Posts for: May, 2017
After months of wearing braces it's time for the big reveal: your new and improved smile! Your once crooked teeth are now straight and uniform.
But a look in the mirror at your straighter teeth might still reveal something out of place: small chalky-white spots dotting the enamel. These are most likely white spot lesions (WSLs), points on the enamel that have incurred mineral loss. It happens because mouth acid shielded by your braces contacted the teeth at those points for too long.
Most mouth acid is the waste product of bacteria that thrive in dental plaque, a thin film of food particles that can build up on tooth surfaces. High levels of acid are a definite sign that plaque hasn't been removed effectively through brushing and flossing.
But normal hygiene can be difficult while wearing braces: it's not easy to maneuver around brackets and wires to reach every area of tooth surface. Specialized tooth brushes can help, as well as floss threaders that help maneuver floss more easily through the wires. A water irrigator that uses pulsating water to remove plaque between teeth is another option.
However, if in spite of stepped-up hygiene efforts WSLs still develop, we can treat them when we've removed your braces. One way is to help re-mineralize the affected tooth surfaces through over-the-counter or prescription fluoride pastes or gels. It's also possible re-mineralization will occur naturally without external help.
While your teeth are sound, their appearance might be diminished by WSLs. We can improve this by injecting a liquid tooth-colored resin below the enamel surface. After hardening with a curing light, the spot will appear less opaque and more like a normal translucent tooth surface. In extreme cases we may need to consider porcelain veneers to cosmetically improve the tooth appearance.
In the meantime while wearing braces, practice thorough dental hygiene and keep up your regular cleaning visits with your general dentist. If you do notice any unusual white spots around your braces, be sure to see your dentist or orthodontist as soon as possible.
If you would like more information on dental care during orthodontic treatment, 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 “White Spots on Teeth during Orthodontic Treatment.”
Would you like to reduce your child's risk of developing cavities? Consider a trip to the dentist's office for sealants. Charlotte, NC, family dentists Dr. Susan Hockaday and Dr. Jim Baucom of Hockaday & Baucom, DDS explain how sealants can help your child avoid painful tooth decay.
What are sealants?
Sealants are plastic resin coatings that prevent cavities. The liquid sealant solution fills in small pits in the chewing surface of teeth. Although sealants are applied in liquid form, they harden in seconds, offering excellent protection against cavities.
How do sealants help reduce tooth decay?
The pre-molars and molars located at the back of your child's mouth are responsible for chewing. The uneven surface of these teeth makes it easier to grind up food before it's swallowed. Unfortunately, many of the pits that make chewing easier are so small that toothbrush bristles can't reach them. If plaque and bacteria can't be easily removed from those areas, your child may develop a cavity. When your son or daughter receives sealants, the liquid fills in and seals the pits, which prevents tooth decay.
Why do children need sealants?
Sealants are generally recommended after your child's secondary teeth emerge. These teeth grow in after your son or daughter loses baby teeth and are more susceptible to tooth decay when they first grow in. Adding sealants gives your child the extra protection they need to avoid cavities.
How often are sealants applied?
Sealants usually last about 10 years, but your children may need their sealants replaced sooner if they grind their teeth. Drs. Hockaday and Baucom will take a look at the sealants every time your child visits their Charlotte office and recommend reapplication of sealants if they've begun to wear away.
How are sealants applied?
Before your child receives sealants, an etching solution that helps the sealants adhere will be applied to the teeth. The sealants are then brushed on to the teeth and hardened with a curing light. The entire process only takes a few minutes and is completely pain-free.
Protect your child from tooth decay with sealants. Call Charlotte, NC, family dentists Dr. Susan Hockaday and Dr. Jim Baucom of Hockaday & Baucom, DDS at (704) 553-2348 to schedule your child's appointment.
It's no secret that many of Hollywood's brightest stars didn't start out with perfectly aligned, pearly-white teeth. And these days, plenty of celebs are willing to share their stories, showing how dentists help those megawatt smiles shine. In a recent interview with W magazine, Emma Stone, the stunning 28-year-old star of critically-acclaimed films like La La Land and Birdman, explained how orthodontic appliances helped her overcome problems caused by a harmful habit: persistent thumb sucking in childhood.
“I sucked my thumb until I was 11 years old,” she admitted, mischievously adding “It's still so soothing to do it.” Although it may have been comforting, the habit spelled trouble for her bite. “The roof of my mouth is so high-pitched that I had this huge overbite,” she said. “I got this gate when I was in second grade… I had braces, and then they put a gate.”
While her technical terminology isn't quite accurate, Stone is referring to a type of appliance worn in the mouth which dentists call a “tongue crib” or “thumb/finger appliance.” The purpose of these devices is to stop children from engaging in “parafunctional habits” — that is, behaviors like thumb sucking or tongue thrusting, which are unrelated to the normal function of the mouth and can cause serious bite problems. (Other parafunctional habits include nail biting, pencil chewing and teeth grinding.)
When kids develop the habit of regularly pushing the tongue against the front teeth (tongue thrusting) or sucking on an object placed inside the mouth (thumb sucking), the behavior can cause the front teeth to be pushed out of alignment. When the top teeth move forward, the condition is commonly referred to as an overbite. In some cases a more serious situation called an “open bite” may develop, which can be difficult to correct. Here, the top and bottom front teeth do not meet or overlap when the mouth is closed; instead, a vertical gap is left in between.
Orthodontic appliances are often recommended to stop harmful oral habits from causing further misalignment. Most appliances are designed with a block (or gate) that prevents the tongue or finger from pushing on the teeth; this is what the actress mentioned. Normally, when the appliance is worn for a period of months it can be expected to modify the child's behavior. Once the habit has been broken, other appliances like traditional braces or clear aligners can be used to bring the teeth into better alignment.
But in Stone's case, things didn't go so smoothly. “I'd take the gate down and suck my thumb underneath the mouth appliance,” she admitted, “because I was totally ignoring the rule to not suck your thumb while you're trying to straighten out your teeth.” That rule-breaking ended up costing the aspiring star lots of time: she spent a total of 7 years wearing braces.
Fortunately, things worked out for the best for Emma Stone: She now has a brilliant smile and a stellar career — plus a shiny new Golden Globe award! Does your child have a thumb sucking problem or another harmful oral habit? For more information about how to correct it, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “How Thumb Sucking Affects the Bite.”