Posts for tag: orthodontics

By Angela Harney, DMD
March 24, 2014
Category: Dental Procedures
IntroducingthePalatalExpander

Is there a single orthodontic appliance that can help your child get a wider, better-looking smile, correct problems with the bite, make room in a crowded upper jaw for new teeth to erupt (come in)... and shorten the overall time he or she will need to wear braces? The answer is yes: It's the palatal expander, a device that works with the natural growth patterns of a child's mouth, and offers dramatic results.

What's a palatal expander? Basically, it's a custom-made orthodontic appliance that fits between the rows of back teeth at the top (roof) of the mouth, close to the palate. After it has been put in place, it can be tensioned with a special key. Because it is contained inside the mouth, it's invisible when worn — but its benefits are easy to see.

How does it work? The palatal expander takes advantage of the fact that the left and right halves of a child's upper jaw bone don't completely fuse (knit together) until sometime after puberty. Until that happens, the upper jaw is relatively soft and easy to manipulate. When tension is applied, the palatal expander gently moves the bones apart, just like braces do for teeth. Then new bone tissue naturally fills in the space.

The appliance is tightened daily for a few weeks — while spacing improves dramatically — and then it's left on for several weeks more to stabilize the expansion. The total time a child needs to wear it is generally 3-6 months. After that, a set of braces can be put on if needed. So, what's so great about a palatal expander?

For one thing, the device can correct a crossbite, which occurs when the back top teeth bite inside (instead of outside) the bottom teeth. For another, expanding the upper jaw can relieve the condition known as crowding, which happens when the jaw isn't big enough to accommodate all the teeth. A related situation — impacted teeth — occurs when a tooth that hasn't yet erupted is blocked by another tooth above it. Both these conditions formerly required tooth extraction: an invasive and sometimes complicated procedure. Both can now be remedied by a palatal expander.

But maybe the biggest plus to a youngster — where a month can seem like an age — is the prospect of having to wear braces for less time. And that alone is a good reason to smile.

If you have questions about palatal expanders, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Palatal Expanders” and “The Magic of Orthodontics.”

By Angela Harney, DMD
September 25, 2013
Category: Oral Health
Tags: orthodontics   celebrity smiles   gap  
FixingthatGapinyourTeeth

We all know Madonna, Seal, David Letterman, Anna Paquin and Michael Strahan (of the talk show Kelly and Michael). What do all of these celebrities have in common? Each has a “signature gap” between their front teeth. Given that they have been in the public eye for quite some time, it's not likely that these famous faces will choose to change their well-known smile. In fact, Michael Strahan has publically stated that he will never close his gap.

However, it is not uncommon for people to desire to fix a small gap in their teeth, particularly in advance of important events, such as weddings. Often times, fixing this small gap requires relatively simple orthodontic movements or tooth straightening. Since the teeth don't have to be moved very far, we can usually use simple appliances to correct the issue within a few months.

In order for us to determine your course of treatment, you'll need to make an appointment with our office for a thorough examination. When we examine you, we'll be looking for a number of items that will affect our treatment recommendation:

  • Is there enough room to close the space without creating other bite problems?
  • Are the roots of the teeth in reasonably good position to allow for minor tooth movement to close the space? X-rays will be required to make a proper assessment.
  • Is there an involuntary tongue habit that has pushed the teeth forward and created the gap? If so, this could be difficult to fix quickly.
  • Are the surrounding gum tissues and bone healthy?

Based on our assessment and your individual needs, we may recommend one of the following options:

  • Clear retainers, a computer-generated series of clear retainers customized for your bite to move the teeth
  • Removable orthodontic retainers to which we will attach small springs or elastics to facilitate the minor tooth movement
  • Traditional fixed orthodontic appliances (most commonly known as braces), small metal or clear brackets bonded to your teeth through which tiny wires are used to move the teeth

Regardless of the method we choose, once your teeth have moved into the new position, it is important for you to remember that they must be kept in this position until the bone stabilizes around the teeth. We may therefore advise you to wear a retainer for a few months to a few years, depending on your situation.

If you would like more information about orthodontic treatments, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Minor Tooth Movement.”

By Angela Harney, DMD
April 27, 2013
Category: Dental Procedures
5ReasonstoConsiderClearOrthodonticAligners

You've probably heard of the relatively new method of straightening teeth with thin, plastic orthodontic appliances (“ortho” – to straighten; “odont” – teeth) known as clear aligners. Here are some reasons you might want to consider them for your orthodontic treatment:

  1. Appearance. Looks aren't everything, as the saying goes. But it may be that metal-covered teeth will not give you a look you want to sport for perhaps a year or more. Adults in particular find that metal braces don't always fit in with their self-image. Because clear aligners are virtually invisible, your teeth will look as they always do and it will not be obvious that you are undergoing orthodontic treatment.
  2. Control. When you have traditional braces, you cannot take them out of your mouth yourself. They must be professionally removed when your treatment is completed. With clear aligners, however, you can take them out to eat and also for important social occasions. Of course, that means you are also responsible for wearing them as often as needed — a minimum of 22 hours a day. It's a good bargain if you can live up to it, and most find that they can.
  3. Hygiene. One of the challenges of traditional braces is to learn to clean around them so that your teeth and gums stay healthy throughout treatment. It's not always so easy to do. With clear aligners, you can maintain your usual oral hygiene routine — and also clean the aligners themselves.
  4. Comfort. Sometimes the rigid brackets and wires of traditional braces can press into sensitive tissues of the mouth. It's something that you will eventually get used to, but it can be uncomfortable temporarily. The material of clear aligners is flexible, so this type of irritation is not an issue.
  5. Versatility. In recent years, the clear alignment system has been improved to handle more serious malocclusions (“mal” – bad; “occlusion” – bite). Enhancements have also been made to accommodate additional growth of molar teeth in the case of teenagers.

While there are some cases in which traditional braces are still the best option, clear aligners have more applications than ever before. They also have some clear advantages that are worth considering.

If you would like more information about clear aligners, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about clear aligners in general by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Clear Aligners For Teenagers.”

ClearOrthodonticAlignersAnAlternativeToBracesForAdults

If you are insecure about your misaligned crooked teeth, then you may be a perfect candidate for clear orthodontic aligners. This system is an alternative to traditional braces that uses a sequence of individual, clear, removable “trays” that fit over your teeth to gradually straighten them. Each tray is completely clear and covers all the teeth thus making it virtually invisible. Each tray is designed to slightly move the teeth until the teeth are in proper alignment. Typically, each tray must be worn for 20 hours a day for 2 weeks before progressing to the next tray in the sequence with each tray moving you closer towards your goal — perfectly aligned teeth.

However, clear orthodontic aligners are not for everyone. If you are interested and wonder if they can benefit you, contact us so that we can schedule an appointment for a thorough evaluation to assess your specific situation. Below, we have briefly outlined some situations when they will and will not work.

Clear orthodontic aligners work if...

  • You have mild to moderate crowding or spacing issues between teeth
  • Back teeth fit together properly

They may not be the right choice if...

  • You have moderate to severe crowding or spacing issues between teeth
  • When your bite does not align properly (for example, if you have a large over-, under-, or cross-bite)
  • When your teeth are “rotated” way out of position; such misaligned teeth will require special or complex techniques to rotate them back into position, or to pull them down into place or to fill the space left after pulling a tooth to resolve excessive crowding of teeth

Want to learn more?

Contact us today to discuss your questions or to schedule an appointment. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the article “Clear Orthodontic Aligners.”

By Angela M. Harney D.M.D., P.A.
September 18, 2011
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: orthodontics  
Smile with braces

What is orthodontics?

Orthodontics is a sub-specialty of dentistry devoted to the study of growth and development of the teeth and jaws and treatment of improper bites (malocclusions).

What causes improper bites?

Malocclusions result from irregularities in the positioning of teeth, disproportionate jaw relationships, or both.

Why have orthodontic treatment?

Orthodontic treatment is carried out primarily to improve the alignment and function of your teeth and bite. It also results in improved oral health, easier maintenance, a better smile, and enhanced self-confidence and esteem.

What is the first step?

Schedule an appointment with our office for an orthodontic evaluation of your teeth and jaws and learn what options are best for you.

What do we need in order to plan your orthodontic treatment?

What are braces?

Orthodontic appliances, commonly known as braces, are small brackets that are placed on teeth, through which thin flexible wires are threaded. They are the parts that move the teeth.

How do they work?

The wires tend to straighten out to their undistorted forms moving the teeth with them. Since the tissues that attach the bone to the teeth are living, they are constantly changing and remodeling themselves. Harnessing these natural forces allows the movement of teeth. Light controlled forces acting through the wires cause new bone to be formed as the teeth move into new improved positions.

What are current options for orthodontic appliances?

Orthodontic treatment is an ingenious scientific discovery that has allowed the dental profession to precisely move teeth for better appearance as well as improved function. It harnesses the body's natural processes by which tissues normally remodel themselves to maintain a steady state, allowing your dental team to move your teeth into improved position for a lifetime of dental health and a great smile.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment or to discuss your questions about orthodontics. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Magic of Orthodontics.”



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