Orthodontics

What a difference straight teeth can make! A great-looking smile can boost your self-confidence and have a positive impact on social and professional life. Orthodontic treatment is the most trusted smile makeover tool and you’re never too old to have it done! Even though they can make your smile straighter and more visually pleasing, it isn’t always about looks. A straighter smile can lead to healthier gums, a better bite, and fewer dental complications as you get older.

The amazing thing about orthodontic treatments is that it takes advantage of the body’s natural ability to remodel and repair its own tissue. With the application of light, constant force, orthodontic appliances gently reshape the bones and move teeth into better positions. Some examples of these appliances are traditional metal braces, discreet clear or tooth-colored braces, and clear aligners, which are a relatively new option for adults and teens.

Bite Problems and How to Fix Them

Orthodontic treatment can resolve a number of bite problems, which usually become evident by around the age of 7. These include underbite, crossbite, or excessive overbite, where upper and lower teeth don’t close in the proper position. Open bite can also occur. This is where a space remains between top and bottom teeth when the jaws are closed. Crowding or excessive spacing can easily be treated as well. That is where teeth are spaced too close together or too far apart.

To correct bite problems, teeth need to be moved to their proper position in your mouth. But, the great thing about doing that is it isn’t as hard as you might think! Teeth surprisingly aren’t fixed rigidly in their supporting bone, rather, they’re held in place by a hammock-like structure called the periodontal ligament. This ligament is very responsive to the forces placed on your teeth. Orthodontic appliances move teeth by the careful application of light, constant pressure over a prolonged period of time. This force can be applied via traditional braces that are made of metal wires that run through small brackets attached to the teeth, or via the semi-rigid plastic of clear aligners.

Orthodontics is for Children — and Adults
Making sure orthodontic treatment is performed in childhood is ideal in order to take advantage of a youngster’s natural growth processes when teeth are growing and moving around. During this time, a child’s body is growing and changing and that is no different for their teeth. So at this time it’s possible to create more room for teeth in a crowded mouth, for example, by using a “palatal expander” to rapidly widen the upper jaw. This phase of growth modification can shorten overall treatment time and ensure the best possible results if additional orthodontic appliances are needed.

But remember, healthy teeth can be moved at any age, so you’ve never “missed the boat” for orthodontic treatment! Actually, about one in five of today’s orthodontic patients are adults. Several new technological developments including tooth-colored ceramic braces, clear aligners and invisible lingual braces have made orthodontic appliances less evident. This has enhanced the treatment experience for adults and kids alike. Before treatment, adults are carefully examined for signs of periodontal (gum) disease, which will be brought under control before treatment begins.

Types of Orthodontic Appliances

Retention & Post Orthodontic Care
Once your orthodontic treatment is completed, it is extremely important to wear a retainer as directed. That’s because teeth naturally tend to drift back to their original positions in your mouth. This is the last thing you want after you’ve gone to the time and trouble of straightening them! Wearing a retainer holds your teeth in their new position long enough for new bone and ligaments to re-form around them, and helps keep your gorgeous new smile looking amazing for the rest of your life!

For a lot for a lot of young people and teens out there, braces are a rite of passage. They can be another example of the big changes adolescents go through at this time along with style and taste. But is there any particular reason why orthodontic appliances and teenagers seem to always be paired up? There is and it is simpler than you might realize!

There are several great reasons as to why adolescence is the optimal time for orthodontic treatment, even though earlier intervention and treatment might be needed. The main reason has to do with the development of your teeth. There’s no set timetable for every child, but generally by the age of 11-13 all of the baby teeth have all been lost or have fallen out and a majority of the permanent teeth are in. This is the time when we can go to work correcting the problems that cause a bad bite, improper tooth spacing, or poor alignment.

Orthodontic problems don’t improve with age and simply become harder to treat. It is much easier to treat many orthodontic problems during adolescence because the body is still growing rapidly at this time. Whether standard braces or appliances like palatal expanders are used, improved appearance and function of your teeth can be created in a short period of time. In later years, when the bones of the face and jaw are fully developed, many conditions become more difficult, and costly to treat.

There’s even a very prevalent social stigma to getting braces or orthodontic treatment while you are young, but no need to worry because you are not alone! Chances are your child will see some their classmates in the dental office, and they may even make new friends as they go through the process. When it’s done, your child will have a smile that they can really be proud of, and benefits that will last their whole life.

The Orthodontic Treatment Process
What can you expect when you have orthodontic treatment? That all depends on the specific treatment you might need as each case is different. At your first appointment, pictures and x-rays of your mouth are usually taken, along with impressions of your teeth so that a model of your bite can be made. This information will be used to develop a treatment plan that may involve regular braces or even clear aligners. Here are some of the most commonly used orthodontic appliances:

Metal Braces need no introduction. But you might be surprised to find they’re smaller and lighter than ever as technology has advanced. They may even offer some customized options, like colored elastic ties on the brackets.

 

Tooth Colored Braces feature brackets made of ceramic or composite materials which blend in with your teeth, making them harder to notice. They’re suitable in many situations, but they cost a little more.

 

Clear Aligners for teens is a series of removable, clear plastic trays that gradually straighten teeth as they’re worn, usually for 22 hours per day. Formerly recommended only for adult patients, they now come with special features — like compliance indicators to tell how often you’ve been wearing them — that make them appropriate for teens in some situations. The advantage: they’re practically invisible!

Lingual Braces offer the most unnoticeable form of orthodontic treatment because they are attached to the back side of the teeth, where they cannot be seen at all. These are another great option for young ones potentially embarrassed by getting braces.

Other orthodontic appliances may be recommended in some cases, where major tooth or jaw movement is needed. They can range from small devices that fit inside the mouth to external headgear. But don’t worry: You’ll get used to them, and they’re temporary — but they provide a long-term benefit that will give you confidence for a lifetime!

How Long Will I Wear Them?
There’s no clear cut answer that fits everyone. It all depends on what has to be done in your individual situation and can vary greatly from person to person. Generally, however, the active stage of orthodontic treatment lasts 6-30 months. Afterwards, you will wear a retainer for another period of months. When your orthodontic treatment is complete, you will have a new smile for a lifetime!

There are more and more adult orthodontic patients these days! Appliances that are barely noticeable have been developed to give adults more discreet choices when it comes to orthodontic treatment. Many adults have started to realize that investing in a smile makeover can have many significant benefits, socially and professionally. Straightening teeth can be an important part of that confidence-boosting makeover process.

Healthy teeth can be moved at any age, so there’s no such thing as being too old for orthodontic treatment! However, orthodontic treatments for adults is different in two important respects. First,  the growth and development of the jaws is complete in adults, so changes in actual jaw structure can’t be accomplished with orthodontic appliances in the way they can with a growing child.

Secondly, gum diseases are more prevalent in adults than in children. While you are wearing orthodontic appliances, gentle forces will be applied to your teeth so they can move around their surrounding bone. Periodontal health plays a key role in the whole process. If the gum tissues are not healthy during orthodontics, bone loss can occur and weaken the long-term health of your teeth. So any gum disease must be under control before orthodontic treatment can begin. And to maintain your periodontal health, you will need to make sure to have regular professional cleanings and exams during the ortho treatment all while maintaining good at home oral hygiene.

Types of Orthodontic Appliances
All orthodontic appliances work essentially the same way: by employing light, constant force to move teeth into proper alignment. But how these forces are applied can vary, as numerous innovations have become available in recent years. Some of the newer, less visible orthodontic appliances have been designed to blend more easily into an adult’s personal and professional lifestyle. Types of orthodontic appliances include:

Traditional Metal Braces — This is probably what you think of when you picture someone wearing braces. Small metal brackets bonded to the front of the teeth with a thin wire running through the brackets and is attached on either end to metal bands that go around a back molar.

Clear/Ceramic Braces — Instead of highly noticeable metal brackets, you can have clear ones made of ceramic, resin, or a combination of both. They are hardly visible, except for the thin wire running through, but they are more susceptible to breakage than metal braces.

Clear Aligners — As an alternative to the fixed type of orthodontic appliances that are mentioned above, clear aligners are removable. They are actually a series of clear plastic “trays” that fit over your teeth exactly. Each tray is part of a series of trays that move your teeth a little bit at a time until they are in the proper position. Your trays are designed with the help of specialized computer imaging that generates a virtual model of how your perfect bite should be.

Lingual Braces — These metal braces are bonded to the back of your teeth on the tongue side. This way no one can see them! That is the plus side. On the down side, they can be more difficult to get used to wearing, and are more expensive than traditional braces.

After Treatment
Wearing a retainer after orthodontic treatment is crucial, no matter which type of appliance you choose and what age you happen to be. Teeth that are not held in place by a retainer long enough for new supporting bone to develop around them can drift back to their original, crooked positions, and that’s certainly not something you want to see happen. You will be instructed on how to retain your new, more beautiful smile so that it continues to make you look and feel great for years to come.

Everyone knows that is it very important it is to brush and floss properly, especially when you’re wearing braces, but what’s the best way to do that? Either a soft-bristle brush or a bi-level brush (one that has shorter bristles in the middle and longer bristles at the edges) can be very effective. An electric toothbrush can work just as well if used carefully. But be sure the electric brush is set to a moderate power level, and don’t let its vibrations cause the back of the brush to hit the braces!

You should brush with a fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day and preferably after meals. Each time you brush it should last for at least two minutes each time. Remember to brush all of the your tooth surfaces well. Be especially careful to clean the areas between wires and teeth and between brackets and gums. Those are the places where food particles can easily become trapped.

Here’s a suggested and trusted brushing technique. Begin on the outside surfaces, place the tips of the bristles flat against your teeth, and use small circular motions to gently polish them clean. For areas between braces and gums, tilt the brush toward the gum line while keeping up the circular motions. Next, move on to the chewing surfaces of upper and lower teeth, using a firm back-and-forth motion. Finally, finish up by carefully brushing the inside surfaces of the teeth the same way you did the outside surfaces.

Special Brushing Tools

If you’re having trouble cleaning the areas near brackets and wires, there are some special tools that may help clean those hard to reach places. One is the interdental toothbrush, or a proxabrush. It has a small tuft of bristles that stick up all around. It sort of looks and acts like a pipe cleaner. Use it gently and carefully to clean the tiny spaces under wires and around bands and brackets.

Another special cleaning tool is an oral irrigator or “water pick.” This device shoots a small stream of pressurized water at your teeth, which can help dislodge bits of food that become trapped in those hard to reach places. While it’s easy to use, an oral irrigator isn’t a substitute for a toothbrush or dental floss. But, when it is used along with proper brushing and flossing techniques, it can be very effective.

Flossing Fundamentals

To keep your teeth and gums clean and healthy, you need to floss at least once per day. But how do you get floss under the arch wire of your braces? It’s not as hard as it looks with the help of a floss threader. Using this device is somewhat like threading a needle. You pull one end of floss through the threader, and then push the threader — carrying with it the free end of the floss — under the archwire. Now grasp the floss on each end and slide it up and down the sides of both teeth, and all the way under the gums until you hear a squeaky sound. Finally, pull it out and use a new section of floss for the next area.

Full Disclosure
Ever wonder how effective your tooth-cleaning techniques really are? There’s an accurate way to tell, using special vegetable dyes called “disclosing solutions” or “disclosing tablets.” As they dissolve in the mouth, these dyes highlight plaque and food debris that brushing has missed. You can then easily remove the dyed spots — and you’ll know for sure if your oral hygiene methods need a little “brushing up.”

Keeping your teeth and gums healthy now is an investment in the future of your oral and overall health. It enables you to get the best results from your orthodontic treatment, and starts you toward a brighter smile that can last for a lifetime!

You probably know that it’s never too late to begin orthodontic treatment, but when it comes to your child’s overall oral health, earlier is better than later! According to the American Association of Orthodontists, kids should have an initial orthodontic screening by the age of 7. What makes early evaluation and early so important?

There are several ways that kids can benefit from an orthodontic evaluation at an early age. But it’s important to recognize that early evaluation isn’t necessarily followed by early treatment. In most cases, if orthodontic work is needed, your child’s growth patterns are simply monitored until it’s time for treatment to begin. This creates an opportunity to get the best results in the most effective and efficient way, and to help prevent future problems.

Although every child’s tooth development is different, in most kids the first adult molars have typically started to emerge by around age six. At this point it is possible to evaluate the basic alignment of their teeth from front to back and side to side. At this point it is possible to check and see if there will be enough room in the mouth for all of your child’s teeth.

When Earlier Treatment Is Better
Treatment for common orthodontic problems typically begins around age 9-14. That is when all of the baby teeth are gone and many of the permanent ones are in place. But there are some conditions that are much easier to treat if they’re caught at an early age, when a child’s natural growth processes have not stopped and alterations yield much better results.

One condition is severe crossbite. This is where the upper teeth close inside the lower teeth. To treat this problem, a device called a palatal expander can be used. It will gradually and painlessly widen the upper jaw.This device is especially effective when the jaw itself hasn’t fully developed. If you wait too long, a more complicated treatment might be required to correct the problem and could lead to oral surgery.

Another condition that may benefit from early treatment is severe crowding of the teeth. This occurs when the jaws are too small to accommodate all of the permanent teeth. Either palatal expansion or tooth extraction may be the solutions at this point. This will then help the adult teeth erupt and grow in properly. Even if braces are required later, the treatment time will likely be shorter and less complicated.

Early intervention may also be helpful in resolving several other problems. Protruding teeth, especially in the front, can be prone to chipping and fractures. They may also lead to problems with a child’s self-image and confidence. A severe underbite, caused by the lower jaw growing much larger than the upper jaw, can result in serious bite problems. Orthodontic appliances, including braces and headgear, can be successfully used to correct these problems at this stage. It is especially effective when the child’s development is in full swing, thereby increasing the chances that surgery can be avoided.

Correcting Bad Habits

People can tend to pick up bad habits at any time in their lives. But there are some situations where a youngster’s habits can heavily influence the development and function of his or her teeth, jaws, and mouth. Some examples of these are persistent thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, and mouth breathing.

The sucking reflex is natural in early childhood and it usually disappears between ages 2 and 4. But, if the habit persists later on in life, the pressure of the digit on the front teeth and the upper jaw can actually cause the teeth to move apart and the jaws to change shape. This can lead to the orthodontic problem called “open bite,” and may severely impair speech. An open bite can also be caused by the force of the tongue pushing forward against the teeth.

Mouth breathing is an abnormal breathing pattern in which the mouth always remains open, passing air directly to the lungs. It is related to alterations in the muscular function of the tongue and face. It may cause the upper and lower jaw to grow abnormally, which can lead to serious orthodontic issues. Although mouth breathing may start from a physical difficulty, it can become habitual in nature and become very hard to break.

Various orthodontic treatments are available to help correct these poor habits and the sooner they’re taken care of, the less damage they may cause to your child’s oral health. But, these potential problems aren’t always easy to recognize. That’s one more reason why you should always schedule regular checkups and an early orthodontic screening for your child.

When you hear the word “orthodontics,” what comes to mind? Probably a child or teenager whose teeth are covered by a framework of metal and wires. There are indeed many patients who fit the bill for that description. However, technology has advanced and Invisalign® clear aligners are an amazing solution to having a metal laden mouth.

As the name implies, Invisalign are clear aligners that are made of almost invisible polyurethane plastic. Rather than being cemented or bonded to the teeth as metal or clear braces are, clear aligners are completely removable. This is a great convenience for important social occasions, for eating, and, most importantly, for tooth-brushing and flossing. This system has many advantages, but you must be disciplined and keep on your treatment planned schedule to make sure your teeth become straight and healthy! Here are some other advantages of the Invisalign system:

  • Improved Oral Hygiene — With an orthodontic appliance that is removable, you will be able to clean your teeth much more easily than if you were wearing metal braces.
  • A Discreet Look — If you consider your orthodontic treatment to be a private matter, or simply feel that metal braces don’t fit with your self-image, a practically invisible form of orthodontic treatment might suit you.
  • More Dietary Choices — To protect metal wires and braces, some diet modifications are necessary. With clear aligners, you can still bite into an apple or a crispy pizza crust.
  • Comfort — The thin, flexible material of which Invisalign is made will not irritate the soft tissues of the mouth, as metal wires and braces can.
  • Teeth-Grinding Protection — If you have a teeth-grinding or clenching habit, clear aligners can function as thin nightguards that will protect your teeth from excessive wear.

Clear aligner technology has been improving over the years and can correct many bite issues that once would have been too complicated for this form of treatment. Yet there are still some situations for which traditional braces would still be best. This can be discussed in detail between you and our team!

How Invisalign® Works

Invisalign® clear aligners work the same way traditional braces do: by applying carefully controlled pressure to your teeth to move them into a more ideal  position. But they are not made of metal; instead, they are made of clear, flexible plastic.

Here’s how it works: Specialized computer software is used to design a plan to move your teeth from their current positions into the best possible alignment. This movement will be broken down into multiple stages. For each stage, the Invisalign company will manufacture two plastic mouth “trays” or “aligners,” one to fit over your top teeth and one for the bottom. You will wear this first set of trays for two weeks, for a minimum of 20 hours per day. You will then move on to the next set of aligners in your series to accomplish the next stage of gradual movement. You will continue to do this until your teeth are correctly aligned.

In the past several years as the technology has advanced, two features have been added to make Invisalign a more appropriate orthodontic treatment method for teenagers. Special “eruption tabs” hold the appropriate amount of space open for molars that have yet to fully gorw. Invisalign for teens also comes with “compliance indicators” built into the aligner material, which fade with wear. This allows the parents and dentists to make sure you are keeping up with your treatment as scheduled.

Caring for Your Teeth During Invisalign Treatment

As mentioned above, one of the main advantages of the Invisalign system is that the trays can be removed for easy hygiene. You’ll need to brush your teeth after every meal or snack so that food and plaque do not get trapped in the aligners, which could promote bacteria build up. That will then lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Your aligners, too, will have to be cleaned regularly. This can be done very simply by brushing them and then rinsing them with lukewarm water.

Also, please keep in mind that while wearing clear aligners is very different from wearing braces. The importance of retaining your post-treatment results is exactly the same. You’ll want to be sure to wear your retainers exactly as prescribed after your treatment is completed to protect your time and effort put in for that beautiful new smile.

There’s a new technology that is putting new smiles on plenty of young faces! It is a system of clear, removable aligners made specifically for teens called Invisalign Teen®! Our professional doctors and staff will be able to give you an in depth examination to see if you are a good fit for Invisalign!

Finding out if you are a good fit all depends on what kind of orthodontic treatment you specifically need. Traditional metal braces still work best in a lot of situations and you might be surprised to find that they’re still a popular option for many teenagers! But now that aligners are being designed specifically for teens, more and more are opting for this great technology.

The clear aligners are pretty much a thin plastic covering or “tray” that fits over your top and/or bottom teeth. You’ll wear a series of these aligners that will gradually move your teeth into the most ideal position. Each aligner is custom-made with the help of a computer program that takes takes 3D images and take into account exactly where your teeth are now, and how they need to be moved. You’ll wear each tray for about two weeks to shift your teeth slightly, and then you’ll go on to the next series. This process may seem tedious, but it leads to great results!

A Clear Distinction

Your aligner is designed to be worn 22 hours a day, allowing you to take it off for meals or important social occasions. Yet even when you’re wearing it, it’s pretty hard for anyone else to tell it’s there! Plus the technology offers other advantages that aren’t so easy to see.

One benefit of aligners over traditional braces is that they make your teeth easier to clean. Because they’re removable, there’s nothing to keep you from brushing and flossing everywhere in your mouth, just as you would without them!

Some people also suffer irritation to the cheeks and gums from the metal parts of traditional braces. Fortunately, the plastic of the clear aligners rarely cause those kinds of issues. Plus, you won’t have to rush into the dental office to quickly fix a protruding wire or reattach a broken bracket. You also don’t have to drastically change your diet due to the wires and brackets being in the way.

An Aligner Just for Teens

Clear aligners for adults have been available for over a decade, but until recently they weren’t recommended for teens in most cases. They mainly weren’t recommended for two reasons. One, it was thought that teens wouldn’t always wear them for the recommended 22 hours per day. Secondly, since many teens have some permanent teeth still erupting and emerging, the precisely planned movement of the teeth might be disturbed.

Luckily, the technology has advanced and made this possible for younger patients! The first problem listed is addressed by “compliance indicators” located on the aligners themselves. These colored dots fade over time as the aligners are worn in the mouth. This then shows whether or not you’ve followed the treatment plan. To solve the second problem, aligners made especially for teens come with “eruption tabs” built in. This means they are designed to be able to fit any teeth that have yet to fully grow through the gums.

Today, this option is more people than for both adults and teens and they are finding that clear aligners suit their needs best. Come visit our office to see if you are ready for clear aligners!

Soon enough your braces will be ready to come off and in a few months, you’ll be free of bands and brackets. You will be able to eat what you want and run your tongue over smooth, clean teeth. But, even on this momentous occasion, remember that you’re not quite done with orthodontic treatment yet. The next phase of keeping your teeth and gums straight healthy is ready to begin.

Retention is a critical follow-through stage that typically involves wearing an orthodontic appliance called a retainer. Several different kinds of retainers are available, all of which are custom-made. You might be thinking, “If my teeth are straight now, why do I need a retainer at all?” Simply put, if you don’t then your teeth will end up being back at square one!

Teeth aren’t set rigidly in the jawbone. Instead, they’re held in place by a network of fibers called the periodontal ligaments. After they have being moved, it takes several months for the periodontal ligament to adjust to the new position. So if you want to keep that new and not waste all the time, effort, and money it took, it is essential that you wear your retainers!

Being fitted for a retainer usually happens on the same day your braces are removed. After your teeth are thoroughly cleaned, another set of X-rays and/or bite impressions may be taken to check how well your braces performed and where your wisdom teeth development is. Then, a retainer will be prepared and fitted for you.

Three Types of Retainers

There are three basic types of retainers available today. Each works best in different situations. The most common is called the “Hawley” retainer. It is a thin, tongue-shaped piece of acrylic that is molded to fit your mouth. It has a wire that holds your teeth in position. The Hawley retainer is simple, durable and can be easily removed. It’s even possible to personalize it by choosing different colors and designs for the plastic arch.

Another popular style of retainer is the clear aligner-type, which looks similar to the Invisalign® tray system. These retainers are custom-made of thin, transparent plastic designed to fit perectly over your teeth. Their main advantage is that they’re nearly invisible and have no wires. These retainers are also easy to remove, but they may be less durable than the Hawleys. They aren’t recommended for patients with certain conditions like severe teeth grinding.

Finally, fixed retainers may be an option for some people, especially on the lower front teeth. As their name implies, they aren’t removable by the wearer. But, they aren’t visible either. Like lingual braces, this system uses a wire which is bonded to the tongue side of the teeth. It may remain in place for months, or longer. This type of retainer is sometimes recommended when there’s a high risk that teeth might revert to their pre-treatment positions.

A Period of Adjustment
After a short time, most people adjust quite well to wearing a retainer. Some may find that they produce more saliva than usual for a day or so after first wearing any type of retainer. There is no need to worry as this is a normal reaction to a foreign object in the mouth. You may also find it a little harder to talk normally at first, but you will eventually get used to the retainer and the problem will disappear. Of course, removable retainers should always be taken out when you eat or brush your teeth!

At first, you will probably be told to wear your removable retainer all day, every day. This period of 24/7 retainer use generally lasts several months to a year. You will then be able to scale down the use of your retainer from only at night or to a few hours a day to keep your teeth as straight as possible.

Maintaining — and Retaining — Your Retainer

To stay fresh and germ-free, all retainers need proper cleaning. A Hawley-type retainer can be brushed gently with a regular toothbrush. Denture cleaners, in powder or tablet form, as well as special retainer cleaners, can be an effective way to clean most removable retainers. Fixed retainers are cleaned by brushing and flossing. A floss threader or interproximal brush can also be a helpful cleaning tool when needed to get the tough sta.

Finally, remember to always carry and use a retainer case. You’d be surprised how many retainers end up folded in a napkin and accidentally thrown out, or even destroyed! Also, don’t expose your retainer to excess heat by washing it in very hot water or leaving it on a heater. Doing so can cause the retainer to warp and make it unusable. With proper care and conscientious use, a retainer can help you transition from braces to a permanent, healthy smile.

TADS (Temporary Anchorage Devices) aren’t exactly a new device and orthodontists have used them since the 1980s, but they’re gaining widespread use and acceptance today. The benefits they can offer to some orthodontic patients could even be called groundbreaking. Let’s take a look at what these devices are and what they can do.

Essentially, TADS are small, screw-like dental implants made of a titanium alloy. As the name implies, they’re temporary. They usually remain in place during some months of the treatment plan, and are then removed. Their function is to provide a stable anchor or fixed point around which your teeth can be moved. But why is anchoring so important in this case?

Moving teeth in the jaw has been compared to moving a stick through the sand. With the application of force, sand moves aside in front of the stick, and fills up the space behind where it was dragged through. The “sand” in this case consists of bone cells and cells of the periodontal ligament. These tissues slowly move aside and reform as force is applied to them by orthodontic appliances, such as wires, aligners, and retainers.

But, that force needs a fixed point to push against. For example, imagine trying to move the stick while you’re floating free in the water. It would not be easy! But with two feet firmly planted in the sand, you can move the stick no problem. The TADS system is just like that analogy, in that being anchored and planted to a sturdy position, your teeth and gums can move more safely and effectively.

What TADS Can Do
The use of teeth as orthodontic anchors can have drawbacks in some cases. For example, there may not be a viable tooth located at the point where the anchor is needed. Also, when a greater force is required, the tooth or teeth that are being used as anchors can themselves start to move. This is one instance where TADS are beneficial: These mini-implants can eliminate the need to use teeth as anchors, or stabilize a tooth that’s being used as such.

TADS can also provide an anchor point that would otherwise need to be used by traditional uses like headgear. Wearing headgear can be uncomfortable, and following treatment and compliance is sometimes a problem. In many situations TADS can eliminate the need for headgear, a welcome development for many patients!

The use of TADS offers other benefits as well. It may shorten overall treatment time, eliminate the need to wear rubber bands and in even in some cases, make certain oral surgeries unnecessary! It also allows orthodontists to take on more complex cases, which formerly might have proved very difficult to treat. This small device can really do a great job!

Getting (and Maintaining) TADS
Like dental implants, TADS are small, screw-like devices that are placed into the bone of the jaw. Unlike implants, however, they don’t always need to become integrated with the bone itself. On top of that, they are much easier to put in and remove when treatment is complete.

Placing and removing TADS is a minimally-invasive and relatively pain-free procedure. After the area being treated is numbed, a patient feels only gentle pressure as the device is inserted. The whole process can take just minutes to complete. Afterwards, an over-the-counter pain reliever can be taken if needed, but many patients need no pain reliever at all. And taking TADS devices out is even easier that placing them! So if you’re worried that it may be a painful procedure, relax! It’s far less stressful than you may think.

While they’re in place, TADS require minimal maintenance. Generally, they should be brushed twice daily with a soft toothbrush dipped in an antimicrobial solution. You will receive specific instructions regarding maintenance when your TADS are placed.

Not every orthodontic patient needs TADS — but for those who do, it’s a treatment option that offers some clear benefits.

Is there any image that illustrates the comforts of babyhood better than a sleepy infant sucking his or her thumb? Ultrasound pictures have shown that this behavior can even occur as early as in the womb. The thumb or finger-sucking habit seems to relax and comfort toddlers too, and it’s perfectly natural. But as a child grows, there comes a point where this habit can become socially awkward as well as can be detrimental to oral health.

In most children, thumb sucking stops on its own between the ages of two and four years old. But if the habit persists and continues well after the primary teeth have erupted, it can drastically change the growth patterns of the jaw. It can cause significant misalignment of the teeth. It may be hard to believe that such a benign habit can actually move teeth and bone, but there are a number of reasons why this occurs.

Children’s jaws,  are rich in blood supply and  are growing rapidly. They are relatively soft and flexible especially in kids under the age of 8. So it really isn’t hard for the constant pressure of a thumb or finger to deform the soft tissue and bone around the upper and lower front teeth. Children who are particularly vigorous thumb suckers are even more likely to change the growth patterns of the teeth and jaws.

If the thumb sucking habit persists, it can result in the upper front teeth flaring out and the lower ones moving back and inward. It can also hold back the growth of the lower jaw. It can then cause the upper jaw to be thrust forward. This can result in misalignment of the teeth, an anterior open bite, collapse of the upper jaw causing crossbite, or other problems. That’s why it is important to stop the behavior at an appropriate time, before damage can occur.

Controlling Thumb or Finger Sucking
Like many potentially harmful behavior patterns, thumb sucking can be a difficult habit to break. Through the years, parents have tried a variety of home remedies, such as having the child wear gloves, coating the fingers and thumbs with a bitter-tasting substance, and even reasoning with their toddlers. Sometimes it works, but there are other cases where it continues to be a tall task to control.

If your child has a thumb or finger sucking habit that has persisted past the age of 3, and you’ve been unable to tame it, then it may be time for you to visit the dentist for a consultation on solutions. A “habit appliance” such as a fixed palatal crib or a removable device may be recommended for your child. This crib isn’t for sleeping — it’s a small metal appliance worn inside the mouth, attached to the upper teeth.

How does it work? The semicircular wires of a palatal crib keep the thumb or finger from touching the gums behind the front teeth. Simply by preventing this contact seems to take all the enjoyment away from the thumb sucking habit. Once that gratification is taken away the habit seems to take care of itself. In fact, the device is often successful the first day it’s worn.

Getting and Using a Habit Appliance
If your child could benefit from a habit appliance, the first step is to get a thorough examination. This may include taking x-rays, photographs, and dental impressions. If it’s recommended, a crib will then be custom-fabricated to fit your child’s mouth, and then will be placed at their next appointment. Afterwards, your child will be periodically monitored until the appliance is removed which is typically, a period of a few months.

Although wearing the crib isn’t painful, your child may experience some soreness in the upper back teeth for a few hours after it’s first installed. Your child might have a little trouble getting to sleep the first couple nights as well. Plenty of extra attention and TLC are usually all that is needed to make everything all right and having your child feel back to normal. While the appliance is being worn, it’s best to avoid chewing gum and eating hard, sticky food that might cause it to come loose.

A Word About Tongue Thrusting
Like thumb sucking, tongue thrusting is a normal behavioral pattern in young children. It’s actually part of the natural infantile swallowing pattern, which will normally change on its own typically by the age of six, in most children. If the pattern doesn’t change, however, it can lead to problems similar to those caused by thumb sucking. Namely those problems range from tooth alignment and jaw bone development. Fortunately, this problem can be successfully treated with a habit appliance that’s very similar to a fixed palatal crib.

For the vast majority of orthodontic patients, wearing traditional wire and bracket braces will be a part of their treatment to create straighter teeth. Even though they’re still quite popular, traditional-looking metal braces are no longer the only technology that is being used for straighter teeth!

First, we should distinguish between fixed and removable appliances. Fixed appliances like braces are attached to the teeth by metal bands and special cement and typically aren’t taken off until treatment is complete. Removable appliances, such as clear aligners can be taken off whenever needed. While clear aligners can be effective in treating mild to moderate orthodontic problems, fixed appliances are generally needed for more comprehensive treatment.

Let’s have a look at some of the options available in orthodontic appliances:

Traditional Metal Braces

These orthodontics are usually made of high-grade stainless steel and remain by far the most common type of fixed orthodontic appliances. They consist of metal bands that wrap around the molars in back, and smaller metal brackets that are cemented to the front surfaces of the front teeth. A thin, springy metal wire, running through the brackets, gently guides the teeth into the correct position. This wire may be fixed to the brackets by rubber bands, metal ties, or other types of clasps.

There are many good reasons why time-tested metal braces remain popular. Mainly because they offer a reliable, effective, and economical treatment option. In contrast to the appliances of the past, today’s braces are actually much smaller, lighter, and more comfortable to wear. If you want a less traditional look, you may be able to choose colorful elastics for the brackets, or other modifications.

Ceramic braces

Ceramic braces are a new variation on the traditional system that provides a far less noticeable method of treatment. They use the same components as traditional braces minus the brackets are made of a tooth colored ceramic material. This system has become a favorite for adults because they are a very inconspicuous application.

Several types of ceramic braces are currently available, and the technology has continued to improve. Their visual appeal is undeniable, but there are a few trade-offs. The ceramic brackets can be less durable than their metal counterparts. On top of that, while the brackets themselves don’t stain, the elastic bands that attach them to the archwire do. The rubber bands are typcially changed each month, though. Ceramic braces also cost more than metal. But for many individuals, the benefit of having an discreet appliance outweighs the costs.

Lingual Braces

While ceramic braces certainly offer a less noticeable look, there is still another system that allows fixed braces to be truly invisible. In some situations, lingual braces can be placed on the tongue side of the teeth. They work the same way other metal braces do, but they can’t be seen because they’re hidden behind the teeth themselves!

Lingual braces aren’t the proper treatment for every orthodontic condition, though. Special training is required to install them, and they’re significantly more expensive than standard braces. They also generally require a bit more time for the wearer to get used to them. They may slightly prolong treatment, as well. But if you want the least visible type of fixed appliance, and if you’re a candidate for this treatment option, then lingual braces may be just what you’re looking for!

At first, having orthodontic treatment may take a little getting used to. It isn’t uncommon to experience a bit of soreness when appliances are first put on. You might even experience some minor aches along the way while your teeth are shifting. Yet it’s comforting to know that genuine orthodontic emergencies are very rare.

If you think you may have an emergency, however, the first step is to determine the severity of the problem you are facing. Is it an urgent situation that requires immediate attention, or a minor problem that you can take care of temporarily until you can come visit the dentist?

A Major Emergency

There are only a few true orthodontic (or dental) emergencies. They include:

  • Trauma or injury to the teeth, face or mouth
  • Infection or swelling of the gums, mouth or face
  • Severe, unmanageable discomfort or pain in these areas

In any of these situations, you should seek help as soon as possible. If your dentist is not around please go to an emergency room if that’s your best option. Generally, however, the first place to start is at the dental office. If, for example, you have a fractured tooth the first place you need to go to is you dentist. Afterwards your orthodontic treatment plan can be adjusted as needed. Likewise, severe pain or swelling could be a sign of an infection or gum disease and needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

Minor Ortho Pains and Troubles

Fortunately, the vast majority of orthodontic problems are minor compared to these situations, but they may still cause discomfort, irritation, or pain. In general, it’s best to try and soothe the immediate cause of the discomfort, and then call for an appointment. Here are a few of the more common orthodontic problems, along with some tips on what you can do to relieve them at home:

Loose or broken brackets, bands or wires
This problem is often caused by eating hard or sticky candy or food, or even playing with the braces. If the band or bracket is still attached to the wire, leave it as is, but don’t connect any elastics or rubber bands to it! You can cover it with orthodontic wax if it’s irritating the inside of your mouth. If it has come off, save it and keep it somewhere safe. The next step is calling our office to make sure you get everything fixed.

Misplaced or poking wires, brackets, or tie
As the teeth start to move, the wire that connects them, sometimes called the archwire, may begin poking near the back of the mouth and irritating your gums and cheeks. It is best that you visit the office before trying any at home remedies as to not break your orthodontics. Often, you can also use tweezers to gently move a misplaced wire or a tie that’s causing problems, but it is best that you get clearance from a professional before doing so.

When wires or brackets cause irritation, covering the metal parts with wax will often help ease the discomfort until you can get to our office and have the dentist see what is going on.

General tooth pain or loosening
It’s normal for teeth to become slightly loosened during orthodontic treatment. Sometimes, this movement may be accompanied by tenderness, especially after braces are placed or adjusted. For minor soreness, you can use a regular over-the-counter pain reliever. A twice-a-day salt-water rinse may also help in keeping the area clean. Mix one teaspoon of salt in an 8-ounce glass of warm water, and rinse for 30 seconds. A warm washcloth or heating pad placed on the outside of the jaw can also offer some relief.

While actual emergencies are rare, the goal is to make orthodontic treatment as comfortable as possible. So, if you are experiencing pain or an emergency, please call our office asap!

What do orthodontists do?
Orthodontists are dental specialists who diagnose and treat problems with the position, alignment or spacing of the teeth. They also take care of related irregularities in the face and the jaw. A number of special treatments, including braces and other oral appliances, are used to correct these problems.

Why should I (or my loved ones) get orthodontic treatment?

Function and form are 2 great reasons why treatment should be done. Having an attractive smile not only changes the way people see you, it enhances your own self confidence as well. Orthodontic treatment also allows your teeth to function better and makes it easier to keep them clean, which can improve your overall oral health.

When should orthodontic treatment be started?
You’re never too old to begin orthodontic treatment, but if you do start at an earlier age, any problems that you may have in the future may be easier to treat. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that a child who may need orthodontic treatment should come in for a first visit around age 7.

How can I recognize a potential bite problem?
Teeth that are protruding, crowded together, or erupting out of position are clear indications that treatment is needed. Less obvious signs are mouth breathing, frequent biting of the cheek or palate, speech difficulties, and thumb sucking that goes past 3-4 years of age. If teeth don’t meet properly when chewing or the mouth closes during regular activities, please visit our office for a check up to see if orthodontics will be a part of your treatment plan.

Does getting braces hurt? What about wearing them?
Having braces put on is painless for the most part. Some people experience minor aches and pains in the first couple of days or so. As adjustments are done and your teeth shift you may feel dull pains and aches, but nothing that is too much to handle. Over-the-counter pain relievers can be used to alleviate any discomfort, but are usually unnecessary.

How long will treatment take?
Each case is different and varies from person to person. For the most part orthodontic treatment may take from 6-30 months. After that, a retainer is worn for at least several months more.

How often will I come in for an appointment?
It depends on what’s being done and how often you need to be monitored/examined. During active treatment, you’ll typically visit the office once every 4 to 10 weeks to make sure treatment is going as planned.

Will I need to have any teeth extracted?
If your teeth are severely crowded because your mouth is too small to properly accommodate all of your teeth, or if you have impacted teeth, then extraction may be necessary. In the case of younger patients, early treatment may make extraction completely unnecessary.

Will I have to watch what I eat?
No if you have clear, removable retainers. Yes if you have more traditional types of braces. Some of the foods to watch out for and remove from your diet include raw vegetables, hard candy, caramel, taffy and ice cubes. You will receive a list of foods to avoid from our dentist.

Will I be able to play sports/ play my instrument?
Yes! But, you will want to have a custom mouthguard made at our office to make sure you protect your teeth and orthodontics. Musicians who play wind instruments are generally able to play their instruments just as they did before, but they may need a short adjustment period after getting braces.

Do I still need to see my regular dentist while I’m getting orthodontic treatment?
Yes, in fact it is more important than ever! Keeping teeth free of plaque (and potentially, decay) can be challenging when you’re wearing braces. Your dentist can help you avoid these problems with frequent cleanings and exams.

Will I wear a retainer when my braces come off?
Almost always, the answer is yes. If you don’t wear a retainer, your teeth can rapidly shift out of position. If you don’t wear it, all of the time and effort put in to have straight teeth will be lost! Wear your retainer for long lasting and beautiful looking teeth.

Is orthodontic care very expensive?
Orthodontic care is a long-term investment in your health and well-being. Yet its cost hasn’t increased as fast as many other consumer prices, and many financing options are available that make orthodontic care affordable. It might be a little pricey in the short term, but it outweighs living with continually degrading oral health for the rest of your life. Call our office to schedule a consultation for pricing options!

Sometimes, braces alone aren’t enough to move teeth into a better position or to correct trouble with the bite. They might not even be enough to remedy problems in the growth of the jaws. In those situations, special appliances may be recommended and needed. Orthodontic headgear is the general name for an appliance that is worn partly outside the mouth which created enough force to remedy the issues that are ailing the teeth and jaws.

There are several different types of orthodontic headgear and each is designed to work best for their specific applications. A treatment plan will be designed to address your individual needs and select the most appropriate type of headgear you might need. You will also be instructed on the proper use and care of your headgear. It’s important for you to follow instructions carefully so that you can achieve the best results from your treatment.

Types of Headgear
One common type of headgear is called the “cervical pull” type. This appliance has a U- shaped wire that attaches to the bands on your back teeth and has a strap that is worn behind your neck. A similar device is the “high-pull” headgear. This application also has a wire connecting to the teeth, plus a strap that goes behind and over the head.

These types of headgear are typically used to correct an excessive horizontal overbite which is technically called an “overjet”. This happens mainly with children. It is done by holding back the growth of the upper jaw. They can also be used for adults who need help maintaining a proper bite and correct tooth spacing issues after tooth extraction. Generally, these types of headgear are designed to be worn from 12-14 hours each day.

Another type of headgear is the reverse-pull or “facemask” type of headgear. This appliance is generally used to correct an underbite. It gently pulls the upper jaw forward, which allows it to catch up with the lower jaw. It has two pads in which one of them rests on the forehead, the other on the chin and is connected by a vertical frame. Elastics or wires that connect from the frame to the braces, exert the pulling force. It may be necessary to wear this appliance from 14-16 hours daily.

Making Headgear Work Depends on You
Whichever type of headgear you’re wearing, there are some important things you should know. Probably the most essential one is that in order for it to be effective, you must carefully follow instructions about wearing it. That means putting it on each day for the time specified. If you wear headgear at night and you miss one night, you must make up the time the following day. Otherwise, everything you’ve accomplished in the previous seven days of wear could be wiped out!

It’s normal to feel some discomfort as you get used to wearing orthodontic headgear. Fortunately, if you wear it as instructed, the discomfort generally goes away in a few days. An over-the-counter pain reliever and/or a soft diet may be recommended to help you adjust.

From time to time you may also experience some soreness when chewing, or even a little looseness in the first molars. This is completely normal, and it shows that the appliance is working. However, if you have unusual pain, notice that the anchor band on your first molar has come loose, or find that the headgear suddenly seems not to fit correctly, it could signal of a problem that requires immediate medical attention.

Maintain Your Headgear — And Your Oral Health
To keep your orthodontic headgear working as it should, and to maintain your overall oral health, it is paramount that you follow all instructions about care and cleaning. It’s also important that you learn how to put headgear on and take it off properly and safely.

Wearing orthodontic headgear may seem like a big adjustment and it is a big procedure to get used to. When everyone works together, between you, your family, and dentist, it’s possible to achieve your goal. A beautiful smile that you’ll have for your whole life!

You already know that maintaining good oral hygiene is very important! But, when you’re having orthodontic treatment, it’s even more critical. Why? Because, while the orthodontic appliances you wear during treatment are very effective in correcting misaligned teeth, they can also trap food particles easily. Keeping your teeth and braces or aligners clean is a little more work than you might want, but it it totally worth it!

The major enemy of oral health is plaque. Food that becomes trapped near tooth surfaces can lead to the formation of plaque. It is a thin coating of bacteria that can damage gums and teeth. Braces or other appliances make it harder to remove plaque. If the plaque and bacteria builds up, it can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath.

Keeping plaque under control is one of the most effective means of maintaining strong, healthy teeth and gums. There are three general ways to do it to control plaque. Through your diet, daily maintenance and hygiene, and regular professional care. Taken all together, they’re your teeth’s best defense.

Diet and Decay
Controlling your diet involves avoiding foods that could increase your risk of developing tooth decay. That means cutting down or eliminating foods with an excess of sugars, like soda, sweets, and ice cream. It also means avoiding foods that could easily become stuck in your braces, like toffee, gum, licorice, carbohydrates and caramels.

Foods that are very hard or extremely sticky can also cause physical damage to orthodontic appliances. Braces or retainers that have broken wires or loose brackets aren’t working effectively to straighten your teeth! You should avoid foods like hard candies or nuts, beef jerky, and hard pizza crust as to not damage the orthodontic appliances. Keep eating healthy foods like fruits and vegetables! And don’t chew on ice, pencils, or your nails. These habits can cause damage to your braces or aligners, and even result in chipped teeth!

Daily Maintenance
You know how important brushing and flossing are for keeping a healthy smile especially now that you’re in orthodontic treatment. But sometimes it’s harder to clean your teeth effectively around an appliance’s brackets and wires. Here are some tools and tips you can try for better tooth cleaning:

Either a soft-bristle or a bi-level toothbrush (one with longer bristles on the edges and shorter ones in the middle) can be a very effective tool in plaque removal even with braces. An electric toothbrush can also be used, on a moderate setting. For hard-to-clean areas, try an interdental brush, or proxabrush. The small bristles of this special tooth-cleaning aid is shaped like a pipe cleaner and can get in the hard to reach places. With gentle and persistent effort you can effectively control plaque buildup.

You should floss at least once a day during orthodontic treatment. While it’s a little harder to do with braces, there are some special products available including floss threaders and particular kinds of floss  that can help you get the floss between wires and gum line. The office staff will help you review the best practices for keeping your teeth and gums clean at all times!

Depending on your situation, an in-office or at-home supplemental fluoride treatment may be recommended to boost your cavity resistance. An antiseptic rinse may also be recommended, to ease minor gum inflammation or irritation.

If you have a retainer, it should be brushed daily, the same way you brush your teeth. A cleaning solution may be recommended, but never put hot water on your retainer, because it can distort the soft plastic and make it unusable! And always keep it in a case when it’s not in your mouth.

Professional Care
During orthodontic treatment, it’s as important as ever to make sure your teeth stay healthy with thorough examinations, cleanings, and preventive care. Your orthodontic treatment is a team effort where everyone has an important role to play. Our team has one goal to you and that is to make sure you have an amazing and confident smile!

Your first ortho appointment is an exciting time! It’s a chance for you to learn about the treatments and services that can help give you the best and straightest smile possible. It all starts with your initial consultation.

You should plan to spend at least an hour at the first visit. That’s to ensure that no one has to rush, and that you get plenty of time to ask any questions you may want answered. You will meet one of the receptionists or patient coordinators, who will take some information from you and bring you through the office. Then it’s time for some diagnostic work and an exam.

Making a Plan

A big part of the first visit is to determine what treatment is necessary to correct any problems found. We will then figure out the best time to start on orthodontic work right away or delay it for another visit. The procedure starts by taking a set of regular photographs of the teeth in their present state. Next, a series of X-ray images will be taken. These show what’s going on underneath the gums: the position and growth of bones and joints, and the teeth that are still below the gum line.

In some cases, an impression of the teeth is also taken to create an exact replica of the bite. This helps reveal exactly what the problem is and how best to treat it. The impression is made by biting down on some soft putty-like material for a few moments and then it’s removed.

After that, it’s time for the exam. Besides looking in the mouth, you may be asked a few questions like whether your jaws make noise when the mouth is opening or closing, or if there are any problems chewing or swallowing. Taken together, this information will give a proper diagnosis of your mouth so a treatment plan can be finalized at the first visit.

Discussing Your Treatment Options

Following the exam, you may be told that things are just fine or, treatment may be necessary. It might begin right away or at a later time, depending on how the teeth and jaws have developed. Many times, you’ll be advised to return for periodic checkups until it’s time to start to make sure there is no drastic change in your teeth or gums.

Whether you’re starting now or later, the first visit is the best time to ask questions about the process. Topics to discuss include treatment choices, what to expect at the different stages of the process, and any of the following:

  • Can orthodontic treatment benefit me or my child?
  • What general procedures will be used to correct the problem?
  • Are any options available or recommended for my specific treatment?
  • Should I get treatment now, or is it better to wait?
  • Will tooth extraction be necessary?
  • How much does treatment cost? Are payment plans available?
  • How long do you expect treatment should take?

When you leave the office, you should have a better understanding of how you can get the best possible smile. We are focused on making sure you are happy with the work we do and that you have an amazing smile!

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