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Creating a beautiful smile is one of the main reasons people choose to get dental braces, but straight teeth are more than just better looking; they’re healthier, too! Here is some basic information about dental braces.

Properly aligned teeth are easier to clean. When you have clean teeth that are free of dental plaque, you’re less likely to develop dental cavities that need a tooth filling or need treatment for gum disease. Wearing dental braces may be able to correct jaw-joints that are misaligned, which may be the source of nagging headaches and neck pain.

Wearing dental braces can also help you to chew more efficiently helping to prevent excessive wear of your teeth. The types of dental braces today have come a long way over the years. If you’re considering braces you may be thrilled to learn that your smile can be put “back on track” without sacrificing appearance or comfort while receiving treatment.

Dental braces are designed with the intention of helping an orthodontist to be able to correct certain types of malocclusions (abnormal bites) such as an overbite, underbite, crowded teeth, or spaced teeth. The type of braces best suited to meet your needs will depend on the type of your malocclusion and it’s severity.

Dental braces move teeth gradually by applying pressure to the teeth. The majority of this pressure is applied by a metal wire called an archwire. Tiny brackets are placed on each tooth and the archwire is fastened to these brackets. These brackets are typically small and glued onto the front of each individual tooth. Rubber bands called ligatures go around these brackets holding the archwire in place and placing added pressure on the teeth.

While traditional metal braces are still extremely popular for straightening teeth, there is now a variety of options for braces designed with keeping your comfort and appearance in mind:

Removable Dental Braces have become very popular and are mouthguard-like devices made of a clear plastic. The most common type of removable braces are the Invisalign dental aligners.

Teenagers might also be interested in colored ligatures (the rubber band that go around the brackets) which are especially popular with for showing school spirit, celebrating the holidays or sporting the colors of a favorite team. During routine archwire adjustments ligatures can be changed by your orthodontist.

Regardless of the type of dental braces that you wear, your orthodontic treatment plan will typically consists of three stages:

Pretreatment – Where your dentist or orthodontist will determine not only if you need braces, but also which type of treatment will be best for you and your needs.
Active treatment – This is the phase of treatment in which you will wear your braces. This stage can last anywhere between one to two years in most cases.
Retention – This takes place once your braces are removed. The majority of patients will wear an orthodontic retainer which helps the teeth settle into their permanent location.

To learn more about dental braces or other services available or to learn more about the doctors, their accomplishments, and how they are actively involved in the dental community, please schedule an appointment.

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1. How should I clean my baby’s teeth?
Most all Pediatric Dentist agree that the best choice for infants is a toothbrush that is specially designed for infants. If you can’t readily find a toothbrush labeled infant, then use a toothbrush with a small head and soft bristles. Plaque bacteria can lead to decay. Brushing several times per day, especially at bedtime, will help remove plaque bacteria.

2. At what age should my child have his/her first dental visit?
The general rule for a first dental visit is “First visit by first birthday.” Once your child’s first tooth appears, you should bring them to a pediatric dentist to prevent dental problems. This typically occurs between the ages of 6 and 12 months.

3. Why should my child see a pediatric dentist instead of our regular family dentist?
Pediatric dentistry is a dental specialty that focuses on the oral health of young people. Following dental school, a pediatric dentist has two to three years additional specialty training in the unique needs of infants, children and adolescents, including those with special health needs.

4. What is baby bottle tooth decay, and how can I prevent it?
Baby bottle tooth decay is a pattern of rapid decay associated with prolonged nursing. Baby bottle tooth decay occurs when children go to sleep while they are breast-feeding or bottle feeding. The flow of saliva is reduced during sleep and this natural self-cleansing method of the mouth is diminished. To avoid the problem of baby bottle tooth decay avoid nursing children to sleep and put water in your child’s bedtime bottle rather than milk, formula, or juice. As your child approaches their first birthday encourage them to drink from a cup. It is recommended by Pediatric Dentist that your child is weaned from the bottle by 12-14 months of age. Between meals have your child drink water as both milk and juice contain sugar.

5. Can thumb sucking be harmful for my child’s teeth?
Crowded teeth, crooked teeth, and bite problems can be the result of finger, thumb, and pacifier sucking habits that are allowed to go on for a long period of time. If a child is still sucking their thumbs or fingers when the permanent teeth arrive, your pediatric dentist may recommend a mouth appliance. While most children will stop thumb/finger sucking on their own, it can be helpful to break these habits by rewarding the child for not doing so.

6. What are dental sealants and how do they work?
Sealants are clear or shaded plastic applied to the teeth that fill in the pitted and grooved surfaces of teeth to help keep them cavity-free. By applying this, food particles that could get caught and cause cavities are shut out. Sealants can effectively protect teeth for several years and are fast and comfortable to apply.

7. Is my child getting enough fluoride?
Fluoride has been shown to make teeth stronger, which dramatically decreases one’s chances of getting cavities. The best and easiest way to get fluoride is in drinking water. To be sure of your fluoride intake, have your local health department conduct an evaluation of the level of fluoride found in your child’s primary source of water. There are fluoride supplements that your pediatric dentist may prescribe in the event that your child is not getting enough fluoride internally through water (especially in communities where the water district does not fluoridate the water or if your child drinks bottled water without fluoride). Unless your water has been specifically tested, stay away from fluoride drops, vitamins or tablets. This goes for well water also, as it may contain fluoride naturally.

8. How safe are dental X-rays?
The use of contemporary safeguards, such as high-speed film and lead aprons, the amount of radiation that one receives during a dental X-ray examination is minimal. Pediatric dentists take particular caution in minimizing the radiation that child patients are exposed to, even though there is very little risk. Dental X-rays, in fact, represent a risk far smaller than that of an undetected and untreated dental problem.

9. My child plays sports. How should I protect my child’s teeth?
The top priority on the list of your child’s needed sports equipment should be a mouth guard. Athletic mouth protectors, also called mouth guards, are made of soft plastic. Molded to fit the upper teeth, they fit comfortably and protect the teeth, lips, and gums from sports-related injuries. Your child’s best protection is a custom fitted mouth guard from your doctor, but any mouth guard works better than none at all.

10. When do the first teeth start to erupt?
The central incisors (the two lower front teeth) typically show up at about 6 to 12 months. These are followed by the two upper central incisors shortly thereafter. The rest of the baby teeth will show up in no particular order over the next 18 to 24 months. All 20 primary teeth should be present at 2 to 3 years.

11. What should I do if my child knocks out a permanent tooth?
Remain calm. Find the tooth if possible and hold it by the crown rather than the root. Replace the tooth in the socket, if it is free of dirt and debris, and hold it there using a washcloth or clean gauze. In the event that you are unable to put the tooth back into it’s socket or it is dirty, put the tooth in a clean container with some milk and take your child and the tooth to your pediatric dentist immediately. Your chances of saving the tooth are better the faster you act.

12. How can I help my child through the teething stage?
Part of the normal process of teeth erupting is experiencing sore gums. For some children the discomfort can be eased by using a teething biscuit, a piece of toast, or a frozen teething ring. You may also be able to obtain medications from your pharmacy that can be rubbed onto the gums to help alleviate discomfort.

13. I noticed a space between my child’s two upper front teeth. Is this cause for concern?
As the other front teeth erupt this space will usually close. Consult your pediatric dentist as they will be able to determine whether there is cause for concern.

14. If my child gets a cavity in a baby tooth, should it still be filled?
There are many reasons why primary, or “baby,” teeth are important. These teeth not only help children to speak clearly and to chew naturally, but they also aid in forming the path for permanent teeth to follow when the time comes for them to erupt. Some primary teeth are necessary all the way up to 12 years old or even longer. Pain, infection of the gums and jaws, impairment of general health and premature tooth loss are just a few of the problems that can be caused by neglecting baby teeth. Tooth decay is an infection that (untreated) will spread. Decay on baby teeth can cause decay on permanent teeth. An instrumental part of enhancing the health of your child is proper care of baby teeth.

15. What causes tooth decay?
Cavities require four things to be able to form — (1) a tooth (2) bacteria (3) sugars or other carbohydrates and (4) time. Dental plaque is a thin, sticky, colorless deposit of bacteria that constantly forms on everyone’s teeth. While eating, the sugars found in food cause this bacteria to produce acids which attack the tooth enamel. Repeated acid attacks, over time, break down the enamel and a cavity forms.

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When is the best time to begin Orthodontic Treatment?
Though there is no limit to the age in which a smile can be enhanced by an orthodontist, there is a time period that is optimal. It is recommended by the American Association of Orthodontists that a child’s initial orthodontic evaluation should occur when the first sign of orthodontic problems appears or no later than 7 years of age. Orthodontic treatment may not be necessary at this early age, but the most advantageous time to begin treatment can be anticipated with a vigilant examination.

What are the benefits of early orthodontic evaluation?
More effective orthodontic treatment can be provided, if problems are detected during early evaluations. Serious problems can be prevented from being developed later on with prudent intervention to guide growth as well as development. When it is not yet necessary for dental treatment intervention, an orthodontist is able to carefully monitor growth and development so as to be able to begin treatment at the most ideal time.

Why is age 7 considered the optimal time for screening?
The first adult molars erupt by the age of 7, establishing the back bite. It is during this time that an orthodontist can evaluate tooth relationships, front-to-back and side-to-side. The presence of erupting incisors, for example, can indicate a possible overbite, open bite, crowding, or gummy smiles. Chances for an incredible smile are increased with timely screenings.

What are the advantages of interceptive treatment?
Some of the most direct results of interceptive treatment are:

The opportunity to create room for crowded, erupting teeth

The ability to influence jaw growth, creating facial symmetry

Reducing the risk of trauma to front teeth that are protruding

Preserving space for teeth that have yet to erupt

Reducing the need to remove teeth

Reducing the amount of time needed for treatment with braces

Why should malocclusions be treated?
Untreated malocclusions can result in a variety of problems. According to studies by the American Association of Orthodontists some of these problems include:

Crowded teeth, which are more difficult to brush, floss, and care for properly, which may contribute to tooth decay and/or gum disease.

Protruding teeth are more susceptible to chipping accidentally.

Uneven tooth wear and growth that is unfavorable can result from crossbites.

Speech impediments and tongue-thrusting habits can result from openbites.

Ultimately, orthodontic treatment does more than make a pretty smile—it creates a healthier you.

To learn more about orthodontic treatment, the services that we offer or learn more about the doctors, their accomplishments, and how they are actively involved in the dental community, please schedule an appointment.

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Invisalign takes a modern stance on straightening teeth. The Invisalign system is a series of clear overlay templates called aligners that have been generated by computer simulation to gradually move the teeth. This series of aligners is custom made for you and only you. As you wear the Invisalign aligners, your teeth are gradually shifted into place. This system is available to adult patients and some teenagers with certain orthodontic bite problems. There are 5 easy steps to a beautiful smile with Invisalign.

The first step of your Invisalign treatment is to make an appointment with one of our orthodontists, who will determine if the Invisalign dental braces system will work for your case.

The second step of the Invisalign system is to create a 3D image of your teeth. This is done by our orthodontist taking x-rays, pictures, and impressions of your teeth. Invisalign will use these images to create a digital 3D image. Using this 3D image, we will be able to map out a treatment plan precisely. Using this 3D technology, we will also be able to show you a virtual representation of the movement of your teeth through each step of your journey to a beautiful smile. Once your Invisalign treatment has been mapped out, it is time to move on to step 3.

For the 3rd step of your Invisalign treatment, you will receive your custom made aligners. These aligners are based on the treatment plan that you and your orthodontist discussed in step number 2. These aligners will not irritate your gums or cheeks as they are made from a BPA-free plastic that is smooth and clear. Outside of brushing, flossing, and eating you will wear your Invisalign aligners approximately 22 hours throughout the day and night. As you wear them your teeth will shift gently and gradually into place. Being virtually invisible, most people will not even notice that you’re wearing them.

Invisalign step number 4 is a continuation of step 3. Approximately every 2 weeks, you will wear new aligners to further the transformation to a more confident smile. Throughout this time, you will have occasional checkups with your orthodontist to monitor your progress about as frequently as a normal dental checkup and teeth cleaning. Sometimes new impressions and revisions are done, and additional trays are fabricated, and is all included in the process.

Revealing your new smile is the last and most exciting part of your Invisalign treatment process. With step number 5, you are finished with your treatment. You and your doctor may want to schedule further “follow up” checkups.

To learn more about the Invisalign system, other services available or learn more about the doctors, their accomplishments, and how they are actively involved in the dental community, please schedule an appointment
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Plaque Locator Tablets | How do they work?

The home dental plaque locator tablets identifies plaque, a sticky substance that collects around and between teeth. The test helps show how well you are brushing and flossing your teeth. Plaque is the major cause of tooth decay and gum disease (gingivitis). It is hard to see with the naked eye because it is whitish colored, like teeth.

It is hard to tell how successfully you removed plaque after brushing and flossing your teeth. You may see some food particles, but you may not see the plaque, which colorless.

When teaching your child how to properly care for their teeth it is important to help them understand why their teeth need to be cleaned daily. Brushing may feel like a chore to children and just like cleaning their room by cramming toys under the bed, they may just go through the motions of brushing to “get it over with,” rushing to finish brushing instead of thoroughly cleaning those pearly white.

One way to help children understand the importance of brushing is to show them the results of their efforts. When children can see that what they are doing has an effect and they are more likely to take things seriously. One way to do this with brushing and flossing is to use plaque locator tablets.

If you have receding gums you may be at risk for plaque buildup. Wearing braces, a chronic medical condition or other risk factors, using plaque locator tablets can help to identify areas of your teeth that you may have missed after brushing and flossing. Plaque locator tablets contain a nontoxic dye that reacts with plaque and you will see dyed areas if plaque is present.

Before using a plaque locator tablets, brush and floss your teeth as usual. There are a variety of plaque locator products to choose from. Some of them available are listed below:

Plaque disclosing tablets: Chew a tablet and let it mix with the saliva in your mouth. Swish the saliva around your mouth for about 30 seconds and spit it out.
Plaque disclosing swab: Use the swabs to wipe the surfaces of your teeth.
Plaque disclosing solution: Swish the solution around in your mouth for about 30 seconds and spit it out.
Plaque disclosing floss: Use Oral-B® Indicator® Floss, which is blue in color to show the plaque you’ve removed after you use it.

How do they work? After brushing, flossing and applying your selected plaque locator products you may see color stained areas that indicate unremoved plaque that can then be brushed and flossed away. This helps you identify areas to improve your brushing and flossing routine. After you’re done using plaque disclosing tablets there may be temporary discoloration of lips and cheeks. Using the tablets at night is recommended as the discoloration should be cleared by morning.

Remember: Even if you aren’t at increased risk for gum disease, plaque disclosing products let you test yourself to see how effectively you remove plaque from your teeth.

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Teen Dental Care Advice – Risks of Tongue Piercings
The Dentists and Orthodontists in our practice discuss tough topics with our teen patients. The hottest trends lately are health risks of tongue piercings. Many teenagers are at risk of getting bacteria infections in their mouths and/or damage to their teeth.

Teens with pierced tongues are at risk for adverse effects that could last forever. Over time, the tongue repeatedly rubs against the same areas and may develop mouth ulcers. This constant irritation from the barbell-shaped jewelry could result in periodontal disease or oral cancer.

The Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) reported that tongue piercing can result in chipped teeth, infections, nerve and gum damage, uncontrolled drooling, partial or complete loss of taste, and most commonly, tooth loss.

Other risks of tongue piercings come from the bacteria that covers the tongue. When the tongue is pierced, that bacteria can get in the bloodstream, cause underlying tongue tissues that could lead to serious infections. Pre-cancerous ulcers can only be detected during an oral cancer screening by one of our dentists.

Our practice provides services in all areas of pediatric dentistry; including preventive, restorative, and aesthetic dental care specifically designed to meet the needs of children and teens. Educating patients and their parents about tooth development, proper dental care and dental health is our ultimate goal. Our doctors and staff have received extra training in pediatric dentistry; making our practice an excellent choice to help kids and teens get the necessary care in the most supportive way.

Teen Dental Care Advice
Did you know, forty-seven percent of people who have worn tongue jewelry for four or more years have chipped teeth? As the teen becomes an adult, they may eventually have to spend thousands of dollars on dental procedures to regain the smile they’ll want later in life. So while it may be fun for a teen to have a pierced tongue, damaged and missing teeth, disease, and life-threatening cancer are simply put, not worth it. By taking the best steps towards dental health in the early years, we’ll be able to provide our patients with the opportunity for healthy teeth and gums for life. For more information go to Oral Piercing Risks at WebMD.com.

We strive to mold behavior and change attitudes toward oral hygiene so our patients have the best possible chance at a beautiful smile. To learn more about proper dental care, our services, view locations, or learn more about the doctors and how they are actively involved in the dental community, please schedule an appointment.

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What are Orthodontic Appliances? This is a good question for an Orthodontist or a Pediatric Dentist. When a child is determined to need orthodontic care, it is time to learn that Orthodontic Appliances come in two different types: removable and fixed. Both types are available at our office.

Fixed Orthodontic Appliances
Fixed Orthodontic Appliances. These are the most commonly used orthodontic dental devices. Fixed Orthodontic Appliances include:

Dental Braces. These consist of brackets, wires, and bands. The bands are placed firmly around teeth and act as anchors while the brackets are typically attached to the front of teeth. Over time an arch wire attached to the brackets moves the teeth slowly into the proper position. The braces are adjusted by an orthodontist once per month. Treatment lasts anywhere from several months to a few years.

Fixed space maintainers – When a child loses a baby tooth space maintainers will prevent the teeth on each side of the space from moving until the adult tooth is able to come into place. These consist of bands on the adjacent teeth with a wire that goes between the two.

Special fixed appliances – These only used when really necessary and they can be recommended to control thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, or a bite that braces alone cannot.

While patients with fixed appliances are able to eat as they normally would, though some some food and drinks, such as hard or chewy sweets should be avoided. Special mouth guards can also be made for those who play sports.

Removable Orthodontic Appliances – Typically used in treating problems that are considered minor such as correcting teeth that are slightly crooked or spaced. Removable appliances are taken out for cleaning, while eating, or while brushing and flossing.

Examples of removable appliances include:

Aligners. These are an option typically used by adult patients in place of traditional braces. They can be virtually unnoticeable to others and are removable for activities such as eating, brushing, or flossing. These can be capable of correcting more than minor issues on a case by case basis

Lip and Cheek Bumpers. These relieve pressure on the teeth from lips or cheeks.

Removable Retainers. These prevent the teeth from migrating back to their original positioning after fixed appliances such as braces are removed. They may also be modified to prevent thumb sucking, slightly align teeth, or close a small space.

To learn more about orthodontic appliances, orthodontics, or orthodontic treatment options as well as services available, view locations, or learn more about the doctors, their accomplishments, and how they are actively involved in the dental community, please schedule an appointment.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why should my child see a dentist at one year of age?

The one year / first dental visit will include:

Evaluation of the child: growth, habits, abnormalities or disease
Risk assessment for future problems: growth expectations and future cavities
Preventive information for the parent: oral hygiene techniques and responses to dental injuries
Responses to parents’ questions.

2. Until what age should I help my child with brushing of his or her teeth? Should I be flossing my child’s teeth?

Brushing: help until about 6 years of age or when they can print clearly or tie their shoelaces. Monitor after that time. Remember to use only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste for preschool children.

Flossing: begin when teeth are in contact and done by the parent until about 8 years or when the child can write script (cursive) clearly . Monitor after that age.

Help may be needed beyond these ages with both procedures if the children are wearing braces or space maintainers.

3. I am confused about fluorides. What should be given to my child. What does it do for the teeth?

Fluoride taken systemically or internally aids in the development of teeth. It should be available from 6 months of age until the mid-teens. Systemic use also provides fluoride in the saliva which is used for remineralizing tooth surfaces. The best and least expensive delivery is via water fluoridation, but prescription tablets or drops are appropriate when fluoridated water is not available.

Topical fluorides should be used in toothpaste after age 2. Only a pea-sized portion of toothpaste should be used by preschool children. This may be supplemented by rinses, gels and varnish which are higher dose applications. Topical fluoride use should continue throughout your child’s lifetime.

What it does: fluorides help in the formation of larger and more acid resistant crystals in the enamel and dentin layers of the tooth. Topical and systemic applications remineralize and strengthen areas weakened by foods, acids and bacteria.

4. My child sucks a pacifier. Is that worse than thumb sucking? At what age will this sucking begin causing problems?

All non-nutritive sucking may have an effect on facial / oral growth by distorting bones and modifying the relationship of the upper to lower teeth. These effects tend to vary with duration, frequency and strength of the sucking habit. However, pacifier sucking is generally much easier to halt at about age 2-3 years and rarely reverts to thumb / finger sucking. In addition, the American Academy of Pediatrics encourages pacifier sucking at bedtime for the first year of like as this seems to reduce breathing problems associated with some sleeping positions and the possibility of SIDS.

5. Why does the dentist want to take x-rays when there are no cavities?

A thorough examination cannot be done by simply looking at the teeth. In dentistry, diagnosis also involves an evaluation of the areas between the teeth as well as an assessment of the child’s newly formed and unerupted teeth. For these reasons, x-ray images are necessary. The amount of radiation exposure is very minimal. The frequency of x-rays is limited and dependent on the child’s cavity history. In addition, future cavity risk and any abnormal growth or trauma (accident) findings will determine the need for x-rays.

6. Why fix baby teeth? Aren’t they going to fall out soon?

Primary teeth are present for a great deal of the child’s growing period, some until the child is 12 years old. Cavities can lead to pain, infection and lack of proper function and eating, as well as cavities on the adjacent permanent teeth. These permanent first molars are often erupting by age 6.

7. Do sealants really work to prevent cavities?

Sealants are very effective in preventing cavities because they block the collection of food and bacteria on the grooved surfaces of the back teeth. They are not useful between the teeth and therefore flossing is needed in those areas. Sealants are particularly effective on first permanent molars when applied shortly after their eruption, which is usually at the age of 6. The sealants are applied in a “non-invasive”, bonded manner to these surfaces, may be easily evaluated or reapplied, and are relatively inexpensive.

8. My child has crooked (or crowded teeth). When should he or she be seen by an orthodontist?

Pediatric dentists are knowledgeable about early growth and can evaluate eruption of the primary teeth. At rare times, early orthodontic analysis and intervention is needed prior to age 6. As permanent teeth erupt (mixed dentition), a full growth space and positional) evaluation may be indicated. This is generally done after 7 or 8 years of age.

9. How do you obtain cooperation from a very young child who needs treatment?

A variety of techniques are available and their use is dependent on the child’s age and developmental abilities. These techniques include attention getting and word selection choices, distraction and sequential explanations, and demonstrations (“tell, show, do”). At times, holding or restraining the child may be necessary for an adequate examination. This is often done in a position or manner similar to those used by the pediatrician for a physical examination or short procedure. For young children, cooperation for more extensive treatment often requires distraction techniques such as talking, storytelling and listening to music or stories. These approaches may be enhanced by the use of nitrous oxide or selective medications. Restraint or sedation-anesthesia may be indicated when complex treatments require levels of cooperation similar to those needed for medical or surgical procedures such as ear tube placement. A thorough discussion and selection of the appropriate choices for your child should precede any treatment.

10. What should be done if my child has an accident (that breaks or displaces a tooth)?

Accidents may occur at any age and the severity may be difficult to determine at the time of injury. In general, stabilize your child to prevent further immediate injury and call the dental office (or answering service if it is outside of normal office hours) for specific advice concerning your child’s problem. Time may be of critical importance. Try to speak with the dentist as soon as possible so that your child may receive the appropriate care in a timely manner.

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