Posts for tag: orthodontic treatment

TakeStepsWhileWearingBracestoDeterWhiteSpotFormationonYourTeeth

Correcting a poor bite not only creates a more attractive smile, but ultimately a healthier one too. But braces, a common way to correct bites, could put your teeth and gums at higher risk for disease while wearing them.

That's because the brackets and wires that make up braces can get in the way of cleaning your teeth of dental plaque, a thin bacterial film that causes disease. Plaque can accumulate in these obstructed dental areas, and could lead, in one possible scenario, to a problem you may not even notice until after the braces come off—white spots on the teeth, or white spot lesions (WSLs).

WSLs occur because of "demineralization," a process caused by acid from bacteria stripping the enamel in these spots of underlying minerals like calcium. As a result, the spots look chalky and opaque in contrast to the rest of the enamel's normal translucence.

Even though more difficult with braces, daily oral hygiene remains the best defense against WSL formation. Fortunately, these difficulties can be overcome with the help of specialized tools like an interproximal toothbrush, which can get under and around braces better than a regular brush. A water flosser device, which clears away between-teeth plaque with pulsating water, can be just as effective as dental floss and easier for orthodontic patients to use.

Orthodontic patients can also make their mouths "less friendly" to harmful bacteria by cutting back on sugary snacks or acidic beverages like sodas, energy or sports drinks. It's also a good idea to avoid alcohol, tobacco or caffeine, all of which can diminish saliva flow needed to keep the mouth healthy.

If WSLs do occur, it's possible that they may eventually remineralize on their own after the braces come off. We can also foster remineralization with over-the-counter or prescription-grade fluoride pastes or gels, or apply fluoride directly to the affected teeth. In advanced cases, we can often inject a tooth-colored resin beneath the white spot to stabilize it and make it appear less opaque.

In any event, it's always a good idea to keep a close watch on your teeth during orthodontic treatment. Staying vigilant and proactive will help you avoid disease while wearing braces.

If you would like more information on dental care while undergoing orthodontic treatment, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “White Spots on Teeth During Orthodontic Treatment.”

EvenifYoureanAdultYouCanStillHaveaStraighterSmile

As you get older, you may find yourself regretting things from your youth: getting that tattoo with your (ex) lover's name; giving up on piano lessons; or, not investing in that fledgling, little company called Facebook. Here's another thing you might regret: Not having your crooked smile straightened when you were a teenager.

We can't advise you on your other life issues, but we can on the latter—stop regretting your less than perfect smile and take action, because you still can! Even several years removed from adolescence you can still straighten your smile. Age makes no difference: as long as you and your mouth are relatively healthy, you can undergo bite correction even late in life. And, you'll be joining the current 1 in 5 orthodontic patients who are adults.

Straightening your teeth—what some call "the original smile makeover"—can radically transform your appearance and boost your self-confidence. But orthodontic treatment could also boost your dental health: Misaligned teeth are harder to keep clean, so realigning them reduces your risk for dental disease.

You're sold…but, one thing may still hold you back: you're not crazy about how you, a grown adult, might look in braces. You may, however, have a more attractive option with clear aligners.

Clear aligners are a series of clear plastic mouth trays computer-generated from measurements of your teeth and jaws. During treatment, you'll wear each tray for about two weeks before changing to the next one in the sequence. The dimensions on each tray vary slightly so that they move your teeth gradually, just like braces.

Because they're nearly invisible, they don't stand out like braces. And unlike braces, you can also remove them for meals, oral hygiene, or special occasions (although to be effective, you'll need to wear them most of the time).

If you'd like to know more, visit your orthodontist for a complete exam and consultation. After reviewing your options, you may decide to bid adieu to at least one life regret—and get the perfect smile you've always wanted.

If you would like more information on orthodontic treatments, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Orthodontics for the Older Adult.”

HeadOffaCrossbiteatthePassWithThisOrthodonticAppliance

At what age should you begin treating a poor bite? Many might say with braces around late childhood or early adolescence. But some bite problems could be addressed earlier—with the possibility of avoiding future orthodontic treatment.

A crossbite is a good example. In a normal bite, all of the upper teeth slightly cover the lower when the jaws are shut. But a crossbite occurs when some of the lower teeth, particularly in back, overlap the upper teeth. This situation often happens when the upper jaw develops too narrowly.

But one feature of a child's mouth structure provides an opportunity to intervene and alter jaw development. During a child's early years, the palate (roof of the mouth) consists of two bones next to each other with an open seam running between them. This seam, which runs through the center of the mouth from front to back, will fuse during puberty to form one continuous palatal bone.

An orthodontist can take advantage of this separation if the jaw isn't growing wide enough with a unique device called a palatal expander. This particular oral appliance consists of four, thin metal legs connected to a central mechanism. The orthodontist places the expander against the palate and then uses the mechanism to extend the legs firmly against the back of the teeth on both sides of the jaw.

The outward pressure exerted by the legs also widens the seam between the two palatal bones. The body will respond to this by adding new bone to the existing palatal bones to fill in the widened gap. At regular intervals, the patient or a caregiver will operate the mechanism with a key that will continue to widen the gap between the bones, causing more expansion of the palatal bones until the jaw has grown to a normal width.

The palatal expander is most effective when it's applied early enough to develop more bone before the seam closes. That's why it's important for children to undergo bite evaluation with an orthodontist around age 6. If it appears a bite problem is developing, early interventions like a palatal expander could slow or stop it before it gets worse.

If you would like more information on interceptive orthodontics, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Palatal Expanders.”

SomeBiteProblemsMayRequiretheHelpofOtherToolsinConjunctionWithBraces

If you're into social media, you might have run across the idea that there's nothing to straightening your teeth. According to some SM influencers, you can even do it yourself with a few rubber bands. But the truth is, the mechanics of moving teeth are much more complex—and taking orthodontics into your own hands can cause extensive dental damage.

In reality, all bite problems (malocclusions) require the advanced knowledge and expertise of an orthodontist to correct them safely and effectively. Some, in fact, may require other devices along with braces or clear aligners to achieve the desired outcome for a particular malocclusion.

Here are a few of those additional tools an orthodontist may use and why they may be needed.

Headgear. Some malocclusions result not just from misaligned teeth, but problems with jaw or facial structure development. To accommodate additional factors like this, an orthodontist may include headgear during treatment, usually a strap running around the back of a patient's head or neck and attached in the front to brackets bonded to the teeth (usually the molars). Wearing this headgear for several hours a day can improve jaw and facial development.

Elastics. Unlike basic rubber bands DIYers might use to move their teeth (often with damaging results), elastics are specialized bands designed for targeted tooth movement. They're needed for bite problems that require moving some teeth and not moving others. As such, elastics can be applied in conjunction with braces to perform either intended task—move or prevent movement for specific teeth.

Anchorage. One of the tools often used with elastics for targeted tooth movement are temporary anchorage devices (TADs). These are typically tiny screws imbedded into the jawbone a short distance from fixed braces. An elastic band connected to the braces at a specific point is then attached to the TAD, which serves as an anchor point for the elastic.

These and other devices can help orthodontists achieve a successful correction for certain individual bite problems. And unlike the DIY methods touted on the Internet, these additional tools help them do it safely.

If you would like more information on straightening teeth through orthodontics, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Orthodontic Headgear & Other Anchorage Appliances.”

WeMayBeAbleToTreatSomeBiteProblemsEarly

In any given year, 4 million tweens and teens are in the process of having their teeth straightened with braces or clear aligners. It's so common we tend to consider orthodontic treatment for young people as a rite of passage into adulthood.

But it doesn't necessarily have to be that way—it might be possible to stop or at least minimize a poor bite before it fully develops. That's the goal of interceptive orthodontics—treatments that head off or “intercept” a bite problem early.

The goal isn't necessarily to reposition misaligned teeth, but to correct a problem that can lead to misalignment. Here are some examples.

A narrow jaw. A narrowly developing jaw can crowd incoming teeth out of their normal positions. For the upper jaw, though, we can take advantage of a temporary separation in the bones in the roof of the mouth (palate) with a device called a palatal expander. Placed against the palate, the expander exerts outward pressure on the teeth and jaw to widen this separation. The body fills in the gap with bone to gradually widen the jaw.

Abnormal jaw alignment. It's possible for a jaw to develop abnormally during childhood so that it extends too far beyond the other. Using a hinged device called a Herbst appliance, it's possible to interrupt this abnormal growth pattern and influence the bones and muscles of the jaw to grow in a different way.

Missing primary teeth. An important role for a primary (baby) tooth is to hold a place for the future permanent tooth. But if the primary tooth is lost too soon, other teeth can drift into the space and crowd out the intended permanent tooth. To prevent this, we can insert a space maintainer: This simple looped metal device prevents teeth from drifting and preserves the space for the permanent tooth.

Although these and other interceptive treatments are effective, some like the palatal expander do their best work within a limited age frame. To take advantage of interceptive orthodontics in a timely manner, parents should seek a bite evaluation for their child from an orthodontist around age 6. The earlier we detect a growing bite problem, the greater your chances for successful intervention.

If you would like more information on treating emerging bite problems early, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Interceptive Orthodontics.”