permanent retainers

How Do Braces Intersect With Wisdom Teeth?

May 24th, 2022

A major rite of passage for many young adults is getting their wisdom teeth out. It’s not the case for everyone; plenty of people have room for their third molars and a surprising number don’t grow some or all of their wisdom teeth to begin with. Why do so many people end up needing these teeth removed?

What’s the Deal With Wisdom Teeth?

The leading theory about why we grow an extra set of molars that often doesn’t fit is the Soft Foods Theory. Basically, the modern diet of cooked and processed foods doesn’t stimulate as much jaw growth as what our prehistoric ancestors had to eat, so the jaw often doesn’t grow large enough for those teeth. The trade-off is that our teeth don’t wear out so fast from eating extra tough food all the time.

Wisdom Teeth and Orthodontic Treatment

Wisdom teeth usually aren’t a problem for orthodontic patients. They typically aren't a factor in dental crowding, so we generally don’t remove them for the sake of the straightness of the other teeth. If the wisdom teeth do need to be removed due to being impacted or not erupting properly, that can be done while the braces are still on or after the braces have been removed. Post-braces smiles won’t become crooked again because of wisdom teeth - but they will if the patient neglects their retainers!

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.

Wisdom Teeth and Braces

May 28th, 2021

ONE OF THE BIG rites of passage for young adults is wisdom teeth removal. Of course, there are people who can actually fit those third molars in their jaws comfortably and there are a startling number who don’t even grow them in the first place, but for people who do need their wisdom teeth removed, it’s fun to post pictures of their swollen cheeks and videos of anesthesia antics while enjoying lots of ice cream and smoothies. So what’s the deal with these teeth so many people need removed?

Why Do We Have Teeth That Don’t Fit?

What’s the point of growing an extra set of molars if they don’t even fit in our mouths? We used to think it was all about genes leftover from prehistoric days, but more recently, the leading theory is that it’s actually about the foods we eat compared to what our ancient ancestors ate. Bone can atrophy or grow depending on what we put it through (kind of like muscle), and we simply aren’t giving our jaw bones the same resistance our hunter-gatherer ancestors did.

Prehistoric people’s jaws got an intense workout from grinding up the fibrous plants and raw meat in their diet, which stimulated enough bone growth to make room for the third molars. Today, we eat softer foods that are cooked and processed, so it’s less common for someone’s jaw to grow big enough to fit the wisdom teeth. (We don’t recommend attempting to test this theory, though.)

Why Are Wisdom Teeth Often Extracted?

Despite the growing percentage of people who never get wisdom teeth or don’t get the full set of four, most still get them between their teens and early twenties, and that can be a problem when there isn’t room. These wisdom teeth tend to end up impacted, or trapped under the gums. They can form cysts or damage the bone tissue or roots of neighboring teeth. This is why extraction is recommended so often.

How Do Wisdom Teeth Interact With Orthodontic Treatment?

Modern evidence shows that wisdom teeth don’t contribute greatly to dental crowding, so they don’t need to be removed for the sake of the straightness of the rest of the teeth. If they do need to be removed for other reasons, that can happen during orthodontic treatment. It’s also a myth that a post-braces smile can be made crooked by wisdom teeth. Our teeth naturally drift as we get older and wear them out more, but not due to wisdom teeth. (So make sure to keep wearing your retainers!)

Let’s Take Care of That Smile!

Everyone’s situation with wisdom teeth is different. Some people need them removed due to impaction, some don’t grow all or any of them, and some get to enjoy the added chewing power of an extra set of molars. We can help you figure out which category you fit into and answer any questions you may have about wisdom teeth and orthodontic 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 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.

Breaking Down Eight Braces Myths

April 16th, 2019

EVEN IF YOU’VE NEVER had braces before, you’ve probably still heard a lot of things about what they’re like. Well, don’t believe everything you hear, because there is some bad information out there. That’s why today we’re going to bust eight of the most common braces myths.

1. Braces Rust

While braces are often made of metal, they do not rust. The metals in braces are stainless steel and titanium, so you don’t have to worry about them rusting in your mouth.

2. You Can’t Play An Instrument With Braces

It certainly takes some adjusting to play brass or woodwind instruments with braces, but it’s still entirely doable! Don’t feel like you have to choose between proper dental alignment and the instrument you love, because you can have both!

3. You Can’t Play Sports With Braces

If you play a sport, particularly a contact sport, you may have heard that you won’t be able to keep playing while you have braces, but this isn’t the case! As long as you wear a properly fitted mouthguard, your mouth and your braces will be protected while you play.

4. Braces Are Only For Teens

It is true that it is easier to undergo orthodontic treatment as a teenager, but there isn’t a time limit for getting braces. Adults of any age can get them too. We've treated patients from age 8 to 80!

5. My General Dentist Can Give Me Braces

To become an orthodontist, a dentist must gain years of additional training after completing dental school. Your general dentist has not completed this training to understand the best ways to safely and effectively correct misaligned teeth and jaws.

6. Rubber Bands Aren’t Important

Failing to wear rubber bands as instructed by the orthodontist is one of the biggest causes for prolonged orthodontic treatment. Wear your rubber bands!

7. Double Rubber Bands Equal Double The Movement

While some patients forget their rubber bands or don’t want to bother with them because they are uncomfortable, other patients think they can reduce their treatment time by wearing even more rubber bands than recommended. Do not do this! Too many rubber bands will cause unnecessary discomfort and they won’t move your teeth the way they are meant to move. It can actually cause damage to the roots and bone due to excessive force! You will probably end up needing to wear your braces longer than planned as a result. Stick to the instructions.

8. Your Teeth Will Be Straight Forever After Braces

The periodontal ligaments that hold our teeth in place within our jaws tend to be stubborn, and have muscle memory like all other muscles in our body. They remember where the teeth used to be before braces, and they want to go back. To keep your teeth in their aligned, post-braces condition, make sure you wear your retainers as recommended.

Trust The Experts, Not The Myths!

Whatever you’ve heard about orthodontic treatment, make sure you bring all your questions to us. We can tell you what braces are really like at your initial consultation, as well as what you can expect from your treatment, how long it will likely take, and what you will experience.

We can’t wait to help you get the smile of your dreams!

Top image by Flickr user Gordon 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.

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

Why Do Teeth Move Even After Braces?

January 10th, 2017

EVERYONE KNOWS THAT the most exciting day for someone with braces is the day they get them off! The final result of a beautiful, straight smile is what makes orthodontic treatment worth it. Now, it’s just a matter of keeping those teeth straight!

Guess What… Teeth Can Move!

Of course it comes to no surprise to an orthodontic patient that teeth can shift over time–that’s exactly what happened during their treatment! Teeth are dynamic and always moving as pressure and force is applied to them, even after you’ve had braces.

Teeth may shift in response to things such as teeth grinding and clenching, numerous dental restorations, tongue thrusting and certain lifestyle habits such as smoking or nail biting. Teeth also move naturally as we grow older and our facial structures change.

Keeping Your Smile Straight Is A Lifelong Commitment

So, what can you do to make sure that your new smile lasts a lifetime? Wear your retainer! It really is that simple. After finishing orthodontic treatment, most of our patients are given "permanent" retainers which are glued onto the back sides of their front teeth. The beauty of these kinds of retainers is that you don't need to remember to wear them! They are just there, holding your teeth straight. Some patients also need the older style retainers that can be taken in and out, and if so, we will tell you how often you need to wear that retainer and for how long. Over time, most patients will only need to wear those types of retainers at night.

It’s especially important to have retainers immediately after you get your braces off. Your teeth have a sort of “memory” of the way they were aligned before you got your braces on and are more prone to revert back to their original positions right after orthodontic treatment has finished.

When it comes down to it, every orthodontic patient needs to ask themselves, “How long do I want my teeth to be straight?” Whatever the answer is, that’s how long you’ll need to keep your retainer. The "permanent" retainers that we place truly are meant to stay there permanently so that your smile stays fabulous throughout your lifetime.

Keep Smiling

We love creating beautiful, healthy smiles that our patients can be proud of. There’s nothing better than seeing our patients’ faces light up when they see their straight, new smiles. So keep wearing your retainer and keep up the good work. And most importantly… keep smiling!

We love our patients! Thank you for trusting us with your orthodontic treatment.

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.

Which Type of Retainer Is Best for You?

April 12th, 2016

ALTHOUGH IT MAY SEEM hard to believe during the process, one day those braces will come off! Orthodontic treatment doesn’t end after braces, however. To maintain that beautiful new smile you must wear a retainer as directed after braces are removed.


Remember that while braces straighten teeth, retainers KEEP them straight.They are an essential part of your orthodontic treatment! So, what kinds of retainers do you have to choose from after braces?

We Help Find the Retainer That Suits You Best

Choosing which type of retainer is right for you can depend on how your orthodontic treatment went, your level of oral hygiene, whether or not you grind your teeth, your personal preference, etc. Depending on your unique situation, we will recommend the type of retainer that will be best for you and your lifestyle.

Retainers Come in Three Basic Types

There are several different types of retainers to choose from. Here are the three most popular!

  1. The Hawley Retainer: This is usually what people think of when they hear the word retainer. It has stood the test of time and is definitely durable. The Hawley retainer has an acrylic body with a metal wire that goes around the teeth. It is easily removed and can be adjusted if minor tooth movements are necessary. In individuals who had maxillary expansion during treatment, a Hawley is recommended to maintain the upper jaw width.
  2. The Essix Retainer: Another type of removable retainer, the Essix looks more like an Invisalign tray than a traditional retainer. It is made of thin, transparent plastic designed to fit precisely over your teeth. People love the Essix retainer because it is not as visible as the Hawley. However, these retainers are not as durable as Hawley retainers, and tend to wear out over time requiring new ones to be made with greater frequency.
  3. The Fixed Retainer: This virtually invisible retainer consists of a small wire bonded to the tongue side of the lower and upper front teeth. Since permanent retainers cannot be removed on a regular basis, wearers of this type of retainer need to be consistent in their oral hygiene routine, brushing and flossing regularly. These retainers require little, if any compliance, and therefore tend to be the favorite option. Retention is meant to be a lifelong commitment - this is the easiest way to do it!

Whatever retainer you choose, the most important thing you can do is wear them as directed by your orthodontist and clean them regularly!

Keep Your Smile Straight and Your Bite Perfect

By wearing your retainer, you can make the transition from braces to a permanent, healthy smile! If you have any questions about the kinds of retainers we offer or their maintenance, give us a call or come in to see us! We’re always happy to see our awesome patients.

Thank you for everything!

Image by Flickr user Sara Neff 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.
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