Posts for: March, 2015
Your Mississauga dentist explains why wearing a retainer is so important for your smile.
What is a retainer?
A retainer is an orthodontic appliance made from plastic or wires, custom-made to fit over your teeth to keep your newly straightened smile in place. There are many different styles of retainers; however, many of them are removable.
Why do I need to wear a retainer?
It seems fair to wonder why you need to wear yet another oral appliance on your teeth after you finally got your braces off; however, wearing a retainer after braces is the best way to guarantee that your straighter smile stays that way.
What happens if I don’t wear a retainer?
If your braces are removed and you decide against wearing a retainer, then essentially you will lose those beautiful new results you worked so hard to get. Because your teeth weren’t naturally straight to begin with, we needed to use braces to get the results you wanted. However, because this wasn’t their natural position, it’s very easy for them to return to their original place if there is nothing to hold your straighter smile in check. That’s why wearing your retainer is critical to maintaining your results.
How long will I need to wear a retainer?
The stage after getting your braces off is known as the retention stage. This means that in order to retain that beautiful new smile, you will need to wear a retainer. Once you are fitted with you retainer, your Mississauga dentist will most likely tell you that you need to wear it every day for several months. The average amount of time that someone wears a retainer full-time is six months; however, this may be longer or shorter depending on the case. After a few months, you will only need to wear your retainer at night. After a few years, you may only need to wear your retainer every few nights.
How should I care for my retainer?
It’s important to know that while your retainer is removable, you should refrain from removing it a lot. However, a retainer should be removed before eating, brushing or playing sports. You can use your toothbrush and toothpaste to clean your retainer. Whenever you aren’t wearing your retainer it’s important to place it back in its box so it won’t get broken or damaged.
If you have any questions about wearing your retainer or if you need to schedule an appointment, don’t hesitate to call your Mississauga orthodontist at Mississauga Dental Arts.
While most dental problems are caused by disease or trauma, sometimes the root problem is psychological. Such is the case with bulimia nervosa, an eating disorder that could contribute to dental erosion.
Dental erosion is the loss of mineral structure from tooth enamel caused by elevated levels of acid in the mouth, which can increase the risk for decay and eventual tooth loss. While elevated acid levels are usually related to inadequate oral hygiene or over-consumption of acidic foods and beverages, the practice of self-induced vomiting after food binging by bulimic patients may also cause it. Some of the strong stomach acid brought up by vomiting may remain in the mouth afterward, which can be particularly damaging to tooth enamel.
It’s often possible to detect bulimia-related erosion during dental exams. The bottom teeth are often shielded by the tongue during vomiting, so erosion may be more pronounced on the unshielded upper front teeth. The salivary glands may become enlarged, giving a puffy appearance to the sides of the face below the ears. The back of the mouth can also appear red and swollen from the use of fingers or objects to induce vomiting.
Self-induced vomiting may not be the only cause for dental erosion for bulimics. Because the disorder causes an unhealthy focus on body image, bulimics may become obsessed with oral hygiene and go overboard with brushing and flossing. Aggressive brushing (especially just after throwing up when the tooth enamel may be softened) can also damage enamel and gum tissue.
Treatment must involve both a short — and long-term approach. Besides immediate treatment for dental erosion, a bulimic patient can minimize the effect of acid after vomiting by not brushing immediately but rinsing instead with water, mixed possibly with a little baking soda to help neutralize the acid. In the long-term, though, the eating disorder itself must be addressed. Your family doctor is an excellent starting point; you can also gain a great deal of information, both about eating disorders and treatment referrals, from the National Eating Disorders Association at their website, www.nationaleatingdisorders.org.
The effects of bulimia are devastating to mental and physical well-being, and no less to dental health. The sooner the disorder can be treated the better the person’s chance of restoring health to their mind, body — and mouth.
If you would like more information on the effect of eating disorders on oral health, 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 “Bulimia, Anorexia & Oral Health.”
Kristin Cavallari's flawless smile has been featured on TV, film and magazine covers. But the 25-year-old actress and reality-show personality didn't always have a perfect set of teeth. In fact, she told Dear Doctor magazine — where readers recently voted to crown her with the “Smile of the Year” award — that her dental treatments began the same way many do: with orthodontics in sixth grade.
“I had the ‘spaghetti catcher,’ which is what everyone used to call it,” she reminisced. But by that, she didn't mean a strainer — she's talking about what dentists call a “palatal expander.”
In case you're not familiar with this orthodontic device, a palatal expander takes advantage of the natural growth patterns of a child's upper jaw to create additional space for the top set of teeth. How does it work? Basically, it's similar to braces: By applying gentle pressure, the appliance creates changes in the jaw. Unlike braces, however, it's invisible — it fits between the upper teeth, close to the roof of the mouth.
During the three to six months a child wears the palatal expander, it pushes the left and right halves of the upper jawbone apart, and then maintains and stabilizes the new, wider spacing. Since the palatal bones don't fuse until after puberty, tightening it a little bit each day for the first few weeks provides a quick and painless method of making the upper jaw a bit roomier. And that can be a very good thing. Why?
There are lots of reasons. For one, it can relieve the condition called “crowding,” when there is not enough space in the upper jaw to accommodate the proper alignment of the permanent teeth. In the past, teeth often had to be extracted in that situation. It may even allow “impacted” teeth — ones which are blocked from erupting by other teeth — to come in normally.
It can help treat a “crossbite,” when the back top teeth come down to bite inside (instead of outside) the lower back teeth. It also generally shortens the total time a child needs for orthodontic treatment. That's good news for any teenager — even if their own day-to-day “reality show” isn't featured on TV!
If you would like more information about palatal expanders, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Palatal Expanders” and “Early Orthodontic Evaluation.”