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How Braces Work

July 18th, 2019

WE ALL KNOW THAT braces shift misaligned teeth into their proper position over time, but have you ever wondered exactly how that process works? Today, we’re going to walk you through it, because it’s actually really neat!

The Pieces Of The Braces Puzzle

The different parts of your braces all contribute to the orthodontic treatment process in specific ways. You might have additional appliances tailored to your specific treatment plan, but everyone with traditional braces has brackets and archwires, tied together with a-ties (also called bands or ligatures).

Brackets

If you look carefully at braces brackets, you may notice that they aren’t all placed in a straight line. At first, the braces may even seem to emphasize the crookedness of the teeth. The way the orthodontist positions the brackets is what allows braces to shift teeth into their proper place. By the end of the treatment, the brackets — and, more importantly, the teeth — will be straight!

Archwire

The archwires run through the brackets on each row of teeth. The orthodontist chooses the thickness and material of the archwire carefully based on your treatment plan. As they try to straighten back into their original shape, archwires provide steady, gentle,  and gradual pressure in the right direction so that your teeth will shift towards their proper position. The colorful a-ties are what keep the archwires in place in the brackets.

Rubber Bands

The most common addition to braces beyond the basics of brackets, archwires, and a-ties are rubber bands. If you have a malocclusion (bad bite) or misaligned jaw, rubber bands apply pressure to bring your jaws into proper alignment. In order for them to do their job, however, it is essential to exactly follow the orthodontist’s instructions. Wearing too many or too few rubber bands will interfere with your treatment and make it take longer.

The Biology Of Shifting Dental Alignment

So what’s actually happening on the cellular level during orthodontic treatment? Specialized cells called osteoclasts and osteoblasts respond to the pressure around the periodontal membrane (the pocket of gum tissue connecting the tooth’s root to the jaw bone). Osteoclasts break down the bone tissue so that the tooth can move, while osteoblasts gradually form new bone tissue behind it. So it’s not just your teeth moving into position; your jaw bones are reshaping themselves too!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78RBpWSOl08

What About Retainers?

Your teeth still remember where they used to be after the braces come off (muscle memory!), which is why it’s so important for you to remember to wear your retainers as directed. Retainers will help your teeth get used to their new position, and they’ll prevent unrelated shifting that happens to most people naturally over the course of time.

Want To Learn More About Your Orthodontic Treatment?

If you have any questions about how your braces are working to give you that properly aligned, more functional smile you’ve always wanted, just give us a call, or ask us about it at your next appointment. We want all of our patients to have the information they need to feel confident in their treatment!

We love seeing our patients’ smiles!

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.

How Braces Can Improve Speech Problems

June 18th, 2019

THE ABILITY TO SPEAK and enunciate clearly is based on a variety of factors. A speech disorder could be the result of hearing difficulties, genetics, or a cleft palate, but did you know that the position of the teeth can be part of the problem or even the cause? This is where orthodontic treatment and speech pathology overlap.

A Bad Bite Versus Your Speech

A major cause of lisps or whistling while talking is an overbite, which is when the upper teeth overlap the bottom teeth by too much. These problems can also be the result of gaps in the teeth, which allow air to escape when pressing the tongue against the teeth while talking, creating a whistling sound. Orthodontic treatment corrects overbites and closes the gaps between teeth.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4DTIxBU7-E

Your Tongue Needs Room To Maneuver

Our tongues need space and freedom to move in order for us to correctly form words and control how fast we talk. Sometimes jaw structure or dental crowding restricts the tongue’s movement, increasing the chances of a stutter or slurred speech. Braces will align the teeth and make room for the tongue to do its job properly.

To Make The Right Sounds, Teeth Should Be In The Right Place

In English, there are several sounds that we need our teeth in the right place in order to articulate: F as in “feet,” V as in “van,” S as in “soup,” Z as in “zoom,” CH as in “chair,” SH as in “shape,” J as in “jump,” ZH as in “treasure,” voiceless TH as in “think,” and voiced TH as in “the.” Orthodontic treatment places teeth where they need to be for better pronunciation.

How Can Orthodontic Treatment Help You?

Not all speech disorders can be cured by braces, but for people whose poor dental alignment or bad bites are getting in the way of their pronunciation, orthodontic treatment can be life-changing. And clearer speech isn’t the only benefit! Straight teeth are also easier to keep healthy, they improve your digestion, and they make your smile more beautiful.

Invest In Your Confidence And Health With Orthodontic Treatment

There’s no reason to allow orthodontic-related speech difficulties to limit your personal and business relationships or keep you from being your most confident, well-spoken self. If you have a friend, family member, neighbor, or coworker who would like to learn more about how an orthodontic treatment plan can lead to a happier, healthier life, share this blog post with them or give us a call.

Thanks for being part of our practice family.

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.

Too Few Or Too Many Adult Teeth?

June 11th, 2019

DEPENDING ON HOW MANY wisdom teeth come in and whether or not they have to be removed, most adults have 28-32 adult teeth. There are a few outliers in either direction, however. Some people have fewer teeth than they should (called hypodontia or congenitally missing teeth), while others have one or more extra (called hyperdontia or supernumerary teeth). How does this happen and what do we do about it?

Congenitally Missing Teeth

Between 2-4 percent of the population has at least one tooth missing from the adult set. The most common teeth affected by this condition are wisdom teeth, lower second premolars, and upper lateral incisors. It’s not really an issue to be missing wisdom teeth, but missing incisors and premolars can cause difficulties with chewing, the surrounding teeth may shift, and the decreased jaw support can lead to additional tooth loss.

The reason for congenitally missing teeth is nearly always genetics,which is why you tend to see it run in families. Sometimes it happens in conjunction with a larger genetic disorder like Down syndrome or ectodermal dysplasia.

Supernumerary Teeth

At the other end of the dental spectrum is hyperdontia, where extra teeth develop in the jaw. It happens more often with adult teeth than baby teeth. We don’t fully understand what causes this condition, but one leading theory is that it could be the result of a tooth bud dividing abnormally, producing two teeth instead of one.

Supernumerary teeth aren’t always shaped like normal teeth. They can also be peg-shaped, have multiple cusps, or simply be a mass of dental tissue. However they develop, they often don’t have room to erupt, so they remain impacted in the gums, causing crowding and alignment problems for the normal teeth.

The typical treatment for extra teeth is to extract them if there isn’t room for them, but dealing with a congenitally missing tooth can be more complicated. Depending on the age of the patient and how long the tooth has been missing, different options may be better. The first step is usually orthodontic treatment so that the gap will be wide enough to fit a replacement tooth. These come in a few forms:

  • Removable partial dentures are a simple solution. They can be attached to a retainer or anchored in place by the surrounding teeth.
  • Dental bridges “bridge” the gaps by anchoring to the neighboring teeth, but unlike dentures, they’re cemented in place.
  • The most permanent solution is a dental implant, which functions like a normal tooth. An implant consists of a post fixed in the jaw bone with a crown on top that matches the natural teeth. Implants can also provide support for bridges when multiple teeth are missing.

Let’s Take A Look At Those Teeth

With regular dental appointments, we can catch cases of hypodontia and hyperdontia early on and make a plan for how to address it. Keep up with your daily dental hygiene routine, keep scheduling those regular appointments, and give us a call if you have any questions about these rare conditions!

Keep on smiling!

Top image by Flickr user Héctor Arango used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 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.

Tooth Impaction: Teeth Trapped In The Gums

May 14th, 2019

EVERYONE’S TEETH ARE DIFFERENT. Some people’s adult teeth come in early, some come in late. In rare cases, not all of the adult teeth will come in on their own, which could be because they’re trapped beneath the gums.

Impacted Teeth

Overcrowding is a fairly common issue for adult teeth, but sometimes when there isn’t room for a new tooth to come in, it stays partially or fully under the gums instead. This happens most often with wisdom teeth, which can actually endanger the roots of neighboring molars when they are crooked or sideways in the jaw.

After wisdom teeth, the most likely teeth to be impacted are the upper canines. Research has shown that these tend to pop up more frequently in families. Usually only one of the canines is impacted, but sometimes they both are. The reason this happens to the upper canines is that they come in after the incisors and premolars next to them, which doesn't always leave them enough room.

The Problems When Teeth Can’t Come In

Typical complications of impacted teeth include cavities, infections, gum disease, nerve damage, root damage to adjacent teeth with symptoms like bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth, pain and tenderness around the jaw, headaches and jaw aches, swollen gums or lymph nodes, and visible gaps between teeth.

Not everyone with an impacted tooth will experience these symptoms, however. With an impacted canine, the baby tooth might not even loosen because nothing’s pushing at it. This can have a significant impact on a person’s face and smile, because canine teeth have the longest roots and form the “corners” of the smile, as well as providing protection and support for the teeth around them.

Putting An Impacted Tooth In Its Place

There isn’t usually a way to prevent a tooth from becoming impacted, but an impacted wisdom tooth can be removed, and an impacted canine can be moved into its proper place with the assistance of oral surgery and orthodontic treatment. After the impacted tooth is discovered in dental X-rays, the orthodontist can decide how best to proceed.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_r1Zl2rI_8o

Think You Might Have An Impacted Tooth?

Do you or someone you know have an impacted canine tooth? Schedule a consultation with us so that we can take a look and come up with a plan to move that tooth out of the gums where it’s hiding and into the place it belongs!

We’re here to help you get the smile of your dreams!

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 by Flickr user ilaria used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

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