The Importance of Regular Dental Visits

 Dental Visit – Every Six Months

Have you ever wondered why the American Dental Association and your dentist recommend you come back every six months? It’s because regular dental visits are essential for the maintenance of healthy teeth and gums. And in between those examinations, it’s important that you work to keep your teeth and gums clean and healthy. If you need additional help, your dentist may even suggest more frequent visits.

What Goes On During A Regular Visit

Checking your teeth for tooth decay is just one part of a thorough dental examination. During your checkup appointment, your dentist (or dental hygienist) will likely evaluate the health of your gums, perform a head and neck examination (to look for anything out of the ordinary) and examine your mouth for any indications of oral cancer, diabetes or vitamin deficiencies. Don’t be surprised if your dentist also examines your face, bite, saliva and movement of your lower jaw joints (TMJs). Your dentist or dental hygienist will then clean your teeth and stress the importance of you maintaining good oral hygiene at home between visits.

Many dentists will pay special attention to plaque and tartar. This is because plaque and tartar can build up in a very short time if good oral hygiene is not practiced between visits. Food, beverages and tobacco can stain teeth as well. If not removed, soft plaque can harden on the teeth and irritate the gum tissue. If not treated, plaque can lead to gum disease.

During your regularly scheduled dental appointments, your dentist will likely look at your gums, mouth, tongue and throat. There are several routine parts to a dental examination.

The Head And Neck Examination

Your dentist will start off by:

  • Examining your face
  • Examining your neck
  • Checking your lymph nodes
  • Checking your lower jaw joints (TMJs)

The Clinical Dental Examination

Next, your dentist assesses the state of your teeth and gums by:

  • Examining the gums
  • Looking for signs of gum disease
  • Checking for loose teeth
  • Looking at the tissues inside of your mouth
  • Examining your tongue
  • Checking your bite
  • Looking for visual evidence of tooth decay
  • Checking for broken teeth
  • Checking for damaged fillings
  • Looking for changes in the gums covering teeth
  • Evaluating any dental appliance you have
  • Checking the contact between your teeth
  • Taking X-rays

The Dental Cleaning

During the final part of the dental visit, your dental professional cleans your mouth using these methods:

  • Checking the cleanliness of your teeth and gums
  • Removing any plaque and tartar
  • Polishing your teeth
  • Flossing between your teeth
  • Reviewing recommended brushing and flossing techniques

Once your examination and cleaning have been performed, they’ll tell you about the health of your teeth and gums and then make any additional recommendations. It’s important that you see your dentist every six months and that they give you routine examination and cleaning. Remember, by seeing your dentist on a regular basis and following daily good oral hygiene practices at home, you are more likely to keep your teeth and gums healthy.

Source: Oral B

 

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What To Do In A Dental Emergency

Baby Teeth

Even though baby teeth aren’t permanent, they still require attention. Trauma to baby teeth can harm the permanent teeth developing underneath the gum, possibly delaying their eruption. And decay in a baby tooth can affect general gum and tooth health, too.

Be Ready In Case Of an Emergency

Babies and toddlers are known for their enthusiastic curiosity, and sometimes, that curiosity ends in a fall, or even an injury. New walkers in particular are very likely to take a few spills and bang a tooth every now and then. In fact, about one-third of all toddlers have experienced some kind of trauma to their pearly whites, and the risk peaks between 18 and 40 months. Here’s what you need to know to be ready in case of an emergency.

Knocked-Out Teeth

If your child’s baby tooth is knocked out completely, chances are, the dentist won’t be able to re-implant it, so they will most likely wait for the adult tooth to develop. Permanent teeth, on the other hand, can be re-implanted within one to two hours after being injured. Just place it in a clean container (don’t scrub it) with a sample of your child’s saliva or milk and take it to the dentist or emergency room right away.

In all cases of missing teeth, apply pressure to the area to stop the bleeding. If bleeding doesn’t stop after 10 minutes of constant, firm pressure, see the dentist or go to the emergency room.

Broken Teeth

If part of your child’s baby tooth breaks off, or if there’s a break line running up the tooth or a glob of reddish flesh (dental pulp) sticking out, see the dentist right away. If the tooth has just shifted a bit or if a tooth has been pushed up into the gum but isn’t broken off or bleeding, call your dentist and see what he/she recommends. It is important to check in with the dentist , since further care may be necessary at that time, or in the future.

After any dental trauma, baby teeth are likely to turn color over a period of several weeks. If you did not see the trauma happen you may notice this suddenly. It may mean that the blood and nerve supply inside of the tooth has died. Consult with your dentist to understand what treatment may be needed.

Injured Tongue, Gums Or Lips

If your child cuts his tongue, and you see a lot of blood, stay calm; the injury may look worse than it actually is. Except in the case of very large cuts, the tongue will heal itself. If your child has cut or bruised his or her lips or gums, but the teeth are still intact, apply cold pressure (A compress, bag of ice or pack of frozen fruit or veggies will do.) If the cut is larger than a quarter inch or goes across the lip border, take your little one to see your health care provider. They can make sure everything will heal properly.

Source: Oral B

Orthodontics for Children

If your child has crooked teeth or a misaligned jaw, it may be time to pay a visit to an orthodontist.

An orthodontist specializes in perfecting smiles using orthodontic appliances, such as:

Bands
Brackets
Wires
Headgear
Rubber bands
Retainers

WebMD takes a look at common forms of orthodontics and gives you the facts you need to make an informed decision about orthodontic treatment.

Types of Braces and Other Appliances

There are a number of dental appliances used today. But braces are still the primary means for straightening teeth and correcting misaligned bites. Braces work by applying pressure to the teeth and jaws to move them into a desired position.

Braces are not the shiny mouthful of metal of years past. Many more options are now available.

Teeth used to be fully banded. But today, brackets are bonded directly to each tooth’s surface. In some people they’re placed behind the teeth, making them less noticeable.

Braces are made of materials such as:

Stainless steel
Ceramic
Plastic
Combination of materials

This can give a clear or tooth-colored appearance to the braces. When appropriate, the wires can be made of materials such as nickel-titanium or copper-titanium. These materials may be longer lasting and require fewer adjustments than stainless steel wires.

Clear, invisible “trays” are now available. These can straighten teeth without using traditional braces and wires.

Invisible trays may be an option for people who require simple orthodontic work. This method uses custom-made, clear, removable trays that put pressure on the teeth, moving them gradually into their correct position. This treatment is not right for people requiring more extensive orthodontic work. It often costs more than traditional braces.

Other appliances used in orthodontics include:

TADs: Temporary anchorage devices (TADs) are mini-screws ranging from 6 to 12 millimeters in length and 1.2 to 2 millimeters in diameter. When needed they may be temporarily fixed to bone in the mouth to provide a fixed point from which to apply force to move teeth. TADs allow for more predictable tooth control. They are becoming more common in orthodontic treatment.

Rubber bands: Rubber bands are also called elastics. They are used when more force is needed to move the teeth and jaws into the desired position. You can choose your favorite color. Many kids choose their school colors or decorate their mouth during holidays (for example, orange and black for Halloween).

Types of Braces and Other Appliances continued…

Headgear: Some people can benefit from using headgear. The appliance is attached to the braces from the back of the head and can be removed. As with rubber bands, headgear are used when extra force is needed to move the teeth and jaws. If a headgear is needed, it usually only has to be worn at night while sleeping or at home.

Retainers: Retainers are used to keep teeth in place once braces are removed. It takes time for your teeth to settle into their new position. By wearing a retainer, you can prevent your teeth from shifting. Some retainers may be removable. Others are fixed — bonded behind your teeth. Some retainers are made of clear plastic and metal wires. Others are made of rubber. And like braces, retainers can make a statement if you choose. There are glow-in-the-dark retainers or retainers customized with a picture.

Can a dentist provide orthodontic treatment instead of an orthodontist?

For mild problems, a dentist may be able to correct the issue. But, if more extensive orthodontic work is needed, it is best to see an orthodontist. An orthodontist has two to three years of advanced orthodontic education and training beyond dental school. He or she specializes in straightening teeth, correcting misaligned bites, and jaw problems.

When should my child see an orthodontist?

Your dentist can tell you when to seek evaluation from an orthodontist. The American Association of Orthodontists and the American Dental Association recommend all kids be evaluated for orthodontics by age 7.

By this age, the orthodontist can detect subtle problems with jaw growth and emerging teeth. Most kids begin active treatment between the ages of 9 and 14.

Orthodontists recommend you correct dental problems while your child is still growing. Once they stop growing, treatment may take longer and require more extensive work.

What’s the youngest a child can get braces?

There is no set age when children require orthodontics. The treatment plan will depend on individual needs. For example, kids with cleft palates get orthodontic appliances before their first teeth erupt.

Other kids may benefit from starting treatment as early as age 6 or 7, even if they have not lost all of their baby teeth. The goal of early treatment is to prevent further problems from developing. It will create a better environment for the permanent teeth to erupt, or grow, into.

Most kids who require early orthodontics will still need braces or additional work later to complete the tooth and jaw alignment process.

Do braces hurt?

“Hurt” may be too strong of a word. But your child may have some discomfort when braces are first put on, when they are adjusted, or when you start using a new appliance, such as rubber bands or a headgear.

Any pain or discomfort can be relieved by taking ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol). Also, if the wire, brackets, or bands irritate your child’s mouth, your orthodontist can provide special wax to cover the sharp areas on the braces.
Is it possible to be allergic to braces?

Yes. Some people are allergic to stainless steel. When this happens, other appliances can be used instead. People can also be allergic to the latex gloves used by the orthodontist and the assistants. If your child has a latex allergy, tell your dentist so that non-latex gloves can be used.

Braces can sometimes irritate a child’s gums, causing this to swell. This is not an allergic reaction, but something parents still need to watch for.
What foods are off-limits for kids who wear braces?

Braces are delicate. Breaking part of the appliance can result in the teeth moving in the wrong direction and in longer treatment. Anything that is hard, sticky, or chewy should not be eaten, including:

Ice
Nuts
Popcorn
Hard candy
Chewing gum
Chewy candy, like caramel
Gummies

How long does my child need to wear braces?

The length of treatment varies. It depends on the problem, how well your child cooperates, and your child’s growth. Typically, most people wear braces from 18 to 36 months.

How long does my child need to wear a retainer?

Ideally, your child should wear a retainer forever, even if it is only one night a week. Of course, this may not be practical. The teeth are like the rest of the body and the body changes. Once your child stops wearing the retainer, slight changes to the teeth should be expected.

On average, how much do braces cost?

The cost varies depending on the extent of work being done, the type of braces being used, and where you live. But you should expect to pay between $2,000 and $8,000.

Most orthodontists provide different payment plans and will allow you to make payments over the course of treatment without charging interest. Some may take insurance.

Ask your orthodontist about all treatment fees and payment plans they offer before treatment begins.

If your child could benefit from braces but you can’t afford it, there may be other ways to cover the cost, including:

Financial aid programs: Low-income families can apply to the Smiles Change Lives program. This provides access to orthodontic treatment for children between the ages of 11 and 18 years of age. If accepted, the child can receive braces for $250 to $500. To be accepted, you must meet certain income requirements (for example, a family of four cannot earn more than $40,000 per year) and your teeth must be moderately to severely crooked.
Medicaid: Medicaid may cover braces, especially if your child’s teeth cause problems with talking, eating, or swallowing. This coverage varies from state to state.
Dental schools: If you live close to a dental school with an orthodontics program, you may be able to get treatment from a student (supervised by an experienced orthodontist) for a lower cost.
Dentists: Some general dentists provide orthodontic treatment and may be able to take care of your orthodontic needs at a reduced rate since they are not orthodontists.

Making the decision to embark on orthodontic treatment may not be easy, but an improved smile can make a huge difference in appearance and self-esteem.

There are many options available. When choosing a treatment plan, you need to consider many factors, including the orthodontic needs, cost, and primary goals of treatment. Your dentist or orthodontist can help you make the right decision for you and your child.

Source: WebMD

Dental Health With Crooked Teeth and Misaligned Bites

There are several reasons why some people’s teeth grow in crooked, overlapping, or twisted. Some people’s mouths are too small for their teeth, which crowds the teeth and causes them to shift. In other cases, a person’s upper and lower jaws aren’t the same size or are malformed, resulting in either an overbite, when there is excessive protrusion of the upper jaw, or an under bite, when the lower jaw protrudes forward causing the lower jaw and teeth to extend out beyond the upper teeth.

Most often crooked teeth, overbites, and underbites are inherited traits just as the color of your eyes or size of your hands. Other causes of misaligned bites are early loss of baby or adult teeth; improper fit of dental restorations (for example, fillings or crowns); gingivitis (gum disease); undue pressure on the teeth and gums; misalignment of the jaw after an injury; tumors of the mouth or jaw; or common oral health problems in children such as thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, pacifier use beyond the age of three, or prolonged use of a bottle.

What Problems Come With Crooked Teeth and Misaligned Bites?

Crooked teeth and misaligned bites can:

Interfere with proper chewing.
Make keeping teeth clean more of a challenge, increasing the risk of tooth decay, cavities, and gingivitis.
Strain the teeth, jaws, and muscles, increasing the risk of breaking a tooth.
Make people feel self-conscious about their appearance and affect their self-esteem.

How Do I Know if My Teeth Are Crooked or My Bite Is Misaligned?

While you can see for yourself if teeth are crooked, your dentist can determine if the problem warrants treatment. Your dentist will look for the following signs:

Abnormal alignment of teeth
Abnormal appearance of the face
Difficulty or discomfort when chewing or biting
Speech difficulties, including a lisp

Your dentist will usually refer you to an orthodontist — a dentist who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of crooked teeth and misaligned jaws.

What Tests Can I Expect at the Orthodontist?

The orthodontist will likely take X-rays, photographs of your face, and teeth impressions to determine if and what type of treatment is needed. X-rays provide information on the position of your teeth and roots and if any teeth have yet to come through the gums. Special cephalometrics or panoramic X-rays show the relationship of the teeth to the jaws and the jaws to the head. Your orthodontist may also want to take regular photographs of your face to further examine the relationship between the teeth, jaws, and head. Finally, impressions may be made of your teeth. This is done by having you bite down on a soft material that is later used to create an exact copy of your teeth.

How Are Crooked Teeth and Misaligned Bites Treated?

Once a diagnosis is made, your orthodontist can decide the best treatment for your teeth or misaligned bite. For some people, a removable retainer (to stabilize the new position of teeth) will be all that’s needed to correct the problem. Removal of one or more teeth may be required if overcrowding is the main problem. For most people, braces are necessary to correct the problem. In rare and extreme cases, such as an extreme overbite or underbite, an operation may be necessary.

Source: WebMD