Posts for: May, 2015
Most of us are quite familiar with what traditional braces look like. But occasionally we see more complex-looking devices being worn by young orthodontic patients: thicker wires that extend outside the mouth, with straps that may go behind the neck or over the chin. What are these devices, and why are they sometimes needed?
In general, orthodontic appliances with external parts braced by the head, neck or chin are referred to as “headgear.” These devices may be used to handle a number of particular orthodontic situations, but they all have one thing in common: They provide the additional anchorage needed to move teeth into better positions.
It may come as a surprise that teeth, which seem so solid, can actually be moved fairly easily over time. This is because teeth are not fixed directly into bone, but are instead held in place by a hammock-like structure called the periodontal ligament. Using a light, controlled force — such as the force of springy wires and elastics in traditional braces — teeth can be moved slowly through the jaw bone, like a stick being pulled through sand.
Of course, to pull a stick through sand, you need a firm anchorage — your legs, for example, bracing against a rock. Most of the time, the back teeth, with their large, multiple roots, provide plenty of support. But sometimes, the back teeth alone aren’t enough to do the job.
If a very large space between teeth is being closed, for example, the back teeth might be pulled forward as the front teeth are pulled back; this could result in poor alignment and bite problems. In other cases, the front teeth may need to be pulled forward instead of back. The back teeth can’t help here; this is a job for headgear.
Some types of headgear have a strap that goes behind the head or neck; they use the entire head as an anchorage. Other types, called “reverse pull” headgear, have a strap that comes over the chin or the forehead; they can pull teeth forward. Headgear can even influence the proper growth of facial structures — that’s why it is usually seen on preteens, whose growth isn’t yet complete.
Headgear is usually worn for 12 hours per day, for a limited period of time. In some cases, rather than headgear, appliances called “temporary anchorage devices” (TADS) may be recommended. These are tiny screws that are implanted into the jawbone in a minimally invasive procedure, and serve a similar function.
While it may not look pretty, orthodontic headgear is capable of moving teeth into their proper positions in a relatively short period of time — and ending up with a great-looking smile is what orthodontics is all about.
Did you see the move Cast Away starring Tom Hanks? If so, you probably remember the scene where Hanks, stranded on a remote island, knocks out his own abscessed tooth — with an ice skate, no less — to stop the pain. Recently, Dear Doctor TV interviewed Gary Archer, the dental technician who created that special effect and many others.
“They wanted to have an abscess above the tooth with all sorts of gunk and pus and stuff coming out of it,” Archer explained. “I met with Tom and I took impressions [of his mouth] and we came up with this wonderful little piece. It just slipped over his own natural teeth.” The actor could flick it out with his lower tooth when the time was right during the scene. It ended up looking so real that, as Archer said, “it was not for the easily squeamish!”
That’s for sure. But neither is a real abscess, which is an infection that becomes sealed off beneath the gum line. An abscess may result from a trapped piece of food, uncontrolled periodontal (gum) disease, or even an infection deep inside a tooth that has spread to adjacent periodontal tissues. In any case, the condition can cause intense pain due to the pressure that builds up in the pus-filled sac. Prompt treatment is required to relieve the pain, keep the infection from spreading to other areas of the face (or even elsewhere in the body), and prevent tooth loss.
Treatment involves draining the abscess, which usually stops the pain immediately, and then controlling the infection and removing its cause. This may require antibiotics and any of several in-office dental procedures, including gum surgery, a root canal, or a tooth extraction. But if you do have a tooth that can’t be saved, we promise we won’t remove it with an ice skate!
The best way to prevent an abscess from forming in the first place is to practice conscientious oral hygiene. By brushing your teeth twice each day for two minutes, and flossing at least once a day, you will go a long way towards keeping harmful oral bacteria from thriving in your mouth.
If you have any questions about gum disease or abscesses, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Periodontal (Gum) Abscesses” and “Confusing Tooth Pain.”
Find out for yourself why our patients love Colesville Dentistry Silver Spring.
When it comes to your health it’s important to be able to establish good rapport with your doctor. After all, they are partially in charge of your health and you’ll have to work closely with them to make sure that you remain healthy. This same statement should be true for your dentist. If you are looking for a Silver Spring dentist that can promise a comforting environment, expert staff and a variety of services then find out why Colesville Dentistry has become the choice of Silver Spring.
One deciding factor for choosing a dentist should be the comfort level you feel around them. You want a doctor who listens and addresses your concerns, no matter if you’re just having a routine cleaning or getting dental implants:
“It is always such a pleasure dealing with Colesville Dentistry and Dr. Lepore. It really is like dealing with family and you always feel welcome and treated with caring and kindness. My family has been coming to see Dr. Lepore for the last 30 years and in all that time we have never had a bad experience. We travel about 40 minutes each way, but the drive is well worth it.” — Charles F.
Some patients don’t even mind driving out of their way to get better quality care!
We also offer dental services for patients of all ages, from children to older adults. We are happy to care for anyone’s smiles:
“Doctors Hysong and LePore are the most competent, professional, and congenial of any dentists I have been a patient of in my 91 years of life. Their staff reflects these qualities.” — Richard S.
91 years old and still coming to our office for routine cleanings and care? That’s definitely major dedication to good oral health (now you have no excuses!)
We know that some patients come with dental anxiety or even phobias about see their Silver Spring dentist. While we don’t take it personally we do everything we can to try and make sure that your next dental visit is gentle and relaxing:
“I'm a big baby when it comes to the dentist, but I have to say Dr. Hysong and the staff make it go a little easier.” — Lisa C.
So, what are you waiting for? If it’s time to schedule a routine dental visit then find out for yourself what makes Colesville Dentistry a revered dental office in Silver Spring.