braces are placed.  Foods that require little to no chewing are best for the first few days. Food such as soup, yogurt, mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs and macaroni and cheese are great choices.  After two or three days foods that require chewing can be added.

We hope this blog helps you prepare your children for braces.  If you have questions about appliances or braces, or would like to schedule a complimentary consultation with Dr. Hage, contact us at any of our 3 convenient offices.

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Your Teeth


You use your teeth to bite, chew and talk countless times throughout the day.  Unless something is bothersome, you probably don’t give your grill a second thought.  So, with our compliments, gnaw on this enlightening list of ten things you didn’t know about your teeth – but guess what – Dr. Hage did!

  1. A tooth can come into the mouth with a cavity.
  2. A cavity is one of the few things the body cannot heal.  It just gets larger with time, unless your dentist removes the decay and places a filling
  3. A tooth can grow in upside down, sideways or backwards.
  4. Baby teeth hold space for the permanent teeth that follow – it’s important to hang onto them until they’re ready to come out on their own.
  5. While we’re on the subject of baby teeth, they’re also called “deciduous” teeth – from the Latin word “decidere,” which means to fall off or be shed (like leaves from a deciduous tree).
  6. Teeth by numbers: we get two sets of teeth — 20 baby teeth and 32 (usually) permanent teeth — unless you get extra teeth (supernumerary teeth), or some teeth never develop (congenitally missing teeth). thank your genes for extra or missing teeth.
  7. Research suggests that some sweet flavors in e-cigarette liquids may increase the risk of getting cavities.
  8. Back teeth are called “molars.” they are used for grinding food when you chew.
  9. Diet soda and sports drinks can be just as tough on teeth as regular soda. Both contain acid.  Acid attacks the enamel surface of your teeth and can lead to cavities.  Some bottled waters and flavored bubbly waters can be acidic enough to cause cavities too!
  10. The part of the tooth you see, called the crown, is only about a quarter to a third of the entire tooth.  The rest of the tooth is under the gums.

Now that you’ve mastered these tidbits about teeth, you can amaze your friends and family with your trivial knowledge. But your teeth are anything but trivial.  Healthy teeth and gums are critical contributors to your overall good health.  Hage Orthodontics is ready to align your teeth and jaws for a healthy and beautiful smile.

When you choose Dr. Hage for your orthodontic treatment, you can be assured that you have selected a highly skilled specialist with the education and experience to give you your best smile.  Call our Effingham, Mattoon or Decatur office today.

Does Hage Orthodontics Offer Payment Plans?

If you recently learned that orthodontic treatment is in your or your child’s future, remain calm and rest assured Hage Orthodontics offers multiple options to help finance your orthodontic care and treatment.

At Hage Orthodontics, we are keenly aware that people have finite budgets.  Juggling expenses is a fact of life.  We are accustomed to working with families and individuals to make care affordable and budget-friendly.

Long gone are the days when full payment was expected before treatment began.  Our payment options consist of a down payment with the remainder paid monthly for 12 to 24 months — interest free.  We also offer to discount the fee if you prefer to pay in full up front when treatment begins.

The best thing to do?  Make a complimentary consultation appointment with Dr. Hage.  Our treatment coordinator will talk to you about the available payment plans and work with you to devise a plan that works for you and your budget. Do you have insurance to help pay for treatment but don’t know your coverage?  We can check with your insurance company on your behalf.  Do you have a flexible spending account through your employer or a health savings account if you’re self employed?  Funds in those accounts can be used for orthodontic treatment.  We may even be able to strategize how to maximize these benefits so you can minimize your out-of-pocket costs.

It can be a pleasant surprise to learn how truly affordable orthodontic care is today.  Monthly payments can be about the cost of a mobile phone plan, but the benefits last a lot longer. At the end of the day, orthodontic care is a lifetime investment in your or your child’s health and appearance, and payment plans make care quite manageable. Call us to talk about payment plan options.  Then look forward to a healthy, beautiful smile.

Dr. Michael Hage is a licensed orthodontist.  The only doctors who an call themselves “orthodontists” have graduated from dental school and then successfully completed the additional two to three years of education in an accredited orthodontic residency program.

Call our Decatur, Effingham or Mattoon office today to schedule your free consultation.

4 Ways Your Smile Changes As You Age

It’s no secret, as you age, so does your smile. Teeth wear down as we chew our way through a lifetime of meals. Did you also know, teeth can move and shift well into adulthood? Here’s a roundup of 4 common changes orthodontists see in patients as they age:

1. Bottom teeth crowding

As you age, your jaw bone loses density and shrinks. The mismatched size of the jaw bone with teeth can lead to crowding of the bottom front teeth. Crowding can also occur because other issues such as breathing through your mouth, reverse swallowing, tongue thrusting or facial trauma.

2. Front teeth gap

Space between two front teeth is referred to as a diastema, and it can develop for a variety of reasons. Crowding of teeth or unproportioned jaws and teeth can cause spacing to gradually occur. Swallowing, with the pressure of your tongue pushing against your front teeth, rather than positioning itself at the roof of your mouth, can also cause teeth to separate over time. Gum disease is another trigger for spacing, because of the inflammation.

3. Post-orthodontic teeth shifting

Our bodies change our whole life, and our teeth change, too. After orthodontic treatment a retainer is needed to maintain teeth in position. As we age, if teeth are restored or lost, new proper fitting retainers will be needed to prevent unwanted change.

4. Wrong bite

Do you get headaches, clicking and popping jaw joints, grind your teeth or even back pain? You may have a bite disorder, which occurs when the lower and upper jaw don’t align, called malocclusion.

These changes may be completely normal, but that doesn’t mean you just have to live with them. The number of adults undergoing orthodontic treatment is at an all-time high. An estimated 1.61 million adults underwent orthodontic treatment in the U.S. in 2018. That’s one in four adults!

Whether you’re eight or 80, the biological process of orthodontic treatment is the same. Adults have denser bone tissue than children, so treatment may take a little longer, but age does not keep teeth from moving. Check out our the AAO Adult Guide to Orthodontics for more information.

You can work with Hage Orthodontics to achieve a healthy, beautiful smile at any age. Dr. Hage can help with these common teeth problems and more.  Our offices are located in Decatur, Effingham and Mattoon Illinois. Contact us today!

Will Orthodontic Treatment Cause White Marks on My Teeth?

The most important thing to know about white marks on teeth is that they are preventable.  All you have to do to be white mark-free is to keep teeth clean and stay away from some foods and beverages.  It’s that simple.

When we say simple we mean four easy steps simple:

  1. Brush as often as Dr. Hage recommends, including after each meal or snack whether at school, work or home.
  2. Floss at least once a day.
  3. Avoid or limit acidic foods and drinks (soda, flavored waters with carbonation, sweet tea, sports drinks etc.) for the duration of your treatment.
  4. See your family dentist at least every six months for a check-up or more often if it’s recommended. 

Handy tools like interproximal brushes, floss threaders, floss holders, water irrigators and power toothbrushes can make cleaning teeth convenient, quick and most of all, thorough. Fluoride toothpaste and/or rinses are advisable, too.

A White Mark Is Permanent

A white mark on a tooth — known as decalcification — is the very beginning of a cavity.  Prompted by a build-up of plaque, calcium and other minerals leach out tooth enamel and leave a permanent white mark behind.  It can progress into a full-blown cavity if plaque keeps collecting.

Plaque is made of bacteria, food particles and saliva.  It feeds on sugars to form an acid that damages teeth. Poor brushing, frequent snacking and intake of sugary and/or acidic beverages contribute to white marks and decay.

Decalcification Can Happen to Patients Using Aligners

It happens to those who drink flavored waters, sparkling water, sports drinks or soda with their aligners in.  What’s more, it can happen in a matter of weeks. Always take aligners out to eat or drink (except tap water), and clean teeth thoroughly to remove all traces of food or beverages.

One more thing — decalcification can also happen if patients do not brush their aligners.  Food and bacteria left in the aligners can sit on the teeth and cause white marks.

Decalcification Can Happen Independent of Orthodontic Treatment

Some people get white marks on their teeth without ever having orthodontic treatment.  The marks are caused by too much soda or other acidic drinks, along with poor brushing habits.

For A Happy Ending

Patients who are conscientious about caring for their teeth and who limit sugary, acidic foods and drinks should not develop white marks.

Cleaning teeth is not hard. It just takes a commitment by putting in a little extra time, a little extra elbow grease, and using the right tools for the job.

Questions?  Dr. Hage and his staff would be delighted for you to ask! Like you, we want your treatment result to be a healthy, beautiful smile!

When you choose Hage Orthodontics, you can be assured that you have selected a highly skilled specialist. Dr. Hage is an expert in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics – properly aligned teeth and jaws – and he possesses the skills and experience to give you your best smile.  Our offices are located in Decatur, Effingham and Mattoon Illinois. Call us today!



What Is An Impacted Tooth?

You may have heard the term “impacted” used to describe a tooth and wonder what it means.

In orthodontic or dental terms, “impacted” means that a tooth either has not come in (“erupted”) when expected or a tooth that cannot erupt because it does not have room or may be coming in the wrong direction or position. What causes an impacted tooth may not be known – for some people, it just happens. Genetics can play a role, so if a parent had an impacted tooth, their child may experience the same problem.

We often hear about older teenagers or adults having impacted wisdom teeth. But other teeth can be impacted, too.

In the x-ray above, the permanent canine is coming in sideways, colliding with the root of another tooth.


Children who are getting their permanent teeth can have impacted teeth. A permanent tooth can be trapped in the gums if a baby tooth does not fall out on time or if something blocks the permanent tooth’s path, such as a cyst. A permanent tooth may not erupt at all, or if it does, the tooth may appear in the wrong place. Sometimes, an impacted tooth can harm the roots of neighboring teeth. Impacted teeth can also cause crowding, and may cause already erupted teeth to move into unhealthy positions. Children may find it difficult to bite or chew, and there can be tenderness or pain. As the teeth become crowded, appearance is affected, and self-esteem can decline.

The permanent first molar is stuck or “impacted”, the baby tooth will not allow the molar to erupt.

Fixing an impacted tooth can range from relatively simple to complicated. It all depends on the extent of the problem. Extracting a baby tooth may be all that is needed to make room for the permanent tooth to erupt into the proper position. But if an upper jaw is too narrow, it may be necessary to expand the jaw, which creates more room for permanent teeth to come in. Other problems might require a combination of oral surgery and orthodontic treatment to place an attachment on the impacted tooth and the orthodontist then guides the tooth into the proper position.

Timely treatment by Dr. Hage ensures teeth come in properly, reducing the damage done to other teeth.

The old adage “a stitch in time saves nine” applies here. It may be easier for an orthodontist to identify and correct a patient’s problem when it is forming rather than waiting for it to fully develop. To this end, Dr. Hage recommends that children get an orthodontic check-up at approximately age 7.  This enables him to diagnose even subtle problems while some baby teeth are still present. If a problem is in the making, an early check-up and x-ray will let the Dr. Hage recommend intervention when it’s best for the patient.

We offer initial consultations at no cost and with no obligation. No referral is needed from the dentist, but dental check-ups are necessary during any orthodontic treatment. A check-up with an orthodontist gives your child the best opportunity to enjoy a healthy, beautiful smile.

When you choose Hage Orthodontics for orthodontic treatment, you can be assured that you have selected a specialist orthodontist, an expert in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics who possesses the skills and experience to give you your best smile.

Call us today at one of our conveniently located offices in Effingham, Decatur and Mattoon Illinois!