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How long does orthodontic treatment take?

September 3rd, 2012

Orthodontic treatments are used to correct malocclusion, a condition more commonly known as a bad bite. The length of treatment time varies depending on the severity of the bite problem.

What is a "bad bite"?
A bad bite occurs when spacing or alignment problems are present. This often includes teeth that are protruding, crowded, or crooked. Sometimes teeth appear straight, but have an uneven bite because the upper and lower jaws do not align properly. Teeth that are irregularly spaced - either too far apart or too close together - can also cause bite problems.

Frequent causes of bite problems:

  • Heredity
  • Thumb-sucking
  • Premature tooth loss
  • Accidents

Benefits of orthodontic treatment:

Appearance -
Correcting a bad bite often creates a more attractive smile, which frequently raises the patient's self esteem.

Preventing Decay -
It also results in a healthier mouth. It is much more difficult to thoroughly clean teeth that are crooked, protruding, overlapped, or crowed. This may allow plaque to build up, which can lead to gum disease, tooth decay and even tooth loss. Orthodontic treatment corrects these conditions, so cleaning can be more efficient.

Avoiding Alignment Issues -
An uneven bite can interfere with the motions of chewing and speaking. This can cause abnormal wear to tooth enamel, which may require pricey cosmetic restorative treatments, such as crowns or veneers, to correct. It can also lead to problems with the jaws. Orthodontic treatment lessens the likelihood of those issues, as well.

Types of orthodontic treatment:

- Braces: Metal or ceramic brackets are bonded to the front of teeth. Wires and elastics are attached to the brackets to straighten teeth.

- Invisalign®: Advanced 3D computer images of the patients' mouth are used to create clear, custom aligners that slowly move teeth. They are nearly invisible and are more comfortable than traditional braces. They are also removable, which makes it possible to continue with normal brushing and flossing.

- Retainers: A retainer is a removable piece worn inside the mouth that uses pressure to force teeth to move into proper alignment. They are used after braces are removed.

Length of orthodontic treatment:
Treatment typically ranges from 12 - 36 months. Factors include the age, cooperation level, and growth occurrence of the patient. The complexity of the case also impacts the treatment time.

Preventing Decay While Wearing Braces

August 26th, 2012


Having braces can present some new challenges when it comes to oral hygiene. Preventing tooth decay can be a big challenge simply because of the tendency for braces to trap food under the wires and between the teeth and the brackets. Here are a few tips to keep your teeth healthy while wearing your braces:

1. Eat Braces-Safe Foods
Keeping your teeth from decay starts with a proper diet. Foods that are high in sugar or starch can cause more plaque which is difficult to remove during your brushing. There are certain foods that should be avoided while wearing your braces. First, sticky foods like caramel or gum can get stuck in your braces and be difficult to remove during brushing. Next, hard foods such as nuts and candy could bend wires or even break a bracket. Foods that are firm or hard to bite into like apples, carrots, or corn on the cob should be avoided. As much as we like to snack on them, those crunchy treats can harm your braces. Things like chips, ice, popcorn can also bend or break your braces.
On the other hand, bananas, mangoes, milk, water, poultry, and pasta all tend to be low in enamel-busting acids.

2. Proper Brushing
You want to place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the gums in order to clean the whole tooth, and brush gently in the area between the wiring and the teeth. Use a softer toothbrush with fluoride paste for best results. Rinsing every day will help, too. Rinsing is important regardless, but especially important when you have braces as you need to disinfect the entire mouth, including those spots under the braces where your brush can't always reach.

3. Ask About Special Cleaning Tools
There are also special brushes, or other tools, to get under and clean your braces. You can also find many of these items at your local pharmacy.

4. Regular Teeth Cleaning
It's important to keep your routine appointments with your dentist and dental hygienist for a thorough cleaning twice a year or as directed. The exact frequency of these visits will be up to your dentist as some types of braces are more demanding of a regular cleaning than others.
As long as you practice good oral hygiene and follow these basic tips, you should have no problem keeping your teeth from decaying while you wear braces.

When Should I Schedule an Orthodontic Evaluation for My Child?

August 19th, 2012


Most parents know that routine dental care should begin during the toddler years. But many are unaware of when orthodontic treatment should begin. According to the Canadian Association of Orthodontists, the ideal age for an orthodontic evaluation is age seven or before, when children usually have a mixture of adult and baby teeth. Although treatment usually will not begin until one to five years after the initial evaluation, the evaluation is helpful in determining whether your child has any problems with emerging teeth -- regardless of how subtle.

Children have more formidable bone structures than teenagers and adults, and as they grow, orthodontic appliances can help guide jaw growth, which may prevent the development of an overbite or under-bite, as well as tooth crowding due to space limitations. Orthodontic treatment is also helpful for guiding newly emerging adult teeth into a proper alignment, which is not only aesthetically advantageous, but also helpful in preventing tooth decay.

Why Early Evaluation?
Taking your child to the orthodontist for an evaluation means that you may be able to identify problems with the jaw and teeth early when they are still easy to treat. Early treatment often equals a more simplified treatment plan, which is beneficial to both children and their parents. Often, earlier treatment can cost less to correct a problem than delayed treatment.
If a problem is detected, our team will discuss corrective options and provide a recommended treatment schedule. Depending on your child's orthodontic needs, he or she may benefit from:

•Palatial Spacers - Helpful for correcting a crossbite by expanding the width of the upper jaw.
•Fixed Functional Appliance - Helpful for correcting severe upper tooth protrusion.
•Headgear - Helpful for guiding healthy growth of new teeth and the jaw. Headgear is removable, but usually must be worn at least 10 hours per day.

If your child is approaching the age of seven, or has already surpassed his or her seventh birthday, it is time to schedule an appointment for an initial examination.

What are the Early Signs of Orthodontic Problems?

August 10th, 2012


Visibly crooked teeth are not the only reason to take your child into the orthodontist. There are some subtle things to look for as well, which may indicate the onset of more serious orthodontic issues. Many orthodontic issues are much easier to address if treated and corrected during a child's development.

Waiting until facial development is complete or until the permanent teeth have come in can make correction of many orthodontic issues more challenging. Both children and adults can benefit from orthodontic care at any age, but addressing issues early is almost always the ideal choice.

If you're wondering if you or your child might have need for orthodontic care, there are some things you can be on the lookout for. Here are some of the most common warning signs of orthodontic issues:

• Difficulty when chewing or biting
• Chronic mouth-breathing
• Sucking the thumb, the fingers, or any other oral sucking habits that continue after the age of six
• Overbite - when the upper teeth overlap the lower teeth by more than 5mm
• Top front teeth that cover more than 25% of the bottom teeth while biting
• Underbite - when the top front teeth go behind the bottom row of teeth when biting
• Crowded, crooked, overlapped, misshapen, misplaced teeth or extra teeth of any size
• Crossbite - when one or more teeth tilt toward the cheek or toward the tongue causing excessive stress on the jawbone
• The center of the top and bottom teeth don't line up
• Uneven teeth-wearing
• Baby teeth coming out too early for the child's age
• Pain in jaws
• Clicking in the jaw joints
• The jaw shifts off-center while chewing or biting
• A jaw that protrudes, or recedes, too much
• Difficulty speaking or enunciating clearly
• Chronic biting of the inner cheek or roof of the mouth
• Asymmetrical facial structure
• Grinding or clenching of the teeth

If you notice that either you or your child has one or more of these conditions, they could be signs that there is a risk of orthodontic or health problems. The sooner these problems are addressed, the wider and brighter you will be able to smile going forward!