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The Benefits Of Fixed Retainers

May 9th, 2018

TOO MANY PEOPLE know what it’s like to accidentally throw a retainer away after lunch. Retainers can be expensive, so losing one is never fun. Fortunately, removable retainers aren’t the only option for keeping your teeth aligned after the braces come off!

What Are Fixed Retainers?

fixed retainer, also known as a permanent or bonded retainer, is a wire that is glued to the lingual (tongue side) of the teeth. These retainers are typically made of stainless steel. The orthodontist fits it to the patient’s teeth, placing it just right so it’s not visible when smiling or talking, and attaches it with a form of cement. Some are cemented to each tooth, while others are only cemented to the teeth at the ends of the retainer.

In our office, fixed retainers are placed on the backs of the front six lower teeth and on the backs of the four upper teeth. Fixed retainers are intended to stay in place indefinitely. If they break or come loose, it’s important to go back to the orthodontist to get them repaired.

How Fixed Retainers Compare

Now that you know what fixed retainers are, let’s look at some of the things that set them apart from removable retainers. The most obvious benefit to fixed retainers is that they stay in your mouth 24/7, which means you can’t lose them during lunch! It also means they’re continuously keeping your teeth in perfect position. Because they are so small, they tend to be much more comfortable than removable retainers. The best part is that nobody will see that you have one!

Cleaning And Maintenance

For all their advantages, fixed retainers can be tricky to keep clean. Food can get stuck in them and plaque can build up around them very easily and calcify into tartar, but they’re not so easy to clean out because the wire gets in the way of flossing. You can solve this problem with floss threaders or a water flosser. Make sure to get all those crevices!

You also might want to be careful when eating hard, crunchy foods, because they could break the wire or pop the cement loose from your teeth. If this happens, make sure to come see us!

Bring Us Your Questions!

If you have any questions about fixed retainers, don’t hesitate to ask us! Whether you’re in braces now and thinking ahead to retainers or you already have a fixed retainer, we can fill in any blanks you might have. In the meantime, keep up your brushing and flossing!

We love our patients!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original

What Is An Impacted Tooth?

April 3rd, 2018

FOR MOST PEOPLE, baby teeth become loose and adult teeth erupt in their place. For many, those adult teeth don’t come in entirely straight, so orthodontic treatment is necessary to shift them into the ideal position. For some, one or more of these teeth never emerge on their own, even though they developed in the jaw bone. These are impacted teeth.
Why Does Tooth Impaction Happen?

Tooth impaction is often the result of a crowding problem. If the new tooth doesn’t have room to come in, it may remain stuck beneath the gums. A full impaction is when the tooth fails to erupt at all, whereas a partial impaction is when the tooth breaches the gumline but doesn’t grow in completely.

Teeth Lost In The Gums

The most common teeth to become impacted are wisdom teeth. They might be impacted because there isn’t room for them in the jaw, they may be crooked, or they could even be completely sideways, threatening the roots of second molars.

The other teeth that are commonly impacted are the upper canine teeth. Research shows that if there’s a history of impacted upper canines in your family, you are more likely to have them as well. Most often, only one canine will be impacted, but sometimes both are. Why the upper canines? Normally, they come in after the incisors and the premolars. When those don’t leave enough room between them, the canines have nowhere to go.

Symptoms And Complications Of Impacted Teeth

Some people with an impacted tooth show no symptoms except that the tooth doesn’t erupt. If it’s a canine, the baby tooth may not even loosen on its own! But even without symptoms, canine teeth are critical to a great smile because they provide essential structure and support. They also take on much of the chewing pressure thanks to their longer roots, which protects the surrounding teeth.

Impacted teeth often cause complications and symptoms besides a lopsided smile. Impacted teeth can push into neighboring teeth beneath the gums and cause loss of tooth root structure, cavities, infections, gum disease, or nerve damage. Symptoms might include bad breath, pain, tenderness around the jawline, a prolonged headache or jaw ache, swollen gums, swollen lymph nodes, bad taste in mouth, and visible gaps.

Treatment: A Place For Every Tooth

Impaction of a tooth can’t always be prevented, but there are steps that can be taken when patients are younger to help guide the teeth into their correct positions! However, if a tooth remains impacted, there are still options. The tooth can be removed (in the case of wisdom teeth) or moved into its proper position (in the case of canines) with oral surgery and orthodontic treatment. An impacted tooth is usually discovered through dental x-rays, and then the orthodontist can determine the best course of action to take.

Help Us Help You

If you think you might have an impacted canine or wisdom tooth causing you trouble, schedule a consultation with us! We’d be happy to take a look and come up with the best plan to either get that tooth out of the way or into its proper place.

Thanks for being such amazing patients!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Congenitally Missing Teeth

March 1st, 2018

IT’S ONE THING TO lose a tooth, whether through poor oral hygiene, accident, or oral surgery. A tooth not growing in where it should is something else. Between 2-4 percent of the population will have at least one tooth missing from their adult set. This condition is called congenitally missing teeth or hypodontia. In the much rarer event that the full set of teeth is missing, it’s called anodontia.
It’s All About Genes

The most common teeth to be affected by this condition are wisdom teeth, upper lateral incisors, and lower second premolars. Since wisdom teeth are often removed anyway, not having them in the first place can save you a lot of hassle, but those incisors and premolars are more important!

Genetics are almost always the culprit behind hypodontia, which is why it tends to run in families. Missing teeth could be the only issue, or they could be the result of a broader genetic disorder, such as ectodermal dysplasia or Down syndrome. Whatever the cause, there are many treatment options available for hypodontia.

Filling In The Gaps

Having these missing teeth can cause a few problems, such as difficulty chewing, the existing teeth shifting, and poor jaw support that could lead to the loss of additional teeth. This is why it’s important to get the issue taken care of as soon as possible. However, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Different options will be preferable depending on the age and sex of the patient and the length of time the tooth has been missing.

In most cases, orthodontic treatment will be the first step. Because missing teeth can cause the existing teeth to shift, braces are typically necessary to correct the problem and open the gap wide enough to fit a replacement tooth. Replacements can come in a few different forms:

  • Removable partial dentures. These are the simplest solution in many cases. They use the surrounding teeth to anchor them in place, or might be attached to a retainer.
  • Dental bridges. As the name implies, a dental bridge “bridges” gaps by anchoring to the neighboring teeth. Unlike dentures, bridges are cemented in place.
  • Dental implants. These will function like normal teeth, with a post fixed in the jaw bone and a crown on top that matches the natural teeth. If multiple teeth are missing, implants can be used as support for bridges.

In other instances, it is possible to use orthodontics to close the space, and camouflage the way the teeth fit together, preventing our patients from needing a replacement tooth. Again, each situation is unique, so while one person may be better treated by creating space to replace a missing tooth, another may be better served by closing the space.

What Treatment Is Right For You?

Having congenitally missing teeth can be a struggle, but our practice is here for you. We can answer any questions you have and help you find the ideal treatment option so that your smile can be complete!

Keep being the wonderful patients that you are!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Why Straight Teeth?

February 6th, 2018

TO SOME, IT MIGHT seem like the benefits of having straight teeth are purely cosmetic. And those benefits certainly do exist. Studies have shown that people tend to perceive someone with straight teeth as wealthier, happier, and more dateable than someone with crooked teeth. But there are plenty of other important health and lifestyle benefits as well.

Consequences Of Crooked Teeth

There are many different ways crooked, crowded, or misaligned teeth can negatively impact a person’s health and quality of life. Let’s take a look at a few of the big ones.

Difficult To Clean

When teeth overlap each other in ways they aren’t meant to, they can be much harder to clean with brushing and flossing than straight teeth. If teeth aren’t getting cleaned as effectively, then they become more vulnerable to tooth decay.

Impede Clear Speech

Underbites, severe overbites, and other alignment problems can interfere with a person’s ability to speak clearly, leading to lisps and other distortions in articulation.

Interfere With Healthy Digestion

Chewing is a critical part of the digestion process. Our saliva begins to break food down on a chemical level while our teeth break it apart into more manageable pieces. Crooked teeth can make it difficult or even impossible to chew food enough, which forces the rest of the digestive system to pick up the slack. This can lead to a number of unpleasant GI consequences, and it can even make it harder to lose weight!

Can Interfere With Healthy Breathing

If your teeth don’t fit comfortably together, you might keep them apart instead of closing your jaws when resting. This can lead to mouth breathing, which has many negative health effects. The two most connected to oral health concerns are chronic bad breath and dry mouth.

Can Cause Jaw Problems

If there’s something wrong with your bite, that can result in temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndromeSymptoms include a clicking jaw joint, jaw pain, and frequent headaches.

Do Your Teeth Need Straightening?

Having straight teeth eliminates or greatly reduces all of these problems. This, paired with the cosmetic advantages and the boost in confidence, makes orthodontic treatment a very worthwhile investment. If you think you could benefit from orthodontic treatment, schedule an initial consultation with us so that we can find out what will be best for your smile. In the meantime, keep brushing, flossing, and scheduling your regular dental appointments!

You deserve the best for your teeth!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.