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Posts for tag: orthodontics

ConsiderClearAlignersInsteadofBracesforYourTeen

Your teenager is about to take a big step toward better health and a more attractive appearance — orthodontic treatment. You both know the benefits: better chewing function, lower risk of dental disease, and, of course, a straighter and more beautiful smile.

But your teen might also dread the next couple of years of wearing braces. And it's hard to blame them: although they're effective, wearing braces restricts eating certain snacks and foods, they require extra time and effort for brushing and flossing, and they're often uncomfortable to wear. And of high importance to a teenager, they may feel embarrassed to wear them.

But over the last couple of decades a braces alternative has emerged: clear aligners. This form of bite correction requires fewer food restrictions, allows greater ease in hygiene, and is considered more attractive than braces. In fact, most observers won't notice them when a wearer smiles.

Clear aligners are a series of clear plastic trays created by computer that are worn in a certain sequence. During wear each tray exerts pressure on the teeth to gradually move them in the desired direction. The patient wears a single tray for two weeks and then changes to the next tray in the sequence, which will be slightly different than the previous tray. At the end of the process, the teeth will have been moved to their new positions.

Clear aligners aren't appropriate for all bite problems. When they are, though, they offer a couple of advantages over braces. Unlike braces, a wearer can remove the aligner to brush and floss their teeth or for rare, special or important social occasions. And, of course, their appearance makes them less likely to cause embarrassment while wearing them.

In recent years, design improvements have increased the kinds of bites aligners can be used to correct. For example, they now often include “power ridges,” tiny features that precisely control the amount and direction of pressure applied to the teeth. They've also become thinner and more comfortable to wear.

If you're interested in clear aligners as a treatment option, talk with your orthodontist about whether your teen is a good candidate. If so, they could make orthodontic treatment for achieving a more attractive and healthy smile less of an ordeal.

If you would like more information on clear aligners as an orthodontic option, 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 “Clear Aligners for Teens.”

TakeStepstoSaveanIncomingToothsPlacetoAvoidaPoorBite

At your child's latest dental visit, you found out one of their primary (“baby”) teeth has become decayed and in danger of loss. Of course, you may think, it's only a primary tooth — it's going to come out sooner or later.

But a primary tooth lost “sooner” rather than “later” can create long-term negative consequences for your child's dental health. For the sake of the future permanent tooth, the best treatment strategy could be to put forth the effort and expense to save it.

Besides its role in eating and chewing, a primary tooth's most important function is as a “trailblazer” for the permanent tooth developing below it. A primary tooth doesn't normally loosen and let go until the new permanent tooth is ready to erupt. Until then they hold the new tooth's space in the jaw.

But if the primary tooth is lost prematurely, nearby teeth can drift into and crowd the space so that the permanent tooth comes in out of position. This can result in a malocclusion, or poor bite.

Depending on the state of your child's jaw development, it may be advisable to attempt saving the tooth through a filling or, in the case of deep decay, a modified root canal treatment. If the tooth can't be saved, then placing an orthodontic appliance known as a space maintainer might be necessary. Cemented to a tooth next to the empty space, this appliance has a looped band of metal that butts against the tooth on the other side of the gap, and prevents both teeth from drifting into the space.

Intervening for a decayed primary tooth can seem a waste of time and money since it has a limited lifespan to begin with. But for the health of its companion permanent tooth, as well as possibly avoiding orthodontic treatment, it could be well worth it for your child's long-term dental health.

If you would like more information on dental care for your child, 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 “Importance of Baby Teeth.”

ARetainer-LikeDevicecanPreservetheSpaceLeftbyaLostPrimaryTooth

Children losing their primary (“baby”) teeth is both natural and necessary. So, is it really that much of a concern if they lose one early?

The answer is yes — premature primary tooth loss could have long-term consequences for the permanent teeth as they develop within the jaw before eruption. Primary teeth play a crucial role in this development: as the permanent teeth form and grow the primary teeth serve as placeholders until they’re ready to erupt. A natural process then takes place in which the primary tooth’s roots dissolve (resorb) to allow them to fall out. Once they’re out of the way, the permanent teeth can then erupt.

If, however, they’re lost before the permanent teeth are ready, it leaves a space in the child’s bite. The dynamic mechanism between teeth and the periodontal ligament causes adjacent teeth to move or “drift” into the space. This can crowd out the permanent tooth intended for the space, causing it to come in improperly forming a malocclusion (bad bite), or it may become impacted and remain partially or fully below the surface of the gums.

This poor dental development could lead to extensive orthodontic treatment later in life, which is why we seek to preserve even decayed primary teeth for their entire natural lifespan. If the tooth is lost, however, we need to take action to preserve the space for the permanent tooth and avoid costly treatment later.

This usually calls for a “space maintenance” appliance — a type of orthodontic “retainer” — worn by the child to prevent other teeth from drifting into the space. Designed by your orthodontist, the appliance can also perform a cosmetic and social function by causing the space to appear unnoticeable.

Maintaining that space requires monitoring — especially by an orthodontist — and continued dental hygiene and care both at home and at the dentist’s office. The extra care preserving the space caused by premature tooth loss will help to ensure your child’s dental structure develops properly and their future smile will be an attractive one.

If you would like more information on the care and treatment of primary teeth, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Early Loss of Baby Teeth” and “Losing a Baby Tooth.”

HowDoClearOrthodonticAlignersWork

For adults with a reasonably well fitting bite, but mild to moderate crowding or spaces between your teeth, clear orthodontic aligners can be an ideal solution for straightening your teeth. This is why we offer this treatment option to our patients experiencing these issues. However, for those of you who are unfamiliar with what they are or how they work, this will give you a brief understanding.

Clear orthodontic aligners consist of a series of clear “trays” that fit snuggly over all teeth to slowly shift them into alignment. Patients are typically required to wear them 20 hours per day for about 2 weeks before progressing to the next tray. With each new tray, you are one step closer to achieving your goal of perfectly aligned teeth. The entire process usually lasts 6-18 months depending on how much movement is required to achieve the goals.

Each aligner is individually made from very precise molds of the patient's teeth to ensure proper fit. And we map out the entire alignment process using computer generation from each patient's initial molds so that we can identify the number of trays required. But best of all, clear orthodontic aligners are perfectly smooth with no rough edges like traditional braces, and you can remove them for eating, brushing, and flossing teeth as well as for brief social events.

To learn more about this topic, read the article “Clear Orthodontic Aligners.” Or you can contact us today to discuss your questions or to schedule an appointment.

What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics is a sub-specialty of dentistry devoted to the study of growth and development of the teeth and jaws and treatment of improper bites (malocclusions).

What causes improper bites?

Malocclusions result from irregularities in the positioning of teeth, disproportionate jaw relationships, or both.

Why have orthodontic treatment?

Orthodontic treatment is carried out primarily to improve the alignment and function of your teeth and bite. It also results in improved oral health, easier maintenance, a better smile, and enhanced self-confidence and esteem.

What is the first step?

Schedule an appointment with our office for an orthodontic evaluation of your teeth and jaws and learn what options are best for you.

What do we need in order to plan your orthodontic treatment?

  • Molds (impressions) of your teeth to study your bite (study models).
  • “Articulated models” placing your study models in a machine that replicates jaw movement.
  • Specialized x-rays showing your teeth and how your jaws align.
  • Photographs of your smile and position of your teeth.
  • Computer imaging.

What are braces?

Orthodontic appliances, commonly known as braces, are small brackets that are placed on teeth, through which thin flexible wires are threaded. They are the parts that move the teeth.

How do they work?

The wires tend to straighten out to their undistorted forms moving the teeth with them. Since the tissues that attach the bone to the teeth are living, they are constantly changing and remodeling themselves. Harnessing these natural forces allows the movement of teeth. Light controlled forces acting through the wires cause new bone to be formed as the teeth move into new improved positions.

What are current options for orthodontic appliances?

  • Fixed appliances, traditionally known as braces, include brackets bonded to the teeth. These may be either metal or clear brackets, which are less visible but more susceptible to breakage.
  • Removable appliances, or clear aligners. These consist of a series of computer-generated clear plastic custom fitted trays that progressively move the teeth into better alignment.

Orthodontic treatment is an ingenious scientific discovery that has allowed the dental profession to precisely move teeth for better appearance as well as improved function. It harnesses the body's natural processes by which tissues normally remodel themselves to maintain a steady state, allowing your dental team to move your teeth into improved position for a lifetime of dental health and a great smile.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment or to discuss your questions about orthodontics. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Magic of Orthodontics.”