Monthly Archives: February 2018

Get Ahead of Bite Problems with Interceptive Orthodontics

orthodontics.

At any given time some 4 million teens and pre-teens are wearing braces or other orthodontic appliances to correct a malocclusion (poor bite). While most cases are straightforward, some have difficulties that increase treatment time and cost.

But what if you could reduce some of these difficulties before they fully develop? We often can through interceptive orthodontics.

This growing concept involves early orthodontic treatment around 6 to 10 years of age with the goal of guiding the development of a child’s jaws and other mouth structures in the right direction. These early years are often the only time of life when many of these treatments will work.

For example, widening the roof of the mouth (the palate) in an abnormally narrow upper jaw takes advantage of a gap in the bone in the center of the palate that doesn’t fuse until later in adolescence. A device called a palatal expander exerts outward pressure on the back teeth to influence the jawbone to grow out. New bone fills in the gap to permanently expand the jaw.

In cases with a developing overbite (the upper front teeth extending too far over the lower teeth when closed), we can install a hinged device called a Herbst appliance to the jaws in the back of the mouth. The hinge mechanism coaxes the lower jaw to develop further forward, which may help avoid more extensive and expensive jaw surgery later.

Interceptive treatments can also be fairly simple in design like a space retainer, but still have a tremendous impact on bite development. A space maintainer is often used when a primary (“baby”) tooth is lost prematurely, which allows other teeth to drift into the empty space and crowd out the incoming permanent tooth. The wire loop device is placed within the open space to prevent drift and preserve the space for the permanent tooth.

To take advantage of these treatments, it’s best to have your child’s bite evaluated early. Professional organizations like the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommend a screening by age 7. While it may reveal no abnormalities at all, it could also provide the first signs of an emerging problem. With interceptive orthodontics we may be able to correct them now or make them less of a problem for the future.

If you would like more information on orthodontic treatments, please contact us or schedule a consultation by calling (815) 741-1700. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor article “Interceptive Orthodontics.”

How Tara Lipinski Protects Her Teeth from the Daily Grind

tara.

If you’re one of the millions of people all over the world tuning in to the Olympics, you know that just watching the competition in your living room can be a real nail-biter. So imagine what it’s like for Tara Lipinski—the former gold medalist in figure skating who’s currently a primetime commentator for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Korea. In a recent interview with Dear Doctor magazine, the skating superstar revealed that she wears a custom-made nightguard to protect her smile.

“I grind my teeth pretty badly,” she said, noting that some days are worse than others. “When I can tell the grinding is bad, or my jaw starts to hurt, [then] at night I wear a mouthguard.”

Tara’s hardly alone:  It’s estimated that around one in ten adults suffers from bruxism—the dental term for the habitual clenching or grinding of teeth. This condition, which is linked to stress (and several other risk factors), can occur during the daytime or at night—when it may go unnoticed as you sleep. If left untreated, bruxism can lead to headaches and jaw pain, temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD), and damage to natural teeth or restorations such as crowns, veneers or fillings.

Fortunately, as Tara as found out, there’s a simple and effective way to help people struggling with the problem of teeth clenching and grinding: We can provide you with a custom-fabricated nightguard to stop bruxism from affecting your health. This device, usually made of high-impact plastic, is created from a model of your actual bite. It fits comfortably over your teeth, and can tooth prevent damage before it occurs.

A nightguard is a very conservative form of treatment, meaning that it involves no invasive or irreversible procedures. While other types of treatment are sometimes recommended for bruxism, it’s generally best to try the most conservative first. But how does it feel to wear it?

“I think it’s comfortable to wear,” Tara told Dear Doctor magazine. “You don’t even think about it.”

So whether you’re a type-A competitor or a dedicated fan watching the games unfold on TV, don’t let bruxism get the better of your smile. If you think you may be clenching or grinding your teeth, ask us about a custom-made nightguard.

For more information about teeth grinding, please contact us or schedule a consultation by calling (815) 741-1700. You can read more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Teeth Grinding” and “Stress & Tooth Habits.”

Oral Health and Cardiovascular Health

 

The American Heart Association has designated February as American Heart Month to raise awareness of the number one cause of death worldwide: cardiovascular disease. But did you know that there’s a connection between cardiovascular health and oral health?

People with gum disease are nearly twice as likely to suffer from heart disease as those without, and gum disease has been linked to stroke as well.

Although scientists can’t say that gum disease causes cardiovascular disease, both conditions are related to inflammation. Gum disease can result when dental plaque causes inflammation. Inflammation is also a major factor in heart disease and stroke, since it leads to thickening of the artery walls and causes damage to blood vessels.

So what can you do for the best heart health and oral health?

  • For one, a diet that reduces inflammation throughout a body is recommended for both gum health and heart health. This means eating plenty of whole grains and limiting your intake of refined carbohydrates like sugar, bakery goods, and white rice.
  • In addition, make sure your food choices supply enough fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and antioxidants.
  • Help prevent gum disease by maintaining good oral hygiene at home and keeping up with regular dental visits.
  • Finally, get plenty of exercise for the best cardiovascular health.

The relationship between gum disease and heart disease is not completely understood, but if you keep your mouth and body healthy, you will reduce your risk of both gum disease and heart disease. For more information, please contact us or schedule a consultation by calling (815) 741-1700.