Posts for: March, 2019
Wearing braces will probably never make your list of Most Pleasurable Life Experiences: you'll have to avoid certain foods and habits, endure some occasional discomfort, and perhaps feel some embarrassment about your appearance. The good news, though, is that at worst, these are mostly no more than inconveniences and additionally they're well worth the straighter, more attractive smile you'll achieve.
But there's one downside to braces that can lead to something more serious. The braces hardware makes brushing and flossing more difficult—and that could increase your risk of dental disease.
The principal goal of oral hygiene is to remove dental plaque, a thin film of accumulated bacteria and food particles that can cause tooth decay or periodontal (gum) disease. Without effective brushing and flossing, plaque can build up quickly and make the chances of having either of these two diseases more likely.
Not only does the braces hardware hinder your toothbrush's or floss's access to the parts of the teeth it covers, but it can also create "hiding places" for plaque build-up. Several studies have found that braces wearers on average have up to two to three times the plaque build-up of non-braces wearers.
There are ways, though, to make hygiene easier while wearing braces, particularly with flossing. Floss threaders or interproximal brushes can both be used to access between teeth while wearing braces. Another option is a water flosser or irrigator that sprays pressurized water between teeth (and beneath brackets and wires) to remove plaque. And braces wearers can get a prevention boost with topical fluoride applications or antibacterial mouth rinses to reduce disease-causing bacteria.
Besides taking a little extra time with brushing and flossing, you can also boost your mouth's health with good nutrition choices, less sugar consumption and keeping up regular dental visits. And, you should also see your dentist promptly if you notice any signs of tooth or gum problems—the sooner you have it checked and treated, the less damage any dental disease is likely to cause.
It's not easy keeping your teeth and gums plaque-free while wearing braces. But with a little extra time and effort, a few helpful tools and your dentist's support, you can maintain a healthy mouth during orthodontic treatment.
If you would like more information on best hygiene practices while wearing braces, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Caring for Teeth during Orthodontic Treatment.”
If you are looking to replace a missing tooth, have you considered dental implants as an option? Implants offer several benefits whether you're missing one tooth or all of them. Read below to learn more about this great restoration option, and call our Farmington, MI, dentist, Dr. Stephen Harris, if you are interested in undergoing treatment!
How can dental implants restore my smile?
Unlike other restoration choices, dental implants replace one of the most important parts of your tooth: the root. Roots securely attach teeth to the jawbone and provide stimulation that keeps the bone strong and healthy.
Dental implants, combined with dental crowns, create a complete replacement for your missing tooth. The implants are small posts created out of titanium, a lightweight metal that bonds to bone and is commonly used in hip and knee replacements. Implants are added to your jawbone during a minor oral surgical procedure at our Farmington office.
Are dental implants right for me?
Dental implants can be an excellent choice if:
- You're troubled by gaps in your smile: Missing teeth can make even the most secure person feel a little self-conscious. Luckily, the new dental crown attached to the top of your implant will look and feel just like a natural tooth!
- You don't want your teeth to shift: Drifting teeth can occur after you lose a tooth. If your teeth change position, it may be difficult to remove plaque from overlapping sections, and your bite may change. Dental implants prevent these problems from happening.
- You're tired of chewing on one side of your mouth: It's not easy to bite or tear into foods when you're missing a tooth. If you're like most people, you may resort to chewing on one side only, which can increase wear on those teeth. Dental implants restore your ability to chew normally after tooth loss.
- You have dentures and can't eat certain foods: Traditional dentures decrease biting power, making it difficult to eat some tougher foods. Fortunately, implant-supported dentures improve your ability to eat all of the foods that you love!
- You're looking for a long-lasting restoration option: Thanks to the unique bonding ability of titanium implants, you'll likely never have the need to replace your restorations (your dentist will need to replace your crowns approximately every 10 to 15 years, however).
Restore your smile with dental implants! Call your Farmington, MI, dentist, Dr. Stephen Harris, today at (248) 478-4755 to schedule an appointment!
In her decades-long career, renowned actress Kathy Bates has won Golden Globes, Emmys, and many other honors. Bates began acting in her twenties, but didn't achieve national recognition until she won the best actress Oscar for Misery — when she was 42 years old! “I was told early on that because of my physique and my look, I'd probably blossom more in my middle age,” she recently told Dear Doctor magazine. “[That] has certainly been true.” So if there's one lesson we can take from her success, it might be that persistence pays off.
When it comes to her smile, Kathy also recognizes the value of persistence. Now 67, the veteran actress had orthodontic treatment in her 50's to straighten her teeth. Yet she is still conscientious about wearing her retainer. “I wear a retainer every night,” she said. “I got lazy about it once, and then it was very difficult to put the retainer back in. So I was aware that the teeth really do move.”
Indeed they do. In fact, the ability to move teeth is what makes orthodontic treatment work. By applying consistent and gentle forces, the teeth can be shifted into better positions in the smile. That's called the active stage of orthodontic treatment. Once that stage is over, another begins: the retention stage. The purpose of retention is to keep that straightened smile looking as good as it did when the braces came off. And that's where the retainer comes in.
There are several different kinds of retainers, but all have the same purpose: To hold the teeth in their new positions and keep them from shifting back to where they were. We sometimes say teeth have a “memory” — not literally, but in the sense that if left alone, teeth tend to migrate back to their former locations. And if you've worn orthodontic appliances, like braces or aligners, that means right back where you started before treatment.
By holding the teeth in place, retainers help stabilize them in their new positions. They allow new bone and ligaments to re-form and mature around them, and give the gums time to remodel themselves. This process can take months to years to be complete. But you may not need to wear a retainer all the time: Often, removable retainers are worn 24 hours a day at first; later they are worn only at night. We will let you know what's best in your individual situation.
So take a tip from Kathy Bates, star of the hit TV series American Horror Story, and wear your retainer as instructed. That's the best way to keep your straight new smile from changing back to the way it was — and to keep a bad dream from coming true.
If you would like more information about orthodontic retainers, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more about this topic in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Why Orthodontic Retainers?” and “The Importance of Orthodontic Retainers.” The interview with Kathy Bates appears in the latest issue of Dear Doctor.