5 Reasons You May Need Orthodontics

Orthodontics are not only for teenagers anymore, adults can benefit just as much from orthodontics (braces or clear aligners). The advancements in orthodontics over the years is absolutely astounding. General dentists are even able to take on some cases now. If you have ever wondered about the benefits of orthodontics, here are 5 reasons you may need orthodontics:

 

  1. To improve your overall oral health. Too much crowding or spacing in your teeth and create little harbors of plaque and bacteria which we already know can lead to decay, gum disease and bone loss. Straightening your teeth will help to eliminate some of these issues with regular brushing and flossing. Maintenance of your oral health and prevent costly and timely restorations in the future.
  2. To relieve discomfort stemming from poor alignment of your upper and or lower jaw. The human body is so intricately connected that even if your bite is off by mere millimeters your body will find a way to compensate in one way or another to feel normal.
  3. To tie directly into the poor alignment of your upper and lower jaw, you may notice that you have an overbite or an under bite.
  4. Reducing a "gummy" smile. Are you embarrassed about having a gummy smile? The only option available many years ago was to due crown restoration on each tooth, not anymore!!
  5. This brings us to cosmetic. Straightening your teeth can add confidence to your smile that you didn't even know you were missing.

 

Braces come in all shapes and sizes anymore. There are traditional or metal braces for more extensive treatments on adults. Metal braces are recommended for adolescents as well because clear aligners such as Invisalign® or ClearCorrect tend to require more discipline with use. Clear aligners allow you freedom to straighten your teeth virtually invisibly. There are also options like MTM® (Minimal Teeth Movements) or Fastbraces® that are much faster than traditional braces. Most offices in your area, dental or orthodontic will offer free consultations allowing you to meet with a doctor to go over all of your concerns and see what options best suite you.

Fluoride, nature’s cavity fighter

Have you ever sat and wondered to yourself, "What is fluoride anyway and why is my dentist all about it?" - Well, I am here to fill you in. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found in all water sources without additional fluoridation. Depending on the region you live in the level of naturally occurring fluoride may be different. The mineral itself is renowned for strengthening teeth and helping prevent tooth decay. Fluoride, nature's cavity fighter! According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) 92% of adults between 20-64 have had decay in their permanent teeth and 26% of adults the same age have untreated decay. Now, don't get me wrong - these statistics are not simply because people chose not to have fluoride treatments at their dental cleanings or refuse to drink fluoridated water, there are many reasons as to why tooth decay occurs. Fluoride is simply an overlooked good.

Fluoride works by fighting acids in our food and drinks that attack teeth and cause decay. Think of fluoride as D vitamins in your milk - or juice with added calcium, it is simply an added benefit to help protect your very precious smile. The American Dental Association suggests that "for children younger than 3 years, start brushing their teeth as soon as they start to appear in the mouth by using fluoride toothpaste in an amount no more than a smear or the size of a grain of rice. Brush your children's teeth twice a day (morning and night) or as directed by your dentist or physician. For children 3 to 6 years of age, use no more than a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste and brush teeth twice a day. Always supervise your child's brushing to make sure they use the right amount of toothpaste and try and get your child to spit out most of the toothpaste." The ADA also states that "if you have a good chance of getting cavities, your dentist can apply fluoride to your teeth during your dental visit. Your dentist might also tell you to use a special fluoride rinse, paste or gel at home." The ADA is absolutely correct in this, and I practice it here in my office. Why not take advantage of fluoride, nature's cavity fighter. For more information about fluoride or fluoridation head straight to www.mouthhealthy.org/fluoride

Understanding Dental Insurance

Now that the end of the year is approaching a lot of you are going through plan after plan your employer has selected for your medical, dental and vision plans. I hope this will help in understanding dental insurance better and will assist in helping you choose the correct plan for you. One of the largest misconceptions about dental insurance is that it works hand in hand with your medical insurance - it does not. Dental insurance is a completely different animal. The way I can best describe it to a patient is to think of it strictly as a discount - no more, no less. Dental coverage is decided by how much your employer pays into the plan, it has nothing to do with what your dentist would recognize as the best possible treatment. It is a contract between your employer and the insurance company and they are deciding what amounts your plan pays and what is covered. You as an employee have every right to let your employer know if your coverage is not adequate for your health needs.

So many of my patients will tend to select the treatment option that is covered by their dental insurance and not what is recommended. I feel I must point out that your health is the most important thing. As many of you know I tend to recommend to my patients what I would to my own mother or father to keep their mouths healthy; it is not my practice to overextend your wallets. Many dental offices, including mine, try to help take all the guess work out of dental insurance. We will call and get full breakdowns from each company to get an overview of what is covered and what is not. We will file all of your claims so you do not have to mess with the paperwork and follow up ultimately saving you a lot of time and money. Dental insurance is just one part of staying healthy. If you ever have any questions on how your insurance works - we will be more than happy to take the time to explain all of the ins and outs. We will help you understand what your insurance will cover and how to plan accordingly. Remember, the least expensive option is not always the best option. This goes for dental, medical or vision. Understand your insurance; it will make your life a lot easier when it comes to deciding what is best for you.

What we expose ourselves to

These days we can never be too careful with our bodies and what we expose ourselves to. More often than not I have patients who will decline dental X-rays because of the myth of how much radiation they actually produce. It is not my practice, nor any member of my staff to unnecessarily expose patients to radiation. The recommended amount of X-rays truly depends on your age, oral and physical health, and your risk for disease, thus the reason a health history update is asked for at each visit to the office. For instance, children require dental X-rays more often than adults as their mouths continue to grow and develop and their mouths are more susceptible to tooth decay. Even though adult's mouths stop developing at a certain point that does not mean that the mouth stops changing. X-rays are important for adults as well to monitor new decay and any wear and tear that comes with (gasp) age, eating habits, previous dental work or trauma.

Dental X-Rays are safe, but they do require very low levels of radiation exposure. There are certain types of images in very specific instances that do emit a much high dose of radiation, but Cone Beam images are rare and if your dentist or doctor suggests one, it would be for a very good reason. The lead jackets provided protects your vital organs and your thyroid from the low levels of radiation delivered though routine dental X-rays. The background radiation of a set of dental X-rays is 1 day. Background radiation is natural radiation that we are all exposed to on a daily basis and can be found in soil, rocks, buildings, the sun, air and water. The radiation you are exposed to on a 4 hour passenger airline flight is the same as 1 set of dental X-rays. For this and more information about dental x-rays please visit http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/x/x-rays

What some healthier options are to hand out – from a dentist who truly loves Halloween

With Halloween just around the corner, you may be asking yourself what some healthier options are to hand out - from a dentist who truly loves Halloween. Of course we need to give out items that won't get your house egged or teepee'd at the end of the evening. Let's face it; nobody wants to be that guy. What fun is Halloween without an endless supply of perfectly portioned chocolate bars and suckers galore? As a dentist I feel inclined to tell you to pass out tooth brushes or apples, but to keep the holiday light and fun let's review some other options and keep you under the radar.

Certain candies should always be avoided; caramels, suckers, super sour candies or anything containing a lot of acid and sticky chewy bubble gum. These types of candies have a tendency to get stuck in the grooves of your teeth and are harder to remove with regular brushing. Better choices would include pretzels, milk chocolate, dark chocolate and sugar free gum. As a parent, I do not forbid my children to have all sorts of candies, but I do limit their intake and make sure they are brushing and flossing for at least 2 minutes twice per day.

Here are a few tips straight from the American Dental Associations "Mouth Healthy" site to help your children stay on top of their hygiene year round: Drink more fluoridated water, it can help prevent tooth decay; avoid sucking on candy for long periods of time, the amount of time the sugar stays in your mouth plays a role in tooth decay; eat Halloween candy shortly after mealtime, the saliva your mouth produces while eating and help rinse away those extra food particles. For this and more tips please visit http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/h/halloween-tips

Lastly, if you want to incentivize your kids to make a little mad money and not run the risk of getting cavities - I offer $1.00 for every pound of candy that is brought into my office. All the candy brought to the office and bought off your kids will be sent overseas to our soldiers who need a little extra as the holidays approach.

Baby teeth, are they really THAT important????

There are a number of parents out there that think; they are just my kid's baby teeth, are they real THAT important???? I think we assume that since teeth aren't visible they aren't exposed to the same thing that adult teeth are. 20 baby teeth are already formed in the jaw at the time of birth and typically erupt before babies are 6 months old. When I see decay on baby teeth and I discuss those findings with Mom or Dad - you wouldn't believe how many of them say they would rather wait until their baby teeth fall out. Baby teeth are just as important as adult teeth. Teaching your children about good oral hygiene early can lead to healthy mouth habits that will preserve their smile for the rest of their lives. We are only given two sets of teeth - and once the permanent ones are gone, they are gone for good. The American Dental Association recommends that parents take children to the dentist no later than their first birthday and then at intervals recommended by their dentist.

Kid's mouths go through so much. First they have to deal with the awkward gaps that can form when teeth are missing. If a baby tooth comes out too soon, it can cause problems for the adult teeth trying to grow in. Drifting, spacing, crowding and crooked teeth can be a result of losing teeth before their time. That then results in a mouth full of metal to correct that. 2 years of metal - orthodontia has come such a long way but still. I went through orthodontics as an adult so I UNDERSTAND, trust me. As if it couldn't get any worse then come the wisdom teeth. Without regular dental care; cleanings, x-rays, sealants and fluoride - all preventative items - we are putting our kids at risk of making dentistry a horrible, dreaded thing.

I am not out to make braces or getting your wisdom teeth pulled a terrible thing, it really isn't. Ever heard the saying "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?" That is the bottom line; Baby teeth, are they really THAT important???? Yes.

Parenting VS. Dentistry

Parenting VS. Dentistry

Parenting VS. Dentistry…

There is never a dull moment

when you have children.

Feel free to borrow any of my three kids if you need to test this theory yourself. There is rarely a dull moment when you are a dentist as well, believe it or not. There is a real struggle in Parenting Vs. Dentistry some days.

Real crying came wafting in from the backyard. I say “real crying” because as a parent you get to know the difference between real and….well, let’s just say exaggerated. Libby, my sweet angel of a daughter decided to shoot the fort with a bb gun. (That’s right, I let my kids play unsupervised in the backyard with a bb gun, and you can whip me later for that). As most of us adults know, bb’s have a way of shooting your eye out. Thank goodness Libby was crying out of two perfectly good eyes. The bad news was Libby would not open her mouth which was on lock down by both of her hands. After sufficient comforting, and suppression of building anger, I was able to witness the results of the misguided bb. Her front tooth was broken in half. Well, S#&%! Call the dentist! Wait…that’s me, I have to fix this! We promptly rushed to the office to get started on fixing her teeth.

Libby survived, but that’s not the end of the story.

Now, as a dentist, there were about a million things running through my mind. Of course I chose not to share this with my terrified daughter, who was acutely aware of needles. Through my mind was racing all of the things that I normally tell parents when they come in with a child who has injured a tooth. Watch for swelling, let me know if the child experiences any discomfort in the gums above the tooth, let us know if the tooth starts to turn gray. All of these are indications that the tooth I started to die and or has become infected. Well, I got Libby fixed up with a tooth colored filling, which I thought looked pretty darn good. Libby went back to school and resumed normal lifestyle of a bubbly young lady. About a year and a half later the phone call came. Libby was at school and her tooth started to hurt, not just hurt but really, really hurt. Libby was brought up to my office, where I lifted her upper lip and saw that she was smuggling a grape underneath her gums. No father wants to drain an abscess from their daughter but lucky me.

I don't need to go into the gory details of what happened next, or exactly how loud Libby vocalized her displeasure with the entire situation. There are days when even the best dentist just wants to be a parent - and believe me - I would have gladly turned in my dentist hat on that day. I am pleased to tell you all that Libby and I have both survived the ordeal with minimal emotional scarring. In the battle of Parenting VS. Dentistry, on that day – parenting won.