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How Orthodontics and Oral Hygiene Impact Your Overall Health

September 27th, 2023

Orthodontic treatment can certainly improve the alignment and appearance of teeth, which can boost self-esteem and confidence. But it's not just about having a bright and beautiful smile; your oral health can have far-reaching effects on various aspects of your body. Here are three ways in which oral health might impact you:

  1. Heart Health and infections: Poor oral health, particularly gum disease (periodontitis), has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular problems, including heart disease and stroke. The mouth is a gateway for many infections. Poor oral hygiene can increase the risk of infections entering the bloodstream, which can affect various organs and systems in the body. Inflammation in the mouth may contribute to inflammation throughout the body, which can affect the heart. Chronic inflammation in the gums can contribute to systemic inflammation, which is associated with a range of diseases, including cancer, arthritis, and autoimmune disorders. Orthodontic treatment can make it easier to maintain good oral hygiene and health by aligning the teeth and jaws making it easier to clean between them.
  2. Pregnancy Complications: Pregnant women with gum disease may be at a higher risk for complications such as premature birth and low birth weight. The inflammation from gum disease could potentially trigger an inflammatory response elsewhere in the body.
  3. Digestive Disorders: Oral health issues can affect your ability to chew food properly, leading to digestive problems. Properly aligned teeth are essential for effective biting and chewing. Orthodontic treatment can correct issues such as overbites, underbites, crossbites, and open bites, which can affect a person's ability to eat comfortably and speak clearly.

It's crucial to maintain good oral hygiene practices, including regular dental check-ups and cleanings, to prevent oral health problems. The mouth is not isolated from the rest of the body, and taking care of your oral health is an integral part of maintaining good overall health. So, while the cosmetic aspect of orthodontics is undoubtedly important and often the primary reason people seek treatment, it's important to recognize that orthodontics can have a broader impact on your health. Many orthodontic cases involve a combination of cosmetic and functional considerations. It's essential to consult with an orthodontist to determine the specific benefits and goals of treatment for your individual needs.

For more information about orthodontic services, or to speak with one of our board-certified specialists contact us online or call 302-678-3000.

Early Orthodontic Intervention

August 31st, 2023

Picture someone with braces. Did you imagine a teenager with rows of colorful brackets? While it’s true that most orthodontic patients are teenagers, orthodontists also work with adults, as well as providing interceptive orthodontic treatment for younger children.

Interceptive orthodontics can reduce the need for jaw surgery or tooth extraction, it can correct certain problems as they appear (before they can get worse), shorten the length of later orthodontic treatment, encourage better facial development, and pave the way for a better final result.

We Head Off Problems Early With Interceptive Orthodontics
The conventional wisdom is that orthodontic treatment can’t start until all the adult teeth have emerged, but certain problems with alignment, bite, and facial development can appear long before the full set of adult teeth. An orthodontist can help a child’s jawbones grow properly so that there will be enough room for all the adult teeth and a better structure for a healthy bite. When we correct malocclusions (bad bites) as they appear, it makes future treatment faster, easier, and sometimes unnecessary!

What Causes a Malocclusion?
Harmful habits like thumb sucking, nail-biting, tongue thrusting, and mouth breathing can all contribute to a bad bite by leading to a narrow upper arch, an underdeveloped lower jaw, an open bite, a deep bite, or dental crowding. These can all make it more difficult to speak clearly or chew and swallow effectively. Genetics is also a factor in certain cases. The main goal of early orthodontic intervention is to repair the damage caused by these habits and stop the habits themselves so the adult teeth can grow in how they should.

How can bad habits affect oral health? Lots of ways:

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What Are Typical Interceptive Orthodontic Treatments?
The biggest difference between phase 1 and phase 2 orthodontics is that phase 1 treatments don’t involve a full set of braces. That can wait until later — if they’re still needed by then. Common treatments in interceptive orthodontics (phase 1):

Eliminating a crossbite with upper jaw expansion
Expansion to make more room for adult teeth
Early extraction of specific baby teeth to help the adult teeth come in
Holding space open for permanent teeth after the early loss of a baby tooth
Reducing the protrusion of upper teeth to protect them from trauma

What Makes a Child a Good Candidate for Interceptive Orthodontics?
Early orthodontic intervention won’t correct every type of orthodontic issue, so the best way to find out if it would benefit your child is to bring them in for a consultation around age 7, particularly if you’ve noticed any obvious problems with their bite or if they have one of the harmful oral health habits we mentioned. Until then (and always), look out for their oral health by encouraging good brushing and flossing!

Helping our patients achieve healthy smiles for life is always our top priority!

For more information about orthodontic services, or to speak with one of our board-certified specialists contact us online or call 302-678-3000.

4 Myths About At Home Aligners

June 29th, 2023

#1 – ALL PLASTIC ALIGNER BRANDS ARE THE SAME

Although similar in appearance, there are major differences in design and overall function. Professionally fabricated Invisalign aligners fit into place on the teeth via attachments. These tooth attachments are small anchors directly affixed to the teeth by your dentist or orthodontist. Tooth attachments are an important part of Invisalign treatment because they secure aligners into place and aid in tooth movement. Without attachments unpredictable movement may occur causing harm. The combination of aligners and attachments allows for the best result not only in appearance, but with overall health of your teeth.

#2 – THEY’RE GOOD ENOUGH FOR “SIMPLE” CASES

Although some orthodontic cases are easier than others, there is nothing ever “simple” about moving teeth. Moving teeth can cause the surrounding teeth to move as well as the jaw and affect how the bite fits together. Unsupervised aligner wear can negatively affect the bite and result in long term discomfort which is why you should be closely monitored by your orthodontist or dentist to ensure the health of your teeth and gums throughout your treatment.

A board-certified orthodontist is focused on moving teeth in harmony with each other to get an overall result that is pleasing to the eye, but also acceptable to the bite. This requires close and detailed monitoring to ensure the treatment plan is safe and effective throughout the course of treatment.

#3– IT’S OVERSEEN BY A VIRTUAL DENTIST

Virtual consultations are wonderful in certain situations, however, without a direct physical exam of your teeth by a licensed professional, patients may not be aware of any underlying conditions that can impact your overall health. Tooth decay, abscessed teeth or bone and gum infections, which are diagnosed with xrays and in person exams, can worsen if left untreated. Be aware that these conditions may occur without symptoms initially so seeing your dentist or orthodontist prior to starting aligner wear and throughout treatment is very important to ensure your safety.

#4 – IT’S HASSLE FREE AND GUARENTEED

The convenience of mail order and guarantees sounds appealing because who doesn’t want things to be easier in their busy lives? After considering the aligner company you choose, that convenience may turn into a hassle due to the chain of commands throughout the process.

Divisions of patient care such as a shipping department, mailing service, virtual care providers and outsourced customer service representatives could lead to poor communication and service inconsistency when issues arise. It’s not uncommon for patients to receive the wrong aligners or experience long delivery delays, only to have their teeth shift out of alignment while waiting for their product to arrive in the mail.

Dr. Chung Kau, chairman and professor of orthodontics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said moving teeth without in-person supervision can lead to permanent hard. Problems with a person’s bite aren’t just cosmetic. “If you can't get a proper bite, that affects the entire function of your jaw,” Kau said. “You could get migraines, jaw joint problems, disintegration of your joints.”

-“‘Things Didn't Feel Right’: Smiledirectclub's

Dental Aligners Cause Problems.” NBCNews.com, Feb. 13, 2020 NBCUniversal News Group