Posts for: May, 2019
Dental braces are comprised of bands, brackets and wires placed on the teeth to straighten and align them. On average they will stay on a patients teeth for around two years. While the braces are on, it is more challenging to keep the teeth and gums clean as there are many more nooks and crannies where plaque and bacteria can be trapped. Often, other dental aids are necessary to maintain a clean and healthy mouth. Listed below are essential dental tools to use while dental braces are on.
An electric toothbrush is one of the most essential tools to be used with dental braces. Electric toothbrushes simulate brush strokes at a much faster rate than you can achieve with your hand. That means you have to hold the toothbrush for a few seconds on each tooth, making sure to access all surfaces of the tooth, and the brush will do the work for you. Electric toothbrushes either use an oscillating or sweeping motion.
Because the wire of the braces blocks the contacts of teeth, it is necessary to use a floss aid to access the gum line. There are several different options for floss aids. Floss threaders are small loops that will pull the floss through, and super floss is a pre-cut piece of floss with a ridged end to poke through the contact underneath the wire. It is important to try several options and find the one that works best for you.
A water flosser is an electric powered tool that is used to shoot water in a jet-like stream through the contacts of the teeth and around the brackets. The water flushes out bacteria that are difficult to access. Water flossers also help to keep the gums healthy.
Interdental aids are tools that help to clean between the teeth and around the brackets. An example of this is a small angular brush that helps remove plaque with the bristles.
More Frequent Cleanings
Regular professional dental cleanings are an essential part of maintaining a healthy mouth with dental braces. Some areas are tough to access, and even while using the right tools at home, may harbour bacteria. Cleanings every 3-4 months help to reduce the amount of bacteria accumulation and also provide a check up on the health of the gums and teeth.
It is essential to talk with your orthodontist, dentist or dental hygienist about the right tools for you. If you have any questions about any dental aids, or believe you may benefit from more frequent cleanings, we encourage you to contact us today to schedule an appointment.
Sometimes, looking at old pictures can really bring memories back to life. Just ask Stefani Germanotta—the pop diva better known as Lady Gaga. In one scene from the recent documentary Five Foot Two, as family members sort through headshots from her teen years, her father proclaims: "Here, this proves she had braces!"
"If I had kept that gap, then I would have even more problems with Madonna," Lady Gaga replies, referencing an ongoing feud between the two musical celebrities.
The photos of Gaga's teenage smile reveal that the singer of hits like "Born This Way" once had a noticeable gap (which dentists call a diastema) between her front teeth. This condition is common in children, but often becomes less conspicuous with age. It isn't necessarily a problem: Lots of well-known people have extra space in their smiles, including ex-football player and TV host Michael Strahan, actress Anna Paquin…and fellow pop superstar Madonna. It hasn't hurt any of their careers.
Yet others would prefer a smile without the gap. Fortunately, diastema in children is generally not difficult to fix. One of the easiest ways to do so is with traditional braces or clear aligners. These orthodontic appliances, usually worn for a period of months, can actually move the teeth into positions that look more pleasing in the smile and function better in the bite. For many people, orthodontic treatment is a part of their emergence from adolescence into adulthood.
Braces and aligners, along with other specialized orthodontic appliances, can also remedy many bite problems besides diastema. They can correct misaligned teeth and spacing irregularities, fix overbites and underbites, and take care of numerous other types of malocclusions (bite problems).
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that kids get screened for orthodontic problems at age 7. Even if an issue is found, most won't get treatment at this age—but in some instances, it's possible that early intervention can save a great deal of time, money and effort later. For example, while the jaw is still developing, its growth can be guided with special appliances that can make future orthodontic treatment go quicker and easier.
Yet orthodontics isn't just for children—adults can wear braces too! As long as teeth and gums are healthy, there's no upper age limit on orthodontic treatment. Instead of traditional silver braces, many adults choose tooth-colored braces or clear aligners to complement their more professional appearance.
So if your child is at the age where screening is recommended—or if you're unhappy with your own smile—ask us whether orthodontics could help. But if you get into a rivalry with Madonna…you're on your own.
If you have questions about orthodontic treatment, please contact our office or schedule a consultation. You can read more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “The Magic of Orthodontics” and “Orthodontics For The Older Adult.”
There's no doubt treating dental problems can improve your health. But because the mouth is among the most sensitive areas of the body, many dental procedures can be potentially uncomfortable after treatment.
We rely on pain medication to alleviate any dental work discomfort, especially during recuperation. Our arsenal of pain-relieving drugs includes strong opioid narcotics like morphine or oxycodone which have effectively relieved dental pain for decades. But although they work wonders, they're also highly addictive.
We've all been confronted in the last few years with startling headlines about the opioid addiction epidemic sweeping across the country. Annual deaths resulting from opioid addiction number in the tens of thousands, ahead of motor vehicle accident fatalities. Although illegal drugs like heroin account for some, the source for most addiction cases—an estimated 2 million in 2015 alone—is opioid prescriptions.
Dentists and other healthcare providers are seeking ways to address this problem. One way is to re-examine the use of opioids for pain management and to find alternative means that might reduce the number of narcotic prescriptions.
This has led to new approaches in dentistry regarding pain relief. In a trend that's been underway for several years, we've found managing post-discomfort for many procedures can be done effectively with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen. They don't share the addictive quality of narcotics and are regarded as safer when taken as directed.
There's also been a recent modification with using NSAIDs. Dentists have found that alternating the use of ibuprofen and acetaminophen often amplifies the pain relief found using only one at a time. By doing so, we may further reduce the need for narcotics for more procedures.
The trend now in dentistry is to look first to NSAIDs to manage pain and discomfort after dental work. Narcotics may still be used, but only in a secondary role when absolutely needed. With less narcotic prescriptions thanks to these new pain management protocols, we can reduce the risk of a dangerous addiction.