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Why Do We Get Crooked Teeth?

August 18th, 2020

 

IT’S NOT ALWAYS fair or logical, but we get judged on our appearance all the time, and having crooked or straight teeth is a big factor in that. Studies show that people with straight teeth are perceived to be more successful, smarter, and more likely to get dates than those with crooked teeth. But why do crooked teeth happen in the first place?

The Impact of Diet on Dental Alignment

It still isn’t entirely clear what causes teeth to grow in crooked, but one of the current leading theories is called the Soft Foods Theory. The basic idea is that we eat much softer foods than our hunter-gatherer ancestors did, so we aren’t stimulating as much bone growth in our jaws when we chew our food, which leaves our teeth with insufficient space to grow in straight. We also might be getting fewer of the vitamins and minerals that help teeth and bones grow.

That doesn’t mean you should change to a hunter-gatherer diet; the downside of having to chew so much more is that the teeth are subject to a significant amount of additional wear and tear. Personally, we think needing a little orthodontic treatment is a much better deal than an increased risk of wearing out our teeth.

The Impact of Genes

Another contributing cause of crooked teeth is our genes. If you inherit a small jaw from your mother and large teeth from your father, they probably won’t fit together very neatly. Children of parents who had braces are also more likely to need them, but that could be at least partly because parents who had braces know the benefits of having straight teeth better than other parents who didn’t!

Daily Habits Have a Real Impact on Teeth

We can’t control what genes we get and a hunter-gatherer diet doesn’t sound very fun, but there’s another factor that absolutely impacts dental alignment, and that’s daily habits. The good news is that this is one factor we can control. Some of the habits that can seriously affect a dental arch are thumb sucking or pacifier use beyond age four, habitual mouth breathing, a tongue-thrust reflex, and even simply resting your chin on your hand a lot!

Teeth Continue to Shift as We Get Older

Even someone who had straight teeth as a kid or who got them thanks to orthodontic treatment can still have their teeth shift as they age. This is called mesial drift. Over decades of chewing and talking, our teeth rub against each other countless times, which can gradually wear away at the sides of each tooth, making them a tiny bit narrower. When this happens, they can scoot closer together and gradually push towards the front of the mouth, which is why older adults sometimes need braces too! This can be prevented by following your orthodontist's instructions and always wearing your retainer - it's a lifelong commitment!

Bring Any Alignment Issues to the Orthodontist!

Whether you have crowding issues because of genes, habits, or a lifetime of eating processed foods, the orthodontist can help you get the smile you deserve. Give us a call to set up a consultation so we can start developing your unique treatment plan!

We can’t wait to see your braces before and after pictures!

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 Move Teeth

July 14th, 2020

 

FORMER AND CURRENT braces-wearers know firsthand how much of an effect a few pieces of metal can have on a smile with the help of a skilled orthodontist. It’s pretty incredible, but how does this process actually work? What do the different parts of the appliance do, and how do the tissues of the mouth respond?

The Anatomy of Braces

Let’s quickly go through a list of the basic parts of a typical orthodontic appliance: the archwires, the brackets, and the bands (sometimes called a-ties or ligatures). Depending on what the patient needs, they may have additional pieces to help with their treatment plan. A common addition is rubber bands, which help with correcting a bad bite. If your treatment includes rubber bands, make sure to follow the orthodontist’s instructions exactly! Don’t forget them or double them up, because either will result in your treatment taking longer!

The Brackets

Brackets are the metal, gold or ceramic pieces that are cemented onto each tooth. When the orthodontist places the brackets, the position has to be just right so that the pressure applied by the braces will be in the right direction and move the teeth where they’re supposed to be. That’s why a new orthodontic patient might look like their braces have a lot of zig-zags in their shape!

The Archwires

Once the brackets are in place, the archwires can go in. These are the strips of flexible metal that will attach to the brackets and be held in place by the colorful bands. The thickness of the archwire and the material it’s made of are important considerations in a patient’s treatment. Over time, archwires provide steady, gradual pressure to guide teeth into their correct positions.

The Biology of Moving Teeth

Now we know what the different parts of braces are for, but none of that would matter if the human body wasn’t as amazing as it is. Two critical types of bone cells are involved in reshaping a smile: osteoclasts and osteoblasts. When steady pressure is applied around a tooth, osteoclasts break down the bone tissue in the way to make room for the tooth to move. On the other side, osteoblasts build new bone tissue to keep the tooth’s root snugly encased within the jaw.

Just think about that. Our jaws are capable of literally reshaping themselves in response to the pressure from braces! It’s important to note that it takes more time for the new bone tissue to grow behind the teeth than it does for it to be broken down. That’s one reason why it’s so important to wear retainers after the braces come off. The new bone tissue needs time to finish growing so the teeth don’t shift back to a crooked position!

Bring Us Your Braces Questions!

Braces are our passion, and we’re happy to answer any questions you have about how they do what they do. So whether you’re thinking of getting them or you’re a current patient who wants to learn more, just give us a call!

No one has better smiles than 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.

Impacted Teeth and Orthodontic Treatment

June 9th, 2020

NO TWO SMILES ARE the same, and the teeth that make them don’t always come in at the same rates. Some people get their adult teeth ahead of schedule, others get them late, and a few are left wondering if a tooth got lost on its way out. These are the impacted teeth. Most of the time, wisdom teeth are the ones that end up impacted, but not always.

Impacted Wisdom Teeth

If there isn’t enough room for an adult tooth to come in, it might remain partially or fully beneath the gums, or even headed in the wrong direction entirely. This happens to a lot of wisdom teeth, and that can mean trouble for the roots of the neighboring molars if they aren’t extracted in time.

Other Impacted Teeth

After the wisdom teeth, the most likely teeth to be impacted are the upper canines. This issue can even be genetic. In most cases, only one of the canines will be impacted, but sometimes they both are. Why the upper canines in particular? These are the teeth affected because they come in last after the incisors and premolars that neighbor them, and there isn’t always enough room left for them.

Tooth Impaction Complications

When teeth can’t erupt like they’re supposed to, there can be complications like infections, gum disease, nerve damage, and cavities. Symptoms include bad breath or a persistent bad taste, tenderness and pain around the jaw, jaw and headaches, and swollen gums or lymph nodes. They also leave visible gaps between teeth where the impacted tooth should be.

These symptoms don’t affect everyone with an impacted tooth. If it’s the upper canine, the baby tooth might not ever become loose because the adult tooth isn’t in the right place to push on it. The canine teeth form the “corners” of the smile, in a sense, so this can have a big affect on appearance and the esthetics of the smile.

Pulling Impacted Teeth Into Place

This is where we can help! Impacted wisdom teeth can be extracted and impacted canines can often be moved into place with a combination of oral surgery and orthodontic treatment. Dental radiographs will identify the impacted tooth, and then the orthodontist will make a plan for how to go forward.

Don’t Leave a Gap in That Smile!

If you have an impacted canine tooth and haven’t begun orthodontic treatment, we recommend scheduling a consultation. If correction is recommended rather than extraction, people with an impacted canine can expect their treatment to take a little longer than it would otherwise, but they’ll have a complete, straight smile in the end!

Our goal is getting our patients the straight, healthy smiles of their dreams!

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.

Types of Bad Bites and Their Treatments

January 14th, 2020

WHAT IS A BAD BITE? A bad bite, also called a malocclusion, is when the upper and lower teeth don’t fit together the way they should. Depending on the type of malocclusion, this can cause a variety of problems, from impacting speech to making digestion less efficient to worsening TMD troubles, and they can even increase the risk of breaking a tooth!

What Makes a Bite Go Bad?

Malocclusions happen for different reasons. Some are caused by genetics. If a child inherits large teeth from Dad and a small jaw from Mom, there’s a good chance their teeth won’t be able to fit together well. Other causes include injuries and bad oral habits in the developmental years, including thumbsucking, lip sucking, tongue thrusting, nail biting, mouth breathing, and teeth clenching.

By discouraging these kinds of bad habits, parents can help their children grow up with healthier bites. If one of these habits does cause a malocclusion, it’s still important to break the habit so that bite problems don’t come back after orthodontic treatment. Luckily, we can help with that.

Different Types of Malocclusions

When the teeth and jaws are aligned correctly, the upper teeth rest slightly over the lower teeth while the jaw is closed, and the points of the upper molars fit nicely into the grooves of the lower molars. Here are the five most common ways a bite can differ from this healthy ideal:

  • Open Bite. The front upper teeth flare out, creating a gap between them and the lower front teeth even when biting down. (Can be caused by thumbsucking beyond toddler years or a tongue thrust.)
  • Underbite. When biting down, the lower teeth overlap or partially cover the upper teeth.
  • Crossbite. Some upper teeth bite down on the inside of the lower teeth while others bite down on the outside.
  • Excessive Overjet. The upper teeth flare forward or overjet  the lower teeth beyond what we want to see in a healthy bite, preventing the front teeth from working together properly.
  • Deep Bite. An overbite so severe that, when biting down, the upper front teeth completely overlap the lower front teeth, which sometimes drive into the gums behind the upper teeth, risking gum injury, tooth injury and other problems.

Fixing Malocclusions with Orthodontic Treatment

Each of these types of malocclusions, and others, can be corrected through orthodontic treatment. Now, before you start picturing bulky headgear, remember that the field of orthodontics has come a long way. Surgery and headgear are still sometimes necessary for extreme cases, but we can typically correct a bad bite in very low profile and hassle-free ways.

Have You Scheduled an Initial Consultation Yet?

If you have concerns about the way your teeth bite down, schedule an initial consultation so we can see if a bad bite or some other alignment problem is the source of your troubles. Don’t wait to start working towards a healthier, more functional, and more confident smile!

We appreciate every member 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 by Flickr user Fake Plastic Alice used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

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