Posts for: October, 2013
When her daughter Ashby was born in 2007, Nancy O'Dell was overjoyed; but she found the experience of pregnancy to be anxiety-provoking. O'Dell is host of the popular entertainment news show Entertainment Tonight.
After her baby was born she compiled her memories and thoughts into a book for first-time pregnant mothers. The book, “Full of Life: Mom to Mom Tips I Wish Someone Had Told Me When I Was Pregnant,” covers a wide range of topics — including oral health during pregnancy.
“While my dental health has always been relatively normal, pregnancy did cause me some concern about my teeth and gums. With my dentist's advice and treatment, the few problems I had were minimized,” O'Dell told Dear Doctor magazine. An example of her experience is a craving for milk that started at about the time the baby's teeth began to form. She felt that her body was telling her to consume more calcium.
As often happens with pregnant mothers, she developed sensitive gums and was diagnosed with “pregnancy gingivitis,” the result of hormonal changes that increase blood flow to the gums.
“I love to smile,” said O'Dell, “and smiles are so important to set people at ease, like when you walk into a room of people you don't know. When you genuinely smile you're able to dissolve that natural wall that exists between strangers.”
You may think the structures of your face and mouth stop growing when you reach adulthood. That's not true: your skeletal structure, facial features and soft tissues continue to change all through your life, even into old age. In fact, there's as much change from ages 25 to 42 as there is from ages 18 to 25. This fact of continuous growth and change affects the approaches we may take to satisfy your oral and dental needs.
We should especially consider facial changes due to aging as a factor when planning orthodontic treatment. For example, as we age the profile of our face will tend to flatten, which makes our nose become more prominent (and, yes, our noses continue to grow longer as we grow older). A good plan will take advantage of this, especially during expected growth spurts such as right before puberty. As the position of the patient's bite improves through treatment, the continuing growth of their facial profile will continue to bring the angle of the jaw into a more aesthetic position.
Likewise, where there are multiple issues with the mouth and face, orthodontics can be employed with other treatments such as rhinoplasty, the surgical improvement to the shape of the nose, or orthognathic surgery, procedures that correct problems associated with the position and structure of the lower jaw. As we employee these techniques, we keep in mind that the mouth and face are essentially a “moving target” — that is, they will continue to move in the direction of change due to aging. We coordinate the outcomes of treatment to eventually meet up with that eventual growth.
Armed with an understanding of how change occurs during aging, we can coordinate these procedures into a well-timed strategy that actually takes advantage of the aging process. The end result is a more favorable aesthetic appearance for the long-term.
If you would like more information on how aging can affect your dental health and treatment options, 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 “Understanding Aging Makes Beauty Timeless.”
Technology for orthodontic treatments has evolved tremendously over the years. There are now more options than ever before for those seeking to straighten their teeth or fix bite issues. One of those revolutionary options is TADS (Temporary Anchorage Devices), mini-screws that can be used to more accurately control the movement and positioning of your teeth.
So, how do TADS work? Well, these very small screws are temporarily placed into the bone of the jaws to be used as non-mobile anchor units to facilitate tooth movement. They can be removed once the desired movement is complete. In addition, they can be placed using simple local anesthesia (numbing shots in the area).
The procedure is actually quite simple. After numbing the area where the TAD is to be placed, we will use gentle pressure to insert it through the gums and into the bone of your jaws. You may feel some slight pressure during the insertion, but no pain. Following the procedure, you may also feel a bit of pressure and sensitivity for one to two days, but many people experience no side effects at all. As the name suggests, TADS are temporary and usually removed after a few months, though length of time varies. Again, removing TADS also involves a quick and painless procedure.
TADS have been around for a long time, but recent refinements in the design and application procedure have allowed for more widespread use in the orthodontic office. TADS can be used for many different reasons, including eliminating the need for cumbersome appliances, such as headgear. They also offer a great way to reduce orthodontic treatment time. Finally, they allow certain cases to be treated that were nearly impossible before this technique was refined.
You hardly notice the moist environment of your mouth — unless it becomes uncomfortably dry. Some instances of dry mouth are quite normal — when you first wake in the morning after reduced saliva flow during sleep, when you're stressed, or when you're dehydrated and need fluids. But some are not normal — millions of people, in fact, suffer from a chronic inadequacy of saliva production and flow.
Chronic dry mouth (or xerostomia) can have a greater effect on your oral health than discomfort. Saliva performs a number of tasks for the body: its enzymes help break down food before digestion; its antimicrobial properties help reduce harmful bacteria and its buffering ability helps neutralize acid, both of which reduce the risk of tooth decay.
There are a number of causes for chronic dry mouth. One of the most common arises as a side effect of over 500 medications, both prescription and over-the-counter. The major contributors to dry mouth fall into three main types: antihistamines, used to treat allergies; diuretics, prescribed to cardiac patients to drain excess fluid; and antidepressants. Diseases like Diabetes, Parkinson's disease, or AIDS can also cause dry mouth. Some treatments can too — persons undergoing head or neck radiation or chemotherapy may experience dry mouth.
If you've noticed dry mouth over several days, it's a good idea to visit us for an exam. Our first step is to try to determine the extent and cause of the condition. Depending on what we find, we can then recommend a treatment path that includes some changes in habit and prescribed medications. For example, if lack of hydration is contributing to dry mouth, we would recommend drinking an adequate amount of water, as well as cutting back on caffeinated or acidic beverages. We might also prescribe medication to stimulate saliva flow. Consuming foods that contain xylitol, a natural sugar substitute, may also do the same.
It's also important that you maintain a good oral hygiene regimen and regular dental checkups and cleanings. Good oral hygiene and the proper treatment for chronic dry mouth will greatly reduce your risk of tooth decay and other diseases.
If you would like more information on the causes and treatment of dry mouth, 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 “Dry Mouth.”
If Kristi Yamaguchi's kids inherit her figure skating ability, they might just be headed for the Olympics — after all, their mom won the gold medal for figure skating in the 1992 games. When it comes to teeth, however, she wouldn't mind if they inherited her spouse's instead. “My husband [fellow Olympian turned pro hockey player Bret Hedican] never had braces,” she recently told an interviewer. “I'm hoping they get his teeth.”
When you look at the elegant skating star's pearly smile, you'd never suspect she had dental problems. In fact, Kristi had four permanent teeth extracted to relieve the crowding in her mouth. She also wore braces to correct irregularities in both upper and lower teeth. Could orthodontics work the same “magic” for your kids — or yourself?
It just might. The first step toward finding out is having an orthodontic evaluation. For kids, the right time for an initial evaluation is no later than age 7. By then, the first molars are usually present and your child's bite pattern is establishing. Even though treatment may not begin for several more years, it's helpful to know what problems may arise in your child's individual situation — and to start treating them at just the right time.
Orthodontics has progressed a great deal in the two decades since Yamaguchi's braces came off. Today, small devices called palatal expanders are often used to create more space in the mouth, as an alternative to tooth extraction. There are also many new options for orthodontic appliances, in addition to standard metal braces. These include unobtrusive tooth-colored braces and lingual braces, which are applied to the tongue side of the teeth and can't be seen. In some cases, clear plastic aligners can be used instead of braces, for a look that's almost invisible.
Adolescence is often the preferred time to do orthodontic treatment. By then, the permanent teeth have mostly come in, but there's still some growing left to do. But age isn't a factor that should stop you from getting the smile you've always wanted. About one in five orthodontic patients today is an adult — and those less-visible appliances can fit in well with the more “professional” image of an older person.
Orthodontics can't help make someone an Olympic athlete — only lots of talent and practice can do that. But it can make a big difference in a person's appearance. “Once my braces came off, it was like — Wow! That looks so much nicer,” Yamaguchi recollected. And today, the mother of two, author, and philanthropist sports the same appealing smile she had on the podium at the Albertville Olympic Games.
If you would like more information on how orthodontics could help you get the smile you've dreamed about, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Early Orthodontic Evaluation” and “The Magic of Orthodontics.”