children

Interceptive Orthodontics: The Basics

November 13th, 2018

WHEN WE PICTURE SOMEONE with braces, we usually picture a teenager with a mouthful of colorful brackets. What we don’t typically picture is orthodontic appliances on younger children. However, interceptive orthodontics can reduce the need for tooth extraction and jaw surgery, correct certain problems as they appear, encourage better facial development, shorten the length of orthodontic treatment needed later on, and leave patients with a better overall result in the end.

Interceptive Orthodontics Heads Off Problems Early

Conventional wisdom argues that orthodontic treatment shouldn’t start until all the adult teeth have grown in, but some issues with bite, alignment, and facial development can show up long before those teeth do. That’s where interceptive or “Phase 1” orthodontics comes in. An orthodontist can help your child’s jaw bones grow properly to have more room for the adult teeth and provide the structure for a healthier bite. Correcting problems like malocclusions (bad bites) as they appear makes future orthodontic treatment much faster and easier — and, in some cases, unnecessary!

Causes Of Malocclusions In Children

Interceptive orthodontics seeks to correct problems with jaw growth and damage from harmful habits such as thumb sucking, nail biting, tongue thrusting, and mouth breathing. Each of these habits contributes to bite problems such as a narrow upper arch, an underdeveloped lower jaw, a deep bite, and an open bite, as well as dental crowding, which in turn can make it difficult to chew and swallow effectively and speak clearly. The purpose of Phase 1 treatment is to stop those habits if they persist or repair the damage so that the adult teeth can grow in where they should.

Common Phase 1 Treatments

One of the most noticeable differences between Phase 1 and Phase 2 orthodontics is that Phase 1 is less focused on actual braces. Those typically come later, if they are still needed. Some of the treatments commonly used in Phase 1 include:

  • Upper jaw expansion to eliminate a crossbite
  • Expansion of one or both jaws to create more room for adult teeth
  • Early extraction of specific baby teeth to help adult teeth come in properly
  • Keeping space open for permanent teeth after premature loss of a baby tooth
  • Reduction of upper front teeth protrusion to protect from trauma

Is Your Child A Candidate For Interceptive Orthodontics?

Phase 1 orthodontics works better for correcting some problems than others. The best way you can find out if it can help your child get the healthy, properly aligned smile they deserve is to bring them in for an orthodontic consultation around age 7 — especially if you’ve noticed any obvious bite problems or if they have one or more of those harmful oral health habits. In the meantime, keep encouraging them to do their brushing and flossing!

Our top priority is helping patients achieve healthy smiles for life!

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 Stephanie Ezcurra used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

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.

Why Do We Get Crooked Teeth?

December 20th, 2017

IF BABY TEETH almost always grow in straight, then why are adult teeth so often crooked? What is it, if not just bad luck? There are competing theories, but adult teeth can come in crooked for a variety of reasons, from genetics to diet to daily habits.

Shifts In Society’s Diet…And Its Teeth?

One popular theory that comes from archeological studies is the Soft Foods Theory. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate much tougher foods than we do now, and this promoted more bone growth in the jaws and better-aligned teeth as a result. The theory suggests two possible reasons why modern people more often have crooked teeth:

  1. Modern food is processed and soft, so it doesn’t stimulate as much jaw bone growth.
  2. Modern food lacks many of the vitamins and minerals a hunter/gatherer diet would have been rich in, so the teeth and jaws can’t develop as much.

For more details on the Soft Foods Theory, check out this short video:

Braces Run In The Family

Even if you managed to eat tough foods for long enough to grow the jaw bones of a hunter/gatherer, you still wouldn’t be able to control what genes you inherited from your parents. If your parents didn’t need braces but you got Mom’s small jaw and Dad’s large teeth, you’ll end up with a crowding problem. Many children whose parents needed braces will also need braces.

Daily Habits Can Shift Your Teeth

While we have no say in our genes and would probably have a difficult time successfully sticking to a hunter/gatherer diet, the one cause of crooked teeth we might be able to control is our everyday habits. Something as simple as resting your chin on your hands can cause your teeth to shift over time, but these are the main offenders:

Thumb-sucking, when it continues past toddlerhood, can cause the upper teeth to flare out and shift the lower teeth inward, creating a badly misaligned bite, changing the shape of the jaw, and even affecting speech. If you’re looking for ways to discourage your child’s thumb-sucking habit, check out this resource.

Mouth-breathing, particularly during developmental years, can lead to dental crowding over time. Normally, when the mouth is closed, the tongue exerts pressure against the sides of the jaw, helping it develop in a healthy, wide shape. If the mouth is always open for breathing, this pressure isn’t there, and the jaw narrows, crowding the teeth.

Tongue-thrusting is the name of an incorrect or immature way of swallowing in which the tongue presses against the front teeth instead of the roof of the mouth. Babies naturally start out with this reflex, but it doesn’t always go away when it should, leading to dental alignment problems. This can be a difficult reflex to unlearn as a teen or adult, but there are special orthodontic appliances designed to encourage better swallowing habits.

Whatever The Cause, We’re The Solution!

Whether teeth teeth are crooked due to genetics, a modern diet, or these kinds of unhealthy habits during childhood, the solution is the same: orthodontic treatment. If you haven’t already, schedule a consultation with us so that we can make a plan for getting you the perfectly aligned smile you deserve!

Thank you for trusting us with your teeth! We love helping you look your best!

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.

Your Child’s Initial Orthodontic Evaluation

August 15th, 2017

PARENTING CAN SOMETIMES FEEL like a time warp: one minute, you’re holding your new baby, the next, they’re getting a driver’s license. Because the time goes by so fast, we tend to want to hold onto our kids’ childhoods. However, that’s no reason not to plan ahead, particularly when it comes to orthodontic treatment.

Don’t Wait For An Initial Orthodontic Evaluation

Everyone’s teeth develop differently, so the right age to bring your child in for an initial orthodontic screening can vary. The American Association of Orthodontics recommends that parents bring their children in not long after their first pair of adult teeth come in. That usually means somewhere around age seven. But why is it so important to have that initial screening so early, when kids’ mouths typically aren’t ready for orthodontic treatment until sometime between ages nine and fourteen?

The Value Of Early Evaluation

By the time kids get their bottom incisors, the rest of their adult teeth will have begun to form in the gums. At this point, we can get a good idea of how things are going to develop. We can also determine if there are any bad habits contributing to future crowding or jaw alignment problems, such as thumb-sucking and mouth-breathing. If these habits stop early enough, the damage can be minimized or avoided, shortening the amount of time your child will spend in braces later on.

An initial consultation isn’t about fitting braces, it’s about seeing how things are progressing and making plans for the future. These appointments typically involve:

  • A review of your child’s dental and medical history
  • An oral exam, complete with X-Rays if necessary, to determine what orthodontic treatment (if any) will be needed later
  • Coming up with a game plan for helping your child achieve a straight, healthy smile

Involve An Orthodontist Early On

Age seven might seem young to take a child in for an orthodontic screening, so some parents might prefer to discuss their child’s orthodontic future with a regular dentist. However, while all orthodontists are dentists, not all dentists are orthodontists. Orthodontists go through years of additional, specialized training after completing dental school. This training is what makes us uniquely qualified to straighten teeth and align your child’s bite. As crucial as it is to take your children (and yourself) to the dentist for regular cleanings, it is also crucial to see an orthodontist when it comes to making sure teeth fit together the way they should.

Invest Early In Your Child’s Healthy Smile

Our practice is dedicated to making sure that our patients get the healthy, straight teeth they deserve, and early evaluations make that process easier for everyone involved. We hope to see you soon so that we can begin planning the future of your child’s beautiful smile!

Our patients are our first priority!

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.


Baby Teeth and Braces: Why Early Treatment May Be Necessary

May 10th, 2016

WHILE MANY THINK BRACES are for correcting misaligned adult teeth, you may be surprised to learn that orthodontics can help correct your child’s bite before their adult teeth even come in!

Baby Teeth Play an Important Role in Oral Health

Primary teeth—more commonly known as baby teeth—play a key role in your child’s oral health. Besides providing an aesthetic appeal to your child’s smile and boosting their self-esteem, primary teeth have three main functions:

  1. They aid in proper chewing, fostering good nutrition
  2. They promote proper speech development
  3. They reserve a space for permanent teeth to grow in

If a primary tooth falls out or must be removed before its time due to decay, the surrounding teeth may shift into the gap, causing dental crowding and future orthodontic problems.

Seven Is the Perfect Age for an Orthodontic Visit

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all children have an orthodontic exam at the earliest signs of any orthodontic issue, but no later than age seven. Although not every child will need treatment that young, some may benefit from early intervention.

Much of the treatment that takes place at this age is called Phase 1 orthodontic treatment, usually occurring when a child still has a mix of primary and permanent, secondary teeth. During this phase, we seek to correct any problems that may be occurring with jaw growth and even address certain bite issues. This phase is generally followed by a second phase of treatment when all of the child’s permanent teeth have erupted.

Beginning two phase treatment while your child still has primary teeth can have numerous benefits and can even reduce the time needed for a full set of braces.

Early Orthodontic Intervention Can Prevent Future Problems

Whether or not your child is showing signs of misaligned teeth, seven is the perfect age for them to come in for an orthodontic evaluation. Orthodontic treatment isn’t always necessary if there’s a space in your little one’s primary teeth or baby teeth, but we can help you determine the best plan for your child’s growing smile.

Thank you for trusting us with your family’s oral health! We love our patients.

Image by Flickr user Loren Kerns used underCreative 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.