Dental Health and Veneers

Dental veneers also known as porcelain veneers or dental porcelain laminates are wafer-thin, custom-made shells of tooth-colored materials designed to cover the front surface of teeth to improve your appearance. These shells are bonded to the front of the teeth changing their color, shape, size, or length.

Dental veneers can be made from porcelain or from resin composite materials. Porcelain veneers resist stains better than resin veneers and better mimic the light reflecting properties of natural teeth. Resin veneers are thinner and require removal of less of the tooth surface before placement. You will need to discuss the best choice of veneer material for you with your dentist.

What Types of Problems Do Dental Veneers Fix?

Veneers are routinely used to fix:

Teeth that are discolored — either because of root canal treatment; stains from tetracycline or other drugs, excessive fluoride or other causes; or the presence of large resin fillings that have discolored the tooth
Teeth that are worn down
Teeth that are chipped or broken
Teeth that are misaligned, uneven, or irregularly shaped (for example, have craters or bulges in them)
Teeth with gaps between them (to close the space between these teeth)

What’s the Procedure for Getting a Dental Veneer?

Getting a dental veneer usually requires three trips to the dentist – one for a consultation and two to make and apply the veneers. One tooth or many teeth can simultaneously undergo the veneering process described below.

Diagnosis and treatment planning. This first step involves your active participation. Explain to your dentist the result that you are trying to achieve. During this appointment, your dentist will examine your teeth to make sure dental veneers are appropriate for you and discuss what the procedure will involve and some of its limitations. He or she also may take X-rays and possibly make impressions of your mouth and teeth.
Preparation. To prepare a tooth for a veneer, your dentist will remove about 1/2 millimeter of enamel from the tooth surface, which is an amount nearly equal to the thickness of the veneer to be added to the tooth surface. Before trimming off the enamel, you and your dentist will decide the need for a local anesthetic to numb the area. Next, your dentist will make a model or impression of your tooth. This model is sent out to a dental laboratory, which in turn constructs your veneer. It usually takes 1-2 weeks for your dentist to receive the veneers back from the laboratory. For very unsightly teeth, temporary dental veneers can be placed for an additional cost.
Bonding. Before the dental veneer is permanently cemented to your tooth, your dentist will temporarily place it on your tooth to examine its fit and color. He or she will repeatedly remove and trim the veneer as needed to achieve the proper fit; the veneer color can be adjusted with the shade of cement to be used. Next, to prepare your tooth to receive the veneer, your tooth will be cleaned, polished, and etched — which roughens the tooth to allow for a strong bonding process. A special cement is applied to the veneer and the veneer is then placed on your tooth. Once properly position on the tooth, your dentist will apply a special light beam to the dental veneer, which activates chemicals in the cement, causing it to harden or cure very quickly. The final steps involve removing any excess cement, evaluating your bite and making any final adjustments in the veneer as necessary. Your dentist may ask you to return for a follow-up visit in a couple of weeks to check how your gums are responding to the presence of your veneer and to once again examine the veneer’s placement.

What Are the Advantages of Dental Veneers?

Veneers offer the following advantages:

They provide a natural tooth appearance.
Gum tissue tolerates porcelain well.
Porcelain veneers are stain resistant.
The color of a porcelain veneer can be selected such that it makes dark teeth appear whiter.
Veneers offer a conservative approach to changing a tooth’s color and shape; veneers generally don’t require the extensive shaping prior to the procedure that crowns do, yet offer a stronger, more aesthetic alternative.

What Are the Disadvantages of Dental Veneers?

The downside to dental veneers include:

The process is not reversible.
Veneers are more costly than composite resin bonding.
Veneers are usually not repairable should they chip or crack.
Because enamel has been removed, your tooth may become more sensitive to hot and cold foods and beverages.
Veneers may not exactly match the color of your other teeth. Also, the veneer’s color cannot be altered once in place. If you plan on whitening your teeth, you need to do so before getting veneers.
Though not likely, veneers can dislodge and fall off. To minimize the chance of this occurring, do not bite your nails; chew on pencils, ice, or other hard objects; or otherwise put excessive pressure on your teeth.
Teeth with veneers can still experience decay, possibly necessitating full coverage of the tooth with a crown.
Veneers are not a good choice for individuals with unhealthy teeth (for example, those with decay or active gum disease), weakened teeth (as a result of decay, fracture, large dental fillings), or for those who have an inadequate amount of existing enamel on the tooth surface.
Individuals who clench and grind their teeth are poor candidates for porcelain veneers, as these activities can cause the veneers to crack or chip.

How Long Do Dental Veneers Last?

Veneers generally last between 5 and 10 years. After this time, the veneers would need to be replaced.

Do Dental Veneers Require Special Care?

Dental veneers do not require any special care. Continue to follow good oral hygiene practices, including brushing and flossing as you normally would.

Even though porcelain veneers resist stains, your dentist may recommend that you avoid stain-causing foods and beverages (for example, coffee, tea, or red wine).

Are There Alternatives to Dental Veneers?

Yes, alternatives to veneers include bondings and crowns. Veneers offer a nice intermediate option. Veneers may be best suited for individuals who want to change the shape of their teeth more than just a little bit — as is done with bonding — but not enough to require a crown.

How Much Do Veneers Cost?

Costs of veneers vary depending on what part of the country you live in and on the extent of your procedure. Generally, veneers range in cost from $500 to $1,300 per tooth. The cost of veneers is not generally covered by insurance. To be certain, check with your specific dental insurance company.

Source: WebMD

How Are You Choosing The Right Dentist?

Finding The Right Dentist

It’s important that you and your family members feel comfortable with your dentist, since you’re more likely to keep your appointments and follow oral care advice from a dentist you like and respect.

A Thing To Keep In Mind

When you’re looking to find the right dentist, keep in mind dental care is very personal. So your neighbor’s or colleague’s dentist might not be the dentist for you.

Things To Consider

Here are a few things worth considering as you search:

Convenience. Is the dentist’s office conveniently located near your home or office? Do the office hours accommodate your schedule?
Insurance. Does the dentist take your dental insurance? Can you get information about payment plans and costs before procedures are scheduled?
Attitude. Is the office friendly and welcoming? Does the dentist explain procedures and treatments in a way that you can understand?
Emergencies. Is there a plan in place for emergency dental care outside of normal office hours?
Professionalism. A dentist who is a member of the American Dental Association has graduated from an accredited dental school in the United States and committed to uphold high standards of ethics.

What You Must Know

A dentist may have a degree that says DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine) or DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery). They mean the same thing-different schools use different terminology. These degrees apply to general dentists. A specialized dentist will have an additional certification in an area such as oral surgery or pediatric dentistry.

Dental Visit

Most people maintain their oral health with regular visits to a general dentist. A general dentistry practice focuses on taking care of your entire mouth, including cleaning teeth, preventing cavities, and evaluating your teeth and gums for signs of problems or infections. A general dentist can provide diagnostic procedures such as x-rays that are needed in preparation for specialized care such as orthodontics, dental implants, or surgery to remove impacted wisdom teeth.

Routine Procedures

General dentists often perform routine procedures such as filling cavities and also the dentist or dental hygienist provides tooth cleaning or scaling. Your dentist also serves as a troubleshooter trained to identify early signs of gum disease, oral cancer, or temporomandibular joint disorders, and can coordinate your care with specialists, such as orthodontists if you need braces or endodontists if you need a root canal.

Guiding the Patients

In addition, they provide patients with guidance and preventive health advice about how best to follow a regular oral health routine of twice-daily tooth brushing and daily flossing.

Additional Information

In addition, general dentists can provide many cosmetic procedures such as tooth-whitening, dental veneers, and dental bonding. Cosmetic dentistry is not currently a recognized dental specialty, but general dentists may have pursued additional education in order to perform cosmetic procedures such as bonding, teeth whitening, enamel shaping, and dental veneers. If you’re interested in cosmetic procedures, start by talking to your general dentist. He or she can provide advice and refer you to a specialist if necessary.

When To Start Going To The Dentist

Did you know that children’s teeth begin forming before birth? As early as four months, the first primary, or baby, teeth, erupt through the gums. Knowing that, when is the best time to get the dentist involved? The answer is as soon as the first tooth appears. At this time, begin brushing your child’s teeth daily and schedule a dental appointment. In most cases, children should visit the dentist by their first birthday.

Ask friends and family and select a dentist in your area who likes children and takes care of them regularly. The first relationship your child has with a dentist can leave a lasting impression.

How Can I Prepare My Child For The First Dental Visit?

You can make your child’s first visit to the dentist enjoyable and positive. Tell your child in advance that someone will look at their teeth and clean them. Try showing them pictures of a dentist or have fun role-playing, acting like you or your child are the dentist. Most dentists prefer that a parent be present for the examination of any child under the age of three. Some ask the parent to sit in the dental chair and hold the young patient in their lap during the first few examinations. It can also be helpful to take your younger children along for an older sibling’s dental visit so that they can get accustomed to the office and the people. As children get older, they’re usually happy to be “grown up” and are willing to sit in the chair alone while they send their parents back to the waiting room. At the first visit, your dental professional will examine your child’s mouth for early signs of decay and other problems. He or she will also tell you many of the things you’ll need to know about helping your
child grow up cavity-free. After the first visit, be sure your child sees the dentist regularly.

How to Find the Right Dentist

Finding the right dentist for you and your family involves a combination of factors. But it all comes down to the four C’s: Competence, convenience, compatibility and cost.

First and foremost, you need your dentist to be competent, which means that he or she maintains a high level of professionalism and knows the latest treatments and developments in the dental field. To ensure competent dental care, look for a dentist who is a member of the Academy of General Dentistry. Dentists who are members of the AGD must meet requirements for continuing education and are pledged to uphold the highest standards of ethics and patient care.

A dentist may have a degree that says DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine) or DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery). These degrees apply to general dentists and represent the same training programs, but different dental schools use different terms.

Convenience is another important factor in finding a dentist. You’ll be much more likely to keep appointments if you choose a dentist whose office is convenient to your home or workplace. Also, look for a dentist whose office hours fit with your schedule. Do you need evening or weekend appointments? Do you have children who could see a dentist after school? These are the type of questions to consider.

Also, a convenient dentist is one who participates with your dental insurance plan. Most dentists in the United States participate with the large dental plans offered by most employers, but you won’t know until you ask. If you have insurance, your insurance company can provide a list of dentists who participate with your plan.  Take that list and ask your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers for recommendations.

Next, consider compatibility. For example, some dentists are specialists in treating patients who are fearful of dental procedures, whether it’s filling a cavity or performing a root canal. So if you tend to be a nervous dental patient, ask your friends and colleagues to recommend a dentist that they like because he or she puts patients at ease. And ask a potential dentist whether he or she offers sedation dentistry, which involves treating you with a sedative via a pill, inhaled gas, or intravenous drug therapy prior to a dental procedure to help you relax.

If you have children, you may want to look for a dentist who has extra training in pediatric dentistry, although most general dentists manage a family practice and are expert at treat patients of all ages. Of course, some dentists are more comfortable and better at working with children than others. It may be worth asking other parents to help you find a child-friendly dentist, because positive experiences with dental care in early childhood can help encourage children to develop and follow consistent oral health care routines as they grow up.

Trust your instincts: Is the office clean and neat? Are your records in order when you arrive? Is there a plan in place for after-hours dental emergencies? Find a dentist who makes you feel comfortable about asking questions, and who explains treatments and procedures so you can understand them.
Finally, consider cost. Some people are very loyal to a dentist they like and will stick with him or her regardless of what their insurance does or doesn’t cover. Others give more weight to cost.

Many insurance plans cover 100 percent of the cost of at least one basic dental checkup and professional cleaning per year, and many plans cover two checkups per year. So it’s always worth the effort to find a quality dentist who participates in your insurance plan. If you need a dental procedure that your insurance plan doesn’t cover, contact the American Dental Association to find out about dental clinics operated by dental schools in your area. These school-based clinics are operated by the schools and supervised by licensed dentists. They often offer advanced procedures as well as basic dental care, often at a reduced cost.

If you have no dental insurance, you may be able to set aside money in a Flexible Spending Account through your employer to help cover a dental procedure, such as orthodontia, that you’re planning in advance.

Source: Oral B

Dental Braces and Retainers

If braces are indeed the solution for you, the dentist or orthodontist will prescribe an appliance specific for your needs. The braces may consist of bands, wires, and other fixed or removable corrective appliances. No one method works for everyone.

How Do Braces Work?

In their entirety, braces work by applying continuous pressure over a period of time to slowly move teeth in a specific direction. As the teeth move, the bone changes shape as pressure is applied.

Braces are made up of the following components:

Brackets are the small squares that are bonded directly to the front of each tooth with a special dental bonding agent or are attached to orthodontic bands. Brackets act like handles, holding the arch wires that move the teeth. There are several types of brackets, including stainless steel and tooth-colored ceramic or plastic, which are often selected because they’re less obvious. Occasionally, brackets are cemented to the back of teeth, in order to hide them from view.
Orthodontic bands are stainless steel, clear, or tooth-colored materials that are cemented to the teeth with dental bonding agents. They wrap around each tooth to provide an anchor for the brackets. The clear or tooth-colored bands are more cosmetically appealing options but are more expensive than stainless steel. They are not used in all patients. Some people have only brackets and no bands.
Spacers are separators that fit between teeth to create a small space prior to placement of orthodontic bands.
Arch wires attach to the brackets and act as tracks to guide the movement of the teeth. Arch wires can be made of metal or be clear or tooth-colored.
Ties are small rubber rings or fine wires that fasten the arch wire to the brackets. They can be clear, metal, or colored.
A buccal tube on the band of the last tooth holds the end of the arch wire securely in place.
Tiny elastic rubber bands, called ligatures, hold the arch wires to the brackets.
Springs may be placed on the arch wires between brackets to push, pull, open, or close the spaces between teeth.
Two bands on the upper teeth may have headgear tubes on them to hold the facebow of the headgear in place. (A headgear is another tool used by orthodontists to aid in correcting irregularities of the teeth; see below)
Elastics or rubber bands attach to hooks on brackets and are worn between the upper and lower teeth in various ways. They apply pressure to move the upper teeth against the lower teeth to achieve a perfect fit of individual teeth.
Facebow headgear is the wire gadget that is used to move the upper molars back in the mouth to correct bite discrepancies and also to create room for crowded teeth. The facebow consists of an inner metal part shaped like a horseshoe that goes in the mouth, attaching to buccal tubes, and an outer part that goes around the outside of the face and is connected to a headgear strap.

Newer “mini-braces,” which are much smaller than traditional braces, may be an option for some. There is another method of straightening teeth that uses removable plastic retainers that may also work when crowding of the teeth is not too severe. Your orthodontist will discuss the various types of braces with you and determine which might be the best option for your situation.

How Long Will I Have to Wear Braces?

The time required for braces varies from person to person, depending on the severity of the problem; the amount of room available; the distance the teeth must travel; the health of the teeth, gums, and supporting bone; and how closely the patient follows instructions. On average, however, once the braces are put on, they usually remain in place for one to three years. After braces are removed, most patients will need to wear a retainer all the time for the first six months, then only during sleep for many years.

How Often Will I Need to See the Orthodontist During Treatment?

Your orthodontist will want to see you about every month or so in order to make sure the braces are exerting steady pressure on the teeth. To create more tension and pressure on your teeth, the orthodontist will make adjustments in the wires, springs, or rubber bands of the braces. In some cases, braces alone aren’t enough to straighten the teeth or shift the jaw. In these situations, an external appliance, such as headgear, may need to be worn at home in the evening or through the night.
Will Braces Be Painful?

Some of the adjustments your orthodontist may make to your braces may make your mouth feel sore or uncomfortable. When needed, over-the-counter pain relievers like Motrin or Tylenol can help relieve the pain. If you always experience a lot of pain after your braces are adjusted, talk to your orthodontist about it; he or she may be able to make the adjustments a bit differently.
Does the Age Affect the Success of Braces?

The mechanical process used to move teeth with braces is the same at any age. So the benefits of orthodontic treatments are available to both children and adults who wish to improve their appearance and bite. The main differences between treatments in adults and children is that certain corrections in adults may require more than braces alone and the treatments may take longer because adult bones are no longer growing.

Can I Continue to Play Sports While Wearing Braces?

If you have braces, you can continue to participate in any sport you choose. When playing sports where there is a possibility of getting hit in the mouth, a specially designed mouth guard will need to be worn. The mouth guard, made of durable plastic, is designed to fit comfortably over your braces and will protect the soft tissues inside the mouth.

What Care Can I Expect After the Braces Come Off?

After braces are taken off, your teeth will be thoroughly cleaned. Your orthodontist may want to take another set of X-rays and bite impressions to check how well the braces straightened your teeth and to see if any wisdom teeth have developed. If wisdom teeth are beginning to come in after braces have been removed, your dentist or orthodontist may recommend the wisdom teeth be pulled to prevent newly straightened teeth from shifting.

Your dentist or orthodontist will also fit you with a retainer. A retainer is a custom-made, removable appliance that helps teeth maintain their new position after braces have been removed. Retainers can also be used to treat minor orthodontic problems. The use of a retainer is a very important part of post-braces care. Retainers, which are typically made of rubber or clear plastic and metal wires that cover the outside surface of the teeth, need to be worn all the time for the first six months and then usually only during sleep. The time frame for wearing a retainer will vary from patient to patient. The reason why a retainer is needed is that even though braces may have successfully straightened your teeth, they are not completely settled in their new position until the bones, gums, and muscles adapt to the change. Also, after long periods of time, teeth tend to shift.

Source: WebMD


What is a Filling?

What is a Filling?
A filling is a way to restore a tooth damaged by decay back to its normal function and shape. When a dentist gives you a filling, he or she first removes the decayed tooth material, cleans the affected area, and then fills the cleaned out cavity with a filling material.

By closing off spaces where bacteria can enter, a filling also helps prevent further decay. Materials used for fillings include gold, porcelain, a composite resin (tooth-colored fillings), and an amalgam (an alloy of mercury, silver, copper, tin and sometimes zinc).

Which Type of Filling is Best?
No one type of filling is best for everyone. What’s right for you will be determined by the extent of the repair, whether you have allergies to certain materials, where in your mouth the filling is needed, and the cost. Considerations for different materials include:

Gold fillings are made to order in a laboratory and then cemented into place. Gold inlays are well tolerated by gum tissues, and may last more than 20 years. For these reasons, many authorities consider gold the best filling material. However, it is often the most expensive choice and requires multiple visits.
Amalgam (silver) fillings are resistant to wear and relatively inexpensive. However, due to their dark color, they are more noticeable than porcelain or composite restorations and are not usually used in very visible areas, such as front teeth.
Composite (plastic) resins are matched to be the same color as your teeth and therefore used where a natural appearance is desired. The ingredients are mixed and placed directly into the cavity, where they harden. Composites may not be the ideal material for large fillings as they may chip or wear over time. They can also become stained from coffee, tea or tobacco, and do not last as long as other types of fillings generally from three to 10 years.
Porcelain fillings are called inlays or onlays and are produced to order in a lab and then bonded to the tooth. They can be matched to the color of the tooth and resist staining. A porcelain restoration generally covers most of the tooth. Their cost is similar to gold.

If decay or a fracture has damaged a large portion of the tooth, a crown, or cap, may be recommended. Decay that has reached the nerve may be treated in two ways: through root canal therapy (in which nerve damaged nerve is removed) or through a procedure called pulp capping (which attempts to keep the nerve alive).

What Happens When You get a Filling?
If your dentist decides to fill a cavity, he or she will first remove the decay and clean the affected area. The cleaned-out cavity will then be filled with any of the variety of materials described above.

How Do I Know if I Need a Filling?
Only your dentist can detect whether you have a cavity that needs to be filled. During a checkup, your dentist will use a small mirror to examine the surfaces of each tooth.

Anything that looks abnormal will then be closely checked with special instruments. Your dentist may also X-ray your entire mouth or a section of it. The type of treatment your dentist chooses will depend on the extent of damage caused by decay.

Source: Colgate

Diabetes Patients Should Pay Close Attention to Oral Health

Diabetes Patients Should Pay Close Attention to Oral Health

If you have diabetes, keeping your glucose level within a healthy range and regular dental checkups are key to managing your oral health.

Diabetes can lower the body’s resistance to infection and slow the healing process. These changes affect your teeth and gums. A common oral health problem associated with diabetes is periodontal disease.

High glucose levels in saliva help plaque thrive on your teeth. Plaque is a film of bacteria that develops within hours of eating and releases acids that cause tooth decay. Plaque that is not removed can harden into tartar. When tartar collects above the gumline, brushing and cleaning between teeth becomes more difficult.

Diabetes can also reduce the body’s resistance to infection, which can affect gums. An infection of the gum tissues can lead to periodontal disease — chronic inflammation and infection of the gums. Because diabetes may compromise or impair the healing process, periodontal abscesses can develop.

If you notice any of the following warning signs of periodontal disease, see your dentist immediately:

Gums that bleed easily
Red, swollen or tender gums
Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
Persistent bad breath or bad taste
Permanent teeth that are loose or separating

It’s also possible to have periodontal disease and not have these warning signs or have different symptoms. That’s why regular dental checkups and periodontal examinations are so important.

Eating a healthy diet, taking insulin or oral medications as your doctor directs and advising your dentist about your condition will help you successfully manage the oral complications of diabetes.

Source: American Dental Association


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


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:

Rubber bands

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
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:

Hard candy
Chewing gum
Chewy candy, like caramel

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


Is Tooth Whitening Safe?

Over a decade of research has proven bleaching and other whitening methods to be both safe and effective. Several products in the market today have shown no adverse effects on teeth or gums in substantial clinical and laboratory testing. Be sure to look for clinically proven products, follow directions and consult with your cosmetic dentist Hollywood Florida.

In the past, the higher bleach concentrations used in-office treatment resulted in more sensitivity. Today, however, bleaching gels are well buffered, making sensitivity less of an issue. Sensitivity may occur in people after whitening procedures, particularly when they eat hot or cold foods, but usually disappears after 48 hours and stops completely when treatment is stopped.

If you do experience sensitivity, there are several ways you can help eliminate it:

If using a tray applicator, wear the tray for a shorter period
Brush with a toothpaste made for sensitive teeth that contains potassium nitrate to help soothe tooth nerve ending
Ask your dentist or pharmacist for a product with fluoride, which helps re-mineralize your teeth. Brush-on or wear in your trays four minutes prior to and after whitening your teeth
Stop whitening your teeth for several days to allow you teeth to adapt to the whitening process. Within 24 hours, the sensitivity will cease. The longer you whiten your teeth, the less sensitivity you will experience

In a few cases, your dentist may discourage dental bleaching:

If you have gum disease, teeth with worn enamel, cavities or particularly sensitive teeth
If you’re pregnant or breast-feeding
If you have tooth-colored crowns, caps or other dental work in your front teeth, which can’t be bleached

Source: Colgate-Palmolive


Tooth Whitening

Tooth whitening lightens teeth and helps to remove stains and discoloration. Whitening is among the most popular cosmetic dental procedures because it can greatly improve how your teeth look. Most dentists perform tooth whitening.

Whitening is not a one-time procedure. It will need to be repeated from time to time if you want to maintain the brighter color.

What It’s Used For

The outer layer of a tooth is called the enamel. The color of natural teeth is created by the reflection and scattering of light off the enamel, combined with the color of the dentin under it. Your genes affect the thickness and smoothness of the enamel. Thinner enamel allows more of the color of the dentin to show through. Having smoother or rougher enamel also affects the reflection of light and therefore the color.

Every day, a thin coating (pellicle) forms on the enamel and picks up stains. Tooth enamel also contains pores that can hold stains.

The most common reasons for teeth to get yellow or stained are:

Using tobacco
Drinking dark-colored liquids such as coffee, cola, tea and red wine
Not taking good care of your teeth

Aging also makes teeth less bright as the enamel gets thinner and the dentin becomes darker.

It is also possible to have stains inside the tooth. These are called intrinsic stains. For example, intrinsic stains can be caused by exposure to too much fluoride as a child while teeth are developing. Other causes include tetracycline antibiotics. They can stain a child’s teeth if taken by a mother during the second half of pregnancy or by a child who is 8 years old or younger. Teeth are still developing during these years. Trauma may also darken a tooth.

Tooth whitening is most effective on surface (extrinsic) stains.


Other dental problems can affect the success of tooth whitening. For example, cavities need to be treated before teeth are whitened. That’s because the whitening solution can pass through decayed areas and reach the inner parts of the tooth. If your gums have receded, the exposed roots of your teeth may appear yellow or discolored. Whitening products will not make them whiter.

If you have tooth decay or receding gums, whitening may make your teeth sensitive. Whitening also does not work on ceramic or porcelain crowns or veneers.

Whitening can be done in the dental office or at home. For in-office whitening, your dentist probably will photograph your teeth first. This step will help him or her to monitor the progress of the treatment. Your dentist also will examine your teeth and ask you questions to find out what caused the staining.

Next, the dentist or a dental hygienist will clean your teeth. This will remove the film of bacteria, food and other substances that build up on your teeth and contribute to the staining. Once this is done, the whitening procedure begins.

For whitening at home, your dentist can make trays to hold the whitening gel that fit your teeth precisely. Home whitening gel usually needs to be applied daily for two to three weeks. Over-the-counter kits also are widely available for home use. They provide trays to hold the gel, or whitening strips that stick to your teeth. Talk to your dentist if you want to use these home products. Be sure to follow directions to avoid overuse and possible damage to your teeth and mouth.

How It’s Done

There are two main types of whitening procedures. Non-vital whitening is done on a tooth that has had root-canal treatment and no longer has a live nerve. Vital whitening is performed on teeth that have live nerves.

Non-Vital Whitening

Vital whitening may not improve the appearance of a tooth that has had root-canal treatment because the stain is coming from the inside of the tooth. If this is the case, your dentist will use a different procedure that whitens the tooth from the inside. He or she will place a whitening agent inside the tooth and put a temporary filling over it. The tooth will be left this way for several days. You may need this done only once, or it can be repeated until the tooth reaches the desired shade.

Vital Whitening

The most common type of vital tooth whitening uses a gel-like whitening solution that is applied directly to the tooth surface. This product contains some form of hydrogen peroxide.

Tooth whitening can be done in the dentist’s office or at home. In-office (chairside) whitening allows your dentist to use a more powerful whitening gel. A specialized light or laser activates the gel and allows bleaching to happen faster.

In-office whitening usually takes 30 to 90 minutes. You will need one to three appointments. The number will depend upon the method used, how severe your stains are and how white you want your teeth to be. Different types of stains respond differently to the treatment.

First, your dentist will apply a substance that covers and protects the gums around the teeth. Then, the whitening agent, usually hydrogen peroxide, will be placed on the teeth.

Some whitening agents are activated by a laser light, special lights or by the heat from these lights. After the whitening agent is applied, the dentist will shine the light on your teeth. If your teeth are badly discolored, your dentist may suggest that you continue the bleaching process at home for a few days or weeks.

For in-home whitening, your dentist will take impressions of your upper and lower teeth and will make custom mouthpieces to fit you. The mouthpiece needs to fit well. A close fit helps the whitening agent remain in contact with your teeth.

At home, you will fill each mouthpiece with a whitening gel your dentist provides. You will wear the mouthpiece for several hours every day. Many people achieve the amount of whitening they want within a week or two. However, you may need to wear the mouthpiece for four weeks or longer.

You also can buy whitening products over the counter. They contain a weaker whitening agent than the products you can get from your dentist. Therefore, whitening may take longer. The whitening agent is applied as a gel placed in a mouthpiece or as a strip that sticks to your teeth. Over-the-counter mouthpieces fit less securely than the kind you get from your dentist.

Whitening toothpastes are available as well. They contain abrasives that remove stains on the enamel. They do not actually change the overall color of your teeth.


If you find that your gums are white or sore, follow up with your dentist.

Whitening is not a permanent solution. The stains will come back. If you smoke or consume a lot of staining foods or drinks, you may see the whiteness start to fade in as little as one month. If you avoid these sources of staining, you may not need another whitening treatment for 6 to 12 months.

Re-whitening can be done in the dentist’s office or at home. If you have a custom-made mouthpiece and whitening agent at home, you can whiten your teeth as frequently as you need to. Discuss your whitening schedule with your dentist. You can talk about what whitening products would work best for you.


Whitening is unlikely to cause serious side effects, although some people’s teeth may become more sensitive for a short while. You may get mild gum irritation as well. Women should not have their teeth whitened while pregnant. The effect of the whitening materials on the development of the fetus is not known. Since the procedure is cosmetic, it should be postponed until after delivery.

When To Call a Professional

If you feel your teeth would benefit from whitening, contact your dentist to discuss the procedure.

Source: Aetna


Your Dentist And The American Dental Association

Reasons Why To Choose A Dentist From ADA

When you’re choosing a dentist, there are a number of good reasons to choose someone who is a member of the American Dental Association (ADA).


  • The ADA provides its members with information on the latest research and developments in oral health care. The association also publishes a clinical journal, the Journal of the American Dental Association, with peer-reviewed studies of topics in oral care. So an ADA member dentist will be well-qualified to answer your questions about any aspects of your dental health and to work with other dental specialists if necessary. In addition, the ADA administers continuing education programs to dentists to help them keep their skills current.


  • Because the ADA acts as an advocate as well as an accreditation agency for the dental profession, ADA-member dentists have support from the organization when dealing with insurance issues or with government issues that affect dental patients.


  • If you’re moving or if you’ve changed insurance companies, the ADA database can help you find certified ADA-member dentists anywhere in the United States.Network. If you’re moving or if you’ve changed insurance companies, the ADA database can help you find certified ADA-member dentists anywhere in the United States.


  • Dentists who are members of the ADA have agreed to uphold high standards of conduct. The ADA Code includes these five principles of ethics: patient autonomy, justice, veracity, beneficence and nonmaleficence. If you choose an ADA-member dentist, you have the added security of knowing that your dentist is answerable to a reputable professional organization.

Source: Oral B

What To Expect When Getting A Filling

What To Expect When Getting A Filling

When your dentist tells you have a cavity, you really do need a filling to protect the tooth from further decay.

When To Opt For Dental Filling

In fact, if left unfilled, a cavity will only get worse and the decay might ultimately lead to bone loss. Fortunately, the tooth-filling procedure is nearly painless thanks to advances in dentistry. So there’s no reason to avoid getting a filling if your dentist recommends it.

What To Expect

One of the first things to expect when getting a filling is a conversation with your cosmetic dentist in gulfport MS about what type of material should be used. There are many more choices of filling material available today than in the past, and your choice may depend on a combination of appearance, cost and function.

Options For Filling Materials

Some options for filling materials include:


  • Gold. Gold fillings are sturdy and non-corrosive; they can last up to 15 years. Many people like the look of gold fillings, but they can cost more than other types.


  • Amalgam. Silver-colored amalgam fillings are a mixture of metals including silver, copper, tin and mercury. They’re the most researched dental material and are strong, durable, and inexpensive, but many people don’t like the look of the silver.


  • Composite. Fillings made of a tooth-colored mixtures of glass and resin, composite can match the color of your teeth, but they are not as durable as metal and may need to be replaced more frequently.


  • Ceramic. Ceramic fillings are often made of porcelain and they are popular for people who want a natural looking tooth. They are durable, but can be abrasive if they hit up against natural teeth. Your dentist will need to make sure that you are biting correctly and the ceramic crown is smooth in order to prevent tooth wear.

Glass Ionomers

  • Glass ionomers. These glass and acrylic fillings bond chemically to dental hard tissues and release fluoride slowly over time. They are indicated for low-stress areas and are usually placed on roots or front teeth. They are often used in children as a short-term solution for baby teeth.

Using Anesthesia

When it’s time to fill your cavity, your dentist will first numb the area using local anesthesia. If you’re very nervous about the procedure, talk to your dentist about options for managing your concerns to help you relax.

Using A Special Dentist Drill

Once the area surrounding the cavity is numb, your dentist will remove the decayed tissue using a special dental drill, an air abrasion instrument, or even a laser. The end result is the same-the removal of decayed tissue. The instrument used depends in part on where the tooth decay is and how severe it is. Air abrasion is a relatively new technique in dentistry that involves using a handheld device to spray a tiny stream of aluminum oxide particles onto the area of the tooth to be removed. The particles hit the tooth and blast away the desired amount of tissue without any heat or vibration. Most patients report that the procedure is essentially painless. But if you have a very deep cavity or it is in a tricky spot between the teeth, your dentist will likely use the dental drill.

Cleaning Out

Once the decayed material is removed, your dentist will clean out any debris and place the filling in the cavity. If the cavity is deep, your dentist may place a liner over the cavity before placing the filling to protect the tooth nerve.

Cleaning And Polishing

When the filling is in place, your dentist will clean and polish it and send you on your way. Your lips and gum area may be numb for the first few hours, so chew food carefully and avoid chewing on the part of your mouth where the filling is located. Some tooth sensitivity is normal during the first few weeks after a filling. You might also want to avoid triggers, such as extremely hot or cold foods. If the sensitivity persists after a few weeks, contact your dentist. And if you feel pain in the tooth when biting, see your dentist as soon as possible-you may need to have the filling reshaped.

Not To Worry

Don’t worry if you feel some pain or sensitivity in teeth that are next to the filled tooth. This “referred pain” is the nerves in the filled tooth sending pain signals to other teeth. It is normal and should subside within a week or two.

Take Good Care Of Your Filling

After you’ve received a filling, take good care of it. Follow a regular oral health routine of twice daily tooth brushing (preferably with a fluoride toothpaste) and daily flossing. And be sure to see your dentist for regular checkups-you may not notice when your filling starts to wear down, but your dentist will be able to notice this and also find any weak spots during a checkup. If your filling breaks or falls out, see your dentist immediately so it can be repaired or replaced.

Source: Oral B

Caring for Dentures

Proper denture care is important for both the health of your dentures and mouth. Here are some tips.

Handle dentures with great care. To avoid accidentally dropping them, stand over a folded towel or a full sink of water when handling them.
Brush and rinse dentures daily, but not with toothpaste. Toothpaste is abrasive and creates microscopic scratches where food and plaque can build up. Like natural teeth, dentures must be brushed daily to remove food and plaque. Brushing also helps prevent the development of permanent stains on the dentures. Use a brush with soft bristles that is specifically designed for cleaning dentures. Avoid using a hard-bristled brush as it can damage or wear down dentures. Gently brush all surfaces of the denture and be careful not to damage the plastic or bend attachments. In between brushings, rinse dentures after every meal.
Clean with a denture cleaner. Hand soap or mild dishwashing liquid can be used for cleaning dentures. Household cleansers and many toothpastes may be too abrasive for dentures and should not be used. Also, avoid using bleach, as this may whiten the pink portion of the denture. Ultrasonic cleaners can be used to care for dentures. These cleaners are small bathtub-like devices that contain a cleaning solution. The denture is immersed in the tub and then sound waves create a wave motion that dislodges the undesirable deposits. Use of an ultrasonic cleaner, however, does not replace a thorough daily brushing. Products with the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance are recommended since they have been evaluated for safety and effectiveness.
Take proper care of dentures when not wearing them. Dentures need to be kept moist when not being worn so they do not dry out or lose their shape. When not worn, dentures should be placed in a denture cleanser soaking solution or in water. However, if the denture has metal attachments, the attachments could tarnish if placed in a soaking solution. Your dentist can recommend the best methods for caring for your particular denture. Dentures should never be placed in hot water, which can cause them to warp.

Can I Adjust or Repair Dentures?

One or more follow-up appointments are generally needed soon after receiving dentures for any necessary adjustments. Never attempt to adjust or repair dentures yourself. Never bend any part of the clasp or metal attachments yourself; doing so can weaken the metal structure. “Do-it-yourself” repair kits can permanently damage dentures, and over-the-counter glues may contain harmful chemicals.

Dentures that don’t fit properly can cause irritation and sores in the mouth and on gums. Be sure to contact your oral health care provider if a denture breaks, cracks, or chips or if one of the teeth becomes loose. Oftentimes, your provider can make the necessary adjustment or repair the same day. For some complicated repairs, your denture may have to be sent to a special dental lab.

Will My Dentures Need to Be Replaced?

Over time, dentures will need to be relined, rebased, or remade due to normal wear and natural age-related changes to the face, jaw bones, and gums or if the dentures become loose. To reline or rebase a denture, the dentist or prosthodontist refits the denture base or makes a new denture base and reuses the existing teeth. Generally, complete dentures should be used for 5 to 7 years before a replacement is necessary.
How Should I Care for My Mouth and Gums if I Have Dentures?

Even with full dentures, it is important to brush your gums, tongue, and palate with a soft-bristled brush every morning before putting the dentures in. This removes plaque and stimulates circulation in the mouth. Pay special attention to cleaning teeth that fit under the denture’s metal clasps. Plaque that becomes trapped under the clasps will increase the risk of tooth decay. If you wear a partial denture, be sure to remove it before brushing natural teeth. Clean, rest, and massage your gums regularly. Rinsing your mouth daily with lukewarm salt water will help clean the gums. Eat a balanced diet to maintain proper nutrition and a healthy mouth.
How Often Should I See the Dentist if I Have Dentures?

If you have dentures, your dentist or prosthodontist will advise you about how often to visit, but every six months should be the norm. Regular dental visits are important so that your dentures and your mouth can be examined to ensure proper denture fit, to look for signs of oral diseases including cancer, and to have teeth professionally cleaned.

Source: WebMD


Dental Care for Seniors

Advancing age puts many seniors at risk for a number of oral health problems, such as:

Darkened teeth . Caused, to some extent, by changes in dentin — the bone-like tissue that underlies the tooth enamel — and by a lifetime of consuming stain-causing foods and beverages. Also caused by thinning of the outer enamel layer that lets the darker yellower dentin show through.
Dry mouth.Dry mouth is caused by reduced saliva flow, which can be a result of cancer treatments that use radiation to the head and neck area, as well as certain diseases, such as Sjögren’s syndrome, and medication side effects. Many medicines can cause dry mouth.
Diminished sense of taste. While advancing age impairs the sense of taste, diseases, medications, and dentures can also contribute to this sensory loss.
Root decay. This is caused by exposure of the tooth root to decay-causing acids. The tooth roots become exposed as gum tissue recedes from the tooth. Roots do not have any enamel to protect them and are more prone to decay than the crown part of the tooth.
Gum disease. Caused by plaque and made worse by food left in teeth, use of tobacco products, poor-fitting bridges and dentures, poor diets, and certain diseases, such as anemia, cancer, and diabetes, this is often a problem for older adults.
Tooth loss.Gum disease is a leading cause of tooth loss.
Uneven jawbone. This is caused by tooth and then not replacing missing teeth. This allows the rest of the teeth to drift and shift into open spaces
Denture-induced stomatitis. Ill-fitting dentures, poor dental hygiene, or a buildup of the fungus Candida albicans cause this condition, which is inflammation of the tissue underlying a denture.
Thrush. Diseases or drugs that affect the immune system can trigger the overgrowth of the fungus Candida albicans in the mouth.

Age in and of itself is not a dominant or sole factor in determining oral health. However, certain medical conditions, such as arthritis in the hands and fingers, may make brushing or flossing teeth difficult to impossible to perform. Drugs can also affect oral health and may make a change in your dental treatment necessary.

Oral Hygiene Tips for Seniors

Daily brushing and flossing of natural teeth is essential to keeping them in good oral health. Plaque can build up quickly on the teeth of seniors, especially if oral hygiene is neglected, and lead to tooth decay and gum disease.

To maintain good oral health, it’s important for all individuals — regardless of age — to:

Brush at least twice a day with a fluoride-containing toothpaste
Floss at least once a day
Visit your dentist on a regular schedule for cleaning and an oral exam

Antibacterial mouth rinse can reduce bacteria that cause plaque and gum disease, according to the American Dental Association.

What Seniors Can Expect During a Dental Exam

If you’re a senior headed for a check up, your dentist should conduct a thorough history and dental exam. Questions asked during a dental history should include:

The approximate date of your last dental visit and reason for the visit
If you have noticed any recent changes in your mouth
If you have noticed any loose or sensitive teeth
If you have noticed any difficulty tasting, chewing, or swallowing
If you have any pain, discomfort, sores, or bleeding in your mouth
If you have noticed any lumps, bumps, or swellings in your mouth

During an oral exam, your dentist will check the following: your face and neck (for skin discoloration, moles, sores); your bite (for any problems in how the teeth come together while opening and closing your mouth); your jaw (for signs of clicking and popping in the temporomandibular joint); your lymph nodes and salivary glands (for any sign of swelling or lumps); your inner cheeks (for infections, ulcers, traumatic injuries); your tongue and other interior surfaces — floor of the mouth, soft and hard palate, gum tissue (for signs of infection or oral cancer); and your teeth (for decay, condition of fillings, and cracks).

If you wear dentures or other appliances, your dentist will ask a few questions about when you wear your dentures and when you take them out (if removable). He or she will also look for any irritation or problems in the areas in the mouth that the appliance touches, and examine the denture or appliance itself (looking for any worn or broken areas).

Source: WebMD


Are There Other Alternatives for Improving My Smile?

Not everyone is a candidate for whitening. Bleaching is not recommended if you have tooth-colored fillings, crowns, caps or bonding in your front teeth — the bleach will not change the color of these materials, making them stand out in your newly whitened smile. In these cases, you may want to investigate other options, like veneers or bonding.


Veneers are thin pieces of porcelain or plastic glued to the front of your teeth. For teeth that are severely discolored, chipped or misshapen, they create a durable and pleasing smile. Veneers are difficult to stain, making them popular for people seeking a perfect smile.

There are two types of veneers:

Porcelain (indirect) veneers, which must first be created to fit your teeth in a dental laboratory and require two visits to the dentist. Porcelain veneers cost between $900-$2,500 per tooth and last from 10 to 15 years or more
Composite (direct) veneers, in which enamel is bonded to your tooth in a single visit. Composite veneers cost significantly less, around $250 per tooth, but only last five to seven years

Chipped ToothChipped tooth.

Tooth after bonding to repair the chip.Tooth after bonding to repair the chip.

Bonding uses composite resin to restore chipped or broken teeth, fill in gaps and reshape or recolor your smile. After applying a very mild etching solution that slightly roughs the surface of your teeth and permits the bonding material to adhere, your dentist applies the resin and sculpts, colors and shapes it to provide a pleasing result. A high-intensity light hardens the material, which is then finely polished.

Many people choose bonding over silver fillings because it looks more natural — the material can be matched to your natural tooth color
The disadvantages of bonding versus silver fillings are that they cost more (from $300-$600 per tooth), and because it is porous, smokers will find that it yellows

Your dentist can tell you if you are a good candidate for veneers or bonding.

Source: Colgate-Palmolive Company


Improving Your Smile With Tooth Whitening and Tooth Bonding

What Factors Affect the Color of My Teeth?
Some people are born with teeth that are more yellow than others. Others have teeth that yellow with age. Your natural tooth color can also be affected by many factors. Surface stains (called extrinsic stains by dentists) and discoloration can be caused by:

Tobacco (whether smoked or chewed)
Drinking coffee, tea, or red wine
Eating highly pigmented foods such as cherries and blueberries
Accumulation of tartar deposits, which result from plaque that has hardened

Internal stains (called intrinsic stains by dentists) can be caused by:

Treatment with the antibiotic tetracycline during the time when teeth are forming
Yellowing or graying of the teeth as part of the aging process
Trauma to the teeth that may result in the death of the tooth’s nerve, giving the tooth a brown, gray or black color
Ingesting too much fluoride when teeth are forming (from birth to age 16), which gives teeth a “mottled” look

What are Ways to Whiten Teeth?
Thorough cleanings by a dentist or hygienist will remove most external staining caused by food and tobacco. Using a whitening toothpaste can also help remove these surface stains between dental visits. If stains have been present for years, you may need to have your teeth professionally whitened to remove these more stubborn external stains.

Internal stains can be bleached, bonded or capped (crowned). While each of these methods is safe and effective, your dentist will recommend which treatment is appropriate for you depending on the state of your teeth and the results that you wish to achieve. Your dentist will consider:

The degree and type of staining
How much of the tooth structure is remaining (Is the tooth heavily filled? Are changes to the shape of the teeth needed or desired?)

How Does Tooth Whitening Work?
Whitening (bleaching) can be done either in a dentist’s office or at home, using a system dispensed by your dentist. Both methods use tooth-bleaching gels that oxidize out the stain. It’s not uncommon for teeth to become slightly sensitive during the whitening process.

At-home whitening
At-home whitening is the more popular approach today. Your dentist takes an impression of your teeth and makes a custom-fitted tray, which you fill with a whitening gel and wear up to two hours daily or at night for about two weeks. Many whitening kits prescribed by dentists today contain a solution of 10-15% carbamide peroxide. When done under the supervision of your dentist, at-home whitening is very effective.
In-office whitening
Less frequent and more expensive, this procedure takes from 30 minutes to one hour per visit, and you may have to return for several visits to achieve the desired whiteness. To protect your mouth, a gel-like substance may be applied to your gums and a rubber “shield” may be placed around the necks of the teeth. An oxidizing agent (the bleaching solution) is then applied to your teeth. Sometimes, a special light is used at five-minute intervals to help activate the whitening agent.

Will My Newly Whitened Teeth Stain?
Any tooth can stain, including the veneers and bonds mentioned above. To help prevent stains from coming back, avoid smoking, coffee, tea, red wine and heavily colored foods. And brush your teeth twice a day with a whitening toothpaste.

How Does Bonding Work?
Bonding uses composite resins or porcelain/composite veneers to cover the surface of stained teeth and give a nice, even appearance to broken or misshapen teeth. There are two basic bonding techniques:

Composite bonding
First, the front of the tooth is slightly reduced to prevent the “new” tooth from being too bulky. Microscopic grooves are then etched into the tooth surface with a mild acid. A composite resin matched to the color of the surrounding teeth is applied to the tooth, contoured into shape, set using a curing light, and finally smoothed and polished.
Veneer bonding
A veneer is made to match the color and shape of your tooth. Porcelain veneers are generally stronger, while composite veneers are less expensive. With porcelain veneers, the dentist takes an impression of the tooth and sends it to the dental lab for fabrication of the veneer, usually after the front of the tooth has been reduced. With either method, the tooth is prepared for bonding by roughening the front surface with mild etching solution. The veneer can then be bonded to your tooth using a dental bonding cement.

While more expensive, a porcelain veneer offers a better color match to your surrounding teeth and typically lasts for five to 10 years.

Source: Colgate



What is it?
Bonding is the application of a tooth-colored composite resin (plastic) to repair a decayed, chipped, fractured or discolored tooth. Unlike veneers, which are manufactured in a laboratory and require a customized mold to achieve a proper fit, bonding can be done in a single visit. The procedure is called bonding because the material bonds to the tooth.

What it’s Used for?
Bonding is among the easiest and least expensive of cosmetic dental procedures. The composite resin used in bonding can be shaped and polished to match the surrounding teeth. Most often, bonding is used for cosmetic purposes to improve the appearance of a discolored or chipped tooth. It also can be used to close spaces between teeth, to make teeth look longer or to change the shape or color of teeth.

Sometimes, bonding also is used as a cosmetic alternative to amalgam fillings, or to protect a portion of the tooth’s root that has been exposed when gums recede.

Preparation No preparation is needed for bonding. Anesthesia often is not necessary, unless the bonding is being used to fill a decayed tooth.

How it’s Done
Your dentist will use a shade guide to select the composite resin color that will match the color of the tooth most closely.

Once your dentist has chosen the color, he or she will slightly abrade or etch the surface of the tooth to roughen it. The tooth will be coated lightly with a conditioning liquid, which helps the bonding material adhere.

When the tooth is prepared, your dentist will apply the tooth-colored, putty-like resin. The resin is molded and smoothed until it’s the proper shape. Then the material is hardened with an ultraviolet light or laser.

After the bonding material hardens, your dentist will further trim and shape it. Then he or she will polish the material until it matches the sheen of the rest of the tooth surface.

It usually takes about 30 minutes to an hour to complete the procedure. If you’re having more than one tooth done, you may need to schedule several visits.

Tea, coffee, cigarette smoke and other substances can stain the resin. To prevent or minimize stains, it’s essential to avoid eating or drinking foods that can stain for the first 48 hours after any composite procedure. In addition, brush your teeth often and have them cleaned regularly by a dental hygienist.

The composite resin used in bonding isn’t nearly as strong as a natural tooth. Biting your fingernails or chewing on ice or pens can chip the material. Bonding usually lasts several years before it needs to be repaired. How long it actually lasts depends on how much bonding was done and your oral habits.

When to Call a Professional
In the days after having the bonding done, call your dentist if you notice sharp edges on the bonded teeth, or your teeth feel strange or “off” when you bite down.

At any time, call your dentist if the bonding chips or pieces fall out.

Source: InteliHealth Inc.

Affordable Dental Care Options

What You Should Know

But the truth is, taking consistently good care of your teeth is more cost-effective than waiting until a serious dental problem occurs. Plus, oral hygiene is important for overall health. So if you or someone you know has been avoiding going to the dentist because they don’t have insurance or don’t think they can afford it, consider these options:

Options To Consider

Dental schools. Many dental schools sponsor patient clinics and offer quality dental care at reduced cost. Visit the American Dental Association Web site,, for a list of dental schools to see whether there is a dental school clinic in your area, or ask at a local community health center.
Assistance plans. Use the American Dental Association Web site or a community health center to contact your state’s dental society about assistance in paying for dental care for persons in need. The assistance programs vary from state to state, and some states may offer special programs to help pay for dental care for children. Also, some dentists and dental schools participate in community outreach programs to provide free or low-cost dental care to people who are uninsured.
Shop around. You can evaluate the overall cost of dental care by figuring out the cost of getting to the dentist and the convenience of the office hours.

Do Comparison

If you want to compare fees for services, call different offices and ask for the cost of a standard service, such as a preventive visit that includes a professional cleaning, or the cost of full-mouth x-rays. If you choose a dentist who participates in your workplace’s insurance plan, you may be covered for free checkups and cleanings twice a year.


How to Find the Right Dentist

Finding the right dentist for you and your family involves a combination of factors. But it all comes down to the four C’s: Competence, convenience, compatibility and cost.

First and foremost, you need your dentist to be competent, which means that he or she maintains a high level of professionalism and knows the latest treatments and developments in the dental field. To ensure competent dental care, look for a dentist who is a member of the Academy of General Dentistry. Dentists who are members of the AGD must meet requirements for continuing education and are pledged to uphold the highest standards of ethics and patient care.

A dentist may have a degree that says DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine) or DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery). These degrees apply to general dentists and represent the same training programs, but different dental schools use different terms.

Convenience is another important factor in finding a dentist. You’ll be much more likely to keep appointments if you choose a dentist whose office is convenient to your home or workplace. Also, look for a dentist whose office hours fit with your schedule. Do you need evening or weekend appointments? Do you have children who could see a dentist after school? These are the type of questions to consider.

Also, a convenient dentist is one who participates with your dental insurance plan. Most dentists in the United States participate with the large dental plans offered by most employers, but you won’t know until you ask. If you have insurance, your insurance company can provide a list of dentists who participate with your plan.  Take that list and ask your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers for recommendations.

Next, consider compatibility. For example, some dentists are specialists in treating patients who are fearful of dental procedures, whether it’s filling a cavity or performing a root canal. So if you tend to be a nervous dental patient, ask your friends and colleagues to recommend a dentist that they like because he or she puts patients at ease. And ask a potential dentist whether he or she offers sedation dentistry, which involves treating you with a sedative via a pill, inhaled gas, or intravenous drug therapy prior to a dental procedure to help you relax.

If you have children, you may want to look for a dentist who has extra training in pediatric dentistry, although most general dentists manage a family practice and are expert at treat patients of all ages. Of course, some dentists are more comfortable and better at working with children than others. It may be worth asking other parents to help you find a child-friendly dentist, because positive experiences with dental care in early childhood can help encourage children to develop and follow consistent oral health care routines as they grow up.

Trust your instincts: Is the office clean and neat? Are your records in order when you arrive? Is there a plan in place for after-hours dental emergencies? Find a dentist who makes you feel comfortable about asking questions, and who explains treatments and procedures so you can understand them.
Finally, consider cost. Some people are very loyal to a dentist they like and will stick with him or her regardless of what their insurance does or doesn’t cover. Others give more weight to cost.

Many insurance plans cover 100 percent of the cost of at least one basic dental checkup and professional cleaning per year, and many plans cover two checkups per year. So it’s always worth the effort to find a quality dentist who participates in your insurance plan. If you need a dental procedure that your insurance plan doesn’t cover, contact the American Dental Association to find out about dental clinics operated by dental schools in your area. These school-based clinics are operated by the schools and supervised by licensed dentists. They often offer advanced procedures as well as basic dental care, often at a reduced cost.

If you have no dental insurance, you may be able to set aside money in a Flexible Spending Account through your employer to help cover a dental procedure, such as orthodontia, that you’re planning in advance.


Brushing and Flossing Children’s Teeth

In children, teeth should be cleaned as soon as they emerge. By starting early, your baby gets used to the daily routine. A soft washcloth wrapped around your finger can substitute for a brush when teeth first appear. Ask your dentist when you should switch to a toothbrush. Some dentists suggest waiting until four teeth in a row have come out; others recommend waiting until the child is 2 or 3 years old.

Here are some tips for taking care of your child’s teeth:

Choose a small, child-sized, soft-bristled toothbrush. Soaking the brush in warm water for a few minutes before brushing can soften the bristles even more.
Both the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend using an amount of fluoride toothpaste the size of a grain of rice as soon as your baby’s first tooth appears. You can graduate to a pea-sized amount when your child turns 3 years old.
Brush your child’s teeth twice a day – in the morning and just before bed. Spend 2 minutes brushing, concentrating a good portion of this time on the back molars. This is an area where cavities often first develop.
Replace the toothbrush every 3 or 4 months, or sooner if it shows signs of wear. Never share a toothbrush with others.
Start flossing your child’s teeth once a day as soon as two teeth emerge that touch. The use of floss sticks or picks instead of regular string floss may be easier for both you and your child.
Ask your dentist about your child’s fluoride needs. If your drinking water is not fluoridated, fluoride supplements or fluoride treatments may be needed.
Ask your dentist about dental sealants. These are thin, plastic protective barriers that fill in the chewing surfaces of the back teeth, protecting them from tooth decay.

When Should Children Brush and Floss on Their Own?

Most children lack the coordination to brush or floss their teeth on their own until about the age of 6 or 7. Up until this time, remember that the best way to teach children how to brush their teeth is to lead by example. Allowing your child to watch you brush your teeth teaches the importance of good oral hygiene.

How Safe Is Fluoride for My Child?

Fluoride is safe for children. Fluoride is a natural mineral that protects and strengthens the teeth against the formation of cavities. Using it early in your child’s life will provide extra protection for developing teeth. Find out if your tap water contains fluoride by calling your local water authority. If your tap water does not contain fluoride, ask your dentist if you should give your child a fluoride supplement.

Do Home Faucet Filters Remove Fluoride?

There is a wide variation in water filters. Some do filter out fluoride; others do not. Check with the manufacturer of the filter you have purchased or have the water tested by a laboratory that does this type of testing.

Does It Matter What Toothpaste My Child Uses?

Many children’s toothpastes are flavored with child-pleasing tastes to further encourage brushing. Select your child’s favorite. Also, look for toothpastes that carry the American Dental Association’s (ADA) Seal of Acceptance. This indicates that the toothpaste has met ADA criteria for safety and effectiveness. Finally, read the manufacturer’s label. Some toothpastes are not recommended for children under a certain age.

Can My Child Use a Mouthwash?

Generally, mouthwashes are not recommended in children who are incapable of spitting and rinsing – skills that occur around the age of 6. It’s important to note that mouthwash is not a substitute for brushing, although rinsing after a meal with water will help remove some larger particles of food left on or between the teeth.

When Should My Child Start Seeing a Dentist?

It is generally recommended that an infant be seen by a dentist by the age of 1 or within 6 months after his or her first tooth comes in. This allows the dentist to inspect the teeth for any irregularities and counsel the parents on correct brushing methods and appropriate diet.

Source: WebMD

How To Wear and Care For Your Retainer Correctly

How should I take care of my retainer?
Most retainers are removable, meaning that you take them out when eating, brushing and flossing. For this reason, they are easy to misplace. Many people wrap their retainers in a napkin when eating, then forget about them afterwards and have to spend hundreds of dollars on a new retainer. A good solution is to always carry your retainer case with you and to use it whenever you’re not wearing your retainer. For added protection, never leave the case on a table or a bench — always put it immediately in your backpack, purse or pocket.

Your dentist can give you information on how to clean and care for your specific type of retainer. Regardless of the type, you need to make sure you don’t sit on, step on or otherwise damage this delicate and expensive piece of equipment.

How long do I need to wear a retainer after my braces comes off?
Your dentist can tell you how long you should keep wearing your retainer. Since the purpose of retainers is to prevent your teeth from shifting back into their original position, they should be worn at least until your jawbone and gums have had time to stabilize around your newly-aligned teeth. Many orthodontists recommend that children and teenagers wear their retainers until their early or mid-20s — until all the permanent teeth have come in and the jaw stops growing.


Space Maintainers for Premature Tooth Loss

Baby teeth aren’t just for chewing. Each one also acts as a guide for the eruption of the permanent tooth that replaces it. If a baby tooth is lost too early, the permanent tooth loses its guide. It can drift or erupt into the wrong position in the mouth. Neighboring teeth also can move or tilt into the space. This means that there may not be enough space for the permanent tooth to come in.

Dentists call baby teeth primary or deciduous teeth. Primary teeth can be lost too early for several reasons:

They can be knocked out in a fall or other accident.
They may need to be extracted because of severe decay that causes infection.
They may be missing at birth.
Some diseases or conditions can lead to early tooth loss.

Space maintainers may be used:

If a primary tooth is lost before the permanent tooth is ready to come in
If a permanent tooth is missing

The maintainer keeps the space open until the permanent tooth comes in.

Types of Space Maintainers

A space maintainer is made of stainless steel and/or plastic. It can be removable. Some space maintainers are cemented onto the teeth on either side of the space in the child’s mouth. This is called a fixed space maintainer.

A removable space maintainer looks like a retainer. It uses artificial teeth or plastic blocks to fill in the space or spaces that need to stay open. This type of space maintainer often is used when the space is obvious to other people. Removable space maintainers work well in older children who can reliably follow directions about caring for this appliance.

There are several kinds of fixed space maintainers. A band-and-loop maintainer is made of stainless steel wire. It is held in place by a crown on the tooth next to the space or an orthodontic-type band around one of the teeth next to the open space. A wire loop is attached to the band or crown. It sticks out across the space where the tooth is missing and just touches the tooth on the other side of the open space. The wire loop holds the space open. This allows the permanent tooth enough space to come into the mouth without crowding.

A lower wire known as a “lingual arch” is used when back teeth are lost on both sides of the lower jaw. “Lingual” refers to the inside or tongue side of the teeth. This type of space maintainer uses bands wrapped around a tooth on either side of the mouth behind the missing teeth. A wire connected to the bands runs along the inside of the bottom teeth, just touching them. This will maintain the space on both sides.

Another type of fixed space maintainer is called a distal shoe appliance. It is inserted under the gums. It is used when a child loses the baby tooth in front of a 6-year molar that has not yet come into the mouth. The 6-year molar is also called the first permanent molar. Because it has not come in yet, there is no tooth to hold a band-and-loop space maintainer in place. A distal shoe appliance has a metal wire that is inserted slightly under the gum. This keeps the space from closing.

Distal shoe appliances must be checked often because the incoming tooth can easily become blocked by the wire. The appliance may require adjustment to allow the tooth to come in properly. As a result, most dentists will try to avoid using a distal shoe appliance. Instead, they will try to keep the primary tooth in the mouth until the permanent tooth underneath is ready to come in.

For children missing several teeth, a partial denture may be used instead of a space maintainer. For example, children with a congenital disease called ectodermal dysplasia often are missing multiple primary teeth. There are no permanent teeth to replace them. A child with this condition will use a removable denture into adulthood. After that, the child can receive dental implants or a bridge or continue to use a partial denture to replace the missing teeth.

Are Space Maintainers Always Necessary?

Not every tooth that is lost too early requires a space maintainer. If one of the four upper front teeth is lost early, the space will stay open on its own until the permanent tooth comes in.

If you do not take your child to the dentist regularly — at least every six months — a space maintainer can cause problems. This especially can occur if your child does not brush well. The gum tissue in the space can grow over the wire arm, increasing the risk of infection. If that happens, your child’s dentist may have to remove the gum tissue by surgery.

If the permanent tooth is about to erupt, the dentist may decide not to use a space maintainer unless your child needs braces and space is a critical issue.

Some children may not be able to cooperate during the process of making the space maintainer. Others may be at risk of injury if the space maintainer comes loose or breaks. These include children with diseases that affect how they breathe or swallow, and children who are very young. The ability to cooperate with the dentist is more important than a child’s age. Most young children can have space maintainers placed, if needed. Most of them are able to cooperate during the process.

Making the Space Maintainer

Each space maintainer is custom-made by a dentist or orthodontist.

For a fixed space maintainer, a metal band is placed around one of the teeth next to the space, and impressions are made. Impressions are made with a soft material that tastes like toothpaste. It sets into a gel around the teeth and is easily removed from the mouth. This allows the laboratory to make a copy of the teeth to use in making the space maintainer. The band is also removed and sent to the dental laboratory with the impressions. The lab creates the space maintainer and sends it back to your child’s dentist. He or she cements it into place at a second office visit. Sometimes, a space maintainer can be made in the office in a single visit without impressions.

To make a removable space maintainer, the dentist first makes impressions. They are sent to a lab, which makes the appliance.

Caring for Your Space Maintainer

The space maintainer may feel unusual at first. But after a few days, your child probably will forget about it. A removable space maintainer with replacement teeth can affect speech until your child gets used to it.

It’s important for your child to brush regularly to keep the gum tissue healthy. A child with a fixed space maintainer needs to avoid hard or sticky foods and chewy candy and gum. They can loosen the band or get caught in the wire arm. If the space maintainer comes loose, there is a risk of swallowing or inhaling it into the lung.

Finally, your child shouldn’t push on the space maintainer with his or her tongue or fingers. That could bend or loosen it.


Your child’s dentist will take X-rays regularly to follow the progress of the incoming permanent. When the tooth is ready to erupt, the space maintainer is removed.

If a permanent tooth is missing, the space maintainer will be used until your child’s growth is completed (age 16 to 18). Then a dentist will place a bridge, implant or removable partial denture in the space.

Source: Aetna


How To Prevent Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is the destruction of tooth structure and can affect both the enamel (the outer coating of the tooth) and the dentin layer of the tooth.

Tooth decay occurs when foods containing carbohydrates (sugars and starches), such as breads, cereals, milk, soda, fruits, cakes, or candy are left on the teeth. Bacteria that live in the mouth digest these foods, turning them into acids. The bacteria, acid, food debris, and saliva combine to form plaque, which clings to the teeth. The acids in plaque dissolve the enamel surface of the teeth, creating holes in the teeth called cavities.

To prevent tooth decay:

Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a fluoride-containing toothpaste. Preferably, brush after each meal and especially before going to bed.
Clean between your teeth daily with dental floss or interdental cleaners, such as the Oral-B Interdental Brush, Reach Stim-U-Dent, or Sulcabrush.
Eat nutritious and balanced meals and limit snacks. Avoid carbohydrates such as candy, pretzels and chips, which can remain on the tooth surface. If sticky foods are eaten, brush your teeth soon afterwards.
Check with your dentist about use of supplemental fluoride, which strengthens your teeth.
Ask your dentist about dental sealants (a plastic protective coating) applied to the chewing surfaces of your back teeth (molars) to protect them from decay.
Drink fluoridated water. At least a pint of fluoridated water each day is needed to protect children from tooth decay.
Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and oral exam.

A mouth rinse containing fluoride can help prevent tooth decay, according to the American Dental Association.

Researchers are developing new means to prevent tooth decay. One study found that a chewing gum that contains the sweetener xylitol temporarily retarded the growth of bacteria that cause tooth decay. In addition, several materials that slowly release fluoride over time, which will help prevent further decay, are being explored. These materials would be placed between teeth or in pits and fissures of teeth. Toothpastes and mouth rinses that can reverse and “heal” early cavities are also being studied.

Source: WebMD

When Should You See An Orthodontist

The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that children see an orthodontist no later than age 7, even if there are no problems. That’s because the jaw is still developing and it’s best to catch issues early.

“Most children go into orthodontic treatment when they are between 9 and 14 years old, but the average for girls is a little earlier,” Rogers says.

The typical adult patient might be 26 to 44 years old, but Rogers says he has also put braces on people in their 60s and 70s.

How long will treatment take? Orthodontists customize treatment for each patient. It usually takes one to three years.

Choosing an Orthodontist

To get her son’s teeth straightened, Henson asked family and friends for recommendations. She then interviewed three orthodontists. She decided to use her son’s doctor for her own braces because she liked her son’s treatment plan and the results – well, they made her smile.

The orthodontist also offered a family discount. And his office was convenient. That was a big plus for Henson, since she has appointments every six weeks.

Heller recommends asking how easy it is to schedule appointments. Whether a practice is right for you has a lot to do with the personality of the orthodontist and how good you feel when you’re there.

“The way the office runs and the way the patient is treated can vary quite a bit based on the practice’s philosophy, the personality of the doctor and how friendly the staff is,” Heller says.

Consultation First

Many orthodontists offer free or low-cost consultations. Rogers’ is 45 minutes long. It includes a panoramic X-ray that gives a full-mouth view, photographs, and a medical history.

Among other things, he measures how wide a patient can open her mouth and whether there’s jaw muscle tenderness or clicking, which may indicate grinding. He also measures the protrusion (how much teeth are jutting out) and crowding of the teeth.

Before they leave, patients get an estimate of treatment cost, length, and goals.

What You’ll Pay

Costs for orthodontic work vary by doctor and region. Rogers charges about $5,880 for children and $6,380 for adults, although some may be lower or higher.

Heller says there is a range of prices “from one neighborhood to the next, as well as differences in the way some practices are run.” Some see as many as 100 patients a day. Other practices take fewer patients per day, including Heller’s, which sees 40 patients daily.

More expensive doesn’t always mean better. Go to an orthodontist who offers video games in the waiting room and lavish, high-dollar prizes? You might be paying more for flash than substance, Heller says.

Many orthodontists offer interest-free financing for clients with good credit. And most also offer financing through banks.

In 2010, 60% of all new patients had dental insurance that include orthodontic benefits, according to the AAO.

Ask if there’s a lifetime cap or maximum, or any age limits.

And remember: Just like dental insurance, orthodontic insurance is designed to cover just a portion of the fee, not all of it.

Loves What She Sees

Henson has a high-profile job as executive director of the Arizona Chapter of the National Speakers Association. She once worried what people would think when she showed up at events with braces. But “everybody was very supportive and encouraging,” she says.

Today, when Henson looks in the mirror, she sees a shift in her teeth and her well-being.

“Even though I’m still wearing braces, it improves my self-confidence because I know I’m doing something that’s healthy for myself,” Henson says.

Source: WebMD


Protecting Your Healthy Smile While Wearing Braces

Oral care throughout orthodontic treatment
Orthodontic treatment is an important investment in your future. Everyone helping with your orthodontic care wants you to have the best results possible. While you are wearing braces, it is essential that you take care of your teeth and gums. This article explains why and how.

More care needed during orthodontics
Have a look in the mirror at your new braces. As you see, the brackets and wires have many nooks and crannies that can trap food and plaque. This means your risk of tooth decay and gum problems may be higher while you are wearing braces.

You need to pay special attention to cleaning your teeth everyday and to your diet. Permanent damage to tooth enamel can occur if the teeth and brackets are not kept clean.

Areas on the enamel surface may begin to lose minerals (the early stage of tooth decay), leaving unsightly white spots. You may also develop inflamed, bleeding gums (gingivitis). Gingivitis and the early stages of tooth decay can be reversed by taking extra care with your cleaning and diet. If left untreated, they can lead to bigger problems that will require treatment and have life-long effects. While you are having orthodontic treatment, you need to continue to have regular check-ups with your family dental professional to ensure little problems don’t become big ones.

Tooth-friendly diet
Dental professionals are increasingly concerned about acidic foods and drinks that can damage tooth enamel when consumed frequently or when sipped over extended periods of time.

Most of us are well aware that sugary foods and drinks can lead to tooth decay. Starchy foods, such as potato chips, can also stick to teeth for long periods of time and cause tooth decay.

Soda is especially hard on teeth because it not only contains acidic flavor additives, but it also includes 10–12 teaspoons of sugar, which further increases your chance of developing cavities. Studies show that diet sodas are just as damaging as regular sodas at weakening tooth enamel.1

Saliva is your body’s natural defense against tooth decay. You need to give saliva plenty of time to wash away acids that form after eating and drinking. A good rule to follow is to limit eating times each day to 3 meals and 2 snack times. You can drink plenty of water as often as you like! Be aware that bottled water may not contain fluoride.

Braces-friendly diet & habits
There are foods that can loosen, break or bend wires and bands when you are wearing braces.

Avoid hard foods such as nuts and hard cookies. Foods such as apples and carrots should be chopped into small pieces before eating to reduce the stress on your braces. Avoid sticky foods such as caramels, toffees, muesli or fruit bars. No chewing gum! No chewing ice!

Habits such as nail biting, unnatural tongue thrusting, pencil chewing and nervous picking at your wires can also break braces. Be aware of these and make an effort to stop them. Remember that damaged braces mean extra appointments, inconvenience and extended treatment time. If you do break your braces, be sure to make an appointment with your orthodontist immediately. Broken braces are not correcting your teeth!

Care at home
When cleaning your mouth while you are wearing braces, you need to pay special attention not only to your teeth and gums, but also to the brackets and wires.

Here are 10 simple steps for keeping your teeth, gums and braces in great shape:

If your orthodontist has fitted you with elastics, remove them before brushing.
Using a fluoride toothpaste and a soft, compact toothbrush, place your brush at an angle of 45 degrees against the gums. Gently brush along the gum line where the gums and teeth meet, using a small circular motion on each tooth.
Spend about 10 seconds on each tooth before moving onto the next tooth, brushing in a set pattern so that you don’t miss any teeth.
Gently brush the braces. Press your toothbrush firmly enough so that the bristles spread into the gaps between the wire and the tooth. Brush in and around all of the brackets and wires. Ensure that you brush under the wires. A battery powered brush may be helpful.
Brush both the inside and the outside surfaces of your teeth using a gentle circular motion on each tooth.
For the chewing surfaces, use a firm back and forth motion.
Spit out excess paste, then closely inspect your teeth and braces in the mirror to check that they are clean and shiny.
Replace your elastics in accordance with your orthodontist’s recommendation.
After brushing, rinse with a fluoride mouthwash, such as Colgate® Phos-Flur® , for 1 minute to help prevent cavities and white spots.
Use other oral care products, such as PreviDent® 5000 Booster™ (1.1% Sodium Fluoride), as prescribed by your dental professional.

Fluoride and oral care products
Fluoride protection against tooth decay is needed throughout life. However, while you are wearing braces, it is much harder to keep your teeth clean. This can result in higher than normal amounts of plaque accumulation, which can cause cavities.

Using fluoride toothpaste after each meal or at least twice a day is one of the most proven ways to help you stay decay free. Fluoride makes teeth more resistant to the acids produced after eating or drinking and replaces minerals that are lost in the early stages of tooth decay.

Because your risk of tooth decay may be higher while you are wearing braces, your orthodontist may prescribe other fluoride products that give you additional protection, such as PreviDent® 5000 Booster™ (1.1% Sodium Fluoride).

PreviDent® 5000 Booster™ has over 4.5 times the fluoride protection than your everyday over-the-counter toothpaste. It can help repair early root cavities, so they don’t become bigger problems.2

Your orthodontist or hygienist may recommend using special cleaning aids such as interdental brushes or floss threaders – yes, you can and should floss while wearing braces! Ask your orthodontist or hygienist to show you. They may also suggest rinsing with an antiseptic oral cleanser, like Colgate® Peroxyl®, or applying an oral pain reliever, such as Colgate® Orabase®, to help clean, soothe and heal cuts and scrapes that are caused by wearing braces.

Source: Colgate


Useful Teeth Whitening Advice

A healthy, beautiful smile and whiter teeth can lead to a boost in self-confidence and even a younger appearance.

Maybe you’ve thought about teeth whitening, but aren’t sure which options are right for you. Whatever your reasons for wanting to whiten your teeth, there are many choices to consider. Crest offers a range of whitening products from toothpastes to rinses to whitening strips to give you the whiter teeth you’re after.

Teeth Whitening Toothpaste

Crest Whitestrips use the same enamel-safe ingredient dental professionals use, so you get great results and whiter teeth easily, at home. Best of all, every Crest Whitestrips teeth whitening system provides you with a brighter, more beautiful smile — guaranteed.

There are several Crest Whitestrips teeth whitening systems to choose from. If you’re looking for the whitest smile, try Crest Whitestrips Supreme, which is only available from your dental professional. Crest Whitestrips Pro-Effects is also a good choice.

If you like to whiten on the go try Crest Whitestrips Advanced Seal, which stay on so securely, you can do just about anything while you whiten. You can even drink water!

If you’re short on time or have teeth sensitive to whitening, Crest 3D White Whitestrips Gentle Routine offers 5-minute, once-a-day convenience, while Crest 3D White Advanced Vivid Enamel Renewal Toothpaste gives you the added benefit of strengthening and rebuilding enamel.

Want help choosing the right Whitestrips teeth whitening system? Chat live with an expert who can help you decide.

Some Causes of Teeth Stains
To help keep your smile bright and help prevent tooth staining, avoid stain-causing food and activities such as smoking, drinking coffee, tea, or cola or wine, and eating dark-colored berries. If you can’t completely eliminate these from your routine, be sure to brush soon after smoking, eating or drinking.

Source: Crest

How to Brush Your Teeth Properly

Flashing your best, most healthy smile means brushing well and often. In fact, the American Dental Association recommends brushing teeth twice a day for dental hygiene and to help promote dental health. Make the most of that time by giving your brushing technique a refresher.

Tooth Brushing Technique
You’ve been brushing your teeth your whole life, but are you getting the most from your efforts? The following technique will help you get the most thorough clean.

On the outer and inner surfaces, brush your teeth at a 45-degree angle in short half-tooth-wide strokes against the gum line.
On chewing surfaces, hold the brush flat and brush back and forth.
On inside surfaces of front teeth, tilt brush vertically and use gentle up and down strokes with toe of brush.
Brush the tongue in a back-to-front sweeping motion to remove food particles and freshen your mouth.

Remember to spend at least 30 seconds on each quadrant of your mouth, adding up to two minutes each time you brush.
Choose the Right Toothpaste
Crest toothpastes contain fluoride, which helps strengthen weak spots and prevent tooth cavities. And whether you’re looking for tartar protection, a rush of flavor, or dentist-inspired protection, we’ve got a toothpaste that’s right for you.

Ready for a brushing experience that awakens the senses? Try our flavor experience toothpastes.
Looking for solutions such as enamel protection? View our dentist-inspired products.
Have sensitive teeth? Try our sensitivity toothpastes.

Change Your Toothbrush
Most dental professionals recommend replacing your toothbrush every three months. To remind yourself, write the date you should change your toothbrush in permanent marker on the handle.

Source: Crest

When Is It Too Old To Get Braces

As braces have become less bulky and visible in recent years, more and more adults are wearing them, for a variety of reasons. Some adults want to correct problems with their teeth or jaws before they cause serious or further damage. Others want to feel better about their appearance by addressing longstanding cosmetic concerns. Keep in mind that even “cosmetic” problems can cause real damage over time. Teeth and jaws that are not aligned properly can lead to premature wear and tear, advanced tooth decay and gum disease, dentures or other reconstructive solutions and even more extensive surgery to correct serious problems.

New techniques and the advent of clear, less noticeable braces means that adults are increasingly turning to braces to correct:

Gaps between teeth (spacing)

Teeth that push against one another (crowding)

Crooked teeth




How do I know if adult braces are right for me?
If you think you might benefit from braces, ask your dentist to recommend an orthodontist — someone specially trained to fix problems with teeth that are not aligned properly. The orthodontist will look at your teeth and maybe take X-rays to study the underlying bone structure. Based on what he or she finds, a treatment plan will be recommended. While braces are a popular option for fixing misaligned teeth, an orthodontist can tell you whether you may benefit more from other types of orthodontics like removable retainers, headgear or aligners.


Orthodontics: Braces and More

Orthodontics is a specialty field of dentistry that diagnoses, prevents and treats irregularities of the teeth and face. Treatment can correct an irregular or “bad” bite, also known as a malocclusion.

Orthodontic care involves the use of appliances. There are two main types. Braces are attached to the teeth. Removable appliances are put in and taken out by the patient. These devices can be used to:

Straighten teeth
Correct an irregular bite
Close unsightly gaps
Bring teeth and lips into proper alignment

They also can help with procedures in other areas of dentistry. Examples include cosmetic and implant dentistry.

In young children, orthodontic treatment also may guide proper jaw growth and permanent tooth eruption.

Bite Irregularities

Many people’s teeth are irregular in some way. For example, teeth may be slightly crowded or unevenly spaced. In fact, experts say many adults have an irregular bite. Sometimes the main problem with a “bad” bite is appearance. In other cases, it can cause difficulty in chewing or talking.

You may have inherited an irregular bite, but not all bite problems are genetic. Other causes include:

Trauma — When teeth are broken or knocked out and then replaced, they may fuse with the bone that surrounds them. This is called ankylosis or abnormal root fusion to the bone. If this happens in a growing child, the teeth will not be able to line up properly in the jaw. An irregular bite will result.

Prolonged thumb sucking or pacifier use — These habits can cause bite problems. For example, it may cause your upper teeth to protrude (stick out) in front of your lower teeth. A tongue-thrusting habit when you swallow can cause a similar problem.
Premature loss of primary (baby) teeth — If a primary (baby) tooth is lost too early, the permanent tooth loses its guide. It can drift or come into the mouth (erupt) incorrectly. In some cases, the permanent teeth may be crowded, or they may come in only partially. Sometimes the teeth next to the lost primary tooth can move or tilt into the space left by the missing tooth. This may prevent the permanent tooth from coming in.

Why Seek Orthodontic Care?

Whether to seek orthodontic care is a personal decision. Many people live with crowding, overbites or other types of bite problems and do not seek treatment. However, many people feel more comfortable and self-confident with properly aligned, attractive teeth. Orthodontic care can help improve appearance and build self-confidence. It also may help you to chew better or speak more clearly.

Orthodontic care is not just cosmetic in nature. It also can benefit long-term dental health. Straight, properly aligned teeth are easier to brush and floss. This can help reduce the risk of tooth decay. It also can help prevent gingivitis, an inflammation that damages gums. Gingivitis may lead to infection, which occurs when bacteria cluster around the area where the teeth meet the gums. Untreated gingivitis can lead to periodontitis. This type of gum disease can destroy bone that surrounds the teeth and lead to tooth loss.

People with bad bites also may chew less efficiently. Some people with a severe bite problem may even have problems getting enough nutrition. This especially may occur when the jaws are not aligned correctly. Fixing bite problems can make it easier to chew and digest foods.

When the upper and lower front teeth don’t align right, people also can have speech difficulties. These can be corrected through orthodontic treatment, often combined with speech therapy.

Finally, orthodontic treatment can help to prevent premature wear of back tooth surfaces. As you bite down, your teeth withstand a tremendous amount of force. If your front teeth don’t meet properly, it can cause your back teeth to wear more.

Who Can Benefit From Orthodontic Care?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children have an orthodontic screening no later than age 7. By then, enough of the permanent teeth have emerged to identify potential problems.

Don’t wait until all the permanent teeth erupt in the mouth. Starting orthodontic treatment early in life may have many advantages. For example, while children are still growing, expansion devices can be used to widen the palate. This can help teeth come in straighter by providing more space. It also may help to correct the way the top teeth and bottom teeth meet or come together. Such treatment should be done at an early age for best results.

Many people undergo orthodontic treatment during preteen and teenage years. At this time, most of the permanent teeth have come in and treatment can be most effective. About 3 million teenagers in the United States and Canada wear braces. Millions more would benefit from treatment.

An increasing number of adults now have orthodontic treatment as well. However, adult treatment can be more complicated. It may require more than one dental professional to fully correct a problem. For example, adult patients may be more susceptible to gum problems. They will need to take care of these problems before orthodontic treatment can begin. Sometimes they also have jaw alignment problems that require corrective surgery. One of the biggest limitations in adult treatment is that adults are no longer growing.

Types of Bad Bites

An improper bite doesn’t look good. That is the usual reason that people seek treatment from an orthodontist. In addition, an improper bite causes difficulty in chewing. In people with crowded teeth, it can lead to more cavities or gum disease. Treatment of an irregular bite can improve your overall oral health and stabilize your bite.

Incorrect bites are grouped into categories. Common bite problems include:

Crossbite — Here, the upper teeth rest significantly inside or outside the lower teeth. A crossbite often can make it difficult to bite or chew. It also may cause the jaw to shift to one side as it grows.

Crowding — Permanent teeth may not have room to move into the right position:

If there is not enough room for the teeth
If the teeth are unusually large compared with the size of the dental arch
If the jaw is narrower than it should be
Deep overbite — This occurs when the upper front teeth (incisors) overlap too far over the lower teeth. In some cases, the biting edges of the upper teeth touch the lower front gum tissue and the lower front teeth may bite into the roof of the mouth.

Underbite — A crossbite of the front teeth is commonly referred to as an underbite if the lower teeth are ahead of the upper teeth. This may also be a sign that the jaws are not in the correct position. Sometimes surgery is needed.

Open bite — If your upper and lower front teeth don’t meet when you bite down, this is called an open bite. This may make it impossible to bite off food with the front teeth. It also can affect speech. Because the front teeth don’t share equally in the biting force, the back teeth may receive too much pressure. This makes chewing less efficient. It can lead to premature wear of the back teeth.

Spacing problems — Some people have missing teeth or unusually small teeth in a normal sized jaw. This can result in large spaces between the teeth. People who have lost one or multiple teeth may have uneven spacing because adjacent teeth may drift into the unoccupied areas. Braces can be used to shift the position of these teeth so the missing tooth or teeth can be replaced.

Treatment: Braces and Retainers

Everyone has a slightly different bite, so treatment techniques vary. Braces are the most common approach. They help to move the teeth slowly by applying precise amounts of light pressure over a long period of time.

Most orthodontic treatments occur in two phases:

The active phase — Braces or other appliances are used to move the teeth into proper alignment and correct the bite.
The retention phase — A retainer is used to hold the teeth in their new positions for the long term.

In addition to braces, orthodontists sometimes use special appliances (called functional appliances) to direct the growth of the jaw in young children. These appliances are rarely used in adults. That’s because they are not effective after growth is complete.

Getting Braces
You can choose braces (brackets) made of metal, ceramic or plastic. However, orthodontic treatment is most often done using stainless steel brackets.

Ceramic or plastic brackets often are chosen for the sake of appearance. But plastic brackets may stain and discolor by the end of treatment. Bands made of plastic or ceramic also have more friction between the wire and brackets. This can increase treatment time. Your orthodontist will discuss the available options.

The cost of braces varies, but expect to pay between $2,000 and $6,000. The cost may depend on how severe the problem is. Some insurance plans may cover part of the cost. Others will not cover it at all.

Braces work by applying continuous pressure to move teeth in a specific direction. Braces are usually worn for about one to three years, depending on how severe your problem is. As treatment progresses, teeth change position. Your orthodontist will adjust the braces as needed.

A few decades ago, braces consisted of thick bands of steel wrapped around all of the teeth. These days, stronger bonding agents are available. Smaller braces can be used, and orthodontic bands rarely have to be used on front teeth.

When applying braces, the orthodontist will attach small brackets to your teeth with special dental bonding agents. He or she will then place wires called arch wires through the brackets. The arch wires usually are made of a variety of metal alloys. They act as tracks to create the “path of movement” that guides the teeth to their correct positions.

Wires made of clear or tooth-colored materials are less visible than stainless-steel wires. However, they are more expensive and may not work as well. Tiny elastic bands called ligatures also can be used to hold the arch wires to the brackets. Patients can choose from a multitude of colors at each visit.

Expect some minor discomfort for the first few days after getting braces. Your teeth may be sore. The wires, brackets and bands also may irritate your tongue, cheeks or lips. Your doctor will give you some special soft wax to cover any sharp areas on your braces that may be irritating you. Most of the discomfort disappears within a week or two. You also may have moderate discomfort when wires are changed or adjusted. Taking ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) or other over-the-counter painkillers can help to ease any discomfort.

Wearing a Retainer
A retainer’s purpose is to maintain tooth positions after treatment is completed and braces are removed. Once your bite has been corrected, bone and gums need more time to stabilize around the teeth.

The recommended length of time for wearing a retainer varies. Most children and teenagers wear retainers until their early to mid-20s or until their wisdom teeth come in or are removed. You should strictly follow your orthodontist’s advice because he or she knows your treatment best.

Risks and Limitations of Orthodontic Care

There are few risks involved in orthodontic treatment. In rare cases, certain patients may have allergic reactions to the metal or latex. People with periodontal (gum) disease have a greater risk of problems during orthodontic treatment. That’s because their gums and the supporting bone may be more likely to break down. This can cause loosening and possible loss of teeth. Orthodontic treatment should not begin until all evidence of gum disease has been treated and eliminated.

It is also possible that root resorption (shortening of roots) may occur during orthodontic treatment. This is usually minor and not significant. In a few cases, however, it may be severe. This can jeopardize the life of the tooth or teeth affected.

Your orthodontist will discuss the risks of your particular treatment.

Your choices can affect whether you achieve the desired results from orthodontic treatment. Adults, in particular, may require treatment by several specialists. They may need implants, treatment of periodontal disease or even corrective jaw surgery in addition to braces.

Many times, results are limited because you don’t want the full treatment. However, compromises often can be reached that improve your condition, even if not ideally. The treatment options and expected outcomes depend on the individual. Not following the doctor’s instructions also can lead to less than ideal results. The orthodontist will review your options fully with you before beginning treatment.

Source: Aetna

What is Gingivitis?

Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gum tissues surrounding the teeth, and is an early stage of gum disease. If left untreated, gingivitis may progress to periodontitis, which can be a major cause of tooth loss in adults. Gingivitis can sometimes be painless and, therefore, people may be unaware they have it. Visit your dentist for an assessment to learn more about gingivitis and good oral hygiene.

What Causes Gingivitis
One of the primary factors contributing to gingivitis is plaque buildup, a sticky colorless deposit of bacteria that regularly forms on teeth. These bacteria build up and can create byproducts that can damage the gums.

While gingivitis is a milder and reversible form of gum disease, it may lead to more serious, destructive forms if left untreated.
Some Signs of Gingivitis

Mild inflammation of the gums due to plaque buildup
Red or swollen gums
Gums that bleed easily

How Can I Help Prevent Gingivitis?
The key is removing plaque, and that starts with good brushing habits. But it’s also essential to have the right products for the job. Crest recommends this oral care routine:

Brush twice a day with a soft-bristled or power toothbrush, such as the Oral-B® Vitality™ Precision Clean electric rechargeable brush. It removes up to two times more plaque than a regular manual toothbrush.
Be sure to use an anti-gingivitis and anti-plaque toothpaste containing fluoride to strengthen teeth and prevent decay, such as Crest® Pro-Health™ Toothpaste. When you brush with Crest Pro-Health Toothpaste, therapeutic stannous fluoride — an anti-microbial agent — helps kill harmful bacteria that cause plaque and gingivitis. All Crest Pro-Health toothpastes are triclosan free.
Rinse thoroughly after brushing with an anti-bacterial rinse, such as Crest Pro-Health Multi-Protection Rinse Mouthwash. It contains a clinically proven anti-microbial agent, cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC), which is attracted to bacteria in your mouth, making it effective at fighting plaque, gingivitis and bad breath.
Floss at least once a day to remove food particles and plaque between teeth with a product like Glide Floss, the #1 dentist-recommended floss brand. Glide gently stimulates gums and helps prevent gingivitis by removing plaque.
1.Removing plaque is an important step to help prevent gingivitis. Try using the Oral-B Vitality Precision Clean toothbrush along with Crest Pro-Health Toothpaste and Crest Pro-Health Multi-Protection Rinse Mouthwash for up to 7x better cleaning.*
Visit your dentist regularly for oral exams and cleanings.

* On teeth with regular use versus a regular manual brush and regular anti-cavity toothpaste.

Source: Crest

Diastema (Gap Between Teeth)

A diastema is a space or gap between two teeth. It appears most often between the two upper front teeth. However, gaps can occur between any two teeth.

A mismatch between the size of the jaw bones and the size of the teeth can cause either extra space between teeth or crowding of teeth. If the teeth are too small for the jaw bone, spaces between the teeth will occur. If the teeth are too big for the jaw, teeth will be crowded.

Spaces develop for a few other reasons as well.

Sometimes some teeth are missing or undersized. This happens most often with the upper lateral incisors (the teeth next to the two upper front teeth). That can cause the upper central incisors to develop a space.

A diastema also can be caused by an oversized labial frenum. The labial frenum is the piece of tissue that normally extends from the inside of your upper lip to the gum just above your two upper front teeth. In some situations, the labial frenum continues to grow and passes between the two front teeth. If this happens, it blocks the natural closing of the space between these teeth.

Habits can also lead to gaps between the teeth. Thumb sucking tends to pull the front teeth forward, creating gaps.

Spaces can develop from an incorrect swallowing reflex. For most people, the tongue presses against the roof of the mouth (palate) during swallowing. Some people develop a different reflex known as a tongue thrust. When they swallow, the tongue presses against the front teeth. Over time the pressure will push the front teeth forward. This can cause spaces to develop.

Periodontal (gum) disease results in the loss of the bone that supports the teeth. In people who have lost a lot of bone, the teeth can become loose. This movement can result in gaps between the front teeth.

Children may have temporary gaps as their baby teeth fall out. Most of these spaces close as the permanent teeth reach their final positions.


A diastema that occurs because of a mismatch between the teeth and the jaw does not have symptoms. However, spaces caused by a tongue thrust habit or periodontal disease will tend to expand or grow with time. The teeth may become loose, and discomfort or pain may occur, particularly during biting or chewing.


You may notice a space when brushing or flossing. Your dentist can see spaces during an examination.

Expected Duration

If the gap was caused by a mismatch between the permanent teeth and the jaw size, the spaces can be expected to remain throughout life.

Gaps caused by a tongue thrust habit or periodontal disease can get larger with time.


Not all spaces can be prevented. For example, if the reason for a space is a missing tooth or a mismatch between the teeth and the jaw size, the spaces cannot be prevented without treatment.

Maintaining your gum health is essential to good oral health. Regular flossing and brushing will help to prevent periodontal disease and its related bone loss.

People with a tongue thrust habit can re-learn to swallow by pushing their tongue up against their palate. Breaking this habit can prevent widening of the spaces between teeth.


Sometimes, a diastema is part of a set of problems that require orthodontic treatment. In other cases, a diastema is the only problem. However, some people may seek treatment for reasons of appearance.

Some people get braces, which move the teeth together. Often, no matter where the diastema is, you must wear a full set of braces — on both your upper and lower teeth. That’s because moving any teeth affects your entire mouth.

If your lateral incisors are too small, your dentist may suggest widening them using crowns, veneers or bonding.

If you have a space because you are missing teeth, you might need more extensive dental repair. This might include dental implants, a bridge or a partial denture.

If a large labial frenum is causing the gap, the frenum can be reduced through surgery called a frenectomy. If a frenectomy is done in a younger child, the space may close on its own. If it is done in an older child or an adult, the space may need to be closed with braces.

If the gap is caused by periodontal disease, then periodontal treatment by a dentist or gum specialist (periodontist) is necessary. When gum health is restored, in many cases braces can be used to move the teeth into place. A splint can be used to attach teeth to other teeth and prevent them from moving again. In some cases, a bridge will be required to close the spaces.

When To Call a Professional

If you have a space between your teeth or see one in your child’s mouth, talk with your dentist. He or she will determine the reason for the space and may refer you to an orthodontist, a specialist in treatment with braces. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children be evaluated by an orthodontist by age 7. Treatment (if needed) may not begin right away. You and the orthodontist will discuss the overall treatment plan.

If your space is the result of periodontal disease, your dentist may refer you to a periodontist.


If a diastema is closed through orthodontics or dental repair, the space will tend to stay closed. However, to help prevent the space from coming back, wear your retainers as directed by your orthodontist. Your orthodontist may also splint (attach) the backs of the teeth to other teeth with composite (plastic) and a wire to prevent them from moving. Visit your dentist regularly to make sure your dental work is in good repair.

Source: American Association of Orthodontists


Dentists and Other Oral Health Care Providers

Many different types of oral health care providers could become involved in the care of your teeth, gums, and mouth. A brief description of these various health care providers is as follows:

General Dentist

A general dentist is your primary care dental provider. This dentist diagnoses, treats, and manages your overall oral health care needs, including gum care, root canals, fillings, crowns, veneers, bridges, and preventive education.

All practicing general dentists have earned either a DDS or DMD degree (doctor of dental surgery or doctor of dental medicine, respectively). There is no difference between the two degrees or the curriculum requirements that dentists must meet. Some schools simply award the one degree, while others award the other.

Generally, three or more years of undergraduate education plus four years of dental school is required to become a general dentist. Additional post-graduate training is required to become a dental specialist.

Dental Public Health Clinics

Dental public health clinics promote dental health through organized community efforts. The clinics serve to educate the public through group dental care programs with the goal of preventing and controlling dental diseases on a community-wide basis. Dental public health clinics offer such services as finding a dentist, developing dental care programs for schools, providing information on fluoridation in the community, answering common questions about oral health, and providing other oral health resources and support materials to their community.


An endodontist is the dental specialist concerned with the causes, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases and injuries of the human dental pulp or the nerve of the tooth. This specialist may perform simple to difficult root canal treatments or other types of surgical root procedures.

Oral and Maxillofacial Radiologist

A radiologist is the oral health care provider who specializes in the taking and interpretation of all types of X-ray images and data that are used in the diagnosis and management of diseases, disorders, and conditions of the oral and maxillofacial region.

Oral Medicine

Oral medicine is the specialty of dentistry that provides for the care of the medically complex patient through the integration of medicine and oral health care. This includes the diagnosis and management of oral diseases including oral cancer, lichen planus, candidiasis, and aphthous stomatitis. Oral medicine also evaluates complex medical patients prior to open-heart surgery, chemotherapy, and cancer therapy, as well as hospital inpatients.

Oral Pathologist

An oral pathologist is the oral health care provider who studies the causes of diseases that alter or affect the oral structures (teeth, lips, cheeks, jaws) as well as parts of the face and neck. Oral pathologists examine and provide a diagnosis of the biopsy, tissue, or lesion sent to them by other oral health care providers.

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon

An oral and maxillofacial surgeon is the oral health care provider who performs many types of surgical procedures in and about the entire face, mouth, and jaw area. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons treat accident victims who suffer facial injuries and offer reconstructive and dental implant surgery. They treat patients with tumors and cysts of the jaws. They also place dental implants. The types of surgeries an oral surgeon may perform include: simple tooth extractions, complex extractions involving removal of soft tissue or overlying bone or remaining roots, impacted teeth (especially wisdom teeth) removal, soft tissue biopsies, removal of tumors in the oral cavity, implant positioning, complex jaw realignment surgeries involving facial or bite discrepancies, fractured cheek or jaw bone repair and soft tissue (cleft palate or lip) repair. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons receive anywhere from 4 to 8 years of additional training after dental school.


An orthodontist is the oral health care provider who specializes in diagnosis, prevention, interception, and treatment of malocclusions, or “bad bites,” of the teeth and surrounding structures. Malocclusions can result from crowded, missing, or extra teeth or jaws that are out of alignment. This specialist is responsible for straightening teeth by moving them through bone by the use of bands, wires, braces, and other fixed or removable corrective appliances or retainers. This specialist treats children as well as adults who may wish to improve their appearance and bite.

Pediatric Dentist/Pedodontists

A pediatric dentist is the oral health care provider who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of the dental problems of children from the age of one or two to early adulthood. This dentist can detect, treat, or refer (as needed) problems with decayed, missing, crowded, or crooked teeth. A pediatric dentist has at least two additional years of training beyond dental school. The additional training focuses on management and treatment of a child’s developing teeth, child behavior, physical growth and development, and the special needs of children’s dentistry.


A periodontist is the oral health care provider who specializes in diagnosing, treating, and preventing diseases of the soft tissues of the mouth (the gums) and the supporting structures (bones) of the teeth (both natural and man-made teeth). This dentist diagnoses and treats gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) as well as periodontitis (gum and bone disease). A periodontist may perform the following procedures: simple and deep pocket cleanings, root planing, crown lengthening procedures, soft tissue and/or bone grafting, gingival or flap procedures, soft tissue recontouring or removal (gingivoplasty or gingivectomy), hard tissue recontouring (osteoplasty), and implant placement.


A prosthodontist is the oral health care provider who specializes in the repair of natural teeth and/or the replacement of missing teeth on a much larger scale than the general dentist. The prosthodontist uses artificial teeth (dentures), gold crowns (caps), or ceramic crowns to replace the missing or extracted teeth. The prosthodontist is also very involved in the replacement of teeth using dental implants. In addition, specially trained prosthodontists work with patients with head and neck deformities, replacing missing parts of the face and jaws with artificial substitutes.

Source: WebMD

Early Orthodontics May Mean Less Treatment Later

Look at yearbook or prom pictures from the 1950s or ’60s and you’ll see many smiles framed with heavy metal braces. It’s a sight that’s less common in high schools today. Why the change? Children today tend to get braces at a much earlier age. Some patients with special problems begin orthodontic treatment at age 7 or younger.

“The American Association of Orthodontics (AAO) recommends that all children receive an orthodontic screening by age 7,” says Thomas Cangialosi, D.D.S. “Permanent teeth generally begin to come in at age 6 or 7. It is at this point that orthodontic problems become apparent.

“Because bones are still growing, it’s an ideal time to evaluate a child,” Dr. Cangialosi says. “Then we can determine what orthodontic treatment, if any, may be needed either now or in the future.”

Dr. Cangialosi is chairman and professor of Orthodontics at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.

Making Braces Hip

To make braces more acceptable and fun for young people, manufacturers have made brightly colored elastics. These are the tiny rubber bands that hold the wires to the braces. Children can choose elastics with their school colors or a holiday color scheme, such as orange and black for Halloween.

Choosing the color of the elastics allows patients “to feel that they are more involved in their treatment,” Dr. Cangialosi says.

Still Take Getting Used To

Braces today tend to be less uncomfortable and less visible than they used to be. But they still take some getting used to. Food can get caught around brackets and in wires, and flossing and brushing can take more time. After adjustments sometimes the teeth may be a little sore. Tooth discomfort can be controlled by taking a pain reliever, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Tylenol and others) or aspirin if necessary. The use of lighter and more flexible wires has greatly lessened the amount of soreness or discomfort during treatment.

As more and more children get braces, schoolyard nicknames such as “tin grin” and “metal mouth” are heard less often. Because treatment has become more socially acceptable, embarrassment may be less of a concern.

Beyond Braces

Orthodontic treatment in young children is known as interceptive orthodontics. Intervention may begin as early as age 6 or 7. At this age, teeth are still developing. The jaw is still growing. That means certain conditions, such as crowding, may be easier to address.

Before permanent teeth have come in, it may be possible to help teeth to erupt (emerge through the gums) into better positions. It’s common, for example, for the dental arch to be too small to fit all of the teeth. A few decades ago, the solution for crowding was almost always to extract some of the permanent teeth to make space. Then fixed braces were used to position the teeth properly.

Early intervention takes advantage of the fact that a child’s jaw is still growing. For example, a device called a palatal expander may be used to expand the child’s upper dental arch. Once the arch is the proper size, there’s a better chance that the adult teeth will emerge in better position. Sometimes teeth still may be crowded after all of them have erupted. In such cases, some permanent teeth may still have to be extracted to make room to align the teeth properly.

So-called early treatment also may be useful when the dental arches and jaws are not in the correct position. Functional appliances may fix or improve these problems. More treatment usually is needed later on, but it may be shorter and less involved.

“It is important to note that children who receive interceptive orthodontics generally still need braces or other orthodontic appliances later,” Dr. Cangialosi says. “However, this early treatment may shorten and simplify future treatment in selected cases.” This is commonly known as two-phase treatment.

It is important to note that early treatment does not apply to all orthodontic problems. However, it may help in certain cases.

Two conditions that require early intervention are crossbites and protruding front teeth. A crossbite can cause the jaws to grow unevenly. Front teeth that stick out may be fractured or injured in an accident, such as a fall.

Source: Aetna

Got bad breath? Here’s how to make it better

No one likes to hear it, but it’s worse not to know it: You have bad breath.

Bad breath (also known as halitosis or malodor) can be embarrassing and tough on those around you. Some people don’t realize their breath could peel paint because people are afraid to tell them.

“Certainly bad breath can ruin relationships,” John Woodall, DDS, a dentist with Woodall and McNeill in Raleigh, N.C., tells WebMD.

Fortunately, this problem is often easy to fix. What helps: Good oral hygiene, regular visits to your dentist, and ruling out any underlying conditions or other factors (such as some medications, diets, and foods) that could make your breath less than pleasant.

Bad Breath and Other Top Problems in Your Mouth
Do You Have Bad Breath?

Bad breath is often caused by a buildup of bacteria in your mouth that causes inflammation and gives off noxious odors or gases that smell like sulfur — or worse.

Everybody has nasty breath at some point, like when you get out of bed in the morning.

Not sure if your breath is bad? The best way to find out is to ask a trusted friend or your significant other, “‘Does my breath smell?’ Because it’s really hard to tell on your own,” Tina Frangella, DDS, a dentist with Frangella Dental in New York, tells WebMD.

There’s another way to know. It may seem a bit gross, but look at and smell your dental floss after you use it.

“If your floss smells or there is blood on it, then there are foul odors in your mouth,” Woodall says.
What Causes Bad Breath?

There are no statistics on what percentage of the population has bad breath. That’s because studies usually rely on someone reporting whether or not they think they have bad breath and may not be accurate.

But studies show that about 80% of bad breath comes from an oral source. For instance, cavities or gum disease can lead to bad breath, as can tonsils that have trapped food particles; cracked fillings, and less-than-clean dentures.

Several internal medical conditions also can cause your breath to go downhill fast. They include diabetes, liver disease, respiratory tract infections, and chronic bronchitis. You’ll want to see your doctor to rule out things like acid reflux, postnasal drip, and other causes of chronic dry mouth (xerostomia).

Woodall recalls a 30-year-old patient who had chronic bad breath, though her teeth were “immaculate” and her tongue was very clean. Her doctor tested her for acid reflux and other stomach conditions, “gave her some medicine, and her bad breath went away,” Woodall says.

See Your Dentist, Brush Your Teeth

Nixed medical causes for your bad breath? Keep your scheduled dental appointments.

“You really want to see your dentist every six months or at least yearly,” Frangella says.

Good oral hygiene also is key to fighting bad breath. Ideally, you should brush and floss after every meal to help reduce the odor-causing bacteria in your mouth. While a regular toothbrush works just as well if you use it as recommended, Frangella recommends using an electric toothbrush, for two reasons.

“First, because many electric toothbrushes have timers on them and the majority of people do not brush their teeth for the right length of time. And secondly, because electric toothbrushes distribute a uniform motion, which I find helps remove plaque more efficiently than when my patients use manual toothbrushes.”

Some mouthwashes or mouth rinses can help prevent cavities and reduce bacteria-causing plaque and fight bad breath. Stick to an antiseptic or antibacterial rinse that kills bacteria, rather than a cosmetic rinse that just focuses on freshening the breath.

Watch What You Eat

What you eat affects what you exhale. That’s because as food is digested, it’s absorbed into your bloodstream and then is expelled by your lungs when you breathe.

Eat a healthy, balanced diet and regular meals. Certain diets — such as extreme fasting and very low-carb diets — can give you bad-smelling breath.

Consider snacking on raw carrots, celery, or apple slices. “It’s good to have a nice watery vegetable in there – something like celery – that will help clear your mouth of debris,” Frangella says.

Avoid breath busters such as garlic, onions, and some other spicy foods. Chronic garlic users cannot only have chronic bad breath, they also often have body odor, Woodall says.

Six More Ways to Fix Bad Breath

Here are a half dozen more ways to banish bad breath – hopefully for good.

Stay hydrated. If you can’t brush your teeth after a meal, drinking a lot of water can help speed up the process of cleaning harmful bacteria and debris from between your teeth. Drinking milk can even help deodorize some offensive breath odors, Frangella says. Avoid sugary drinks.
Don’t drink too much coffee. It may be tasty, but coffee is a tough smell to get off the back of your tongue. Consider switching to an herbal or green tea, Frangella says.
Don’t smoke or use other tobacco products. Cigarettes, pipes, and snuff can foul your breath. “Smoking can give people horrible breath,” Woodall says. “And some people carry this stuff worse than others.”
Cut back on alcohol. Alcohol can lead to a dry mouth. Too much beer, wine, and hard liquor can make your breath reek for up to eight to 10 hours after you finish drinking, Woodall says.
Chew sugarless gum. Doing so 20 minutes after a meal can help with saliva flow. Gum that’s 100% xylitol-sweetened can help reduce cavities, but it’s also “kind of cooling and gives you really nice fresh breath,” Frangella says.
Be careful with breath mints. Sugar-free mints are OK for a quick fix but only mask the offensive smell and don’t do anything to remove harmful bad bacteria. Tempted to pick up a sugary mint as you leave your favorite restaurant? Don’t. The sugar will only sit on your teeth and make the problem worse, Frangella says.

Source: WebMD

Bringing Teeth into Alignment with Orthodontic Treatment

The American Association of Orthodontists reports that in the United States 4.5 million people are wearing braces or other dental appliances to straighten teeth and provide a healthy, beautiful smile1.

As many of us know, an orthodontist is a dentist with additional clinical training to treat malocclusions (improper bites), which may result from tooth irregularity and jaw issues.

Why Do Teeth Become Crooked?
Terry Pracht, DDS, past president of the American Association of Orthodontics says that both heredity and environmental factors can create crooked teeth and bite problems. Dr. Pracht mentions that hereditary factors include crowded teeth, teeth where there is too much space and malocclusions. He also mentions that crooked teeth can be caused by thumb sucking and tongue thrusting as well as accidents occurring to the jaw(1).

What are Treatment Options to Straighten Teeth or Malocclusions?
There are three stages of orthodontic treatment. The first is when appliances are used to gain space in the mouth. For example, palatal expanders are used to expand the width of the palate and lingual bars are used to expand the lower jaw. The active corrective stage is next when the braces are placed on the teeth. The teeth are then adjusted and then straightened and malocclusions are corrected over a period of time based upon the severity of the irregularity of the teeth and jaw issues. The third stage is the retention stage after braces are removed and when the teeth are monitored through the use of a retainer (removable or fixed) and semi-annual orthodontic visits are conducted to maintain the straightened smile.

Types of Braces
Braces from over 30 or so years ago included large metal bands that were enclosed and cemented around each tooth. Braces can be attached to the cheek side of the teeth as well as the tongue side of the teeth depending on what your orthodontist recommends to you for treatment. Braces, arch wires and bands can be colorful and a lot of fun for children, adolescents and teenagers to choose from.

Today, tiny brackets are placed onto the front surface of the tooth and are made of metal or ceramic. The brackets are bonded to the front tooth surface with a glue-like material and metal bands can be used on the back teeth. Arch wires are placed inside the brackets and are made of a heat-activated nickel-titanium source that can become warm due to the temperature in the mouth, which will allow it to apply constant pressure on the teeth as well as when the arch wires are adjusted at the orthodontist’s office.

Another newer alternative to braces is the Invisalign system which uses a series of clear removable aligners that are worn during the day and night to help in moving teeth into the correct alignment. When eating or brushing and flossing, the aligners may be removed.

Caring for Braces
Your orthodontist, dentist or dental hygienist will provide you with thorough instruction of how to properly clean your braces. There are many toothbrushes you can use both manual (specifically designed for orthodontic patients), power, electric or sonic. Ask your dental professional which is be best for you. Brushing should be conducted at least 2-3 times per day at a 45 degree angle in a back and forth motion. Be sure to remove plaque at the gum line to prevent gingivitis (inflammation of the gum tissue). Be sure to angle the toothbrush at the gum line and then gently brush around the brackets to remove plaque and food debris.

It is very important to clean in between your teeth with a floss threader and floss, a stimudent (tooth pick cleaner) or a proxabrush (interproximal cleaning brush) may be used if there is space between the teeth. Oral irrigators may be recommended to remove food debris and irrigate the gum tissue to remove disease and odor-causing bacteria that may be there if you have gingivitis. An antibacterial toothpaste and over-the-counter antimicrobial mouth rinses could also be used with the oral irrigator or alone.

How to Maintain a Smile After the Braces are Off
After your orthodontist has determined that your braces can be removed, it is very important that a retainer (a plastic appliance) be worn during the day or night as recommended by them. The retainer can be cleaned with warm water or toothpaste and a toothbrush after you wear it and placed in a plastic container when not in use.

See your dental professional for a twice a year professional cleaning and the orthodontist for regular maintenance appointments.

Source: Colgate-Palmolive Company

What is Orthodontics?

Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that corrects teeth and jaws that are positioned improperly. Crooked teeth and teeth that do not fit together correctly are harder to keep clean, are at risk of being lost early due to tooth decay and periodontal disease, and cause extra stress on the chewing muscles that can lead to headaches, TMJ syndrome and neck, shoulder and back pain. Teeth that are crooked or not in the right place can also detract from one’s appearance.

The benefits of orthodontic treatment include a healthier mouth, a more pleasing appearance, and teeth that are more likely to last a lifetime.

A specialist in this field is called an orthodontist. Orthodontists receive two or more years of education beyond their four years in dental school in an ADA-approved orthodontic training program.

How do I Know if I Need Orthodontics?
Only your dentist or orthodontist can determine whether you can benefit from orthodontics. Based on diagnostic tools that include a full medical and dental health history, a clinical exam, plaster models of your teeth, and special X-rays and photographs, an orthodontist or dentist can decide whether orthodontics are recommended, and develop a treatment plan that’s right for you.

If you have any of the following, you may be a candidate for orthodontic treatment:

Overbite, sometimes called “buck teeth” — where the upper front teeth lie too far forward (stick out) over the lower teeth
Underbite — a “bulldog” appearance where the lower teeth are too far forward or the upper teeth too far back
Crossbite — when the upper teeth do not come down slightly in front of the lower teeth when biting together normally
Open bite — space between the biting surfaces of the front and/or side teeth when the back teeth bite together
Misplaced midline— when the center of your upper front teeth does not line up with the center of your lower front teeth
Spacing — gaps, or spaces, between the teeth as a result of missing teeth or teeth that do not “fill up” the mouth
Crowding — when there are too many teeth for the dental ridge to accommodate

How Does Orthodontic Treatment Work?
Many different types of appliances, both fixed and removable, are used to help move teeth, retrain muscles and affect the growth of the jaws. These appliances work by placing gentle pressure on the teeth and jaws. The severity of your problem will determine which orthodontic approach is likely to be the most effective.

Fixed appliances include:

Braces — the most common fixed appliances, braces consist of bands, wires and/or brackets. Bands are fixed around the teeth or tooth and used as anchors for the appliance, while brackets are most often bonded to the front of the tooth. Arch wires are passed through the brackets and attached to the bands. Tightening the arch wire puts tension on the teeth, gradually moving them to their proper position. Braces are usually adjusted monthly to bring about the desired results, which may be achieved within a few months to a few years. Today’s braces are smaller, lighter and show far less metal than in the past. They come in bright colors for kids as well as clear styles preferred by many adults.
Special fixed appliances — used to control thumb sucking or tongue thrusting, these appliances are attached to the teeth by bands. Because they are very uncomfortable during meals, they should be used only as a last resort.
Fixed space maintainers — if a baby tooth is lost prematurely, a space maintainer is used to keep the space open until the permanent tooth erupts. A band is attached to the tooth next to the empty space, and a wire is extended to the tooth on the other side of the space.

Removable appliances include:

Aligners — an alternative to traditional braces for adults, serial aligners are being used by an increasing number of orthodontists to move teeth in the same way that fixed appliances work, only without metal wires and brackets. Aligners are virtually invisible and are removed for eating, brushing and flossing.
Removable space maintainers — these devices serve the same function as fixed space maintainers. They’re made with an acrylic base that fits over the jaw, and have plastic or wire branches between specific teeth to keep the space between them open.
Jaw repositioning appliances — also called splints, these devices are worn on either the top or lower jaw, and help train the jaw to close in a more favorable position. They may be used for temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ).
Lip and cheek bumpers — these are designed to keep the lips or cheeks away from the teeth. Lip and cheek muscles can exert pressure on the teeth, and these bumpers help relieve that pressure.
Palatal expander — a device used to widen the arch of the upper jaw. It is a plastic plate that fits over the roof of the mouth. Outward pressure applied to the plate by screws force the joints in the bones of the palate to open lengthwise, widening the palatal area.
Removable retainers — worn on the roof of the mouth, these devices prevent shifting of the teeth to their previous position. They can also be modified and used to prevent thumb sucking.
Headgear — with this device, a strap is placed around the back of the head and attached to a metal wire in front, or face bow. Headgear slows the growth of the upper jaw, and holds the back teeth where they are while the front teeth are pulled back.