Posts for: May, 2014
Maybe you had braces as a child, or you are thinking of having your own (it's never too late) or your child's teeth straightened through orthodontia. But how much do you really know about this branch of dentistry? Here are six questions people often ask about orthodontia.
Q. How did the word “orthodontia” originate?
A. From Latin roots meaning “straight” and “teeth”
Q. Teeth are anchored in bone. How is it possible to move them?
A. Living bone is not unchanging. The bone, ligament, and the outer layer of a tooth's root (called cementum) react to the stresses of biting and chewing. Due to this stimulation the bone is constantly being resorbed (broken down) and rebuilt as it is pushed from one side of a tooth and pulled from the other. Under normal conditions, there is a balance resulting in a steady state. Orthodontia takes advantage of this process to slowly change the teeth's position in the desired way.
Q. My dentist talks about the periodontal ligament. What does this mean?
A. The ligament is a fibrous tissue that connects the teeth to their bone and takes part in the dynamic process of resorption and rebuilding of the bone.
Q. What kinds of conditions can orthodontia correct?
A. Treatment can improve the teeth's position and relations to each other (being too crowded or badly spaced) and the way the upper and lower jaws relate. It can enhance the appearance of a person's teeth and face, and can also improve the teeth's function in biting and chewing.
Q. What is the best first step to orthodontic treatment?
A. Talk to your general dentist about your concerns. If you are referred to an orthodontist, the next step is to assess your situation using molds of your teeth that show the way the upper and lower teeth meet (your bite). Special x-rays will be taken to show the locations of your teeth and relation of your upper and lower jaw. Your dental team may also use photographs of your smile and computer imaging to get a clear view of how your teeth are now and how they may be moved.
Q. What are some of the methods of treatment?
A. In the traditional method, small metal brackets are attached to the crowns of the teeth. Thin wires, called arch wires, are strung through attachments on the brackets. These wires are used to apply controlled force to direct the teeth in the desired direction. Another method is to use removable clear plastic aligners. A series of aligners is designed by a computer, to be changed from one to the next as the positions of the teeth slowly change.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about braces and orthodontia. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Moving Teeth with Orthodontics” and “The Magic of Orthodontics.”
Make an appointment with our Silver Spring best dentists every six months for proper care, in addition to daily brushing and flossing. Our Silver Spring dentists will be able to put together an appropriate dental hygiene plan to help keep you smiling longer.
Plenty of parents use little tricks to persuade young ones to eat their vegetables, wash their hands, or get to bed on time. But when actress Jennie Garth wanted to help her kids develop healthy dental habits, she took it a step further, as she explained in a recent interview on Fox News.
“Oh my gosh, there's a froggy in your teeth!” the star of the '90s hit series Beverly Hills 90210 would tell her kids. “I've got to get him out!”
When her children — daughters Luca, Lola, and Fiona — spit out the toothpaste, Garth would surreptitiously slip a small toy frog into the sink and pretend it had come from one of their mouths. This amused the kids so much that they became engaged in the game, and let her brush their teeth for as long as necessary.
Garth's certainly got the right idea. Teaching children to develop good oral hygiene habits as early as possible helps set them up for a lifetime of superior dental health. Parents should establish a brushing routine with their kids starting around age 2, when the mouth is becoming filled with teeth. A soft, child's size toothbrush with a pea-sized dab of fluoride toothpaste and plenty of parental help is good for toddlers. By around age 6, when they've developed more manual dexterity, the kids can start taking over the job themselves.
Here's another tip: It's easy to find out how good a cleaning job your kids are doing on their own teeth. Over-the counter products are available that use a system of color coding to identify the presence of bacterial plaque. With these, you can periodically check whether children are brushing effectively. Another way of checking is less precise, but it works anywhere: Just teach them to run their tongue over their teeth. If the teeth fell nice and smooth, they're probably clean, too. If not... it's time to pull out the frog.
And don't forget about the importance of regular dental checkups — both for your kids and yourself. “Like anything, I think our kids mirror what we do,” says Garth. We couldn't agree more.
If you need more information about helping kids develop good oral hygiene — or if it's time for a checkup — don't hesitate to contact us and schedule an appointment. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “How to Help Your Child Develop the Best Habits for Oral Health.”
Q: I often seem to have noticeably bad breath — not just in the morning. How unusual is this problem?
A: Persistent bad breath, or halitosis, is a very common complaint that is thought to affect millions of people, including perhaps 25 to 50 percent of middle aged and older adults. It’s the driving force behind the market for breath mints and mouth rinses, with an estimated value of $3 billion annually. It’s also the third most frequent reason people give for seeing the dentist (after tooth decay and gum disease). So if you have bad breath, you’re hardly alone.
Q: Can bad breath come from somewhere other than the mouth?
A: Most of the time, bad breath does originate in the mouth; its characteristic smell is often caused by volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs), which have a foul odor. However, it can also come from the nose, possibly as a result of a sinus infection or a foreign body. In some cases, pus from the tonsils can cause halitosis. There are also a few diseases which sometimes give your breath an unpleasant odor.
Q: What exactly causes the mouth to smell bad?
A: In a word: bacteria. Millions of these microorganisms (some of which are harmful, and some helpful) coat the lining of the mouth and the tongue. They thrive on tiny food particles, remnants of dead skin cells, and other material. When they aren't kept under control with good oral hygiene — or when they begin multiplying in inaccessible areas, like the back of the tongue or under the gums — they may start releasing the smells of decaying matter.
Other issues can also contribute to a malodorous mouth. These include personal habits (such as tobacco and alcohol use), consumption of strong-smelling foods (onions and cheese, for example), and medical conditions, like persistent dry mouth (xerostomia).
Q: What can I do about my bad breath?
A: Those breath mints are really just a cover-up. Your best bet is to come in to the dental office for an examination. We have several ways of finding out exactly what’s causing your bad breath, and then treating it. Depending on what’s best for your individual situation, we may offer oral hygiene instruction, a professional cleaning, or treatment for gum disease or tooth decay. Bad breath can be an embarrassing problem — but we can help you breathe easier.