If you've decided to straighten your teeth, you've made a wise choice for both your dental health and your smile. Now you may be facing another decision—which method to use for bite correction.
Not too long ago people had only one choice—traditional braces all the way. But that changed with the introduction of clear aligners, a series of removable plastic trays worn one after the other to realign teeth. In all but a few situations, clear aligners accomplish the same outcome as braces but without the conspicuous appearance and, thanks to their removability, difficulty in brushing and flossing teeth.
And now, a recent innovation in orthodontics could give you a third option—lingual braces. These are braces fixed to the back of teeth adjacent to the tongue (hence the term “lingual”), rather than on the front as with traditional braces. They essentially perform the same action, only instead of “pushing” teeth like traditional braces, they “pull” the teeth to the target positions. Lingual braces may also ease certain disadvantages people find with traditional braces or clear aligners.
If you're into martial arts, for instance, you may encounter blows to the face that increase your injury risk while wearing traditional braces. Likewise, if you're highly social, clear aligners can be a hassle to take out and keep up with if you're frequently eating in public. Lingual braces answer both types of issues: They won't damage your lips or gums in the case of blunt force facial contact; and they remain out of sight, out of mind in social situations.
Before considering lingual braces, though, keep in mind that they may cost 15-35 percent more than traditional braces. They also take time for some people to get used to because of how they feel to the tongue. And, they're not yet as widely available as traditional braces, although the number of orthodontists who have received training in the new method is increasing.
If you'd like to know more about lingual braces and whether they're right for you, speak to your dentist or orthodontist. You may find that this new option for improving your dental health and your smile fits your lifestyle.
If you would like more information on lingual braces, 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 “Lingual Braces: A Truly Invisible Way to Straighten Teeth.”
E-cigarettes have taken the world by storm, especially among younger adults. The reason: the widespread perception that “vaping” is healthier than smoking tobacco.
But a deeper look at this wildly popular habit reveals a product that doesn't live up to its reputation as smoking's “safer alternative.” One aspect of health that's especially in harm's way is the mouth: Teeth and gums could in fact be just as prone to disease with an e-cigarette as the tobacco variety.
E-cigarettes are handheld devices that hold a cartridge of liquid vaping product, which is then heated to produce an inhalable vapor. Technically, it's an aerosol in which solid chemical compounds within the vaping liquid are suspended in the vapor. The aerosolized vapor thus serves as a transporting medium for these chemicals to enter the user's body.
It's these various chemicals inhaled during vaping that most concern dentists. Top on the list: nicotine, the addictive chemical also found in regular tobacco. Among its other effects, nicotine constricts blood vessels in the mouth, causing less blood flow of nutrients and infection-fighting cells to the gums and teeth. This not only heightens the risk for gum disease, but may also mask initial infection symptoms like swelling or redness.
Flavorings, a popular feature of vaping solutions, may also contribute to oral problems. These substances can form new chemical compounds during the vaping process that can irritate the mouth's inner membranes and trigger inflammation. There's also evidence that e-cigarette flavorings, particularly menthol, might soften enamel and increase the risk of tooth decay.
Other chemicals commonly found in vaping solutions are thought to increase plaque formation, the sticky film on teeth that is a major cause for dental disease. And known carcinogens like formaldehyde, also included in many formulations, raise the specter of oral cancer.
These are just a few of the possible ways vaping may damage oral health. Far from a safe tobacco alternative, there's reason to believe it could be just as harmful. The wise choice for your body and your mouth is not to smoke—or vape.
If you would like more information on the oral hazards of e-cigarettes, 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 “Vaping and Oral Health.”
When you get braces on your teeth, it can be much more challenging to keep things clean, and there will be more tools recommended for you to use daily to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Braces make it more challenging to clean your teeth because of the brackets, bands, archwires, elastics and any other hardware that gets added to help move your teeth. Listed below are several tools you can use to help keep your teeth, gums and the braces clear from plaque accumulation:
An electric toothbrush is highly recommended when wearing dental braces because it can access more nooks and crannies and do a better job brushing than a manual toothbrush. It is tough to angle a manual toothbrush around the brackets correctly, and often the gum line is missed. An electric toothbrush helps to get into those tricky areas and can do more brush strokes in 2 minutes of brushing than you can do with a manual toothbrush.
A water flosser is a floss aid that helps to flush out bacteria from between your teeth and around your brackets and bands. A water flosser uses a jet of water (or you can put mouthwash into it) that you angle around your braces and gums to help keep them clean.
Superfloss/ Floss Threaders
These are both aids to help you use manual floss. Because the archwire prevents you from accessing between your teeth with regular floss, you need something to help you get the floss between your teeth from the side. These aids have a hard end on them to help you push the floss through the front teeth rather than going in from the top.
This is a small brush that is shaped like a Christmas tree that helps to remove plaque from between brackets. The brush is used to access underneath the archwire to clean the brackets' sides, where it is easy for food debris and plaque to be trapped.
Remember, while wearing dental braces, it is essential to have regular check-ups and cleanings with your dentist and dental hygienist to make sure your teeth and gums are healthy.
If you have any questions about how to clean your teeth while wearing dental braces, we encourage you to contact us today to schedule an appointment.
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